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Watch thou for the TERF

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This photograph from today’s Times shows a sign put up at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in north London. The sign reads:

ZERO TOLERANCE
What is a TERF?
(Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist)
“Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist” ideology is a specific form of transphobia. The primary TERF assertion is that transwomen are not women, and accordingly have no place in women’s spaces.
This ideology also affects trans men, as TERF’s assert that people assigned female at birth, but indentify as male, shouldn’t be allowed into women’s spaces either.

Report + Support: icmp.ac.uk/report

An arrow points from the words “Report+Support” to a QR code where students can report instances of TERF ideology.

A fricking QR code. I wish this were satire.

“Music college accused of witch-hunt over QR-code transphobia alert”, reports Nicola Woodcock in the Times.

A college has apologised for displaying a sign asking students to report trans exclusionary radical feminist ideology, or Terf, using a QR code.

The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in north London was criticised for the sign telling staff and students that it had “zero tolerance” of Terf ideology, which it called a specific form of transphobia.

The term is used as an insult to people who have so-called gender-critical beliefs that biological gender cannot change.

The article went on to say,

Paul Kirkham, chief executive of the college, said: “Our intention, following discussions with our student community, had been to communicate the definition of Terf to help clarify what we considered to be growing misconceptions around what the term means. We got it wrong. The signage is clunky and we can see how it can be misinterpreted.” He added that the sign had been removed.

“Clunky” is not the term I would have chosen. While I do have criticisms of the wording of the sign, I must defend whoever wrote it against the charge that it was easy to misinterpret. Its meaning was entirely clear.

Whatever term you would have chosen, an interesting question is how well does the “Scan here to report heresy” strategy work as means to reduce prejudice against transgender people?

The British Social Attitudes Survey is the gold standard for long term monitoring of, well, British social attitudes, like it says on the tin. In 1983, when the BSA survey started, 17% of respondents agreed with the statement “Same-sex relationships are ‘not wrong at all'”. In 2018 it was 66%. The responses over the last four decades to most of the BSA’s questions on issues of sexuality show a similar pattern: there are small fluctuations year to year, but the trend of acceptance is basically an upward-sloping straight line.

But not for all questions. According to Table 5 on page 14 of the report of the 39th and most recent iteration of the BSA survey, in the surveys of 2016, 2019 and 2021 participants were asked their views about whether transgender people should be able to change the sex on their birth certificate. In 2016, 58% thought that they should be. In 2019 it was 53% – a little surprising to see a decrease, but as I said, the lines always fluctuate a bit. In 2021 the proportion agreeing that transgender people should be able to change the sex on their birth certificate was…

Go on, guess.

32%.

40 comments to Watch thou for the TERF

  • Paul Marks

    “Zero Tolerance” indeed.

    The “Woke” (the followers of the endless twists and turns of “Critical Theory” Marxism – that emerged from the Frankfurt School, but has repeatedly mutated over the years) have “Zero Tolerance” – they are fanatical totalitarians, and totally vicious.

    I often bang on about election fraud – but many of these people really do exist, not all of Mr Biden’s 81 million votes were fake. Many people, both in America and in Britian, do support sexually mutilating children and all the rest of the horrors

    I still believe that these people, in both Britain and the United States, are a minority – but their numbers are growing.

    Among the young, the products of the accused education system, they may already be the majority – let us hope not.

  • Steven R

    I don’t know. I mean, yes the numbers of people who are accepting of trannies being women might be going up if only from population increasing, but I suspect for the majority, they just get tired of being told how wrong their thinking is by the establishment. And in an age of doxxing and social media struggle sessions and careers being ruined, they might just say nothing.

  • Paul Marks

    Steven R – it is a secret ballot.

    Mr Biden and associates make no secret of the fact that they support the sexual mutilation of children.

    And not all of those 81 million votes were fake – tens of millions of them were real. And tens of million of people voted for evil (yes – for evil, for the sexual mutilation of children and-so-on) in the run up to the midterm elections on Tuesday. Again, not all the votes were fake – many millions of votes for evil were real.

    Is it really different in the United Kingdom?

  • Zerren Yeoville

    An educational establishment encouraging its students to report people for wrongthink?

    It appears that those who decide what impressionable young minds are taught in schools and colleges have taken the odious Parsons brats from ‘1984’ as models to be emulated, rather than warnings to be avoided.

    (And possibly also the closed-minded society of ‘The Chrysalids’, as hinted by the title of this article).

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Steven R, the point is the numbers aren’t going up. On the contrary, the proportion of people who agree transgender people should be able to change the sex on their birth certificate has almost halved since 2016.

