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Something About Miriam
October 31, 2003 2:16 AM   Subscribe


 
i laughed out loud at this.

but then i remembered being told a similar story - a kissogram hired for a party that had given the birthday boy a blow job - soon after starting my first job. i was 18, and those 18 years had been spent in a (deathly) quiet market town in northern england. if you'd asked for my opinion on gays i would have shrugged my shoulders and, i guess, said that i didn't really care. yet my response to that story, then, was a smouldering, violent rage. i imagined the same thing happening to me and how, when i found out, smashing my fist into the kissogram's face. i can no longer recall that emotion, but i can still remember being surprised by its strength - i had never felt so profoundly agressive. i can remember, over the following months, recalling the moment and savouring the anger.

i dunno. i guess i was a late developer, repressed, whatever. it makes little sense now - i don't think i would have much sympathy with the men in that program if i hadn't had that experience. i don't have much sympathy anyway - i don't particularly like the person i was - but i can understand them.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:39 AM on October 31, 2003


... but suing? They don't stand a ghost of a chance.
posted by mischief at 4:48 AM on October 31, 2003


The lads' solicitors will argue that a contract they signed giving permission for broadcast is void as they had no legal advice, were given just an hour to read it and were led to believe from the start that Miriam was female.

We never expected that being humiliated was part of reality TV and anyway we signed something that we didn't read. (read: we'd rather be called retards than have our militant heterosexuality questioned)

The men had to pick the woman they found most attractive from a line-up and all selected Miriam.

Hahahahaha! This is really too much. The base for rejection thus is ... what? The presence of male sexual organs? What if she had undergone the operation? Then what?

/Objectivizing her is fine, but don't dare do it to us!
posted by magullo at 4:49 AM on October 31, 2003


Make that "/Objectifying"
posted by magullo at 4:53 AM on October 31, 2003


I guess I'd get pissed off as well if I was put in that situation, but then again I wouldn't get into it. I don't think I'd feel actual rage, but I'd feel sheepish and wonder how the fuck I'm going to live it down. I don't have any sympathy for them however and their case is groundless. They have no case for a case of conspiracy to commit sexual assault. They weren't drugged, they weren't tied up and they weren't bent over by a gang of thugs so that Miriam could roger them. If this is conspiracy to commit sexual assault then every guy who's ever talked up their buddy to get them in the sack with somebody in a bar is in trouble.
posted by substrate at 4:54 AM on October 31, 2003


If those guys weren't being so twittishly brainless about it, they could parlay this into fat wads of cash.

But what was it about Mirriam, anyway?
posted by troutfishing at 4:54 AM on October 31, 2003


But what was it about Mirriam, anyway?

Boobs, as in the old joke "How do you make 5 pounds of fat attractive? Put a nipple on it."

And hey, you've got to be a boob to go on a show like this anyway. Fuck 'em all. I'm just surprised Fox didn't think of this gag first
posted by ElvisJesus at 5:23 AM on October 31, 2003


Fox/Sky....it's the same thing...

I thought this was hilarious. The trashiest TV programme imaginable, and 6 guys who probably deserve a bit of humiliation. Tvgohome is officially obsolete.

BTW - There's no excuse for still getting popups on a website. There are lots of ways round it.
posted by salmacis at 5:41 AM on October 31, 2003


In last year's Big Brother in Holland, there was a contestant who used to be a guy. The media soon found out, of course. Some guy snogged her (and more ? I did follow it, actually). Man, he was pissed when he found out after he was kicked out of the house...
posted by swordfishtrombones at 5:45 AM on October 31, 2003


I did follow it Oops, I meant: I didn't follow it. Who watches these programs anyway ? Not me, of course not. Did I convince you already?
posted by swordfishtrombones at 6:01 AM on October 31, 2003


if you'd asked for my opinion on gays i would have shrugged my shoulders and, i guess, said that i didn't really care.

But transsexual isn't the same thing as gay. I think we've been through this before on MeFi.

Sexual preference and gender identity are two different things. Just because you experience them as the same doesn't make it so for everyone.

These 6 guys found Miriam to be an attractive woman. That's how she 's perceived in everyday life. That's what you'd see her as if she walked by you on the street. You'd probably turn your head (look at her picture!).

The insistance on calling her "he" in the article and portraying her as a gay man is both inaccurate and insulting. It's transphobia, not homophobia. Transpeople are a whole lot easier to hate if you can convince yourself they remain their genetic sex. It's like repeating "she's really a guy, she's really a guy ... " the more you say it, the more you try to convince yourself it's true. The more extremely homophobic their reaction, the more they try to convince themselves she's male. The more strongly she's perceived as female, the stronger the insistance that she isn't really. It's doublethink.
posted by adzuki at 6:02 AM on October 31, 2003


Just goes to show all possible worlds of porn (Baitbus anybody?) eventually come to the mainstream.

Why do people on reality TV expect any sort of fairness or integrity to the proceedings? I'd expect hurtful public humiliation as par for the course.

I love the confusion of gender and identity and sexuality as we try to sift it all into safe binary buckets.
posted by ao4047 at 6:20 AM on October 31, 2003


"The six contestants are a great bunch of lads, they're all like your average bloke next door, and were just up for a bit of fun. They are terrified of what mates will think."

Terrified that their mates will think that they're secretly gay, even if they were snogging someone they knew (at the time) to be female? Come on. That's a bit of a reach, guv'nor, i'n'it?

It's been expressed pretty well up above. If you appear on a "reality" TV show (whose premises are invariably far from realistic), you get what you deserve, whether you are homophobic, transphobic or hermaphrophobic.
posted by psmealey at 6:38 AM on October 31, 2003


Bolting a pair of tits on to a Chevy doesn't make it stop being a car.

Dressing a certain way and calling yourself a woman doesn't make it so.

Griping over someone else's idea of their gender doesn't make you a man.

Whoo-ee, this gender thing is complicated, innit?
posted by majick at 6:48 AM on October 31, 2003


But transsexual isn't the same thing as gay. I think we've been through this before on MeFi.

sorry, didn't mean to offend (and will be more cacreful in future). replace gay with "sexual politics" for the meaning i intended to convey. however, i can't say that i find the doublethink argument very convincing - pretty much anyone is easy to hate as long as they're labelled as different.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:51 AM on October 31, 2003


You know...it's a "reality" show...there's always some screwy twist at the end of those silly things...how could they not see something like this coming?

I can't speak to British legal systems...but I know this case would lose in the U.S. I seem to remember a discussion here about another one of these type shows, where the whole premise of the show was to make fun of one guy...everyone else were actors. I think he sued and lost...and that's a much bigger humiliation than touching a Trannie.
posted by dejah420 at 7:02 AM on October 31, 2003


There are two bases for these guys to have gripes. One is the obvious: they've been suckered by a pre-op transsexual, and they resent feeling foolish and having their own sexual identity called into question. Under ordinary circumstances (I don't know how ordinarily this happens, but bear with me), the reasonable thing for most guys to do would be to laugh at themselves and say "Hey, look, sorry, not what I expected, not into that, no hard feelings."

