Dworkin and Tights, Who Knew?

A screenshot of what popped up when I hunted for Dworkin’s new book on Amazon. Really? I just can’t believe people who bought the book also bought control-top tights. I know, I know, stereotyping, but, Amazon, this is bullshit.

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Toutouwai | N.I. Robin

I do volunteer trapping in the bush not far from where I live, which can be a bit gory, but it’s awesome being in the ngāhere on your own and off the beaten path. I often see tiwaiwaka / fantail and toutouwai / NI robin, but lately, either the same robin following me for quite a while or several robins. Well, come to think of it there, were at least three, because they looked different. Other than that, I don’t have good robin-recognition software. jeez they’re adorable. I iPhoned this one today:

Tōtōwai via vimeo


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Micro-tourism: The Web

A while ago, I started thinking about the destructive blight that is mass tourism. I live in a pretty beautiful place, visited each year by 80-plus hideously hideous cruise ships and a few zillion cheapskates in camper-vans (with fake ‘self-contained’ stickers on their rear windows) etc. etc. As anyone who’s been alive on the planet for more than few minutes knows, tourism is quickly destroying the very thing that spawned it…places of beauty. And, yeah, I know I’ve done my share, mainly in Europe but here at home, too. (And I’m not sure how to think about local tourism. Save that for another post.)

Next thought was about which things, places, sights, structures etc. are considered tourist-worthy, and essentially how random that can be. Top tourism values might go something like: big (grand canyon), unique/rare (white rhinos), hard to get to (Antarctica or anyplace far away from where you live), beautiful (lots of places), and so on. So I was thinking, what about subverting some of those values. How about near and small? If, for example, you were to find a spider’s web in a tree in your back yard and spend a bit of time looking closely at it, you’d probably be absolutely amazed at how impressively intricate and strong-yet-delicate and beautiful and just generally awesome it is.

I confess, I did this while on a 10-day Vipassana retreat a few years ago, which I barely survived. With nothing to read or say or do except meditate — which I suck at — I’d go for these slow walks through the little bit of bush near the retreat to kill time. I came across a pretty cool spider web and spent quite a few hours watching it, watching the spider work on it, watching the spider deal with its catches. It got so I looked forward to going out to check on the web, and would be pretty crushed if it got damaged by a falling branch or a gust of wind.

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Egotistical Enlightenment

First, a super defensive caveat to do with the fact that I sometimes listen (via free audiobook or podcasts, just so you know I don’t pay for that shit) to what one might call ‘gurus’, that is, people into meditation or new agey type stuff that’s in theory intended — reduced to its most basic — to try to help us deal with being the fucked up creatures we are who’ve never learned how to deal with self-consciousness. Said gurus might include meditation teachers, like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach…and various and sundry monks and hipsters on the Insight meditation app; ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’-like populists. And I say listening because they’re for lying in bed at night trying to drift off to sleep. (I’ve tried meditating and failed on too many occasions so I don’t do it.)

Second, another confession relevant to this post, is that I have also been known to listen to these half-and-half types, half-guru, half-intellectual, like Sam Harris. And, just to find out more about people liberals hate (because that’s now a selling point for me), I’ve tried to listen to Jordan Peterson; and because he’s into meditation, I’ve also tapped the occasional 10% Happier interview by Dan Harris (of ABC News in-fame). Eclectic, I like to think. 

So that long explanatory caveat was a preamble for this: What has struck me, and essentially driven to my giving up on part of this listening experiment is how egotistical and/or obsessed with themselves the half-and-halfs are. (So, I’m not talking here about the Kabat-Zinn types, but the Harris/Peterson types.) We’re all the star of our own personal life movie, sure, so I don’t expect outsized humility. But these are men who are supposed to be somewhat enlightened. And the two Harrises (no relation) in particular are selling meditation as a way of (I assume) keeping the “I” or the “ego” in its place; quieting the monkey mind and so on. And yet, and yet: Wow. I’ve not found an interview by (not of) the two Harrises that doesn’t include extended periods during which they somehow managed to pull off a role reversal and have the interviewee start interviewing them.  The same would probably be true of Peterson, but most of his stuff is himself being interviewed in the first place. I’ve given up on him because I don’t find anything he says interesting (and so I’m not really sure why he’s so reviled) even from an ex-liberal perspective, and he just drones on and on and on and on.  True, it can be useful if I’m having trouble sleeping, but other than that, he’s off the menu. Sam Harris mostly, too, now because his anti-Trumpism has driven him to embrace Russiagate. (I’m still a skeptic, who thinks there are more than enough other reasons for being anti-Trump, who thinks nothing pivotal about Russiagate has been proven.)