    Admittedly, this is a question about a particular legal requirement that may be an imperfect proxy for acceptance of transgender people generally. (As a libertarian, I am forever having to explain that one can oppose racism, for instance, and also oppose laws that try to end racism by force.) But my impression is that acceptance of transgender people has sharply gone down in the last few years. A few years ago Times stories on the topic got a few tens of comments, fairly evenly divided in what view they took. Now every report with “trans” or “transgender” in the title gets hundreds of comments, 99% of them hostile.

    Mind you, I don’t think this necessarily displeases the Woke. As Johnathan Pearce’s post of yesterday says, they crave a cause to rage about. The last thing they want is for the people they claim to be saving to turn round and say, “We’re doing OK, thanks, your help is no longer required.”

  • Steven R

    I get it. There’s always another cause to be outraged out right around the corner and woe be unto he who thinks against the orthodoxy.

    When I was in college, the cause du jour was sexual assault. One day some signs started popping up saying “regret is NOT rape”. Some men on campus dared say to the ladies that having sex and then deciding it was a bad idea is not the same thing as sexual assault.

    The “official” line coming from the university was that while the men were allowed to have their backwards thinking and we all just had to live with it, they also allowed the feminists and Womens Studies department to rally around the flagpole against the penisocracy and to report harassments [read: wrongthink] to campus police and security and professors and anyone else they can think of. Polls asking “is rape bad” were almost unanimous in saying “yes”. When questioned if willingly having sex and then deciding it was not a good idea was rape was overwhelmingly “no”, yet the administration continued in saying it was. This is really nothing different.

    What’s old is new again.

  • Phil B

    That is why you should always carry a black indelible felt tip marker with you. Simply colour one or two random squares on the QR code …

    Not that I would condone such an evil act, when we are discussing THAT subject.

  • bobby b

    Natalie Solent (Essex)
    November 11, 2022 at 11:01 pm

    “On the contrary, the proportion of people who agree transgender people should be able to change the sex on their birth certificate has almost halved since 2016.”

    I think there’s an argument to be made that the transgender community has radically changed over the past decade – which might explain why people react to them differently than they used to.

    It went from a small set of individuals who seemed to not be looking for anything from anyone else but to be left alone to live life as they saw fit, to a much larger group motivated by fashion and outrage and aggression. It turned from “a few people”
    to “a movement”, and specifically an in-your-face one.

    I’ve known – worked with – several transgendered people from way back – old-school types, to me – and I could never imagine them screaming “you misgendered me!” to a store clerk. But they seem happier than the new group. The newer transgendered person is an angry person.

  • bobby b

    As an addendum to my above of 2:33:

    As I read what I typed, it strikes me that I just described how the radicalized Black Panther movement seemed to the rest of us when they first popped up.

    Tired of “waiting for equality”, they swore to simply take it. They were aggressive, hostile, in-your-face people, and made few friends.

    But I wonder if they did make a better world in some respect for black people. Maybe, if I tired of waiting nicely for someone to choose to accept me, I might simply demand it.

  • Stephen J.

    “Not that I would condone such an evil act, when we are discussing THAT subject.”

    Think of it this way: Anyone who does such a thing is not interfering with the free speech of the poster’s creator, who can still get information out to the audience, which they couldn’t if the poster had simply been ripped down (as I am frequently tempted to do for many posters I see, before reminding myself that I believe in free speech).

    Such an action would simply be protecting the privacy of the subjects being reported on without their consent, by ensuring it could not be done on careless impulse at the very least.

  • John

    Declining public support for whatever the latest thing happens to be rarely if ever results in either a change of heart amongst the perpetrators or any diminution in support from media, politicians, law enforcement or the legal system.

    Nowadays you can generally add hyper-impressionable and increasingly nihilistic under-25s to that list which brings in a whole new dynamic of resentment and conflict.

  • Paul Marks

    The education system is key – even more important than the media, as the education system (in the end) produces the media.

    The indoctrination of people into evil (and this language is not too strong) is done by the schools and universities, long before they get jobs in the news or entertainment media – and I think Natalie may be correct in implying that the British education system is less evil that the schools and universities that dominate so much of the United States.

    Many (most?) of the young (under 30) people in America are on board with the sexual mutilation of children and all the other evils. They have been indoctrinated into evil – remember how the Obama Administration misused Title Nine of the Civil Rights Act to actively encourage schools and universities to crush the last dissent (the last opposition to evil) – as, using the language of Herbert Marcuse (and other Frankfurt School Marxists dear to Mr Obama and his associates) Freedom of Speech “harmed”, “disadvantaged groups” and so Freedom of Speech was “Repressive Tolerance” and needed to be exterminated.