The other basis for a gripe is that a media conglomerate set them up for the twittering tittilation of the masses. If this scenario didn't pique prurient interests, Sky wouldn't be doing it. It's one thing to make a fool of yourself. It's another to be made a fool in front of 30 million of your neighbors, and even if all six of those guys might have handled the situation with better humor had it happened in private, I wouldn't be surprised at them being enraged that it is happening in public precisely because of the public exposure and reaction.

It's for the second reason that I have some sympathy for these guys--note that the story says one of them punched out the show's producer; nowhere does it say anyone punched out Miriam.
posted by adamrice at 7:04 AM on October 31, 2003


Reality(?) TV
posted by ElvisJesus at 7:16 AM on October 31, 2003


Let me be the first to say what (probably) many of you don't want to say out loud: he (Miriam) is one hot woman!

Gender politics be damned.


Of course the final payoff of that particular fantasy is a bit of a shriveler... shrugs
posted by sic at 7:31 AM on October 31, 2003


because of the public exposure and reaction.

That would leave a gaping hole in the prime time schedule and waste hundreds of thousands of pounds in production costs. Six one-hour shows were planned for Saturday nights in November.

Maybe the big embarrassment is lost of compensation, the network will or would have profit big from this show, Saturday nights. The winner: a week stay on a yacht, $14K(est.) + more snogging: a lower blow.
posted by thomcatspike at 7:46 AM on October 31, 2003


Why do people on reality TV expect any sort of fairness or integrity to the proceedings? I'd expect hurtful public humiliation as par for the course.

Indeed.
posted by rushmc at 7:46 AM on October 31, 2003


So when will s/he be on the follow-up program, Extreme Extreme Make-over?
posted by rushmc at 7:47 AM on October 31, 2003


sorry, didn't mean to offend (and will be more cacreful in future). replace gay with "sexual politics" for the meaning i intended to convey. however, i can't say that i find the doublethink argument very convincing - pretty much anyone is easy to hate as long as they're labelled as different.

Nope, not offended. I didn't mean that you should know better because MeFi had this before. I just meant that there was a pretty good gender post a couple months back.

Let me try the doublethink argument from a different angle. It breaks the world view of a lot of people, and it threatens a lot of guys' sense of their own masculinity to think that another genetic male can be otherwise female. It's personal. Otherwise, what else explains the passionate denial of Miriam's femininity?

It's when people are different yet similiar that the hate comes out so strongly. It is as if to say, "I'm not like that"
posted by adzuki at 7:53 AM on October 31, 2003


Dressing a certain way and calling yourself a woman doesn't make it so.


And dressing a certain way and having people call you a man doesn't make it so either. If you want to investigate what it means to be male or female, and how do we categorize people into the genders, by all means I think that's the heart of the matter.

Before you say it's simply genetalia or genetics, note 1 thing: there are a good number of people for which this method fails.

Anyway, despite you clear insinutation that gender variant people are just playing pretend, I actually agree with you. You can't just decide to change who you are. However, recent sex researchers are finding that transgendered people aren't completely male to being with.
posted by adzuki at 8:16 AM on October 31, 2003


HAHAHAHAHHAA I LOVE IT. I can't wait to see this show.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:29 AM on October 31, 2003


I hope they sue and win big bucks. Fuck reality TV, fuck the fools that watch it, fuck the networks for making it.
posted by bargle at 8:45 AM on October 31, 2003


So when will s/he be on the follow-up program, Extreme Extreme Make-over?

IIRC we have already had that in the UK, if you mean footage of someone having male to female transsexual operation. ( I dread to think I might have imagined it)
posted by biffa at 8:55 AM on October 31, 2003


...30 million of your neighbors...

It'll be a slightly parky day in the underworld before half the population of the UK tune into a Sky One (top-rated show is The Simpsons at around 1.5M on a Sun eve IIRC) reality show!
posted by i_cola at 9:46 AM on October 31, 2003


All I can say is: HAR-DEE-FREAKIN'-HAR-HAR-HAR!!!

Wait, no, I can say something else: This scenario makes me laugh so heartily because it so perfectly skewers the homo/hetero fantasy (or the "safe binary buckets" for gender and sexuality), showing that what we're "naturally" attracted to is so malleable and adaptable that cultural cues can send us in the complete opposite direction of the one we think we're going in. It's close to a realization of that thought-experiment, if a "hetero" man enjoys a BJ from a man who's dressed as a woman, then is he "really" gay? Or, more pointedly, can he ever claim he's 100% straight?

The secondary joke is that these "straight" men's horror at being shown to be normal human beings instead of the 2-D cardboard cutouts most of us pretend to will only increase publicity for this show, drawing many more eyeballs to these losers' humiliation. Maybe it'll even beat The Simpsons!

Reality TV shows are absolute trash, of course, but the bait-and-switch this one so vividly illustrates may redeem the whole genre.
posted by soyjoy at 9:49 AM on October 31, 2003


Women wearing men's clothing were once (and not that long ago) viewed as negatively (or nearly so) as men wearing women's clothes are today. In other societies past and present, men have worn dresses (robes) and skirts (kilts) as the norm. It's all arbitrary, and what you're accustomed to. I think it is important to reflect upon the influence our culture has upon us. Although I feel no pull to don women's wear Eddy Izzard-style, I do maintain my freedom to choose to wear whatever I like. (Is this an off-topic musing? Perhaps...I plead reflective drift.)
posted by rushmc at 9:55 AM on October 31, 2003


What soyjoy said. Yet more evidence that we're attracted to individual people, not gender, and that our need to categorise people in tidy, binary ways just doesn't fit with reality. I wonder if it would have made any difference if she'd been a post-op transsexual...probably not, people who get freaked out by things like this and don't see it as a learning experience probably aren't interested in adjusting their world views, regardless of what their real-life experiences show them.
posted by biscotti at 9:58 AM on October 31, 2003


it's been said already, but i have to say it again: miriam is stunning. i would be quite happy to be seen around town with miriam, even if people knew that miriam had male genitalia.

it's a shame that hatred and fear can make it impossible for some people to simply enjoy beauty.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:22 AM on October 31, 2003


it's been said already, but i have to say it again: miriam is stunning.

I'll buy a heapin' helpin' of that - with the caveat that what makes 'her' stunning is mostly our internalization of cues for stunningness, for so-called "beauty." But yeah, 'she' is very accomplished in manifesting them, and probably (apparently) so in terms of walking, talking and relating too. You go girl! (note lack of comma)

Reminds me of that M. Butterfly quote about why men make such good female impersonators - because only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act.
posted by soyjoy at 10:34 AM on October 31, 2003


This is all reminding me of that Britney lookalike
posted by adamrice at 11:27 AM on October 31, 2003


I'll buy a heapin' helpin' of that - with the caveat that what makes 'her' stunning is mostly our internalization of cues for stunningness, for so-called "beauty."

This sounds like a rationalization (or else I've misunderstood you). You haven't seen these social cues. We've only seen 1 publicity photo. Why is Miriam's beauty "so-called"? Why the need to qualify her appearance?

