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Penny Arcade and its Krahulik problem
June 21, 2013 5:47 PM   Subscribe

No stranger to controversy, Mike Krahulik, gabe of Penny Arcade, has found himself embroiled in yet another debacle over a series of transphobic tweets he's made, coming right off the heels of public criticism and outrage over an apparently racist/misogynistic panel that was to be held at the upcoming PAX Aus convention. Citing this and past controversies, The Fullbright Company, the indie developer of "Gone Home", has pulled out of PAX's coveted Indie Megabooth. gabe has issued a pair of apologies for his tweets, swearing off ever talking about topics other than comics or video games again. [Previously]
posted by yeoz (481 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Defended them in the past, but at this point...I don't think they are gonna figure it out.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:51 PM on June 21, 2013 [18 favorites]


Gabe. Man. I get it. Trans issues can be hard to come get your head around if you don't personally know any people who are actually going through them. There's no shame in finding out the world doesn't necessarily work the way you thought it did. Just....accept that maybe there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your personal experience. Because telling people that their identity is wrong? Is pretty goddamn vile. All the more so when you're talking about a group that, as a whole, has some serious fucking struggles with identity.

And that's coming from somebody who was mostly on their side in the Dickwolf Wars.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:01 PM on June 21, 2013 [56 favorites]


a pair of apologies for his tweets, swearing off ever talking about topics other than comics or video games again.

'sorry im not sorry lol'
posted by threeants at 6:02 PM on June 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, of letting artists be profane, of edgy topics and irreverent video games. But at some point you have to conclude the organization is just run by assholes.
posted by Nelson at 6:03 PM on June 21, 2013 [13 favorites]


They... They are not good at this sort of thing.
posted by boo_radley at 6:03 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sigh. This makes a kind of sense of you think of the online multiplayer shooter community as being a big, socially awkward, ill-informed beast with a thousand mouths called players.
posted by JHarris at 6:03 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


These guys are my neighbors. (Well, their office is.) I'm in one of the most trans-friendly neighborhoods in one of the most trans-friendly cities in the US. I know that Mike isn't originally from here or anything but it's been a few good years, you know? I tend to defend them on their blindspots, because in the past they have shown that they can learn new tricks, and really Gabe and Tycho are just figureheads and creatives, corralled by and assisted by a whole slew of other talented, intelligent people. But seriously, what the hell man?
posted by Mizu at 6:03 PM on June 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


Another super sincere applogy from the true victim here, guys. Look, he even has a trans friend backing his play. A friend who thinks LGBT organizations are full of wankers that like to lash out at him for fun. Let's respect his opinion and shit, fuck. (100% sarcasm here)
posted by Brocktoon at 6:04 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you're going to be an eternal adolescent boy you'll do a lot better if, like Trey Parker and Matt Stone, you're actually funny.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:04 PM on June 21, 2013 [19 favorites]


From the article:

I wasn’t alone in this assessment. The refrain of “I haven’t really been on side with Penny Arcade since the dickwolves thing,” while not completely widespread, is certainly something that comes up fairly regularly on Twitter and elsewhere.

Indeed, that is exactly how I feel.
posted by gkhan at 6:05 PM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Those tweets suck.

I do think that specifically when talking about transphobia, you have to be mindful of the fact that in many cases you really are exposing people to ideas that they have never had any exposure to before. I can be honest with you and tell you that before discussion of these issues became more prevalent on the interest a few years ago, I had never really spent any time at all thinking about transsexualism. I did myself a favor keeping my mouth shut while I was digesting these things, but if you had asked me about it cold, I might indeed have said something ignorant and stupid. While it's fair to be angry about comments, particularly when the commenter is a person who people admire, it's most valuable to do the work of exposing people to new ideas, rather than kicking them into a defensive crouch. It is a lot harder and maybe less satisfying, but people like me appreciate it. And we are trying to be more thoughtful every day, so don't give up on us.
posted by selfnoise at 6:06 PM on June 21, 2013 [18 favorites]


They were so shitty to Jesse Thorn that I still can't fully enjoy PA anymore. I was such a fan, too. It was like the best friend you have at your Grandma's house finally meets your best friend from home and one treats the other like garbage. PA really doubled down on their treatment of Jesse and Jordan, mocking them for working from home, which still just drops my jaw to this day.
posted by akaJudge at 6:06 PM on June 21, 2013 [26 favorites]


Your comparison reflects badly on adolescent boys.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:06 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


And this is why I don't donate to Child's Play or ever plan to attend PAX. This is yet another example of how these two have always been, and their fan base is even worse. Disgusting. Again. Not surprised.
posted by strixus at 6:07 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


This whole topic is kind of Grar-bait. Also, the news is literally from earlier today. Hopefully time will help find a solution.
posted by rebent at 6:07 PM on June 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sigh, these guys...

I don't get why people doing things that doesn't even involve them makes them so defensive. It's not like people wake up in the morning thinking "how can I make that dude from penny arcade hate me". Why would he even tweet stuff like that.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:08 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're going to be an eternal adolescent boy you'll do a lot better if, like Trey Parker and Matt Stone, you're actually funny.

Oh man, South Park is even worse on trans issues.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:10 PM on June 21, 2013 [17 favorites]


I have very little patience for people who do not try to understand trans issues. To me, it seems the height or privilege to not even misunderstand gender identity, but to actively deny the reality of other people.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:13 PM on June 21, 2013 [13 favorites]


strixus: "And this is why I don't donate to Child's Play or ever plan to attend PAX. This is yet another example of how these two have always been, and their fan base is even worse. Disgusting. Again. Not surprised."

um. A lot of people are fans of this web comic. Including myself. I'm not saying that there aren't unreasonable people out there who disagree with your worldview, but maybe you shouldn't write off a huge group of people like that?
posted by rebent at 6:14 PM on June 21, 2013 [18 favorites]


Meanwhile, three days after Mike & Jerry crowned Katie Rice the winner (a decision I agreed with, which was surprising, considering how rarely I'm in the same camp with those guys), finalist Abby Howard started a Kickstarter to launch HER webcomic idea (without a book or much other heavy-expense backer rewards) and has in LESS THAN 8 HOURS raised nearly 3 TIMES THE STRIP SEARCH GRAND PRIZE $$$.

Is this the Internet Hive Mind telling them they made the wrong choice? Maybe, but they'll never admit it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:17 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just looked at the panel description image and … wtf? How did that ever make it on the schedule?
posted by kenko at 6:21 PM on June 21, 2013


Mike was an asshole, but he wasn't the only asshole in this story. He got death threats over this, and I'm horrified that people on the side of LGBT would use the same disgusting tactics as the people who sent death threats to, for example, Anita Sarkeesian.
posted by rifflesby at 6:24 PM on June 21, 2013 [46 favorites]


I mean I get how this happens, the tweets and the panels. They think they are bravely speaking truth to power. That isn't really how it works, you aren't speaking truth to power If you are the ones in power.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:24 PM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


This seems to highlight a community outreach/education blindspot for the trans community.

They need to do a better job explaining how being transgender differs from body dysmorphic type afflictions like anorexia, surgical addiction, self mutilation problems, etc.

His comments make much more sense if you understand that the 'mainstream' views transgenderism as a body dysmorphia problem, and not a possible body abstraction layer issue, or simply a self determination issue.
posted by addled_b at 6:24 PM on June 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


This whole topic is kind of Grar-bait.

Yeah, I cringed a little.

Believe it or not, I would actually like to have been proven wrong about them after the dickwolves thing, or been able to see it as a one screwup from otherwise decent people who could learn from their mistakes. I love webcomics, I love that anyone has succeeded at them. 80% of my twitter and tumblr follows are webcomic artists.

But...guess I'm not going to get that. I was never really into them, but I know/follow plenty who have loved their work, and I feel bad for the fans. It sucks when something you love gets smirched by the assholery of the people who made it, who you want to admire.
posted by emjaybee at 6:25 PM on June 21, 2013


I enjoy Penny Arcade and have been a supporter of Child's Play and Penny Arcade for years, even throughout the Dickwolves scandal. (I'm not disgusting. Death threats are disgusting.)

But I was watching this unfold in Twitter yesterday and I kept thinking...stop it, Mike. Because eventually he was going to find himself in a position that apologies won't get him out of. And this is an issue is much more complicated than he or I are in the position to understand.

If Mike were to write an AskMe about this topic, most people would suggest therapy, meds and apologies. As far as I know from reading PA and watching PATV, he's already doing/done all 3, so I wonder what else someone in that position could do to ... undo ... when leaving the company would mean that the strip (and the company) would be done for. Charitable donations? Sit back, shut up and take his literal and figurative medicine?
posted by kimberussell at 6:26 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mike Krahulik is a really good cartoonist. I really enjoy his art, and I think he (along with Jerry Holkins) writes some pretty good jokes.

That said, he's a very, very good example of somebody being incredibly privileged and not really bothering to try and work past that or deal with it, and that's very much a problem.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:26 PM on June 21, 2013 [33 favorites]


Another way to think about this... from his second posting:

I hate lots of people it’s true. But I’ve never hated anyone for their sexual orientation or their gender situation. I don’t hate people for superficial shit like that. I hate people for the way they act and I intend to keep doing that.

This is half of a wonderful philosophy. Judging people by their actions and their internal humanity instead of their societal role is a great way to live, but prioritizing hate isn't, even if you do it out of suffering that other people have inflicted on you. That applies to Mike, but it also applies to the people sending him death threats. Hate often seems like something you do to others, but it's really something you do to yourself.
posted by selfnoise at 6:29 PM on June 21, 2013 [17 favorites]


Heh. I just watched an episode of Strip Search and the challenge for the contestants was how to communicate with fans through Twitter.
posted by cazoo at 6:29 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


This seems to highlight a community outreach/education blindspot for the trans community.

They need to do a better job explaining how being transgender differs from body dysmorphic type afflictions like anorexia, surgical addiction, self mutilation problems, etc.


It is actually not the job of the transgender community, feminists, rape survivors, or people of color or any other group to explain themselves to every clueless person in the world. It is our mutual job as human beings to attempt to understand each other. You do this by reading, thinking, and listening when people tell you about their lived experiences, and agreeing that their opinion on their experiences is not only valid, but more valid than your opinion about them is. Since, you know, they lived it and you fucking haven't.

Mr. Krahulik is not an idiot. I presume he is mentally capable of reading, listening and empathy. He just doesn't want to do any of those things.
posted by emjaybee at 6:33 PM on June 21, 2013 [160 favorites]


Oh for fuck's sake, Mike.
posted by cavalier at 6:33 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a pretty good analysis of the problem from a trans perspective, talking about the gender binary problem as well as the not-listening-to-people problem.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:34 PM on June 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


My son graduated from High school last week and the overarching theme of his late adolesecnce is that it is very hard watching somebody else grow up.

I sort of get the same feeling from the guys are PA.

That said - he's what ? 27 ? You should have heard the shit I said in ignorance to the lesbian parents of my then fiancee at their age. I still cringe sometimes - the fact that they still like is more to their credit than mine.

Growing is hard - and they've changed lots over the years. They'll grow out of it. Even Paula Deen is growing out of it. But, yeah, it's gonna be painful to watch.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:38 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


@rebent: maybe you shouldn't write off a huge group of people like that?

Writing off PA is not the same as writing off all of their fans. It's not as though there's a lack of cool things to do in this world.
posted by grudgebgon at 6:38 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mike is in his 30s,has two kids. It's well past the time when he could be reasonably expected to grow up.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:40 PM on June 21, 2013 [33 favorites]


That said - he's what ? 27 ?

According to Wikipedia, he's 35.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:41 PM on June 21, 2013


[obligatory generalist comment about staying immersed in video game culture having unintended side effects]
posted by cavalier at 6:43 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mike/Gabe's apologies sound pretty decent, except that I absolutely don't believe he's going to learn to keep his mouth shut and listen to people. Even that first apology sounds suspiciously like him choosing to engage only with someone who'll make concessions to his views - so he's not getting any practice at being wrong with humility.

Heh. I just watched an episode of Strip Search and the challenge for the contestants was how to communicate with fans through Twitter.

With guest judge Scott Kurtz, of all people! I thought he would be horrible, but it seems like he learned a lot from his mistakes. He and Gabe seem to share a philosophy that causes them trouble, though, the major tenet of which is that compromise leads to creative bankruptcy. Like, as soon as you're writing/drawing for your critics, you're not writing/drawing for yourself. That led to some good advice for the contestants in terms of sticking to their vision and not transparently fishing for ideas, but also some terrible advice in that Kurtz treated "don't engage at all" as a subpar solution in places where it was clearly the right thing to do. For Kurtz (and Gabe, I think), ignoring criticism feels like a cop-out, and not just in a reality show context.

So when Gabe talks about being backed into a corner, it's a corner of his own making. When you block the paths "compromise" and "ignore," it's no surprise when criticism drives you to the dead end "be a giant asshole to everyone."
posted by knuckle tattoos at 6:43 PM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Can someone give me a primer on the Jesse Thorn thing?
posted by bq at 6:44 PM on June 21, 2013


Even 27 is well past the age where he should be freaking out in public that people are using what he thinks is some kind of incorrect nomenclature to describe themselves.

Even if he legitimately thinks someone is trying to redefine the word Man, so he no longer is one, seriously Mike, we been controlling that definition for thousands of years, lets give someone else a shot.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:47 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


They made fun of Jesse's clothes, like every high school jock dickhead they try to pretend they're nothing like. They made fun of JJGO for working out of Jesse's apartment, exactly as they themselves started their empire. The whole thing was pretty sickening to me. http://www.penny-arcade.com/2010/3/1/
posted by akaJudge at 6:51 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


It is actually not the job of the non-transgender community, men's rights activists, survivors of muggings by people of other races, or Klansmen or any other group to explain themselves to every clueless person in the world. It is our mutual job as human beings to attempt to understand each other. You do this by reading, thinking, and listening when people tell you about their lived experiences, and agreeing that their opinion on their experiences is not only valid, but more valid than your opinion about them is. Since, you know, they lived it and you fucking haven't.

Wait what? How is that different from emjaybee's comment? Oh, right, because we know that "the transgender community, feminists, rape survivors, or people of color" are the good guys, and that men's rights activists and Klansmen are the bad guys.

No, I don't think a Klansman's racist "opinion on their experiences is not only valid, but more valid than" my opinion. But it also doesn't follow that just because someone is transgender or a person of color, that their opinion is "more right" or privileged.

There are transgender people with good ideas, and transgender people with bad ideas. Like all other people.

And if their opinions do have extra validity, as emjaybee claims, because of their life experiences, then it is their job to explain themselves to everyone else, because emjaybee implies that only they have access to this special knowledge, and so only they can adequately explain it to everyone who does not have such access.

It seems that what emjaybee is really saying is "when a person of a particular group makes a claim based on their personal experience, you are not allowed to question it."

And that's crap. No one got tablets from a burning bush, no one talked to God, no one gets to say "this is taboo to question". No one gets a pass in the marketplace of ideas, no one should be allowed the special pleading that their opinions can't be scrutinized, weighed, or tested.
posted by orthogonality at 6:58 PM on June 21, 2013 [26 favorites]


I've always kind of wondered why so many people, whom I respect deeply, get squicked out to varying degrees about PA and PAX. I'm not wondering anymore. In fact, I'm pretty sure I just don't ever need to pay any attention to anything related to PA ever again.
posted by trackofalljades at 6:59 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mike was an asshole, but he wasn't the only asshole in this story. He got death threats over this, and I'm horrified that people on the side of LGBT would use the same disgusting tactics as the people who sent death threats to, for example, Anita Sarkeesian.

Right, but he's not expressing the opinions of a minority, he's the proud majority. Death threats are reprehensible no matter what but it's a false equivalency comparing this case to that of Sarkeesian's. Consider the threats as non-actionable (because they usually aren't). It's still tasteless but it's different. The majority sends it to reinforce ideology, internally and externally; the minority, meaning trans, faces such prejudice every day. It's not a huge leap to see those threats as more of an effort of catharsis than one of aggressive persuasion.

The other thing is that Anita Sarkeesian puts a fuck ton of work into kindly introducing Feminism 101 topics and making them relevant to gamers because she is the change that she wants to see. Mike Krahulik mouthed off some kneejerk, closeminded response on Twitter that reinforces anti-intellectualism and bigotry. I'm willing to give her a hell of a lot more credit. And you don't have to make a political statement and stop enjoying reading PA but whatever money you're giving to those closeminded assholes without any attempts at changing their behavior results in a net increase in the power of that attitude.
posted by dubusadus at 7:03 PM on June 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


"It is actually not the job of the transgender community, feminists, rape survivors, or people of color or any other group to explain themselves to every clueless person in the world. It is our mutual job as human beings to attempt to understand each other. You do this by reading, thinking, and listening when people tell you about their lived experiences, and agreeing that their opinion on their experiences is not only valid, but more valid than your opinion about them is. Since, you know, they lived it and you fucking haven't. "

You are correct, it is not their job to enlighten folks.

But the tricky part of ignorance , is that, by definition, the ignorant DO NOT KNOW their ignorance.

So, yes, it's not a single group's job to educate, but for people to even know their ignorance their has to be some education done.
posted by addled_b at 7:03 PM on June 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


What's real shitty is that this is all about Mike. It's always Mike saying the stupid ass shit, and worst of all, Jerry stays silent in an attempt at solidarity or something. I realize they've been best bros since they were knuckleheads and all but Jerry actually has demonstrated himself to be open and sensitive to those on the margins, in the past.

One of them believes in god and angels and whatnot, and the other doesn't. They agree to never talk about it with each other. This feels like that, in an altogether more disappointing way.
posted by danny the boy at 7:03 PM on June 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


It seems that what emjaybee is really saying is "when a person of a particular group makes a claim based on their personal experience, you are not allowed to question it."

Well, maybe if you skipped this part:

You do this by reading, thinking, and listening when people tell you about their lived experiences, and agreeing that their opinion on their experiences is not only valid, but more valid than your opinion about them is.


You are welcome to your opinion, but it's hard to make a case that it is more valid on a VERY PERSONAL SUBJECT than the individuals in question.

It's hilarious to imply transgender individuals might get some sort of pass on that. What they really face is massive social and institutional barriers that insist they don't know what gender they are.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:04 PM on June 21, 2013 [23 favorites]


I will treat you as a woman if that’s how you present yourself to me.

Wait till he finds out about genderqueers!
posted by Talez at 7:07 PM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've never been a fan of the strip, or of Mike, but there are things within their empire which are fantastic, such as Extra Credits, which spends a hell of a lot of it's time trying to get the gaming community to stop doing this exact sort of thing.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:10 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Navelgazer: "I've never been a fan of the strip, or of Mike, but there are things within their empire which are fantastic, such as Extra Credits, which spends a hell of a lot of it's time trying to get the gaming community to stop doing this exact sort of thing."

Indeed at this point, it's a bit like Goofus and Gallant.
posted by pwnguin at 7:12 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


This whole topic is kind of Grar-bait.

It doesn't have to be. Depends where we choose to take the conversation.

gabe has issued a pair of apologies for his tweets, swearing off ever talking about topics other than comics or video games again.

That should be the lesson, as far as I'm concerned.

Several months ago, I found a great photography website. It had been shared on Twitter by a photographer I follow. I passed it along to another friend, and she wanted to post it to MetaFilter. "Great," I thought. "I'll give her a 'via' link to the tweet, and maybe some MeFites will discover the photographer. He deserves wider exposure."

I went back to Twitter to find the link, and I discovered that in the meantime he had posted a really inflammatory tweet about abortion. So okay, now we know what will happen: My friend posts the FPP with a "via" credit, somebody follows the link and reads the photographer's most recent tweet, and the entire thread becomes about abortion rather than this neat webpage—which wasn't even associated with the photographer. Instead she posted the FPP without giving him referral credit; the FPP developed into a terrific on-topic discussion, but he missed out on some potential business.

I still follow that photographer on Twitter. He's a brilliant artist, he has great insight about his profession, and he designed some dynamite software tools that he sells for a song. I couldn't care less what he thinks about abortion, or capital punishment, or health care. It escapes me why these people—that photographer, Mike Krahulik, etc—don't stop and think before they post something using their professional voices: "Does this help my business? Is this about photography/video games?" If not, then keep quiet.
posted by cribcage at 7:12 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm glad this came up here, because every once in a while I have a moment of weakness and consider posting about those guys on my own weblog. And to be frank, discussing them is blog cancer. Luckily, Metafilter is like interferon.

So the wolves mania was amazing in how much it encapsulated so many strange things and succeeded in blowing out into every forum, post, discussion I could imagine. I remember walking around New York City I would actually hear snippets of conversation about it go by. multiple times. That's crazy.

Sometime after that, I listened to a podcast which was actually just an interview by a few game journalists of the Penny arcade guys. I have to use journalist of the most weak sense imaginable, because all they did was basically drool over the guys and give them suggestions on ways to make Pax better.

About an hour into this lovefest, one journalist happened to ask if maybe the whole wolves controversy was maybe worth looking at again as a indicator of doing something not as well as it could've been.

What Jerry then launched into was a rapidly escalating critique of how he was just being himself, and it wasn't a big deal, and he meant nothing by it, and that somebody threatened his family. Ending with him very VERY pointedly indicating that somebody had threatened his family, and so can we stop discussing this?

That's all fine and good, except that he was more than happy to let things slide with all the other people getting death threats for stating an opinion. Only when it hit home, did he suddenly wrap himself in righteousness and calling to quell the death threats. At that point I was pretty much done forever for going to a convention run by them again.

Every time I seen him in action, it's like he goes out of his way to not just say the wrong things, but take glee in how wrong he says them. Having Scott Kurtz weigh in just makes it worse.

He is a broken, broken person. But nobody knows or can come up with a way to keep him from making things worse and worse. I will not be attending another of their conventions no matter how many half-baked apologies he cooks up between now and doomsday.

That said, I hold no ill will to anyone who does choose to go because there are so few conventions that do what they do. I just won't be there.
posted by jscott at 7:13 PM on June 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm a white person with a fairly monochrome set of friends and family, but I'm still capable of educating myself about racism instead of requiring that black people prove it's existence to me. No reason I can't do the same for trans issues.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:14 PM on June 21, 2013 [62 favorites]


I really hope he is having a come-to-jesus moment today or maybe tomorrow, because it could tear down many of the fine things they've accomplished over the past decade in just a couple of weeks. A young, hungry game company taking a principled stand against them should be klaxon going off in the PA offices.

The thing is, Mike shouldn't stop talking about stuff. He shouldn't run away and hide. None of those things will fix the problem. Sweeping his entitlement under the rug won't fix PA's problems. He's got to make a huge volteface, get down, beg forgiveness, and ask for true help and support, and together with Jerry make an apology and a declaration that they won't stand for it from themselves and they won't tolerate it from anyone else. Burning the dickwolves comic and merch would be a nice touch.

Really anything less is just not going to do the trick, because people have seen what Kickstarter just did today, and that's where the bar is now -- if you don't do at least that, then you're not really trying; you don't really mean it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:18 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is why I now ignore the "culture" surrounding video games.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:19 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Weird. I didn't read any of the tweets (Twitter just amplifies misunderstanding); I just read the last two links. I saw it as once it got off twitter and away from call-outs, and got down to a friend describing their experiences as a trans* person, he knew enough to admit his ignorance and decide to stop talking about it. I thought okay, give him some time and he's probably going to figure it out. Guess I read it differently than most people here

[And as for needing to have a friend sit down and explain it in detail, John Waters said it best on The Simpsons: "Well, Homer, I won your respect, and all I had to do was save your life. Now, if every gay man could just do the same, you'd be set.". i.e. yes, it shouldn't have to take that much.]
posted by benito.strauss at 7:19 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mike was an asshole, but he wasn't the only asshole in this story. He got death threats over this

I'd like to see one. Dude is such a whining martyr-complex neanderthal that I'd be surprised if he wasn't making that up to gin up some sympathy.
posted by donblood at 7:20 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is actually not the job of the non-transgender community, men's rights activists, survivors of muggings by people of other races, or Klansmen or any other group to explain themselves to every clueless person in the world. It is our mutual job as human beings to attempt to understand each other. You do this by reading, thinking, and listening when people tell you about their lived experiences, and agreeing that their opinion on their experiences is not only valid, but more valid than your opinion about them is. Since, you know, they lived it and you fucking haven't.
Wait what? How is that different from emjaybee's comment? Oh, right, because we know that "the transgender community, feminists, rape survivors, or people of color" are the good guys, and that men's rights activists and Klansmen are the bad guys.

...

It seems that what emjaybee is really saying is "when a person of a particular group makes a claim based on their personal experience, you are not allowed to question it."


What the fuck? No. The difference is that your bullshit rephrasing centers around groups whose goals involve actively diminishing the status of other groups. Transgender advocates and the other groups emjaybee mentions are just trying to secure their right to be treated as people, because that's not currently the case, institutionally speaking. A part of what emjaybee is really saying by my read is "when a person of a particular group makes a claim about themselves based on their personal experience, you have no basis on which to question it," which is trivially true.
posted by invitapriore at 7:24 PM on June 21, 2013 [27 favorites]


Wait, but Klansmen ARE the bad guys, right?
posted by akaJudge at 7:25 PM on June 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


I've never been a fan of or followed Penny Arcade. Not because I'm not a gamer (which I'm not), but because the style of drawing makes it uncomfortably look like a still from a c2000 shockwave animation.
posted by item at 7:27 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Benito, all I got out of his posted email conversation was that he still doesn't understand the difference between gender and sexuality and the only outcome of this incident is that he's decided to keep on being a bigoted asshole but just not on Twitter.

Whether or not the comic continues to perpetuate assbackwards stereotypes is presumably something for another day.
posted by dubusadus at 7:28 PM on June 21, 2013


Well, if a Klansman wanted to tell me about the experience of being a Klansman (which, honestly, we are comparing choosing to be a racist fuckhead to being transgender, ok, Jesus, whatever) then I would say, yeah, he is an expert on being a Klansman compared to people who aren't. Sure. I wouldn't presume to know what it's like to put on that white hood and burn crosses, cause I haven't done that.

But then my head would explode because we are fucking comparing being transgender to choosing to be a racist fuckhead Klansman.
posted by emjaybee at 7:28 PM on June 21, 2013 [61 favorites]


But is there a Klansman gene? Cuz otherwise I'm just not buying that they are born that way.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:36 PM on June 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


What I'm getting out of this is that Krahulik has learned exactly nothing from the dickwolves fiasco, which could have been simply, neatly resolved by their apologizing to anyone that they had offended, accompanied by an explanation that their intention was to address the problematic ethics inherent in a game like World of Warcraft. Instead, they doubled down on the offensiveness as a way of showing their outrage that anyone would dare accuse them of doing anything wrong--that'll show 'em! And it's the same damn thing here.

And, again, what really bleeds off the screen is a certain overweening arrogance. They're big gaming con tycoons and they've got their own game and (at least at one point, not sure if it's a thing any more) had a movie deal based on a one-panel high concept that they did about the only human student at an alien high school, and the fact that they've got a charity that basically acts as a middleman to encourage people to give video games to hospitals justifies whatever else they do. And the dickwolves fiasco didn't knock them off that perch, so they seem to have come away from it with exactly the wrong idea.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:37 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


One question: Mike is the Artist on PA. Jerry is the Writer. The guy who wrote the "Dickwolves" joke and the other in-strip asshattery, right?
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:42 PM on June 21, 2013


I dunno, Mike's apology doesn't seem that unreasonable. He says he takes people at their word which is more progressive on trans issues than the general populace (I think?):

To be honest with you I had no idea that you were not born a girl until just a couple months ago. When we met and hung out I always just thought you were a woman. Knowing your situation changed nothing about how I would treat you. I am happy to treat someone however they want to be treated. Wanna be a guy or a girl or a fox or whatever and I will be happy to treat you that way.

twitter: what you are physically has 0 bearing on what I treat you like.If you want to be treated like a lady I'll treat you that way


But he unapologetically holds some gender essentialist views:

But I think that is very different from the physical reality of your human body.

Which I suspect a large majority of even generally progressive people do. He's just honest about it. Maybe I'm going out of my way to defend him because that's probably where I sit. I treat everyone as what they self-identify, but I can't honestly say I don't make any distinction between transwomen and ciswomen as far as dating. I would not say transwomen are not women, but I also wouldn't make no distinction.

Mike is a guy who gets into scraps, which people on the internet (even Metafilter) love when they agree with, and hate when they don't. He seems unable to avoid lashing out at criticism, and given the size of his megaphone, this is what you get. All Mike's problems seem to start from pretty reasonable places, then in response to dubious criticisms, move from pretty reasonable to not at all okay.

If I remember right the consensus on the original Dickwolves stuff was reasonably okay, it was the reaction to the criticism where things went way off the rails.

The same here: I guess this started because there was a game about female masturbation and it focused on biologically female genitals, which was criticized for invalidating transwomen's experiences. I have a little trouble taking that complaint seriously, but in response to criticism Mike goes overboard with some clearly not okay stuff.

He summarizes the situation pretty well and seems to see this flaw in himself:

So there you go. It’s not an easy conversation to have. Or maybe it is if you’re willing to actually have a conversation. My reaction when I feel backed into corner is to be an asshole. It’s essentially how I defend myself. It’s been that way since was in elementary school. I’m 36 now. Maybe it’s finally time to try and let some of that shit go.
posted by pseudonick at 7:43 PM on June 21, 2013 [32 favorites]


The Fullbright Company statement is thoughtful and worth reading:

We know that this will do them no harm; that’s not the point. Another developer will take our slot at the Megabooth; they won’t lose any ticket sales; we won’t hurt their feelings. If anything, we’re hurting ourselves– our ability to reach new fans who might not have heard of Gone Home, to connect with players, sell stuff, meet with press and video crews, and so on.

But this is not something that we’re doing for practical reasons.

We are a four-person team. Two of us are women and one of us is gay. Gone Home deals in part with LGBT issues. This stuff is important to us, on a lot of different levels. And Penny Arcade is not an entity that we feel welcomed by or comfortable operating alongside.


And, clicking through, Kotaku's review of Gone Home makes it sound really, really interesting:

In the game, you play as a young woman named Katie who is returning from traveling overseas to her home in fictional Boone County, Oregon in 1995. She returns to find her house empty, with a note on the front door from her teenaged younger sister Sam asking Katie not to look for her. And that's the whole setup—players must then move about the house, picking up and examining items and gradually plumbing the depths of the building and learning the story of those who lived there...

I played through an early build of Gone Home comprising of its first act—two floors of the house...Everything is arranged just so, and everything can be picked up, manipulated, and put down. When you find a crucial clue, you'll hear an audio diary a la BioShock. The audio diaries aren't really explained in the game's fiction—you aren't finding tapes lying around. This actually makes things feel more believable, not less. In the first act, the audio diaries all came from Sam, and recount some of her small personal misadventures growing up and finding herself. The diaries are all wonderfully performed and written, and combined with artifacts of Sam's that I'd found—a mixtape with a sharpied note from a friend, an X-Files poster, a stashed magazine, a concert flyer—painted a vivid, affecting picture of the young sister I'd never known. (I don't want to spoil any specifics—this is a game that entirely revolves around discovery, so I'll leave it to you to discover them on your own.)

[...Team leader] Gaynor said, "maybe what we're doing is kind of a reaction to other games. A lot of times you'll see developers try to make you connect with a character by making you watch them do a lot of animations, emote straight into the camera, get big shiny tears on their faces and dance all over the uncanny valley to try and win you over... we wanted to make a game where you really get to know these characters, make a connection with them and come to understand them personally, not by watching them perform for you—in fact by cutting them out of the scene entirely, and giving you access to all the ephemera of their lives: Where they lived, what they left behind, how they communicated with each other and what they hid from each other and what they hid from themselves. We hope that you'll come away from Gone Home feeling a deeper connection to these characters than you've felt in other games."

From what I played, it's working.


Rock Paper Shotgun did a recent interview with Gaynor that also makes the game sound really, really interesting. There doesn't seem to be a release date beyond "2013," though.
posted by mediareport at 7:48 PM on June 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


swearing off ever talking about topics other than comics or video games again.

Yeah, maybe he should just swear off being an asshole.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:49 PM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


But it doesn't make their opinion unquestionably right.

Repeating, you aren't being asked to be unquestioning. You are being given advice on how to approach that questioning. Read. Think. Realize that people have a better understanding of their own experiences than you do. No one has asked you to reject medical science.

Question: Tell me about your experiences with being a transgender person. Can you link me to any good books or scientific studies to read?

Not a Question: You were born with a pee-pee so you are a boy.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:01 PM on June 21, 2013 [27 favorites]


What's real shitty is that this is all about Mike. It's always Mike saying the stupid ass shit, and worst of all, Jerry stays silent in an attempt at solidarity or something. I realize they've been best bros since they were knuckleheads and all but Jerry actually has demonstrated himself to be open and sensitive to those on the margins, in the past.

Just wanted to jump on this a little bit. Like jscott said above, on the dickwolves thing Jerry was still pretty indignant. Similarly, with the controversy over the art in Dragon's Crown, it was Jerry who stepped in with his news post to defend the gazonga boobs. Penny Arcade's problems are due to the team as a whole, not just one member.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:01 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wanna be a guy or a girl or a fox or whatever and I will be happy to treat you that way.

But I think that is very different from the physical reality of your human body.


"I'll indulge you in whatever crazy fantasies you want, but you have to know this; I am right, you are just a deluded man in drag."

Christ what an asshole. That's how he apologizes to a friend who is trying to reach out to him?
posted by Garm at 8:07 PM on June 21, 2013 [34 favorites]


[We do not need to have the "justify the existence of trans people" debate here. There is plenty of history on Mefi if you want to go searching for it. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 8:11 PM on June 21, 2013 [10 favorites]


It would be pretty okay all things considered if you could find a better way to express your lack of understanding over trans issues without invoking klansmen or fatal diseases or illiterate religious fanatics.
posted by elizardbits at 8:12 PM on June 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


"I want you to listen carefully. Your problem isn't Jewish people. Or black people, or Atheists, or Mexicans or even Gypsies. Your problem is you're an asshole."
posted by Navelgazer at 8:12 PM on June 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


I used to read PA all the time. Hell, I flinched a little at the original Dickwolves comic, but did not think of it as making light of rape in any way (more the ridic use of 'fates worse than death' trope in games). Except, after the furore and their reaction I stopped reading. I didn't want to waste my time, my energy, on someone who thinks it's hilarious to market a shirt that is designed to make me, a rape survivor, think about rape when I see it in a public, male-dominated space. Then all the other shit happened. I considered going to PAXAUS, in fact my husband is going, my bff is going, and I wish them well.

But I know this latest round of dickwolfing is going to take its toll on them, as fans. It won't be as fun, knowing that the PAX crew think critiquing games is dumb and too far, as long as we're critiquing something other than the mechanics. It's that bullshit standard where 'games are aaaaaaaaaaaaaart' right up to the point where there's some responsibility, some vulnerability to critique, then suddenly 'it's just for fun, you're no fun' gets whipped out like that solves everything. That being trans* is something like pretending to be a fox. That women have no real place in gaming if we want to be taken seriously. That their vision of the future of gaming is so hostile to our children, to us. That's what will destroy their love for PA, eventually.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:14 PM on June 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


What I'm getting out of this is that Krahulik has learned exactly nothing from the dickwolves fiasco, which could have been simply, neatly resolved by their apologizing to anyone that they had offended, accompanied by an explanation that their intention was to address the problematic ethics inherent in a game like World of Warcraft. Instead, they doubled down on the offensiveness as a way of showing their outrage that anyone would dare accuse them of doing anything wrong--that'll show 'em! And it's the same damn thing here.

Ah, but the whole core of Dickwolfgate was that they steadfastly believed they HADN'T done what they were accused of -- trivializing rape for a cheap laugh. I suspect they still stand by their belief that an offhand reference to rape is far different from glorification.

Whereas here Gabe responded with the same kind of incredulity -- 'are you SERIOUSLY coming after me on this issue?' -- was given a quick tutorial by a friend as to why what he tweeted was over the line, and came out within an hour or so saying "welp, I fucked up." Is he now a tireless crusader for trans rights? Probably not. But he's coming out and saying "Now I understand why people were so pissed at me and I'm sorry." Not gonna see any "Team Cis" shirts at the next PAX.

The curse of celebrity is that Gabe in particular but PA in general need to realize that they are no longer Two Guys With A Webcomic; they need PR guys to go over just about everything they say or do in public, and Twitter makes making an ass of yourself in public much, much easier.
posted by delfin at 8:16 PM on June 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


Hey for the record I was satirizing what I regard as arbitrary hoops people set up while also saying Klansman are a crazy comparison, it isn't like people are born wearing sheets in their head.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:18 PM on June 21, 2013


I feel like we shouldn't verb dickwolf.
posted by boo_radley at 8:19 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


You know, when I feel backed into a corner, my reaction is also to be an asshole.

Like, whenever I get reminded about Vincent Chin, or another round of gay bashing, yeah, I think, and sometimes I even say, "Fuck white people. They're called gweilo because they are the color of death, which is all they bring. Fuck 'em, every last one, I can't wait for the Asian century and the African century and pretty much every damn non-White millennium and crush every last gasping lily-white throat under my boot," or, "Fuck breeders. Every last one of them. I hope some day they all get some straights-only version of AIDS and die while I listen to some queer bands play on and fucking on."

It's a prick move. I know. I also think it's natural.

Like, once, I told a girl friend of mine that she didn't need make up, and that I'm sure she was pretty naturally or whatever. I meant it as a compliment. Instead I got a long lecture about social mores, the crushing burden of appearances, and a whole lot of shit that I didn't really want to think about. And my reaction was, though I didn't say it aloud, "Jesus fucking christ, can't you just take a goddamn compliment for once?"

I once offered honey to a vegan friend of mine. I didn't think anything of it, it was an option when making tea. Lemon? Sugar? Honey? (I omitted the milk since I knew they'd not want it.) Instead, I was told I was an inconsiderate asshole for offering the product of an enslaved animal. And my first reaction was, though I didn't say it aloud, "Oh for fuck's sake, I didn't want to get into this goddamn fifteen minute rant. They're bees. They're going extinct, might as well enjoy it while we can."

