I did not come out of the cupboard under the stairs for this.
January 27, 2021 1:19 PM   Subscribe

 
I appreciate Contra. Not many people would take the time to examine exactly how and why Rowling's stances are hurtful. I'm impressed with her ability to scaffold a construct of empathy, even as she does a deep dive on some of her very bigoted and angering statements.

Contra is a national treasure, and a better teacher than Rowling could hope for. I hope Rowling sees this. I doubly hope she listens.
posted by erinfern at 1:27 PM on January 27 [46 favorites]


I don't doubt that Rowling will watch this video. I feel relatively certain that she is the type who reads her own press. That said, I think that even going beyond JKR, this video is a wonderful explanation of how bigots use concern trolling to mask their bigotry. I wish I could share it far and wide.
posted by all about eevee at 1:42 PM on January 27 [16 favorites]


I loved this video.
posted by Braeburn at 1:44 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed it a lot...

EXCEPT where she pointed to tweets calling HP neoliberal garbage and equating that with actual threats of violence. Like.. huh? What happened to "criticism is not abuse"? Or was it the "we should have seen this coming"?
posted by supercres at 2:03 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I watched the video last night, and was very glad I did so. I really appreciate how much information I'm given, where some of it comes from, and how it relates to actions and movements. The part about understanding that these conversations (with bigots, not Contra) is meant to remove the political aspects from situations in order to replace them with emotional / moral arguments, was especially useful.
posted by winesong at 2:06 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


this video is a wonderful explanation of how bigots use concern trolling to mask their bigotry
I don't think that JKR is a concern troll in the same way that many islamophobes inconsistent concern for women's rights is concern trolling. Contra is explicit that JKR's fear of trans women and infantilizing concern for trans men is genuine, and that this doesn't negate the bigotry or harm.
posted by colophon at 2:07 PM on January 27 [21 favorites]


Thanks for this post!
posted by Bella Donna at 2:09 PM on January 27


I am in awe at how she created an 1.5 hour video that is so rigorous and thorough, entertaining and watchable, emotional and personal. Masterful and valuable work!
posted by alicat at 2:13 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


This goes for an hour and a half...

I'll be back after I've watched it, this is going to be worth it. I remember she made a video wearing cat's-eye contact lenses, and one of them would slowly rotate until it was almost horizontal and I was going AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA the whole time because it's on top of her EYE and MOVING and she KEPT GOING. She just stopped the video, moved it back, and started again, and again, and again. That's commitment to a bit. She's an artist.
posted by adept256 at 2:14 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


I don't really care much about JKR but I like ContraPoints because I learn things and I learn to see things differently. Plus I love reading quirky footnotes and ContraPoints does the video equivalent.
posted by srboisvert at 2:15 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


What is a real woman? What if we're in The Matrix right now?
LOL
posted by adept256 at 2:45 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


I've learned a great deal from Natalie Wynn, and am always glad to see when a new video comes out, because they're pretty much universally engaging, deeply thought out, and well constructed.
posted by tclark at 3:00 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Great video, worth the watch.

EXCEPT where she pointed to tweets calling HP neoliberal garbage and equating that with actual threats of violence. Like.. huh? What happened to "criticism is not abuse"? Or was it the "we should have seen this coming"?

I think she made the mistake of mixing an easy joke about facile twitter criticism* with the example of abusive language, likely because they frequently (sometimes?) go together. Very likely paraphrased from a real person... but now that you point it out I agree it muddies her next point.

*Even a half-assed marxist critique of HP isn't going to arrive at "neoliberal", other than liberal being the current label for anything hated by the left. It's feudal if it's anything what with all the bloodlines and sorting hats. No one is getting ahead with capital in the wizarding world.
posted by malphigian at 3:05 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


I'm still working my way through this video. The deconstruction of what bigotry means that starts about 18:30 is really great. There's a text summary at 21:48.

Direct bigotry: Open contempt, slurs, discrimination, demonizing, shunning, subordination, violence.

Indirect bigotry: "Concern", "Debate" of proxy issues, "Defending X", "Activists gone too far", "Law and order", "Free Speech", "Political Correctness", "Cancel Culture".

(There's more). As she says, our model of bigotry is the former and is based in open bigots like Nazis or the KKK. That's not what we have any more. Now we have polite bigots who couch their bigotry in weasely terms like "concern" or "just making arguments". They are still bigots, and still harmful, but it's harder to identify head-on since it's not so cartoonishly evil.

It's not a new idea but Natalie gives a good 7 minutes to the analysis, with examples, that is very helpful. That's the strength in her videos, the detailed analysis. In this case she cites Young-Bruehl's 1998 book The Anatomy of Prejudices as inspiration for.
posted by Nelson at 3:05 PM on January 27 [16 favorites]


Thank you for sharing this. Since we're sharing general Contrapoints appreciation, this excerpt from a NYT article has always stuck with me. They interview a 20-something, Caleb Cain, who had been radicalized into the alt-right by YouTube and later found his way out thanks in part to Contrapoints.

Mr. Cain also found videos by Natalie Wynn, a former academic philosopher who goes by the name ContraPoints. Ms. Wynn wore elaborate costumes and did drag-style performances in which she explained why Western culture wasn’t under attack from immigrants, or why race was a social construct. Unlike most progressives Mr. Cain had seen take on the right, Mr. Bonnell and Ms. Wynn were funny and engaging. They spoke the native language of YouTube, and they didn’t get outraged by far-right ideas. Instead, they rolled their eyes at them, and made them seem shallow and unsophisticated.

“I noticed that right-wing people were taking these old-fashioned, knee-jerk, reactionary politics and packing them as edgy punk rock,” Ms. Wynn told me. “One of my goals was to take the excitement out of it.”

When Mr. Cain first saw these videos, he dismissed them as left-wing propaganda. But he watched more, and he started to wonder if people like Ms. Wynn had a point. Her videos persuasively used research and citations to rebut the right-wing talking points he had absorbed.

“I just kept watching more and more of that content, sympathizing and empathizing with her and also seeing that, wow, she really knows what she’s talking about,” Mr. Cain said.

Ms. Wynn and Mr. Bonnell are part of a new group of YouTubers who are trying to build a counterweight to YouTube’s far-right flank. This group calls itself BreadTube, a reference to the left-wing anarchist Peter Kropotkin’s 1892 book, “The Conquest of Bread.” It also includes people like Oliver Thorn, a British philosopher who hosts the channel PhilosophyTube, where he posts videos about topics like transphobia, racism and Marxist economics. The core of BreadTube’s strategy is a kind of algorithmic hijacking. By talking about many of the same topics that far-right creators do — and, in some cases, by responding directly to their videos — left-wing YouTubers are able to get their videos recommended to the same audience.

“Natalie and Destiny made a bridge over to my side,” Mr. Cain said, “and it was interesting and compelling enough that I walked across it.”

posted by Emily's Fist at 3:10 PM on January 27 [54 favorites]


As she says, our model of bigotry is the former and is based in open bigots like Nazis or the KKK. That's not what we have any more.

Your world sounds great and I would like to visit it sometime.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:14 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Indirect bigotry: "Concern", "Debate" of proxy issues, "Defending X", "Activists gone too far", "Law and order", "Free Speech", "Political Correctness", "Cancel Culture".