Feminine traits are feminine traits, and beauty is beauty. If a girl is feminine, coy, and attractive, then that's her nature, right? But if Miriam is the same way, it's because she's faking it, because she "is male", and because she's a female impersonator. You're not even considering that it might be Miriam's nature too. It's all "gay man, female impersonator, end of story"

That's a double standard. If you want to say that the reason Miriam is attractive is different than the reasons women are attractive, then you have to measure them the same way; otherwise you already made up your mind. And FWIW, the 6 contestants found Miriam attractive as a woman, not as an impersonator.
posted by adzuki at 11:38 AM on October 31, 2003


You have misunderstood me. Maybe others have too: I would offer the same caveat in the case of a 100% certified-female Playboy centerfold. I was only objecting to the implication of "beauty" as something universal and absolute, which, yes, I realize is a side discussion.
posted by soyjoy at 12:02 PM on October 31, 2003


Soyjoy, I'm sorry to misunderstand you. I agree that the discussion of universal beauty is a totally different topic which I personally don't want to get into. I just am guarded against the idea of one kind a beauty for women and another for transsexuals. In the case of these blokes on the show, that would rationalize away their obvious, documented acceptance of a beautiful girl.

But if there are no standards for either, that's fine. :)
posted by adzuki at 12:16 PM on October 31, 2003


What if they simply had found out she was married? I'd be extremely angry about that. Is it the fact that she used to be a guy that they're upset about, or the deception? On the other hand, what rock were they living under where they didn't see that there was going to be a "trick" to this reality TV show? Note to all MeFites: If you end up being a contestant on a reality TV show, make NO assumptions. Makes for a more boring show, yes, but, frankly, the less exciting these shows are, the less people will watch them, and the less I'll have to watch the commercials for them while I'm trying to watch Futurama. Cheers, bargle!
posted by hoborg at 12:36 PM on October 31, 2003


Is it the fact that she used to be a guy that they're upset about, or the deception?

Would they sue the producers and attempt to block the show's airing if it were about the deception? Would they find it defaming if she was just married?

"I was tricked into being attracted to a married woman, and I didn't even know she was married!" ?? Of course it's about her past.

You have to be REALLY homophobic and transphobic to sue for your "right" not to be attracted to someone you have a phobia about.
posted by adzuki at 12:44 PM on October 31, 2003


I agree completely, adzuki, BUT... not to start a whole nother contrarian thread, but this "homophobic vs. transphobic" thing is a red herring. I assert that they're both the same phobia, because they have nothing to do with the homosexual or transgendered person: They are, at root, the phobia of realizing that your own sexuality isn't as neat, compartmentalized and "correct" as you've been told, your whole life, to keep it.
posted by soyjoy at 1:29 PM on October 31, 2003


Sorry to interrupt, but....snogging? What in fuck's name is snogging? And why don't the British learn to speak english?
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:53 PM on October 31, 2003


Bolting a pair of tits on to a Chevy doesn't make it stop being a car.

After twenty long years, I finally know what Scotty meant when he said, "Aye, and if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a wagon."
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:33 PM on October 31, 2003


the 6 contestants found Miriam attractive as a woman, not as an impersonator.

...

Are you shitting me? The six contestants found Miriam attractive enough to chose out of a line up, smooch, grope, and fight each other over. Clearly they spent considerable time with her, and appreciated her qualities inside and out. Miriam is transexual, and not a female impersonator.

The contestants found Miriam attractive. Period. They just don't have the balls to deal with it.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:16 PM on October 31, 2003


Hildegarde, I agree completely.

And in fact, I am arguing that their reaction to all this is to "make up" for the fact that they did find her attractive. They're so scornful of trans people that they don't want to admit that a transsexual woman could be so *real*.
posted by adzuki at 3:41 PM on October 31, 2003


BUT... not to start a whole nother contrarian thread, but this "homophobic vs. transphobic" thing is a red herring

In a way, you are right - it's the same masculinity that's threatened. It strikes at the same ideals some men have about who they are. They're both misunderstood in the same fashion.

Regardless, homosexuals and transsexuals are not the same thing, nor is one a kind of the other. So, I am going to avoid using transphobia and homophobia interchangibly.
posted by adzuki at 3:45 PM on October 31, 2003


What in fuck's name is snogging?

Making out. Smooching, petting, etc.
posted by biscotti at 4:44 PM on October 31, 2003


the phobia of realizing that your own sexuality isn't as neat, compartmentalized and "correct" as you've been told, your whole life, to keep it.

Well, since you chose my quote to toot your triumphant horn, soyjoy, I might as well counter your argument.

If Miriam didn't have breasts, would the men have been attracted to him? If Miriam had waved around a giant cock to the contestants, would they have seen past it because of a stunning personality? No. Why not? Because they weren't attracted to men or masculinity. Simple. Every possible indication that Miriam gave was one of feminity; the fact that they were attracted to this only reinforces the fact that they were completely straight. Yes, modern science can do a lot to obscure that line between male and female, but that changes nothing about their desire. So to your question: can he ever claim he's 100% straight?, I'd still answer with a resounding yes, these guys can still be secure in their straight-ness.

Now, if you wanted a real challenge, why not have a group of guys spending a couple of months together in the woods -- throw in a couple of very caring, very muscular gay men and see if there's any action among the contestants.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:14 PM on October 31, 2003


Every possible indication that Miriam gave was one of feminity; the fact that they were attracted to this only reinforces the fact that they were completely straight.

Damn, um, straight Civil_Disobedient. While I can see some of the points that are being made about gender and sexuality, what happened here is that the contestents were essentially mislead to behave in a situation they now just find out and out gross -- nothing they would have participated in had they known. I'd say it's a bit more like pissing in the pizza dough down at the local joint -- you could argue that there's no harm, urine really isn't that unhygenic (similar in composition to sweat, right?), and it gets baked anyway, and we should really all relax and get rid of our hangups, and I'm sure some people could go with that just fine. But man, a lot of us would gag if we knew while eating urine flavored dough, and we might well take action against someone who'd given it to us unknowingly.

Bait and switch ain't pretty in retail or ex-lax brownies. It's not pretty here, even if Miriam is.
posted by namespan at 10:59 PM on October 31, 2003


Futher, namespan, the argument is being made that if someone pisses in your pizza and you don't know it, then claim the pizza tastes fine, you must like urine. See! All you urinephobes out there are really just like us urinephiles.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:44 PM on October 31, 2003


A lot of perfumes are made from urine. Yet, people don't say that anyone who wears perfume (or cologne) likes to douse himself or bathe in urine.

A lot of people have the guts to say that urine-derived perfumes actually smell good too.
posted by adzuki at 7:24 AM on November 1, 2003


these guys can still be secure in their straight-ness

People who derive security from things like what gender they're attracted to must be pretty insecure. Why does it matter so much to someone's security to be able to label themselves like that? Especially after being shown that they can, in fact, be attracted to someone who has a Y chromosome?

