First, a general review and explanation: yesterday I wrote an article that ended up talking about JK Rowling, but that wasn’t my intention when I started. I was only trying to caution against doing the same thing that causes outrage when conservatives do, which is to moralize indignantly on a subject rather than treat it with caution and responsibility. And I would loosely define “moralize” as responding to something you don’t like with an emotional outburst that is entirely based on feelings and has no objective factual backing. Hellfire & damnation preachers naturally do that, and we don’t like it (I personally never liked it, even in the beginning when I was still a reliable Republican voter). Progressives should not emulate the tactic.
Here is what I consider to be a prime example of such moralizing:
Tess Fowler: Do NOT read #JKRowling’s Transphobia Manifesto. I already did it for you. Every line is misinformation, fear, gender abuse, otherness, ignorance, far-right language/dog whistles and pure hate. It’s not just ugly. This is HATE. Don’t ingest this BS. You’re welcome.
[Now that you’ve been told not to, here it is if you want to read it.]
This is exactly the type of moralism I am opposed to. Fowler begins by shouting “Don’t read [it]. I already did it for you. Hmm, Nope. Whenever someone with a strong opinion advises me, “Don’t check it out yourself, trust ME to tell you what it means”, I think that’s exactly what someone like Sean Hannity would say. No, I’ll go see for myself what he says. It’s just who I am. I may end up agreeing, or I may not agree, but I do NOT like being told to trust blindly. By reading something for me, I come to MY conclusion, not someone else’s. And in this case, I concluded that Fowler was not just committing “moralism”, his opinion here is one with which I disagree. I don’t see Rowling as peddling misinformation, fear, dog whistles and hate. I see her expressing, in moderate language, an opinion most often justified. Quibble with a few details, if you will, but overall it’s a pretty good piece. Others here may disagree, of course, and that’s fine, but I wanted to take this opportunity to make it clear what I personally believe. You can decide for yourself what you choose to do, if anything, in my opinion. Disagree with me if you want to, but please refrain from moralizing. Jut explains Why you disagree, and let me reflect on your reasoning.
But moving on, the Rowling controversy ended up being the example I landed on to illustrate my point about moralizing, but I caught some heat for it from a number of people. And you know what? Some of what I wrote (but not all; keep reading) turned out to be wrong. It was because I thought I understood most of what I was reading, but it turned out there was more than what I saw.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, although some reviewers have criticized me for being unprepared. Yes. But offering an insufficiently researched opinion can often spur a conversation that ends up benefiting everyone involved. Many scientific discoveries started with a reasonable assumption that turned out to be wrong, but led to something very good. And when you are wrong, there are two ways to react when you are shown that you have made a mistake. The first is to double down and defend your original position no matter what anyone else says. The other is to graciously accept new information and adjust your perspective accordingly. The second choice is the one I prefer.
So where did I go wrong? First and most obviously, I didn’t know the full context of Rowling’s remarks. Accordingly, I incorrectly responded to what Daniel Radcliffe later tweeted. When I realized this I decided to go back and read more of what Rowling had written and what others were saying against her. And now I think I understand enough to make a smarter assessment. I haven’t read yet everything she tweeted, but I’ve read enough different things with similar points that I think I understand what she’s trying to say. And my overall conclusion is:
The whole acrimonious argument is mostly a matter of opinion, not a demonstrable fact.
Specifically, the opinion under discussion is “What is the definition of ‘woman’? And the reason the debate is so heated, rather than measured, is that each side seems (as far as I can tell) to believe that they are stating facts that the other party stubbornly refuses to acknowledge and therefore views the other side as irrational.