This is what people don't really get today. Being a bigot or being racist isn't a binary thing. It's a spectrum. We all have implicit biases and we all make decisions without thinking about them because stereotypes back in the day were literally a survival mechanism that's been hard wired into us over millennia. It's hard to constantly think about implicit bias when so much of our day is spent on autopilot by our amygdala.

A lot of (us white) people take callout culture way too personally. When someone calls you out for doing something racist/sexist/bigoted it doesn't mean you're an irredeemable shit stain on society, it just means they'd like you to think about something you did. I swear our way of thinking is some kindergarten style logic of:
  • Racist people are bad.
  • I'm not bad!
  • Therefore, how can that thing I did that doesn't feel racist to me be racist?
When someone calls you out they're asking you to sit down, think, use empathy to the best of your ability, understand your behavior, how it may have hurt someone, and just not do it again. It's like if someone came up and poked you in the ribs you'd ask them to stop. It doesn't necessarily mean the person who poked you is a bad person, just that you didn't really appreciate the action in the same way the poking person may have expected.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:39 PM on January 27 [28 favorites]




OK, I'm back.
Conflict Is Not Abuse: A book on the cultural phenomenon of blame, cruelty, and scapegoating as a power tactic in a range of relationships, from the most intimate (partners, friends) to the broadest (cultural groups, nations). It discusses how those in power positions exacerbate and manipulate fear of the "other" to achieve their aims.

The book also looks at its subject through the lens of technology, and how social media and email have made our interactions with one another more impersonal and thus more subject to misunderstanding and abuse. (It's so easy to "shun" or block an intimate on Facebook who is thought to have made a transgression, rather than discussing the subject openly – part of the new mob mentality to scapegoat.)

This book takes a highly personal approach to what on the surface is a complex subject, but at its heart it is about how we as a culture need to treat each other – partners, family members, communities, nations – with respect and dignity.
Not an endorsement, I haven't read it yet. It's in the mail. I've heard good things.

I think the cat-eye thing was an accident she made the best of. The thing with holding the phone an inch above the bath-water? I think that was deliberate. She clearly thinks about her set. I was anxious and hyper-vigilant. Maybe I'm wrong and her bath-phone game is so good she's beyond thinking it's a problem to worry about.

As for the content, it was comprehensive, even exhaustive. I feel like I've learnt a lot, and maybe I'd best sit and digest my mental food rather than give hot-takes. Loosen my belt and rub my brain belly. I'll give that book a read, I liked the excerpts. Thanks Contra!
posted by adept256 at 4:03 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


This one didn't quite hit as well as some of Natalie's other videos for me. I really do think she could stand to have an editor these days, because she could have made the same points, stronger, in a third of the running time—and still keep the vibe and jokes that make her work so compelling.

There is a great point to be made about empathy and trying to see where someone is coming from when they're saying things you don't agree with. The Internet and Social Media especially make things a lot harder, and a lot of people will immediately assume malice where ignorance is at play (c.f. Bean Dad, though of course sufficiently advanced ignorance is the same as malice). Even the worst of us is still human at some level, and I'd like to think even the most awful people are capable of learning from their mistakes, try and make amends, and become better people. However, the default reaction to a wave of strangers angrily calling out your behavior—whether that callout and the anger is justified or not—is not to listen, but to dig your heels in. This is nothing new, but the scale at which it can happen now is much more intense than can often happen IRL.
posted by SansPoint at 4:30 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


- Racist people are bad.
- I'm not bad!
- Therefore, how can that thing I did that doesn't feel racist to me be racist?


Is it possible that I’m not a racist because I’ve always felt deep down that I am indeed a bad person?
posted by papineau at 5:20 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I love the presentation and I think it's a huge part of why her videos are so engaging despite being over an hour long.
posted by airmail at 5:31 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


I love her ability to lay out a simple truth and make you suddenly see the forest in all these trees. I totally see why she could get through to that alt-right kid in the article upthread, she's got a disarming knack for pulling intellectual Gordian Knot moves.

Her presentation is horrible.

No, you just don't like her presentation.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:32 PM on January 27 [25 favorites]


[Comment and a few replies removed. If you just plain don't like something someone posted, that's okay, but move along to something you do like instead of shouting about it.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:52 PM on January 27 [13 favorites]


It's firmly established that Contra's presentation is intentionally done in a style that appeals to the kinds of people that watch lots of YouTube videos, especially far-right videos. If you don't like her style then there's a good chance you don't watch many other vloggers either.

If it's not for you, that's fine, don't watch it. As it happens, I'm not a big fan of Contrapoints either, but I understand that a lot of people are and that's OK. Do not insist that because it's not for you it's not for anyone else either, because that's demonstrably bullshit.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:11 PM on January 27 [9 favorites]


ContraPoints deflated the air out of the popular Jordan Peterson mystique when he was riding high...
posted by ovvl at 6:42 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


"You know, sometimes people criticize me for 'empathizing with bigots.' But I believe that understanding bigots is the best defense against becoming one yourself."

Fucking love Natalie Wynn.
posted by switcheroo at 7:54 PM on January 27 [15 favorites]


I haven't even gotten ten minutes into this, but her argument that the Y chromosome is more qualitatively feminine than the X chromosome is the most hilarious parody of transphobic quasi-scientific bullshit.

Long live the lobster queen and her cutting analogies.
posted by XMLicious at 8:00 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Okay, I just finished the video -- wonderful. I thought it would just be preaching to the choir (me as the choir) but it really made me reconsider a lot of my assumptions. The parts I found the most enlightening were when Contra goes into the trauma at the root of JK Rowling's bigotry while still clearly calling the bigotry what it is, she very deftly threads that needle. It also made me consider the degree to which I've emphasized - or tried to emphasize - with people by projecting my own experiences onto them, and why that can have downfalls. Great share.

Some people criticize the video's length but there wasn't any wasted time imo. The topic of the video is much deeper than the title alone suggests.
posted by Emily's Fist at 8:02 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


This is a fantastic video, I am in awe of her incisive commentary. WOW. I was a bit taken aback by her multiple cites from Sarah Schulman's book, "Conflict Is Not Abuse" - I\ that horrorshow of a book is a *defense* of folks who wring their hands about cancel culture. Schulman's treatise is extremely JKR-friendly. It also argues that stalking is harmless and blocking contact with people is abusive. Just a weird little standout in this otherwise gorgeous video.
posted by MiraK at 8:07 PM on January 27


EXCEPT where she pointed to tweets calling HP neoliberal garbage and equating that with actual threats of violence. Like.. huh? What happened to "criticism is not abuse"? Or was it the "we should have seen this coming"?

(NB: haven't seen this video, but have seen many many other Contrapoints videos.)

This is a bit of an unfortunate tendency she has - being disproportionately critical of people on 'her' side who don't take her approach, view, perspective, whatever. There are several reasons why she is a fairly divisive/controversial figure in a lot of trans communities, and this tendency is one of them.
posted by Dysk at 9:39 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


I'm normally the person who rolls their eyes and mutters things about hating to watch videos because I can read much quicker than anyone can explain, and gets bored and starts playing games and only paying marginal attention halfway through. I started watching this and then suddenly I was 55 minutes in.