I think the issue of whether the contestants were misled (they definitely were) is separate from the issue of what the reactions to their being misled are. Being shocked and horrified because your real-world experience doesn't fit with your mental image of who you are offers the opportunity for greater self-awareness, and that should be a font of far greater security than some artificial label.
posted by biscotti at 9:21 AM on November 1, 2003


It's good to know that for certain people, looks, personality, charm, intelligence, life experience, and the chemistry they feel with another person is all secondary to whether or not they have nads.

In the end, some men only like girls for their ovaries, I guess.

For the record, exactly what is Miriam doing that other women aren't? Do you guys have any idea how much time goes into make girls look like...girls? How many hours a week they shave, plug, primp, daub on make up, and wax? Any idea what the percentage of women with breast enhancement surgery in the US is? Isn't that 'impersonating' just as much?

Femininity is put on by women too, so don't use it as a natural corollary to women. If you mean "those guys were hoping to get their dicks inside a cunt," then just say it. No point dressing it up as anything else.
posted by Hildegarde at 11:22 AM on November 1, 2003


I agree completely, biscotti. And I happily accept the concept of a sexual spectrum (homo to hetero), however I am at odds with people who claim that this spectrum exists and yet has no upper and lower bounds. People should be open to the possibility that their instructed sexual preference is not perhaps in tune with their desires, and willing to accept these realities that will undoubtedly make them happier in life. But the intolerance of people like soyjoy to the possibility that some people are straight and will never change reaks of fundementalism; it reminds me of a kind of religious zealotry that thinks gay people can be converted back to the "proper" orientation.

Regardless, this was not a meaningful test of those inclinations. The problem is that they were never really given the chance to question their sexuality, since all their actions were done before they knew. Now, if the contestants had known beforehand that Miriam was a man, and then made the conscious decision to build a relationship with him, it would be a different story. All this show proved is that people can be duped by medical science. Well, no shit.

I also find it particularly condescending that someone can claim on the basis of a few surgical changes to be just as much a part of one sexuality as those who are born male or female. A castrated man with implants is still a man. He may have personality characteristics our society seems "feminine", but I'd like to hear about his first embarassing menstruation story. Or about how wonderful it is to carry a child to fruitiion. Or the time in kindergarden when his sexist teacher remonstrated him for liking sports or math.

And on preview, Hildegarde, there are actually surgical techniques that can give men vaginas, though I don't know how authentic they look or feel. I'm sure in a few years they'll be able to construct "inputs" that are indestinguishable from the real thing. However, if Miriam hasn't had this procedure (I didn't see any mention of it), I'd say that's a big problem for a guy looking to advance the relationship.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:28 AM on November 1, 2003


Regardless of what a perfect world would have in terms of gender and sexual preference tolerance, we don't live in that world. These men were interested in a hot chick and just because Miriam superficially appeared to be such doesn't make her one in the contestants' minds. And, further, I don't see how a bunch of profit-seeking television producers should be let off the hook for their abhorent behavior any more than we (the collective MeFites) would let off any other corporate types who take advantage of loopholes and such that make actions legal but not particularly moral.
posted by billsaysthis at 1:05 PM on November 1, 2003


Should they sue and win over the contents of their minds?
posted by Hildegarde at 1:47 PM on November 1, 2003


However, if Miriam hasn't had this procedure (I didn't see any mention of it), I'd say that's a big problem for a guy looking to advance the relationship.

So the problem isn't that Miriam was born male, but instead that they're no vagina-like orfice to put their dicks into?

Perhaps some literature on anal sex would be helpful? Lots of straight people like that, too.
posted by Hildegarde at 1:51 PM on November 1, 2003


But, C_D, what about people who were born female but don't have an embarrassing story of first menstruation? or haven't carried a baby to fruition or never will or never could have? or who were encouraged by teachers, male and female alike, for liking sports and math?

what about people who were born male but don't have an embarrassing story of first erection? or who haven't impregnated a woman or never will or never could have? and who weren't mocked for liking sewing and cooking by sexist kindergarten teachers?

what are your definitions of male, masculine, and man? female, feminine, and woman?
posted by lord_wolf at 2:26 PM on November 1, 2003


c_d's definitions are very limited, lord_wolf. This woman on the show was pre-op (a chick with a dick, to be crude); when she's post-op, she'll be just as much a woman (socially, legally, etc) as the women who grew up as women. Her experiences growing up were different, true, but that has nothing to do with her gender when she's finished the process. (There wouldn't be such a thing as gender-assignment surgery, or gender reassignment surgery if c_d's views were the right or only ones.) She actually has it easier than a lot of transsexuals--she looks just like a woman, unlike some.
posted by amberglow at 3:03 PM on November 1, 2003


what about people who were born female but don't have an embarrassing story of first menstruation? [etc.]

I figured someone would say something like this, and my response is that the statement misses the point. I used those rather obvious examples to illustrate that there are aspects of being a woman (or a man) that the other sex cannot fully understand. These came off the top of my head, but there are certainly hundreds of other examples that are not as easily described or pinpointed. What it boils down to is the same, however: it is supremely presumptuous to think that a man could honestly put themselves in the same shoes as a woman, or vica-versa; just as insulting as it would be for a white person to think they might ever really know what it's like to be black. You can intellectualize it and understand, you may even have similar experiences which are analogous, but there are some aspects that defy easy explanation and yet account for the largest gaps.

As for definitions -- male and female are defined biologically. There are exceptions (XXY's or XYY's), but are always listed as exceptions for a reason. Masculine and feminine, on the other hand, are primarily social constructs, psychological products of biological differences combined with historical practices and training. (It should be said that the following is just my opinion -- I'm not a scientist, nor do I play one on television). Social conditioning can always be changed (and is in a constant state of flux), but biology remains the same (at least for now). A person's attraction to another is a balance between these two forces. In some people, the social instruction outweighs the biological imperative, and thus can adapt to their environments and psychological needs. In others, the biological impulse is stronger, and is less flexible. Mind you, this biological imperative can go either way (heterosexual or homosexual), thus you can have men who are simply born being attracted to other men, regardless of their upbringing, who would choose to remain alone and unhappy rather than accept a heterosexual lifestyle. (And yes, I realize it's possible to be alone and perfectly happy, it's just an example).

(On preview): There wouldn't be such a thing as gender-assignment surgery, or gender reassignment surgery if c_d's views were the right or only ones.

First off, please remember that these are just opinions. They don't change my stance on policy, so it really shouldn't matter whether I am right or wrong; it would be as pointless as a theological discussion on God's existence (or lack thereof). That said, my "views" would allow for gender-assignment surgery (allow? like my views could prevent?) insomuch as a child born with an ambiguous biological sex would already be considered a genetic aberration anyway.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:36 PM on November 1, 2003


Well, for those of you laughing about this, fuck you.

