Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I still do have this great book on abortion and an actual FILE (I kid you not) of stuff I want to write about. It's just that I slept (and shopped) through spring break, and now I've grumpily returned to my desk, where piles of things to do await me.

So, some miscellaneous comments:

1) I just think it's interesting that they don't consider that the phrase, "female assigned at birth" may have an entirely different meaning than the one they want it to mean. "Female assigned at birth" doesn't mean "woman born woman." It doesn't mean "biological woman." It doesn't mean cis-woman, which is want they want it to mean (except they don't like the prefix, "cis" because they don't want to even have any discussions about transwomen actually being women).

It means that a baby was assigned a female gender at birth. Which is exactly what doctors do with intersex children - they assign them a gender. Cis-gendered people are not "assigned" a gender in quite the same way; they are identified with a gender. To be assigned a gender suggests conscious thought and deliberation: "what sort of person shall this child be?" Not, "oh, it's got a penis: boy."

How weird is it that women who insist that transwomen aren't women, who put such emphasis on the importance of biology, would choose such language to describe themselves?

2) You may have noticed some new additions to the blogroll. Please check out Tenured Radical (who was teaching at my alma mater while I was there, though I never had the opportunity to take one of her courses, and who will be here soon to give a lecture on pornography. Yay!

Also, take a look at Fat Rant and Shapely Prose - it's about time I got some fat-positive blogs listed, and these are fabulous. I have a group of friends who seem to talk a lot about the so-called "obesity epidemic" and the "dangers" of being overweight - I always want to send them to blogs like these.

3) Barbara Ehrenreich has an interesting piece in The Nation on Hillary Clinton's religious doings - and even though I'm not quite sure what I think about it, I was going to link you to it, but then I found this piece that I liked a lot better. An excerpt:
Every presidential hopeful has his racial moment. For Reagan it was the Neshoba County Fair near Philadelphia, Mississippi; George Bush Sr. had Willie Horton; Bill Clinton had Sister Souljah; Bush Jr. had Bob Jones University. Each one sought to comfort white voters with at worst their bigotry and at best their ambivalence toward African-Americans.

That was not an option for Obama. Boy, was he lucky. All he had to do was address black alienation and white disadvantage, set it in a historical context and then call on people to rise above it...

...For all his talk about transcending race, not even this biracial, Ivy League, intact-black-family man could escape America's racial dysfunction.

Which brings us back to Ferraro. For if her initial comments were ridiculous, her response revealed just what Obama is up against. "Every time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racist," she said. "I will not be discriminated against because I'm white."

Tsk. Oh, OKAY. Here's Ehrenreich's piece, too.

4) Finally - on Hillary's talk of Bosnia. I'm actually willing to give her somewhat of a pass on this one. I mean, I can believe that she misspoke, and frankly, I don't really care all that much either way. What I do care about, though, is that she's mentioning Bosnia in relation to her foreign policy experience at all. Because the Clintons have nothing to be proud of when it comes to Bosnia. From Marc Cooper at Huffington Post:

[Journalist and author of A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, Samantha Power] took great personal risks during the Balkan wars to witness and record and denounce the carnage (She reported that Bill Clinton intervened against the Serbs only when he felt he was losing personal credibility as a result of his inaction. "I'm getting creamed," Power quoted the then-President saying as he fretted over global consternation over his own hesitation to act).

FWIW, I've read the book, and it's fucking amazing. You should all check it out.

And because it is such an amazing book, I was really glad to learn that Obama has read it, and not only read it, but read it and wanted to consult with her on developing foreign policy. From Jon Wiener, also at HuffPo:

In a recent interview I asked her why Obama called her. "His office said he had just read my book, and he wanted to talk about, literally, 'a smart, tough, and humane foreign policy.' No one from the US government had every called me - no mayor, no school board head."

(Um, sadly, Power called Hillary a "monster" to the press, and well, she's no longer a consultant for Obama. Frankly, I wouldn't agree with such a characterization of Senator Clinton at all, and I'm sure they say all kinds of nasty things about Obama over at Camp Clinton. Oh, well. That's how it goes.)


Bri said...

I am one of those fat bloggers too. I have been reading along on your blog for a while now and thoroughly enjoying it. Check me out if you get a chance.

polly styrene said...

The reason for using the phrase 'female assigned at birth' as you'd find out if you bothered reading the rest of the articles on the blog, (see trans and intersex, a forced marriage of inconvenience) is that the huge majority of intersex people who are assigned female at birth regard themselves as just that - female. They have exactly the same life experiences as any other born female, appear externally exactly the same as any other born female (most intersex conditions in fact lead to hormone imbalances and do not affect external genitals) and do not in any way identify as transgendered.

However despite the fact that people with intersex conditions make it quite clear that they want nothing to do with furthering the causes of transgender activists, most transgender activists insist on co-opting them without their consent. I call that a bit rude. As indeed is referring to people as 'they'.

The other reason for using the phrase of course is to distinguish from those who are assigned female after birth.

Toodle pip!

Anonymous said...

You've been tagged! See my blog for details.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Hi Bri - thanks, I will!

Polly -

I think it's a bit unrealistic to expect people to read your blog in its entirety in order to understand one post. If you have a *link* to a particular post that explains the origins of "female assigned at birth," that's great, and I'd be happy to check it out.

Re. "they" - you know what? It's just easier. Because "radical feminists," as a group, do not agree on this issue. And I was tired, and did not want to get into a longer narrative about it at that point. "They" is a very useful pronoun in cases like this.
I see that you have made use of it, yourself.

They have exactly the same life experiences as any other born female, appear externally exactly the same as any other born female (most intersex conditions in fact lead to hormone imbalances and do not affect external genitals) and do not in any way identify as transgendered.

I never said that intersex people identify as transgender. I would never suggest that all intersex people would identify (or not) in any particular way. But I would doubt very much that an intersex person has exactly the same life experiences as me. I mean, judging from the intersex people I know, who have had enormously different life experiences than I have.

Re. your comment about "most transgender activists" - I don't know. I only know some transgender activists, some of whom are also intersex.

Danielle - Thanks! I'll follow up soon!

Plain(s)feminist said...

Oh, wow - it just keeps getting better. I've just learned that "female assigned" is a term that has apparently long been in use by - the trans community! As well as "male assigned," should there be any cis guys out there who prefer to do the othering themselves.

So maybe "FAB" is not so fab, after all...