Also I have clearly been living under several heavy rocks as I had never heard of Contrapoints, so thank you for introducing me to her. Gonna be YouTubing tonight.
posted by andraste at 9:48 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


Contra brings up the Twitter pile-ons in a nuanced discussion about trauma and lashing out, in a context in which Rowling has painted herself as the victim of a witch hunt. A lot of the video revolves around how bigots convince others or even themselves they are actually victims.

She basically says how she understands why Rowling might feel about tweets telling her to die -- how from personal experience she knows how upsetting that is -- but explains how these tweets, even if rude, are not the same thing as bigotry or violence. She asks Rowling to click through to the Twitter profiles and see people who are literally begging to afford healthcare, housing; who have none of the resources or influence that she does.

I can't do justice to the points she makes but I hope it conveys that the context isn't "bad people on both sides! cancel culture, am I right?" or anything like that.
posted by Emily's Fist at 10:02 PM on January 27 [15 favorites]


I can't do justice to the points she makes but I hope it conveys that the context isn't "bad people on both sides! cancel culture, am I right?" or anything like that.

Contrapoints on Cancelling, if you actually want Natalie's position on this.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:19 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


My mom is transphobic. She doesn't actively hate trans people or campaign against them, but the idea of sex not matching gender is a mental leap too far for her. That someone could be transgender genuinely freaks her out on some weird, primal level.

What's sad is that my niece is trans. My mom loves her to death, has never said anything bad to her about her gender choice. But she's also scared that as her mental faculties fade her transphobic opinions will slip out, and that's all my niece will remember.

I don't have a point to this other than to say that transphobia is tragic and nobody wins while it exists.
posted by lock robster at 11:44 PM on January 27 [17 favorites]


I like Contrapoints. She's the reason that I currently follow several insightful and informative progressive vloggers. For a long time I avoided political videos on YouTube like the plague -- I was 100% burned out on videos pointing out other people's awfulness and smugly preaching to the choir about how clearly dumb and awful they were. It was just grimly depressing and added nothing to my life.

I randomly subscribed to Contrapoints after seeing her in a clip in one of Lindsay Ellis' videos. A few weeks later she released her video about incels, and I was annoyed with myself for having subscribed to a channel that was clearly not going to be my thing. The absolute last thing I wanted was to hear more about incels. But I clicked through to the video to look for the unsubscribe button, it started playing, and I thought, "hang on... this is actually good." And I watched the whole thing, and the rest is history.
posted by confluency at 5:25 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


just chiming in to express appreciation for her soundtrack production, in addition to all the qualities noted above.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:09 AM on January 28


I really do think she could stand to have an editor these days

I wish so too, mostly because I just don't have the kind of time to watch something like this 90 minute video. Most streaming and video content seems to be made with the assumption the consumer is doing something else at the same time; watching ContraPoints while playing video games. I can't do that. It's 100% attention or nothing for me. And so an hour and a half is a lot. The good news is CP is well enough produced and edited to feel worth the time. A lot of stuff I watch at 1.5x speed.

I'm not deep enough into the fandom to know all the gossip, but I think she did used to work closely with an editor a year or two ago. And then their relationship got complicated and she started working more alone. Coronavirus also has had an impact on her ability to collaborate.

ContraPoints used to also be a monthly thing. This year it's been just 3 or 4 videos. She jokes defensively about it. I'm not mad about it but I do worry about her. Then again maybe it really does just take 3x as long to make a video 3x as many minutes.
posted by Nelson at 7:25 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


This is a bit of an unfortunate tendency she has - being disproportionately critical of people on 'her' side who don't take her approach, view, perspective, whatever.

That, and apparently playing the devil's advocate with totally sincere sympathy for the devil's hapless predicament. I had not seen this Youtuber before, and I find her compulsively watchable and insightful now that I have dipped a toe into her work (watched 4 videos at 2x speed since last night, yes this is a humblebrag, tyvm). AND ALSO in addition to being kind of brilliant, she has made my head explode with some asinine thing inserted into the middle of an otherwise perfectly great chunk of talking. I have one video that I paused immediately after she said, I kid you not, "[There is a real problem of] male invisibility on dating apps, and ... getting no attention at all can actually be emotionally worse than getting a lot of shitty attention," and "I do not think there is a single definite answer to the vague and useless question 'Which gender has it worse?'"

These were not throwaway statements. They are presented as a summation of a long discussion of how all the kinds of gendered pain men suffer. That discussion included her declaration that she personally enjoys street harassment and catcalling when she isn't all alone, because it makes her feel seen and affirmed by the compliment. I swear I'm not making this up.

Look I don't dispute that Patriarchy Hurts Men Too, it's just that I've never heard anything more purely the Essence of White Feminism than someone claiming "I do not think there is a single definite answer to the vague and useless question, 'Which gender has it worse?'"

So I guess the caveat for me personally is that I should continue to enjoy and learn from her work while being on guard, as usual, when I listen to any white feminists or Cool Girls talking. Phew.
posted by MiraK at 7:46 AM on January 28 [8 favorites]


MiraK, you can complain about Natalie's tendency to devil's advocate, but most of the rest of your comment seems to ignore the rather important context that she is a trans woman. Being a trans woman who transitions as an adult means having a lifetime of experiences in exactly how much it can suck to be a man in this society. I see young trans women say things like "Why would anyone want to be a man?" so often that I have to remind them that such sentiments can be hurtful to any trans men who may be reading and do actually find comfort and meaning in being male. And, yes, it is a dirty little secret and a joke told ruefully among trans women that, yes, we do actually kinda find some affirmation in misogyny from strangers, because at least someone actually sees us as a woman, for better or worse. (I'm just gonna say this pre-emptively, but any cis people reading this had better not even think of arguing with me about the validity of our feelings in this regard. For the record, catcalling is bad and I'm not saying it's good.)

Yes, patriarchy benefits men over women in terms of material wealth, power structures, and so on, but it also makes men emotionally stunted and less capable of dealing with other people and the inevitable challenges that life throws at us in an emotionally healthy way. Asking "which gender has it worse" is a "vague and useless question" because not only is the answer different depending on your context and framing, but it usually only makes people defensive about their own pain rather than illuminating the ways in which patriarchy, by enforcing systems to elevate men at the expense of women, actually does harm everyone.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 8:51 AM on January 28 [46 favorites]


Yes, patriarchy benefits men over women in terms of material wealth, power structures, and so on, but it also makes men emotionally stunted and less capable of dealing with other people and the inevitable challenges that life throws at us in an emotionally healthy way. Asking "which gender has it worse" is a "vague and useless question"

In the interests of brevity, so as to not derail the thread and our rightful appreciation of Natalie's work, I will just say this: if you think there is no definitive way to tell whether being commonly and routinely burned alive by your husband's family for not bringing in enough dowry is worse than being emotionally stunted or whatever, you are at the very least uninformed about the conditions women around the world are forced to live in.