Honestly I don't see how this would be much diffrent then rape, on an emotional level. Certanly as bad as being raped while unconsious.
posted by delmoi at 3:40 PM on November 1, 2003


Sorry to add to an already long post, but it just occured to me that amberglow might be referring to gender-assignment surgery in context of Miriam, not as it pertains to children born with both sexual organs. In the case of Miriam, he is biologically a man -- regardless of whatever holes and mounds are installed in him -- until that Y chromosome is removed. Where we seem to disagree is in the definition of "gender". If you mean to define "gender" as an entirely social construct, on the other hand, then sure, he'll be more gal than guy. Except for the menstruation and child-bearing, but he'll probably be treated like a woman which is the point I think you were making. I tend to equate gender with sex, which I realize differs from the usage of most anthropologists. Perhaps this led to the initial confusion.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:46 PM on November 1, 2003


there are aspects of being a woman (or a man) that the other sex cannot fully understand

I don't agree. This presupposes that everyone of the same gender has analogous experiences of being that gender, which is objectively not true. To use your example - some women have terrible menstrual cramps that keep them in bed for days, some women barely notice their periods, and some women don't menstruate at all. Some women's monthly hormonal shifts are extreme, others aren't at all noticeable - are the former more "female" because they have mood swings and the latter more "male" because they don't? Their experiences of being women are not comparable at all except in the sense that they all have two X chromosomes. Analogous biology does not equate to analogous subjective experience. A genetic male living as a woman for any length of time likely has as much in common with a "real" woman as any other woman.

delmoi: You can't be serious. Rape? The woman was attractive until they knew she had a penis - nobody coerced them into finding her attractive or snogging with her. Sure they lied about her gender, but that's hardly even remotely like rape of ANY kind.
posted by biscotti at 3:59 PM on November 1, 2003


Actually civil, i meant all the possible options and variations and needs for the various surgeries available nowadays--Miriam's, children's, etc. Miriam will be a woman, even if not biologically born one. On government documents, she'll mark "Female" where it says "Sex: Male or Female." What her chromosomes are is irrelevant to her legal and social status, and shouldn't even be an issue, and isn't, according to the courts and government. Miriam, for instance, will be able to marry a man without any problem after the process is complete, which wouldn't be possible if she were still a man (except in very few places). Gender isn't entirely a social construct, but it also isn't entirely biological. I think the most you can say is that Miriam was born a biological man, but it's not true by legal, or societal, or even religious standards to say she'll always be a man, and certainly not true by her own identification.
posted by amberglow at 4:12 PM on November 1, 2003


Honestly I don't see how this would be much diffrent then rape, on an emotional level. Certanly as bad as being raped while unconsious.

Um...WTF?!
posted by Hildegarde at 4:25 PM on November 1, 2003


I used those rather obvious examples to illustrate that there are aspects of being a woman (or a man) that the other sex cannot fully understand.

In my experience, a lot of TS people, men and women, find that they cannot understand certain aspects of their birth sex. They find themselves much more in tune with the aspects of the opposite sex. This is why a lot of them claim that they aren't really switching gender at all - they are just fixing a biological problem in order to match their identities.

I earlier included a link to recent research into the transsexual phenomenon. It indicates that male-to-female transsexuals have female brain structures, in the area of the brain that deals with sexual/social behavior. It's really remarkable, because it suggests thanssexual women are more like women than you would guess.

It comes down to what makes you who you are. Are you masculine because of hormones? Because of a penis? Or because it's just simply your nature, hardwired into your brain?
posted by adzuki at 5:10 PM on November 1, 2003


delmoi might be putting it too strongly. But:

Isn't setting someone up to unwittingly do something they find repugnant mean? Even if their beliefs are laughable? In what way is this more excusable than feeding the Jewish guy pork?

The only excuse I see is that the lads in question may have effectively consented to be humiliated.

It would be nice to separate out:
- whether the beliefs in question are laughable
- whether the deceptive conduct was excusable
- whether there was consent.

I find the question of whether Miriam fits any definition of "woman" uninteresting by comparison.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:18 PM on November 1, 2003


One more thing I want to point out:

As for definitions -- male and female are defined biologically. There are exceptions (XXY's or XYY's), but are always listed as exceptions for a reason.

There are women who are XY as well. There's something called "Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome". A genetic male is non-responsive to testosterone. The fetus develops as female. The girl is raised as female, and her sense of self is unambiguous.

The point is that genetics don't work by fiat. Genetics are codes of proteins; they are prescriptions for how the body is supposed to work. Soemtimes the code isn't executed correctly. Sometimes there are environmental conditions that produce abnormalities.

And if men and women are fundamentally different, at a biological and thus developmental level (I think we both believe this) ... then consider what might happen if code making these differences goes wrong.

Doing a little googling, I found crude estimates that transsexual people make up something like 1 in 10,000 people. To give you an idea, children born with ambiguous genetalia (like those "exceptions" you talked about) occur in about 1 in 5500. So I'll argue that transsexual people are biological exceptions to the usual gender/sex development, and not necessarily guys who want to be socially female.
posted by adzuki at 5:31 PM on November 1, 2003


I agree with joe's various organs here. The only real issue is whether or not the producers of the show said Miriam was a woman. If they never actually claimed that Miriam was a woman, well, maybe all is well and the participants should have been more observant and careful.

But if they ever said, even once, that Miriam was a woman, then that seems like outright fraud to me, which should be legally actionable.

Probably ditto for the Joe Schmo show, if the producers ever claimed that the other people were going to be not-actors, or that the show would be not-rigged. That's not good entertainment, that's lying and fraud.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:07 PM on November 1, 2003


Joe Schmo was good--i was actually really concerned about him, and glad he took it well...this show seems dull, and most similar to Joe Millionaire, which just got cancelled, being a one-joke thing.
posted by amberglow at 6:15 PM on November 1, 2003


Isn't setting someone up to unwittingly do something they find repugnant mean?

Isn't it mean to reject a person and pursue a lawsuit because you unwittingly found yourself attracted to them? Isn't it mean to consider kissing someone on camera an actionable offense because you personally find that person repulsive in retrospect?
posted by Hildegarde at 6:20 PM on November 1, 2003


A lot of perfumes are made from urine.

Eau de toilette?
posted by eddydamascene at 6:43 PM on November 1, 2003


But the intolerance of people like soyjoy to the possibility that some people are straight and will never change reaks of fundementalism; it reminds me of a kind of religious zealotry that thinks gay people can be converted back to the "proper" orientation.

That's a riot, c_d. I'm the guy reaking of fundamentalism? Reaking havoc, maybe. Haw!

Really though, I can't let this "intolerance" nonsense just slip on by. I'm perfectly (heh - see below) tolerant of your desire to "live as a man." It's fine with me, really. Whether or not I agree with your interpretation of sexual identity, I won't shout at you on the street, I won't deny you a job because of it, I won't form a club for you to come to so we can turn you into a "69-percenter," I won't get a bunch of guys together to beat you up about it. " Because that's tolerance. The "neovictimology" ploy of attacking every critique of traditional forms of oppression as "intolerance" is getting way tired from overuse.

So, in brief, I never said you or your ilk would or should change, I'm just arguing in favor of more candor. Or, yes, what I see as more candor. It alllll being a matter of opinion, right?