Or, once, I'd sorta just completely stopped talking to a transwoman acquaintance of mine. Why? Because every conversation was about how awful cis people were, how cis people should all go die, and so on and so forth. All I'd asked was something along the lines of how it felt to finally be a woman. My reaction was, flat out, "If I'm so terrible, I'll just see myself to the door. You clearly don't want me around."

I get it. Identity is one of those really close-to-the-heart sort of things. It's the core of who you are. When it gets shat on, however unintentionally, however ignorantly, over time, it builds up, until it becomes a bundle of raw nerves, constantly being grated. It's easy to snap. There are lots of ignorant people in the world.

And you know what? Sometimes it takes a while to get those ignorant people to come around. I conceded, after a few hours, that maybe the "compliment" that I gave was probably a little bit oversaturated with male privilege. I realized, after a few weeks, that phrasing it like, "...now that you're a woman" was grossly inconsiderate. I still have no clue about the honey thing, because I keep getting conflicting messages, so I just don't bother offering sweeteners anymore.

Let's be real. Gabe is a straight white dude, doing reasonably well from a class standpoint. He's also damaged goods, like all of us are. He says some damn fool things, but then again, I do too. Being put on the defensive immediately, though? Well, I get it, the lashing out. Maybe he'll get better at this shit over time. Maybe he won't. Maybe he'll realize what he said was oozing with privilege and inconsiderate. Maybe he'll just not bother offering his thoughts anymore.

The reaction, I think, is normal. Just because he's won the privilege lottery doesn't mean he suddenly isn't allowed to immediately go into a defensive crouch when he feels he's being attacked. It's not ideal, but it's understandable.

I think the difference here, at least to my eyes, being cis, being male, is that at least once when someone explained it to him, he started to sorta get what the problem was. Baby steps.

If it's not far enough for some, that's fine. Walk away. There's no obligation to teach, and there's no obligation to support them, involve them, or even recognize them. Cut them out and cauterize what remains.
posted by qcubed at 8:22 PM on June 21, 2013 [35 favorites]


You know, when I feel backed into a corner, my reaction is also to be an asshole.

Yeah, me too. Then I turned 19. Sure it's normal to get defensive when someone calls you on your bullshit. You and me, we learned to do better than that.
posted by Nelson at 8:29 PM on June 21, 2013 [16 favorites]


In addition to all of the above, Penny Arcade just isn't that great of a comic. It's about as good as the average rural newspaper's editorial cartoon.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:30 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


As I said to someone today, there are always idiots in any community, and engaging with the idiots is what causes most of the problems. This is how a dipshit crack about a female masturbation game turns into a biology discussion and a mountain of hurt feelings. If you really thought you could educate Mike, you're an idiot. Mike, if you really thought you were going to make a nuanced point, you're an idiot.

Don't wrestle with a pig. You'll both get dirty. And the pig likes it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:30 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


knowing that the PAX crew think critiquing games is dumb and too far

It isn't clear at this point that Mike Krahulik or Jerry Holkins wrote the original description of the Australian panel; in fact, I'm pretty confident in assuming they didn't. You can argue they're somehow responsible for creating a climate in which one of the organizers of an international version of their signature event felt comfortable writing something like "involve any antagonist race other than Anglo-Saxons and you're a racist," but I'd be surprised if Mike or Jerry had anything to do with that specific description.

Also, for what it's worth the 'public criticism' link ends with this: most of the journalists involved in the panel weren't privy to the text prior to it being submitted to PAX, and weren't briefed on the content beyond the initial question of games and their reviews being taken too seriously.

My guess is that some relatively ignorant Aussie organizer wanted to goose the panel description with something provocative, had no clue how to do that intelligently and so ended up putting forward a stupendously (even hilariously) reactionary framing of the discussion about the relationship between games and their critics. I know some folks here won't want to admit it but the rapid replacement of the dumb text does say at least one good thing about Mike and Jerry in this episode.
posted by mediareport at 8:32 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


In addition to all of the above, Penny Arcade just isn't that great of a comic. It's about as good as the average rural newspaper's editorial cartoon.

I won't disagree with that. But for strange historical reasons that I'd love to see get explored in-depth elsewhere, it's become a lot more than that. And honestly, now that they've gotten so much bigger than the webcomic they've done some good things with a power. It's just a real shame that there's some poop mixed in with that cake.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:33 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doleful Creature's Personal Rules for being "edgy":

1. Never punch down.
2. Spend a lot of time truly understanding what #1 is about.
3. When you think you've mastered step #2, begin again. You're not quite there yet.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:37 PM on June 21, 2013 [48 favorites]


They make a webcomic and it isn't pure shit, and that is something that is only recently not a rarity. Back when they started, it was almost completely unheard of (I mean, their competition was basically User Fucking Friendly), so it's not hard to see how they gained their popularity.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:37 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but still - my impression of Robert Khoo is that he's a true miracle worker.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:41 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mr. Krahulik is not an idiot. I presume he is mentally capable of reading, listening and empathy. He just doesn't want to do any of those things.
The problem is not only that he doesn't want to apply empathy. It's that he doesn't have to. There are many perfectly intelligent people who are more than capable of understanding LGBTQ issues if they applied some of that intelligence to that effort. But they don't have to, because they're straight in a society that assumes "straight is normal." If you're "normal", you don't have to bear any of the pain of not being "normal." You can, of course, but it's sort of optional, right? Calling out misinformed public figures when they say something stupid slowly chips away at that privilege.
posted by deathpanels at 8:49 PM on June 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


addled_b: "This seems to highlight a community outreach/education blindspot for the trans community.

They need to do a better job explaining how being transgender differs from body dysmorphic type afflictions like anorexia, surgical addiction, self mutilation problems, etc.

His comments make much more sense if you understand that the 'mainstream' views transgenderism as a body dysmorphia problem, and not a possible body abstraction layer issue, or simply a self determination issue.
"

I know I go to Natalie Reed a lot, but here is her discussion of body integrity identity disorder in relation to gender dysphoria (at the time called gender identity disorder). I find it likely that her view has changed some - she's always working to improve her understanding of things - but it's an interesting read. I know I'm a little late to the discussion but I think this is a good place to start with regards to your curiosity in this area.
posted by Corinth at 8:54 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


A big part of what makes up Mike Krahaliuk is his experience of being bullied. He's said elsewhere that he'd happily burn the world just to torch a bully. He does, in some sense, understand that he's now the powerful one, but watching him in these circumstances, you can see that "I'm being bullied" reaction in his id fighting with the superego that understands that he's the privileged one.

This is still a pratfall on the social consciousness stage, but it's definitely an improvement over l'Affaire Dickwolves, where patient and justified criticism became fuel for aggressively ignorant mockery. Either he's learned to publicly disengage or somewhere near him is telling him to.

Still... after Dickwolves, I drifted away, and I'd started drifting back lately, but then... just sooooooo done.
posted by fatbird at 9:00 PM on June 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


Nelson:
It'd be nice if everyone "matured" at the same rate. It'd also be nice if I shat rainbows and had a mechanized unicorn that had laser eyes.

Not everyone does. And, I think more to the point of this case... not everyone has metric fucktons of Twitter followers and "celebrity", where every single misstep can get amplified a thousandfold. If I make some horrifically asinine comment, I could possibly lose like, 20% of my followers. Easy to do, since the number of followers I have is in the super-high double-digits, if by double-digits you don't go over like, 20. When someone like him does, well, it goes to a much bigger audience.

Does that come with more responsibility? No doubt. Are people still trying to wrap their heads around this? Also no doubt. I'm not trying to defend what he's said, or what he's done. I'm just saying, I can totally see where it's coming from.

Maybe he could get some tips from the Microsoft XBox PR team, they seem to be doing a whiz-bang job, at least compared to him.

Seriously, I wish I had that unicorn. It would be awwwwweeeeesome.
posted by qcubed at 9:01 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain this to me in MeMail, or send me a MeMail with a link to a good explanation:

Like, once, I told a girl friend of mine that she didn't need make up, and that I'm sure she was pretty naturally or whatever. I meant it as a compliment. Instead I got a long lecture about social mores, the crushing burden of appearances, and a whole lot of shit that I didn't really want to think about. And my reaction was, though I didn't say it aloud, "Jesus fucking christ, can't you just take a goddamn compliment for once?"

This specific thing confuses me, and has for a while.

I get a lot of unsolicited comments from women that I look better with/without a beard (it varies by person, no surprise there), and that they prefer men with/without a beard, and presumably they give me these unsolicited comments because they think it's okay to do so. At the same time, I do genuinely find makeup-less and heel-less women more attractive (something I've likely mentioned a few times on MetaFilter in context, but have only mentioned to women directly when they bring the subject up) and I find myself confounded by what the difference is and why it is there.

I don't like having blind spots -- although I realize this is just me knocking down one of likely thousands of blind spots I have -- but if someone can sum this up for me in MeMail or point me to a good source on this in MeMail, I'd be grateful.

now back to the thread.
posted by davejay at 9:15 PM on June 21, 2013


I feel like we shouldn't verb dickwolf.

Thank you for that.
posted by verb at 9:18 PM on June 21, 2013 [16 favorites]


I feel like we shouldn't verb dickwolf.

Can we still wolf dickverbs?
posted by yoink at 9:23 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


The problem is not only that he doesn't want to apply empathy. It's that he doesn't have to. There are many perfectly intelligent people who are more than capable of understanding LGBTQ issues if they applied some of that intelligence to that effort. But they don't have to, because they're straight in a society that assumes "straight is normal." If you're "normal", you don't have to bear any of the pain of not being "normal." You can, of course, but it's sort of optional, right? Calling out misinformed public figures when they say something stupid slowly chips away at that privilege.

I recently saw somebody phrase it thus: Privilege is where you don't think something is a problem because it isn't a problem for you. I really like that.


I get a lot of unsolicited comments from women that I look better with/without a beard (it varies by person, no surprise there), and that they prefer men with/without a beard, and presumably they give me these unsolicited comments because they think it's okay to do so. At the same time, I do genuinely find makeup-less and heel-less women more attractive (something I've likely mentioned a few times on MetaFilter in context, but have only mentioned to women directly when they bring the subject up) and I find myself confounded by what the difference is and why it is there.

Two things. First, the comments incoming at you are also not okay if they're unwelcome. Second, women are judged based on their appearance in ways that we as men can only begin to imagine.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:28 PM on June 21, 2013 [16 favorites]


pseudonick: "But he unapologetically holds some gender essentialist views:

"But I think that is very different from the physical reality of your human body."

Which I suspect a large majority of even generally progressive people do. He's just honest about it. Maybe I'm going out of my way to defend him because that's probably where I sit. I treat everyone as what they self-identify, but I can't honestly say I don't make any distinction between transwomen and ciswomen as far as dating. I would not say transwomen are not women, but I also wouldn't make no distinction.

Mike is a guy who gets into scraps, which people on the internet (even Metafilter) love when they agree with, and hate when they don't. He seems unable to avoid lashing out at criticism, and given the size of his megaphone, this is what you get. All Mike's problems seem to start from pretty reasonable places, then in response to dubious criticisms, move from pretty reasonable to not at all okay.

If I remember right the consensus on the original Dickwolves stuff was reasonably okay, it was the reaction to the criticism where things went way off the rails.

The same here: I guess this started because there was a game about female masturbation and it focused on biologically female genitals, which was criticized for invalidating transwomen's experiences. I have a little trouble taking that complaint seriously, but in response to criticism Mike goes overboard with some clearly not okay stuff.
"

"A large majority of even generally progressive people" have horrible views of trans people, obviously. It sounds like automatically making a distinction between trans women and cis women (note the spaces - they're both women being modified by adjectives) is something that you should ideally be working on to improve yourself. I don't want to kick off a whole thing where people start whining about how dating preferences are unassailable, but I wonder if you'd make the same assertion about black women vs. white women without seriously thinking about where that feeling came from. Anyway, that's not a huge deal but is potentially a huge derail.

Actually, this started because Mike was surprised or weirded out by trans women's existence. When Kotaku ran that piece about the masturbation game a couple of weeks ago, they included a short note about how not all women have the same parts:

Kotaku: "Another thing: not all women have vaginas. This fact makes the game exclusionary."

That's the only mention made of it. It's kind of inartfully done, but it is accurate.

Anyway, of the whole article, Krahulik was confused or struck or something by the mention of the existence of women without vaginas, and chose to comment on it without provocation on his Twitter, saying:

@cwgabriel: "not all women have vaginas." thanks Kotaku. You teach me so much.

There's no way to read that generously. Given that he didn't have to say anything, but chose to say something all on his own, it's pretty much just pointing at trans women and saying, "gee, these people are weird," which really doesn't need to be done, or sarcastically and casually dismissing them as women, which also really doesn't need to be done. This was two weeks ago, many people engaged with him. As with this round, some people were calm and polite and sincerely offering education, and some were reactionary and mean. I have no idea why he wanted to run that back by repeating his dumb ignorant privileged viewpoint more over the last couple of days, but there it is.
posted by Corinth at 9:29 PM on June 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


Regarding the death threats, gabe had actually called for more of them, so...
posted by yeoz at 9:44 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


He could probably have handled this better.

That said, you don't have to be transphobic to dislike terms like "cisgender".

I can totally relate to someone being cool with trans people, supporting their right to self expression, and so on, and also disliking the heavy jargon academia style of identity politics. It can get pretty wanky and annoying fast. And I say that as someone who's into film criticism (and also get really tired of that at times).

In short, loving the invention of nomenclature, new labels, and the academic/identity politics discourse that some parts of the LGBTQ community are enamored with are not obligatory for being an ally of that community. Hell, I'm a part of that community, and I get fucking annoyed with all that more often than not.

That said, it's completely possible that Krahulik transphobic. I'm just not sure it's reasonable to call him transphobic just because he has a low tolerance for jargon.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:54 PM on June 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


As I fall endlessly through the fractal ignorance of sex and gender that is this discussion on twitter, I am most impressed by one thing: somehow, there are still people patient enough to engage those that make even the slightest effort to understand these complex issues. Not that everyone should take the time to do so, and obviously it would be nice if they didn't have to, but, damn. Respect.
posted by Lorin at 9:59 PM on June 21, 2013 [9 favorites]



That said, it's completely possible that Krahulik transphobic. I'm just not sure it's reasonable to call him transphobic just because he has a low tolerance for jargon.


I don't think anyone is...

However, derailing discussions about trans issues by complaining about how awful it is to be called cis is a pretty common tactic, and it would be odd not to point that out.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:00 PM on June 21, 2013 [27 favorites]


Also, in the whole "not all women have vaginas" debate, I think it'd be great if people recognized that words have many different meanings, different people use words to mean different things, and words do not need to have precise, logical meanings. We're not robots.

Using the word "woman" to mean "a person born with unambiguously female genitals" is not a wrong usage. It's not the only usage, but it's not wrong. I'm not even sure it's gender essentialist, it's just one of the possible meanings of the word. And I say that as someone who believes gender identity is about as fluid and many-splendored as things can get.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:01 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler: "Also, in the whole "not all women have vaginas" debate, I think it'd be great if people recognized that words have many different meanings, different people use words to mean different things, and words do not need to have precise, logical meanings. We're not robots.

Using the word "woman" to mean "a person born with unambiguously female genitals" is not a wrong usage. It's not the only usage, but it's not wrong. I'm not even sure it's gender essentialist, it's just one of the possible meanings of the word. And I say that as someone who believes gender identity is about as fluid and many-splendored as things can get.
"

Nobody uses the word that way. People only say they meant the word that way after someone corrects them, so that they can avoid being wrong about anything ever and crush real people with their 1995 Merriam-Webster.
posted by Corinth at 10:05 PM on June 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


Using the word "woman" to mean "a person born with unambiguously female genitals" is not a wrong usage.

You're kind of arguing strawmen here. No one is claiming either of the things you're talking about.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:05 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Man, Twitter. It's one thing to be wrong and ignorant. Most people are wrong and ignorant at some point and can learn from it and maybe without even embarrassing themselves and shitting on other people. I'd like to think that even at 16 (which is the approximate age this guy comes off as here) I would avoid broadcasting thoughts like these to a wide audience. At worst maybe a car full of friends or maybe a table at the pub where people can tell me I'm dumb and we can all move on. OH LOOK HERE'S A THOUGHT THAT WILL PISS PEOPLE OFF AND HERE'S A MEGAPHONE. What a piece of shit thing to do. Ugh.

Also that panel. You need a panel for that discussion? You need a panel of speakers and an audience at an event to walk around scratching your balls and complaining about "THIS PC SHIT HAS GONE TOO FAR WHERE THE TITTIES AT"? Cuz I feel like that discussion is pretty much happening all the time and these guys have said their piece already and maybe it's time for them to at least try and catch up.
posted by Hoopo at 10:06 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thinking these guys are transphobic is kind of silly. If anything they (or at least Mike) are just misinformed/ignorant of the subject.

Hell, I would find it pretty difficult to believe they were transphobic seeing that there is essentially a transgender issues in gaming mini-con that makes up PAX East and PAX Prime for the last year or so.
posted by tittergrrl at 10:07 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


In addition to all of the above, Penny Arcade just isn't that great of a comic. It's about as good as the average rural newspaper's editorial cartoon.

A couple of people have done this and its weird. If the PA guys do something wrong, it is wrong even if they're the second coming of Bill Waterson. If they do something right, it is right even if they're the second coming of Cathy Guisewite.

Personally, PA is one of about 3 webcomics I can tolerate. I think it ranges from mediocre to truly excellent.

Does that say anything about their comments here? Nope. Neither does your sour grapes.
posted by Justinian at 10:09 PM on June 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


tittergrrl: "Thinking these guys are transphobic is kind of silly. If anything they (or at least Mike) are just misinformed/ignorant of the subject.

Hell, I would find it pretty difficult to believe they were transphobic seeing that there is essentially a transgender issues in gaming mini-con that makes up PAX East and PAX Prime for the last year or so.
"

FWIW one of the women who heads that panel was one of the completely calm and reasonable people attempting to engage with and educate Mike with no acknowledgement: @pikoeri

Also it's totally not silly to think that Mike is transphobic, and it may or may not be privilege that allows you to state otherwise with confidence. These aren't semantic games to trans people - it's cis people telling them their identities are invalid and that they're not real (for some arbitrary and movable definition of real).
posted by Corinth at 10:14 PM on June 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


If they do something right, it is right even if they're the second coming of Cathy Guisewite.

I reject that entirely. The second coming of Cathy Guisewite cannot be right about anything. It's Cathy Fucking Guisewite. She could be correctly telling me my hair was on fire and I'd still want to check a mirror to see for myself.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:15 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


That said, you don't have to be transphobic to dislike terms like "cisgender".

Not every thread about trans issues has to be about whether or not somebody likes the phrase cis. I wonder if we could table that discussion for a thread where it is the primary subject.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:18 PM on June 21, 2013 [23 favorites]


mediareport: "My guess is that some relatively ignorant Aussie organizer wanted to goose the panel description with something provocative, had no clue how to do that intelligently and so ended up putting forward a stupendously (even hilariously) reactionary framing of the discussion about the relationship between games and their critics. I know some folks here won't want to admit it but the rapid replacement of the dumb text does say at least one good thing about Mike and Jerry in this episode."

Absolutely - except they go out and undo the good shit. They could have done something that wasn't dickwolfy*, and instead went full on the 'why should I educate myself when I can be a jerk instead?'.

Contextually, this is coming in Australia after a really really fucking difficult week for misogynist bullshit. We've got fallout from a political fundraiser referring to our Prime Minister's vagina, lead coaches calling for women to be silent, the revelation at a rape-murder trial that the murderer was a serial rapist but since it was 'only' sex workers he got released, the Prime Minister being asked if her partner is gay since, y'know, only gays do hairdressing and that's just the shit that's happening here in Oz. Forgive us if 'we didn't mean it that way, and here's a bit of transphobic ignorance' just doesn't fucking cut it as an apology. It's the same weaseling shit falling out of men's mouths when they're getting pulled up on sexualising the PM, denigrating her, homophobically speculating on her sex life. That's the context of the Australian scene right now and while most of this is happening on twitter and from US commentators, don't think for a moment it isn't affecting the homeground take on the situation.

*I discussed this off-handedly at another con recently - I don't much like the term 'neckbeard' as a pejorative because, well, I like beards. And one cannot help the configuration of one's bodily hair outside time-consuming/painful/annoying deforestation. But one can 'help' being a dickwolf. It encapsulates, for me, that sector of the gaming community that makes it so absolutely vile and fucking dumb, that I give up every time I start trying to play again. It's not terribly fun as a word but 'misogynistic, rapey, creepy, bullying, ignorant, bigoted and privileged jerks' is fairly long.
posted by geek anachronism at 10:23 PM on June 21, 2013 [16 favorites]


Er, quick correction: Mike did respond to that person, but didn't listen to her. As she requested, it would probably benefit him to attend her panel.
posted by Corinth at 10:24 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


He went pretty far beyond annoyance at the cis jargon, stating (according to the linked screenshot) that "if thinking that all women have a vagina makes me a monster then yes I am a monster."

I'm not a follower of Penny Arcade but I am a gamer (and a gaymer) and a self-professed geek and atheist and skeptic . . . and, more and more, I just want to say, "it's shit like this, geek culture." Whether it's Richard Dawkins absurdly and viciously attacking Rebecca Watson for her calling-out of men who make women feel uncomfortable on elevators at conferences, the misogynistic and jingoistic 14-year-olds dominating /r/atheism, or the complete Randroidian lack of even a trace of social empathy among libertarian technocrats, it seems to me that geek culture has become a kingdom of loudmouthed yet somehow still allegedly "thoughtful-yet-wounded" assholes.

Assholes are assholes, and you -- anyone -- can be an asshole too. I think that may be a hard thing to admit when you're coming from a traditionally dis-empowered position.
posted by treepour at 10:26 PM on June 21, 2013 [13 favorites]


Absolutely - except they go out and undo the good shit.

They did an Eddie Maguire, you might say.
posted by dumbland at 10:27 PM on June 21, 2013


He's got to make a huge volteface, get down, beg forgiveness, and ask for true help and support


Yeah, see, that's exactly the attitude that gets Mike (like so many) pissed off and defensive. The attitude that it's not enough for someone to listen, or think, or live right, or even apologize; they must beg, they must crawl, they must acknowledge that you were always right about everything and they can only plead for you to come in and scrub their mind clean. Anyone with any dignity would tell you to jump in a lake.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:32 PM on June 21, 2013 [17 favorites]


Not every thread about trans issues has to be about whether or not somebody likes the phrase cis. I wonder if we could table that discussion for a thread where it is the primary subject.

Bunny, considering that disliking the term cis was exactly the content of the offending tweet, it's hardly a derail here.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:33 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anyone with any dignity would tell you to jump in a lake.

I kind of agree. The get down and beg thing was kinda creepy.

That's not what he has to do. He just has to stop tweeting stupid shit. That's it. I don't care what is in someone's heart, I care what they put out into the world.
posted by Justinian at 10:35 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm just not sure it's reasonable to call him transphobic just because he has a low tolerance for jargon.

These are guys who embrace all sorts of new coinings and/or jargon in their role as videogame/nerd culture commentators, though. When somebody demonstrates that they have no problem integrating new words into their vocabulary in general, but suddenly develops a fear of 'jargon' when the particular new word was coined by trans people, I'm at the very least highly suspicious of their reasons.
posted by emmtee at 10:37 PM on June 21, 2013 [33 favorites]


Mike is not a super good role model, but I get both his confusion about trans issues and his frustration with something he said resulting in ten thousand angry tweets aimed his way. He's still the person in power here, but damn does a sea of angry Internet do a good job of hiding that fact sometimes.

The word "cis" is only bothersome in the way that the word "straight" or "white" is bothersome. A a descriptor it is kind of useful; as a necessary modifier it is often bulky and unnecessary and points something out to people who may not want to think about that thing—which is also what makes it so frequently useful or necessary.

In an ideal world maybe "cisgendered" wouldn't be tossed about so often because in an ideal world maybe men could become women and women could become men without Mike saying dumb shit on Twitter. He says things we don't like, we say things he don't like, maybe we're just a bit closer to being even.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:43 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bunny, considering that disliking the term cis was exactly the content of the offending tweet, it's hardly a derail here.

Whether or not members of this site like the term is a derail. And one we have indulged abundantly.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:43 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


You know what words are LABELS? "Men" and "Women". Maybe men can have penises and women have vaginas, but PEOPLE can have either.. or neither, and they're still People. And anything beyond that is your own personal labels, which are better left to the inside of your own mind.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:44 PM on June 21, 2013


Oh and passports.

Your mind and passports.
posted by ODiV at 10:45 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Passports.

And you wonder why some of us are worried about the Government getting too much of our personal information?

This.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:47 PM on June 21, 2013


ThatFuzzyBastard: "Yeah, see, that's exactly the attitude that gets Mike (like so many) pissed off and defensive. The attitude that it's not enough for someone to listen, or think, or live right, or even apologize; they must beg, they must crawl, they must acknowledge that you were always right about everything and they can only plead for you to come in and scrub their mind clean. Anyone with any dignity would tell you to jump in a lake."

That's not really taking in the context that all this lives in. These two guys, they're the leaders of a community, that for many was (finally!) a place where they were accepted for being who they are--nerdy gamers who had no purchase in the mainstream culture. A lot has changed since then, and nerd/game culture has become far more mainstream, but that's the origin of the community.

Now this leader over the last few years has said a bunch of stuff that is amazingly hurtful to parts of that community. People feel betrayed and unwelcome, in a group that they thought was accepting of them.

It's not about begging for forgiveness. It's a loss of trust, and yeah, honestly, not much than a road to damascus type relevation is going to heal those wounds for a lot of people.
posted by danny the boy at 10:50 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Corinth: Oh, I understand. And no, it is impossible for me to know for sure if he is transphobic or not. But I think it is silly to jump to that conclusion with the evidence given. Everything he has said seems to jibe more with just not understanding the nuances of being transgender, gender vs sex, etc etc.

And, again, he can be a bit of an Internet asshole who will automatically jump into defensive mode if someone calls him out... especially when so many people did over this.

It's interesting, because a lot of these sorts of discussions have shown up on the blue in the post, with many people echoing Mike's own words. A lot of people, though, just were completely ignorant about what it is to be transgendered... and as they learned more and talked to people who are or know people who are trans, their opinions seemed to have changed. It seems that's also been starting to happen with Mike (the twitter convo, the email convo with Sophie Prell in the apologies link). I can only hope that he has the same result.

I may very well be giving him too much credit, of course, too.
posted by tittergrrl at 10:53 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Penny Arcade and all the controversy that's clung to them for the last couple years are an important part of the change that's coming to gaming in the same timeframe. I think it's really too bad for them, because I think they're actually extremely progressive relative to the center of mass of gaming right now. But because they're so open and so unfiltered, they're attracting this enormous amount of flack for not being progressive enough.

I think all of that is very good for gaming and hopefully for games. It's part of the cultural shift that anyone in 2013 who thinks about it for 20 solid seconds realizes needs to happen. It's just too bad for Penny Arcade that they become the center of these storms. Unless it isn't, in the sense that all publicity is good publicity. Maybe everyone just wins, here, with some obligatory amount of bad feeling.
posted by gurple at 10:53 PM on June 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


PA could be staking out a place for themselves as a vanguard of not-shittiness, promoting not-shittiness in gaming culture and helping to create a culture where shittiness is mocked and pressured away. Instead, this.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:06 PM on June 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


I guess I don't really understand the obsession with making sure it's perfectly clear who's male and who's female at all given times. Like, is the concern that if there's any ambiguity you could be by mistake queer for a minute?
posted by threeants at 11:11 PM on June 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


He's still the person in power here, but damn does a sea of angry Internet do a good job of hiding that fact sometimes.

That's insightful. How powerful do we think Michael Richards felt? It's an interesting dynamic, how fast a sea of nobodies can unseat a celebrity and also how rarely it happens.

I think all of that is very good for gaming and hopefully for games. It's part of the cultural shift that anyone in 2013 who thinks about it for 20 solid seconds realizes needs to happen.

I'm from the Atari/Nintendo generation. I've never played online against people from Tokyo and Brussels, using headsets to chat and devise strategy. But the friend I mentioned upthread is from the PlayStation/Xbox generation, and she is female. When the subject of gaming comes up, she discusses gender. It was a part of her gaming experience. She was treated differently depending whether or not she used the microphone (revealing a girl's voice).

I find that difficult to relate to. But then, in my generation I didn't know any girls who played video games at all.
posted by cribcage at 11:18 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


PA could be staking out a place for themselves as a vanguard of not-shittiness

That's true. I wish they were better in this way, too. But there are a whole lot of companies in the video game industry, and, frankly, most of them have a far worse record on gender issues than Penny Arcade; you only have to play the games to see how bad they really are. Play most mainstream games made in the last decade and you'll encounter far worse assumptions than Krahulik's, far more really damaging stuff, than you'll ever encounter in a PA strip.

Again, I wish PA were better. I wish they were perfect. But they're really pretty far ahead of most game companies and, frankly, most of the gaming community, too. I think it's interesting that they catch the amount of flack that they do. I think it's because they're usually pretty aware and pretty progressive. We (and the we here is important; I mean really progressive gamers, many of whom are represented in this thread) see them mostly behaving well, and being clever, and we identify with them. And when they turn out not to be perfect, we get extra outraged, because, dammit, we identified with them.

They should be better. The whole industry should be better. Maybe it will be. Maybe they will be. Maybe they'll help drag the industry a bit, or the industry will help drag them a bit, or both.
posted by gurple at 11:24 PM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


I may very well be giving him too much credit, of course, too.

An Open Letter to Mr. Krahulik

When you start something --like a job or a new school or whatever-- you're automatically given some "benefit of the doubt", right? Since we love jargon let's call this "n00b Capital" (nC). Okay? Okay. That's the premise...now let's take a journey together....

You start something new, you're given a certain portion of nC.
The amount of nC you receive depends a lot on the nature of the new thing. So, like, when you're a baby you have a ton of nC, I'm talking Scrooge McDuck levels of the stuff. You're going to shit your pants a hundred times and most folks won't even bat an eye. Hell the first time you do it they'll probably be excited! That's some serious nC, bro *fistbump*

Fast-forward >>>>>>> into your high school years.
Well, you've burned a lot of that nC on dirty diapers and repeating something rude your uncle taught you and not knowing how to fold your clothes well et cetera et cetera. Now you have a lot less nC and you can't screw around as much. And it tends to get WORSE as you get older, that nC just starts burning away to almost nothing. Also you're probably a smartass so the exchange rate just doubled.

Then you go to college, or you start your first job, or business
Or whatever. Point is You've Become an Adult, more or less. Boom! You just got some new nC dawg. Not much, mind you, but you've got some walking-around-money if you know what I'm saying and people are going to forgive you for making some rookie moves for the next decade or so (don't push your luck, though). 20s is a good time fer larnin'

This is good. You are learning things levelling up. But guess what!

Now you are 36 and the co-owner of a small media empire.
Congratulations, you're amazing, good-looking and loaded. That's the good news. The bad news, however, is that you now have negative nC. Yes. It's true. The bar is very high now sonny; people admire you and expect a lot from you. I'm sorry to puncture this particular balloon but I guess I just figured you already knew it. Well that's what we get for assuming, eh.

So while I'm all about giving loads of people "the benefit of the doubt" I'm far less inclined to give it to Mike Krahulik (key word being "give", it's a gift not a right). In other words: Mike, you really should know better by now. And in those moments when you realize you're wrong, have the courage to admit it fully and without qualification. It's really easy and takes little physical effort. Simply write these words: "Shit, I was wrong. I shouldn't have said that and I'm sorry. It hurt you, and that's not ok. And I'm going to take some time to learn about this so I won't hurt you again. I'm sorry that I hurt you." See? Easy-peasy.

But self-awareness and humility are really hard. They are also worth the effort, and I hope you'll consider giving this one another try.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:26 PM on June 21, 2013 [37 favorites]



I find that difficult to relate to. But then, in my generation I didn't know any girls who played video games at all.


It's worse than that. When I was in my 20s, you COULD NOT SAY AT WORK that you spent the weekend beating Star Wars: Dark Forces. You had to say "oh, I did stuff around the house".

Hell, my first job required that I take out my (one, left, earring) and cover the hole with a bandage - and they were cutting me a lot of slack mister, I better watch my step. And now you find at any fast food place 191838465632 piercings and tattoos and blue hair with red highlights and nobody gives a shit.

So, yeah, this whole discussion about whether the definition of women requires a vagina on a "gaming" twitter is sorta..... surreal to me. One the one hand, who cares - on the other, you are redefining everything I have known to date.

I guess I'm saying you shouldn't count on everyone to handle that very gracefully. I'm not gonna defend him. That said, the first time I used cisgender with my gay son, he said "WTF are you talking about?"

Or something. I find I have a lot of thoughts on this, and most of them are contradictory.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:30 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


cisgender may be a bit inside-baseball for some but it's also an olive branch and that's not a bad thing (pardon the mixed metaphors)
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:34 PM on June 21, 2013


I agree there's a background radiation of condescension in the adult workplace toward video games. But that's a separate issue from sexism within the video-game community, and I don't agree it's worse. In fact, I don't necessarily agree it's altogether a bad thing.
posted by cribcage at 11:39 PM on June 21, 2013


gurple: "Play most mainstream games made in the last decade and you'll encounter far worse assumptions than Krahulik's, far more really damaging stuff, than you'll ever encounter in a PA strip."

The assumption isn't the problem. I think most cis people start out with that assumption, because that's their experience, and later learn about other people's experiences and then update their assumptions. The problem is using the assumption as a weapon and explicitly refusing to update it because you're the one holding a weapon and you don't have to do anything.
posted by Corinth at 11:40 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


also, nobody really hates new words, they just hate new words that represent things they don't like. This conversation has never happened:

person 1: I'm so excited for our trip to France! Let's make sure to hit up Paris.

person 2: Yeah, but shouldn't we also make sure to get out into the country, maybe try somewhere a bit less obvious?

person 1: Hmm, ok, this guidebook says Saint-Brieuc is pretty.

person 2: AIIIIIEEEEE, WHY DID YOU JUST PUT THOSE LETTERS TOGETHER IN A SEQUENCE I HAVE NOT EVER HEARD BEFORE //CLAWS PERSON 1'S EYES OUT, GORGES ON SWEET FLESH
posted by threeants at 11:43 PM on June 21, 2013 [29 favorites]


Yeah, see, that's exactly the attitude that gets Mike (like so many) pissed off and defensive.

You know, I didn't even look at it from a dignity angle. It kind sat weird with me, because it reminded me of Evangelical Christianity. Just reading it again:

He's got to make a huge volteface, get down, beg forgiveness, and ask for true help and support

Reminds me of the couple of times I went to their services and seeing someone either figuratively or even literally prostrate themselves and beg for forgiveness from God. And I don't know if that was seanmpuckett's intent, but I tend to view big, showy displays of forgiveness as more public stunt than real contrition (like that scene with Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood).
posted by FJT at 11:52 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Simply write these words: "Shit, I was wrong. I shouldn't have said that and I'm sorry. It hurt you, and that's not ok. And I'm going to take some time to learn about this so I won't hurt you again. I'm sorry that I hurt you." See? Easy-peasy.

Er, you mean exactly like he did?

But self-awareness and humility are really hard.

Indeed they are! So hard that some people never achieve the humility and self-awareness to realize they look like jerks giving condescending lists of instructions-that-are-really-orders to people dealing with pressures they don't actually know much about.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:59 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know, did 'straight' get this kind of pushback in the days before straight people took it up as a shield against accusations of homosexuality? I know that time existed, and I can only assume there must have been that initial resistance, although I doubt it took the form of accusations of being 'jargon'.

I really hope I get to see the day when cis people have a similar breakthrough moment when 'cis' becomes part of their required self-identity, a shield and a weapon to be used in managing your position in cissupremacist society.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:06 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, so bored with the debate about cis. As ArmyOfKittens said:
[C]is people had decades to come up with a better word for themselves. Christine Jorgensen's case was widely publicised in the 50s and Dana International won Eurovision in 1998; it should have been clear to anyone without their head in their anus that trans people were here to stay. Cis was coined in the 90s but only rose to prominence in the last half-decade or so. If it was so extraordinarily important for cis people to name themselves, why didn't they do it?
And as I said what feels like about fifteen minutes ago:
PA is just not okay with me; those guys try too hard to be offensive.

But LoadingReadyRun (of whom Graham is a prominent member) is supercool. I love their work: insightful, bizarre, quotable, hilarious and not strewn with hate.
I think I'm going to go watch some LoadingReadyRun now.
posted by jiawen at 12:11 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Gone Home will be available on Linux? Cool!
posted by jiawen at 12:17 AM on June 22, 2013


ThatFuzzyBastard: "Er, you mean exactly like he did?"

Krahulik has emphatically not done any of that. He has said he will shut up (which he has said before), and that he doesn't care about this and thus won't make an effort to learn. I have no idea how you arrived at any other conclusion.
posted by Corinth at 12:17 AM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


"I'll indulge you in whatever crazy fantasies you want, but you have to know this; I am right, you are just a deluded man in drag."

I read the line "Wanna be a guy or a girl or a fox or whatever and I will be happy to treat you that way" more charitably as part and parcel of Gabe's "I don't care; it's not my business" attitude - it helps that it's preceded by "Knowing your situation changed nothing about how I would treat you." I don't know if his opinions match up with Tycho's, but Tycho uses "identifies as animal" as his go-to hypothetical example for the next social movement, because it hits the right note of ridiculous-at-present and conceivable-in-future that social movements tend to do for those not prepared for them (if you've ever seen regressive conservatives mime two penises clashing together to explain why homosexuality "doesn't work," you'll know how some people never get past the "ridiculous" stage). Tycho wrote the following in the news posts related to a two-part strip about a WWII soldier who identifies as a raccoon (and his fellow soldier who goes through the bewilderment to acceptance/respect arc Tycho describes).
I am a “good boy” when it comes to the vast majority of correct opinions. Some I believe because they are right, some I make peace with because they are inevitable, and some I honestly can’t believe we’re still arguing about, but that’s what’s it’s like when you live in a world filled with evil people who will not, can not be wished away. They stay, defiantly, even when you’ve put in a firm request with natural law that they evanesce.