She's a white feminist in a first world country. Her worldview and her statements are a product of that experience. She made an error in making such a sweeping statement. That's okay. The pain that men go through is not negated by recognizing that women have it way, way, worse and that in fact is literally what privilege/oppression is about.
posted by MiraK at 8:58 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


You basically just proved my point. As the highly disproportionate rates of victimization from domestic violence, sexual assault, and rape in first world countries demonstrate, it is easy to see even within a blinkered white feminist viewpoint that patriarchy is a system that specifically oppresses women. Many of us are familiar with the saying, "Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them". The point of this saying is that the treatment that most men fear to receive from most women is far less objectively consequential than the treatment that most women fear to receive from most men. Yet, nevertheless, men still fear that treatment. On an emotional level, that fear and pain still exist, even if the object of that fear and pain is not nearly so serious. Natalie isn't saying that "which gender has it worse" is a useless question because she actually thinks, in her white feminist paradigm, that men and women have it roughly equally bad. She's saying that it's a useless question because it does little more than compel people to defend the significance of their own pain, whether or not the cause of their pain actually is as serious as other people's.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 9:25 AM on January 28 [14 favorites]


You can have sympathy and empathy for another group's problems without minimizing the problems your own group has to deal with. Sympathy and empathy are not zero-sum games.
posted by SansPoint at 9:36 AM on January 28 [16 favorites]


On an emotional level, that fear and pain still exist, even if the object of that fear and pain is not nearly so serious.

Yes, exactly. The fear and pain do exist. Men's pain is NOT NEGATED when you acknowledge that women have it way, way worse. It still exists. You do not have to pretend there is no way to tell whether men or women have it worse in order to prove that men's pain and fear exist. Men's pain exists, it exists on a large and significant scale, even though women have it way, way worse. It's okay to talk about men's pain and find ways to address it even if women have it way, way worse. We don't need this comparison and this pain competition in order to address men's pain, the question IS useless. But if you insist on making the comparison, then make it honestly and admit that there is a clear answer, because there is.

Natalie isn't saying that "which gender has it worse" is a useless question because she actually thinks, in her white feminist paradigm, that men and women have it roughly equally bad. She's saying that it's a useless question because it does little more than compel people to defend the significance of their own pain, whether or not the cause of their pain actually is as serious as other people's.

No, you're wrong. I don't want to speculate about what she may or may not have intended to convey - it's quite possible that what you posit is what she was trying to say? Maybe?? But she did quite clearly convey that men and women have it roughly equally bad.
  • Note that she said, "I do not think there is a single definitive answer to the vague and useless question" -- she did not say, "I think it is a useless question". You are claiming she said the second, but no, she said the first.
  • The long discussion preceding this statement was entirely about how men's pain is actually worse than women's pain (as in the online dating example) and also how women's pain is not always that bad (as in the discussion of how she enjoys being catcalled).
  • In contrast she does not spend more than a couple of sentences talking about how useless it is to ask that question. Because the uselessness was not her point; equating men's and women's social conditions was.
posted by MiraK at 9:47 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


To save some time for those who are just now discovering her tendency to put her foot in her mouth, some context from the previous Contra thread.

As a nonbinary person, she's quite low on the list of people whose analysis of JKR's bigotry I'd find valuable.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 10:00 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


A good video overall. I hope it does something to help the rights of trans women, especially in the UK where they seem to be spiraling out of control right now and I'm afraid for the UK tw I know and for all the ones trying to get help.

Contrapoints taking some shots at the "trans women are women" slogan, kinda outta nowhere, is like a faint whiff of her old bad self-centered trans politics though.
posted by fleacircus at 10:24 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I have one video that I paused immediately after she said, I kid you not, "[There is a real problem of] male invisibility on dating apps, and ... "I do not think there is a single definite answer to the vague and useless question 'Which gender has it worse?'"

Other trans folks here on metafilter have said substantially the same thing. Not being trans, and not having any experience whatsoever about the experiences of both genders where trans folks literally do, I'm not inclined to dismiss such statements out of hand.
posted by tclark at 10:47 AM on January 28 [8 favorites]


Do you all think men's pain has no existence and no meaning unless you can declare it equal to women's? Do you really think your concerns have no legitimacy unless you win this competition?

You're putting an awful lot of words into my mouth. I'm not going to engage.
posted by tclark at 11:16 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


I'm trans and transfeminine, specifically. I don't see myself as a woman, but I definitely don't see myself as a man. I am nonbinary, and do use they/them pronouns, though I also use she/her. Natalie's criticism of the "Trans women are women"/"Trans men are men" slogans, at least from how I interpreted it, is that yes, it's true, but trans people are also trans. On multiple levels, there's a need to acknowledge the trans part of it, because there's different needs we have to deal with versus cisgender people.

Treating trans women as women is one thing, but it should not come to the exclusion of the trans aspect. A lot of the vibe of Transgender Inclusivity from cisgender institutions feels a lot like "Yes, you're valid. Yes, we will call you by your chosen name, and chosen pronouns, but we're not going to help you with the other aspects of transitioning." Most cisgender women don't need to take regular medication to bring their bodies in line with their actual gender. Most cisgender women don't need laser or electrolysis to remove facial hair. Most cisgender women don't undergo major surgery on their genitalia. Most cisgender women don't have to learn how to "be a woman" after a lifetime of being socially conditioned as male. Transition isn't just taking some pills or shots, getting a legal name change, putting on a new outfit, and maybe getting some surgery. It's a process, and it takes a long time in a world that still is intensely focused on shutting down people who violate gender norms.

As for Natalie's take on non-binary people, a lot of that spun out from bad tweets where she expressed her concern about the obligatory pronoun check when she is the only visibly trans person in a cisgender space. The sense that "They know I'm trans, and would not ask for pronouns if there wasn't a visibly trans person here." is real and I've felt a bit of that since coming out myself. Her unease at that is real, and it feels valid from my own experience.

And as for the Buck Angel thing, she's said elsewhere that she didn't know Buck Angel was enbyphobic, and a transmedicalist until after the video where he appeared dropped. I only found out about that when Trans Twitter blew up about it. If you're not actively following Buck Angel, I can see how that would slip by. Maybe Natalie and her team should have looked into it more, but it feels more like an honest mistake of "Let's work with this transmasc icon" versus an endorsement of his beliefs.
posted by SansPoint at 11:25 AM on January 28 [17 favorites]


[One comment removed for violating the guidelines. Friendly reminder: intersectionality is a thing and people can experience oppression in different ways. We can have a discussion that doesn’t amount to right/wrong/all-or-nothing, or cis people telling trans people what to think about this.]
posted by loup (staff) at 11:38 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Other trans folks here on metafilter have said substantially the same thing. Not being trans, and not having any experience whatsoever about the experiences of both genders where trans folks literally do, I'm not inclined to dismiss such statements out of hand.

Trans women are women. I do not have experience of being a man. I have experience of being a (repressed) trans woman living as a man. There are good reasons to believe these experiences are not the same.
posted by Dysk at 12:16 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Trans women are women. I do not have experience of being a man.

To be clear, I did not say that trans women are not women, nor that trans men are not men. A better way to phrase what I said would be that trans folk have experienced, first hand, how the rest of the world has treated them as one gender, and then as the other (if they are not NB), an experience I've not had in any way.

