The gender debate continued – transphobia

Marianne Elliot, who describers herself as a ‘feminist trail-lover’, sparked more gender debate on Twitter yesterday.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about transphobia, and the way that fear can be created & exploited for the purpose of oppression.

I recently went to the Museum of African American History and the Holocaust museum in DC. Both tell this story.

I think the fear is very real for many people. In the same way that many Americans were genuinely afraid that desegregation would lead to white women being raped by black men, I think many cis-women are genuinely afraid of transwomen.

That fear is built on a foundation of intentional misinformation driven by hatred, then spread through fear and ignorance. When we’re afraid, we lose our capacity to be rational and all we want is to be kept safe.

We know this pattern. It lead to the Holocaust. And Apartheid.

Cis-women have a good reasons to be afraid. We have many centuries of experience of being violently harmed by cis-men. We’ve also had to fight, long and hard, for everything from spaces safe from violence to medical recognition of and respect for the way our bodies actually work.

This is group generalisation. It would be better to to refer to some cis-women, and some cis-men. and to point out that many cis-men have also been the victims of violence. In wars they can be significant victims.

I have no problem understanding how those experiences make some cis-women susceptible to fear transwomen. But I also believe that fear is the result of an intentional misdirection.

I don’t know if I’m expressing this very well, but I think the point I want to make is that the work of undoing the harm done by hatred-fueled misinformation about transwomen may fall on cis-women who see it for what it is.

We may be the only ones who can fully understand the experiences that lead to the genuine though profoundly misplaced fears of other cis-women, and therefore the only ones who can engage empathetically with those fears to help dispel them.


I thought carefully about those examples, and anticipated that response. But my view is that the same strategy is being employed, for the same purpose. Misinformation motivated by hatred, used to create genuine fear, for the purpose of dehumanising a group of people.

It’s a strategy that works because fear is powerful, and because many of us have good reason to be afraid. If the comparison to fears about desegregation makes people uncomfortable, I’d argue that’s a discomfort worth sitting with for a while.

Comparing women, who might have been raped, or suffered csa, to the apartheid south africa as a rhetorical device

1) completely fails to understand how power relationships work between males and female

2) is hyperbolic

3) is massively unhelpful


The fact that this person can go down this train of thought, as if she is having a new and original thought, is actually staggering to me. But it’s a pretty good instance of the blunt analogy that makes the idea we’re genocidal lunatics so intuitively appealing to left/liberals.

The basic model is right, lots of violence in the world has been created by the fact that humans have an implacable fondness for projecting their fear onto others and then being horrendously fucking violent to them.

But then there is the fact that sometimes one group of people is scared of another group of people because those people *are* actually doing something violent and dominating to them.

Reading the situation right is always about seeing the power relationships, and the direction of domination, correctly.

Here we might also remember that there is no historical instance in which female people, as a class, othered male people, as a class, in order to make them the object of mass violence.

Because women have never had the power to do that, and really, it’s never been our style.

This is what pisses me right off about this. This whole analogy depends on analogising women, with men. And it depends specifically, on analogising left-wing feminist women, with right-wing racist patriarchal men.

And it depends on making that analogy stick, despite the fact, as this particular person almost lets herself remember, that women are, overwhelmingly, the objects, not the subjects of violence. That they have good reason to want to protect themselves from the the class of people who are, overwhelmingly, the subjects of violence. And that when we do so, we are not projecting and we are not fear-mongering. We are not spreading baseless hatred to illegitimately other another group of people so that we can dominate or exploit or colonise or scapegoat them.

We are women. We are an oppressed class of people who are naming our reality. And you – progressives – are refusing to grant us witness.

An exchange between Jones and Elliot followed:

Marianne Elliot: I don’t want to refuse the reality of women’s oppression by men. That is my personal experience as well. But I want to name that, and then ask whether the threat is trans-women or a culture that continues to enable violence against women (including trans-women). I say the latter.

Dr Jane Clare Jones: The threat is male people. We have no reason to believe that male people stop committing male pattern violence when they identify as women, and we actually have enough evidence to falsify the claim that they don’t – although we don’t have good enough data. We should probably get good enough data before we experiment with women’s safety don’t you think? The point is this. Women, under these circumstances, have good reason to say ‘no.’

Many many women are saying no. You are supporting an political movement that is attempting to demonise women, and to use that demonisation to mobilise pressure, violence and threats to intimidate and coerce women who are saying no.

That is, to underline, you are supporting a movement that is using violence to coerce women who are saying no. What does that sound like to you?

Marianne Elliot: I agree that we need data before we experiment with women’s safety, and I include trans-women in that. We need to find a non-coercive way forward that protects all women, including trans-women.

Dr Jane Clare Jones: Sure we do. But asking for data will get you called a transphobe lickity-split.

