Disclaimer: there’s nothing new or groundbreaking below. It’s all been said before, I’m just restating it, I suppose.
There has always been a very small minority of people equipped to have good-faith arguments, properly define terms and then stick to those definitions, concede points when logic and rationality demands it, avoid straw-man arguments and ad-hominem attacks, etc.
The vast majority of other people cannot do all of those things required for reasonable conversation. Those in the former group used to mostly argue amongst themselves and quickly run away (to preserve their sanity) when they realize they’re in a confrontation with someone from the latter group. If we’re lucky, those in the former group were the ones writing laws and teaching college courses.
Because it must be said: there is nothing about any given gender, race, cultural tradition, age, sexual orientation or gender identity that precludes it from being among the former population - the reasonable minority.
Aside from all its other evils (echo chambers and invisible algorithmic manipulation chief among them), social media has raised the volume and social impact of all those latter category goons.
So, now, when someone says “trans women are women” it’s too damn noisy in the room to have a conversation where you tease out the following:
The trans advocates are saying “sex: male, gender: woman people are gender: woman” and what ‘TERFs’ are taking issue with is the mis-perceived idea that “sex: male, gender: woman people are sex: woman, gender: woman” (which apparently nobody on the trans-activist claims to be claiming) – sticking point being biological sex.
This subtlety isn’t even that subtle. You can see it very clearly as soon as someone takes the extra dispassionate second to add some nuance to their language to better express their ideas.1 Imagine how impossible an actually-complex topic would be to discuss…
I’ve had clear and inoffensive conversations in this direction with individuals (on twitter). Honest, clear, good-faith individuals. But both sides of the screaming mob are only seeing their own poorly-defined terms and judging interlocutors through that lens.
Both sides lack the patience and open-mindedness to honestly engage with someone “on the other side”. Each views the other as physically-dangerous enemies who challenge their very existence.
I don’t know what to do about this aside from try to personally wade into cesspools here and there and poke around (sometimes with a pretty sharp stick) until I find a reasonable person with whom to try and create an understanding. Sort of my own attempt at a one-man grassroots movement.
A thing I’m temporarily pretending isn’t true: when the moron masses make themselves and their opinions loudly-known, they start to look like a good voter base and politicians begin to pander to them. I don’t even want to think about that right now.
I’ve chopped the text above up into tweet-length paragraphs so I can potentially post a little tweetstorm about it :)
The cynical part of me is suspicious that some who repeat, over and over like a mantra “trans women are women”, know that they really could be stating it in the more nuanced way I have here and doing so would actually facilitate useful dialog - but they avoid doing so in order to make some point that is so far outside my idea of civil discourse that I can’t imagine it. ↩