Therefore, I'm not inclined to disregard trans men and trans women about things that have some relevance to being treated differently when perceived as a man vs. when perceived as a woman.
posted by tclark at 12:24 PM on January 28


Natalie's criticism of the "Trans women are women"/"Trans men are men" slogans, at least from how I interpreted it

"Trans women are women" is not the only slogan in the world, it does not have to contain all of gender theory. It's great to be for rights -- and for example there already is a, "So-and-so says trans rights'," meme/slogan -- but it seems strange to phrase that desire in terms of attacking some other slogan, especially when it's a slogan akin in form to "Black lives matter", that probably shouldn't be getting asterisks put on it. You can just be for rights, you don't need to dink around with a perfectly fine slogan.

Your interpretation sounds meaningful but I don't think it was what CP actually said. She was pretty clear: she wants something that's more inclusive (though "trans men are men" exists...), and that points more towards direct rights discussions -- instead of towards things like identity and validity, which are words she despises and has bad ideas about so like, I'm not surprised she would prefer not to talk about them.
posted by fleacircus at 12:53 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, fleacircus, there's so much to transness that goes beyond rights, identity, and validity. As I mentioned upthread, there's the whole process of transitioning, something that's medical, social, legal, and psychological. Yet, it seems to get left behind in discussions by cis people around trans rights and identity. You don't see a lot of cis people going "Let's make it easier for trans people to change names," or "Let's make sure health insurance covers the full gamut of health needs for trans people, including surgeries." The discourse always seems to be "Trans people are valid," which we are, but being valid doesn't pay for electrolysis.
posted by SansPoint at 1:35 PM on January 28 [12 favorites]


Yet, it seems to get left behind in discussions by cis people around trans rights and identity.

This is the part of Natalie's video I found compelling. Slogans are important, symbols have value, but the greatest value add to supporting trans folks comes not when we speak in generalities, but in practical advocacy. Trans folks shouldn't face hurdles to change their names, get full physical and mental health care before, during, and post transition. The crap that the TERFs in the UK are pulling are 100% about making life harder for trans people to get the services they need. One relatively minor upside in the US is that there isn't as much of a virulent non-religious "left anti-trans" segment here.
posted by tclark at 1:46 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to find the source for something in the video. At 39:05 she says "1% of adults have undeniable trans tendencies". Does anyone know where that statistic comes from?
posted by Nelson at 2:02 PM on January 28


No Jo-Anne content (and the better for it!) but I just watched a wonderful CNN program about gender fluidity—This Is Life with Lisa Ling S5E3 (2018), possibly in any US cable system's on-demand collection, paywalled YouTube, IMDB entry
  • a gender fluid teenager coming out to their parents
  • a beautiful tear-jerker of a story about a gender-fluid couple whose identities have both changed during their relationship and who as of filming were happily living together (one trans)
  • fashion model (androgynous he/him?) EJ Johnson and an interview with his parents (his father being Magic Johnson, husband of his mother Earlitha Kelly)
  • and a cross-dressing husband in a hetero relationship exploring the potential of being trans, his wife still loving him and processing the possibilities
I sneer at all American “news” organizations these days, but Lisa Ling and her team are pretty good as individual professionals, and the fact that programs like this are a major factor in nationalists hating and fearing CNN brought an extra little frisson of pleasure to watching it.
posted by XMLicious at 2:43 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


I mean, hey, I'd rather someone go "Trans 👏 Women 👏 Are 👏 Women!" than not. In a world that still sees trans people as a Dangerous Other, the acknowledgement and validation of that is a net good thing. I just have to roll my eyes a bit at how many cis folks just stop at the slogan, and don't do anything to help trans folks beyond that.

I will say that I don't see people sending death threats about where the italics go. I see people sending death threats to the trans women who want to, well, exist.

And, I suppose, to a lesser extent, I see people sending death threats to the people who want trans women to not exist.
posted by SansPoint at 3:28 PM on January 28 [8 favorites]


Other trans folks here on metafilter have said substantially the same thing. Not being trans, and not having any experience whatsoever about the experiences of both genders where trans folks literally do, I'm not inclined to dismiss such statements out of hand.

...and the point you're trying to make doesn't reduce down that simply. As has been pointed out upthread, many trans women often find (some kinds of) misogyny validating - that is not an experience that will generalise to cis women in the same way. Similarly, how the signals sent to people perceived and received as men are received by people who are not actually men is not necessarily the same as how they are perceived and received by cis men. And likewise for people perceived as women who are not cis women.

You have actual trans people in this thread telling you that yes, male pain is real, but no, it makes no sense to compare the harms patriarchy does to men and women, because those harms are not comparable in magnitude. And you refuse to listen, in favour of your absent supposed counter-example?
posted by Dysk at 3:58 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


This was a great video. Thanks for sharing it!
posted by rebent at 4:48 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I took a lot from this video and I'm glad I stuck with it to the end.
posted by Evstar at 6:05 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


And you refuse to listen, in favour of your absent supposed counter-example?

That's not what I've said at all, and I find that this comment both intentionally misconstrues my previous comment in the most uncharitable possible light and accuses me of bad faith with "absent supposed counter-example."

Must I find a comment I've seen to satisfy you?
posted by tclark at 9:19 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


No, but maybe consider listening to the trans people actually in the room rather than lecturing us about how your simplistic understanding of the situation is more correct than the more nuanced position that people are taking here:

Living as a man sucked way more than living as a woman, for me. That does not generalise to everyone else, cis people especially, for reasons gone into above. This is a very common position in trans communities. A slightly too self-centred analysis would easily arrive at the position that it means men have it worse than women, which is indeed exactly what CP says, and almost certainly exactly why - she has a tendency to glorify her own experiences over the possibility that anyone might experience otherwise. This is not a very common position in trans communities, and largely a consequence of this same analytical failure mode when you do see it.

And all of the above is irrelevant, because however much I or anyone else thinks living as whatever sucks, being sold as property, raped as an act of war, or killed for wearing the wrong clothes, these are all objectively way, way worse than anything those of us comfortable enough to be posting on metafilter are ever likely to experience, and far more routine for women in many parts of the world than anything comparable for us. To suggest that the pain we feel about gender stuff is somehow more significant than this global power disparity and the abuse that comes with it, that it somehow means that those victims don't have it "worse" would be, yet again, an analytical failure grounded in failing to decenter our privileged selves.
posted by Dysk at 10:19 PM on January 28 [10 favorites]


Because fundamentally, trans women do not have experience of being men like you're suggesting - while nobody has been both, so we can never definitively know (as with literally everything in psychology), there are very good reasons to believe that there are significant ways in which the experience of being a man and living as one as a trans person are different, and you'd have to make a serious argument as to why they are substantially the same to convince me otherwise. Yes, cissexist society will largely be unable to tell the difference, and treat them the same, but the interiority of the trans experience is at least different enough to prompt some kind of transitioning (whatever that may mean for an individual) in a significant proportion, something you don't see cis men doing very much, so there must be some significant difference in the respective experiences of that largely identical treatment to lead to those differences in reaction and outcome. On which basis it does not make sense to generalise from a trans woman or non-binary person's experiences of living as a man to the experience of cis men, especially not for making sweeping statements about all cis men, about gender relations, b based on one example that goes against the majority position anyway.
posted by Dysk at 10:30 PM on January 28 [10 favorites]


(And if you wanted another of the myriad reasons that ContraPoints can be divisive in trans communities - a tendency for cis people to take her weird outlier take as gospel, and weaponise it against trans people to avoid having to actually listen to us. Just commenting on a broader pattern.)
posted by Dysk at 10:35 PM on January 28 [10 favorites]


'Ok, your side is saying that trans women are trans women; and your side is saying that trans women are trans women. How about you stop sending each other death threats about where the italics go?