If my son came home from high school one day and told me tearfully, haltingly, that he was double gay, I would love him twice as much. I don’t give a shit about that. If he was a llama or something I guess don’t have a bin for that yet. It seems like if I have to put up with a notoriously ill-tempered packbeast, I should be able to get wool and milk at a minimum. At a minimum. I assume shearing and milking your son is a form of abuse, but I don’t actually know if that’s true. Do you see what I mean? This is the wild-ass motherfucking frontier. Nobody knows the answers yet. I already have a hobbit for a wife, and a “pirate princess mechanic” for a daughter. I don’t need no proto-cameloid for a son besides.
[...]
We were trying to figure out what “thing” we would be unable to process as society marched forward, what would possess some configuration which would render it unable to be absorbed by our aging brains, in the way that “rap” or “rock & roll” once found themselves in the twilight between exile and ubiquity.

It’s difficult to tell what cultural offers will be elevated, granted Big League status; whatever it ends up being will be wholly inexplicable. By us, anyway. We won’t even have the words to contain our disapproval, and we won’t recognize it as disapproval. It will be a function of these Damn Kids and how they don’t approve of the world we made for them. I’m ready now to love my raccoon son; I’ll stroke his phantom fur while he dozes in his sleeping crate, and leave the lid on the garbage can a little loose. Not too loose, of course - I don’t want to rob him of the little victories that make life so sweet. And I need to prepare him for a world characterized by rugged, stubborn lids.
So you're right in thinking "fox or whatever" is a joke, but Penny Arcade guys have a history of using jokey expressions like "double gay" or "proto-cameloid for a son" or "raccoon son." It's their way of admitting that some things are so completely beyond them that they can't process what they mean, but also how thoroughly they're willing to embrace what they can wrap their brains around. "Fox or whatever" probably isn't "If you told me you were double trans, I would love you twice as much," but it's certainly "I don't give a shit about that."
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:20 AM on June 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "Indeed they are! So hard that some people never achieve the humility and self-awareness to realize they look like jerks giving condescending lists of instructions-that-are-really-orders to people dealing with pressures they don't actually know much about."

Also this part genuinely applies more to Krahulik than to most of the people trying to talk to him when you realize that the "instructions that are really orders" is telling people whether they're real or not. You're trying to construct this narrative where Krahulik is this poor confused dude beset upon on all sides, and not some jerk who called out trans people and then dug in his heels about how certain he is about how gender works.
posted by Corinth at 12:23 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Weirdly, it seems like the earliest use of "straight" actually was in the gay community -- to "go straight" was slang for renouncing your gayness, possibly as a reaction to the then-common use of "bent" to mean gay. It first shows up in print, as far as anyone can tell, in "Variants: A Study of Homosexual Patterns" by Paul B. Hoeber, published in 1941.

But, then, this is how this sort of thing generally happens. We don't need a word for the status quo until something challenges it. White people didn't have a concept of whiteness as a cultural or racial identity until they created it in opposition to people of color. Even the word "heterosexual" was a neologism that seemingly occurred after the word "homosexual" came about. The latter was created in 1868 by Karl Maria Kertbeny; the former doesn't make an appearance until 1892 in C.G. Chaddock's translation of Krafft-Ebing's "Psychopathia Sexualis."

Sometimes people object to the word cis because it is not one they chose for themselves. But that's just it -- those of us who are straight didn't choose that term for ourselves either, it was adapted from gay slang. We didn't choose the word "heterosexual," which was likely adapted from the earlier heterosexual in response to it. We didn't choose these names, because we don't have to. We're invisible to ourselves. It's the people who aren't part of the status quo who need words, and we end up absorbing those words, because we suddenly discover we need them too.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:23 AM on June 22, 2013 [23 favorites]


knuckle tattoos: ""I'll indulge you in whatever crazy fantasies you want, but you have to know this; I am right, you are just a deluded man in drag."

I read the line "Wanna be a guy or a girl or a fox or whatever and I will be happy to treat you that way" more charitably as part and parcel of Gabe's "I don't care; it's not my business" attitude - it helps that it's preceded by "Knowing your situation changed nothing about how I would treat you." I don't know if his opinions match up with Tycho's, but Tycho uses "identifies as animal" as his go-to hypothetical example for the next social movement, because it hits the right note of ridiculous-at-present and conceivable-in-future that social movements tend to do for those not prepared for them (if you've ever seen regressive conservatives mime two penises clashing together to explain why homosexuality "doesn't work," you'll know how some people never get past the "ridiculous" stage). Tycho wrote the following in the news posts related to a two-part strip about a WWII soldier who identifies as a raccoon (and his fellow soldier who goes through the bewilderment to acceptance/respect arc Tycho describes).

So you're right in thinking "fox or whatever" is a joke, but Penny Arcade guys have a history of using jokey expressions like "double gay" or "proto-cameloid for a son" or "raccoon son." It's their way of admitting that some things are so completely beyond them that they can't process what they mean, but also how thoroughly they're willing to embrace what they can wrap their brains around. "Fox or whatever" probably isn't "If you told me you were double trans, I would love you twice as much," but it's certainly "I don't give a shit about that."
"



Know that in addition to foxes, Mike has also said:

@cwgabriel: @guattari2600 @juliepagano okay then I am batman. please call me Bruce.

And actually that post is terrible - Mike can't even wrap his head around trans people, so when his partner handwaves gender identity away as some wild frontier, who knows how far this goes, those crazy kids making shit up wow he's being an asshole. When he talks about things getting elevated to "Big League Status," as if being trans is some new thing that was just arbitrarily declared a valid identity and next in line are trans animals because hey, these are the times we live in and they are cuh-ray-zee, he's being an asshole. South Park already did that and gave an entire wave of ignorant children the same absurd ammunition, which you can see on display in any Reddit thread or comment section on the internet. Anyone ever putting LGBT people on a tier with trans animals or whatever is quite seriously engaging on the level of South Park, however eloquently they phrase it.

I am not going to be thankful that he says he's okay with trans raccoons (who don't exist), because his partner is quite plainly not okay with trans people (who do). This kind of stuff harms real actual people, and I really don't want to see any trans animal stuff anywhere ever, especially brought up as a context I'm supposed to recognize as tolerant/accepting/conciliatory, especially on the same page as blatant denial of valid trans identities.
posted by Corinth at 12:44 AM on June 22, 2013 [15 favorites]


Holy crap. I have loved Penny Arcade ever since Space Moose stopped being a thing. I had no clue these guys could stir up hundreds of comments on the blue. Maybe I should pay more attention and care about tweets. I appreciate the heads up.

Is it okay to like The Trenches? Because that I do find funny, although it probably is not kind to vampires.

EDIT: Although I admit I stopped reading for a while after the whole Dickwolves thing. Maybe they are just bros.
posted by chemoboy at 12:48 AM on June 22, 2013


cribcage: Ok, I'll bite. Why is being condescending towards video games not a bad thing?
posted by Justinian at 12:50 AM on June 22, 2013


**************
con·de·scend·ing [kon-duh-sen-ding]
adjective
showing or implying a usually patronizing descent from dignity or superiority: They resented the older neighbors' condescending cordiality.
**************
(from dictionary.com)

I'm pretty sure it's impossible for me to be condescending to Mike Krahulik. How would that even work? Also on the extremely remote chance that he finds my comment, reads it and then thinks I'm a jerk...well I can live with that too. Because he needs to be called on his bullshit. It's my opinion that if you've made it to your mid-30s and you also happen to be a very active member of internet communities there is no excuse for ignorance on this topic. It's not news. He should own that fact and improve his position.

Which, of course, is emphatically not an order, just some good old unsolicited advice.

As for the self-awareness and humility bit...I thought it was obvious that I was making a general observation about the difficulty of such things but that it was still worth pursuing. This in no way implies that I'm immune to the observation.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:50 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The latter was created in 1868 by Karl Maria Kertbeny; the former doesn't make an appearance until 1892 in C.G. Chaddock's translation of Krafft-Ebing's "Psychopathia Sexualis."

I don't get this. Both homosexuality and heterosexuality have been around since cave paintings were in fashion. How is there no term for either of them until the 19th century?

I mean, is this only in English? And if not, why didn't English just borrow the word from the other language that already had it?
posted by FJT at 12:53 AM on June 22, 2013


We're you responding to me, Doleful Creature? I was asking cribcage. It had nothing to do with Mike Krahulik.
posted by Justinian at 12:58 AM on June 22, 2013


Know that in addition to foxes, Mike has also said:

@cwgabriel: @guattari2600 @juliepagano okay then I am batman. please call me Bruce.


I thought that was somehow the perfect thing for him to say at that point. Like, yes, you can change your name! That is a thing that is possible and not some hypothetical pipe dream! And, in fact, the overwhelming majority of people and institutions will respect that you are now Bruce and not Mike, and you will encounter vanishingly-few-if-any people who adamantly insist that you are and will always inherently be a Mike underneath the thin veneer of social nicety that prevents them pinning you down and screaming this incontrovertible fact into your face.

The fact that he said it under a fucking pseudonym just creates a kind of glorious irony vortex from which there can be no escape.
posted by emmtee at 1:00 AM on June 22, 2013 [15 favorites]


We're you responding to me, Doleful Creature? I was asking cribcage. It had nothing to do with Mike Krahulik.
posted by Justinian at 1:58 AM on June 22
[+] [!]


Nah, I was responding to ThatFuzzyBastard insinuating that a previous comment I made was somehow condescending to an Internet millionaire who has no idea who I am (I know, it's pretty funny when you think about it)
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:05 AM on June 22, 2013


Oh, it's like an infinite loop of condescension.
posted by Justinian at 1:07 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is it okay to like The Trenches? Because that I do find funny, although it probably is not kind to vampires.

At some point Krahulik forgot how to draw noses that aren't bizarre shapes grafted on to people's faces, which is strange since he didn't used to do that.


I don't get this. Both homosexuality and heterosexuality have been around since cave paintings were in fashion. How is there no term for either of them until the 19th century?

That isn't true at all. The ancient Greeks and Romans quite notably had no concept of hetero- or homosexuality. Like many things, our modern conceptions of sexual orientation are quite shockingly modern.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:19 AM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


One observation: In the context of being called a bigot, he says "I was mad at the assholes who have no fucking idea who I am."

If I were somehow in the position of providing him with some guidance, I'd ask him to think once again about how infuriating and diminishing that is, and then try to understand how other people feel when you reduce them to one piece of information you think you know about them and then, based on that, declare that you know better than they do who they are.
posted by taz at 1:47 AM on June 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


kenko: "I just looked at the panel description image and … wtf? How did that ever make it on the schedule?"

It's the same convention with a panel talking about fake geeks and actually uses the word "geekface".

Geekface. Because shows about geeks like Big Bang Theory are totally comparable to horrifying racist caricatures.
posted by ShawnStruck at 1:57 AM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


danny the boy: "What's real shitty is that this is all about Mike. It's always Mike saying the stupid ass shit, and worst of all, Jerry stays silent in an attempt at solidarity or something. I realize they've been best bros since they were knuckleheads and all but Jerry actually has demonstrated himself to be open and sensitive to those on the margins, in the past.

One of them believes in god and angels and whatnot, and the other doesn't. They agree to never talk about it with each other. This feels like that, in an altogether more disappointing way.
"

Jerry's a knucklehead, too. Aside from the fact that he's usually either silent or complicit in Mike bullcrap, he also has said some pretty messed up things himself. Like for example, this front page bi-phobia from a while back:

Bisexuality = Not A Sexual Preference. Indeed, it is the absence of a preference. Each discrete sensual act conforms to one of the two primary orientations, we don’t need a whole new “catch-all” term to collect all the people who simply have a hard time making decisions. If you like pepperoni but you’re also fine with Hawaiian, we don’t have a word to describe people in their moment of indecision while talking to the pizza guy.
posted by ShawnStruck at 2:03 AM on June 22, 2013


ShawnStruck: "Geekface. Because shows about geeks like Big Bang Theory are totally comparable to horrifying racist caricatures."

I'd prefer something like "geeksploitation" myself. Because that's what Big Bang Theory is.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:04 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not the same, but problematic in their own right. They would have been better off without the inflammatory terminology!

on preview: yes, something like geeksploitation would work better.
posted by Justinian at 2:04 AM on June 22, 2013


ShawnStruck: "Bisexuality = Not A Sexual Preference. Indeed, it is the absence of a preference. Each discrete sensual act conforms to one of the two primary orientations, we don’t need a whole new “catch-all” term to collect all the people who simply have a hard time making decisions. If you like pepperoni but you’re also fine with Hawaiian, we don’t have a word to describe people in their moment of indecision while talking to the pizza guy."

I'm bisexual, and I'm fine with this.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:05 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Me, most of the past year: Penny Arcade? It exists? I guess?

Me, last year: Oooh, Penny Arcade has lots of money and is running a cartoonist reality show.

Me, last weekend: HOLY SHIT MY FRIEND KATIE WON i'll have to go bug her at her new workplace now and then because I haven't seen her since the Spümcø years. Awesome!

Me, this week: sweet and sour monkey sphincters i wanna slap some sense into this guy or else never be near him. Okay I think all my socializing with Katie is gonna be away from the office.

also honestly? the comedic slippery slope of species transition? I hate to say this but I think it IS going to be a thing someday, maybe in our lifetimes. I, for one, would LOVE to have an assortment of animal parts if I had swappable cyber limbs. It'd be fun. And I've known a few otherkin over the years; you may imagine them as all shrill, possibly insane kids, but I know some eminently sane adult otherkin, and I consider their species dysphoria to be as real as my gender dysphoria. We have imperfect but usable ways to fix my gender mismatch; we can't do anything about their species mismatch yet, so we call them crazy.
posted by egypturnash at 2:17 AM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Pope Guilty: "
I don't get this. Both homosexuality and heterosexuality have been around since cave paintings were in fashion. How is there no term for either of them until the 19th century?

That isn't true at all. The ancient Greeks and Romans quite notably had no concept of hetero- or homosexuality. Like many things, our modern conceptions of sexual orientation are quite shockingly modern.
"

You're talking about two different things. Homosexuality and heterosexuality as in the actual sexual acts have been around since the beginning of mankind, obviously, and probably before, since many animals also have gay sex.

"Homosexuality" and "heterosexuality" as identity, as something you are rather than something you do, is a very modern invention. Which is one of the reasons I think identity politics are stupid, incidentally. I'll fuck whoever I want (who wants to fuck me, of course), I don't need to make my identity depend on my orientation, choices and preferences in that regard.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:20 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I sort of sided with him on the Dickwolves thing. PennyArcade were jerks, but at least they were funny jerks, and the original comic wasn't actually making fun of rape victims. Besides, I'd be a jerk too if [all-time most annoying person contender] Melissa McEwan decided to call me out for no good reason. And the T-shirt, while being in horrible taste and something that no one should ever wear in public, was kind of awesome.

I'm torn on the Dragon's Crown issue. I think the blog post was too quick to overlook the problem of objectification in games. Their comic, meanwhile, was perfect. But then the larger issue: On the one hand, female characters are frequently objectified by video games (see: Ninja Gaiden, Metal Gear Solid, Soul Caliber, God of War, Duke Nukem Forever, et al.) and this game is yet another example of that trope. On the other hand, it sucks that Dragon's Crown in particular has been vilified. DC is a niche title, which has some excellent art design once you get past all the cheesecake*. DC's male characters were every bit as exaggerated as the females. Why not single out Ninja Gaiden or Duke Nukem Forever for objectifying women, games that are equally guilty but have far less artistic value to redeem them?

But then this twitter-transphobia thing happens, and wow. Gabe (Mike?) is just kind of an ignorant asshole, and not just to ducks. I'd love to see Mike respond to the criticism by doing some soul-searching and becoming more accepting, but I don't really see that happening. I've been a Penny-Arcade semi-regular reader and sort-of fan since time immaterial, but shit like this kind of makes me want to stop reading Penny-Arcade.
posted by Green Winnebago at 2:24 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


egypturnash: "I consider their species dysphoria to be as real as my gender dysphoria. We have imperfect but usable ways to fix my gender mismatch; we can't do anything about their species mismatch yet, so we call them crazy."

I have no wish to get into a shit-flinging match with anyone, but I do think that equating trans issues with otherkin issues is going down a very dangerous road.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:35 AM on June 22, 2013 [15 favorites]


Joakim, I was clarifying for FJT what homo- and heterosexuality only dating to the 1800's means. Homosexuality and heterosexuality aren't sex acts. They're descriptions of individuals' sexual behavior with regard to their choice of partners.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:38 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fullbright company has made a principled stand against rape culture, against transphobia, & trans* bigotry, and they deserve to be rewarded for it. They’re taking a big risk by not showing their game at PAX, & I think if you agre with this, you should support this indie game when it comes out and in the meantime tweet @fullbright and @GoneHomeGame in support.
posted by ShawnStruck at 2:55 AM on June 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


The fullbright company has made a principled stand against rape culture, against transphobia, & trans* bigotry, and they deserve to be rewarded for it

As a gamer, I agree completely. I'm going to be buying their game as soon as it comes out. We need different voices and perspectives if we are ever going to seriously consider this art.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:17 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens: "I have no wish to get into a shit-flinging match with anyone, but I do think that equating trans issues with otherkin issues is going down a very dangerous road"

While I intuitively agree, I'm less able to actually explain why.

We take trans people's word for it when they say they should really be different, that their body really should be gender-wise different from the one they were born with. Why should we question people who say the same thing, but regarding species instead of gender? Why is it ok to not take their word for it?

I think it's going to be very hard to formulate a coherent argument that gender dysphoria is legitimate and ok while species dysphoria is a mental illness or a whim or dumb fantasy or whatever.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:50 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Pope Guilty: "Joakim, I was clarifying for FJT what homo- and heterosexuality only dating to the 1800's means. Homosexuality and heterosexuality aren't sex acts. They're descriptions of individuals' sexual behavior with regard to their choice of partners"

"Sexual behavior" is something you do, not something you are, was my point. It's "homosexuality" as an identity, a permanent condition, something more or less immutable and mutually exclusive with "heterosexuality" that's a modern invention.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:52 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joakim Ziegler: "We take trans people's word for it when they say they should really be different, that their body really should be gender-wise different from the one they were born with. Why should we question people who say the same thing, but regarding species instead of gender? Why is it ok to not take their word for it?

I think it's going to be very hard to formulate a coherent argument that gender dysphoria is legitimate and ok while species dysphoria is a mental illness or a whim or dumb fantasy or whatever.
"

It's a very easy argument to make, but I have no wish to derail this thread to discuss it. I really only wanted to drop a brick on the idea that the two are comparable. Also, FYI, many trans people will take enormous offence at a) the comparison and b) the idea that there is no argument to be made to support them that doesn't also support otherkin. I'd include myself among that number but I'm far too tired.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:01 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


[Maybe it's best not to get into an extended back and forth on otherkin issues in this thread, sort of in the same way it's not going to be really useful to have a debate about people wanting to marry their dog or the Berlin Wall (Requiescat in pace) in a thread on gay marriage. Fine discussion for a different post. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 4:02 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


The one thing worth noting about the fox comparison* is probably not the discussion of whether identifying as a fox is itself valid - which is an inevitable derail - but how identifying as a fox is perceived. Furries being even higher up the list of people who can be mocked without any likely blowback than trans people.

On one level, Krahulik is saying "I am totally cool with respecting how people wish to be addressed". On another he is saying "if you want to identify as a gender other than your assigned birth gender, that is as equivalent to wanting to identify as a non-sentient quadruped from a different species entirely".

That whole email is kind of difficult. It goes on to say:

But I think that is very different from the physical reality of your human body.

I think you’re awesome and super talented. I have no idea what your body parts are and I don’t want to know. I will treat you as a woman if that’s how you present yourself to me.

I hate the idea that because I think boys and girls have different parts I am “transphobic” that pisses me off it makes me angry and so I lash out.


Having stated what reality is, he goes on to describe exactly the kind of behavior that will make him "so angry" and "lash out" - suggesting that thinking boys and girls have different parts makes him transphobic. So, at that point he's telling Prell a) that she is a boy, and that is reality, if she has the parts boys have, which he does not want to know, although he is prepared to go along with her desire to be treated as a woman regardless and b) that disagreeing with him about that is likely to make him angry and lash out.

We've seen what happens when he lashes out, of course - women become the subject of campaigns of harassment, rape and death threats from angry Internet weirdos. So, while that is intended to be the email in which he shows how some of his best friends are trans*, and he is as cool with them as they are with him, it kind of comes across as a "conduct yourself accordingly" on how trans people should communicate with him.

It's fortunate, I guess, in those terms that Prell is happy to agree that she is male - that this is chromosomal and genetic reality (that word again) - and to distance herself from the "LGBT social justice movement". A lot of trans people might not have accepted those stipulations - that they were, in realty, their birth assigned gender, and that the criticism he has been receiving was unfair.

And at that point - well, he did give a clear warning about what happens when he gets angry.

*In the same way that MetaFilter's tortured feelings about the word "cis" are not relevant, but Krahulik's comments about the word "cis" are.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:54 AM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Why not single out Ninja Gaiden or Duke Nukem Forever for objectifying women, games that are equally guilty but have far less artistic value to redeem them?

Really? DNF got a lot of heat for it's terrible TERRIBLE objectification, and I know I've read things about Ninja Gaiden too.

One of the reasons Dragon's Crown got a lot of attention is because it has the potential to be a good game, from a company with a good pedigree. Too bad about the art style.
posted by graventy at 6:13 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


There was a MetaFilter thread about Duke Nukem Forever, which covers a lot of the critical pushback about its treatment of women.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:31 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everything he has said seems to jibe more with just not understanding the nuances of being transgender, gender vs sex, etc etc.

Which would be fine, and it seems like plenty of people (at least the ones not flinging death threats, which is never okay under any circumstance) have been trying to gently steer him towards understanding those nuances. But it seems like every time someone tries this, Mike doubles down on his ignorance. It's not just a lack of understanding; it's an aggressive lack of understanding. It's practically willful, considering his repeated insistence that his definition of "women" is the only true definition of women, even when other people tell him that the definition of women doesn't necessarily require a vagina.

I mean, at that point, what do you do? How do you help someone understand an issue they don't seem to want to understand?
posted by chrominance at 6:38 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even the word "heterosexual" was a neologism that seemingly occurred after the word "homosexual" came about. The latter was created in 1868 by Karl Maria Kertbeny; the former doesn't make an appearance until 1892 in C.G. Chaddock's translation of Krafft-Ebing's "Psychopathia Sexualis."

Kertbeny actually had both,* but IIRC neither show up in English until the translation of Psychopathia Sexualis (and, uh, didn't really catch on in German until then either). Astonishingly, Wikipedia has a picture of one of his letters.

*Which makes sense. He needed a way to talk about homosexuality neutrally, in which case it helps to have a word for 'not homosexual'.
posted by hoyland at 6:38 AM on June 22, 2013


Well thank God I never got anything to do with gender or trans issues wrong in a public forum.

His original point stands. It's not oppressive to make a game that teaches women how to masturbate. I agree with this 100%, and frankly I'm struggling to see how anyone on any part of the gender spectrum could think otherwise.

He could have handled this whole thing better, it's obvious that he doesn't like the "cis" prefix (And - I'll be honest, it took me a while to come to terms with it too), and he's really fucking easy to troll.

If you think this is a last chance for him and he's not worth dealing with any more, then by all means refuse to help him with his charity work and/or go to his site, and/or go to the conventions he's involved with.

For me - I think this is a bit of a storm in a teacup, and louder angrier voices have carried the narrative when really this whole conversation should have dissipated within about three hours of it starting.
posted by zoo at 7:09 AM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "Er, you mean exactly like he did?"

Krahulik has emphatically not done any of that

"I should have walked away from my computer at this point and played with my dog but instead I put on my asshole hat and went to work"… "I know personally I’m an incredibly damaged individual. I’m not really sure I’m the best foundation for all this other stuff. I don’t want to be the reason people don’t go to PAX or don’t support Child’s Play or don’t watch the shows on PATV. I hate the idea that because I can’t stop being an asshole I hurt all these other amazing things." … "’m very sorry about yesterday. There are very few things that someone can say to me that will actually make me lose my temper. All my buttons got pushed yesterday though and I snapped"

And the day before, to a trans artist: "I think you’re awesome and super talented. I have no idea what your body parts are and I don’t want to know. I will treat you as a woman if that’s how you present yourself to me."

Oh, and there's "The thing is I wasn’t mad at trans people or gay people or whatever. I’m not going to go into the intricacies of my family here on twitter but being called a bigot really bothers me."

Did you not actually read the post, or are you deliberately distorting what happened?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:14 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not just the rape and transphobic stuff, though that in itself would be plenty. There's also the shitty, gaming-the-system, totally bullshit Kickstarters that PA ran. PA seems to be by assholes, of assholes, and for assholes. (Or, at the very least, for of and by emotionally stunted manchildren, which isn't much different.) When their pal Scott (PVP) Kurtz joins in it's not surprising, as he's also an asshole, but I always want to sit Kris (Chainsawsuit) Straub down and rescue him from these folks. He seems to be a nice guy who is completely unaware how his friends are regarded.
posted by Legomancer at 7:20 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


If one is bothered by being called a bigot, then one shouldn't say or do bigoted things, least of all in front of thousands in public.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:28 AM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


For the very love of God, there is nothing "transphobic" about any of those tweets in the first link.

What seems to be happening in this case (and cases like this here and there around the web) is that a certain, very esoteric theory about concepts like man and woman are being treated as if they are not only worth discussing, but are true, and not only true but obviously true, and not only obviously true but something that you are morally obligated to accept and a bigot if you question.

This, of course, is ridiculous.

I don't care how people represent themselves. If someone biologically female wants to represent themself as male, I don't see anything wrong with that. (Though, incidentally, some feminists do...) (I've long thought it was weird that males and females actually take pains to look and act in certain sometimes exaggerated, polarized ways based on their sex, so I don't see why someone should not do that, or should take pains to look and act like the other sex typically does...) But, so far as I can tell, such a person isn't male, and isn't a man in the core sense of "man." I'm even ok with pretending that someone is a man if it's really important to them. But it's insane to treat someone as a bigot for refusing to employ words and concepts in inaccurate ways that are highly controversial to say the very least. I have fair facility with the concept man and the term "man"...and it mostly means (adult) male, with some odd peripheral stuff associated with its role in (weird) utterances like "be a man!" And, of course, there's nothing wrong with expressing frustration with annoying, neologistic jargon ("cis").

Thing is, I think that there's a conversation to be had here. There are subtleties of concepts like man and woman that can be separated from male and female. One might reasonably propose to this Krahulik fellow (and, say, me) that the proposed new way of thinking and speaking is better--but it is a new way. I've certainly listen to such arguments, and he probably would, too. But that's not the approach that certain sectors of the left prefer. Instead they prefer to simply insist that they are right, that arguments (basically) don't matter, and that you are a bigot if you don't agree with them.

That's one reason that so many people don't like the left, including the lefter bits of liberalism: thought-and-language policing. Odd terms and concepts get cooked up (often, sadly, with the input of some weak philosophy), and then there's a certain sector that tries to impose them on everyone else with all the subtlety of pack of particularly uncharitable shrieking banshees. Combine (a) a not-obviously-justified position with (b) insistence that if you don't accept it you are a bigot, and, well, you not only alienate a lot of people, you alienate a lot of reasonable people.

But threads on these issues on MeFi, IMO, tend not to be about discussion so much as enforcing the local orthodoxy. And that's something I don't care for. So I bid this thread farewell...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 7:35 AM on June 22, 2013 [15 favorites]


He told his trans friend that he would accept her no matter what delusions she had about herself. You don't see this as problematic, and having absolutely nothing to do with jargon?

some feminists do...

I'm not sure what being a feminist has to do with gender identity. Are you not a feminist? Or do you think that feminist = shrieking liberal banshee?
posted by Brocktoon at 7:42 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brocktoon: It's probably not worth derailing the conversation with, but some feminists / lesbians do have a problem with transexuals. FWIW, I don't think it's as widespread a thing as some people like to pretend, and can probably be ignored. I really hope it's not a common thing. If you want to know more, Google "Julie Bindel" and then "Cathy Brennan" and then "TERF" and then despair for humanity.
posted by zoo at 7:50 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


also, nobody really hates new words, they just hate new words that represent things they don't like.

It's not always the things they don't like, but being forced/cajoled/encouraged to use new words that change your relationship to the things.

For example, consider that loaded moment when the person you're dating edges into the territory where the words "boyfriend/girlfriend" could be used. These are loaded terms. Using them implies something different than "person I am dating." Using them creates an implied obligation that your behavior should change. And maybe you're not comfortable with that implication. "Hey, we're just casually dating. You're a friend that is also a girl. You're not my girlfriend."

Imagine the person you are dating encouraging you to use this term ... Perhaps even becoming angry at you not using this term. That can get squicky real fast, no?

Truly meaningful words are subjective. Man, woman, friend, neighbor. They mean more than what's on a page, what's on your lips. Encouraging someone -- forcing someone -- to use different words can feel like an attack, regardless of how objectively correct you think the word is to describe a thing. Maybe it feels like an attack over something you never thought was a problem in the first place.

Maybe that's the very definition of privilege, but the privileged don't need to be attacked in order for them to have their privilege shown to them. "Calling someone out?" You know the etymology of that phrase comes from violence, yes? Out? Where is out? Oh yes, it implies outside, on the street, where an actual fight will take place ... Loaded words abound.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm hungry, so I'm going to tuck into a plate of freedom fries.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:51 AM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


Are those freedom fries moist?
posted by zoo at 8:00 AM on June 22, 2013


Previous commenters have mentioned the deep, genetic memory of bullying and othering that the PA guys have always understood as an inherent part of the geek/gamer identity. It's appeared in comics before -- in one strip, their personas stand outside a gamestop, angry and uncertain, because a crowd of excited jocks is camped out waiting for Halo 3 to be released. "These are the people who beat us up for years: they don't get to have our thing!"

Mike, I believe, has also written a couple of times about how difficult it is to grasp the idea that he can now be the bully in a situation. As the idol of a huge fanbase, someone with a platform, he has just as much power as the kid who punched him for fun in middleschool -- in many ways, more power. And that is a shift that many of us struggle with.

One of the reasons that I like the term Kyriarchy is that it captures the fact that there is not a hierarchy of suffering, privilege, and oppression -- just a big ol' intersecting mass of them. Mike and Jerry have been oppressed in some ways due to the structures of our culture, they are privileged in other ways, and they have and do act as oppressors in other ways.

I don't say that to excuse the fact that he's persistently a dick to people on the Internet -- in many ways he's the embodiment of his own theory about how people naturally become assholes when given a microphone (or a live Internet connection). Just reflecting on the fact that PA is a case study in Kyriarchy, an example of how it might be used to acknowledge one person's experiences without belittling another's.
posted by verb at 8:08 AM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


I know people might have mixed feelings about Courtney Stanton, but I find it interesting that she got SO much flak (I mean, hyperbolic amounts of flak) for pulling out of PAX East in 2011 for basically the same reason as The Fullbright Company is claiming now. She got so many death threats that year (and even more rape threats) that she did a statistical analysis on them!

Her original post on the topic contains a fairly prescient claim (considering this latest debacle) about PA's refusal to acknowledge diversity in their fanbase:

"This company doesn’t represent me or the type of culture I want to work in or create for. Fortunately, I can keep being a producer without speaking at PAX East…but I’m pretty sure that they can’t keep claiming to be a place for “all” of us if we stop showing up and stop giving them content to market and sell."
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:15 AM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


The strongest message that needs to get through to them is that they have a platform and what they say matters.

I hope that they will consider the errors and missteps of the past not as things to be swept under the rug but to be learned from and perhaps even held aloft as examples of how one can learn and change and grow as human beings. This was part of my accolade for Kirk & TOS in that other thread; if Mike & Jerry can learn to be better humans and advocate for harmony and acceptance in these areas, then chances are that tens of thousands of other people will also eventually have sunrise moments because they can identify with the PA guys personally.

The most interesting parts of any sudden-superhero mythos are the when the hero tries to come to terms with their newfound abilities; when flexing a finger can make a building fall over, do you use that for evil, for good, or do you just run away to Mars and refuse to engage because it's too scary?

Man I hope they choose the Justice League, although the Legion of Doom does have better catering.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:21 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


For the very love of God, there is nothing "transphobic" about any of those tweets in the first link.

What seems to be happening in this case (and cases like this here and there around the web) is that a certain, very esoteric theory about concepts like man and woman are being treated as if they are not only worth discussing, but are true, and not only true but obviously true, and not only obviously true but something that you are morally obligated to accept and a bigot if you question.


Or maybe there is something transphobic in them, and your opinion on this is not obviously true and we are not morally obligated to accept it lest we become screaming liberal banshees.

But, so far as I can tell, such a person isn't male, and isn't a man in the core sense of "man." I'm even ok with pretending that someone is a man if it's really important to them. But it's insane to treat someone as a bigot for refusing to employ words and concepts in inaccurate ways that are highly controversial to say the very least.


Remember what you discussed above? Don't act like your opinion is obviously true? Here is the situation, there are some transgender folks who are going to read your post. In it you insist you are willing to pretend they are men but by stating outright that you are just pretending you have already failed at that. By insisting it would be insane to treat you as a bigot for refusing to even make a basic effort to respect their identity you have taken it another step further. These are real people, who are everywhere, not some academic lab sample you need a plan to safely handle at some point in the future. Prove you are willing to respect them by respecting their self-identity. It's really the least you can do, and it costs you nothing.

Thing is, I think that there's a conversation to be had here. There are subtleties of concepts like man and woman that can be separated from male and female. One might reasonably propose to this Krahulik fellow (and, say, me) that the proposed new way of thinking and speaking is better--but it is a new way. I've certainly listen to such arguments, and he probably would, too. But that's not the approach that certain sectors of the left prefer. Instead they prefer to simply insist that they are right, that arguments (basically) don't matter, and that you are a bigot if you don't agree with them.

There are plenty of resources available to you if you are interested in this question. As I have stated previously though: "You have a pee-pee so you are a boy" IS NOT A QUESTION. It's not a debate. It's a statement that the personal experience of individuals and the medical community seem to disagree with. This new concept is not all that new.

That's one reason that so many people don't like the left, including the lefter bits of liberalism: thought-and-language policing. Odd terms and concepts get cooked up (often, sadly, with the input of some weak philosophy), and then there's a certain sector that tries to impose them on everyone else with all the subtlety of pack of particularly uncharitable shrieking banshees. Combine (a) a not-obviously-justified position with (b) insistence that if you don't accept it you are a bigot, and, well, you not only alienate a lot of people, you alienate a lot of reasonable people.


And the reason the left doesn't like bigoted language is because it contributes to oppression, exploitation, assault, and murder of vulnerable groups. Now, I understand we need to balance that concern with other concerns like people being sensitive about being told they are wrong in insufficiently genteel tones, but it's not all that high up on the list of worries. There are plenty of resources available that are polite in tone for anyone with a genuine interest.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:36 AM on June 22, 2013 [46 favorites]


You insist you are willing to pretend they are men but by stating outright that you are just pretending you have already failed at that.

That is precisely, exactly, what he did not say. Fists O' Fury explicitly spoke of the distinction between male and man, female and woman. With the exception of intsersex people (a distinct and separate issue), human beings are unambiguously male or female by virtue of their chromosomal makeup. Man-ness and Woman-ness, as cultural constructs and identity, are a related but separate set of concepts.

That -- amplified by Mike's well-known tendency to double down on asshole when someone on the internet says he's being an asshole -- seems to be the real crux of this issue. The difference between male and man, and female and woman, is a complicated and difficult thing. For most people, it's equivalent to the first encounter with the concept of quantum versus newtonian physics. They screw up their faces and say, "Bullshit!" because it just doesn't make any sense. Cats in "pseudostates" and ladies with penises and pseudo-telepathy and males who aren't men and all that crazy.

But it isn't crazy. It's just the way things are, and because we haven't encountered or had to think about it before -- because it runs counter to all of our experiences -- it's laughable and zany. Sure, there are genuinely transphobic people out there -- genuinely dangerous people so troubled by this confusion that they will actively hurt transpeople just for making them think about it. But there's also a danger in muddling the distinction between an incredulous "Whaaaaaaaaaa? That's ridiculous!" and angry transphobia.

It's no trans person's responsibility to deal with either of them -- everyone deserves to be acknowledged, respected, and loved for who they are. But for people who are trying to engage and educate, it seems like there's value in distinguishing between the different kinds of ignorance and reactions.
posted by verb at 9:03 AM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


What seems to be happening in this case (and cases like this here and there around the web) is that a certain, very esoteric theory about concepts like man and woman are being treated as if they are not only worth discussing, but are true, and not only true but obviously true, and not only obviously true but something that you are morally obligated to accept and a bigot if you question.


There is nothing esoteric about discussions of the trans experience. Somebody in another thread said that privilege is thinking that because something is not your problem, it is not a problem. Privilege is also thinking that because you have not personally had to address a discussion, it must be esoteric.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:03 AM on June 22, 2013 [27 favorites]


I didn't realize that TERF = liberal feminist. Oh wait, it doesn't.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:05 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


That is precisely, exactly, what he did not say. Fists O' Fury explicitly spoke of the distinction between male and man, female and woman. With the exception of intsersex people (a distinct and separate issue), human beings are unambiguously male or female by virtue of their chromosomal makeup. Man-ness and Woman-ness, as cultural constructs and identity, are a related but separate set of concepts.

He specifically said both not male AND not man.