    Ironically, from time to time, Mr Obama makes statements saying that Political Correctness or “Woke” (Frankfurt School “Critical Theory” Marxism) has gone too far – whilst knowing that it was his own Administration that used (misused) Title Nine of the Civil Rights Act to essentially outlaw what little was left of dissent in schools and universities – he speaks in the way he does in order to reassure older people (whilst knowing that the younger generation is coming up to replace them – and to exterminate their principles and values)

    The objective is to make the rigging of elections no longer necessary – as the majority of people will make a choice to vote for evil, having been totally indoctrinated into evil by the education system and the media (including the entertainment media).

    Should that plan be completed (it has NOT been yet – so election rigging is still used) then America will be truly damned – in the literal sense.

    Even if Satan and Hell do not exist (as atheists inform us that they do not) a population that is indoctrinated into evil, into supporting the sexual mutilation of children (and all the rest of it), will make their own Hell on this Earth.

  • Paul Marks

    “But Paul – surely people can resist indoctrination and conditioning, even if it is done from a young age”.

    Yes – some people can, but research shows that it is only a MINORITY of people who can resist intense indoctrination and conditioning from a young age.

    I wish that was not so, but it does appear to be so.

    That is why leftists, starting with Rousseau (“Emile” – designed to make young people dependent on the “tutor” just as they are intended to become dependent on the “Law Giver” later in life – as the man and woman say to the “tutor” on their marriage day “stay with us – and guide all our actions”) have so concentrated on education. American leftists such as John Dewey (who did so much harm to American education – as even President Eisenhower noted) owned more to Rousseau than to Karl Marx.

    As for recovery later in life – it is NOT some sort of automatic process as “practical conservatives” foolishly believe. People do NOT automatically reject the evil they have been taught as they get older – even if experiences contradict what they have been taught.

    It is a terrible personal struggle to reject the conditioning and indoctrination that someone has been subjected to from a young age – to use the old language a “long dark night of the soul” (even if the soul only exists in the Aristotelian sense).

    People can be helped to overcome the conditioning and indoctrination – but in the end they must want to be helped, something in themselves must grasp that what they have been taught is evil. And that is only the start of the struggle within themselves – a struggle that can last for years (right up to their death).

    What the left have done and are doing, via the education system and the media, is a terrible evil. It is worst in the United States – but other nations are most certainly not free of this evil.

  • “Clunky” is not the term I would have chosen. While I do have criticisms of the wording of the sign, I must defend whoever wrote it against the charge that it was easy to misinterpret. Its meaning was entirely clear.

    It’s like when politicians get busted for saying something out loud that they should only say within the confines of the other elect and then claim “they misspoke”, utter tosh and cock rot, they were busted fair-and-square.

    Surely though, to be a TERF is conditional, surely you have to be a “Feminist” first? 🙂

    That is why you should always carry a black indelible felt tip marker with you. Simply colour one or two random squares on the QR code

    You’d be popular in this instance @Phil B, since the photo shows it’s clearly an image of an LCD TV screen / monitor, still I guess a little vandalism via indelible ink would serve them right in this case.

  • Kirk

    The end state of the whole thing is going to be answered by one question and one question only: Does it work?

    Are people happier and leading more productive lives, with the whole transgender/WTFBBQ mess gaining prevalence, or is this yet another case where society’s pendulum was pushed too far off the center by the extremists, with the usual commensurate counter-reaction due to come?

    I think it’ll wind up being very different from the imaginary utopia all these idiots expect to eventuate from all of this. The one thing I’ve noticed about the LGBTWTFBBQ types I’ve known in my personal life is that they’re fundamentally and profoundly dysfunctional people on all levels, not just sexual. You accommodate their sexual delusions and give them nothing to feel persecuted over, they’ll just go further and further. This is why the same “activists” who wanted gay marriage are now agitating to normalize pedophilia as “minor-attracted persons”.

    The point isn’t sex. The point is transgression, and the more you do to make them feel at home, the more they’re going to be doing in order regain that transgressive frisson you’ve taken away from them by accepting their gayness. You are the baddie, because you won’t judge them, and oh, boy… Do they want judging. Because you won’t call them on their BS anymore, they hate you, because now they have to go ever further and further in order to reach that climax of persecution they love, to get that hit of endorphins they get when they get in the normie’s faces.

    There are people out there who’re basically just normal people, whose lives don’t revolve around their sexuality and being victims. And, who just happen to be attracted to the same sex, or who have relatively minor little fetishes. These are the people the rest of us could easily live with, but they’re not the ones running the “movement”, these days, if they ever were. The nutters who live for the conflict, the persecution? They’re in charge, and their craziness is precisely why most successful societies have kept these types firmly in the closet. The range of mental issues that usually accompanies the spectrum of “sexual identity confusion” is generally so damaging to public discourse and congress that all you can do is what the French did with DeSade: Lock them up, no matter who they are, keeping their mental disease far away from where they can do damage.