Well, I think both of the points are far away from a reasonable interpretation of the slogan, and far away from like the actual fight going on for trans people. Like, the middle ground between two bad points is not automatically wise. I say this middle child to middle child.

I'd want to ask these ppl what they think the meaning and relevance of the slogan is in the first place. Bearing in mind it's just a slogan that points at ideas, and not an entire self-contained catechism or koan.

(My answer would be like: it's actually doing a couple of important things. First of all, it helps validate a lot of eggs and other confused and questioning trans people, in real concrete ways. It's also a signpost, a rallying flag. The fact that you cannot really carve out a ghetto for trans women without also throwing a lot of cis women into it is very important. Unequivocal, un-asteriskable statement of membership is important, and to avoid a compromised position, a second class status, which is a real problem if you just focus on negotiable policy positions. So like given my answer you might see how I think a reaction to this slogan that's like, "It's bad because it de-emphasizes how trans women are NOT cis women" is just plain bass-ackwards; missing the forest for the cart; something like that.)
posted by fleacircus at 2:03 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


And all of the above is irrelevant, because however much I or anyone else thinks living as whatever sucks, being sold as property, raped as an act of war, or killed for wearing the wrong clothes, these are all objectively way, way worse than anything those of us comfortable enough to be posting on metafilter are ever likely to experience

For the record, my parents tried to force me into an arranged marriage and beat me up plenty of times for wearing the wrong clothes. I have a first cousin who is just like me and around on the internet (not sure if she's on MeFi specifically) who has survived her in-laws trying to literally murder her because of her small dowry.

We ARE here. We're here, watching the cis men on MeFi use trans people (based on one trans youtuber's minor mistakes) as their shield for denying the existence of male privilege and women's oppression. And we're the ones getting our comments removed by the mods because apparently we don't respect intersectionality enough.
posted by MiraK at 5:27 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


I must admit I'm not sure what to believe about some of these comments. I say I've found Natalie's videos to be compelling and very educational about trans issues, and have had trans people in my personal life -- people close to me whom I might out if I were too specific about them -- reinforce her arguments, and I see people here engage in the exact same type of things that, magnified and put through a lens of hurt and pain turned on a target easier to attack than the power structures that oppress them have effectively made Natalie back far away from normal social media.

I select a specific quote from her video that was attacked, and say "I think what Natalie and others I have seen say about this shouldn't be dismissed out of hand" -- on a point which I realize now has a lot of implications beyond it which I did not intend -- and I'm a cis het man as an agent of oppression.

For saying, I quote, "Not being trans, and not having any experience whatsoever about the experiences of both genders where trans folks literally do, I'm not inclined to dismiss such statements out of hand."

If this is me failing, and being oppressive, and siding and promoting the structures that harm women, trans and otherwise, and if Natalie is such a "weird outlier" that my ill-conceived comment in support of her own viewpoint and the viewpoints of others who, if I am to take MiraK and Dysk's word for it are "weird outliers" then I literally don't know what next to do.

I literally don't know who to believe. Natalie, my trans friends J and Leah, trans folks who have opined here on metafilter on similar issues (who I may have misunderstood, but whose comments have often aligned with Natalie's), who are absent from this thread, or someone who, when I literally said nothing more than: I repeat for emphasis

"Not being trans, and not having any experience whatsoever about the experiences of both genders where trans folks literally do, I'm not inclined to dismiss such statements out of hand."

If this is weaponizing a weird trans outlier's message, I literally have nothing further to say, because I am so far apart from you on this issue that I can't imagine how to bridge that gap.

I reiterate my comments from above that I believe in and advocate for trans rights, for trans access to services, for -- to use the weird outlier's words -- trans liberation. I believe in the liberation of all women from the systems of oppression and abuse that harm them, and acknowledge my privilege in being shielded from most of the downsides of our current patriarchal system, and want to use that privilege even if it costs me pain and discomfort to help dismantle the injustice.

If anything I've said has been against the above paragraph, or not in good faith a "miss" on achieving those ends, I apologize, unreservedly.
posted by tclark at 7:33 AM on January 29 [7 favorites]


In my philosophy degree, it was constantly drilled into me that you are to interpret an argument you are opposing in the most charitable way possible. For then your counterarguments are able to pierce even the most fortified version of the opposing position. And personally attacking the philosopher you oppose – or addressing them on a personal level at all, really – is almost always a deeply ridiculous thing to do. Of course, it's unprofessional. But, more fundamentally, it's often just completely beside the point. Even if you believe a philosopher possesses a certain quality that leads them to formulate bad ideas, if the ideas are bad then they're bad independent of who presents them, and your focus should be on explaining why that is. Again, this is to make your own counterarguments as powerful and widely applicable as possible.

I know Natalie would have been taught the same during her own philosophy studies. I often wonder if a lot of the struggles she's had watching her work be received by the broader public stem from the felt absence of these basic norms and courtesies which philosophers can come to take for granted.

(This is not to say that public debates at large should be conducted as philosophical debates inside the academy are. For one thing, the goal of debate in society at large often isn't to come up with the best arguments, it's to win popular support. And the effect of platforming a position inside the academy is very different to the effect of platforming a position in mainstream society. I always dread the feeling of angry humiliation I experience as a queer person whenever my humanity qua sexuality is placed up for 'rational debate'. But I feel like Natalie's work, popular though it is, still occupies a certain niche, where a lot of her target audience comprises broadly like-minded people who have similar politics, and it really would be better for all of us and the causes we have in common if we could comport ourselves in argument and debate closer to the way philosophers do.)
posted by Panthalassa at 7:33 AM on January 29 [10 favorites]


Finally finished the video, it took me three goes. I admire how she does the ContraPoints jiujitsu of coming to a sympathetic understanding of her opposition and then using that to make an even stronger argument about why they are wrong.

I had no idea JK Rowling had written that her opposition to transgender rights was rooted in her own experiences of sexual abuse at the hands of a man. I hadn't paid that much attention. It's terrible Rowling experienced abuse. It's also terrible Rowling twists that experience into somehow thinking transgender people are therefore a threat to all women and Natalie does a great job walking us all the way through that. The end result is one can be both sympathetic to Rowling while also rejecting her TERFy arguments. The drawback is that it could be seen as condescending. But I think the ContraPoints analysis is really correct here.
posted by Nelson at 8:43 AM on January 29 [9 favorites]


I reiterate my comments from above that I believe in and advocate for trans rights, for trans access to services, for -- to use the weird outlier's words -- trans liberation.

I'm sure you do. I don't question the authenticity of your support for trans liberation and trans rights.

But listen: the point of contention between you and others (including me) here is specifically Natalie's claim that "I don't think it's possible to answer the question of which gender has it worse". This is not and never was a statement about trans liberation (except in the broader, secondary sense that all gender issues are connected with trans liberation) . She said this in a video titled "Men", in which she mainly discusses cis men and the cis male experience, specifically focusing on the cis men who make up the Men's Rights Activist contingent. She said it in a segment of her video where she is discussing a book she calls "the MRA bible", and how she found herself agreeing with the points the writer of "the MRA bible" was making about how difficult life is for cis men. She tells a lot of anecdotes about how men have it really hard, and how women's pain is often overstated and weaponized against men. This is the primary context for her statement. Not trans rights or trans liberation. The "MRA bible" does not talk about trans liberation, it only speaks of cis people. She was supporting the views of a Men's Rights Activist who claims that (cis) men are equally oppressed as (cis) women, or near enough that it's impossible to say who has it worse.