But, so far as I can tell, such a person isn't male, and isn't a man in the core sense of "man." I'm even ok with pretending that someone is a man if it's really important to them.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:08 AM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm very glad that the self-identities I can't accept are either the majority in my culture or considered by almost everyone to be ridiculous and/or harmful so it's not considered bigoted to reject them outright.

I'm also glad that when I believed and likely spouted similar hurtful things about trans people, I didn't have a pedestal to do it from. (I am a bit fearful to go back through my MeFi posting history, but I suspect there's some ugly stuff there.)

Keep calling this shit out everyone and thanks.
posted by ODiV at 9:15 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


He specifically said both not male AND not man.

*puts on reading glasses, squints*

Well played, Drinky Die. Well played.

Apologies for not catching that line -- I read your quoted chunk of text, went back to see his comments, and missed that. I could argue about what he meant by "in the core sense," but you're correct. Fists O' Fury conflated "male" and "man" in precisely the way that a lot of us are saying is problematic.

I stand by the rest of my post, though -- I think that the distinction between those things is the heart of a lot of the confusion and incredulousness. Dealing with that reaction, and treating it as something distinct and separate from transphobia, is useful.
posted by verb at 9:15 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure there's much utility in parsing a comment from somebody who explicitly bid the thread farewell. Granted, I'm also not sure why somebody would drop into a lengthy thread to post a lengthy, argumentative comment and then immediately bid farewell...but nevertheless.
posted by cribcage at 9:18 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


With the exception of intsersex people (a distinct and separate issue), human beings are unambiguously male or female by virtue of their chromosomal makeup.

Except that you can't sort people into XX and XY by looking at them, which seems to be what you're trying to assert, since people don't have karyotypes stamped on their foreheads. Moreover, there's at least one case in the literature (I've linked to it in another thread, I can get the link if you're actually interested) of a man with genitals typical of an XY person, who experienced typical XY puberty and then discovered he was XX when investigating why he was infertile. 100 years ago, he would have never figured that out and you would be asserting he was obviously male.
posted by hoyland at 9:20 AM on June 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


I stand by the rest of my post, though -- I think that the distinction between those things is the heart of a lot of the confusion and incredulousness. Dealing with that reaction, and treating it as something distinct and separate from transphobia, is useful.

Yeah, my only point was step one in convincing people you aren't a bigot is actually making an effort to question them in a respectful way. I have very rarely seen "screaming liberal banshees" as a response to polite questioning, much more likely a reaction to more stubborn, aggressive, and less polite debating.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:20 AM on June 22, 2013


There must be some internet slang to describe the phenomenon of dumping something incendiary into a thread and then vacating the scene with a "y'all can't handle this discussion, so I'm audie!", but I don't know what it is.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:20 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


(I'm pretty sure most people with intersex conditions are XX or XY, by the way.)
posted by hoyland at 9:21 AM on June 22, 2013


A couple of weeks ago Juliet Banana made an excellent post that included some "trans* 101" links. Those who are confused, new to trans* issues and terms, or just plain have questions you don't want to ask here might find them helpful.

And maybe someone could tweet them to the PA guys.
posted by rtha at 9:25 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure there's much utility in parsing a comment from somebody who explicitly bid the thread farewell. Granted, I'm also not sure why somebody would drop into a lengthy thread to post a lengthy, argumentative comment and then immediately bid farewell...but nevertheless.

I just wish that people who did that had the good manners to sign off with "I SAID GOOD DAY!" However, their contribution is part of the conversation, despite their stated decision to abandon it, and so I think one cannot compel people not to criticise your arguments simply by stating that you are not going to read those critiques.

Speaking of not reading...

And the day before, to a trans artist: "I think you’re awesome and super talented. I have no idea what your body parts are and I don’t want to know. I will treat you as a woman if that’s how you present yourself to me."

Oh, and there's "The thing is I wasn’t mad at trans people or gay people or whatever. I’m not going to go into the intricacies of my family here on twitter but being called a bigot really bothers me."

Did you not actually read the post, or are you deliberately distorting what happened?


Sophia Prell is not a "trans artist". She's a journalist and a former writer for the Penny Arcade Report.

This is not hugely relevant, but if you're going to make plays like "Did you not actually read the post, or are you deliberately distorting what happened?", it's a good idea to make sure you've got the basic facts straight.

(Not making plays like that is also a viable strategy, of course, which neatly ties into the subject of the FPP. Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand, and all that.)

On the issues at hand - I think it's probably worth noting that MK's apology focuses a lot on how his buttons were pushed, and how he has family history that makes him react extremely to being called a bigot, and the usual disclaimers about his damage. It also takes pains to renarrate the entire sequence of events, in a way that is probably not a useful part of a sincere apology.

The problem being that this isn't primarily about him - it's about the impact he has on other people, which he describes primarily in terms of them not visiting his website or attending his events.


In fact, fairly impressively, the only time he uses the word hurt is:
I hate the idea that because I can’t stop being an asshole I hurt all these other amazing things (emphasis mine).
(Hurt is an interesting word. In the exchange with Sophie Prell, he signs off with "Sorry if I hurt you at all". Which, at the risk of hanging Casement on a comma, is kind of odd given that Prell had specifically said that she was hurt. "If" is not really in it, so much as "that".)

He does say that he shouldn't be making marginalised people feel like shit, which is a great thing to realise, but the majority of that post is about how other people have made him feel, rather than the reverse.

Clearly, it's very sad if he is still carrying around so much from his childhood that, confronted with an intemperate response from someone in a marginalized group, his first response is to hit the button that guarantees that they will get messages from Penny Arcade fans telling them they should and will be raped to death. If he's got to the point where it seems like putting a locked case over that button is a good idea, that feels like progress, but without addressing some root causes I'm not sure how likely it is that the locked case approach is actually going to work.

(I'm reminded of one of the finest zings in the history of the Internet - during the Ocean Marketing furore Krahulik said that he would burn down everything Penny Arcade had built if it meant stopping one bully. To which somebody - maybe Courtney Stanton or Anna Anthropy? - responded sunnily "That would work!".)
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:50 AM on June 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


Apologies if this has already been posted, but Sophie Prell also posted a response to the email exchange on her blog.
posted by selfnoise at 10:27 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hi. Sorry to be late. This post will probably slip under the radar, but I've been reading and sitting on the fence about whether or not I want to comment. I do, but I also don't; Sophie Prell's thoughts on this whole kerfuffle express my feelings there really well, and I think despite my hesitations it probably is better if I do say something. I wanted to make sure my thoughts were plenty composed here, too, because this is going to be long. This won't be tl;dr'able, either, so please bear with me.

But he unapologetically holds some gender essentialist views... Which I suspect a large majority of even generally progressive people do

Yes, you're probably right (which probably makes most trans allies anything but), but see it is sort of personally hurtful when someone feels the need to publically announce this. Your comment about distinguishing between cis and trans women in dating kind of actually stings me, because I feel like I don't need to know that and I wish people wouldn't announce that at me--directly or in general. Especially when it's not really relevant to anything (I've only been told this once by someone I was actually attracted to and by that point he'd already sent me a few other red flags).

It's the same thing with Krahulik's comments. He doesn't come across as someone trying to be hurtful, but he is and he doesn't understand why and Prell approaches him too-gently and too-apologetically in order to engage him but he keeps blundering on in his own response. He's saying transphobic things and getting upset at people pointing it out because he's perceiving that as an accusation--this happens A LOT; all too often, people forget that "transphobia" is a descriptor for a specific kind of attitude, belief or behavior and not a condemnation of someone's character. Hate isn't necessarily even a part of the equation. You can be transphobic with good intentions--that is probably the easiest way to be transphobic. Even beyond mere innocent naivety, people who are not themselves transgender can all too easily see their transphobia as something abstract; it's "just their opinion." My own family are very transphobic, and don't understand (though they are beginning to learn) how much their anti-trans attitudes hurt me, nor how selfish and privileged their position regarding trans issues is (in summary: "Gender transition is upsetting and difficult to adjust to for bystanders, ergo trans people should never transition ever and just sacrifice their entire lives for the comfort of normal folks"). It's tricky. Gender is a table people bring a lot of (often incorrect) assumptions to, and many people freak out when their assumptions are contradicted by the lived experienced of others.

orthogonality, I've sat here trying to decide if I want to respond to you publicly, or PM you or flag and move on. As I'm writing this, I'm still not sure; obviously if you're reading it, I decided not to backspace. I have mixed feelings about that, because this feels a little personal for a public post on the blue. At the same time, a lot of your comments on this issue have been personally hurtful to me and it disappoints me to see you doing this again--you seem to really want to be persecuted for potentially having offensive opinions and I don't understand that at all. The thing I want you to listen to and think about is that transphobia is different from questioning authority and challenging taboos (in fact, few trans people have any power anywhere, and it's unbelievably taboo to be trans absolutely everywhere in the world) because it isn't criticizing time-honored traditions--it's attacking, shaming, disbelieving and erasing the lived experiences and existence of people because of fundamental qualities about themselves they have no control over. It's not worth defending that, and it's not an important mantle of free speech to deny the very reality of other human beings because of their superficial appearances or inherent being. All it is is needlessly hurtful--it is a willful ignorance, not a candle in the night.

That's not even taking into account the imbalance of power. Even in the safest, most accepting societies, transgender people are highly persecuted and legal protections for trans people are not a thing in most parts of the world. In the United States alone, the statistics are horrifying: 41% of trans people attempt suicide (compared to 1.6% of the general population)
78% of transgender minors have been harassed; 35% physically assaulted; 12% sexually assaulted; 15% leave school because of this
90% have been harassed at work; 26% have been flat fired for being trans
19% have been refused a home; 11% have been evicted for being trans
22% have been harassed by police; 19% have been refused medical care (hi! happened to me several times) for being trans
Read the report. It gets worse. Transphobia is the status quo; defending it strengthens existing authority and stigmas, rather than eroding taboos and sacred cows. Someone's "right" to be transphobic pales before the level of discrimination and suffering transgender people are subject to simply for existing.

Back to the main topic, Sophie Prell's recounting of the experience as well as the back and forth between Krahulik and Prell are very much worth reading. Prell is getting criticized in other corners of the web for not taking Krahulik fully to task, and yeah, her tone is probably too concessionary but she is trying to engage him gently with civility and patience and--well, she is a good writer. I don't read PA and have never heard of her before, but she writes with understated power and emotion about the experience of being trans and especially many of the fears a lot of us have. Here:
"I am afraid of how you see me, because I want you to see me the way I see myself. I want confirmation from the mirror, both literally and socially."
"...I know there’s the whole “Well, you have to love yourself” line that people love to hand off like it’s comfort food when these situations arise, but let’s be honest: humans are social creatures, and others’ opinions are the mirrors through which we often view our self-worth. When I’m not Sophie in someone’s mind, or if “Sophie” is just pretend and the person really sees me as a guy in a dress, that’s hurtful."


God, just. Yes. This is a true thing that people actually experience. Some of us live our lives every single day in this state of...precariously walking a thin line between terror and hope. Even our victories--when no one can tell we are not cisgender--make us worry about their validity. "Does ___ know?" is a question I am constantly asking myself, and while I am gradually settling into the role of being someone who talks about being trans and promoting trans rights, it's out of necessity. Because, honestly, no, most of the time no one does know, but everything changes when they find out. I worry because I can't predict how people will react, and the fact that so many people will treat me worse for knowing makes me need to speak up sometimes. Being trans is difficult; but what I want people to take away from me is that it doesn't have to be. 99% of the difficulty is in the transphobic attitudes of other people.

PS: Cisgender cisgender cisgender. You fucking babies.
:P
posted by byanyothername at 10:47 AM on June 22, 2013 [53 favorites]


I hate the idea that because I can’t stop being an asshole

I've read his statement several times and I keep coming back to this. Yeah, he can stop. It's a thing that is possible; change is hard, but it's completely within his power. He's done a lot of hard things in his life - survived the bullying, built a successful career and life, found someone to share his life with, all that. He isn't helpless, and he's no longer fifteen. He could decide to make this change and do the work it requires, but instead he tells himself this story that he "can't."
posted by rtha at 10:49 AM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


One more thing:

With the exception of intsersex people (a distinct and separate issue), human beings are unambiguously male or female by virtue of their chromosomal makeup.

I do want to say also that there really isn't this hard line between male/female sex that people sometimes want to believe in, especially with regards to gender transition. Chromosomes are pretty inflexible (but wiggly enough that we do have XXY folks) I guess, but sort of a horrible measure of sex because they're invisible. I have seen people here before underestimating the level of physical changes gender transition does to a person. I can't find a good overview right now (Wikipedia's is meh) but I'll keep looking. The long and short of hormone therapy is that you undergo a "second adolescence" and develop secondary sex characteristics of your underlying gender. Women grow breasts, lose muscle mass, gain fat; men get hairy, lose fat, gain muscle mass. It's subtle, but it's dramatic.

Factor in various surgeries, and you have no reliably meaningful marker for a strict, hard sex binary anymore. It is transphobic to want to hold onto this sex binary, because it usually betrays ignorance of what transgender people are and undergo, and because the whole idea of, "Well, I'll treat you as a woman but I mean really you're a man, obvs." is unnecessarily hurtful. It's fully possible to posit this or speculate about it with good intentions, and Krahulik seems to have done this, but it's hurtful and factually wrong. Transphobia doesn't always imply deliberate hate or intentional bigotry; most, I think, is simply saying something that is very hurtful and being oblivious about it. It can be difficult to respond to that with, "Wait, why am I hurting people?" instead of, "You're wrong! I'm not a bad person!" in the heat of the moment, but it's the difference between expanding empathy and shutting it down.
posted by byanyothername at 11:07 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have seen these sorts of arguments play out before, both personally and online, and I'm absolutely sick of them. Instead of a conversation ensuing, people who can do little but throw around words like problematic and privilege start jumping down someone's throat. Right or wrong, no one's ever been convinced by someone attacking them. All that's accomplished is one side thinks they're right and this horrible bigot just can't understand how right they are, and the other thinks they're nuts. All there is to learn is that these are not arguments worth having or people worth engaging.
posted by catwash at 11:08 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


catwash: "I have seen these sorts of arguments play out before, both personally and online, and I'm absolutely sick of them. Instead of a conversation ensuing, people who can do little but throw around words like problematic and privilege start jumping down someone's throat. Right or wrong, no one's ever been convinced by someone attacking them. All that's accomplished is one side thinks they're right and this horrible bigot just can't understand how right they are, and the other thinks they're nuts. All there is to learn is that these are not arguments worth having or people worth engaging."

In any conversation or argument focused on a marginalised minority in a public internet space like twitter there will be those who patiently try to engage -- for what may seem like or in fact be the thousandth time -- and there will be people who "start jumping down someone's throat".

You can learn a lot about someone's character by which of the two groups they focus on.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:19 AM on June 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


Honest question ArmyOfKittens, but what does the specific focus say about the character of the people responding?
posted by zoo at 11:35 AM on June 22, 2013


"Wanna be a guy or a girl or a fox or whatever and I will be happy to treat you that way"

I thought this was one of the ugliest lines in the original letter. Reminds me of the way people would (and still do) casually equate gay marriage with bestiality.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:39 AM on June 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


Right or wrong, no one's ever been convinced by someone attacking them.

This is very true. I wonder, did you consider the wisdom of this statement before you labeled an entire group of people as not worth your time because you don't like their argument style?
posted by palomar at 11:40 AM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


The sex/gender distinction isn't really that helpful anyway. I'm going to change that slightly and say that what we mean when we make that distinction is a biology/culture distinction with regards to the sex/gender complex.

That can be great at moving some people in the right direction, but then you get the point of saying things like "Okay your gender is that you're a woman, and I will accept that, but also I know that you are trans and therefore your sex is male and you have a male body" etc etc - that's not the best either.

I don't think that holding out the biology as fixed is ultimately a good thing, for reasons already articulated but also that sensitive aspects of biology like this are always already filtered through culture. There's the reality of a person's body but how we understand and interpret their sex as a result of that is culturally constructed at a deep level. That can be changed, with difficulty.

So I think a better model of understanding relating to sex/gender is three stages rather than two:

1. Sex/Gender conflation, it's all biology
2. Sex/Gender distinction, biology/culture
3. Sex/Gender conflation, it's all (filtered through) culture

which is a bit of tongue in cheek parallelism, as it's not literally true that there's nothing biological going on here, but I'm pretty serious about the need to highlight how the body does not come entirely before culture and therefore you can't actually draw a bright red line and say that everything on this side is neutral, scientific and capital T True hard facts about the body/sex and everything on that side is squishy culture gender bits, they blend into each other.

And anyway even if you don't buy that calling trans women 'male' and using a sex/gender distinction to back it up is a dick move so don't do it.

cue accusations of 'jargon'
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:43 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think one cannot compel people not to criticise your arguments simply by stating that you are not going to read those critiques.

It's not about the individual commenter (Fists O'Fury). It's about us. After all, the conversation belongs to us; the commenter is explicitly not participating in it. And I'd argue the social pressure ought to work in reverse from what you're describing: If we collectively refuse to acknowledge or respond to such bomb-dropping "...aaaand I'm Audi, losers!" comments, there's significantly less incentive for people to post them.

what does the specific focus say about the character of the people responding?

Not speaking for ArmyOfKittens, but: for one thing, it can tell you whether people are using an incident to give expression to their emotions, or whether they're interested in and/or capable of dialogue. That's not necessarily a distinction where one choice is right and the other's wrong, but it is a matter of character.
posted by cribcage at 11:47 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right or wrong, no one's ever been convinced by someone attacking them.

I think this is both wrong and irrelevant. First, the purpose of arguing with someone is not always to convince them: it can also function to convince the undecided people on the sidelines, or the people who came into this with no opinion at all. Second, to give you an example, I have actually been convinced that I was wrong when someone attacked me angrily. I've used words like "retarded" before, and when I was called on it, it was uncomfortable and embarrassing and I got defensive. But later on I realized that the other party was totally and completely correct. After the initial emotional response dies down, there is room for change.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:47 AM on June 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


Not speaking for ArmyOfKittens, but: for one thing, it can tell you whether people are using an incident to give expression to their emotions, or whether they're interested in and/or capable of dialogue. That's not necessarily a distinction where one choice is right and the other's wrong, but it is a matter of character.

Mmm, fallacious dichotomies! Delicious!
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:52 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except that you can't sort people into XX and XY by looking at them, which seems to be what you're trying to assert, since people don't have karyotypes stamped on their foreheads.

It's totally not what I'm trying to assert. What I'm saying is that there is a hard and fast genetic "male" and "female" delineation. It very frequently overlaps with, but is not synonymous with, "man" and "woman" and "gender identity" and so on. In fact, even Mike in his dickish, antagonistic comments never asserted that you can tell someone's chromosomal type by looking at them.


Moreover, there's at least one case in the literature (I've linked to it in another thread, I can get the link if you're actually interested) of a man with genitals typical of an XY person, who experienced typical XY puberty and then discovered he was XX when investigating why he was infertile. 100 years ago, he would have never figured that out and you would be asserting he was obviously male.

That kind of example is a perfect demonstration of what I was attempting to get at. I am asserting that the man in the story you describe was factually chromosomally male. However, the lesson from the story isn't that he was "actually a dude" but that chromosomal gender has way less to do with what we as a culture recognize as "man-ness" and "woman-ness" than many people think.

Once you unpack the meat of Mike's outbursts, he appears to think that folks in the transcommunity are attempting to deny factual chromosomal distinctions. Stories like the one above help demonstrate that Mike is the one who is in fact wrong. Underlying genetic/chromosomal type isn't being denied -- rather, it's being relegated to an isolated fact that can be looked at separately from the much bigger question of identity.

I don't think I'm explaining what I mean well, and I don't want to imply that I'm defending the way in which Mike engaged with People At Large, or that I agree with the essence of what he was saying even after the dickishness is stripped away.
posted by verb at 11:52 AM on June 22, 2013


zoo: "Honest question ArmyOfKittens, but what does the specific focus say about the character of the people responding?"

I... would have thought that was pretty obvious?

I'm also raising an eyebrow at the characterisation of a lot of straightforward unsugarcoated talk from trans women about privilege and power and cissexism and transphobia, the sort that I suspect would be seen as blunt "telling it like it is" and if not lauded then given a pass if it was coming from a bunch of white men, as "jumping down someone's throat".

We get it. We have to sidle up to people and instead of just telling it like it is we have to present reality in small, perfumed and prepared chunks for it to be palatable. It'd be nice if we could get on with that without being told despite our best efforts that we're "not having a conversation" or that we're being "argumentative" or "obstructive", or having a justifiably pissed off minority of a minority used to paint all of us the same easily ignored colour.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:55 AM on June 22, 2013 [16 favorites]


I am asserting that the man in the story you describe was factually chromosomally male.

He wasn't, though, he was chromosomally XX, which is the point of the anecdote- that chromosomes aren't as deterministic as many/most people think they are.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:57 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


He wasn't, though, he was chromosomally XX, which is the point of the anecdote- that chromosomes aren't as deterministic as many/most people think they are.

er, sigh. That's what I intended to say -- that he was factually chromosomally female.
posted by verb at 12:00 PM on June 22, 2013


He could decide to make this change and do the work it requires, but instead he tells himself this story that he "can't."

While I did not care for the way he handled himself, to me, this line seemed pretty typical of someone who suffers from an anxiety order.
posted by Silvertree at 12:03 PM on June 22, 2013


While I did not care for the way he handled himself, to me, this line seemed pretty typical of someone who suffers from an anxiety order.

Which, just to clarify, Mike has. He's talked about being on meds for anxiety and how they've helped him.
You can go back through the archive here and find my posts about anxiety. It was something I lived with for as long as I could remember and it was horrible. What I didn’t really understand until I started taking medicine was that the constant worrying and anxiety had also lead to depression. Once I was on Lexapro I started to feel…well good and I finally had a frame of reference. When you’re always depressed and worried you don’t understand that there is any other way to feel. It probably sounds crazy to people who’ve never had to deal with it but it’s true.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:06 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fists O'Fury: "For the very love of God, there is nothing "transphobic" about any of those tweets in the first link.

What seems to be happening in this case (and cases like this here and there around the web) is that a certain, very esoteric theory about concepts like man and woman are being treated as if they are not only worth discussing, but are true, and not only true but obviously true, and not only obviously true but something that you are morally obligated to accept and a bigot if you question.

This, of course, is ridiculous.

I don't care how people represent themselves. If someone biologically female wants to represent themself as male, I don't see anything wrong with that. (Though, incidentally, some feminists do...) (I've long thought it was weird that males and females actually take pains to look and act in certain sometimes exaggerated, polarized ways based on their sex, so I don't see why someone should not do that, or should take pains to look and act like the other sex typically does...) But, so far as I can tell, such a person isn't male, and isn't a man in the core sense of "man." I'm even ok with pretending that someone is a man if it's really important to them. But it's insane to treat someone as a bigot for refusing to employ words and concepts in inaccurate ways that are highly controversial to say the very least. I have fair facility with the concept man and the term "man"...and it mostly means (adult) male, with some odd peripheral stuff associated with its role in (weird) utterances like "be a man!" And, of course, there's nothing wrong with expressing frustration with annoying, neologistic jargon ("cis").

Thing is, I think that there's a conversation to be had here. There are subtleties of concepts like man and woman that can be separated from male and female. One might reasonably propose to this Krahulik fellow (and, say, me) that the proposed new way of thinking and speaking is better--but it is a new way. I've certainly listen to such arguments, and he probably would, too. But that's not the approach that certain sectors of the left prefer. Instead they prefer to simply insist that they are right, that arguments (basically) don't matter, and that you are a bigot if you don't agree with them.

That's one reason that so many people don't like the left, including the lefter bits of liberalism: thought-and-language policing. Odd terms and concepts get cooked up (often, sadly, with the input of some weak philosophy), and then there's a certain sector that tries to impose them on everyone else with all the subtlety of pack of particularly uncharitable shrieking banshees. Combine (a) a not-obviously-justified position with (b) insistence that if you don't accept it you are a bigot, and, well, you not only alienate a lot of people, you alienate a lot of reasonable people.

But threads on these issues on MeFi, IMO, tend not to be about discussion so much as enforcing the local orthodoxy. And that's something I don't care for. So I bid this thread farewell...
"



If I hadn't been out playing softball this morning and had been here staring at what people say about me on the internet instead, I would have flagged this as hard as I could and moved on. But apparently this is the kind of hateful shit that doesn't cross a line - that my identity as a woman is "esoteric theory," that this is not true (or not "obviously true," when it's pretty fucking obvious to me who I am), that other people have the option of casually dismissing my identity, that people who reject transgender identities aren't bigots, that I'm ridiculous, that I am not "a [woman] in the core sense of '[woman]'", that I'm "pretending" to be a woman and you might accept my pretending if you deem it "important" enough to me, that it's horrible jargon for cis people to be called cis people, that trans people are some weird activist arm of the shadowy "left," that I have any kind of power at all to "impose" anything on you, that my identity isn't "justified" (but that it needs to be to your arbitrary satisfaction), further insistence that people who reject trans people are somehow not bigots, and that by being mad when people decide who I am for me I am "alienating" "reasonable people."

I trying am very hard to contain my anger. I just wanted to repeat back what you said about trans people, to make sure you understand that you said it about me. This is disgusting and it makes me feel disgusting and powerless.

I'm going to walk away for now and take my post-game shower and all I'm going to be able to think about while I wash the mud and sweat off me is trying to wash your shitty words and ideas off me, but those don't come off because your words and ideas are society's words and ideas and they surround me 24/7 like the skin I'm already so uncomfortable in.
posted by Corinth at 12:10 PM on June 22, 2013 [59 favorites]


While I did not care for the way he handled himself, to me, this line seemed pretty typical of someone who suffers from an anxiety order.

It seems that way to me, too. Still, so what? There are many ways he could dig out the root causes of his assholery, but he won't because he thinks he can't. He's a smart guy in a lot of ways. I suspect that if his assholery were costing him something that actually mattered to him, he would find a way to address it. Including getting help for the anxiety.
posted by rtha at 12:11 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah anxiety disorder is so not a free pass given that the rates of anxiety and depression for trans men and women are way above the rest of the population. (citation)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:21 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah anxiety disorder is so not a free pass given that the rates of anxiety and depression for trans men and women are way above the rest of the population. (citation)

I don't think it's about giving anybody a free pass, just trying to see where people are coming from. I don't really get the comparison you're making, either. Trans people tend to be anxious and depressed, therefore . . .?
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:33 PM on June 22, 2013


verb: "What I'm saying is that there is a hard and fast genetic 'male' and 'female' delineation."

Except there isn't. Chromosomes are only one part of what makes someone male, female or a different sex entirely. There's a whole other raft of variations that you're discounting: hormones, genitalia, secondary sex characteristics, bone structure, brain structure, etc. Even chromosomes aren't that simple. There's XO, XYY and many more variations. (And a priori discounting intersex variations from this is some kind of No True Scotsman fallacy.)

Arguments from chromosomes always set my neck hairs on end because this kind of thing gets used to deny us fundamental rights. Even relatively mild forms of it still come across as "but come on, I know what sex you really are." Chromosomes usually get trotted out as the "hard and fast" way of delineating male and female when it serves cis people's rigid binary ideas of what sex is. Chromosomes get forgotten when it's about cis people. (Do you know what your chromosomes are? I bet most cis people reading this don't. But does that make you question your gender identity? Probably not. And it shouldn't for trans people, either.) Chromosomes get used, so often, only when it's convenient -- when it helps cis people attack trans identities.
posted by jiawen at 12:38 PM on June 22, 2013 [18 favorites]


My point was that many of the people who were hurt by his actions and who responded to him are likely to also struggle with anxiety and depression themselves, and so I don't know that it's true that this interaction is being shaded mainly by people who are failing to see where he's coming from. It's not a major point, though.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:40 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


TBH, if I were mining that post for relevant information, the PUA stuff might seem more interesting than the anxiety stuff...

(Cisgendered over here, by the way, and no idea of my chromosomal makeup.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:43 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


What I'm saying is that there is a hard and fast genetic 'male' and 'female' delineation.

Yeah, not to pile on but this is something that has come up a lot in previous MeFi threads about trans issues and it's really not so clear-cut.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:45 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


verb: human beings are unambiguously male or female by virtue of their chromosomal makeup.

This is incorrect.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:54 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Trans* people who are out about being trans* are always having to jump through medical, social, legal, and political hoops to "prove" their chosen gender identity (across a whole lot of variables they have no control over). Oddly (not really) the only times I've been challenged - and I'm a ciswoman - is when I'm confronted by that particular noxious brand of homophobe who refuses to understand that I can be a dyke without wanting to be a man or thinking I am one.

No one has ever asked me to prove I am a woman by presenting the results of a genetic test. They just take my word for it. If they're not jerks, anyway.
posted by rtha at 1:02 PM on June 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


Feel free to think ill of Mike for his words, but at least have the grace to stop saying he's not willing to try.
posted by ChrisR at 1:18 PM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


Beat me to the update, ChrisR.
posted by Caduceus at 1:19 PM on June 22, 2013


I hate this whole conversation. I really do.

I'm a person.

That's it, that's all anyone needs to know. It doesn't matter what chromosomes I have; they're irrelevant unless I'm attempting to breed (and in my case it's completely irrelevant as I'm sterile). It doesn't matter what my wibbly bits look like; that's irrelevant unless I want to hook it up to a very special person in a very specific way. It doesn't matter what clothes I wear; that's just a costume. The colour of my skin is irrelevant unless I'm going to spend all day in the sun. The flesh I wear is just a meat suit; are you going to eat it? None of this shit matters.

I'm a person.

Stop worrying about what labels or categories you should assign to me because none of those irrelevant categories have any real meaning in our interactions.

I don't know how to get people to stop caring about any of this stuff, because it doesn't matter.

What matters; the only thing that matters, is how we treat each other.

Sigh.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:22 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


How dare he try to do the right thing but imperfectly! Bring out the torches and pitchforks.
posted by Justinian at 1:22 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I’ve spent the last few days trying to apologize to people I hurt. I’ve been doing it via email and I’ve given out my phone number a lot. I realize I was wrong and I’m genuinely sorry. I also realize I can’t possibly apologize on the phone to each and every person I hurt. I’m going to keep trying, but I’ve also decided to personally make a donation to the Trevor Project of $20,000.00. I also plan to keep interacting with people on a personal level and I understand that will be an ongoing process. In the meantime I’m hoping this donation will do some real good for a group that desperately needs it.

-Gabe


People can learn.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 1:23 PM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


How dare trans people try to defend themselves! Bring out the torches and pitchforks.
posted by jiawen at 1:26 PM on June 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


That's a much better effort at apology. I was worried he was going to dig in more again and make it even worse.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:28 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


How dare everyone bring out torches and pitchforks! Bring out... oh wait.
posted by thewalledcity at 1:28 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well started. Good for him.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:28 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


None of this shit matters.

Sadly, it really, really, really does matter. If you get treated badly because of the color of your skin or your gender presentation, it matters a TON. The color of your skin is NOT irrelevant if it means you're more likely to be arrested, more likely to be convicted, more likely to get the death penalty; the arrangement of your chromosomes is NOT irrelevant if it means you are more likely to get fired, harassed, evicted, beaten, or killed. It's Stephen Colbert's whole bit: "I don't even see color, I'm completely color blind. I mean, though, I assume I'm white, because police officers call me Sir."
posted by KathrynT at 1:28 PM on June 22, 2013 [23 favorites]


I'm glad to hear that he's been listening.
posted by rtha at 1:29 PM on June 22, 2013


ChrisR: "Feel free to think ill of Mike for his words, but at least have the grace to stop saying he's not willing to try."

Now that has the potential to do some good for trans people. Not just the donation (I've heard some trans-related horror stories about the Trevor Project but I have nothing but anecdata to link) but the public admission.

Gaming as a subculture is simultaneously an important refuge for young trans people and horrendously transphobic. A figurehead like him publicly changing his mind can do a lot to sway opinion.

I won't stay any criticism of the initial response at all, and I find it spectacularly classless to attack the conduct of the "greater mass" of trans people since they/we are actually the people who face the brunt of this every day, but this is worth raising a glass to.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:29 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yes, good to see Mike trying to learn here, and trying to make amends.
posted by jiawen at 1:33 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's been a pretty good week for douchebaggery triggering charitable donations, all round. $25,000 to the RAINN from Kickstarter, and now this. Although, as Army of Kittens says, a sincere apology (and note that this one is not about his pain or his trauma) and some sincere advocacy could be worth more...
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:38 PM on June 22, 2013


That last apology does at least read as the words of someone who, although he may not understand HOW he fucked up, understands THAT he fucked up, and really, really wishes he hadn't fucked up. The PA guys are doing very well financially, but $20K is a pretty big sock in the wallet even so. Future actions will tell the tale, but my "benefit of the doubt" switch may have flipped with this one.
posted by KathrynT at 1:45 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I'm happy to see that apology and I'm glad he is listening and trying to learn. It's the sincere listening that's important, and the being willing to see when the real experiences of others are more valuable than abstract, sheltered "opinions." I'm happy to see that happening here. :)
posted by byanyothername at 1:53 PM on June 22, 2013


I don't want to sound like an apologist for them, but there is something to be said about the continual learning process that life is; and that people are educated and informed by the context of their relationships. Just because you've been wildly successful does not mean you've graduated to an empathy level that is capable of taking you outside of your comfort zone.

I routinely enjoy the strip and the commentary, I think they get a historically maligned community in a way that resonates with me. With that said, I wish they were earlier in their understanding of other communities under the same yoke of misunderstanding. I don't agree with a lot of what they do or say but life is not a binary conversation it seems, despite my deep desire to have things be simple and clear cut. People have to fail to learn. The PA guys (and I level this at all of them) seem to be getting that. I am hopeful that people focus on helping others learn what their failures are in a constructive way. I know where I have failed (and I have failed a *LOT* at any number of sincerely embarrassing things), I have many times been fortunate to be greeted with anger tempered by *patience and understanding*.
posted by iamabot at 1:57 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I didn't point out that Mike had an anxiety disorder to give him a free pass. Understanding his frame of reference helps to understand what he is thinking, and perhaps help him to see the error of his ways. Ultimately, that seems more helpful than labeling him an asshole and moving on. YMMV.
posted by Silvertree at 2:06 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is actually not the job of the transgender community, feminists, rape survivors, or people of color or any other group to explain themselves to every clueless person in the world. It is our mutual job as human beings to attempt to understand each other. You do this by reading, thinking, and listening when people tell you about their lived experiences

This is basically bullshit. By which I mean: yes, oppressed minorities don't need to do anything, but the original point was pretty clearly referring to social activists. Reframing the statement as if it is an imposition on rape survivors, etc. is a way of avoiding the issue. Notice how the word feminist is hidden among a list of oppressed groups. Rape survivors don't have any obligations, but feminists clearly do, since feminism is a movement dedicated to changing society, and part of that involves education.

For example, when someone denies someone else's lived experience, it could be because they are a bigot. But it could also be that without having a degree in critical theory and gender studies, they are unfamiliar with the philosophical background of hermeneutic phenomenology which you need to really understand why some people are so excited about the concept of "lived experience" and see that as vital to social activism.

Or when orthogonality says "It seems that what emjaybee is really saying is "when a person of a particular group makes a claim based on their personal experience, you are not allowed to question it'", it's possible that the concept of standpoint theory might be relevant to understanding what that's all about.

A whole lot of contemporary social activism is rooted in semi-obscure philosophical notions that don't follow the intuitions of the average bigot on the street. Social activists themselves have benefited from an academic education, and then turn around and say "We don't need to educate you. Our job is to make moral judgments and call you a bigot. Your job is to pick up a feminist epistemology reader so you can figure out why, just like every good and decent human being."

So, I know the cause is just and good and all, maybe this is all necessary and anyway, marginalized groups have to deal with much worse. But still, you social theory types can sure act like assholes sometimes.
posted by AlsoMike at 2:20 PM on June 22, 2013 [16 favorites]


Maybe Mike and the Penny Arcade guys are too accustomed to creating fiction (various media)? The writer has godlike powers, etc. Outside of metafiction, his (I use 'his' here on purpose) creations will not walk out of the pages, off the screen, etc. to smack him upside the head.
posted by bad grammar at 2:27 PM on June 22, 2013


Reframing the statement as if it is an imposition on rape survivors, etc. is a way of avoiding the issue.

Not really, it was probably brought up because rape survivors are often told the very same things about needing to be better teachers on subjects like rape culture.

But it could also be that without having a degree in critical theory and gender studies, they are unfamiliar with the philosophical background of hermeneutic phenomenology which you need to really understand why some people are so excited about the concept of "lived experience" and see that as vital to social activism.


I have no idea what "hermeneutic phenomenology" is or why it might be necessary to understand why it's problematic to assume you know more about someone's personal experiences and perceptions than they do. Seems like that just requires basic empathy, not lockstep agreement, a lack of bigotry, or an understanding of jargon.

Or when orthogonality says "It seems that what emjaybee is really saying is "when a person of a particular group makes a claim based on their personal experience, you are not allowed to question it'", it's possible that the concept of standpoint theory might be relevant to understanding what that's all about.

I don't think you really need to delve into any theory to understand why it's an issue if you say, "I think what you are really saying is *something that was not actually said at all.*"

"We don't need to educate you. Our job is to make moral judgments and call you a bigot. Your job is to pick up a feminist epistemology reader so you can figure out why, just like every good and decent human being."

So, I know the cause is just and good and all, maybe this is all necessary and anyway, marginalized groups have to deal with much worse. But still, you social theory types can sure act like assholes sometimes.


If people want to demand that they be treated like students instead of figuring out an issue on their own, they should respect the teacher.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:34 PM on June 22, 2013 [41 favorites]


If people want to demand that they be treated like students instead of figuring out an issue on their own, they should respect the teacher.

Drinky Die, if I could favorite that a million times if I could. What a succinct way to put that, I've had that frustration so often but never been able to put it into words.
posted by KathrynT at 2:42 PM on June 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'd really like to know what prompted the apology.