No one on my side wishes harm on trans women. It’s pure propaganda. We do, however, think they are male, and we think that matters, and we want this whole thing done properly. If the data shows that they exhibit male pattern violence, then we have every right to not want to grant them access to our intimate spaces in large numbers under any form of self-ID arrangement. Most of us think the solution in third spaces. ideally I think, organised by gender, so that women can make the choice if they want to use a sex segregated or a gender segregated space. But you cannot remove sex-segregated space from women without their consent, and over against their explicit protest, and claim that is just. It’s not going to go anywhere good, and it will create an incredible amount of resentment which will do nothing for the possibility of harmonious co-existence between women and trans women.

Marianne Elliot: Thanks for taking the time to engage. And without calling me awful names as most of the people who came over here after you RT’d me did. I appreciate that.

Dr Jane Clare Jones: Name calling won’t move us forward.

But I had a look. I don’t see a lot of name-calling to be honest. I see pretty trenchant criticism. Women are very very angry, for good reason. And they are particularly angry with other women who are complicit in propagating the discourse you were rehearsing in that thread.

I hope you will chew over what I’ve said. Good night (well, here anyway).

Marianne Elliot: I’ll definitely chew. Chewing is what I do.

This is a complex issue that looks like continuing for some time.

I’m concerned to see statements like “the threat is male people”. Certainly some male people constitute the biggest threat through violence. But dumping on all ‘male people’ is unfair on the many men who oppose and despise violence.

And I think grouping all males as one threat is counter productive to addressing male violence, because it alienates the  males who aren’t violent and oppose violence – which I think is probably a large majority of males.

Perhaps a solution here is for men who oppose violence to take a much stronger and more prominent role in opposing violence.

Leave a comment


  1. Reply
  2. Female violence is also a statistical certainty. It isn’t as prevalent as male violence, and usually isn’t as physically damaging, but it seems to be a growing problem. Obviously most women are not responsible for the actions of a minority, but violence is a female problem.

    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  2nd December 2018

      Female violence is rife. The difference, as I have said before, is when a man hits he has the size and muscle mass, probably also the experience starting from playground scraps, to hit very hard. The damage is very really as a muscled man hits a more finely built woman. You shouldn’t do it as a man, you should walk away and don’t go back regardless of how good the sex is…

      Its a useful control technique to equate male with violence, helps with shaming and getting a man to do what she wants… woman are very practiced at using things like ridicule, shaming, belittling – all said with venom – at gaining control over men.

      But on the topic of the TERF war – its really funny watching divide and conquer merchants being divided and conquered…. nice to see feminist extremists getting some of their own medicine…

      • The Consultant

         /  2nd December 2018

        its really funny watching divide and conquer merchants being divided and conquered…. nice to see feminist extremists getting some of their own medicine…

        True, but what you’re also seeing here is a traditional victim group (2nd and 3rd wave feminists) getting outraged at their victimhood being taken over by the new, rising victim group of trans-folk.

        In our modern world being a victim is gold; it’s a valuable resource in debate and policy, so basically it has to be a war between them.

        Meanwhile, as a cis-gendered, wealthy white male commander of vast patriarchal power and resources who has been the target of both groups, I look at this much as Kissinger looked at the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980’s when he commented that “it’s shame they both can’t lose”.

    • Gezza

       /  2nd December 2018

      “There are numerous studies that have investigated intimate partner violence. In Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say, Dr Warren Farrell lists over 50 studies where it was found there was relative gender symmetry, or that women were more often violent than men.
      In 2010, Dr Murray Straus wrote a paper examining why there had been 30 years of denial of gender symmetry and what impact that has on combating the problem of domestic violence. In New Zealand, there have been two multi-disciplinary cohort studies which are lauded for their insights into many aspects of our lives. Those studies have covered domestic violence.

      Professor David Fergusson, Joseph Boden and Dannette Marie from a Christchurch cohort found there was no statistical difference in both perpetration and victimisation for women and men.

      Professor Lynn Magdol and others from a Dunedin cohort found nearly twice as many women perpetrated violence as men. When the violence was severe, this ballooned to more than three times the rate.
      This year, Shelley Johnson reported surprise at finding that 38 per cent of victims in Canterbury were male.

      When it comes to child abuse, the Family Violence Clearinghouse Annual Death Review reports that half of the perpetrators are women.

      Fergusson has claimed that women are more frequently the perpetrators of child abuse.”

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  2nd December 2018

        I can well believe what I have heard about men not leaving violent women because they don’t want to leave the children with a violent mother.

        I saw an Oprah once on this subject. One woman had left a violent man and married a very nice, kind man…and she began being violent to him. He was a big man, and could have caused a lot of damage had he retaliated. She was horrified to realise that she was enjoying seeing the fear on his face, just as her violent ex had enjoyed her terror, and immediately sought help. One man was a NY policeman whose wife was violent to him and their child (the child died later as the result) and when the police found this out, HE was sacked because of the policy of total intolerance of domestic violence. I can’t remember the other stories, except that one man had been pushed through a glass ranch slider, among other things, and always passed them off as accidents….because of the children.