I happily accept the concept of a sexual spectrum (homo to hetero), however I am at odds with people who claim that this spectrum exists and yet has no upper and lower bounds.

Civil, let's forget sexuality and talk about music for a second. There's a spectrum of human ability to play music, right? From the absolute worst player to the absolute best. Now, the limit of "worst" would be "Not able to play music at all." OK, that's maybe conceivable, if we throw in people in comas or something. The other side is "as good at playing music as is humanly possible." Now that person - that "greatest musician" who has reached 100% of human capability - exists in theory, right? Whether that person exists in reality, well, it's an open question, isn't it?

But don't you find it a little funny when I tell you you, right here and now, that....

as it turns out...

I, who happen to be arguing this whole larger point with you, am in fact that one person who personifies the very extreme end, the very limit of the spectrum!!! That's right, I'm the greatest musician that it is even possible to be!

Want my autograph?
posted by soyjoy at 7:20 PM on November 1, 2003


Yes, Hildegarde. I don't think it's an either-or thing. Nobody has behaved very well here.

But wouldn't Miriam have understood that the humour, if any, lay in the fact that the men wouldn't have kissed her if they had known? If from the outset it was certain there would be no issues, the producers would never have bothered. The producers' problem is not that there was a reaction, but that it was stronger than they expected.

I view it as a sort of practical joke that has misfired badly.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:27 PM on November 1, 2003


That's right, I'm the greatest musician that it is even possible to be!
So soyjoy, you're really Dana International? ; >
posted by amberglow at 7:33 PM on November 1, 2003


amber - no, I'm... I'm... Zamfir. You know, the greatest musician that it is even possible to be... but now that I look at Dana International's site, I realize she's better than I am... and certainly hotter! Don't you realize what this means? I'm only ninety-nine point nine! point nine! point nine!

Oh the shame, the humiliation. You'll be hearing from my lawyer, amberglow.
posted by soyjoy at 8:08 PM on November 1, 2003


Isn't it mean to reject a person and pursue a lawsuit because you unwittingly found yourself attracted to them?

Maybe. They didn't pursue a lawsuit because they found themselves attracted to someone. They pursued a lawsuit because they were (at least they thought) systematically deceived into doing something that they would not have actually consented to doing.

Whether that something is kissing someone of the same sex, eating something they would not normally eat, or having wild sex with an audioanimatronic Mohandas Gandhi figure isn't really relevant.

Looking at this from the point of view of Miriam doesn't make much sense, unless the producers also deceived him into thinking that the men were open to a relationship with a pre-op transsexual. My impression was that he was an entirely willing, knowledgeable, and active participant in the deception.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:08 PM on November 1, 2003


Oh the shame, the humiliation. You'll be hearing from my lawyer, amberglow.
Sorry, hon. Maybe that pan flute thing will work out for you. Keep at it. I hear it's...um....nice, too. : >
posted by amberglow at 8:14 PM on November 1, 2003


My impression was that he was an entirely willing, knowledgeable, and active participant in the deception.

And given the way these men, among others, treat her and concieve of her entire existence, I don't blame her in the slightest.

They pursued a lawsuit because they were (at least they thought) systematically deceived into doing something that they would not have actually consented to doing.

They chose her. They got to know her, they groped her and kissed her of their own free will. If you honestly think Miriam's presentation of herself as a woman is a matter of 'deception' then you have a very limited understanding of transexuality and gender issues.

Would you prefer all transexuals to walk around with a big sign on their heads that say "DON'T OGLE ME, I WAS BORN A MAN"? If straight men's sense of self is so dependent on other people's actions and self-identity, they really need to get a grip on something other than their dicks, yo.

Also: SoyJoy? I love you. I love you very much. <3
posted by Hildegarde at 10:20 PM on November 1, 2003


I, who happen to be arguing this whole larger point with you, am in fact that one person who personifies the very extreme end, the very limit of the spectrum!!! That's right, I'm the greatest musician that it is even possible to be!

That's pretty funny.

But to address the other stuff: you're diatrabe on "intolerance" seems to have ignored my qualifier, "intolerance of the possibility". Which is to say, you refuse to consider something. Not intolerance like in "I'm gonna fire your gay ass." That's a pretty big difference. So, while I'm glad you won't come around my part of town with whips and chains to teach me a lesson on victimization, you can save your tantrums for more deserving practitioners of such "tired and overused" arguments.

And speaking of tired and overused: "It alllll being a matter of opinion, right?" Yes, yes. I'm OK, you're OK. We can even hold hands if you like.

Civil, let's forget sexuality and talk about music for a second.

Some people are good at music. Some people are bad at it. What, exactly, is your point? Are you trying to compare one's ability to play a musical instrument with genetics and socialization of sexuality? I would say this analogy were weak if there was even an analogy to be made.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:06 PM on November 1, 2003


Come, Hildegarde. Some lesbian women have the same issues with transgendered women as these men do. "...vocal transphobic lesbian separatists menaced transsexual women, while members of The Lesbian Avengers supported them."

(It does fascinate me how the ghost of a penis apparently has almost as much power to repel as a live one.)

Unfortunately, as long as some people care about whether you have had a penis at any time, suppressing this fact must be deception, even if we agree that fact ought to be irrelevant.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:19 PM on November 1, 2003


Also, although these clowns (and amberglow) probably think penis ownership is a "biological" criterion, we need to be clear that their definition of female is also socially constructed. While in Hildegarde's world (and my world, for that matter) genitalia and chromosomes are not relevant, in these mens world they are. To make sense of what's happened we need to accept that even if we don't like it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:44 PM on November 1, 2003


Hmmm... How would you guys feel if it had been a lesbian tricked by a man in drag?


delmoi: You can't be serious. Rape? The woman was attractive until they knew she had a penis - nobody coerced them into finding her attractive or snogging with her. Sure they lied about her gender, but that's hardly even remotely like rape of ANY kind.


Oh, refutation by asertion. It's my oppinion that what happened, is as bad as rape, you might not agree with me but as far as I know there is no objective mesure.

Just to be clear, I don't think it's wrong for a transvestitie to try to hit on a guy, although I do think it would be a little weird for one to hit on a lesbian. What bothers me is the fact that this company is exploiting these guys, lying to them and planning on humiliating them in front of millions of people. THATS what I consider to be wrong.
posted by delmoi at 12:23 AM on November 2, 2003


How would you guys feel if it had been a lesbian tricked by a man in drag?

Not to gloss over your point, but this is pretty funny. I can just see how FOX would do it:

"Next month FOX introduces a new spin on reality television. These 15 lesbians think they'll be competing for the affection of this beautiful lesbian, but wait until they find out he's really a man! But the joke's on him, because these lesbians are actually post-op transexuals, pretending to be women! But the tables turn when he reveals that he knew they were actually men all along, and he's in fact a gay man in drag pretending to be a lesbian!"

Or something. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:59 AM on November 2, 2003


But to address the other stuff: you're diatrabe on "intolerance" seems to have ignored my qualifier, "intolerance of the possibility".