    It’s interesting to note that sexual license almost always shows up as a symptom for general societal decay. It has never, ever been associated with a growing, successful culture that I can think of, only marginal edge cases where the culture and society that expressed it were static things, going nowhere. What the connection might be? I have no idea; all I know is what I read in the histories, and you can connect the dots pretty easily when you bother to read them.

  • Lee Moore

    I’m interested in the alleged second part of the TERF exclusion zone – the idea that TERFs wish to exclude “trans men” [aka women who would prefer to be taken for men] from womanhood, ie that “trans men” should be taken at their own estimation.
    Is this right – ie that there exist folk who think the concept of transing is coherent in one direction [female to male] but incoherent in the other direction ?
    There are so many people with odd notions you never can tell. But if such people exist their notions seem to be turning the odd up a whole new level.

  • Lee (5:59 pm) – I’ve met a few trans men, and let me tell you: for many of them, the TERFs won’t be able to recognize them as such. A few years of testosterone, and you have a man, albeit one somewhat handicapped in the region of the naughty bits.

    Of course the transmen will be scourged forth by the other radical feminists. Male chauvinist pigs are bad, but female chauvinist pigs can be even worse.

  • Kirk

    The few genuine ones that I’ve run into have been so… Off, I guess would be the best way to describe it, that I was left with that same feeling that the term “uncanny valley” was coined to describe. They’re close enough to being the caricature of manhood (or, womanhood…) that they idealize, but the reality is, they’re essential aliens in that identity trying to pass. And, because their ideated caricature of sexuality is so… Bizarre, you’re left looking at them and going “I don’t know what this is, but it ain’t right, whatever it is…”

    The problems for these people go a lot deeper than sexual identity or gender role norms they’ve chosen. They want to be something else, because what they are brought them pain, or what they took for pain. The reality is, in all too many cases, that what they’re actually unhappy about is the human condition itself, and the only way to fix that is the grave.

    I’ve sat and listened to some of these folks articulate their issues, and what much of it boils down to is that they’re deeply, profoundly unhappy and imbalanced personalities in the first place. How they got that way may vary, but their supposed “cure” for all this angst isn’t working, won’t work, and is positively destructive to the rest of society around them.

    One time, I heard one of them make a comment that was extremely revelatory for her: Despite the fact that her parents and family had done their best to be supportive and decent people to this specimen of strange, she thought they would have been kinder to just kill her somewhere along the line before puberty.

    I think a lot of the problem with all this is the schizoid manner in which we treat sexuality across society. A young woman growing up has so many different signals being sent her by society that it’s not even funny; on the one hand, she’s supposed to be this avatar of independence and might, and on the other, she’s been sexualized since before she knew what sex was. I mean, on the one hand, you have the spectacle of thong panties being marketed to pre-teens, while on the other, you have all this “I am woman; hear me roar…” BS pumped at the girls, and we wonder why the hell they’re rejecting everything being pushed at them and going asexual or trans. The messaging is schizoid, and completely at odds with a lot of the things these girls are feeling as they transition from girl to womanhood. Which makes them feel alien in their own skins, leading to some of them flatly going off their rockers.

    I blame a lot of this on the marketers and the “cultural gatekeepers” at places like the movie studios and television networks. Nowhere do you ever see a realistic portrayal of women or girls; it’s all either glamorized over-hyped sexuality or it’s some sort of waif-fu superheroine shit that any girl who’s wrestled with her little brother knows damn good and well ain’t the truth of things.

    You live in a society where they hype women’s sports like crazy, and yet even the US national women’s soccer team gets its ass handed to it by 15 year-old boys? Ya think the cognitive dissonance there might just have something to do with why so many women and girls are a little nuts, these days?

    Not to mention the effect on the boys and men… It’s all spun out of control, and the inevitable crack-up is coming. What comes after? Who knows, but it won’t be pretty getting there. Or, I suspect, after we arrive.

  • It’s interesting to note that sexual license almost always shows up as a symptom for general societal decay.

    Kirk, my vanity makes me wonder if you’d be interested to read my very first ever post here – before I was a writer here, so put up by Natalie.

    In modern terms, its defence of free speech for older views includes defence of their holders. But in getting to their tolerance for being taught the much-older-still views of Sparta and Athens, and then comparing those, I incidentally note that a civilisation’s idea of the state from which sexual license might increase can vary much in history.