I mean, obviously it wasn't the death threats; those just seemed to egg him on. Was it a critical mass of public opinion? Was it a real-life or phone conversation with a close friend. Was it a particular metaphor or analogy? Was it a frank discussion about how his actions were hurting his business? Was it a heartfelt email from a stranger?

Obviously the details may be private, and I respect that. I'm not asking for Mike to publish someone's private communication with him or anything. I just think it would be very helpful to know what brought this about.
posted by ODiV at 2:47 PM on June 22, 2013


ODiV, I speculated above that it was their business manager (who is basically a sorcerer) sitting him down and saying "this is about to be a PR disaster of absolutely epic fucking proportions, here is what you need to do to fix it if you don't want to put all of us out of work."
posted by KathrynT at 2:50 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I kinda did too just now. Also, where is your comment? I can't seem to find it.
posted by ODiV at 2:55 PM on June 22, 2013


Oh I guess it was in a different thread, never mind.
posted by KathrynT at 2:59 PM on June 22, 2013


[There's definitely a point at which terminology debates are unhelpful and derail-y, and digging in to "transphobic" is past that point. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 3:06 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


KathrynT, I suspect that conversation happened, but let's be careful of the motive fallacy.

Personally, I think he is having a dawning realisation that the bully/victim roles have truly reversed since his high-school years, coupled with a nascent awareness of trans issues, and the hurt he caused by lashing out in "self-defense."

I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.
posted by psolo at 3:07 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't underestimate Gone Home being pulled out of PAX, either. Obviously, that's not going to ruin PAX, or damage ticket sales, or any of that. But Steve Gaynor is generally well thought-of by both video games makers and the games media, he is likely to be courted by bigger companies again after Gone Home, and I can absolutely see this looking like a canary in the coalmine.

It's easy enough to ignore, or continuer to bait, people in an out-group (those crazy feminists/trans activists, flying off the handle again!), but when people respected by your in-group start distancing themselves from you, that's more problematic.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:25 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am not going to be thankful that he says he's okay with trans raccoons (who don't exist), because his partner is quite plainly not okay with trans people (who do). This kind of stuff harms real actual people, and I really don't want to see any trans animal stuff anywhere ever, especially brought up as a context I'm supposed to recognize as tolerant/accepting/conciliatory, especially on the same page as blatant denial of valid trans identities.

I understand how it would be really upsetting to deal with someone who is not okay with trans people or who denies trans identities. I know that is really hard to hear and hurtful. But I don't understand how someone being okay with trans raccoons, as the example given, harms real actual people. We hear how someone wants to identify, and we call them by the pronoun and name and gender they choose, because we want to respect their preferences, and it is their choice on how to self-identify. We are trying to be good to other people, and one of the ways we do that is by granting them their identifications. Can't we do that at all levels?

I don't necessarily understand-on a fundamental level- how there's any difference between, say, transgender and transracial, or transgender and trans-species, except that one is considered wacky and zany and the other isn't. And it seems like the only reason to separate them is to propel one category up, while propelling the other category down. Does it actually harm anyone to also acknowledge people who are transracial or trans-species or what have you? It reminds me very much of people supporting same-sex marriage who clearly and loudly say that it is NOTHING like POLY marriage, because god, those poly people are totally freaks*! Marrying the person you love has nothing to do with those weirdos! We're just normal folks like you!

When I was in the military, we had racial categories that people were supposed to identify into - tracking promotions and such and making sure there was no discrimination. And it was always interesting who would choose to identify as what. Sometimes the same people would identify as one race/ethnicity on one survey and another one on the next. We didn't ask them about it - whatever race someone wanted to identify as was fine. We got people who identified as African-American because the human race originated in Africa, and we got people with African-American ancestry who identified as white because they "felt white." Nobody gave them crap about it.

There was also one guy in my unit who said he was a dragon. He was really serious about it. I don't know where that idea came from or why he had them. I didn't have to. I said "Okay." I asked what that meant for him, and he said something about his aura that I honestly don't remember, but listened to at the time. And I moved on. I didn't hassle him about it. It was his thing.

How does being tolerant of other people who feel not at home in the body they were born into harm transpeople?

* Not my actual belief, I think anyone who wants to get married should be able to do so with as many people as they choose.
posted by corb at 3:58 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean, obviously it wasn't the death threats; those just seemed to egg him on. Was it a critical mass of public opinion? Was it a real-life or phone conversation with a close friend. Was it a particular metaphor or analogy? Was it a frank discussion about how his actions were hurting his business? Was it a heartfelt email from a stranger?

Obviously the details may be private, and I respect that. I'm not asking for Mike to publish someone's private communication with him or anything. I just think it would be very helpful to know what brought this about.

Going on what he's posted so far I'd say it's all three, plus a moment of clarity about leaving behind the detritus of his youth, growing up.

I mean he's basically obtained the best life in the world. He's rich, or at least very well off, nice family, he works doing what he loves most in the world with his best friend and a bunch of awesome people around him. He gets to do neat things like Strip Search and PAX.

And all that he's achieved by being the person he is, so there hasn't been much pressure to trim the trailing edges of his personality. But this, which has a direct effect on people he loves (and himself, though I'd guess that's less of an issue) is the sort of thing that will recur unless he does something about it. So, he's done the work.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:00 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


"It seems that what emjaybee is really saying is "when a person of a particular group makes a claim based on their personal experience, you are not allowed to question it'

This has become an explicit rule in at least two communities I frequent, brokenforum and rpg.net. It makes me very grumpy and I'm in the process of unpacking why - in the meantime, I've decided to stop being angry about things on the internet.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:05 PM on June 22, 2013


On the plus side, it's rare to see a "what about the furs" derail. One for the spotters' guide.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:07 PM on June 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


I don't necessarily understand-on a fundamental level- how there's any difference between, say, transgender and transracial, or transgender and trans-species, except that one is considered wacky and zany and the other isn't. And it seems like the only reason to separate them is to propel one category up, while propelling the other category down. Does it actually harm anyone to also acknowledge people who are transracial or trans-species or what have you?

You're arguing a straw man, here, corb, and it's really unhelpful. This is not a thread about otherkin or transracial identity, and trying to compare the actual topic to something no one in this thread is discussing at all just steers the conversation away from the actual topic, which is about how people talk about and treat transgendered people.

I know you're trying hard to get your head around this issue, but this is not the way to do it.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:07 PM on June 22, 2013 [20 favorites]


Maybe I can clarify, and maybe it's hopeless, but I will try.

When a member of Group A, in this case, a transperson, tells you about their experience as a transperson (instead of say, their opinion on the stock market or quantum physics), and you are not also a transperson, then yes, they are the expert and you are not in this instance.

How could you question their experience when you don't understand it? Because you have not lived it?

I don't understand why this causes rage or frustration to anyone, unless it stems from a privilege you assume that you, a non-transperson, has, the privilege of deciding what is valid and what is not when it comes to knowing what another person's gender/sexual identity/whatever "really" is. That is what touched off the controversy, the whole "call yourself whatever, I know you're really whatever your genitals say you are," remarks. Put that into the loooong history of discrimination against trans people, a history where people not only said things like that but assaulted trans people, fired them, or even killed them, and it's not a neutral "logical" statement to them. And yes, you should stop saying it to them, at least if you don't want to be perceived as another in a long line of bigots.

And I am also going to say, I feel stupid standing here like Trans Spokesperson when I am not and cannot be that person, I am not trans, I am also not the expert here. I am friends with some who are, but I would never assume I can speak for them, and this whole thing is making me uncomfortable because I do not want to do that. But I also feel like my comments were confusing to some and wanted to do what I could to clear that up.

There is so, so much on the web by trans people that addresses all of this much better than I could. Any further confusion should really be addressed by reading what's already out there.
posted by emjaybee at 4:24 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


corb: "I don't necessarily understand-on a fundamental level- how there's any difference between, say, transgender and transracial, or transgender and trans-species, except that one is considered wacky and zany and the other isn't. And it seems like the only reason to separate them is to propel one category up, while propelling the other category down. Does it actually harm anyone to also acknowledge people who are transracial or trans-species or what have you?"

Oh for god's sake. I'm going to do this quickly. Detail will be lacking.

1. Transgender conditions are real. Transethnic and otherkin conditions are not.

2. There is no critical mass of transethnic or otherkin people who are teetering on the edge of suicide and who will take that step across if they are not treated. Transgender treatment is necessary and life-saving.

3. Trans people have been struggling for decades to get our voices heard, within greater society and within the LGBT movement. We have been attacked by feminists, right-wingers and left-wingers alike. If we make ourselves known we are at huge risk of violence and death. I have seen this violence first-hand. I have lost friends. None of this is true for transethnic or otherkin people. Our voices are still feeble: we are still spoken over more than spoken for. We do not need transethnic and otherkin people -- whose conditions, I remind you, are not real -- hijacking the message we have suffered greatly to bring barely into the public eye. Our fight is a long way from being over.

4. Trans medical treatment is still controversial, world-wide. It does not need to be aligned, in the public consciousness and in the minds of politicians, with pretend conditions.

I could go on but this topic, for reasons I hope are evident, makes me screamingly angry.

I will note that I do not have a single problem with someone who wants to identify strongly with a particular animal, be it fox or dragon or elf. But it is not comparable to the transgender experience. It is dangerous to draw the comparison. Don't.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:27 PM on June 22, 2013 [25 favorites]


on preview, already posted.
posted by striatic at 4:28 PM on June 22, 2013


There are actual testable hypotheses for the biological mechanisms that cause gender dysphoria to occur. Various possibilities like hormone imbalances in the womb, or epigenetics, or other various biological processes. Of course no one's really sure which of these hypotheses is the right one, but, the working point is that it's actually possible to formulate them.

But put the other way, what possible testable hypotheses are there for species dysphoria to hypothetically occur? Since we obviously don't share any genetics with most non-human species (i can sorta budge on raccoons, but dragons don't actually exist) how does someone develop that kind of species dysphoria? It seems literally impossible to prove how it comes about, let along whether it actually exists or not; which sorta makes it the kind of thing people hesitant to accept as real or even plausible.

Of course this is why this is all so insulting to trans* folks. This is why gabe's remark in the first apology to Sophie is so absolutely insulting: "Wanna be a guy or a girl or a fox or whatever and I will be happy to treat you that way." It's explicitly telling us that our identities are no better than pretend or make-believe! People comparing gender dysphoria to something that isn't actually possible due to biological implausibility, is absolutely frigging invalidating!

And frankly, I have a hard time seeing today's apology as anything other than a PR move. gabe seemed utterly unrepentant yesterday, and I can't imagine he has actually learned anything so quickly. But, hopefully they will have learned something and it'll reflect in their future interactions with the public and their web comics, but only time will tell.
posted by yeoz at 4:32 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I will also be brief since it's an obvious derail we've been asked to avoid but this is kind of a sore spot for trans people for the reason I mentioned earlier: Everywhere else we're faced with whack-a-mole-ing down completely disingenuous and insulting "if you say you're a girl I say I'm a dolphin" remarks. As a trans person on the internet, this is seriously one of the most common responses I encounter. So if you don't do any research beforehand and casually lump us in with "trans animals" (which, as stated, are not real), you're actually very strongly reinforcing a painful and prevalent delegitimizing tactic and putting us on the same "side" as people who hate us and find us absurd whether you're aware of it or not.
posted by Corinth at 4:35 PM on June 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


Also since someone asked I want to say that I'm doing a lot better than I was earlier this afternoon when I posted that raw response to a person who had already left the thread. I've just returned from walking my dog around the block while enjoying a nice cider and tonight I'm going with friends to a midnight showing of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. I'm okay and you are wonderful people with whom I would probably love to do either or both of those activities.
posted by Corinth at 4:49 PM on June 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


[Orthogonality, you know where MeTa is. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 5:08 PM on June 22, 2013


You can learn a lot about someone's character by which of the two groups they focus on.


ArmyofKittens, if you think I'm some asshole because of a single paragraph I've written on the internet, then so be it. I've had my experiences. I have seen people get attacked, and not by trans people per se, I never said that word once. But if the favorites are anything to go by then my words are as meaningless, your minds are all already made up. But for you to resort to character assassination like that is uncalled for, and frankly you've bolstered my thoughts.
posted by catwash at 5:08 PM on June 22, 2013


dude that was about the penny arcade guy
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:11 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really? You were talking about him after directly quoting me?
posted by catwash at 5:14 PM on June 22, 2013


All there is to learn is that these are not arguments worth having or people worth engaging.

...my words are as meaningless, your minds are all already made up.

You announced from the start this wasn't even a discussion worth having or people even worth engaging with...and are complaining that other people already have their minds made up?
posted by Drinky Die at 5:15 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


yep. conversation about marginalised minority, penny arcade guy focusing (at the time) on the DEATH THREATS and not the half-million tweets from people trying to talk sense into him. you seemed to be talking about the situation, and so was I.

it's classy of you to be bugging me about this after my previous long-form rather passionate comment, mind.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:16 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


According to otherkin.net, the majority of otherkin view their identity primarily in spiritual or metaphysical terms, invoking the soul, reincarnation, multiple universes, etc. There seem to be a lot of references to spiritual auras and magical worldviews. This differs pretty sharply from the experiences of trans and les/bi/gay people, which tend to be very literal and concrete. And as far as I am aware, gender dysphoria and homosexuality is not tied to or even correlated with a particular creed or spirituality. I think it makes a lot more sense to think of being otherkin as more akin to a religious/spiritual belief than something like being trans.

(I think it's also worth looking at what the actual obstacles faced by both groups are. I have never heard of an otherkin-bashing, though I'm willing to admit I'm not particularly clued into that community. In contrast, LGBT people, especially trans people, routinely face harassment, discrimination, and bias-motivated violence.)
posted by en forme de poire at 5:36 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


> Of course this is why this is all so insulting to trans* folks. This is why gabe's remark in the first apology to Sophie
> is so absolutely insulting: "Wanna be a guy or a girl or a fox or whatever and I will be happy to treat you that way."
> It's explicitly telling us that our identities are no better than pretend or make-believe! People comparing gender dysphoria
> to something that isn't actually possible due to biological implausibility, is absolutely frigging invalidating!

One of the main attitudes that trans people are fighting is that transgenderism itself is imaginary, not real. And one of the main responses to this is that transgenderism is real because I, a transgender person, say it is real, and I cannot be wrong about this. As we were told in this very thread:

> A part of what emjaybee is really saying by my read is "when a person of a particular group makes a claim about themselves
> based on their personal experience, you have no basis on which to question it," which is trivially true.

That's very much an argument that cuts both ways, because if it is true nothing but internal personal experience makes any difference. Someone whose internal personal experience is that he is in the most profound metaphysical sense a fox, or a dragon, or that he has conversations every night with a personal God, can make exactly the same indefeasable claim. And he may not be disputed on grounds of mere scientific implausibility because nothing but personal experience matters.

It's a tough spot to be in. If you're certain it's wrong to question someone's personal experience or their interpretation of their personal experience then you have to live up to that no matter what kind of person you're talking to or what they say their personal experience is.


> It's explicitly telling us that our identities are no better than pretend or make-believe!

Should have gotten this out of the way right off. The personal self is make-believe.
posted by jfuller at 5:59 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


jfuller: "The personal self is make-believe."

Maybe so! But there is no way that we trans people should bear the brunt of that idea's conclusions.
posted by jiawen at 6:09 PM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


"That's very much an argument that cuts both ways, because if it is true nothing but internal personal experience makes any difference. "

I think you may be misinterpreting the statement that "when a person of a particular group makes a claim about themselves based on their personal experience, you have no basis on which to question it." I think this was intended in a more limited sense, that trans people are experts on their own experience of being transgendered, in the same sense that religious people are experts on their own experience of being religious, or even (as mentioned above, ergh) Klansmen and being in the Klan. My accepting this statement does not automatically imply that I accept everything about someone else's worldview: I am perfectly willing to concede that someone who participated in the KKK would be more familiar with its inner workings than I would be, but that obviously does not entail an endorsement of the Klan's belief system. The way I took the original statement, at least, is that respecting someone's expertise of their own "personal experience" is a minimum for having a mutually respectful conversation, not a shortcut to QED.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:27 PM on June 22, 2013


As we were told in this very thread:

> A part of what emjaybee is really saying by my read is "when a person of a particular group makes a claim about themselves
> based on their personal experience, you have no basis on which to question it," which is trivially true.


Wow. Once again, what emjaybee said was:

You do this by reading, thinking, and listening when people tell you about their lived experiences, and agreeing that their opinion on their experiences is not only valid, but more valid than your opinion about them is. Since, you know, they lived it and you fucking haven't.

emjaybee never said that anyone should be unquestioning. That was a a paraphrase from someone disagreeing with the comment that really did not seem to get to the essence of it. emjaybee said only to treat a person's views of their own experience as valid, and more valid than your own view on their experiences.

You should treat everyone this way, even if they claim an experience you find it difficult to understand and accept. Listen to them, learn about them, think about them. Consult other sources to read and learn more.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:39 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Anyway, as I already mentioned, I think if you actually listen to what otherkin are saying about their own identities vs. what trans people are saying, it would be disingenuous to say that they are identical, or even all that closely aligned. The otherkin community appears to fill a role that is religious or spiritual in nature, which from a first glance (and this is so not my area, so apologies if I'm balling this up) it appears is supported by some scholarship that is in turn based on interviews with otherkin. AFAIK, this spiritual dimension interrelated to paganism, multiple universes, and reincarnation is just not a defining feature of contemporary trans identities.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:46 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never really seen an otherkin argue they are the same as transgender people, though I would not at all be surprised if some/many of them feel that way. This sort of argument is much more often used as a strawman presented in things like the terrible South Park episode with the dolphin/black people are good at basketball stuff.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:49 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]



orthogonality, I've sat here trying to decide if I want to respond to you publicly, or PM you or flag and move on. As I'm writing this, I'm still not sure; obviously if you're reading it, I decided not to backspace. I have mixed feelings about that, because this feels a little personal for a public post on the blue. At the same time, a lot of your comments on this issue have been personally hurtful to me and it disappoints me to see you doing this again--you seem to really want to be persecuted for potentially having offensive opinions and I don't understand that at all. The thing I want you to listen to and think about is that transphobia is different from questioning authority and challenging taboos (in fact, few trans people have any power anywhere, and it's unbelievably taboo to be trans absolutely everywhere in the world) because it isn't criticizing time-honored traditions--it's attacking, shaming, disbelieving and erasing the lived experiences and existence of people because of fundamental qualities about themselves they have no control over. It's not worth defending that, and it's not an important mantle of free speech to deny the very reality of other human beings because of their superficial appearances or inherent being. All it is is needlessly hurtful--it is a willful ignorance, not a candle in the night.


byanyotherame,

Thank you for writing this. While I don't want to derail, since you've addressed me personally in a public forum, upthread, I think I should in fairness reply publicly. I have almost never flagged any comment, because I strongly believe in making arguments rather than appealing to power to remove opinions I disagree with. I begin, then, with a great deal of respect for you for having decided to address my argument rather than suppress it.

At the same time, a lot of your comments on this issue have been personally hurtful to me and it disappoints me to see you doing this again

Let's be clear, I have never addressed a comment personally to you; I have never said that byanyothername is a bad person (or a good person, or even a sleepy, grumpy, or doc person...), or "gendered" you, or asked you to live your life differently than you do.

I won't deny that my comments have hurt you; if you say they did, I must assume they did. But that wasn't the intent. My intent has always been to say what I believe, in a civil manner that doesn't attack anyone personally. And I'm not sure why my comments have hurt you: I fully support transsexuals' rights to live their lives as they see fit, to be protected from assault for their gender identity, to do what they need to do to be happy (so long as that doesn't oppress anyone else -- if someone asserts a need to drive drunk or defraud widows and orphans to be happy, that's of course not ok).

My comments have all been in the same vein, and a pretty abstract, philosophical vein at that. As a free-speech absolutist, as a believer that ideas must be tested rather than accepted by fiat, I object to anyone who says "this cannot be questioned". Again, this is part of my identity (for lack of a better word); if it's not as central to my identity as a a person's gender identity, it's pretty damn close. I apply skepticism to all arguments, not just those made by transsexuals, and I become extremely uncomfortable when anyone claims that certain ideas must be accepted without question.

Honestly, it confounds me that that is seen as an attack on anyone's person, or personally hurtful. I apply my skepticism to everything, I'm not singling out any class of people. I get that as a transsexual, your gender identity is often personally questioned, or outright denied, and I think that is terrible.

But in a forum where people are discussing gender identity, or issues that arise from it (such as in this thread), there will be a diversity of opinions, and some will be opinions you agree with and find affirming, and some will be opinions you disagree with and find painful. Or else it's not a discussion, it's just a bunch of like-minded people having an affirmation session, preaching to the choir, reveling in their their consensus, or enjoying a "grar-fest" against a Mike Krahulik for saying something they disagree with.

Now I suppose there is a need for both things: full and frank discussion, and a "safe space" where people never have to hear opinions that they disagree with. But in years past, Metafilter was never a safe space. It was (usually) a civil space, where people wouldn't be personally insulted for having an opinion. After I was personally insulted for an opinion of mine that another user disagreed with, I left here, because I felt the implicit social contract had been violated when that insult was allowed to stand. But there is a difference between a personal attack and a difference in opinion. Again, I have never personally attacked you, never gendered you, never told you that I think you're a bad person, or "not real".


you seem to really want to be persecuted for potentially having offensive opinions and I don't understand that at all.

No, I really do NOT want to be persecuted. NO, I do NOT want to be attacked, or have my comments removed because they don't agree with some orthodoxy of "this is what you're allowed to think (or say)". No one wants to be persecuted. and no one should be, for having an opinion.

And in fact, when people have had opinions very different from mine, opinions I consider wrong and harmful, I have championed their right to assert those opinions, regardless of my personal opinion. I strongly believe creationism is misguided claptrap, but I advocated strongly against efforts to suppress a member who consistently argued for it. I was deeply disturbed by the neo-cons during the Bush years, but advocated the return of a member who strongly (and in my view mistakenly) argued for the very views I vehemently opposed.

If transsexuals were being told "this you cannot say, this you cannot state, this you cannot believe" on this forum, I'd be the first to call that bullshit.

But instead, in these threads, I see people who disagree with the orthodoxy being told exactly that: that they cannot question the use of "cis" as an adjective, that it is out of line to ask whether transsexuality is a body dysmorphic disorder analogous to "transspecesism" (or anorexia), or even to ask one what grounds it is not. (Personally, I see much more validity in transsexuality than in transpeciesism, but if the argument is not to be hurtful, then it's a hoot to see someone (not you) flat out claim that trans-specesism isn't real, with offering any evidence, while flat out claiming that transsexualism is. I mean, put yourself in the shoes (hooves?) of a trans-specieist -- wouldn't they be hurt by that flat out denial, as much as a transsexual is hurt by a denial of transsexuality??)

And it deeply offends me when people are told "you can't make that argument". It's dismissive of them, their life experience, their values and identity. As a member of a gender or sexual minority that gets dismissed and denied all too often, I'd think that you'd empathize with that dismissive denial of their beliefs.

And when people are told "you can't make that argument", it's condescending to transsexuals, to boot: it's essentially saying, "Oh, they're just too fragile to hear anything that offends them, poor dears. Their identity isn't strong enough for them to face criticism." That condescension doesn't offend you?

The thing I want you to listen to and think about is that transphobia is different from questioning authority and challenging taboos (in fact, few trans people have any power anywhere, and it's unbelievably taboo to be trans absolutely everywhere in the world) because it isn't criticizing time-honored traditions

Trans people have a lot of power here: this is a discussion site, and trans people have the power to shut down any discussion they don't like, have those arguments removed by the mods. That's prery much absolute power, here, because anyone reading will conclude that no one here disgress with the orthodox opinions. You've got the upper hand here, and my inclination is to always root for the underdog. Here you ain't the underdog.

[Questioning arguments is] not worth defending that, and it's not an important mantle of free speech to deny the very reality of other human beings because of their superficial appearances or inherent being.

First, I don't buy that questioning denies anyone's reality. No one is making the argument that transsexual people don't exist, and no one's argument is going to make you pop out of existence or exit reality. I think your argument is that someone hypothetically denying transsexuality (which, incidentally, I don't and haven't denied, I believe it exists) is denying that you're your chosen gender, and that because your gender is such a big part of your identity, that that effectively denies you existence. But you're still here! You still have your same gender identity. You're sad that not everyone accepts it, but you knew that before you saw this (hypothetical) argument, you get it from you own family. Are you saying you're sadder because not everyone agrees with you here? I'm not being rhetorical here, I'm asking you, what is the (additional) injury.

I think this comes down to, that people want this to be a "safe space". And I don't think that you can have honest argument and a safe space, at least not where there is a diversity of opinion. Again, trying to make metafilter a "safe space" for certain opinions makes it an unsafe spce for anyone who doesn't kowtow to the approved orthodoxy. if you're going to do that, at least be upfront, and tell everyone what they're allowed to say. It's disingenuous (at best) to implcitly say, "we can discuss this" then to flag, delete, or shout down anyone who doesn't toe the approved line.

Again, it is not my intent to hurt anyone's feelings. I consider myself a liberal and an ally of gender and sexual minorities, as I've always been for letting people live their lives as they see fit. I'm very uncomfortable being (in your words) being "persecuted" for my opinions. But letting people live their lives as they see fit is a two-way street: you can't claim to be having a discussion if only one opinion is allowed to be stated.

byanyothername, I know that I tend to be long winded, and I hope you've read all that I've written. I hope you're not hurt by it, and I do respect your willingness to engage in discussion rather than flagging. And I hope you will continue to live your life in accordance with your identity, and that that will make you happy.
posted by orthogonality at 7:00 PM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Trans people have a lot of power here: this is a discussion site, and trans people have the power to shut down any discussion they don't like, have those arguments removed by the mods. That's prery much absolute power, here, because anyone reading will conclude that no one here disgress with the orthodox opinions.

LOL whut?
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:07 PM on June 22, 2013 [19 favorites]


emjaybee never said that anyone should be unquestioning. That was a a paraphrase from someone disagreeing with the comment that really did not seem to get to the essence of it. emjaybee said only to treat a person's views of their own experience as valid, and more valid than your own view on their experiences.

For what it's worth, I meant "question" in the sense of "question the validity of," not merely "query."

It's a tough spot to be in. If you're certain it's wrong to question someone's personal experience or their interpretation of their personal experience then you have to live up to that no matter what kind of person you're talking to or what they say their personal experience is.

I don't think your ad absurdum actually holds up. Your examples all make reference to external entities or conditions, while gender identity is internal and culturally mediated (with the historical fluidity of what constitutes traditionally male and female gender identities serving as sufficient proof that gender and sex aren't strictly homologous, ruling out sex as a necessary external referent of gender identity). Even given that, though, I don't see what's so difficult about acknowledging the validity a particular psychological state that is attested to by an entire community. You seem to want human experience to follow from first principles and that doesn't seem realistic to me.
posted by invitapriore at 7:12 PM on June 22, 2013


I apply my skepticism to everything, I'm not singling out any class of people.

This has not been demonstrated in this thread. You have not seen fit to publicly apply your skepticism to anything the PA guys have said or done, and you've done nothing to interrogate their motives, perspectives, world views, or experiences. Forgive me if I'm skeptical of your claim to being an even-handed skeptic when I've seen no evidence of it.
posted by rtha at 7:29 PM on June 22, 2013 [17 favorites]


emjaybee: the loooong history of discrimination against trans people, a history where people not only said things like that but assaulted trans people, fired them, or even killed them

Okay, I am still not as good at this whole "say-my-piece-and-duck-out-of-a-thread" thing, but I am trying. I wanted to come back and expand on what emjaybee said here by noting that this is not just history--it is ongoing, many of us have experienced harassment firsthand (online and off), discrimination, physical assault, sexual assault, etc. and sometimes the constant flood of invalidation we face can trigger our traumas or heighten our already higher-than-general-population (-because-of-transphobia) anxiety. A lot of people approach this as though it were an open philosophical debate and, well, please just don't do that, everyone. This is a delicate topic; it's our actual lives, many of which have been difficult.

(Also, emjaybee, please do keep speaking up and supporting trans people! It means a lot to me whenever cisgender people defend us, because too often even among "allies" a lot of things get framed exclusively as "trans issues.")

ortho, thanks for the reply. It does a lot to make you seem more sincere to me, and helps me understand where you're coming from. I do appreciate that. The thing to note here though, is that these discussions are not 100% abstract exchanges of equally valid opinions; transphobia (which is very much still the dominant social attitude in All of The World; not long ago, an anti-trans hate screed was published in the Guardian, despite the UK probably being the most progressive and accepting country regarding trans rights--this is unthinkable with literally any other minority) is linked to actual violence, actual discrimination, actual real world harm. There is a history and a context here that shouldn't be ignored in these discussions.

You're also wrong about trans people having power in these discussions. Even here, in this thread, which is mostly pretty good, you can see trans members popping back in constantly to add something, correct something, identify something as hurtful, etc. and there's an ever present push-back where we feel we're in the position of defending our fundamental beings over and over again. Out in the wider internet, we certainly don't have much power and face lots of harassment and ridicule (even in our own "safe spaces"). In the real world... Well, I think the Injustice at Every Turn report I linked to covers that. Things get ugly out there.

Regarding denial of identity, it absolutely does invalidate and erase trans people to do so. This stems from a very common misunderstanding (one which sparked this thread): that trans people are, at the heart of it, "men who want to become women" or "women who want to become men." That there is a choice made to undergo transition. Reality is more complicated; being trans is not like having this little voice inside you screaming, "I'm a lady! I'm a lady!" or "I'm a duuuuuude!" at all times. There is an inherent sense that you are what you are; it feels good and right and normal when people treat you as what you are, and bad and weird and wrong when people question what you are or treat you as what you're not. Trans people really fundamentally are the gender they identify with; it's difficult to explain that, especially in a culture so invested in sex and gender binaries. Maybe it has something to do with neurological development. We don't know, for sure. What we do know is that gender transition is a life saving treatment, and the sooner it's offered, the better the odds are for trans patients to live happy and fulfilling lives. (This is also another bugaboo in these threads, and one I won't touch on further).

The point is, trans people aren't pretending to be the gender they present as; they're not adopting traits of their desired gender. They are that gender and it is harmful and invalidating to deny that. This is why people aren't happy with the humoring in Krahulik's words and some of the replies here; there's an underlying assumption there that trans people are "really" their birth sex, and that brings on a nice big wave of the bad/weird/wrong feeling.

There are a lot of loose threads I'm leaving here; this is a big topic. Certain things always seem to come up, and I think I can understand why; some of those things are just distracting/trivial, but some of them are harmful and I hope I'm helping explain why. I'm not perfect and I'm happy to admit I'm one of the suckiest teachers you could have; but just the fact that I have to learn to take the teacher role is indicative of what's wrong.
posted by byanyothername at 7:39 PM on June 22, 2013 [30 favorites]


Krahulik and Holkins made over half a mil from Kickstarter alone just to keep an ad off the front page of the site (and the ads had paid for themselves for years), so while his latest update is a good start, and the donation to the trevor project is a good gesture, I am hope he uses that as time to reflect and change, not just use the donation as a way to deflect accountability.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:56 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The dude has now done more than 99% of the non-trans people in this thread with that 20k donation and it's just a gesture?
posted by Justinian at 8:02 PM on June 22, 2013


Justinian: "The dude has now done more than 99% of the non-trans people in this thread with that 20k donation and it's just a gesture?"

Let's see if his actions take. LIke I said, it;s a good start, but considering his past history and even his behavior up until yesterday, there needs to be some sincere action going forward.

As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:07 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


You have not seen fit to publicly apply your skepticism to anything the PA guys have said or done, and you've done nothing to interrogate their motives, perspectives, world views, or experiences.

Well I did say (in the PA thread) "I don't want to read this book". For the record, I said that because I what little I know of P(U?)A makes it seem patently ridiculous.

Do I also have to mention that I'm skeptical about an old guy and some deer flying around the whole world to deliver presents on Christmas Day? Really?

Plenty of people were impugning PA's motives, perspectives, world views, and experiences. I didn't need to add details.

But the real difference is, there didn't seem to be anyone in that thread defending PA and being silenced for that opinion. (Was there, was it deleted before I saw it?)

But I don't think you want to establish that the yardstick that's essentially "why are you worried about starving children in DR Congo, when you haven't said anything about malnourished children in Appalachia?" I mean, come on, that's a fair criticism and you know it.
posted by orthogonality at 8:13 PM on June 22, 2013


PA = Penny Arcade
PUA = pick-up artist.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:15 PM on June 22, 2013


Yes, exactly; thank you, rosf.

This here thread is the PA thread, in my shorthand. The other is the kickstarter book thread, also in my idiosyncratic parlance. Apologies for any confusion.
posted by rtha at 8:20 PM on June 22, 2013


Jerry Holkins broke his silence to post a follow-up entitled "Also":

At root, if someone wants to know if they’re welcome at PAX, we’ve got a strong record on that front: we have panels every show that advance this very conversation, precisely because they’re submitted by attendees. We don’t define the show because we can’t. It is, in many ways, not our show.


About that record-- Here's what Krahulik had to say when people wrote to him about feeling conflicted about attending PAX after the months long Dickwolf debacle (which went frmo the strip to the responses to deliberate trolling of feminist safe spaces by mike not to mention all the twitter posts to the sale of dickwolves shirts and pennants):

“I’ve gotten a couple messages from people saying they are 'conflicted' about coming to PAX. My response to them is: don’t come. Just don’t do it. In fact give me your name and I’ll refund your money if you already bought a ticket. I’ll even put you on a list so that if, in a moment of weakness you try to by a ticket we can cancel the order.”


As for somehow not being able to control their own conventions: The Penny Arcade name is right on the logo! It's attached to the brand they have. If someone has to submit a panel, it presumes that there is some sort of vetting process. Aside from the panel that got linked in the OP. there's also, for example, a panel on "fake geeks" worded thusly:


"Geek Culture is now chic thanks to shows like Beauty and the Geek and The Big Bang Theory, but are these shows portraying us as best they could, or are they putting us on display and making us dance so they can laugh at us? This panel’s aim will be to discuss the impact 'geekface' or portrayal of geeks in mainstream media actually affects the geek community. Is the exposure of our lifestyle accurate in these shows? Does this exposure help or hinder geeks as a community? Is there such a thing as a fake geek?"


Yup, your liking/consuming of different media or hobbies is being compared to blackface, minstrel shows, and other racist activities of yore (esp the "putting us on display, making us dance, etc") and a lifestyle. IN a year where the idea of "fake geek girls" has been a hotly constested discussion as well.

There's another saying that comes to mind with Holkin's response.

"The buck stops here."
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:35 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


orthogonality: "byanyotherame,

Thank you for writing this. While I don't want to derail, since you've addressed me personally in a public forum, upthread, I think I should in fairness reply publicly.


This reads to me like "I tricked someone into taking my bait before my hate got deleted, so now I am allowed to post again! I win twice!"

Let's be clear, I have never addressed a comment personally to you; I have never said that byanyothername is a bad person (or a good person, or even a sleepy, grumpy, or doc person...), or "gendered" you, or asked you to live your life differently than you do.

If I say "all people whose names end in 'rthogonality' are jerks," this does not personally affect you?

Again, this is part of my identity (for lack of a better word); if it's not as central to my identity as a a person's gender identity, it's pretty damn close.

No.

But in a forum where people are discussing gender identity, or issues that arise from it (such as in this thread), there will be a diversity of opinions, and some will be opinions you agree with and find affirming, and some will be opinions you disagree with and find painful. Or else it's not a discussion, it's just a bunch of like-minded people having an affirmation session, preaching to the choir, reveling in their their consensus, or enjoying a "grar-fest" against a Mike Krahulik for saying something they disagree with.

You've been here much longer than I have, so you will have to correct me, but my understanding is that the community explicitly doesn't tolerate a lot of opinions, including various forms of bigotry. If you are looking for a free speech fest, my understanding is that this is not that place.

After I was personally insulted for an opinion of mine that another user disagreed with, I left here, because I felt the implicit social contract had been violated when that insult was allowed to stand.

If I personally insult you will you leave for another two years? Please? No takebacks!

No, I really do NOT want to be persecuted. NO, I do NOT want to be attacked, or have my comments removed because they don't agree with some orthodoxy of "this is what you're allowed to think (or say)". No one wants to be persecuted. and no one should be, for having an opinion.

Won't someone please think of the bigots?!

But instead, in these threads, I see people who disagree with the orthodoxy being told exactly that: that they cannot question the use of "cis" as an adjective,

What is there to disagree with? "Cis" is an adjective that means "not trans." If you care that much, write a Greasemonkey script or start a MeTa.

that it is out of line to ask whether transsexuality is a body dysmorphic disorder analogous to "transspecesism" (or anorexia), or even to ask one what grounds it is not.

It's not out of line, it's just an enormous fucking derail and you should maybe look into it on your own first.

(Personally, I see much more validity in transsexuality than in transpeciesism, but if the argument is not to be hurtful, then it's a hoot to see someone (not you) flat out claim that trans-specesism isn't real, with offering any evidence, while flat out claiming that transsexualism is. I mean, put yourself in the shoes (hooves?) of a trans-specieist -- wouldn't they be hurt by that flat out denial, as much as a transsexual is hurt by a denial of transsexuality??)

You obviously don't care but it's unbelievably grating to be called "a transsexual" instead of a trans person or something along those lines. Would you say "a gay" or "a black?" (I guess you probably would.)

And it deeply offends me when people are told "you can't make that argument". It's dismissive of them, their life experience, their values and identity. As a member of a gender or sexual minority that gets dismissed and denied all too often, I'd think that you'd empathize with that dismissive denial of their beliefs.

I think you've illustrated quite clearly that you have no idea how GSM people relate to others and you would do better not to try to speak for them. And you're just being told "you can't make that argument here." If you want to talk about otherkin, wait for a thread about otherkin. If you want to oppress a trans person, step outside and go to town. It's a team sport and pickup games are forming all the time.