Qualifier or no, intolerance has a specific meaning. One isn't literally "tolerant" or "intolerant" of a possibility, one is "tolerant" or "intolerant" of people and their lifestyles. You specifically used "intolerance" outside of its literal definition in a stated attempt to connect my position to one of true intolerance, namely "religious zealotry that thinks gay people can be converted back to the 'proper' orientation." I'm saying no, that doesn't wash; either show how my differing with your position has anything to do with "intolerance" or find some other, non-loaded term to make your point.

Some people are good at music. Some people are bad at it. What, exactly, is your point? Are you trying to compare one's ability to play a musical instrument with genetics and socialization of sexuality?

No, Civil, I'm comparing the notions of a spectrum and its limits - you know, what we were just talking about? - in both cases. The content of the spectrum itself doesn't much matter, though since there is in fact a full spectrum of musical ability on which your binary claim (some are good, some are bad) is overlaid, the analogy is perfectly fine.

But if the whole musical thing is too confusing for you, we can go back to sexual identity. Isn't it funny that here we are having a discussion about sexual preference and you happen to be the one guy who personifies the absolute limit of that spectrum, the "100% straight" guy who no other person in the world is straighter than? I'll concede that that is theoretically possible - but the coincidence is breathtaking, to put it mildly.

Also:

the argument is being made that if someone pisses in your pizza and you don't know it, then claim the pizza tastes fine, you must like urine. See!

No, you got carried away there. If I eat the urine-contaminated pizza and have no objection to the taste of it, it doesn't mean I am some kind of pizza-piss-fetishist who secretly desires urine in pizza. It only means I cannot truthfully say "I hate the taste of urine-contaminated pizza." I can truthfully say "I hate the idea of urine-contaminated pizza" - and of course that's exactly what these guys are saying. The humor, the revealing aspect of the story, is holding that view while at the same time enjoying the taste of the thing itself, the idea made manifest. Clearly at some level these guys aren't being 100% honest with themselves - similar, I say, to most guys, whether "heterosexual" or "homosexual." That doesn't mean they need to start dating transsexuals or that gay guys need to be forced back into compulsory heterosexuality - just that they may as well stop trying to force their identities into abstract dualities that are inachievable by complicated, flesh-and-blood humans.

And Hildegarde, thanks, but... um... you, ah.... you don't... you don't have a penis, do you?
posted by soyjoy at 9:44 AM on November 2, 2003


Come, Hildegarde. Some lesbian women have the same issues with transgendered women as these men do.

Yeah, so what's your point? I didn't say stupidity was confined to men only. Gay people are often the most committed to stupid gender ideals. Gay men are often the most misogynist. Lesbian separatists make me laugh. Don't you worry, I have a crit for everyone.

It's my oppinion that what happened, is as bad as rape, you might not agree with me but as far as I know there is no objective mesure.

I'm tempted to say that if you can't spell opinion you don't get to have one, but that would be nitpicky and mean.

I think in order to make the connection with rape you'd have to have some sense of what rape was like and about, and I don't think you have the first clue. And the fact that rape is a physical assault with long-lasting physical and mental effects is an objective measure enough to tell us that you're point is laughably bad. This is more like getting a boob job and the then flashing your tits around for attention, or stuffing your pants. Or not mentioning to your date that your dad's an alcoholic, your mom's a heroin addict, and you've been in therapy for 12 years.

No, it's nothing like rape. No one raped these men. The fact that you think kissing a transsexual is akin to rape is quite telling, however. Welcome to your phobias.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:44 AM on November 2, 2003


And Hildegarde, thanks, but... um... you, ah.... you don't... you don't have a penis, do you?

Heeehehehehehehehehe. Only on Tuesdays.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:00 AM on November 2, 2003


If you honestly think Miriam's presentation of herself as a woman is a matter of 'deception' then you have a very limited understanding of transexuality and gender issues.

I don't think Miriam's presentation of verself as anything is relevant. They're not, AFAIK, suing Miriam. The only point in bringing ver up is that Miriam isn't a victim in this; ve seems to have been the only willing and knowledgeable participant -- the only one who actually consented to what was happening.

Sky's presentation of her as a woman* is the relevant deception. Sky, to all appearances, used fraud and deception to get people to perform an act that they would not knowingly have consented to. Which ought to be actionable, irrespective of what that act is.

If you want people to do something, especially if you want them to do something for you to your profit, you need to obtain their clear and explicit consent to the actual action that you want them to do. That this would be controversial is baffling to me.

*Still pre-op = not a woman yet, at least before the law.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:17 AM on November 2, 2003


But they signed contracts. I mean, this is how reality television works, you sign a contract to let them do whatever they want to you. Why people do it is beyond me, but they do it, and so did these guys, or they wouldn't be on the stupid show. I'd be very surprised if their contracts weren't inclusive enough to cover even this eventuality. Did they tell the girls on Joe Millionaire that Joe was not a Millionaire? Of course not. Lying to them was the premise of the show. Can those girls sue? Probably not, since there was likely a clause in their contract. These guys claim that they didn't have time to read their contracts. Well then, they shouldn't have signed them, should they.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:51 AM on November 2, 2003


One isn't literally "tolerant" or "intolerant" of a possibility, one is "tolerant" or "intolerant" of people and their lifestyles.

Is English your first language? If the word intolerance has only to do with people and their lifestyles, you should probably tell those suffering from lactose intolerance that they're using the word incorrectly. Just a quick scan of dictionary.com has a number of suitable alternatives, though the one I think most appropriate to your tone is "refusal to allow to others the enjoyment of their opinions.

find some other, non-loaded term to make your point.

How about "ideological bigot"? Just kidding. (Trying to keep our discussion light). The reason I used such a "loaded" word is because you refuse to accept even the possibility that some people might not have homosexual tendencies.

But if the whole musical thing is too confusing for you

No, I understand the analogy you were trying to make, it's just so riddled with holes that your point doesn't hold water. How exactly does being the "best musician" compare -- is someone the "most gay" or "most straight"? In your analogy, there can only be one, penultimate holder of the title of "ends of the spectrum." I'm saying that many people could be 100% straight or gay, so your hilarious exaggeration that I am the "one guy who personifies the absolute limit of that spectrum" doesn't "wash," as you say.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:44 AM on November 2, 2003


And just to beat a dead horse, the UK's Guardian thinks you can be intolerant of opinions.

Warning: the link has absolutely, positively nothing to do with the topic.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:47 AM on November 2, 2003


But they signed contracts.

I don't have their contracts in front of me, and I am not a lawyer.

As far as I care, signing a contract is not the be-all and end-all. If I fool you into signing a contract by lying to you, the contract should be nullified. If the producers claimed, even once, that Miriam was a woman, then as far as I care, they committed fraud against the participants. The participants should be able to get any contracts they signed on the basis of the producers' lies nullified, and they should be able to extract from the producers an amount of money for which they would have actually and knowingly consented to fool around with a preop transsexual. I've no idea what the law actually says about that, but I know what it ought to say.

