Academic white dude fights the [trans* Maori feminist] power

Paul at The Fundy Post seems to have a wee bit of an issue with me, off the back of a wonderfully juvenile Twitter argument over that whole “Maori weren’t actually innately abusive parents who were only saved from self-genocide by blessed Christianity” thing.

He took particular offence at the terrible, terrible charge that maybe there was a tiny bit of racism involved in rejecting oral histories as inherently unreliable as opposed to the mighty written words of white people (who incidentally back up much of this research, oops) because as we all know, there is nothing worse than being called a racist.  Even actual racism pales in comparison.  (Oh, snap.)

Matthew of Episto! tried to help by keeping it on topic, but Paul was determined to keep it all about how the word “kyriarchy” is “so, so 90s” (love to see a white-mandated-history defender saying that a thing being old makes it irrelevant) and how actually, *I* was the racist because I would clearly never question Western dismissal of indigenous oral histories as racist if Paul were Maori.  Or something.

Anyway.  I really didn’t think any more of this after hitting the “unfollow” button until today, when suddenly a bunch of referrals from Fundy Post showed up in my stats.

Because clearly Paul has been thinking more of it and has decided that adding some transphobia to his racism will totally put me in my place, or something.

Let me save you time and spoons:

  • People just want to be offended
  • Normal people wouldn’t even have noticed that the flyer didn’t mention cissexism
  • People shouldn’t be criticised for failing in a basic aspect of their project (it wasn’t called Gay The Night) as long as they have good intentions
  • “Taking offence is the motive force of leftwing trolls”

Oh, Paul.  I’m sure it’s really comforting to tell yourself all this, and swipe your Martyrcard to pay for all those straw arguments. So much easier to convince yourself that that nasty research tries to paint pre-colonisation Maoridom as Fern Gully than actually question your own biases and prejudices and, yes, racism.

But I’m not offended.  I’m contemptuous.  And apparently was able to become even more so towards you.  Who’d’a thought it?


  1. Octavia Spitfire

    Recommendations for Paul: some basic, remedial trans* 101 (hint: reinforcing idea that trans* people are abnormal/not worthy of inclusion? Very trans*phobic), and shutting the fuck up.

  2. Good Gravey

    One thing I would like to say about this whole issue, and the THM one – it has made me realise that much of my language has been exclusive. Or is it exclusionary?

    I absolutely love the idea that we can talk about things regarding **people**. I tweeted (or did some shit) about how I don’t have MFLGBTI friends. I have friends. Some are cis-male, cis-female, some trans-gender male, some trans female. Some are straight and some are gay. Quite frankly, in terms of my friendship and my interaction with them, none of that matters because it is the friendship that is important. Their people-ness.

    Some of the people I feel I have become friends with in these forums, I had no idea of their sexuality or gender identity, and it didn’t matter. I found that when it came up in conversation, it was a case of “Oh OK – I guess I’ll remember that” but it never was anything to remark on.

    But it has made me realise that some of my language needs updating.

    I was talking to a friend at a Tamsin Cooper high tea yesterday, and commented on a news article about Prince Phillip and how one person said it was refreshing that he said what he thought and didn’t take the words out of his mouth, examine them, change them around, and then put them back in to speak. I thought “fuck that, that is precisely what you are *supposed* to do. You’re supposed to think about what you are saying and how it might affect others.

    You don’t have to be “constantly afraid of what you say” as some people comment. You just have to think about what you say, and when you are called on your privilege (if it is a fair call) be gracious about it, and be grateful for the lesson.

    One of my favourite phrases (and sorry if this is triggering): Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can destroy my soul.

    • QoT

      Here’s the really big elephant in your comment, Gravey: not having to think about your friends’ identities, sexualities or cis/trans status is absolutely soaking in privilege. *They* don’t have the luxury of just saying “oh can’t we all just be ~people~” because their identities or “lifestyles” or the labels society assigns them can have incredibly serious consequences.

      A similar argument is often used by white people who want us to just stop talking about race, because ~can’t we just be colourblind~. No. We can’t. Because society isn’t, and people will still be treated shittily because of their perceived difference/oppressed status/lack of privilege.

      • Good Gravey

        I do appreciate that, and as I have said myself, I am grateful for my privilege being pointed out.

        And I probably didn’t get my words right despite what I had said about doing so. In terms of what people need, in terms of how we interact with people, race, ethinicity, cis/trans status, and sexuality are all critical factors. I really do agree with you on this.

        I’m trying to get right in my head (and heart) that these things shouldn’t affect or change my relationship with them, but my behaviour and speech needs to bear these things in mind. My affection for someone should not change because of anything about them (unless I find out they are complete and utter shits of course), but I do have to respect and acknowledge the things that affect them, their triggers.

        Is that fair?

        • QoT

          This is a pretty complex thing, Gravey. One of the main things is that you really need to acknowledge that your relationships with people will probably change based on some of those things, because you, like everyone else in our society, have been raised in an environment which sends very clear, often negative, messages about those characteristics and aspects of people’s identities and lives. We’ve probably all spent a lifetime absorbing messages about people of colour, trans* and queer people, people with disabilities, fat people, women, etc etc etc.

    • Scar

      There is no hyphen in transgender. There is no hyphen in cis male or cis female.
      I’d also be careful with prefacing GLBTI with ‘MF’, as it’s going to offend some T and I people.

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