Now, in yesterday’s article, I stepped on this landmine myself, when I declared one of the conflicting opinions as fact. I didn’t realize what I had done. But now I understand better what triggers people. And here’s the point:
For thousands of years, every ordinary person had a “common sense” definition of what a woman is and what a man is. Previously, this definition would probably have included things that we now call “secondary sex characteristics,” but they would have been generally accurate. In other words, men are generally taller, heavier and stronger, have beards, have deeper voices and tend to enjoy more aggressive activities, while women are shorter, have no beards, have higher voices, have curvier body shapes, and enjoy activities. who are more social. Along with these characteristics, it should be recognized that there are exceptions. Bearded women existed, but they were considered, uh, “strange”. But they were still recognized as “women” rather than “men”.
But with the move to a more precise scientific methodology, the definition of the two sexes has focused on a single “primary” sexual characteristic, with a clear distinction between “primary” and “secondary”. This one primary, objectively observable characteristic was that a woman could have babies, and a man could cause babies but not have their. It was this. And the words “woman” and “man” were interchangeable with “woman” and “man”. And that’s still the universal definition when it comes to animals (wait…I’m not there yet). When a birdwatcher says that male cardinals are usually bright red, while females tend to be dull olive green, the definition of a bird’s sex isn’t whether it’s red or olive. , or its size, but is exclusively a matter of whether it laid eggs or fertilize their. Nothing else.
So where did the idea come from? opinion come into play when we talk about humans? It is the opinion whether, in persons (as opposed to lower animals), sex is defined by more … than just whether a person bears or causes children, or even if “sex” (and “gender”) is unrelated at all to this feature. Rowling, in all of the “objectionable” writing I’ve read so far, clearly argues for maintaining the traditional definition and, moreover, treats it as immutable biological/scientific fact. Her attackers say “sex” is not just a matter of having or making babies. In extreme cases, they seem to claim that the real definition of sex a Nothing to do with have babies.
Anyway, it’s Rowling opinion that the traditional definition of sex is still the real definition, while its attackers argue that it is not. And both sides treat their opinion as fact. In my article yesterday, I stated that women can have babies, but men cannot. A response to this was one person who wrote that men can thus have babies. Check this link. The problem is that we were each making a statement based on our opinions of the definition of “man”.
But it goes beyond the simple definition of the word, and enters the repercussions definitions. Rowling repeatedly says not only that a person with a functioning set of male sex organs is not just a man and not a woman (and that seems to be what Daniel Radcliffe was refuting), she points to scenarios where it’s potentially harmful to women to have a trans woman in their midst. And it’s this specific argument that gets Rowling called “despicable,” based on her desire to deny these trans people the right to be who they want to be. Hence the indignation and the attack.
I would say to Rowling’s argument that she has a point that is certainly plausible. I mean, most of my current attitude towards trans rights is based on the assumption that someone in transition will undergo both physical surgery and hormone therapy. I do not I agree with those who say that someone should have the right to simply declare the gender they believe they are and automatically be granted the rights and privileges belonging to that gender. I believe that if a trans woman is capable of committing pregnancy-causing rape against a binary woman, I would side with those who believe that this particular trans woman should not be imprisoned with binary women. I would also object to the inclusion of a “non-transitioning” (is that a word?) trans woman on a women’s or women’s sports team. In short, I would agree with what I have read of Rowling’s opinion on the matter, and I will continue to believe that the traditional definition of “man” and “woman” remains valid until until a specific individual has been declared by an impartial authority, competent third-party judges that the person can no longer be considered to still be of the old sex.
Now, my opinion may not matter to those who believe differently. And, frankly, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind about the definition of male/female they choose to be guided by. I am only saying that, in this case, which definition to follow is a matter of opinion, and should therefore be treaty as an opinion. Nothing more. Above all if one claims to be guided by Science. Science only deals with what can be objectively proven, and there is no way to objectively prove the definition of a word. We can only I agree (Where to disagree) to know if it is necessary follow this definition. And whether they agree or disagree, outrageous moralism should always be avoided, for such moralism is tantamount to emotional abuse. In the long run, outraged moralism will only make it longer to achieve the goals progressives are trying to achieve.