Yes, I'm aware that this would apply to lots of reality shows and their producers. So? They're scum too. The women on Joe Millionaire, as far as I care, should have been able to prevent the airing of the show (or at least their own appearances on it) in spite of any consent contracts they might have signed ahead of time, and perhaps extract damages.

OTOH, it may well be that the producers were always careful to refer only to "Attractive young singles," and never actually claimed that Miriam was a woman and just let the participants' assumptions stand uncorrected. Well, that's underhanded, but I suppose caveat emptor (or caveat snoggor) might apply then.

I still don't like that, though. Screwing around with people's consent -- tricking them into ``consenting'' to something that they would normally refuse their consent to -- is big, bad juju, and should be punished when it happens.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:57 AM on November 2, 2003


I still don't like that, though. Screwing around with people's consent -- tricking them into ``consenting'' to something that they would normally refuse their consent to -- is big, bad juju, and should be punished when it happens.

What stinks about the program is that it's designed to publically humiliate people. I don't think that the level of their consent has much to do with it.

The harsh reality of the world is that you have to make decisions sometimes without knowing everything you would like. There's no social requirement for *anybody*, transsexual or not, to disclose negative facts about themselves before starting relationships.

Again, I think the outrage is because the guys' idea of transsexuals has been turned on its side. The way homosexuality and masculinity fit into their world has been shaken. And they don't have a right to be compensated for that.
posted by adzuki at 12:36 PM on November 2, 2003


The harsh reality of the world is that you have to make decisions sometimes without knowing everything you would like. There's no social requirement for *anybody*, transsexual or not, to disclose negative facts about themselves before starting relationships.

Of course not. But there is-or-ought-to-be a requirement that before entering into a business arrangement with someone (ie, the producers of the show) to perform some action on their behalf and to their benefit, you do not actually lie about what that action is. Assuming that they did, anyway.

Lack of information or simple nondisclosure is not the same thing as deliberate lying. Not revealing that Miriam is a transsexual is "just" nondisclosure, and might be justifiably not actionable. Stating that Miriam is a woman is outright lying, and should be actionable. Letting people delude themselves is not the same as actively deluding them.

Why the participants are outraged doesn't matter as far as I care, except insofar as they were duped into doing something that they would not have consented to do. Whether that thing is smooching a trannie, having sex with their mother's corpse, eating pork, or watching Ishtar simply isn't relevant.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:52 PM on November 2, 2003


A spokesman for the programme makers said they had made a point of never referring to Miriam as a woman when getting the men to take part.

"As Miriam is a transsexual, I would never refer to her as male or female. She is a gorgeous creature," he said.

posted by Hildegarde at 1:44 PM on November 2, 2003


Xenophobe - I understand what you're saying better now. The "something they would not have otherwise consented to do" is woo and kiss a transsexual on network television, and not simply kiss a transsexual.
posted by adzuki at 3:05 PM on November 2, 2003


Fair enough, but that doesn't mean they never once called him/ver "she" or similarly clearly implied that Miriam was a woman. Just because they said they didn't doesn't mean they actually didn't.

Assuming that they never actually stated that Miriam was a woman, it's arguable. But the whole thing is still close enough to a con game for me that I'd like to see the producers punished. People shouldn't get away with duping and deluding others into doing things they don't or wouldn't actually consent to do, whatever those things might be.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:11 PM on November 2, 2003


I've read all the stories and all the comments and I still haven't had my primary question answered: was Miriam a good snog or what?

I guess we'll have to watch the show to hear the opinion of the contestants. People seem to be debating the essentialist, social-constructionist, and phenomenological issues, but I feel we are still missing the experiential core. I look forward to downloading this show from eDonkey and resolvig this important conundrum.
posted by meehawl at 5:09 PM on November 2, 2003


civil - This is a side issue, but "lactose intolerance" actually is a misnomer, since that is the normal state of the human body. That minority of adult humans who are able to digest milk without any problems are more accurately called "lactase persistent."

But you and I both know what you meant by "intolerance," and if we didn't, your next clause tying it to anti-homosexual religious zealotry makes it perfectly clear. Dragging in unrelated secondary definitions having to do with food sensitivities and the like is a pretty desperate measure when your original sentence is still sitting there upthread, making your use of the word with its primary definition - "bigotry" - clear as a bell.

Really, now, would you consider it a valid use of the term if I called you "intolerant of the possibility" that you're not 100% straight, and tied your stance to that of repressed, bigoted troglodytes? I don't think so. It's derogatory hyperbole, and I don't think you'd appreciate it.

As to my analogy, it was created to address specifically this notion:

I happily accept the concept of a sexual spectrum (homo to hetero), however I am at odds with people who claim that this spectrum exists and yet has no upper and lower bounds.

Obviously any spectrum has upper and lower bounds. That's tautological. But that does not mean that there's more than one representative personifying each of those two extremes. Why would there be, if it's a spectrum? That's a case you've certainly never made. Absent that proof, it's an amazing coincidence that you would happen to be that one personification of one of the two extremes. That's exactly what my analogy expressed, and that's why it washes, like it or not.

Anyway, I get the impression we'll never get any further on this "spectrum" topic, which has become rather tangential to the main thrust of this thread, so if you want to take it to e-mail I'm game. I agree with meehawl: It's the experiential aspect of this that makes it so fascinating. Was Miriam a good snog or what? Could she have been, at the time, yet not, in retrospect? How exactly does that work?
posted by soyjoy at 9:29 PM on November 2, 2003


UPDATE: Sky have pulled transmission.
posted by i_cola at 3:36 AM on November 3, 2003


soyjoy: To address one final point, I think you may be treating a spectrum like a bell curve, in which case the upper and lower limits might be 0 and 1, but the "equation" never actually reaches these limits. When I think of spectrum, however, I imagine it more like the spectrum of acceleration, ranging from rest (0 m/s) to the speed of light (300k m/s). Now, there are a lot of things with no acceleration, and a lot of things (well, photons anyway) at maximum acceleration, plus a lot of things in the middle. It's possible to have an upper and lower bound that is shared by more than one individual.

I've been doing some thinking as to how best reduce the arguments down to the essential contradiction; I've always found it best in disagreements to find some point where you have one person saying: I think X, which is the opposite of you're Y, and therefor we are at a standstill. I don't know if we've reached that, but it's certainly been fun, regardless. Apologies for the baited terminology, by the way.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:52 PM on November 3, 2003


Civil - Yeah, the crux of our disagreement may be in our respective notions of a spectrum of human behavior and of what 100% on that spectrum would mean. Even now I don't quite agree with your characterization of my notion of spectrum, and I do still believe that part of "heterosexuality" - as ordained by our culture - is a knee-jerk denial of even one degree of homosexual attraction, ever. But I have no investment in whether you, personally, are 100% straight or not. So now that Sky's dropping the show, all's well that ends well; let's go out for a beer.

Hell, maybe we'll even have time to take in a tranny show!
posted by soyjoy at 7:04 AM on November 4, 2003


Men in skirts (not photos).
posted by rushmc at 7:35 PM on November 4, 2003


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