And when people are told "you can't make that argument", it's condescending to transsexuals, to boot: it's essentially saying, "Oh, they're just too fragile to hear anything that offends them, poor dears. Their identity isn't strong enough for them to face criticism." That condescension doesn't offend you?

I don't find it condescending or offensive that people are discouraged from being complete assholes to me on the basis of my gender identity here, no. I get a lot of that elsewhere, if you're worried I'm not getting the daily allotment of hate and contention that trans people are supposed to.

Trans people have a lot of power here: this is a discussion site, and trans people have the power to shut down any discussion they don't like, have those arguments removed by the mods. That's prery much absolute power, here, because anyone reading will conclude that no one here disgress with the orthodox opinions. You've got the upper hand here, and my inclination is to always root for the underdog. Here you ain't the underdog.

I don't even, dude.

no one's argument is going to make you pop out of existence or exit reality.

Trivially false.

I think this comes down to, that people want this to be a "safe space". And I don't think that you can have honest argument and a safe space, at least not where there is a diversity of opinion. Again, trying to make metafilter a "safe space" for certain opinions makes it an unsafe spce for anyone who doesn't kowtow to the approved orthodoxy. if you're going to do that, at least be upfront, and tell everyone what they're allowed to say. It's disingenuous (at best) to implcitly say, "we can discuss this" then to flag, delete, or shout down anyone who doesn't toe the approved line.

You are either misusing the term "safe space" on purpose or you don't know what it means. MeFi deletes bigotry all the time but is explicitly not (and not aiming to be) a safe space. I don't think this is new to you.

Again, it is not my intent to hurt anyone's feelings. I consider myself a liberal and an ally of gender and sexual minorities, as I've always been for letting people live their lives as they see fit. I'm very uncomfortable being (in your words) being "persecuted" for my opinions. But letting people live their lives as they see fit is a two-way street: you can't claim to be having a discussion if only one opinion is allowed to be stated.

You are not my ally. I can't speak for everyone but I absolutely do not see you as any kind of ally of GSM people. I don't fucking want to have discussion about whether I am who I say I am.

byanyothername, I know that I tend to be long winded, and I hope you've read all that I've written. I hope you're not hurt by it, and I do respect your willingness to engage in discussion rather than flagging. And I hope you will continue to live your life in accordance with your identity, and that that will make you happy."

All people whose names end in 'rthogonality' are hate-spewing jerks. Nothing personal. "I hope you're not hurt by it."
posted by Corinth at 8:39 PM on June 22, 2013 [31 favorites]


I have no idea what "hermeneutic phenomenology" is or why it might be necessary to understand why it's problematic to assume you know more about someone's personal experiences and perceptions than they do. Seems like that just requires basic empathy, not lockstep agreement, a lack of bigotry, or an understanding of jargon.

Yes, and that's a problem. Your moral viewpoint seems obvious and natural to you, because you aren't aware of the influence of a hundred years of obscure academic philosophy that has slowly seeped into popular culture. That's not so different from someone who believes that it's obvious that men are superior to women because they don't see the cultural forces that shape that perception.

If you believe your viewpoint is the natural one, you'll probably assume that everyone shares it, there's no need to educate people about it, and if someone expresses a different view, it's only a pretext for acting like an asshole. In that case, what they need is a corrective dose of moral condemnation to set them on the right path again.

Of course everyone agrees that people's perceptions vary, but it's not obvious that this is the foundational ethical principle that we should all follow.
posted by AlsoMike at 8:54 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is an emotional topic for some people. It's understandable. Several of those people have admitted that, here and in previous threads. Given that fact, it's maybe especially important to pause before posting and consider whether you are improving the dialogue or adding to it constructively.

If you find yourself so roiled emotionally that you're incapable of that consideration, that's also understandable. But at that point it may be time for a more fundamental consideration of whether your participating in these threads at all is beneficial for you or us.
posted by cribcage at 8:55 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not a moral viewpoint to suggest people know more about their own experiences than I do any more than it's a moral viewpoint to suggest someone who has read a book I have not knows more about it than I do.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:57 PM on June 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


The dude has now done more than 99% of the non-trans people in this thread with that 20k donation and it's just a gesture?

He's not buying an indulgence. It's a gesture, and it's a good gesture, in part because it's a gesture of significant heft to him. PA isn't the kind of empire where the founders won't miss 20k. But a gesture is what it is, and it won't matter a damn if in six months he's selling Team Transphobes t-shirts in the PA store.

I'm really happy to see him make a statement that basically reads "okay, I'm listening, and I'm trying to show you that I'm listening." I think it's exactly the note he should sound. But he's not buying anything with that money.
posted by fatbird at 10:46 PM on June 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


Words are mistaken for problems, and definitions are mistaken for bigotry, pedantry hateful, and words now war.

But what are words for? Sitting.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:14 PM on June 22, 2013


But what are words for? Sitting.

Ahahahhaha let's all go watch some Deven Green now
posted by en forme de poire at 11:37 PM on June 22, 2013


But he's not buying anything with that money.

I agree that if he starts tweeting offensive crap again the donation doesn't mean much. But, it seems to me, some folks don't appear to be satisfied with that. They want him to scourge his flesh while chanting a mea maxima culpa. I'm saying that donating a bunch of cash and not continuing to act badly is all that we could ask of anyone.

The second part (not acting badly) is, of course, part and parcel of the deal. I don't care if he has truly repented in his heart of hearts and neither should anybody else. It's actions that matter.
posted by Justinian at 1:28 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


But put the other way, what possible testable hypotheses are there for species dysphoria to hypothetically occur? Since we obviously don't share any genetics with most non-human species
Actually we share almost all of our genetics with every other species of animal, we even share a lot of genetics with plants and other eukaryotes. Not that it has any relevance to the concept of 'otherkin'.

I'm sure people who are transgender would be offended to be compared to them, but there are also probably people of other minority groups who would be offended to be compared to people who are transgender. You even see things like some people who were ethnic minorities were offended by comparison between the 1960s civil rights movement and the gay rights movement, or other people offended by comparison between the gay rights movement and the movement for legalizing marijuana.
posted by delmoi at 1:57 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Justinian: "The second part (not acting badly) is, of course, part and parcel of the deal. I don't care if he has truly repented in his heart of hearts and neither should anybody else. It's actions that matter."

This is exactly it for me. He seems to have turned around his intentions if not his actual opinions, and by dropping some cash in the charity swear jar he's effectively putting his money where his mouth is: he messed up, he knows it, he'll try not to mess up again.

People will be keeping an eye on him, of course. He's neither forgiven nor forgotten, and time will tell whether he will use his enormously influential position to do good, or at least to do no more harm.

And of course some people aren't satisfied with this! He used his bully pulpit to publicly attack the existence and validity of trans women on the internet! And of all the GSM groups, trans women -- especially young, in-transition trans women -- are the most likely to have no physical support groups, no community, nowhere to go except to find each other on the internet. We build our support here in this space, in a way no other GSM group is forced to in remotely equivalent numbers, and every time something like this happens it's like the wolves are let loose. It's a prompt for terrible people to start seeking out tumblrs and dreamwidths and livejournals and everything trans women do and make online that isn't password-protected, and attack.

Every time this happens it wounds the support networks of vulnerable people. $20k to the Trevor Project is a good gesture but it's not a bandage for the damage caused.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:01 AM on June 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Not for nothing, he also gave out his phone number and personally apologized to people.

If someone wants to make a simple gesture of twenty grand into my bank account I would gather they were being honest with what they said. Maybe he had a talk with Khoo, maybe he talked with his mom, or the local pastor, or maybe god spoke to him through a burning bush. The thing is we don't know, and at least we can take what he is saying at face value.

Or don't because maybe you have some special insight into the workings of his mind, but there isn't going to be a public execution, folks. If you don't like the PA guys for their past transgressions then it doesn't look like this is going to resolve anything for you.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 2:03 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is it with people taking basic statements of "this doesn't erase pasty mistakes, now it's actions going forward that will matter, yeah, this is a good start, let's wait and see" or reamining guardedly optimistic while skeptic due to past history and saying people are calling for flesh scourging and wanting public executions-- I understand they're meant metaphorically, but it's a pretty intense escalation and even a metaphorical distortion of the spirit of what people are saying.
posted by ShawnStruck at 3:27 AM on June 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Well, I think framing his apology as a pr move and just a "gesture" is a nice little distortion. The guy fully took responsibility and accountability for his actions. He didn't just make a "gesture", he is going out if his way to personally apologize to people.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 4:10 AM on June 23, 2013


It's kind of odd, isn't it? As cribcage says, this is an emotional topic, and some people are going to struggle to remain objective, but we've now gone from hackneyed but reliable metaphors about torches and ptichforks to these lurid, lives-of-the-saints fantasies. Perhaps we could take a couple of breaths and dial back the Passion of the Christ stuff?
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:15 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, for... really? If that's what you think I'm saying, have at it.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 4:23 AM on June 23, 2013


[Dialing back the hyperbole generally would go a long way toward rerouting into reasonable discussion territory, so let's try that now.]
posted by taz at 4:51 AM on June 23, 2013


Back ontopic - I think there is room for both "this is a gesture" and "this is the sign of sincere contrititon" in the world. In fact, I think the two can coexist in the same single viewpoint. It is possible to feel sincere contrition, to seek to make amends and to acknowledge that donating a non-trivial but manageable amount of money to a good cause is not the end of the conversation. It is also possible to feel sincere contrition, and then over time to repeat the same behaviors
I also plan to keep interacting with people on a personal level and I understand that will be an ongoing process. In the meantime I’m hoping this donation will do some real good for a group that desperately needs it.
One doesn't need some special insight into the workings of Mike Krahulik's mind to think that the donation is not even in his opinion a total restitution for the damage done - one only has to take what he is saying at face value. How that donation works - how it factors into deductibles, say - is not particularly relevant, because the stated intention is not to do financial penance, but to act as an acknowledgement that not-straight young people often have a tough row to hoe, and that funding an organization that seeks to level that playing field (to mix our agrarian metaphors) is one way to counterbalance having previously made that row harder.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:48 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Prell is getting criticized in other corners of the web for not taking Krahulik fully to task, and yeah, her tone is probably too concessionary but she is trying to engage him gently with civility and patience

Ah, the SJW corners of the internet, where you can be attacked for being too civil!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:52 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "Ah, the SJW corners of the internet, where you can be attacked for being too civil!"

Yes, that's a fantastic misrepresentation. It's not like other trans people had actual criticisms about what she wrote, or anything.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:00 AM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ah, the SJW corners of the internet, where you can be attacked for being too civil!


TFB, dude. The last time you weighed in about games journalist Sophia Prell, you confidently told us all that she was a "trans artist". The lesson Mike Krahulik seems to be trying to get across is that he has learned that doubling down on sweeping generalizations made from a position of ignorance is a bad idea. That does not feel like a bad lesson.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:18 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Army: Other people may have had criticisms of her actual words, but that wasn't what was being said above. byanyothername said "She writes well, and makes good points, the only problem is that her tone is too concessionary," and goes on to say the flaws in her writing are probably necessary when trying to be civil. I think it is indicative of how the SJW internet works that attempting to be civil when addressing others is regarded as a necessary evil rather than a precondition for living together in a society.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:51 AM on June 23, 2013


The other curious thing is why he didn't donate to an explicitly trans rights group. The Trevor Project has some sizable criticisms in its sometimes exclusionary nature towards transfolk, even as it does major good. Again, gaurded optimism that he will continue to learn, but given past behavior, one hopes that it's not just a swear-jar approach. Watch and see, I guess.

Also, I wonder... if one is anti social justice (a concept that's been around for decades), does that make someone pro injustice?
posted by ShawnStruck at 6:54 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


TFB: yeah, but that's criticism and not an attack. Didn't we just have a mod note about hyperbole?

There's obviously been a lot of in-community discussion about Prell's response, almost all of it supportive and some supportive with reservations. I've read an awful lot of it. Don't seem to recall any attacks.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:08 AM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Trans people have been struggling for decades to get our voices heard, within greater society and within the LGBT movement. We have been attacked by feminists, right-wingers and left-wingers alike. If we make ourselves known we are at huge risk of violence and death. I have seen this violence first-hand. I have lost friends. None of this is true for transethnic or otherkin people. Our voices are still feeble: we are still spoken over more than spoken for. We do not need transethnic and otherkin people -- whose conditions, I remind you, are not real -- hijacking the message we have suffered greatly to bring barely into the public eye.

This is a hard thing, and I am deeply sorry. It is not okay that anyone should attack someone for being trans, and yet it is still a real thing that happens, not just in other countries, but in this one. I can't cite statistics but I do know that violence against trans individuals is real and awful. And I can understand why that makes you bitterly, bitterly angry. I myself have difficulty remaining neutral around things where people I love were killed. It is a hard thing. Sometimes all you can see is someone's death.

But this is a real thing that happens with minority groups - the eating each other in order to be normalized. In some ways, one of the ways that minority groups strive for legitimacy is by joining with the dominant group in denigrating or otherizing the other, more minority group. The newer minority group. Irish hated Italians who hated Puerto Ricans who hated blacks. And the very fact of something being hard won sometimes makes even more defensiveness of that position.

LGBT as a term or even a movement is very new. As you say, trans people have been having trouble getting recognition and equal treatment from the gay and lesbian movement - as did bi individuals. Many people right now are celebrating the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", but not all of that funding or effort has immediately switched over to fighting for trans entrance to the military. And people fighting for same sex marriage don't highlight transmarriage issues. As noted, they try very hard to position themselves as just like the majority - monogamous, (generally white), middle class, etc. They position themselves by denigrating polygamous individuals - even LGBT polygamous individuals.

And so I'm seeing that with transgender individuals as well, here. Attempting to reinforce their legitimacy and fair treatment - which are things that they definitely deserve - by saying, "We're not like transethnic people or trans-species people! Those people are ridiculous, it is okay to ridicule them, to deny their experience and say that they are not real." By taking something that is so far outside the norm for most people, that does not currently have legitimacy in the eyes of the general public, and denigrating it.

And that raises the question: why is it okay to say, "My condition or experiences are real, but that guy's arent." To demand acceptance for yourself, while denying it to others? Why is it okay to deny other people's agency and choice and identification, to the extent of calling it an insult when you are compared with them? This is also not new - note the reactions of some in the African-American community, including the niece of Martin Luther King, who, when same-sex marriage started being referred to as a civil right, said "To equate homosexuality with race is to give a death sentence to civil rights. No one is enslaving homosexuals...or making them sit in the back of the bus."

When we accept our freedoms and acceptance only at the cost of someone else's, we are not protecting either freedom or acceptance. We are just reaching out a hand to join the dominant majority, reaching out a hand to join in the oppression, waiting for our admittance to the halls of privilege so that we can deny it to others.
posted by corb at 7:22 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


No.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:25 AM on June 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens is in a bad old mood.

The transethnic and otherkin stuff is nonsense though. And it reduces other more serious issues.
posted by zoo at 7:36 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I gather the trans vs otherkin thing has been pretty extensively worked over. Just from a quick google, one essay about the differences and why people feel like there is a genuine distinction: Why relating trans to otherkin is a poor analogy
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:41 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


As noted earlier, otherkin has the dynamics of a religious minority, which is a different beast than what we're talking about here, and probably better to compare to other persecuted religious groups. I don't deny at all the reality of their experiences, or their need for acceptance, but I do deny their worldview and general interpretation of what it means, same as I'd not go along with anybody who starts invoking souls as an explanation for a thing.

As for trans-ethnic, the big difference between race and gender is that race has no inborn component. Gender is as old as sexual reproduction, and race is a product of the age of exploration and european's need to find new ways to say why they were better than everyone else. So with that in mind, it is not necessarily denying their experience to say that that is a separate discussion.

Not to mention the problems of appropriation involved, but people have said the same thing about trans women, so let's not touch it here.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:41 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


zoo: "ArmyOfKittens is in a bad old mood.

The transethnic and otherkin stuff is nonsense though. And it reduces other more serious issues.
"

Yeah, I mean, seriously. She's accusing the trans community of doing to dragons what the gay community did to us. It's like a swirling vortex of horrible taste.

I could go on with this, but why? It's such nonsense I can't believe anyone arguing for it is arguing in good faith.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:42 AM on June 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


The comparison to a religious minority is actually an interesting one. There are a lot of people whose identity is bound up in the conviction that they have had religious experience. Those subjective experiences are absolutely central to their identity, and therefore influence their politics, how they want to be treated, how they feel they can treat others, and so on. And a lot of people insist their experiences are not real, and therefore can and should be marginalized or mocked.

Obviously the violence faced by trans people is not faced by religious people (in the US, that is; in other countries, it's a different story). But then, no one in this thread or at Penny Arcade is defending violence against trans people; the discussion has been entirely about what forms of mockery or expressions of disbelief are acceptable. So I'd say mockery, shaming, and marginalization of religious people would be a more productive analogy than otherkin, as the latter are a tiny and obscure group (though perhaps not that much smaller than intersex people).
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:55 AM on June 23, 2013


Summary and lots of links in the latest RPS Sunday Papers.
posted by Artw at 8:02 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is a derail, and not a very useful one, but OK - corb, what exactly do you want the focus to be on in otherkin rights?

For example - one of the struggles of trans rights is to get people to acknowledge that transgender is related to physiology as well as psychology - that a desire to identify as a gender different from one's birth-assigned gender is not a sexual fetish, for example, or an attempt to be able to creep into women's bathrooms - as I believe we have already discussed.

How would this struggle relate to trans/otherkin rights?

Another of the struggles of trans rights is to gain the legal right to be referred to in terms of one's chosen rather than assigned gender. This is important not only on an abstract level but because the absence of that right effectively removes the possibility that a trans person will be able to live, bureaucratically, with comfort in their chosen gender. And we have seen, statistically, that a disparity between legally stated gender and gender identity often leads to different treatment, both by governmental and corporate entities and by private citizens.

Again, what is the otherkin/fur rights equivalent of this? How would one be legally identified as a wolf or a dragon, and how would that function bureaucratically? To relate this to your experience, did your colleague who maintained that he was a dragon feel marginalized because he did not have his status as a dragon recognized in his documentation? Was he prevented from being able to marry the person of his choice purely due to his self-identification as a dragon, for example?

These are useful questions to ask. If we conclude that furs and otherkin are in fact wolves or dragons - as trans women are in fact women, and trans men are in fact men - and that it is merely the case that diagnostic technologies, legal codes and reparative surgeries are less advanced - then I think we can start looking at these groups as having broadly similar goals and interests. However, I don't think that this is in any way a given. I suspect, in fact, that the goals of furs and otherkin are quite different. I doubt many furs, for example, would want their legal status to be reassigned as that of an animal, with the commensurate legal effects of being deprived of the right to own property and the risk of being hunted for food or their pelt. Their relationship to their animal self is therefore quite different.

I'm probably going to come down on the side that being transgender and being a fur or an otherkin are different things, and benefit from different treatments, but the bedrock of those treatments should be the minimizing of harm, discrimination and suffering, and the prioritizing of individual respect and happiness.

(Incidentally, the fact that Alveda King spoke out against the NAACP's support for marriage equality feels like the less important point in that story, when compared with the part corb omitted, which was that the NAACP came out in support of marriage equality. Which kind of derails the whole "minorities always pull up the ladder" narrative... )
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:14 AM on June 23, 2013 [24 favorites]


And that raises the question: why is it okay to say, "My condition or experiences are real, but that guy's arent."

Everyone's experiences are real. But not everyone's experiences are equivalent and they do not point to the same type of condition or suggest the same sort of response in the real world. This should be obvious enough.

Trans people have the medically evaluatable status of being transgender. It is a basically consistent, testable thing that we are getting towards having the full size and shape of mapped out. It is a condition that requires social acceptance and can often be helped by various known medical procedures and treatments.

Otherkin people have a status that is very broadly defined, and is not consistent enough or concrete enough to be medically evaluatable. There is not much of a core commonality between different types of otherkin experience. It is not tied into any particular physically real aspect of being human but is more of an eclectic spiritual/religious effect. It should be tolerated and understood, and there are probably some cases where 'transitioning' into another species would help or comfort some people if such a thing were possible -- Stalking Cat comes to mind -- yet it is really not anything much like the same sort of medically real condition.

There is also the fact that trans people face a completely different, far more real, dangerous, universally harrowing and potentially dangerous/deadly reaction in the real world than otherkin people do. Different by orders of magnitude. That also should shape the limits of this discussion enough to preclude this kind of comparison.

I find that I could write a great deal about this, but it would really be a red herring in the context of this discussion. Just because the two phenomena are equivalent in the sense that both involve "experiences", and that the experiences are both real, it does not follow from that that the two phenomena are equivalent, or should be treated the same way, or that the discussion of one isn't out of place and insulting in a discussion of the other. There are many important differences between them. To fail to acknowledge that does a severe disservice to trans people given that they constantly have to deal with their arguments being derailed and false equivalences being drawn.

I say all this as someone who -- and I normally keep this buried way down deep -- had a period of very extreme and affecting experiences in the 'otherkin' vein, still holds those experiences true and meaningful to me in some secret, profound ways, and doesn't see them as 'false'. I've also been directly and indirectly involved in the otherkin community and related ones. And for that matter, I'm queer myself, have known trans people and been involved in related communities etc etc etc. What's more, I fully support drawing equivalences between the fight for black rights and gay rights, gay rights and poly rights, etc. But the equivalence between trans people and otherkin in this context is a false one in my view.
posted by Drexen at 8:17 AM on June 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


And just a quick response to orthogonality: you lament that shutting down certain lines of argument might mean we're not really having a 'discussion'. But in fact, there is no call for or need for a 'discussion' of whether trans issues are real or not, and it's insulting and disruptive to suggest that there needs to be one here. This is a discussion about the actions of Penny Arcade.
posted by Drexen at 8:42 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is a discussion about the actions of Penny Arcade.

Indeed. There was no need for this to become a trans thread in the first place, and it shouldn't have. The FPP is about a public-relations debacle.

I don't think a discussion about otherkin is likely to be productive. Orthogonality is right that it's not a derail, because Krahulik made the comparison and the FPP is about Krahulik's comments. But it's unlikely to take us anywhere good. And if we are going down that road, especially into medical questions like whether one condition is medically evaluatable or whether diagnostic technologies are just insufficiently advanced, then I'd like to know if there are any experts in the room. If not, then at least we have a benchmark (or ceiling, really) for how productive it can be.
posted by cribcage at 8:50 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


There was no need for this to become a trans thread in the first place, and it shouldn't have. The FPP is about a public-relations debacle.

Nah. To talk about the "public-relations debacle" without any discussion of what the debacle is about is gratuitously meta. And since the thread almost instantly became not a discussion of how the PA corporation is dealing with public relations, but a discussion of what an asshole Gabe is, it's pretty important to evaluate the claims being made under which Gabe is an asshole.

If anything, the discussion of legal rights for transgender people is a derail. After all, Gabe wasn't arguing against those; that only came into the thread because commenters brought it up. Gabe was simply making snarky jokes. And if you think snarky jokes about the condition of being trans (which I think is not quite the same as snarky jokes about trans people) are inappropriate, then it is worth comparing them to snarky jokes about religious people, who are similarly distinguished by a profound subjective experience.

Now if you think trans people are not defined by a profound subjective experience, but by a testable medical condition, that would change the contours of the debate significantly. But are you prepared to say that only people who pass this medical test qualify as trans?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:52 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yknow, it is possible for cis people to ask the "why?" question in interesting and compassionate ways. But way too often, it's not "hey, let's explore this topic, because I'm curious"; the vast majority of the time, it's "eew, how disgusting, what possible reason could there be for that?"

Personally, I don't have a problem with furries, otherkin, etc. But the reason they get brought up in trans issues is essentially as an attack. An attack on trans people, as well as an attack on otherkin and furries. It is, as ArmyOfKittens noted, a derail; it is yet another attempt by the cis majority to make us trans people justify our existence. And making us justify our existence, however you frame it, is still an attack.
posted by jiawen at 9:56 AM on June 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


Otherkin are to trans issues what bestiality is to marriage for same-sex people.
posted by klangklangston at 10:22 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Personally, I don't have a problem with furries, otherkin, etc. But the reason they get brought up in trans issues is essentially as an attack. An attack on trans people, as well as an attack on otherkin and furries

Except that it's not. Krahulik stated that he supported "trans raccoons." I and others are saying that we are totally fine with it. No one here who is raising the issues of furries or otherkin (though I would argue that both otherkin and furries are only subsets of what I would term trans-speciests) is saying that we don't support them or dislike them or want to attack them. We are saying clearly that we do support them, we do support their rights to exist as individuals and treated in the way that they self-identify, and that they don't deserve to be mocked, harassed, or othered in the same way that other people don't deserve to be mocked, harassed, or othered.

The only way that bringing transracial or trans-species individuals up in trans issue discussions is an attack is if you fundamentally believe that to be trans-racial or trans-species is an insult - if you believe that their existence is so unreasonable that to be compared to them diminishes anyone who is in comparison to them.

How would this struggle relate to trans/otherkin rights?

When transgender people first started showing up on radar, I think it's very likely they were universally mocked. "Hah, that person thinks they are other gender than what they are!" And before they could start advocating for specific rights - changes to legal gender, etc - they had to move past that mockery, to be able to get people to stop thinking of their existence as a completely ridiculous thing that no one could ever take seriously, to where people could say, "Huh, I guess you are transgender. What should we do about that?"

With trans-species and trans-racial issues, I'd say that that first step is probably where the transgender folk initially were - the first step is to move past that universal mockery, where it is totally socially acceptable to make fun of them. Then and only then, can enough people feel comfortable coming forward and talking about their potential needs and issues that they would like acceptance for.
posted by corb at 11:00 AM on June 23, 2013


When transgender people first started showing up on radar,

Trans people have always existed. It's not a newfangled fad. The social, legal, and some of the medical structures around them in America are relatively recent, just like with gay people, but it's not a new phenomenon.

The only way that bringing transracial or trans-species individuals up in trans issue discussions is an attack is if you fundamentally believe that to be trans-racial or trans-species is an insult - if you believe that their existence is so unreasonable that to be compared to them diminishes anyone who is in comparison to them.

No. It is a bad comparison for reasons people have listed and linked to at length, above. It's a bad comparison in the exact same way that comparing gay marriage to poly marriage is - the issues are not the same and one does not lead to the other. And one is further from acceptance from the other, and making the comparison has the effect of making the closer-to-acceptance thing look more outlandish and impossible than it is. It may not be your intent in continuing to harp on the issue, but it is exactly the intent of many, many people who use it - including, I would argue, Mike Krahulik.

Then and only then, can enough people feel comfortable coming forward and talking about their potential needs and issues that they would like acceptance for.

I agree that mocking and deriding otherkin and furries is not good and we should avoid it. Otherwise, I really don't understand why you seem to be trying to turn this discussion into a rally for them.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:14 AM on June 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


Corb: Augh! You're right, there are some parallels between this issues but:

* That doesn't mean they are the same or on the same level, and more importantly:

* This is not the place for that discussion! It serves only to derail and diminish the actual issue at hand, because you are coming into a discussion of trans issues and making post after post about how they're the same as otherkin issues, which do not have anything like the same sort or magnitude of problems associated with them. This kind of trivialization and refusal to engage with the issue at hand is something trans people have to deal with again and again and again, and even if this isn't a "safe space" per se, it's common decency as well as rhetorical integrity to restrain yourself from doing the same thing.

I'm sure you're curious to explore this issue. But it's disruptive of you to insist on doing it here. Go look up something interesting on the issue, make a FP about it, and I'm sure many of us will be happy to discuss it there.
posted by Drexen at 11:17 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ignoring the sort of blundering ignorance of transgender/lgbt history, Corb, what you've found is a superficial similarity that doesn't actually have much explanatory value, and that serves to trivialize the experience of transgender people.

Just to give some real context, all from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force study "Injustice at Every Turn": 41 percent of trans* people have attempted suicide, compared to 1.6 percent of the national population (25 times more likely).

Double the rate of unemployment (during the six month study, mean unemployment was 7 percent; trans* unemployment was 14 percent).

90 percent reported harassment at work; 47 percent had an adverse job outcome (firing, losing a promotion, etc.) due to gender identity/nonconformism. 26 percent reported losing a job due to anti-trans* bias.

71 percent hid their gender identity or transition due to fears of discrimination; 57 percent delayed their transition due to fears of discrimination.

(Nevertheless, 78 percent who transitioned reported feeling more comfortable at work and having an increase in job performance.)

16 percent had to resort to selling drugs or doing sex work for money. Those who are currently unemployed reported nearly double the rate of selling drugs/sex; double the homelessness, and 7- percent more likely to be incarcerated. Trans* folk who lost a job due to discrimination were 70 percent more likely to abuse drugs or liquor to cope, 50 percent more incarceration, more than double the HIV rate.

55 percent report being harassed or turned away at homeless shelters due to their gender identity or expression, and 22 percent report being sexually assaulted by other shelter residents or staff.

19 percent reported being refused medical care, and 50 percent reported having to teach their doctor about proper transgender medical care. 28 percent postponed care due to discrimination; 48 percent postponed care due to inability to pay for it.

These are realities that trans people have to live with. They are not realities that "Otherkin" have to live with.

——

Not only that, but there's a material, developmental mechanism for explaining transgender experience — as humans can develop as either male or female, and as there's generally an internal sense of gender as part of a sense of self, that a minority would have a variance between what I'd call their brain-state gender and their assigned gender seems pretty predictable and understandable. There is no reasonable explanation for a "species" sense of self; the idea that developmentally, fetuses move through or could be triggered by hormones to express different species is simply bullshit.

So, ultimately, that they are superficially similar is more a sign of a given interlocutor's ignorance on the issue and inability to actually think through trans issues. It's another case where trans people essentially have to defend the validity of their material, subjective experiences to a majority who cannot give the basic fuck to even educate themselves away from saying stupid, superficial shit. It's like implying that AIDS drugs and homeopathy be given equal hearing because neither cures AIDS.
posted by klangklangston at 11:19 AM on June 23, 2013 [26 favorites]


Krahulik stated that he supported "trans raccoons."

Actually, I am pretty sure he didn't. Jerry Holkins - the other founder - wrote a two-part cartoon about a soldier who imagines that he is a raccoon, and commented on his writing of it. The intent is to specifically that the reader will find the soldier's belief that he is a raccoon funny and weird.

Krahulik said he would be happy to treat Sophia Prell, or anyone else, as a man, a woman or a fox, but that this would not change the reality of her, or anyone else's "human body".

This stuff is available as primary source material, literally a click away from this page. The links are in fact on this page.

Regardless, it seems that your answer to the specific question is "I do not know what the connections between the needs and campaigns of furs/otherkin and the needs and campaigns of trans people may be, and cannot think of any at present, but I believe that at some point in the future they will be in some way similar".

Which is fine, but not super useful in terms of this discussion.

(Also, of course, I would lose my intersectionality Eagle scout badge if I didn't point out the existence of transgendered furs and otherkin...)

Now if you think trans people are not defined by a profound subjective experience, but by a testable medical condition, that would change the contours of the debate significantly. But are you prepared to say that only people who pass this medical test qualify as trans?

I think you just invented the word "testable", there, to try to make a better mousetrap. There are medical theories around why some people do not feel comfortable with their birth-assigned gender and others do. The causes seem to be several. Again, these theories can be read up on.

(However, if you are living in a world where medical gatekeeping of trans status is some sort of crazy woo hypothetical, you may not be living in the world where MetaFilter's servers are located. Which is kind of exciting in itself, actually.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:21 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


By the way, I'm currently tasked with plotting out a "Stand For Trans" media campaign for my job with the goal to do two things: Educate people about transgender issues and experience, and to provide discrete actions for allies to take to "Stand for Trans" people because too often trans folk have to bear the burden of standing up for themselves around transphobic shit. While that's tiring and stressful online, in real life it can be explicitly dangerous — trans women are especially at risk for hate crimes.

So if anyone has ideas for things to highlight (keeping in mind that most of these have to be broken down to a single line), about either moments where they gained an understanding of trans people, or from trans people where an ally stood up for you and it was helpful, send me a memail.
posted by klangklangston at 11:22 AM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


When transgender people first started showing up on radar, I think it's very likely they were universally mocked.

Don't use the past tense here. Not when we had two extremely long threads here very recently about which bathroom it was okay for a six-year-old trans* kid to use.
posted by rtha at 11:47 AM on June 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


I think you just invented the word "testable", there, to try to make a better mousetrap.

Nope. I was referring to this comment:

Trans people have the medically evaluatable status of being transgender. It is a basically consistent, testable thing that we are getting towards having the full size and shape of mapped out.


The implication of which was that trans status is not dysmorphic, but medically verifiable, and therefore, case closed. My point was that if you're going to base claims on that which is medically testable, then that which is not medically testable must be excluded, and that may not be where you want to go.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:23 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps we could take a couple of breaths and dial back the Passion of the Christ stuff?

I take your point but surely I can't be the only one who got religious vibes off "he's got to make a huge volteface, get down, beg forgiveness, and ask for true help and support" earlier in the thread. That's some absolution of sins stuff right there.
posted by Justinian at 12:26 PM on June 23, 2013


The only way that bringing transracial or trans-species individuals up in trans issue discussions is an attack is if you fundamentally believe that to be trans-racial or trans-species is an insult - if you believe that their existence is so unreasonable that to be compared to them diminishes anyone who is in comparison to them.

Or another reason might be perceived as an attack is because extremely popular transphobic media often uses these themes as an attack on transgender people. Here corb, watch this before replying any more. That episode is why discussing trans-species and race in regards to transgender people is popular online. It's a disgusting transphobic mess.

It may just be an annoying coincidence that your genuine concerns with bathroom sharing and trans-species people happen to intersect with some of the most common of transphobic tropes, but you still have to learn to tread more carefully when discussing them.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:33 PM on June 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


TFB, I meant it can be meaningfully medically evaluated whether a given individual is gender dysphoric or not given a set understanding of what that condition means. I didn't mean that the existence of gender dysphoria is "scientifically testable" in the strict sense; I don't have the knowledge to say off hand.

'Species dysphoria' has no established diagnosable criteria as far as I'm aware.
posted by Drexen at 12:36 PM on June 23, 2013


Jerry Holkins - the other founder - wrote a two-part cartoon about a soldier who imagines that he is a raccoon, and commented on his writing of it. The intent is to specifically that the reader will find the soldier's belief that he is a raccoon funny and weird.

I thought the joke was more at the expense of the other soldier, the one who has absolutely zero context for what his squadmate is saying and is caught completely flat-footed. Either way, I too find it bizarre that this is being taken literally. I mean, Jerry says "double gay" in the news post, too - is anybody clamoring for respect for the doubly homosexual, whatever that would mean? Of course not, because it was obviously a completely fabricated stand-in for whatever social movement actually does come next, meant to bewilder the reader in the same way that real social movements blindside people of privilege. Furries were the main stand-in just because they vaguely, blurrily resemble how social movements used to look coming over the horizon in terms of how otherized and low on the social hierarchy they are (as others have noted, it's not a fair or equal comparison; it's just kind of accessible because there's something to build on).

I thought this deserved comparison to Mike's "fox or whatever" because I read it as the same type of hyperbole*, like if he had explicitly said "a guy or a girl or even a fox". Which would support Mike's central claim that he just doesn't care, but will treat people how they want.

I think Mike was genuinely blindsided** by two facts: that not every woman has a vagina, and that people care what you think and say about their identity. Like, no matter what actions you take and forms of address you use, telling somebody they're not a real woman is still real, serious mistreatment of the kind he thought he was avoiding. He thought treating trans women like women ("like a lady") was okay, and now he's learning to treat trans women as women.

*except that it's just as probable that Mike was just being dumb, like he did with that stupid Batman joke.

**for how painfully naive Mike can be, if you can stomach watching Mike and Jerry talk about porn, watch Mike's mind being blown by a different disruption of his preconceptions.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:45 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The implication of which was that trans status is not dysmorphic, but medically verifiable, and therefore, case closed. My point was that if you're going to base claims on that which is medically testable, then that which is not medically testable must be excluded, and that may not be where you want to go.

If we're having a discussion where some people are not capable of understanding that trans people aren't raving lunatics, that's a level of nuance that is generally too sophisticated for the conversation. We can say "No, actually, there are established medical criteria for ascertaining whether someone is trans" without asserting that those criteria are perfect (which, frankly, I don't think anyone thinks, including the people who write the things--there's a lot of ink spilled over the DSM revision, for example). It's like when I get exasperated in these conversations and link to the Standards of Care as if it's the end all and be all of treating trans people. I'm saying "Look, the standards exist, stop pretending they don't" and not explaining that there are other models available in some places (even if the SOC claims to encompass most of them).
posted by hoyland at 12:46 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, can I just say sorry for bringing the raccoon derail into the thread at all? That was really short-sighted of me.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:47 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't be the only one who got religious vibes off "he's got to make a huge volteface, get down, beg forgiveness, and ask for true help and support" earlier in the thread.

You're not, but no one jumped in to support the BEG FOR YOUR LIFE side either. I think what most want to see is an end to defensive aggression that makes it worse--which is what we got.
posted by fatbird at 12:48 PM on June 23, 2013


Now if you think trans people are not defined by a profound subjective experience, but by a testable medical condition, that would change the contours of the debate significantly

There are oceans of space between these two poles. For example, there is no medical test for homosexuality that does not rely on the subject's own experiences. There is no blood test or brain scan that can reliably differentiate straight from gay individuals. At the same time, homosexuality is observed across class, cultural and religious backgrounds. We also have empirical evidence that sexual preference is stable, emerges early in life and is generally immutable even if both the subject and their cultural environment would prefer that the subject were heterosexual. There are also other biological correlates to homosexuality, though these are insufficient to predict homosexual vs. heterosexual vs. bisexual orientation. These aspects of homosexuality are generally unlike having particular religious beliefs.