    I can see a case that a rapid increase in sexual license could say something about civilisational self-control generally, but even that has a counter-example: the Reformation after the Protectorate. The 1660s had their similarities with the 1960s, and dead Cromwell’s still-living supporters were most unimpressed about it. If we were to regain a truly freed-speech society, TERFs and conventionals and all unafraid to speak their minds, the new sexual puritans, a.k.a the woke that get off on silencing us now, would be as furious as the original puritans were when the country welcomed back King Charles the II and he joked it must have been his own fault he spent so long abroad, because he met no-one who did not assure him he’d longed for his return all through the Protectorate.

  • trans men … the TERFs won’t be able to recognize (Ellen, November 12, 2022 at 6:20 pm)

    History, not just Shakespeare’s plays, contains disguised-as-a-man women you’d have thought ill-endowed to carry it off. I wonder whether it may be harder today to avoid being suspected than in the days when just wearing the gear could more easily cover an implausible size or shape or etc. – quite apart from the fact that, while we can often be fooled into seeing what we expect to see by the right cues, the idea of questioning is much more strongly presented today (by the very ideology that says you mustn’t 🙂 ).

  • Lee Moore

    Ellen : I’ve met a few trans men, and let me tell you: for many of them, the TERFs won’t be able to recognize them as such.

    I suppose it makes some sense for women wanting women’s spaces, and believing that {women = biological women}

    (a) to reject the idea that “trans men” are men, while
    (b) still wanting to exclude “trans men” from women’s spaces, on the basis that policing the exclusion of men is more difficult if you do not exclude people who go to a lot of trouble to look like men

    So as a compiance aid I suppose it makes sense.

    As to how good the “look” gets, are you aware of any (serious) experiments testing how good people are at distinguishing “trans men” from regular ones, and likewise for “trans women” ? Either clothed or unclothed ? Not that it would be easy to get funding, I guess 🙂

  • Lee Moore

    History, not just Shakespeare’s plays, contains disguised-as-a-man women you’d have thought ill-endowed to carry it off.

    I’m interested in the biology. Since most secondary sexual characteristics are influenced by the same hormone – testosterone, it seems likely that there should be some sort of correlation between being intersex* in different categories. eg if you list some attributes that are more typical of females, but which some men may have, or have an approach to eg :

    – higher voice, skin thickness / hairiness, pelvic structure, size, narrow shoulders
    – sexual attraction to men
    – female “gender identity”
    – psychological preference for people over things

    then you might hypothesise that a man with a female gender identity should – statistically

    – look more female than the average guy (before any hormonal or surgical intervention)
    – be more sexually interested in men
    – be more interested in people than things

    On average. So what are the facts, Jack ?

    Purely anecdotally, it seems that LOTS of female sports stars are gay. They like doing sporty things which is kinda male (on average) and they like sex with gals. I don’t mean that MOST female sports stars are gay, merely that there are so many “out” as such that one suspects the proportion of female gay sports stars significantly exceeds the proportion in the population.

    Twould be interesting to know whether this sort of correlation has been investigated (seriously.)

    * I use “intersex” in a vague woffly sense, not in its precise canonical sense. Not that it has a precise canonical sense, of course.

  • Steven R

    Lee Moore asked: “As to how good the “look” gets, are you aware of any (serious) experiments testing how good people are at distinguishing “trans men” from regular ones, and likewise for “trans women” ? Either clothed or unclothed ? Not that it would be easy to get funding,”

    While I’m sure there is some kind of study out there, I think it would get buried pretty quickly when it didn’t end up giving the desired results. No matter how much a transsexual might have passable looks, there is something just off about them. I don’t just mean physically, although that is certainly part of it. No amount of estrogen is going to change a man’s bone structure to a woman’s. Shoulders don’t shrink up, hips don’t widen, femurs don’t grow, and jaws don’t become more feminine with a pill. What I’m saying is there are other more subtle indicators like body language, tone of voice, walking, standing, etc., that don’t change with hormones or surgery. Boys learn how to act by watching men and emulating those behaviors. Girls do the same by watching women. We incorporate those behaviors unconsciously into our own day-to-day actions. I stand the same way my dad does at a counter because I watched him do it a million times as a boy and unconsciously copied him to the point that I do the exact same thing and never even knew I was doing it. My brother does the same thing. If tomorrow my sister decided she was really a he, no matter what surgeries or HRT she took, she still would miss copying our father’s stance from the time we were small. Likewise, she copied some of our mother’s behaviors and movements without realizing it, but even if I went to the best quack in the world, those subtle lessons wouldn’t be learned.

  • Dave

    It’s weird how no one calls out TERFs in the government when it comes to conscription.

