Uninformed dissent bugs me about as much as uninformed consent.
The point of feminism isn’t to promote certain identity groups over other groups. The point is to critique and to try to end unjust oppression.
A couple of times now I’ve been asked about certain online misrepresentations of my activist colleague Kiira Triea by academic colleagues who, in their classes, use Kiira’s excellent essay, “Power, Orgasm, and the Psychohormonal Research Unit,” an essay which I had the privilege to reprint in the anthology Intersex in the Age of Ethics.
I’m pragmatic. Just like my seven-year-old son, I’m old enough and smart enough to know that words can have different meanings in different contexts, and that sometimes a word that can make one person laugh and smile will make another cringe. We use the language that makes sense for what we want to achieve, given the context. When you speak a word, it doesn’t just matter what you say; it matters how the other person hears it.
Hey, Alice, why do you study and help out people born with intersex conditions? Why did you write a book on conjoined twins? How come you speak at meetings of professionals and families concerned with craniofacial anomalies? What gives?
This blog post was reprinted (under a different name) with a longer introduction at Bioethics Forum, so please read it there:
A few days ago I was dismayed to discover that transgender activist Andrea James has been invited to speak at Northwestern University, where I work. Although Ms. James and I appear to be on the same page in terms of believing in the rights of transgender children and adults, her methods are repulsive to me.