And I don't want to tie this too specifically to the otherkin stuff, but as a quick contrast, there are many otherkin who identify with mythical (dragons, elves) or fictional (cartoons, other "fictives") characters. Without making the claim that medical status is some kind of QED, how would you even begin to investigate this within the framework of medicine? You literally cannot study elves or cartoons with the tools of medicine because they are not biological entities. You need to invoke something spiritual or metaphysical in order to even talk about this identity. This is not true for either gay people or trans* people.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:49 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Regarding the otherkin derail, I think there's two ways to approach a comparison between transpeople and otherkin. The first -- which seems to be the Penny Arcade one -- is to question the validity of trans as a person's identity by comparing it to something that is widely mocked, the implication being that perhaps transpeople are no less worthy of mockery. If you come at it from this direction in good faith, the trap you can fall into is squabbling over whether otherkin and trans are equally valid identities (no ever seems to question the validity of being a middle-aged straight man whose life revolves around playing video games; I personally think considering oneself to be a fucking dragon may be a little more out there, but it's frankly much more awesome, as most reasonable people can agree). Indeed, this is what has happened here. But it's not really relevant, because the other direction you can approach it from is one that acknowledges trans to be a valid identity and leaves open to discussion the possibility that otherkin may be as well. That's an interesting discussion to have. It has fuck all to do with this one, but it is very interesting, and it's a discussion I'd like to see happen.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:04 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


knuckle tattoos: "I thought the joke was more at the expense of the other soldier, the one who has absolutely zero context for what his squadmate is saying and is caught completely flat-footed. Either way, I too find it bizarre that this is being taken literally. I mean, Jerry says "double gay" in the news post, too - is anybody clamoring for respect for the doubly homosexual, whatever that would mean? Of course not, because it was obviously a completely fabricated stand-in for whatever social movement actually does come next, meant to bewilder the reader in the same way that real social movements blindside people of privilege. Furries were the main stand-in just because they vaguely, blurrily resemble how social movements used to look coming over the horizon in terms of how otherized and low on the social hierarchy they are (as others have noted, it's not a fair or equal comparison; it's just kind of accessible because there's something to build on).

I thought this deserved comparison to Mike's "fox or whatever" because I read it as the same type of hyperbole*, like if he had explicitly said "a guy or a girl or even a fox". Which would support Mike's central claim that he just doesn't care, but will treat people how they want.

I think Mike was genuinely blindsided** by two facts: that not every woman has a vagina, and that people care what you think and say about their identity. Like, no matter what actions you take and forms of address you use, telling somebody they're not a real woman is still real, serious mistreatment of the kind he thought he was avoiding. He thought treating trans women like women ("like a lady") was okay, and now he's learning to treat trans women as women.

*except that it's just as probable that Mike was just being dumb, like he did with that stupid Batman joke.

**for how painfully naive Mike can be, if you can stomach watching Mike and Jerry talk about porn, watch Mike's mind being blown by a different disruption of his preconceptions.
"

Reading the comic absent the news post, I made no connection to trans people or otherkin at all. Rather, since the two soldiers both do kind of look like raccoons thanks to shadows or masks or charcoal, and they are exhibiting camaraderie and dedication to their jobs, it struck me as a commentary on the horrible stress soldiers endure, the strength with which they handle it, but also the way they internalize that stress and how it affects them in ways we are not always great at understanding.

The news post and its explanation I find very patronizing and I-wash-my-hands-of-this (which is Jerry's MO), and kind of obnoxiously naive in that it implicitly lumps trans people (and maybe even gay people) in with otherkin and anything else those kids on his lawn dream up. Too, the ideas that LGBT people are caught up in "identity performance culture" and that they were arbitrarily "elevated " to "Big League Status" (and that "Big League Status" presumably involves things like it not being okay to fire you or prevent you from marrying or murder you) are pretty yucky.
posted by Corinth at 1:13 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


verb: "Once you unpack the meat of Mike's outbursts"

Let this be a lesson on mixed metaphors.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:26 PM on June 23, 2013


Too, the ideas that LGBT people are caught up in "identity performance culture"

LGBT people aren't necessarily caught up in identity performance culture.
People who are working for legal rights for trans people are definitely not caught up in identity performance culture.
People who invest large amounts of energy yelling at cartoonists for mild jokes which conflate definitions of "woman" that they don't like are most certainly caught up identity performance culture.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:28 PM on June 23, 2013


LGBT people are no more caught up in "identity performance culture" than non-LGBT people, they're just more likely to be accused of it because their real identities are more likely to be seen as performance.
posted by Corinth at 1:38 PM on June 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


(minor nitpick: Hey Corinth, JFYI, you don't need to fully quote comments intact like that. MeFi isn't paginated so we can all scroll up and read the previous comment you're responding to.)
posted by yeoz at 1:40 PM on June 23, 2013


People who invest large amounts of energy yelling at cartoonists for mild jokes which conflate definitions of "woman" that they don't like are most certainly caught up identity performance culture.

And the people who invest time in yelling at people yelling at cartoonists? What about them?
posted by octobersurprise at 1:43 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


yeoz: "(minor nitpick: Hey Corinth, JFYI, you don't need to fully quote comments intact like that. MeFi isn't paginated so we can all scroll up and read the previous comment you're responding to.)"

I believe that's an artefact the MeFi quote script (which I've just used, too). While I like that it automatically links back to the comment you're quoting, it does pull the whole comment (including things that were quoted in that comment, which gets ambiguous) and I think it's easy to fail to delete the extra (or not realise quite how long the quoted comment will be). I'll shut up about this now.
posted by hoyland at 1:50 PM on June 23, 2013


And the people who invest time in yelling at people yelling at cartoonists?

We can get recusively silly, sure. But there's a difference between discussing an FPP when somebody posts it on a community blog you're a member of, versus tweeting at a pseudo-celebrity stranger to tell him why he's a bad person.
posted by cribcage at 1:51 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Indeed. There was no need for this to become a trans thread in the first place, and it shouldn't have. The FPP is about a public-relations debacle.
It was a PR debacle over trans-people and transphobia. How people feel about those things is directly relevant to the PR effect of his statements.

It's a video game webcomic. Video game fandom is highly regressive on a broad range of issues, it's hard to imagine that this could have much of an impact on them financially or in terms of influence in their industry.

Everyone in this thread seems to take it as a given that this somehow hurts them, while I don't really see that as being realistic.
posted by delmoi at 1:52 PM on June 23, 2013


We can get recusively silly, sure.

This presumes that we aren't already recursively silly.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:08 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


But there's a difference between discussing an FPP when somebody posts it on a community blog you're a member of, versus tweeting at a pseudo-celebrity stranger to tell him why he's a bad person.

Not really. Twitter's public, but it is also a community. There are LGB and trans* gamers. Some of them probably follow Mike on Twitter (or used to at the time), so his comments showed up in their feeds. This also ignores the fact that one of the people who responded most at length is both trans and actually knows Mike, though her identity hadn't previously come up. I don't know why other people should get flak for responding in the same fora that Mike used.

I think there's a temptation to assume that this is a war between trans* and trans-allied types on the one hand and PA fans/gamers on the other. This obscures the fact that these communities overlap: Mike alienated some of his own fans and people who used to defend him with those tweets, not just some easy-to-hate Tumblr strawmen. I think this goes back to what TFB was saying upthread, which gave the impression that people responding to this were trolling for something to get outraged about. We could just as easily assume that they are people who may actually have a relationship with Penny Arcade, its fans, the gaming scene at large (of which PA is a large fixture these days), etc. and are disappointed and angry that such a prominent figure in their own community would mock trans* people in a public forum.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:32 PM on June 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


People who invest large amounts of energy yelling at cartoonists for mild jokes which conflate definitions of "woman" that they don't like are most certainly caught up identity performance culture.

If it doesn't pass your personal filter for something to be honestly angry about, that's cool. But your personal filter doesn't apply to everyone, and dismissing the anger and hurt expressed by some as some kind of insincere/unimportant performance is...weird.
posted by rtha at 2:32 PM on June 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's cool - it's just the stage where, having had very simple concepts explained at length, and with grace and patience, the self-styled plain speakers shout in triumph that all that grace and patience was wasted, that they weren't even listening, and that caring about or talking about this stuff is dumb and for dummies.

Happens pretty regularly. What's nice this time around is that it has possibly not happened with Mike Krahulik, who has at least expressed a desire to express his contrition and to learn how to do better in future. Which makes the "LOL at the dummies doing their dumb tweeting like dummies" approach actually a little odder, since it seems to have been part of a successful move to make gamer culture slightly less toxic to vulnerable people.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:50 PM on June 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


en forme de poire: "We could just as easily assume that they are people who may actually have a relationship with Penny Arcade, its fans, the gaming scene at large (of which PA is a large fixture these days), etc. and are disappointed and angry that such a prominent figure in their own community would mock trans* people in a public forum."

Yesss.

I've played games all my life, I post in video game forums, talk about them on my terrible tumblr, etc. I've made a number of friends through gaming communities. And yet I hover around the periphery of the wider gamer community because I refuse to hide who I am, and the gamer community despises who I am -- despises being made aware of it even passively. People like Krahulik, who have -- or had, in his case, hopefully -- bully pulpits and use them to directly attack people like me or blow dog whistles ("SJW", for example), reinforce and justify the gamer community's homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and (I don't think in Krahulik's case but certainly for others in similar positions) racism.

They must be called out, taken to task, educated if possible and fought if necessary, for the gamer community to grow up.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:54 PM on June 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


Yes, this exactly. Gaming is a pretty core part of who I am. Much of my life has revolved around video games, and interacting with people I've met while playing video games; I'm on many of the same video game forums ArmyOfKittens and others are on (hi GAF!); I interact regularly with other gamers online and IRL; I've gone to PAX many, many, many times.

I absolutely consider myself a gamer and a member of the gaming community. And it's just devastating to hear this kind of invalidating language from a member of the same community you're in, especially someone as highly-respected and looked-up-to as Mike Krahulik. It makes you question not only your identity, but, also your role in the community that you once found otherwise embracing or welcoming.
posted by yeoz at 3:24 PM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


If you truly have no ability to distinguish things that are genuinely outrageous from things that are somewhat problematic from things that people are acting outraged about in order to create drama, you are going to find the internet---and the world---a very intense place.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:06 PM on June 23, 2013


If you truly have no ability to distinguish things that are genuinely outrageous from things that are somewhat problematic from things that people are acting outraged about in order to create drama, you are going to find the internet---and the world---a very intense place.

The only way this comment makes any sense if you have declared yourself the world's arbiter of what's worth being upset about. Which you're welcome to do, but I don't think many people are going to pay attention.
posted by hoyland at 4:10 PM on June 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


And while it is true that Twitter has community aspects, it's an extremely open community. Do you have any reason to suggest that the original offense, call-out, and death threats that caused the situation to explode came from people Krahulik knew?
From what I've read, it appears that a bunch of online trolls latched on to his comment and laid seige, he exploded, and then when someone who was actually part of his community engaged in discussion, the whole thing calmed down.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:11 PM on June 23, 2013


things that people are acting outraged about in order to create drama

This speaks to a deep and intimate knowledge of other people's motivations - how did you come by it?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:11 PM on June 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "From what I've read, it appears that a bunch of online trolls latched on to his comment and laid seige, he exploded, and then when someone who was actually part of his community engaged in discussion, the whole thing calmed down."

Wow. That's certainly a... narrative.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:19 PM on June 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Re: Fullbright.

I think this really reads as the devs cutting off their nose to spite their face. They have every right to do it, of course, but I honestly don't think it accomplishes any of their goals, in either selling their game or promoting equality and gender identity education.

I absolutely agree that Mike didn't respond well; he went defensive and dickish, and that's absolutely bad. But I think it's also important to realize that being an ignorant dick isn't the same as being a bigot, and I see Mike as the former and not the later. The article paints Penny Arcade as an organization that has a party line of hating women and transgendered people. They bring up the Dickwolves issue, Dragon Crown characterization, and now this (and toss in the intern thing, which I think is really weird to bring up and completely pointless).

Dickwolves was about the absurdity of the gameplay mechanics of quotas in MMOs. Again, Mike didn't respond well, but he was accused widely of supporting rape because he drew a comic that fairly accurately lampoons a ridiculous gameplay mechanic. The Dragon Crown commentary is... what, exactly? Jerry saying that people should be able to draw what they want, as far as I can tell. And we arrive at this, where Mike notes that female masturbation games should benefit those with vaginas, and then goes on to express ignorance at the usage of the word cis-.

But instead of going on to tell people that he hates transgendered people and he wish they would die or never be born, he has a conversation with Sophie Prell (who is amazing, as an aside) and (eventually) apologizes. I don't think that's the behavior of a bigot. It's not the behavior of Harvey Milk, maybe, but it's not the behavior of the KKK in the early 1900s, which is what a lot of people seem to be painting it as. And I think that's important to keep in mind.

Beyond that, even if the developers don't accept any of this and think Penny Arcade are a bunch of scumbag transphobic misogynists, wouldn't they be better served by attending PAX and raising awareness among the 80,000 attendees? They say that they're not withdrawing from PAX for practical reasons, and I don't think anyone disagrees with them that this isn't practical. But ideologically, do they think they speak with a bigger megaphone with this blog post than with an active presence at one of the largest gaming conventions in the world?

I've been to multiple PAXes, both as attendee and as enforcer [note, I do not speak for PA or in any official capacity], and I can tell you that I think PAX is incredibly inclusive. PAX doesn't hesitate to kick people out for inappropriate behavior, media badges included — remember this? And there was another panel on feminism where two people were being disruptive, and their badges were stripped for it, though I can't find the link now. But even aside from these one-off responses, why not look at the content? Another enforcer puts it excellently here:
When I was watching that panel, I was proud that the work I do at PAX was a part, even just a small part, of helping make moments like that happen. PAX is more than Mike making money. PAX is throwing cups (seriously, watch the video linked above, it’s good stuff). It’s discussions on the role of games in education and the role of education in games. It’s Press XY giving not just one, but two different talks on transgender issues in gaming. It’s elevating the discourse on romance and sexuality in games. It’s social responsibility. It’s talking about mental health. It’s charity.

And that’s just a slice of what happens in one department. That’s not counting things like the Cookie Brigade. That’s not going into the show’s strengthening response against harassment. And that’s just from this past PAX East.
So isn't there more good to be done from the inside than from the outside? Why not submit a panel to PAX Prime to talk about these issues, and see if you can get Mike to attend? Why not have the Indie Megabooth be all about gender equality games, like what the most excellent Anna Anthropy comes up with?. Why boycott a conference that, more than any other, has brought people together, brought walls down, and help the cause of both gaming and equality?

It's important to note that my argument is not 'PAX is too big to fail', or that developers should be subservient to conventions, producers, or anyone that can help them flourish and prosper. It's simply that they can make a bigger difference by working with good guys that occasionally stumble instead of rejecting everyone that's not perfect as the enemy.

Boycotting PA because they're good but not perfect feels like two steps back instead of one step forward, and every step forward is important in this fight.
posted by Han Tzu at 4:28 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wow. That's certainly a... narrative.

I think, strictly speaking, it's real-people fanfiction.

Back in reality, it's worth noting that this kind of retrenchment is not wholly without risk. When Penny Arcade took the Dickwolves shirts out of their store, they attempted to deflect criticism in part by hinting that they had in some way been forced to, which of course only inspired some of the loose collective of MRAs and sociopaths broadly identified as Team Dickwolves to higher dudgeon. Others turned their faces against Penny Arcade, arguing that they had let them down by backing down.

To a degree, Krahulik is making the same bet that Kotaku are attempting to make by employing people like Patricia Hernandez (whose review of the iPhone female masturbation game kicked off this whole affair - that their audience actually trends further towards acceptance than their current editorial team, or at least that they can gain more fans than they lose.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:29 PM on June 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Army and rosf, you certainly seem convinced you know "reality". Do you have any reason to think that Julie Pagano or The Spidery One are actual friends of Krahulik, or at least people he talks to regularly? Or are you just perfectly sure your story is true because it simply must be?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:44 PM on June 23, 2013


Do you have any reason to think that Julie Pagano or The Spidery One are actual friends of Krahulik, or at least people he talks to regularly?

Did you read Pagano's initial tweet? She was making a general statement about Krahulik's actions and then he decided to go off at her. He wasn't responding to a tweet directed at him. As near as I can tell, Krahulik is the person who started abusing people randomly.
posted by hoyland at 4:49 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I absolutely agree that Mike didn't respond well; he went defensive and dickish, and that's absolutely bad. But I think it's also important to realize that being an ignorant dick isn't the same as being a bigot, and I see Mike as the former and not the later.

Except he was responding to a tweet that didn't actually need a response, unless he felt (as he apparently did) a burning desire to go on a transphobic rant. He surely gets lots of random abuse on Twitter, so it's unlikely he's not well-practiced in ignoring tweets. His (past) actions were called transphobic and for some unknown reason he thought the appropriate response was 'Damn right I'm transphobic and I'm right to be.'

So isn't there more good to be done from the inside than from the outside? Why not submit a panel to PAX Prime to talk about these issues, and see if you can get Mike to attend? Why not have the Indie Megabooth be all about gender equality games, like what the most excellent Anna Anthropy comes up with?. Why boycott a conference that, more than any other, has brought people together, brought walls down, and help the cause of both gaming and equality?

Why should we think that people aren't doing these things? However, long experience tells us that sometimes the only way to get things done is to make a nuisance of yourself. People in power will always say 'You could have the change you want if you only behaved nicely and set up panels instead of complaining' while knowing that they can ignore those panels almost indefinitely and keep moving the goal posts. Sure, at some point, they'll probably be seen as regressive bigots, but that point will almost certainly come faster if they get called out. (This is the same tension that plays out again and again. For example, gay rights organisations in my state refused to support anyone trying to sue for marriage equality because they'd decided to adopt a 'legislative strategy'. It worked in the end (seemingly courtesy of a miscalculation by the Republicans), but until it did some people were wondering why we weren't being more aggressive. And other people were wondering if marriage was the right thing to be pursuing or if it was the 'behaving nicely' issue.)
posted by hoyland at 4:56 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


She was making a general statement about Krahulik's actions and then he decided to go off at her.

It was "@" him. That makes it at him. And a quick scan through her feed suggests that she indeed has no prior relationship with him, and does this sort of drive-by pretty regularly. So yeah, my version seems to have been accurate. Which raises the question of why Army and rosf find it impossible to believe. What is it about your beliefs that makes you so quick to dismiss the actual facts of what happened?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:00 PM on June 23, 2013


What is it about your beliefs that makes you so quick to dismiss the actual facts of what happened?

That's an incredibly loaded question, and it definitely lends weight to the impression that you aren't acting in good faith here.
posted by KathrynT at 5:11 PM on June 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yeah... You now appear to be writing fanfiction about other members of MetaFilter, TFB. That's sort of creepy, and it might be worth checking if there are healthier, or at least easier, ways to get your RDA of interpersonal drama.

Back in reality:

Boycotting PA because they're good but not perfect feels like two steps back instead of one step forward, and every step forward is important in this fight.

I'm not sure what "boycott" means in this context - normally, boycotting a company means not buying their products. The Fullbright Company, could, I guess, be said to be declining to buy booth space at the Indie Megabooth, but it feels more accurate to say that they are declining to be rented a booth at the Indie Megabooth. And it seems strange to say:

I think this really reads as the devs cutting off their nose to spite their face. They have every right to do it, of course, but I honestly don't think it accomplishes any of their goals, in either selling their game or promoting equality and gender identity education.

When even a cursory reading of the blog post shows that no such goals are stated. The blog post states, fairly simply, that as a result of a series of events Fullbright as a company would not feel comfortable paying Penny Arcade $1,000 for booth space. The intention is not to bankrupt Penny Arcade - $1,000 is not a lot of money, and another indie developer without the same qualms will no doubt be happy to pay it. The intention was also not to sell more copies of Gone Home (although I've played the IGF build, and it's really good), or to usher in a new world based on strict equality. It was not to pay money to, and associate their product with, an organization they didn't feel good about.

Parallel example: some people do not eat meat because they don't want to fund, even infinitesimally, battery and factory animal farming. Those people are not necessarily expecting the annihilation of the meat industry, and many will not even proselytize about the evils of the meat industry. They've just decided to put their own few dollars elsewhere. For individuals (and by extension four-person studios) this kind of small decision isn't about changing the world single-handed, but about the politics of the personal.

Hyperbole aside, if Penny Arcade were politically identical with the Ku Klux Klan in the 1900s, probably it would not require a lot of moral courage for a dev team making a game in part about social and sexual reinvention in 1990s Cascadia to decide not to rent booth space - the overlap of attendees and potential sales prospects would probably not be very great.

(Of course, they might now decide that PA seems to be sincere about wanting to be better, to quote the Penny Arcade Report's Ben Kuchera, and that taking the booth might be a good way to show approval of the new direction.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:12 PM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


It was "@" him. That makes it at him.

No, not really. "@Joe foo" is addressed to Joe. "Foo @Joe bar" is about Joe. For whatever reason, the convention is to use @Joe rather than Joe to refer to Joe in conversations about Joe. Prominent people get a lot of both forms of mention. I'm sure it's irritating for conversations about you to show up as 'mentions', particularly if you get tweets addressed to you that you're interested in, but that's the way Twitter works. For example, you can tell Neil Gaiman often ignores mentions because he goes on sprees of retweeting nice things random people have said about him. But other times he says something clearly intending to elicit responses from random people, so I expect he's looking at mentions then.

I don't believe your narrative because you'd have us believe the original tweet was "@cwgabriel, you are transphobic asshole" or some such. Which it wasn't.
posted by hoyland at 5:14 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Twitter etiquette is really interesting - the debate about whether it is more or less polite to include someone's Twitter ID is ongoing, and then there's that whole subtweeting question.

If you're a programmer, or otherwise technically minded, I think using Twitter IDs in tweets is going to seem very logical, because it's a unique identifier and also an immediate link to further information and context using the markup set of the application you are using.

It also alerts that person to the use of their Twitter ID, if they specifically look for that information using an online tool, either Twitter itself, a Twitter client or an email notification, but that is not a guarantee that it will be read.

If you have 20 Twitter followers, say, but are active on Twitter, it's probably reasonable for someone who uses your Twitter ID in a post to expect that you will notice it. If you have millions of Twitter followers, that likelihood probably lessens.

(Notably, a Twitter user once observed that Stephen Fry (just under 6 million followers)'s Twitter stream was a bit dull, using his Twitter ID. Fry noticed and tweeted back, to the astonishment of the original poster. I guess you could theorise that this was a cunning plan to get Fry's attention without looking desperate, but I don't think it would be one with a very high chance of success. Krahulik is less famous than Fry, and has about a sixtieth as many followers, but I imagine his stream is more like Stephen Fry's than it is like that of someone with 20 followers.)

So, back in the world of things, Julie Pagano said:
::sigh:: @cwgabriel has been failing quite a bit lately. I still remember the transphobic stuff from a few weeks ago. Disappointing.
If you're following along at home, that's the "laying siege" from an "online troll".

Krahulik replied, and there was a conversation - during which presumably it was OK to address him directly. I don't think Pagano made any death threats, but I am limited by the weaknesses of my sensorium. There may have been a death threat coded into those colons.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:54 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's a loaded question, but not an unfair one. I had the facts of the story right, you had them wrong, yet you reacted with snarky incredulity. So perhaps this is your chance to practice the "being wrong with humility" that you regard as so important.

Because what happened is this: Some person, with no relationship to Krahulik, posted on his stream that he was "disappointed" in him. He snarked back. At that point, he started getting death threats and the usual "die cis scum" nonsense. This caused a lot of escalation and shouting. Finally, someone with a personal connection spoke to him like a reasonable human, and this made him aware of what was wrong with his original statement and inspired some geniune contrition.

So the moral of the story is that online Twitters activists tend to make situations worse by causing people to dig in their heels, while people who are, according to some, too concessionary, can make actual change.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:13 PM on June 23, 2013


Umm... I'm pretty sure the appropriate pronouns for Pagano would be 'she' and 'her'.
posted by hoyland at 6:22 PM on June 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


I had the facts of the story right, you had them wrong, yet you reacted with snarky incredulity.


Actually, you are pretty consistently factually off - remember "trans artist" Sophie Prell? - and your representation of the conversation between Julie Pagano and Mike Krahulik was also factually incorrect. You are getting these accounts, I think, from partial secondary sources, and are now trying to fit corrections into your narrative while claiming to have said this all along. Thus:

Because what happened is this: Some person, with no relationship to Krahulik, posted on his stream that he was "disappointed" in him. He snarked back. At that point, he started getting death threats and the usual "die cis scum" nonsense.

Fortunately, this is quite fun to watch, and it's also fun to try to work out what has been represented how in the secondary sources you are reading. For example, you mentioned The Spidery One earlier, and I imagine that your secondary sources have identified her with "die cis scum". She did indeed use the word "cis", so that's a good 33% score:
yes you are literally a monster. That is what you should gather from criticism holy fuck i hate cis men.
She apologised later, citing the heat of the moment and the irritation caused by Krahulik's turbo escalation from "disappointing" to "is a monster". (She also has 11 followers. Tremble, ye mighty!)

Perhaps wherever you are getting your account of events could point out some actual links to some actual death threats? I absolutely trust your word that there are some out there, although I doubt in the volume that Anita Sarkeesian or Courtney Stanton got... but, you know, trust and verify.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:26 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


At that point, he started getting death threats and the usual "die cis scum" nonsense

Yes, it is nonsense that cis people die because of these issues.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:27 PM on June 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


So perhaps this is your chance to practice the "being wrong with humility" that you regard as so important.

Hi. You quoted me. Can I help you?
posted by knuckle tattoos at 6:33 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps! When you said it was important to practice being wrong with humility, did you actually mean that as a general principle, or only for people you disagree with? That will rather affect whether or not it's a valuable suggestions.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:40 PM on June 23, 2013


Knuckle tattoos - basically, could you pretend to be KathrynT for a bit? Both your names begin with K, which will hopefully make it easier...
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:44 PM on June 23, 2013


(And I think is probably why we are you were quoted in response to KathrynT, with an instruction that she should follow her own advice.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:45 PM on June 23, 2013


Perhaps! When you said it was important to practice being wrong with humility, did you actually mean that as a general principle, or only for people you disagree with? That will rather affect whether or not it's a valuable suggestions.

Yep, general principle. In that spirit, I totally didn't know that Gabe's Batman joke was preceded by somebody calling him Comic Man. That almost makes his remark make sense (although he's still equating identifying as a woman with identifying as, you know, Batman).

I really don't buy that Gabe's snark was necessary or called for, FWIW, even after looking at the original tweets.

Knuckle tattoos - basically, could you pretend to be KathrynT for a bit? Both your names begin with K, which will hopefully make it easier...

I really want to write a "stop policing my identity" one-liner here. But seriously, thanks for explaining that nonsensical gotcha.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 6:48 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, I had been addressing a collective "you". But rosf, did you perhaps think Knuckle's advice was not really good advice in the first place? If you really don't believe one should ever accept being wrong with humility, that would explain some things.

Ultimately, of course, rosf or KathrynT's individual emotional reactions aren't what's important here. What's significant is what this particular episode shows about how change is made, or not made. And there, my above summary seems pretty right: Snark and shouting, while emotionally cathartic, causes people to dig in their heels. Talking personably makes people think. And some of the snarkers and shouters will criticize those who try to speak personably, making the drive-by activists even more of an obstacle to real change than they might seem.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:50 PM on June 23, 2013


I doubt you get $20000 worth of apology just for nicely explaining why someone has done something impolite. You get there from, "Oh shit, what the hell have I done? There are people with pitchforks here." Without the greater threat to their business from an angry group of customers, it's not at all clear this plays out better at the end.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:00 PM on June 23, 2013


As I say, I think you are writing fanfiction, TFB - you have no idea of the relative impact of any of the known responses, or the unknown (who knows? In an AU fanfic Felicia Day or Wil Wheaton might have sounded a little frosty over the phone, or Google might have made noises about how they were a little less than happy about someone with that kind of brand positioning being seen in the free set of Glass they sent over. You should totally write that. Call it "Through a Glass, Harshly"), beyond secondary sources and your own imagination.

Not even Mike Krahulik backs up your assertion whole-heartedly, in fact - he talks about the thought that people might not be attending PAX, or watching Penny Arcade TV as a motivator for his self-examination (so, on preview, sort of what Drinkie Die said).

Krahulik also notes that his response to criticism may in fact not be healthy - that it may be a bug, rather than a feature, that he responds aggressively to less conciliatory approaches:
My reaction when I feel backed into corner is to be an asshole. It’s essentially how I defend myself. It’s been that way since was in elementary school. I’m 36 now. Maybe it’s finally time to try and let some of that shit go.
If the journalist Sophie Prell's email played a large part in that epiphany, then cool. Would that email have come about if it hadn't been for the repeated statements of "a woman is a person with a vagina" on Twitter? Would Fullbright have decided not to go to PAX? Who knows? There's a whole range of different ways to tackle problems, which may have unintended or cumulative effects.

Speaking of being backed into a corner, I notice that you have not dug up any death threats, by the way, or indeed linked to any content, beyond attempts to gotcha people by linking to things said by other people entirely within this thread. However, it seems from this:

Oh, I had been addressing a collective "you".

That you are actually prepared to claim that you do not understand that human beings are different people who say different things in order not to cop to that mistake. That is, you will identify yourself as totally incompetent to have the kind of discussion that people are expected to have on MetaFilter rather than acknowledge a fairly simple error. As I say, it's in some ways amusing, but it's also more than a little unhooked from reality, and I don't know how productive it is to continue to try to bounce light into that universe.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:11 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Snark and shouting, while emotionally cathartic, causes people to dig in their heels. Talking personably makes people think.

Great! The people here are people too. The SJWs you are so concerned about are people too. You want to persuade them that there is a better way? Practise what you preach, talk personably to them and show us how it's done. I actually mean this. Show us how we persuade people through talking personably to them, ThatFuzzyBastard.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:26 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think I'm sufficiently individuated from these other commenters that the collective "you" doesn't make sense. I've appreciated hearing their perspectives, which are different from mine.

You're right that The Spidery One said pretty much the most aggro possible set of things, from "holy fuck i hate cis men" to two "waaaah" cry-some-moar-style nonapologies to at least three instances of "Fuck off." It's kind of impressive.

But even if she'd been the first to speak (she wasn't - Mike had already dug in his heels by responding to Julie Pagano's mild rebuke with aggressive snark), she's just some person! On the internet! Mike has the power to ignore angry and abusive people and talk instead to the many people who want to share their experiences and views. He was never forced to escalate an argument, and he had plenty of people both this week and on June 7 who were willing to talk with him, suggest reading material, share experiences, and explain things. Look at all this patient, nuanced education going on! Plenty of people were holding up their end of the bargain, which is why Mike gets the blame for change not happening earlier.

Mike also has to be held to a higher standard than random tweeters because he's got over 100,000 followers, he sets the tone for PAX conventions, and he has influence over PA's many, many fans.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 8:23 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


"hermeneutic phenomenology"

Ain't complicated, just means the interpretation of experience, more or less.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:58 PM on June 23, 2013


I had the facts of the story right, you had them wrong, yet you reacted with snarky incredulity. So perhaps this is your chance to practice the "being wrong with humility" that you regard as so important.

I never said that, and I've never engaged you on this topic before. I believe you have me confused with somebody else.

And there, my above summary seems pretty right: Snark and shouting, while emotionally cathartic, causes people to dig in their heels. Talking personably makes people think. And some of the snarkers and shouters will criticize those who try to speak personably, making the drive-by activists even more of an obstacle to real change than they might seem.

Physician, heal thyself.
posted by KathrynT at 9:04 PM on June 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is not the place for that discussion! It serves only to derail and diminish the actual issue at hand, because you are coming into a discussion of trans issues and making post after post about how they're the same as otherkin issues, which do not have anything like the same sort or magnitude of problems associated with them.

I should clarify, as I think you seem to share what apparently is a common misunderstanding, judging by the amount of data quoted upthread.

I don't think that the magnitude of problems is anything like the same for trans-ethnic or trans-speciest (of which furs or otherkin are subsets) individuals, as it is for trans-gender issues. Transgender individuals touch a lot of hot buttons that people are really particular about - in particular around sex and relationships and disclosure and suchlike. To be transgender seems to be like walking between two third rails, about two feet apart. Transgender individuals have a lot of very real difficulties, and certainly more severe than those faced by transracial or transspecied individuals. Awful people seem to really viscerally and violently hate them in a way I cannot even begin to understand.

I think I just reacted strongly to what seemed to be a really open and inclusive stance - Krahulik being willing to treat someone as whatever they identified as, even if it was a fox or a raccoon - I'll admit to conflating the two separate notes on trans-species folk - being treated as an attack on trans folk. Which it may well have been - despite being a gamer, I'm not super into gaming culture, don't read Penny Arcade, and am not really involved in this sort of stuff. I don't know these guys well enough to even really mentally tell them apart, and I can't tell what was in his heart.

But people reacting with essentially "Ew, don't compare us to those people, it's an insult, those people are crazy and their identities are imaginary and unreal and it demeans us to be in the same sentence as them" really bothered me, because it did seem not just like pulling up the ladder in a really uncool way, but like pushing someone off the lifeboat because you think they are slowing you down.
posted by corb at 10:34 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing is, it is not yet clear those other groups need that life boat. It is clear transgender folks do.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:46 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Has anyone pointed out that he probably didn't literally mean he would treat someone like a fox or Batman, and was being hyperbolically absurd to try to show how totally "okay" he was with trans people? If you read that as inclusive - well, I'm trans and to me it was dismissive and meant the opposite.

Also, corb - what revelation made you not only suddenly cool with trans people, but even cooler with otherkin? Last I remember you were objecting to the possibility of a six year old using a restroom with you (let alone me using a restroom with you) and asking if they were really "real" women and men, so this seems like a huge change. I'm mentioning it because it sets off my alarms for the motivation behind your arguments - as someone else said, it seems to be a hugely convenient way for you to get jabs in at trans people for suddenly being more "inclusive" than them. Seriously, if there was a certain story or article or discussion that brought you around, it would be great to know what it was so I could understand what kinds of material help people like you and try to do more of it.
posted by Corinth at 10:50 PM on June 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


To be clear, what I said in my previous post was:

I think this goes back to what TFB was saying upthread, which gave the impression that people responding to this were trolling for something to get outraged about.

TFB, I'm not sure how you are getting that by "people responding to this" I meant only Julie Pagano, The Spidery One, or people who knew Gabe IRL. As ArmyOfKittens mentioned, a lot of other people (Sophie Prell included) have weighed in and responded to this set of tweets. Besides, it is pretty clear to me just from scrolling down through The Spidery One's previous tweets that she is indeed a gamer herself -- you may disagree with how she responded (though it looks like she did later apologize without reservations to Mike), but this is clearly her community as well.

I can't understand why you are insisting that I "had the facts of the story... wrong." You seem to be responding to something I did not say.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:07 AM on June 24, 2013


I think I just reacted strongly to what seemed to be a really open and inclusive stance - Krahulik being willing to treat someone as whatever they identified as, even if it was a fox or a raccoon - I'll admit to conflating the two separate notes on trans-species folk

Not separate notes - separate people. Krahulik said that he would treat someone like a man, a woman or a fox. Jerry Holkins said of a situation in which his son decided he wanted to be a raccoon: I’m ready now to love my raccoon son; I’ll stroke his phantom fur while he dozes in his sleeping crate, and leave the lid on the garbage can a little loose. Not too loose, of course - I don’t want to rob him of the little victories that make life so sweet. And I need to prepare him for a world characterized by rugged, stubborn lids. These are pretty ambiguous notices, though. If you want to make the case for Penny Arcade as friends of the fur community, you probably want to go back ten years to the blowback to this strip, and the following commentary:
The incendiary reaction to the first volume of the series makes me glad that, even four years out, we never delivered the second installment. I was under the impression that we were making a statement about a genre of art, i.e. "We think that pictures of eroticized, bipedal animals are ridiculous." What we would come to find out was that this kind of imagery is a cultural signifier for a group of people - "furries" - for whom this material amounts to some kind of sacrament.

So, imagine my surprise when we received hundreds of mails suggesting that we were "bigots", which is not a word I associate with people who think pictures of impossible animals are silly. The discourse was fascinating. I'm not difficult to talk to, and once it became clear that I had discovered something completely unlike anything I knew, I began to interrogate the authors of the hate mail themselves. I made about a hundred friends in a couple of hours, people I talked to for years.

What I think is funny about the strip is that it purports to make some kind of strong point in the first panel, and then invests the remainder of its short time with the reader running away from the point at top speed. Of course, if you only look at the first panel and then send an angry mail, it doesn't matter. There are very few things we can actually say we hate, and a picture of two gazelles on a first date hardly makes the cut.
That's Holkins again, though.

(This is perpetuating the derail, but I think it's worth making clear that "Penny Arcade" constitutes a number of discrete entities.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:20 AM on June 24, 2013


Damn you, edit window! The Holkins quote, which should have been blockquoted, is:
I’m ready now to love my raccoon son; I’ll stroke his phantom fur while he dozes in his sleeping crate, and leave the lid on the garbage can a little loose. Not too loose, of course - I don’t want to rob him of the little victories that make life so sweet. And I need to prepare him for a world characterized by rugged, stubborn lids.
It's a sweet mental image, although not a wholly serious one, and it's not really about fur acceptance specifically - the message is "I will love my child no matter what sort of weird stuff kids get into in the future, when he is old enough to get into weird stuff".
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:54 AM on June 24, 2013


But people reacting with essentially "Ew, don't compare us to those people, it's an insult, those people are crazy and their identities are imaginary and unreal and it demeans us to be in the same sentence as them" really bothered me, because it did seem not just like pulling up the ladder in a really uncool way, but like pushing someone off the lifeboat because you think they are slowing you down.