  • I doubt there has been – or will be – an honest study of how recognizable trans-men and -women are. The professionals in the field have their own axes to grind, the trannies that really do pass well are unlikely to volunteer for the experiment, those who don’t pass well are even less likely, and the judges are probably college students (they can be conscripted). Opinions gathered from the wild are even less reliable, because quite a few trans will simply go undetected.

    As examples, I know a couple, originally man and woman. He became a she, but they stayed together. If they show up at a gender-related event, it’s the original-gender woman who is seen as the transwoman, not the genuine transwoman. As for myself, much depends on the circumstances. Seen from the front or sides, I usually get ‘maam’. From the rear, ‘sir’. Not totally reliable, but that’s the trend. My voice on the phone usually gets ‘sir’ though sometimes I get ‘maam’. And I’ve stood by while two people argued over whether I’m a man or a woman. These weren’t casual strangers, we live in the same building and are moderately familiar. They were startled to find the two of them saw me differently. In such circumstances, I usually just say I have dual citizenship. Life is easier if you have a sens of humor about these things.

  • Kirk

    Niall said:

    “Kirk, my vanity makes me wonder if you’d be interested to read my very first ever post here – before I was a writer here, so put up by Natalie.

    In modern terms, its defence of free speech for older views includes defence of their holders. But in getting to their tolerance for being taught the much-older-still views of Sparta and Athens, and then comparing those, I incidentally note that a civilisation’s idea of the state from which sexual license might increase can vary much in history.”

    Interesting read, at the link. I find much I agree with, but… I have issues with the credulous reading you’ve given it all. Having been a few places that “made history”, and not recognizing anything at all in either the “first (or, second…) draft(s)” thereof, I have grave doubts about much of “recorded history”. Not so much the history, but the record-keeping and the record-keepers, most of whom I suspect of being full of it and themselves.

    I’ve been all over as much classical literature as I could tolerate, which turns out to have been quite a lot. The thing I’d like to point out to you about all that you took away from the Spartans and the Athenians would be that we’ve got very little actual unbiased objective reporting that we can reliably verify with third-source information available from either one of those cultural/historical entities. Most of what we know of Sparta comes from their outside observers; we’ve got zip for actual Spartan rankers or helots speaking their piece for history. Same with the Athenians; what we know of classical civilization comes from things that are extremely biased, and which have been culled down the millennia by later historical types who had their own biases.

    So, we really don’t know how much “homophobia” or “homophilia” there actually was in Spartan culture. We also don’t know how much of what got preserved was preserved more for its titillating nature than its actual accuracy or merit: How much of the supposed sexual deviancy of the ancient Greeks was an artifact of the more “manly” Romans wanting to feel superior and lying their asses off, over-emphasizing those aspects of Grecian culture that made them feel better about their own habitual pederasty? Hell, how much of that was actually an artifact of later Christian types over-emphasizing what they preserved and interpreted?

    I think an awful lot of what we “know” about the ancients is filtered through a bunch of different lenses that we’re entirely unaware of. Trying to make sense out of what the average Spartan or Athenian thought and actually did when it came to sexuality is fraught with the same sort of risk that our descendants would be taking, were they to exclusively consult the archives of the San Francisco Chronicle for insight into what we think about sexual matters here in the rural Rocky Mountain regions of Canada and the United States.

    I will point out that a lot of the Romans themselves felt that the Imperial Roman collapse was tied in with the then-currant amount of what they saw as “sexual license” and perversion. It’s a relative thing; sure, it may be normal for adult men in your society to boink young boys, and that will go by without comment, but… When the Emperor is parading about in drag, holding orgies, and all the rest? That’s what I’d term a “sign” that things aren’t going too well.

    So, when I say “license”, what I’m really meaning is “license with regard to contemporary values and mores”. It’s a symptom of things breaking down, more than anything else, and if someone is willing to break those most intimate and closely-held values and mores regarding sex, what does that say about the rest of that person’s character? Would you confidently do a business deal with DeSade, knowing what you know of his sexual proclivities? Would that strike you as a “good idea”?

    Man’s willing to cheat on his wife, I’ve found, he’s also a hell of a lot more likely to cheat you. More cheating someone does, the less you should trust them. I don’t know too many people who’re able to really compartmentalize that stuff; you cheat here, you’ll cheat over there with equal faculty.

    It’s the same with sexual morality. You “write your own rules”, as Robert Heinlein often espoused in print, you’ll tolerate the presence of creatures like Walter Breen and Marion Zimmer Bradley, along with their acts. When people come out in the open and espouse that sort of thing, it’s not a good sign for the rest of the society they come from being healthy.

    The raw fact is, sex isn’t really all that we make of it. It’s a biological drive meant to ensure that the next generation gets born, and it is important only because of that feature. Yet, whenever we warp society around it and start obsessing over it, that’s a bad sign for society in general–Which is the point I’ve been trying to make. It is a relative thing; what’s normal for one culture isn’t necessarily so for another.