        A former neighbour was verbally abusive to her husband, who finally, after a couple of beers, pushed her against a wall and told her to shut up. She called the police (we saw him sitting sheepishly on the fence) and was given PD…but (they lived behind her aunt who was a friend) it resulted in them taking stock of the marriage and what they had let it become, so there was a happy ending.

        But I have known of several cases where the woman was violent.

  3. artcroft

     /  2nd December 2018

    I’m outraged and offended by them all.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  2nd December 2018

    The storm in a bra cup rages on.

  5. Reply
    • FarmerPete

       /  2nd December 2018

      Love the point this host makes. i.e. that male and female are the two genders and any others conjured up should not detract from her identity as a female.

      • Gezza

         /  2nd December 2018

        Actually the point she is emphatically making is not that she is a female, but that she is a WOMAN, & objects to being labelled a “CIS woman” because the simple fact is, as a woman, her gender is naturally, biologically, what she was born with & does not require further categorisation or labelling – wheras any trans woman is a TRANS WOMAN: they are not WOMEN. That is correct.

        That being correct does not imply she is saying genuine TRANS WOMEN who have been surgically transgendered should be discriminated against unfairly. But I think biological women have the right to insist on this distinction being accepted by the transgenders.

        • FarmerPete

           /  2nd December 2018

          Broadly speaking exactly what i Said. I really don’t have the motivation to argue the distinction between woman and female and man and male. The point about transgenders not being women I agree with. Nothing in my comment implies that transgender people should be discriminated against.

          • Gezza

             /  2nd December 2018

            Crossed with my new comment below. I have expanded on what I think transgenders & their chumpions believe is the difference.

        • Gezza

           /  2nd December 2018

          Thinking about this a bit more, this is probably where the nub of the battle lies. Women are bilogically female Great Apes of the human class, as men are biologically human Great Apes. At least, (ignoring androgynes, as they are both, or neither, depending on context) women always have been female humans, until the advent of hormone therapy & surgery made it possible to alter biological men’s & women’s & androgynes’ physical appearance with ongoing hormone medication, silicon implants, & surgical creation of approximations of some female bilogical sexual parts.

          That has created the potential for the now-raging argument that trans women might not be biologically female, but that gender identity can & must now be considered a social construct.

          (Against centuries of evidence that, by & large, the sexes think & behave fundamentally differently, instinctively, with considerable variations among individuals – think “tomboy” – also perfectly normal & usually still very female in many behavioural / emotional aspects if you know any, as most of us do.

          A vocal group of trans women consider themselves essentially women, and clearly believe other people who do not must be coerced into doing that too. And this is now extending into all sorts of self-identifying gender-bending & people with unusual sexual preferences oddballs climbing on to the bandwagon & I don’t give a rat’s arse what they get up to & don’t see why they think anyone else should, let alone why anyone should let them think we should all be forced to categorise anyone who’s, basically, normal, as needing further classification.

          This tiny but possibly growing cohort of unusual humans can be classified by gender studies researchers & by themselves for the purposes of finding mates & sex partners if they like, & good luck to them. I’m glad I don’t have to sort out what freaking gender I am & what gender other human I like to bonk.

          But unless they’re perverted predators harming others (& that is where the danger lies with some, preying on young & impressionable normal kids persuading them their normal questions about the sometimes confusing body changes & different development rates, the often overwhelmingly inflamed emotions of puberty & adolescenceas they transform into normal, sensitive-type men, or normal, assertive or aggressive women mean they are something abnormal, like them) the rest of us have no need to pay them any special attention or to accept their apparent insistence that we organise the whole of “normal” society for this miniscule number’s benefit or ascendacy.

          Try it out in India, Pakistan, Russia & Saudi Arabia first, maybe? Get back to us.

  6. FarmerPete

     /  2nd December 2018

    And in the midst of all this BS and insanity is it any wonder voices that articulate clear messages for men (such as Jordan Petersen) get attacked and shut down.

    • PartisanZ

       /  2nd December 2018

      Who shut down Jordan Petersen!!??? Who!?

      I protest! I won’t allow it …

      Oh … When you say “attacked” you mean other people exercised their right to freedom of speech in commenting about what he says, don’t you?

      • Pink David

         /  2nd December 2018

        “Oh … When you say “attacked” you mean other people exercised their right to freedom of speech in commenting about what he says, don’t you?”

        You clearly have little knowledge of the issue that cause Petersen to rise to fame. He stood against a law that threatened him (and others) with dismissal and imprisonment for not talking in specified ways.

        Please explain how enacting or supporting such a law is exercising free speech?

      • artcroft

         /  2nd December 2018

        The attempt was made, but Petersons arguments prevailed.

      • FarmerPete

         /  2nd December 2018

        Actually you have it backwards. There was a concerted campaign to have Petersen’s free speech rights closed down, including having him fired from his tenured university position, uninvited from speaking engagements and general vilification and smearing. He was able to do what most can’t because he is so articulate and so careful with his words.

  7. Blazer

     /  2nd December 2018

    I’v been travelling in Asia…’me too’ movement and gender PC…not evident at..all.


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