But, anyway, suffice to say, the egotism on display by the Harrises is pretty breath-taking and if this is enlightenment then Buddhism isn’t worth shit. (And, no, I don’t think this is enlightenment.)

The other thing I’ve noticed about a certain anti-liberal crowd — the Intellectual Dark Web types — is they do a lot of the same stuff they criticise their former tribe for doing, in particular wallowing in a new breed of victimhood: The victimhood of the powerful white man. Poor us, we’re being no-platformed, and shut out of MSM, and losing our jobs but not our income for standing up for — whatever it is they’re standing up for. They think it’s free speech, but my jury hasn’t come back on that; I’m tending to see them as just standing up for their own egos.

All this is a bit sad because I’m always on the hunt for thoughtful interesting people outside the political liberal bubble I don’t belong to anymore, and the last thing I want is to wind up in some fresh bubble hell. On the other hand, it’s not sad at all. I’m reading more novels, a science book and lots of philosophy (as noted in some previous posts). To which end, I’ve started up another blog with a fellow philosopher just for philosophical ramblings. There’s nothing much up there yet, and I’m going to write a specific post about it later. But if anyone’s interested, its temporary-possibly-permanent name is 2Philosophers (seeing a naming trend here; and that the numbers are dwindling…what will the 1[something] blog be called, I wonder?)

Posted in Confessions of an ex-Liberal, Media | Leave a comment

Transwomen are transwomen



Transwomen are transwomen. This should be a non-controversial identity statement. Red is red. Cats are cats. A = A. Women are women. Transwomen are transwomen. Yet in the world I am rapidly leaving behind (liberal feminism, liberalism), this is not only controversial, it is by turns bigoted, ‘transphobic’, conservativerightwingfascistnazi, TERFy, murderous, etc. etc. I’ve been grappling with trans-activism and its implications for a while now, my mind being boggled anew on an almost daily basis at the crazy-town authoritarianism of my-former-liberal-tribe and its allies. Not that they shouldn’t argue their case, which is that “transwomen are women”. Have at it, I thought. Make the case. It’s not

the case per se, I told myself for quite some time, but that those making it are so authoritarian, so rigid, so hostile to dissent, discussion, so quick name call and shame call…and so on and so forth. Until I remembered they’re all tactics I’ve engaged in, indeed anyone involved in fighting a political fight engages in. As a pro-choice activist lib-fem, I certainly never shrunk from name-calling, shaming, efforts at no-platforming, and on and on on opponents of abortion rights. In focusing so much on the way the campaign is being waged, am I not simply the pot calling the kettle a stupid unthinking vessel for boiling water? Do I really have any high ground on which to stand in terms of how the “transwomen are women” campaign is being fought? No! Do I have a non-hypocritical case to make on that score? Probably not. Which leaves what?

Clearly, the only decent thing to do is simply make my own case, state my own position, and try to do it in a better, smarter, less nasty, less oppressive (oh, yeah, and less sanctimonious!) way. Ānei:

A PLACE TO STAND (this is a work in progress…thinking is likely to change/evolve)

I’ve thought a lot about how it might be possible to balance the rights of women and transwomen (I’m focusing on that side of the sex divide because I’m a woman). It seems from the trans-activist side, anything short of transwomen = women (an identity statement of the logical kind mentioned above, red = red, A = A), socially, legally and, somehow, biologically (??) etc. etc. is all-of-the-above (transphobic, bigoted, murderous, TERFy etc. etc.) It’s all or nothing. There’s no middle ground in there. For women, the implications of this are enormous, in all spheres of life, and much has been written about them — so much so that I’m not going to traverse it all here. Just DuckDuckGo it (or Google if you’re still attached to that empire), and/or read some Julie Bindel, some Sheila Jeffries, some Meghan Murphy.

While I haven’t come up with any kind of answer to the complicated question of rights balancing, I’ve come up with a place to stand, and it’s based on the title of this post: transwomen are transwomen. It’s just a starting point; I don’t know where it goes from there.

For starters, let me be upfront, “transwomen are transwomen” means “transwomen are not women”, where ‘woman’ is an adult human biological female. Transwomen are their own thing — people, assuming it needs saying, who must be afforded their full human rights, to live free of violence, poverty, discrimination and so on.