    You also have to make sure that your reporters aren’t full of shiite, in these matters. Margaret Meade is infamous for her distortions of Polynesian culture, which she was either tricked into through being overly credulous, or which she made up out of whole cloth because she wanted to believe in that line of permissive BS. Same with the supposed ground-breaking Kinsey studies and their resultant “reports”. If you go back and actually examine who Kinsey and his acolytes were talking to, you’d find a whole lot of very questionable sources that he extrapolated out from to make all these grand pronouncements about sexuality in American culture in general. It was about like interviewing the local Peeping Tom, and then saying that “every male” has the same outlook and proclivities.

    We know these things about contemporary culture and anthropological reporting because we’re here, on the scene. What are people going to take away about American sexual practice and belief, if in a thousand years, all that remains is the oeuvre of Hugh Hefner and the Kinsey Reports? Think those might be more likely to survive the centuries, not for their accuracy, but for the sheer prurient interest they’ll no doubt have?

    I’m neither a sybarite nor a prude; I’m a pragmatist. What works, works. What doesn’t, I’ve observed, tends to destroy all involved. Especially if taken to the illogical extremes that we’re all so prone to.

    I’ve got an old acquaintance of mine from back in my high school days. This guy… Jeez. I watched him “turn gay” because he basically talked himself into it, simply because he saw a nice ass framed by waist-length hair, which turned out to also come with a beard, when the guy turned around. That incident, coupled with a hell of a lot of self-doubt, got him to over-thinking things: “Oh, my God… I was attracted to that blonde! But, he’s a guy! I must be gay; I liked a man’s ass…” Idiot agonized over this for weeks. Eventually, he decided he really was gay, and followed up on that. The fact that he was afraid of girls at that point in his life might have had something to do with that, along with an available known gay male he could hang out with.

    Me? I saw the same ass, had the same thoughts. Instead of “questioning my sexuality”, however?

    I questioned the prescription on my glasses, and had my eyes checked.

    Yeah, I needed a new prescription.

    I may still be straight only because I wore glasses during that incident. Weird, huh?

    The reality, I fear, is that my acquaintance was and is entirely too hyped up and focused on his “sexuality”. I think he was bisexual the last time I ran into him, and it was weird to observe just how many of his life choices revolved around how, when, and with whom he got his member moistened. None of which went to serve the putative biological imperative that all this sexual BS would supposedly serve, because he’s signally failed to reproduce (that anyone knows of…).

    Cautionary tale, in my mind: Sex is not a healthy thing to make the central focus of your life and purpose, for either the individual or society.

  • Life is easier if you have a sense of humor about these things. (Ellen, November 13, 2022 at 5:30 pm)

    Indeed – also for the additional reason that having a sense of humour signals one is not woke.

  • Niall – I’m too old and tired to be woke. I barely have the energy to be a curmudgeon.

  • Steven R

    I’ve said it before, if it makes some guy happy to LARP as a girl, it’s no skin off my nose. But I won’t be compelled to act like it isn’t madness and I won’t be forced to play along with their mental illness and act like I’m the one with the problem when I call a he a he.

  • Steven – just don’t say it to their face, and you should be okay — unless, of course, you’re rich and famous like J K Rowling.

    LARPing? That, I’ve mostly done as an Icelander, in the SCA. Otherwise, I mostly did tabletop role-playing games. My greatest triumph was when I set the gamers laughing so hard we had to stop gaming for half an hour. And that was an experienced bunch, too.

  • Mr Ed

    Is anyone proposing the X or Y chromosome excision and transplants are possible, in every somatic cell? Because until that changes, nothing changes in the biological fundamentals at the cellular level, hormones can alter development and cell behaviours and tissues, but the underlying engine is still there.

  • Lee Moore

    I’m going to beg to differ with Mr Ed.

    Sex is defined by phenotype, not genotype. Genotype (a wider category than karotype) is, in some animals, a causal factor in the sex differentiation of phenotype. This is a fancy way of saying that you’re male if you have testes, notwithstanding any genotypical eccentricity.

    There are XX males, not many, but a few. Some of them have entirely unambiguous male phenotype, including testes (though I’m not aware of any examples of fertile XX males.)

    Concerning the relevance of having XY v XX chromosomes in all your cells, it’ slightly less important than you might think. Y chromosomes tend to have relatively few active genes post the initial sex differentiation phase, and so for most of the rest of your life (assuming you’re a regular XY guy) it’s mostly the 22 autosomal pairs and your single X doing the business.