So your support of her statement is not at all to do with supporting trans rights and trans liberation. You're defending cis men - your own demographic - and using "But a trans woman said it! Surely you must agree that cis men like me are equally as oppressed as women when a trans woman has said it! This is not self serving at all, this is me being a good trans ally and supporting a trans woman's views!"

Again, I do not question your sincerity in supporting trans liberation in general. I'm sure you do. But here, in this specific case, you're amplifying a very self serving and sexist viewpoint (the idea that cis men are just as oppressed as women) and using the fact that a trans woman said it to cover your ass.
posted by MiraK at 9:06 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


using the fact that a trans woman said it to cover your ass.

I disagree with your assessment of my motives. But it is clear that I have failed in my intent, and I apologize. Without reservation.
posted by tclark at 9:15 AM on January 29


Look, I'm not a fan of Wynn by any means, but I can't help but feel that some of you non-trans are missing the ironic mode in which Wynn operates much of the time.

This is better understood if we look at the actual words and context in which Wynn is talking about which gender has it worse. So, from the video "Men" :
I guess my super fucking Libra opinion is that there's upsides and downsides to male and female experience. I don't actually think there's a single definite answer to the vague and useless question, "Which gender has it worse?"

I consider myself a feminist because I support reproductive rights and I oppose workplace misogyny and I generally agree with a lot of the activism that happens under the heading of feminism. But I also think a lot of men are just having a super fucking difficult time right now and that must be super fucking hard for them heyhowreyou.

God, I'm such a cool girl, I think the entire mid-Atlantic region is about to freeze over.
Like, when Wynn is talking in this way about how super fucking hard something must be for a group of people, we're not supposed to take it literally. For example, from earlier in the video:
We have the literal 1% complaining about "anti-rich prejudice." That must be super fucking hard for you.
Wynn's literally in an outfit that she describes as "pandering to the male gaze". The whole section is heavily marked as being ironically sympathetic towards men and their problems. But at another level, Wynn is winking at her audience with constant reminders that this is her being a "cool girl".

If you take everything Wynn says literally then, I guess feel free to be mad about it, but I think any sensible discussion of Contrapoints needs to involve a significantly higher level of nuance.
posted by death valley compound at 9:17 AM on January 29 [21 favorites]


I'm not mad at Wynn. I think she's mistaken, I also think she's using the ironic/satirical stance to cover all her bases a bit, but she's an artist, she's allowed, and crucially, what she said wasn't self serving and does not benefit her personally. I am mad about cis men who are supporting her obviously untrue statement because it does directly benefit them, especially when said cis men explicitly use her transness as the reason why her statement, which personally benefits them, must surely be true.

It's basically like white people using the n-word and saying, "But look, this Black person in this video says it's ok for white people to say it!"
posted by MiraK at 9:26 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


I hear you. I am reassessing my actions and my statements.
posted by tclark at 9:29 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


Five points. I'm afraid I don't have more time or energy for this conversation, at least not atm. If these upset you, that doesn't mean they aren't true.

1. Being critiqued is not (necessarily) being attacked. If you are critiqued, and your impulse is to reply back and defend yourself, I would encourage you to sit with your feelings first and really consider whether the words are true. Resist the urge to defend yourself, and instead open your heart and mind. If the words of others don't apply to you, then let them go. But if they do, then consider whether you are following the normal and natural and often harmful tendency to resist change because it feels painful to be challenged. It's not an attack, but an opportunity for introspection and growth.

2. Trans people are not a monolith. Trans people are in active conversation, with others and within trans communities, on issues discussed here. Before making an argument citing a trans person or trans people, it might be a good idea to consider the arguments of any trans person who disagrees with them.

3. Wynn is an entertainer and, to some, an educator, not a spokesperson for the trans community. Wynn has made some questionable decisions and choices, especially around issues regarding nonbinary people, and the topic of which gender has it worse risks erasing nonbinary people.

4. Trans people are not a great way to make arguments about cis folk. Trans people are not a great opportunity to center cis folk or cis experiences. Trans people are not tools for arguments for cis people to have about sexism. Both cis men and cis women often forget this.

5. Unless it was a trans man who hurt her (spoiler: it wasn't), it's not Rowling's experience that has lead her to question trans rights.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 9:32 AM on January 29 [17 favorites]


"I do not think there is a single definite answer to the vague and useless question 'Which gender has it worse?'"

I think that question as asked IS vague and useless without narrowing the scope to specific cross-sections of race, class, culture, and nationality, all of which are complex topics to unpack. It's not unanswerable, but I think it's accurate to say that there's maybe not a single definitive answer. To be clear, in any particular cross-section, I think the answer is going to be definitely that women have it worse in most--if not all--cases. Across different cross-sections, it gets more complicated.

And yeah, my experience growing up and realizing very early that I was trans (and also white, lower middle class growing up, and later going to a state university, in NY state and living in NYC now) has given me a different perspective to anyone not trans.

Since I was perceived as cis male pre-transition, and since transitioning more than a decade ago have been perceived as cis female (by people who don't know me, and some who do), also different from some other trans people. That perspective is probably insightful in some ways, probably highly biased in others. Beyond first-hand experience, there's also the history of interactions and conversations with others through those different filters (because men tend to talk to men in different ways than they talk to women, and women tend to talk to women in different ways than they talk to men). Even so, I'm just one individual living in one place in the world so any conclusions I draw aren't going to be universal truths in any case.

(And for the record, cat calls and the like just make me feel uncomfortable. I get how they could also be validating for some, at least the first time or two, but no thank you.)

I appreciated the video. It wasn't perfect, but I always like hearing Natalie's perspective, and while in the past she has said things that are off, or outright wrong, or that can be badly misconstrued and misused when taken out of context, she receives a disproportionate amount of abuse, not to mention outright threats of violence. (Also, regarding the threats to JKR, while it was a bit silly (though on-brand for CP) to include the "neo-liberal garbage" tweet, the very next example was a tweet saying she deserved a backhand slap, which was an explicit and inexcusable threat of physical violence.)
posted by Pryde at 9:49 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


5. Unless it was a trans man who hurt her (spoiler: it wasn't), it's not Rowling's experience that has lead her to question trans rights.

Crysopoeia, I'm with you up to this point. And even then, I'm kinda with you. At the core of Rowling's transphobia is that she does not see trans people as their actual gender, but as their assigned gender at birth. Throw the sexual assault on top of that, which has left her with an extreme mistrust of cis men, which takes her existing transphobia up to eleven. She sees trans women as men, and she sees men as potential predators, which makes trans women even more dangerous as they become a "wolf in sheep's clothing."