Because transwomen are transwomen, entry into all the arenas of life organised around women as a sex class needs to be negotiated. It isn’t a given. I hold this position with what I think/hope is an open mind about what that access might wind up being. The problem with the place many (or most) trans-activists (and their liberal allies) stand — that transwomen = women — is that it is simply an end-run around any sort of discussion, negotiation, working out of boundaries and rights with respect to women as a sex class, about their spaces and their lives. Maybe that end-run approach was deliberate, I don’t know. But I don’t stand there. 

And on a side note, I’m pretty ticked that self-ID law changes in Aotearoa New Zealand, which will enshrine the end-run in the law, have proceeded apace with little to no public consultation, and, per above, a whole shitload of name-calling and abuse of anyone who might have concerns or questions about it. If nothing else, maybe this whole thing has taught me a lesson about hypocrisy…about the limits of political tribalism…and in its own way, it’s definitely part of the  ‘Confessions of an ex-Liberal‘ series. Let the name-calling begin. 


Posted in Abortion, Confessions of an ex-Liberal, NZ Politics, Sexual liberation, Social policy | 1 Comment

Quitting the Media: Part IV (Facebook)

Quitting the Media, Part IV, Making Use of Facebook’s Delete Delay

(Click here for the ‘Quitting the Media’ series so far, with some ‘Confessions of a Former Liberal’ episodes included)

Dealing with “the media” (or maybe the media industrial complex) is an ongoing problem/issue/challenge. I’ve written before about quitting MSM (mainstream media), which here is NZ means NZ Herald, Stuff, TVNZ News, commercial radio news, and now also The Spinoff. I still like Newsroom, and I’ve kept on looking at Radio New Zealand News, but as “a former liberal”, that’s getting harder and harder. RNZ, for example, is increasingly open-throating the worst of the (neo) liberal (I’m talking about social, not economic neoliberalism) Kool-Aid, for example, it has bought into erasing women from the discussion of reproductive rights (aka “pregnant people”). And Scoop actually deleted, aka censored, a gender critical feminist. Sure, you’d expect this from MSM, but Scoop alleged it was independent. Truly independent. I actually am a bit of a free-speech absolutist, appreciating this is not state censorship, but nevertheless, it’s problematic for an outlet that promotes itself the way Scoop does. 

Digression: Another post I’d love to write, but am probably too lazy, is how interesting it is that new and/or old radical economic ideas — like serious redistribution of wealth, say, or universal guaranteed income, or, even socialised dentistry — remain pretty much ignored, if not relegated to kook-land by MSM including outlets like RNZ.

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Posted in Confessions of an ex-Liberal, Feminism, Media, Quitting the Media, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Confessions of a Former Liberal: Part 2

Confessions of a Former Liberal: Part 2. (They’re Boring)

The second in an occasional series about Pohutu’s confusing journey into the political wilderness.

But of course it’s much worse than just being boring. Excuse the wait for Part 2 of The Confessions (here’s Part 1), but these posts have a timetable of their own, waiting till enough pressure builds up that I explode all over the page. Anyway, back to liberals being “boring”, which is a stand in for dishonest and intellectually bankrupt.

It starts with being boringly certain about how right they are, which leads to no interesting analysis of anything anymore from the liberal side. (Note 1: I used to at least say “left liberal” or interchange “liberal” with “left”. Boy was that stupid. Lately the only decent analysis of what’s going on in the US that I’ve read has been in the communist newspaper the Militant, to which I proudly subscribe.) This certainty simply leads to liberals endlessly making the same statements over and over again about how right they are, and then, if they’ve done a little more thinking, they start in on who’s to blame for it. It’s the latter that prompted me to write this, in particular a piece in The New York Review of Books headlined “The Autocracy App” about the evils of Facebook, by Jacob Weisberg. (The books he’s writing about in the piece are: “Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy,” by Siva Vaidhyanathan, Oxford University Press; and “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now,” by Jaron Lanier).

Let me get this out of the way first: I loathe and despise Facebook and am a serial account deleter (I’ve done it three times over the past 5 or so years, most recently last month) so I’m always eager to read a Facebook takedown. This piece thinks it’s a takedown, but for the most part is another example of liberal whining about, yet again, how everything is turning to shit but none of this is our fault, as humans, as citizens, as liberals because…well, Facebook!

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Posted in Confessions of an ex-Liberal, Quitting the Media | 2 Comments