    Meanwhile if you’re a regular XX gal, one of your Xs is usually inactivated in each cell, to avoid any dangerous overdoses of X gene products. Ditto for XX males.

    Clearly “mostly” and “usually” are doing a bit of work there, because XX males do not have normal reproductive function, but you have accidentally trodden on the tail of one of my hobby horses.

    Sex is phenotype not genotype. Ask any crocodile.

  • We also have the guevodoces who are born as girls, raised as girls, then at puberty turn into men. It’s not common, but there are clusters in the Dominican Republic, Papua New Guinea, and Turkey. Only elementary particles and mathematical theorems can get away with being absolute. It’s a snare and a delusion for the rest of us.

    For Lee: I have known an XY woman. I’ve not been invited to perform a physical examination, so I’ll just choose to believe her.

  • Lee Moore

    I’ll now have to beg to differ with Ellen.

    Like XX males, guevodoces are unambiguously male at birth. It’s just that they have a DSD which defers the outward manifestations of maleness until puberty. But they still have the internal essentials – testes. Testes being any organs that make sperm. Traditionally testes look like testes. But if an animal should evolve to manufacture sperm from glands in its ears, then those would be testes, and the animal would be male. On this we can be absolute because it’s a matter of definition. Sexual differentiation is defined by the gametes, and thus the type of gamete factory defines the sex of the organism.

    Though I agree that we cannot afford to get too absolutist about the practicalities in the murky realm of reality. There are all sorts of oddities that have all sorts of odd effects, and we certainly can’t be confident that we have spotted them all. So we can’t rule out the possibility of functionally hermaphroditic humans, nor genuine sex change (which actually does happen in animals such as clown fish.)

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – people can be corrupted.

    In a society that was not saturated with culturally left propaganda, as modern America is, the life of your friend might well have turned out very differently.

  • Steven R

    Per my mother (a NICU nurse): Once upon a time babies born as hermaphodites or intersex or whatever the term is where just made female because, as the doctors put it, “it’s easier to dig a hole than build a pole.” Now we use genetic testing and can prescribe the appropriate hormones and take other measures.

    But those cases, and the others above, are the statistical outliers with medical issues and not who we’re discussing when we’re talking about mentally ill people and their media and government enablers fighting against reality.

  • Lee Moore
    November 15, 2022 at 3:36 am

    I’ll now have to beg to differ with Ellen.

    Like XX males, guevodoces are unambiguously male at birth.

    I’ll call bullshit on that one. If they are so unambiguously male at birth, why are they raised as girls? You are not a Master of the Universe, in charge of both reality and the dictionary. You can argue “male” all you want — it’s your right — but you simply cannot support that “unambiguously”.

  • Lee Moore

    Ellen : If they are so unambiguously male at birth, why are they raised as girls?

    Because they look like girls on the outside ? You are familiar with the tale of the ugly duckling ?

    I think you are confusing the concepts of ambiguity and obscurity. The reason why the idea of Schrodinger’s cat being in an indeterminate state between being dead and alive was offensive (including to Schrodinger) was that to non Copenhagenists, the cat was actually dead or actually alive. We just didn’t know which until we opened the box. Its state was not ambiguous, it was obscured. It was actually one thing or the other, we just couldn’t see which yet, because of the obscurity caused by the box.

    If a child has internal testes, but appears to have a female external habitus, then its sex is obscured, not ambiguous.

    A good quality drag act, wherein a man dresses up as a woman, is a theatrical performance in which the true sex of the performer is obscured. But the sex of the performer is not ambiguous.

  • We are using different dictionaries.

  • Trying to make sense out of what the average Spartan or Athenian thought and actually did when it came to sexuality is fraught with the same sort of risk that our descendants would be taking, were they to exclusively consult the archives of the San Francisco Chronicle for insight into what we think about sexual matters here in the rural Rocky Mountain regions of Canada and the United States. (Kirk, November 13, 2022 at 7:00 pm)

    That is a valid point. Indeed, I have read (very occasional) discussion in the old scholars of whether the sexual mores described of Athens could have been a feature of the more leisured classes rather than perfectly representative of the common people. Sparta we know about from the fascination Athenian scholars felt for the city, despite Sparta itself being very barren of scholarship. (The analogy here is with the fascination western intellectuals felt for communist Russia.)

    “Interesting read, at the link. I find much I agree with, but…

    I say the same about your commeny, with my sole significant ‘but’ being the following.

    The role of conventional classical scholarship in my old post was to help expose today’s eager misunderstanding of past UK society. In relation to that particular role, it doesn’t matter whether and how far the conventional classical scholarship of that time could itself be a misunderstanding of classical Greece. The rare scholarly-self-questionings I mention above typically did not reach the classroom.

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