How many times do you have to be reminded that one is something people are, here in the real world, while the other is something people by their own admission wish they were? Trans people are being denied their identities as well as their human and civil rights every minute of every day, with very real consequences for their legal status in their world and their health, something otherkin are not.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:54 AM on June 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


There must be some internet slang to describe the phenomenon of dumping something incendiary into a thread and then vacating the scene with a "y'all can't handle this discussion, so I'm audie!", but I don't know what it is.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:20 AM on June 22 [1 favorite +] [!]


Hmmm, based on your use of the word "incendiary," and because of the term "thread shitting," I hereby propose "shitting napalm."

On another, unrelated note, I think it's useful for people to remember that there are racist things AND there are racist people. You can say something racist without being an actual racist, simply by virtue of inexperience and ignorance. The same thing applies to misogyny and transphobia. It is far more helpful to a dialogue to say "that's racist!" rather than "you're racist!" It adds unnecessary emotion and (potentially) hyperbole to jump straight for the "bigot" button, as the bar for that word varies wildly between people who hear it.

Also, people CAN and DO change. I remember rolling my eyes way back when, during the DickWolf Wars, I first heard about "rape culture." After a bit of googling, I decided I was still on "Team DickWolves," but after thinking about the issue, digesting, talking to friends about it, thinking some MORE, I have completely reversed my position.

I guess my point is that there's no need to be TOO jaded about the $20,000 thing.
posted by GoingToShopping at 4:51 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


[I quite like "ripcording" - like, "Now I have blown this discussion out of the sky with my truth-bombs, I'm just going to pull this ripcord and, from your perspective, shoot upwards at incredible speed away from you as you continue to plummet downwards at terminal velocity"...]
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:06 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


[I quite like "ripcording" - like, "Now I have blown this discussion out of the sky with my truth-bombs, I'm just going to pull this ripcord and, from your perspective, shoot upwards at incredible speed away from you as you continue to plummet downwards at terminal velocity"...]

Paradouching?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:13 AM on June 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


Also, corb - what revelation made you not only suddenly cool with trans people, but even cooler with otherkin? Last I remember you were objecting to the possibility of a six year old using a restroom with you (let alone me using a restroom with you) and asking if they were really "real" women and men, so this seems like a huge change.

I have always, always, (at least as an adult) supported using the pronouns that other people preferred and to refer to them by the identity they prefer or name they prefer. Always, one hundred percent. To do otherwise just strikes me as staggeringly impolite, if nothing more.

The question of "reality" is a loaded and I think a subjective one. I do have genuine concerns around the real-world issues when people's realities and needs clash, as well as the degree of informed consent that minors can give, but that doesn't mean I'm somehow not okay with people because they have identities that I don't personally have. In the real world, I've fought against discrimination in hiring practices against trans folk, because discrimination is wrong. When one of my trans friends was having doubts about her transition because she was facing a lot of opposition, I did everything I could to help her, hooked her up with resources here in New York, encouraged her to stay strong, and offered to pay for her hormones. Because I do firmly believe that people should be able to be who and what they want to be without fear.

In my opinion, it doesn't matter what my personal definitions of someone's gender or race or species might be - what they say they are is how I need to treat them. If what they are doing doesn't hurt anyone, then I am obliged to defend their ability to do it if I support freedom at all. Personally, for me I can't ask for freedom to do what I want (insert X politics here) while denying other people the freedom to do and be what they want.

So I guess if you want to know what revelations made me support transfolk's ability to be who they identify as, it's more thinking about it around a liberty/freedom oriented axis rather than a "Medical science says blah." When people start talking about "female brains" and "male brains" it gets my dander up because Sexists, but when people talk about freedom, that's something I really hear.

I wish that there was a space for people to express that thinking without somehow being beyond the pale. In the real world, or even online, on many many issues, I would fight for your and other people's rights. I think it's absolutely beyond awful that transfolk are in such physical danger so much of the time, and I wish there was something I could do about it. I don't think I know anyone who would do violence against someone like that, so I don't know that my talking does any good, but if there were a way to help I would absolutely help. But it seems in some ways that there is no room for allies that don't embrace every single issue, and that's a hard and sad thing. I think there are a lot more people that would embrace a "Live and let live, this isn't hurting you, be good to each other and let people be free" policy.

Maybe even the Penny Arcade dudes.
posted by corb at 6:45 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, here's a paint-by-numbers for readers at home who are confused as to why the fuck this is even a thing and want to figure out where exactly they went wrong:
  1. One of the guys from Penny Arcade declared that he thought the difference between men and women is that men have penises and women have vaginas, and declared this in a slightly inflammatory manner.

  2. Trans men and women do not identify with the gender they're born into. This is not some weird "I'd like to see how the other side lives" thing, in case we have anybody here still thinking that. This is an actual medical condition that has been proven to be a thing by Science. It actually happens to real people.

  3. To say that men have penises and women have vaginas PERIOD is, however well-intended, denying transgender people their ACTUAL GENDER THAT THEY HAVE. It's also telling them, again however well-intended, that their own experience of their own bodies is wrong. That the part of their brain that's telling them they are a different gender than their body originally intended is incorrect for doing so. Lots of people still think gender dyphoria ought to be treated by meds, as if it was a sign of lunacy, which kind of sucks if you are a sane person who happens to be trans.

  4. People are therefore justifiably annoyed about this, and begin tweeting Mike telling him that as a major icon in gaming, it is kind of irresponsible of him to be saying incorrect things about a hugely oppressed minority in public.

  5. Mike responds as if he's being attacked by people who have no legitimate reason to be hurt by what he said—which, incidentally, further delegitimatizes them in the eyes of many ignorant people viewing this incident, and makes light of their pretty serious grievances.

  6. In particular, Mike mentions the use of the pronoun "cis", which has been used as a conveniently short descriptor to help delineate who is transgender and who is not for a while now, as something he is particularly Not Okay with. Which is pretty much the equivalent of saying, "I have never discussed trans* issues seriously in my life, and I am not at all interested in doing so further."

  7. "Cis" is not an academic or theoretical term, any more than "straight" or "white" or "male" is. It describes an extremely simple thing, is short and memorable, and can be understood by adorable young children, even the ones with astonishingly cute lisps who pronounce it "thith". (This last bit is not necessarily part of my paint-by-numbers but still, wouldn't that be adorable?)

  8. A bunch of trans* and cis people therefore keep on complaining about what Mike said, and about what it means to gamer culture that a big icon in it can dismiss basic notions of transgender identity as if that is a totally okay thing to do. (Hint: it says that gamer culture is ignorant about trans* issues, and that this ignorance leads to accidental or intentional hurtfulness targeted at the trans* community.)

  9. Meanwhile, many OTHER people are ALSO clueless about trans* issues.

  10. Because of that, people who like discussing trans* issues have to explain the same simple tiny things over and over and over and over again, to different groups of people who all ask the same incredibly basic questions, often interlacing them with some amount of hurtful ignorant bigotry because civil discussion is no fun.

  11. And because of THAT, lots of these people are sick and tired of talking about these stupidly simply ideas with hostile audience after hostile audience. Sometimes this makes them less than perfectly civil.

  12. Those people sometimes hurt the feelings of the folks who're denying trans* people their identities, and those folks don't like that those people, some of whose identities are being denied, are being so gosh-darn MEAN.

  13. When explained that those people have been through this shit a whole bunch, that trans* people are routinely driven to suicide or denied work or medical care or whatever, those people say, "Well, that's too bad, but you still have a responsibility to explain yourselves politely, or else people won't listen to you!" Imagine that! Imagine people denying other people something that they reasonably ought to have! I bet most trans* people don't know what that would be like.

  14. It is argued that the trans* community has shouldered far more responsibility and labor just to try and be treated like ordinary people than any group of people should be expected to have to shoulder. It is also perhaps hinted that people who aren't in the trans community would be awfully nice if they helped shoulder some of that burden themselves, by doing basic things like assuming other people's experiences are valid, that trans* people aren't just declaring themselves trans* to be part of the fad where they get beat up and fired from their jobs, and that the reason some of them are a teensy bit mad is that they have a reason to be mad.

  15. Eek! Humility and personal responsibility! Thinking about something we didn't want to think about before somebody pointed out that not thinking about this is contributing to the vast heaps of shit an entire category of people has to deal with every day. That's so haaaaaaard!

  16. At this point people begin trying to avoid this new duty by making the discussion into a meta-discussion, often by talking about the philosophy of communication and about how to clearly, effectively convey a message (massive footnote: "AND YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.") Ironically, those people will bring up incredibly complex terms and concepts to argue that the other side is too difficult to understand.

  17. Other people protest that people should have a freedom to say whatever stupid shit comes into their head glarble fulf mrowflex bumrumstrumminalgulbaginthorianflax. Because all speech is equal and should be treated equally and respected equally, and because what we have here is a group of people "policing" language and saying that some words are less good than other words. This is clearly an assault on individual rights, since it's not like putting some words in a certain order is how we express thoughts and ideas. Why would we do THAT!?

  18. These protestors conclude that people getting het up about certain words and phrases are clearly het up about stupid trivial things about the words, and not about the fact that "I think a man has a penis and a woman has a vagina" is denying the whole "gender is more complicated than that" stuff which we paint-by-number'd at the very beginning.

  19. Yet more people liken transgender people, who have a real actual medical condition that is documented and also exists, with people on the Internet who claim they are actually foxes/aliens/trees/Sonic the Hedgehog from the classic SEGA Genesis game Sonic the Hedgehog, and ask: why is it a bad thing to compare the one to the other? Shouldn't we be more inclusive thinkers? This is clearly dumb.

  20. Given a couple of days, Mike decides he was wrong, makes a hefty donation to a charity that deals with trans* rights among others, and publicly apologizes.

  21. "Yay!", say some people. "This makes up for all the bad things that he said and did!" But it doesn't. It just adds some good to the bad that was there.

  22. Some people expressing hope that no more bad things come from Penny Arcade are chastised for even saying that, even though sometimes people do good things after a bad thing but then do more bad things in the future. Like how I "borrowed" my roommate's jar of pasta sauce to make pasta sauce soup, apologized, and then "borrowed" half of his loaf of bread the next day.

  23. Trans* people continue to exist, and continue using the word "cis" because it is convenient.

  24. It is statistically guaranteed that, in the near future, somebody will say something that denies the concept of trans* people again, and then receive an angry response, and then be mad that everybody's so angry, and then be mad that they're expected to make an effort to understand/not actively hurt trans* people, when all they wanted to do was have an opinion about reality.

  25. Reality is not governed by opinions. Often it reminds you of this in far harsher ways than "some people on the Internet got mad at you." See: cancer.

  26. People angrily telling you how much it sucks to have your identity denied by other people in a culture that is hostile and hurtful to trans* people is way less awful than cancer.

  27. When you're feeling hurt because of angry people on Twitter, it helps to have a little perspective.
Easy-peasy! I can guarantee that no idea presented here is inaccessible or too academically rigorous, because I studied Communication in college and thus have the intellectual capacity of a hyperactive five-year-old. Plus I'm a cis person and that helps me understand the difficulties cis people must endure, such as finding it hard to read words unless there are useful numbers next to all of them for progress monitoring and scorekeeping.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:49 AM on June 24, 2013 [28 favorites]


Easy-peasy!

Except that it's not. I don't understand what gender means*). I'm not sure whether or not I'm cisgendered, because I don't seem to have a gender identity, so how can I tell whether or not my body matches it? I have a lot of trouble understanding gender at all, which makes trans*issues that much harder to grok.

But! The very least I can do is believe people when they tell me about themselves and their experiences. Sometimes I fail to even do that, but I will keep trying forever. It's a matter of common decency. Please tell me when I'm failing.

And feel free to call me cisgendered, or refer to me as a woman, even if I'm not sure whether those terms apply.

* I know the definitions. That's not the problem.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:43 AM on June 24, 2013


Also, I realise that this is not about me. Sorry.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:46 AM on June 24, 2013


I'm still confused on the correct thought regarding the death threats. Are they a) dirty lies, b) frivolous noise or c) righteous rhetoric? Can any communication majors help me out here?
posted by 0 at 9:17 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


You left out d) they're real and awful things that cause tremendous psychological damage especially when combined with online or real-life stalking.

On the other hand, any juvenile coward with a computer can make one, most of them are the kind of spittle-flecked garbage that are no threat at all, and simply being the target of a few does not mean one's position in an argument is suddenly now completely validated.

As an aside in this case, some folks have noted we haven't seen the evidence of what have been called "death threats" here. Sometimes people exaggerate sarcastic attacks into death threats, and that line is both difficult to draw and drawn differently by different people, so it's often helpful to see any actual exchange before accepting "I got a death threat!" when it's offered in the midst of a heated discussion.

Does that help?
posted by mediareport at 9:30 AM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Rory, why are you so great?

0: "I'm still confused on the correct thought regarding the death threats. Are they a) dirty lies, b) frivolous noise or c) righteous rhetoric? Can any communication majors help me out here?"

Okay. Have a read through Rory's comment up there and try to understand that many trans people, particularly those early in transition and/or those who don't "pass", are forced to live life with a hundred swords of damocles hanging over them, never knowing which random stranger, relative, friend, or even lover is going to start cutting threads. It is very, very stressful, tiring, depressing, and terrifying to be a trans person who doesn't "pass" or only "passes" sometimes in a world controlled by cis people.

When some random famous guy -- who you've seen before apparently has the power to start harassment campaigns without really meaning to -- starts going on about the things Krahulik went on about, you may well see red. You're triggered -- you are forced to relive times when close friends or family have expressed similar sentiments while kicking you out on the streets or punishing you. You're frustrated -- this jerk has just blundered into your community with his size twelves and his internet army and called your life a joke. And you're just plain upset.

You might react by tweeting angrily at him. You might even tell him you hope he dies.

I'm not going to be like most other people in this thread. I'm not going to say that death threats are inexcusable. Because if your whole fucking life is a death threat, then you have no power and no escape. Some rando kicks off in your direction and you relieve a small amount of the frustration and anger and fear by telling him you hope he dies, your tweet coming as a direct result of the awful things he's saying? I'm not going to blame you. I'm not going to criticise you.

Good for you. Survive.

Death threats from powerless trans women are not pleasant, and undoubtedly they are not productive. But they don't do a damn thing. If Krahulik was intimidated he probably wouldn't have called for more of them! At worst, they provide someone who doesn't want to be educated a convenient excuse to avoid being educated, but hell: there are more excuses in the world than sand grains on the beach.

So, to sum up: yeah, probably a few death threats got sent his way. They likely represented a tiny fraction of the overall flap. They didn't represent the overall opinion, if such a thing can be said to exist, of the trans community. They didn't matter.

But maybe they helped the people who made them get a little bit of the power back in their own lives, for a minute.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:37 AM on June 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Death threats most certainly are inexcusable. "I hope you die" is not a death threat.
posted by cribcage at 9:40 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sophie Prell has written a follow-up post.

I was one of the people who was very uncomfortable with the kinds of concessions she was making and deference she was showing to Mike, and I guess this explains some of it for her.
posted by Corinth at 10:16 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Aryan Shitheap" said on Twitter that he or she was going to kill his horse, it seems from knuckle tattoos' link. Which is sort of a death threat and certainly not very nice at all, whether or not he actually has a horse.

(I expected better of Aryan Shitheap, but I guess that New Hampshire branch of the Shitheaps were always a little wild.)

The original "I have received death threats" came during the Dickwolves episode, when a clearly rhetorical but also clearly undesirable tweet aiming to highlight the trivialization of rape by trivializing murder was taken by Krahulik to be a threat against his family's safety. Whether there has been anything resembling an actual, according-to-Hoyle death threat this time around, I have no idea, but as AoK says, we'd be talking about a minuscule fraction of the discourse.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:17 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was one of the people who was very uncomfortable with the kinds of concessions she was making and deference she was showing to Mike,

Ah yes, the person who actually did some good and changed someone's thinking and you're uncomfortable with her. Which kinda says it all.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:26 AM on June 24, 2013


Cit. still req, but I guess the chances of that are pretty low at this point.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:27 AM on June 24, 2013


Prell's follow-up is great, actually.

"What works for me may not work for you, and that's fine. People have talked to me about how I should be angry with Mike. I'm not, and not just because I believe, like he does, that yup, I'm biologically male. I'm not angry with Mike because I don't believe in being angry with someone for believing differently from me. I have several amazing, hardcore Christian friends, and I know this may shock some of you, so take a seat, but I'm not Christian. My Christian friends likewise have some very close Hindu friends. They in turn have Buddhist friends. Religious beliefs are some of the most tightly-held, personal beliefs and life choices someone can have, and yet this web of people is connected together just fine, no spiders in sight.

In short: we can disagree and still be cool with each other."

A tremendous level of thoughtfulness, maturity, and pragmatism. But I suppose someone who actually has to deal with life as a trans person will be more sensitive to what makes life better than people who just like to white-knight and vent, who can be blissfully indifferent to the real effects of their attitudes and actions.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:29 AM on June 24, 2013


The fuck? You've been talking to trans people. I don't happen to be one of them, but if you'd read the thread, you'd realize people are pouring out their real, lived experiences here.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 10:33 AM on June 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


jumps up and down and waves arms
posted by Corinth at 10:35 AM on June 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


Ah yes, the person who actually did some good and changed someone's thinking

There is literally no way that you can know this. You are taking the interpretation that you want to believe the most and presenting it as if it were self-evident.

I think it's also worth pointing out that after Mike said something snarky and dismissive about trans* issues a few weeks earlier, most of the people responding appear to have taken a pretty mild approach. And yet, here we are today. If that approach wasn't what changed his mind before, what basis do we have for assuming that it was this time around?
posted by en forme de poire at 10:36 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some are. Some aren't. Prell definitely is.

I was thinking in particular of ArmyofKittens comment, which reflects a great enthusiasm for emotional venting and total unwillingness to engage with questions of consequences.

There is literally no way that you can know this. You are taking the interpretation that you want to believe the most and presenting it as if it were self-evident.

Well, the convo with her is the first indication we have of his mind changing. Maybe something else did beforehand? Maybe. But I guarantee you it wasn't the people yelling at him. We already know how that makes him (and most people) react.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:39 AM on June 24, 2013


So, you're all cool with trans* people talking about their personal lives and lived experiences as long as they do so in ways that are okay with you, but if they don't - like apparently AoK didn't, then that doesn't count as talking about personal stuff and sharing and things.

Sometimes, that personal sharing is going to be angry and not at all conciliatory. That doesn't make it not count.
posted by rtha at 10:42 AM on June 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens is trans.

I have already talked upthread about how someone snapping angrily at me - seeing how angry and hurt I had made them - was the catalyst that made me re-evaluate what I was thinking and eventually change my mind. I think I am hardly unique here. Emotionally-charged reactions have a social purpose.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:44 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it really so difficult to hear that I think I could have given a lesson I'd be more satisfied with? I don't use Twitter (and he seems to ignore earnest, calm people on Twitter anyway) and I don't know him personally. I don't think that there was any avenue available to me to have a sincere, quiet conversation with him. I can (and very much do) appreciate what Sophie Prell did while also wishing she were more mindful of the surrounding context. Hopefully Mike will continue to talk to other trans people as well to broaden his perspective.
posted by Corinth at 10:47 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "I was thinking in particular of ArmyofKittens comment, which reflects a great enthusiasm for emotional venting and total unwillingness to engage with questions of consequences."

Oh my god I can't stop laughing.

Corinth: "jumps up and down and waves arms"

I agree, a party would be way more fun and way more productive!

[muffled dance music in the background]
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:58 AM on June 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


doonts doonts doonts doonts
posted by jiawen at 11:00 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bear in mind that TFB is addressing a collective "you", here - to the point of attempting to gotcha people with statements made by somebody else completely. This just looks from that perspective like one big venting, white-knighting, indivisible mass with no valid experience or knowledge.

Between that and the misgendering of Julie Pagano, it's fairly easy to deduce under what terms he is prepared to extend acceptance of somebody's trans status as valid.

I think that breaks the guidelines - I certainly hope it does.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:00 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


doonts doonts doonts doonts

TRANS PARTY
posted by en forme de poire at 11:02 AM on June 24, 2013


But maybe [death threats] helped the people who made them get a little bit of the power back in their own lives, for a minute.

It's possible to believe that someone is not a Bad Person for lashing out in anger, while also believing that what they did is a net harm to their own interests.

That doesn't mean we should engage in lecturing and finger-wagging to hurting, powerless people. But one of the biggest challenges in social media is that it simultaneously functions as a "safe place to connect with like-minded supportive compatriots" and "a place to engage with those who disagree and advocate for change."

It's really damn hard to combine both of those, and I've watched friends go through a lot of pain trying to juggle both simultaneously.
posted by verb at 11:06 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


than people who just like to white-knight and vent

What an awful, stupid, mean-spirited thing to write here. Just terrible behavior throughout this thread, but that really....wow. Anyone who continues with this person on this subject is being, well, good luck to you, anyway.
posted by mediareport at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


Slinging the term "SJW" into the thread was pretty classy, too.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:16 AM on June 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


running order squabble fest, I'm pretty confident that "holding a view that is unpalatable to the userbase at large" does not appear in the guidelines, and neither does "being difficult to convince otherwise". I hope they never do.
posted by ChrisR at 11:26 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thank you, verb---that's a much better way of saying it.

ChrisR, I think your hopes do not line up with rosf's, but it's a good sentiment.

Army, interesting to hear that you identify as trans*. As it was unmentioned elsewhere, I had no particular reason to conclude you did. That doesn't change my belief that your defense of unhelpful tactics is unhelpful, but it at least makes it less gratuitous.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:29 AM on June 24, 2013


this is the last time I make a paint-by-numbers, what's the point if people don't even READ
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:33 AM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard, I should be clear; I actually don't agree with you on this front, and probably fall closer to ArmyOfKittens/corinth et al on the trans* question, even though I personally get very irritated at the SJW approach to the problems (mainly, I think they do their cause harm, even if they're justifiably angry).

Of course, notably, I'm cis, male, white, and firmly in the middle class; I am, as has been elegantly put, playing life on the lowest difficulty setting. It makes it a lot easier to advocate for a calm approach than it might be if I were in an affected group.
posted by ChrisR at 11:34 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It makes it a lot easier to advocate for a calm approach than it might be if I were in an affected group.

Indeed. It's a bit like saying, "When you're drowning, struggling makes it worse. Stay calm!" While true, it is a much easier observation to make if one is not in the middle of drowning.
posted by verb at 11:39 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Army, interesting to hear that you identify as trans*. As it was unmentioned elsewhere, I had no particular reason to conclude you did.

It was mentioned two days ago, but whatever.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:52 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, close reading isn't a strong suit with this one.
posted by mediareport at 11:53 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


zombieflanders: "It was mentioned two days ago, but whatever."

It's also, like, sentence #2 on my profile page.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:57 AM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


What is SJW? That is a dogwhistle I am apparently too undoglike, even on the internet, to hear.
posted by rtha at 12:02 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


And also, from ArmyOfKittens's comment above: Trans people have been struggling for decades to get our voices heard, within greater society and within the LGBT movement. We have been attacked by feminists, right-wingers and left-wingers alike. If we make ourselves known we are at huge risk of violence and death. (emphasis mine)

TFB, I can see why these sentences might not have sunken in - it's a long thread. However, I think that this drives home the point that you are determined to make these events fit into your preconceived narrative about gamers vs. "white-knighting" Twitter activists. Otherwise, why assume AoK wasn't trans? Why assume that an actual trans person would of course respond in a mild, conciliatory way? Why assume that the people who responded negatively to Mike had no real investment in either trans issues or the gaming community? Why assume that the only thing that contributed to Mike changing his mind a little was the least angry response (even after similarly patient responses failed before)? Etc.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:03 PM on June 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


SJW = "social justice warrior"
posted by en forme de poire at 12:04 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


running order squabble fest, I'm pretty confident that "holding a view that is unpalatable to the userbase at large" does not appear in the guidelines, and neither does "being difficult to convince otherwise". I hope they never do.

Personal attacks break the guidelines. This is a personal attack: "But I suppose someone who actually has to deal with life as a trans person will be more sensitive to what makes life better than people who just like to white-knight and vent, who can be blissfully indifferent to the real effects of their attitudes and actions."

I'll spell this out.
1) calling someone a white knight dismisses their behavior as desperate, pathetic, and oblivious
2) claiming that the trans people in the thread were just venting and don't have to deal with life as a trans person - I have no words.*
3) "blissfully indifferent' is "brainlessly ignorant" in fancy dress
4) here's an extra number for white knight because it's such a toxic catch-all dismissive insult, one step behind "troll" in the all-time list of meaningless name-calling chaff that destroys conversations.

*For those who skim too fast to understand "And yet I hover around the periphery of the wider gamer community because I refuse to hide who I am, and the gamer community despises who I am -- despises being made aware of it even passively," they could always just ctrl+f "i'm trans" to realize that trans people are participating in the discussion.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:11 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Army, interesting to hear that you identify as trans*. As it was unmentioned elsewhere, I had no particular reason to conclude you did.

One reason you probably should have concluded that is that she mentioned it in this thread and you should probably read threads you have determined to use to lecture people about why they have to be nice to people attacking them.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:11 PM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ugh, I just realized what a heavy-handed mini-modding post I just made. Let me clarify that I don't really know what the guidelines mean yet, but the content of TFB's post was worse and of a different kind than "unpalatable views."
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:26 PM on June 24, 2013


Personal attacks break the guidelines.

If it's down to the "why wasn't this deleted" question, I'll say that shit that's obnoxious or tedious doesn't always end up being deleted as the specific action taken, but failure to delete something is not an endorsement per se.

More generally, I think maybe we'd be better off getting back to the thread being more about discussion of what went down with PA, Gabe et al and gamer culture and people's experiences and so forth and less about what ThatFuzzyBastard thinks about other people in here or what other people think about them. Maybe just rerail this stuff and if there's some of that stuff that someone really wants to talk about consider rerouting to Metatalk where it'd be a lot more appropriate.
posted by cortex at 12:33 PM on June 24, 2013


Next up, ArmyofKittens will be required to prove that she is not simply a loosely affiliated militia of fully-grown adult cats.
posted by elizardbits at 1:00 PM on June 24, 2013 [25 favorites]


As her partner I have noticed a certain sloppiness of discipline and more than one suspiciously full-throated meow.

This may be my privilege talking.
posted by emmtee at 1:11 PM on June 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


Next up, ArmyofKittens will be required to prove that she is not simply a loosely affiliated militia of fully-grown adult cats.

I didn't pick up on the username joke at first and thought this was just a thing already in popular consciousness, like lizard people or three kids in a trenchcoat posing as an adult to get into a movie. I guess I was envisioning that character from BPRD who's a suit full of ectoplasm, except with cats instead of ghost gas? Like, we're going to poke a hole in your suit, and if Scottish Folds start popping out of it, you're busted.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 1:13 PM on June 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


No need to check your privilege, just assure yourself that ArmyofKittens is caught up in identity performance culture, overplayed her hand as to the organization and maturity of her martial herd, and deserves this unmasking as punishment.
posted by Corinth at 1:14 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like, we're going to poke a hole in your suit, and if Scottish Folds start popping out of it, you're busted.

Especially Scottish Folds with Ray-Bans and medallions.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:19 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


*I sit in my heavy overcoat and smile, slyly. I push my glasses up onto the bridge of my nose and the lenses flash, anime style*

*quiet meows escape my coat*

*but you did not notice*
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:38 PM on June 24, 2013 [20 favorites]


I am reminded of a scene in Bram Stoker's Dracula, only much, much cuter.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:46 PM on June 24, 2013


Indeed. It's a bit like saying, "When you're drowning, struggling makes it worse. Stay calm!" While true, it is a much easier observation to make if one is not in the middle of drowning.

Very true. But also true that struggling *will* make it worse, and staying calm *will* lower your risk of drowning. I would not finger-wag at someone who struggled while drowning. But I will condemn someone who says "drowning people have a right to struggle, and should struggle, and anyone who says otherwise hates drowning people."
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:50 PM on June 24, 2013


Um it's more like if somebody is forcibly drowned multiple times a day every single day? And then when they start getting frustrated at Jesus Christ Who Keeps Trying To Drown Me?, somebody starts lecturing them about why you should keep calm while drowning because one time they drank a glass of water too quickly and choked, but actually struggling while drowning is very unlike being transgendered and having people tell you that you're not actually the gender that you are.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:56 PM on June 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


but actually struggling while drowning is very unlike being transgendered and having people tell you that you're not actually the gender that you are.

Analogies are rarely perfect. I was talking about the general "how people react when they are triggered" stuff, but it's neither here nor there.

I jumped into the conversation pretty early, but regret it. I feel like there's still a pretty strong disconnect around language and terminology that is separate from any issues of intent or attitude, and "talking it out" seems more likely to lead to shouting than understanding. Lots to think about, though.
posted by verb at 2:05 PM on June 24, 2013


I would like to draw peoples' attention to this comment over in meTa. Yes, even with the shouting and the long meTas and the anger that people express, yes, it makes a difference and creates understanding.
posted by rtha at 2:11 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


(To be clear, I don't mean that in a shitty, passive-agressive, "Oh, people aren't agreeing with me so I'm going to claim it's an intractable problem" sort of way.

I want to respect peoples' identities, acknowledge the issues that they face, and generally treat people the way I would want to be treated. Part of that also means going beyond a simple "Okay, whatever, I'll use whatever word you want me to use" response to issues of language and meaning. That feels like a brush-off -- the same kind of, "OK, I'll call you Batman" patronizing that Mike took flack for.)
posted by verb at 2:12 PM on June 24, 2013


Very true. But also true that struggling *will* make it worse, and staying calm *will* lower your risk of drowning. I would not finger-wag at someone who struggled while drowning. But I will condemn someone who says "drowning people have a right to struggle, and should struggle, and anyone who says otherwise hates drowning people."

Funny thing. We're not actually talking about drowning.
posted by hoyland at 2:19 PM on June 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's incredibly disingenuous for some individuals (like Fists O'Fury above) to paint trans acceptance as part of some sort of inscrutable and ever-shifting etiquette regimen. In fact it represents just one present battle in a centuries-long struggle to maximally expand the jurisdiction of humanist values. This parade of progress has not been remotely inexorable but rather has been hard-won through the blood (so much blood), sweat, and tears of activists, mostly on the left, but also of "regular people" radicalized by their lived experience. This social agenda-- yes, I'm perfectly comfortable calling it a social agenda, the most awesome fucking social agenda ever-- has helped free people from chattel slavery, allowed women assume the mantle of persondom, and most recently allowed the concept of marriage to escape a long-time exclusionary definition. Among a tiny few of its victories. There's so so much more left to do, and to re-do, since there's always slippage to go back and fix, but this is a lineage and a progression. It's vicious and insulting to cast it as a handful of unpredictable and faddish social mores.
posted by threeants at 2:20 PM on June 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


Funny thing. We're not actually talking about drowning.

No, you're right. We were talking about people making death threats against other people because they were triggered. Which is different than "physical movements triggered by the autonomic nervous system." We had one person who was saying that making death threats was okay, and even laudable in certain circumstances; and another saying that it was always unforgivable.

It is imperfect in that it implies that people who make death threats are physically incapable of not making death threats, which is patently untrue. I didn't mean to remove agency from those who have triggers. In the same way that Mike can choose whether or not to goad people on Twitter, those he has goaded can choose whether or not to send him death threats. Power disparities complicate the repercussions, but the choices themselves are ones made by real, autonomous people who make real, meaningful choices.
posted by verb at 2:33 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


We were talking about people making death threats against other people because they were triggered.

Which - did I miss it upthread? - never got linked to? It's possible they were emailed rather than tweeted, so there's no public face to them unless the recipient (or sender) posted one.

Not that sending death threats is ever okay, no matter how pissed you are.
posted by rtha at 2:59 PM on June 24, 2013


Which - did I miss it upthread? - never got linked to? It's possible they were emailed rather than tweeted, so there's no public face to them unless the recipient (or sender) posted one.

Not that sending death threats is ever okay, no matter how pissed you are.


Well, that last bit about them never being okay is where the little mini-derail came in. I just wanted to clarify that the drowning/triggering comparison was specifically about people (of any kind) making death threats and generally lashing out when they felt threatened, not a commentary on the broader experiences of trans people.
posted by verb at 3:12 PM on June 24, 2013


[Folks, quit making things personal.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:19 PM on June 24, 2013


I've been kind of chewing on something cribcage said earlier about it being a wise decision for Mike to steer away from topics that don't have to do with comics or games. I agree on some level, but actually I wonder how feasible this is in the long run. Dropping a tweet about abortion is pretty far outside the realm of photography (I guess there are some exceptions of course), but as the gaming community starts to become more accepting of women and gender/sexual minorities and as game makers broaden the spectrum of sexualities and gender identities that are represented, I'm not sure Mike will really be able to avoid ever talking about, say, LGBT issues.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:06 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Being all absolute and unforgiving about social norms can be worse than breaking them.

It's especially telling when some people use someone else's breach as an excuse to be a permanent asshole in response. How quickly they become impolite themselves, whispering "to back down is death" as they draw their Hanzo steel; how lonely for them the assassin's contrarian's status-quo-mansplaining-traditionalist-enforcer's road.

So I'm impressed by the PA guy's turn. Yay! After the Dickwolf thing I was not expecting such awesomeness. I hope it's the start of a change of heart.
posted by fleacircus at 4:07 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Reiterating cortex's suggestion above. Stop making this a referendum on any specific user. Take this to MeMail or MeTa starting now.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:25 PM on June 24, 2013


I am completely confused by the drowning metaphor. I will say, however, as someone who has personally received both death threats and relatively credible rape threats for being a Lady on the Internet with Opinions, that even the most awful people can come up with Reasons why whatever has been said is so beyond the pale and maddening that it just makes them resort to threats.

If we don't want to give credence to those people, then I think it's okay to draw a bright line saying death threats are never, ever, okay. Even if the person had no intention of carrying it out, or was totally provoked, or whatever.
posted by corb at 8:43 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


That said, it's worth remembering that we haven't actually seen any death threats (except one against a horse, which is in "var of piss" territory).

It's my suspicion that, when compared with the reasons angry men can find convincing to make death threats against women on the Internet, trans people and allies have a considerably higher internal bar. The confident assertions about death threats in this thread have come from a source that has been reliably wrong about basically everything else. So, while death threats are terrible, the number and nature in this case remain undefined.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:27 AM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Odd question:

Why are people writing trans* instead of trans. When I see trans* I think they are putting in a footnote to their comment and it was rather confusing the first 50 times it happened.

Also seeing as people appear to be really getting into the chemistry terminology (cis or trans) how about we expand into the wider range to cover more nuanced aspects. We can use ipso, ortho, meta and para. So Ipso would correlate to your birth (essentially cis) and could vary all the way to para (complete trans post op). Ortho and meta would be different places along the scale as well so someone who is ortho could be living trans but not taking HRT or something and meta would be someone living trans with hrt or something.

Note I am the stereotypical privileged ipso #FFFFFF straight male and I don't mean any disrespect, but seeing as people seem to not like cis this could possibly be an alternative.

(Please don't yell at me)
posted by koolkat at 9:52 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


One source with a little more background on the asterisk:
Trans* is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum. There’s a ton of diversity there, but we often group them all together (e.g., when we say “trans* issues). Trans (without the asterisk) is best applied to trans men and trans women, while the asterisk makes special note in an effort to include all non-cisgender gender identities, including transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderfuck, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.
posted by juliplease at 9:57 AM on June 26, 2013


Note I am the stereotypical privileged ipso #FFFFFF straight male and I don't mean any disrespect, but seeing as people seem to not like cis this could possibly be an alternative.

They're not actually objecting to cis specifically, they're objecting to be called anything.

Also seeing as people appear to be really getting into the chemistry terminology (cis or trans) how about we expand into the wider range to cover more nuanced aspects. We can use ipso, ortho, meta and para. So Ipso would correlate to your birth (essentially cis) and could vary all the way to para (complete trans post op). Ortho and meta would be different places along the scale as well so someone who is ortho could be living trans but not taking HRT or something and meta would be someone living trans with hrt or something.

This is actually super problematic, though I realise well-intentioned. The last thing we need is an easier way for cis people to police trans bodies and say 'Oh, well you aren't X, so I don't have to call you the right name/use the right pronouns/let you use the toilet.' Whether or not someone is trans or their gender is independent of the particular state of their body or what medical intervention they may or may not have had or want. Usually, the particular state of someone's body is none of your business. Cis people's bodies can vary from what is typical for their gender in all sorts of ways and we don't entertain the idea that we need special words for them (outside a medical context, anyway).
posted by hoyland at 10:22 AM on June 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


May be worth noting that the asterisk thing isn't unique to this topic; that asterisk can be niftily used in wider application to lump together multiple, competing ways to complete a word. For example, veg*n is sometimes used as an umbrella term for both veg[etaria]ns and veg[a]ns. (I'm kind of amused that I'm not at the moment able to think of an example that isn't related to a topic potentially fighty for social conservatives.)
posted by threeants at 12:15 PM on June 26, 2013


I've mentioned elsewhere what the asterisk means to me, but here's a recap from my perspective: I first saw "trans*" being used in the late 90s or early 00s to mean "transsexual/transgender/genderqueer/crossdresser/etc." This was during the period when "transgender" was tipping towards meaning a specific, reified thing (as opposed to the umbrella use it also has), so there wasn't a very good umbrella term available. Then, eventually, people started dropping the asterisk: "trans". I use it in that way. So for me, "trans" is a inclusive, umbrella term that's short for "trans*", which is in turn short for "transsexual/transgender/genderqueer/crossdresser/all these glorious genders and non-genders/etc."

However! A lot of people use "trans" as a very specific thing -- nearly a synonym for "transsexual", though that's got some baggage that "trans" doesn't. So complementary to that usage, "trans*", with the asterisk, is then carefully denoting an umbrella usage rather than a narrowly focused one.
posted by jiawen at 12:19 PM on June 26, 2013




SJW = "social justice warrior"
I wondered WTF that was supposed to stand for.
posted by delmoi at 7:45 AM on June 27, 2013


Jesus the comments on the Wired article, why did I scroll down
posted by en forme de poire at 6:17 PM on June 27, 2013




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