There's a cruel internal logic to this: "Men hurt me and others, and are dangerous. Therefore trans women, who are men who pretend to be women, are even more dangerous." It's a vicious circle, and it would take some doing to break either the "all men are dangerous" idea or the "all trans women are just men in dresses" idea.
posted by SansPoint at 10:34 AM on January 29 [8 favorites]


MiraK, I apologise, that was a stupid and hurtful way for me to try to make my point.
posted by Dysk at 10:43 AM on January 29


Well, my personal, fairly-fucking-Libran, non-binary, not-as-radical-left-as-I-was-in-my-twenties-but-still-radical-left perspective about Natalie Wynn and the dynamics surrounding her is that a significant amount of the tension is because she has been elevated to be "the one trans YouTube celebrity" by cis-dominated media and cultural gatekeepers. (Or at least "the one trans YouTube celebrity with important political thoughts.") This is an impossible task for anyone because no one person can represent the complexity, diversity, and width and breadth of trans and non-binary experiences, perspectives, insights, questions, and needs. So, while of course Natalie Wynn has made mistakes and has some ethical responsibility to learn from them, I think the most important shift that's needed is to lift up and empower more trans and non-binary voices.

Of course, given the dynamics of cis-dominated media, that might also be an impossible task. It's almost like we need more democratic control of resources and power across the board--including both access to the spotlight and decision making about where the spotlight gets pointed.
posted by overglow at 10:49 AM on January 29 [13 favorites]


...Yikes, this thread has moved fast. The first thing I want to say is, tclark, I understand where you've been coming from, and I don't think you've said anything you need to be ashamed of. I don't believe you are trying to draw an unjustified equivalence between the suffering of women and the suffering of men under patriarchy, I don't believe you are trying to imply that trans women aren't women, and I don't believe that you are unjustly trying to exploit the arguments of one or a few particular trans people to advance a bigoted viewpoint.

Yes, trans women are women, and I recognize now that I was always a woman even if I didn't think it at the time. But the reason I recognize this is because this interpretation benefits my life right now, not because my being a woman is an objective, immutable fact that has held from the moment of my birth. If you had asked me six months ago if I was a man, I would have said yes (though I would have also wondered if you maybe were implying something that I was too scared to acknowledge to myself). I exercise my right to determine the facts of my own life by saying that yes, I do sort of understand what it's like to be a man, even if I was hilariously incompetent at it and I'm following a much more rewarding way to live now. It's true that in hindsight I can recognize the impact of gender dysphoria in my life and that my experience probably has significant differences from the experiences of most self-identified cis men. However, the fact that I actually had to discover and, importantly, assert for myself that I am a trans woman proves definitively that there is not even in principle any way, either from the inside or the outside, to perfectly determine which people who currently identify as cis men will later identify as trans. Therefore, there will always be some people who consider themselves to be cis men while at the same time experiencing unacknowledged or unprocessed gender dysphoria, and a substantial portion of those people will die having never seriously questioned their gender. So, are they really men or not? I don't think it is legitimate or responsible to insist that all of those people aren't really men, because the determination of whether someone is a man is one that only the person themself can make.

This thread has shown me that there are those people who trust Natalie, and there are those who do not, and they have extremely different interpretations about what Natalie is actually trying to say. Thanks to death valley compound citing the exact moment when Natalie says the quote in question, it is completely obvious to me that Natalie is being sarcastic when she says that "I also think that a lot of men are just having a super fucking difficult time right nyow and that must be super fucking hard for them heyhowareyou". I trust that Natalie actually is a feminist and understands that, while it is possible to accept that male pain is real and empathize with it, whatever "oppression" men feel under patriarchy does not compare to the very concrete and material suffering inflicted upon women. However, the people in this thread who do not trust Natalie appear to take her words for their literal meaning, and believe that she is saying that male and female pain are the same. I disagree with this view.

So, are we just doomed to be tragically trapped behind these battle lines, where the people who trust Natalie and the people who don't trust her will never understand each other, continually hardening their opinions against the "other side"? I really, truly, do not believe that this is necessary. Forget for a moment that there was ever a Youtuber named Contrapoints. We all know the score here. I trust that we are all empathetic people who acknowledge the suffering caused by patriarchy and cissexism. Can we all just breathe for a second?
posted by J.K. Seazer at 12:14 PM on January 29 [22 favorites]


Thank you J.K. Seazer. Flagged as fantastic.
posted by SansPoint at 12:52 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Therefore, there will always be some people who consider themselves to be cis men while at the same time experiencing unacknowledged or unprocessed gender dysphoria, and a substantial portion of those people will die having never seriously questioned their gender. So, are they really men or not? I don't think it is legitimate or responsible to insist that all of those people aren't really men, because the determination of whether someone is a man is one that only the person themself can make.

Regardless of if we can make that determination for any given individual (clearly no in my view as well) they are at best an outlier group not representative of, or a useful basis from which to draw conclusions about, cis men as a whole.
posted by Dysk at 1:36 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Regardless of if we can make that determination for any given individual (clearly no in my view as well) they are at best an outlier group not representative of, or a useful basis from which to draw conclusions about, cis men as a whole.

I mean, I think that is true to an extent, but I also think that we cannot go all the way and say that there are no useful similarities or conclusions about cis men that we can draw.

One more thought: I recognize a certain pattern in Natalie's sense of humor that I share with her, and that I think plays a significant role in why some people interpret her so negatively. She has a sarcastic style where she will say things that are obviously bad and wrong, with the expectation that her audience knows that she knows that those things are bad and wrong. Basically, there's an implied "I am caricaturing this view" disclaimer before such remarks. Unfortunately, because such ironic conversational strategies can be and often are abused to "kid on the square" and get away with saying unacceptable things with the excuse that it's "just a joke", this kind of sarcasm backfires with people who don't trust that Natalie really is criticizing such views.

Given that this is my acknowledged understanding of the situation, I say sincerely that I cannot and do not expect to be able to convince anyone that Natalie really is being sarcastic. If you think that someone is covering for regressive opinions through disingenuous irony, I can offer you my sympathy, but I won't try to convince you that you're wrong, because I know that that is a healthy and justified strategy for dealing with a lot of shitty people. I think it's a tragedy that many people have apparently categorized Natalie as a shitty person for this reason, but I accept it.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 1:42 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


And personally attacking the philosopher you oppose – or addressing them on a personal level at all, really – is almost always a deeply ridiculous thing to do. Of course, it's unprofessional.

In Internet terms, "First person to ad hominem loses."
posted by mikelieman at 2:39 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Basically, there's an implied "I am caricaturing this view" disclaimer before such remarks

I'd be a lot more likely to buy that if she didn't regularly use the exact same delivery and tones of voice to deliver lines that aren't sarcastic (in the sense of not being what she means). It isn't a clear signpost to me, because that signpost is everywhere in her content - it becomes a bit 'the [girl] who cried wolf'.
posted by Dysk at 7:56 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Natalie Wynn is attempting trans survival through hyper visibility via populist philosophy.

I mean, I have a lot to say but I don’t put enough effort into my life to accomplish what she can, so more power to her.

I would say just enjoy the spectacle, she’s learning on a hyper visible stage while trying to push buttons for maximum “contemporary relevance”. It’s going to be messy for her, that is a large part of trans survival, just finding your hustle and fucking up while trying do your best to make sense of yourself in a world that fights you every step of the way.
posted by noiseanoise at 9:57 PM on January 30 [9 favorites]


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