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Old 02-25-2014, 08:46 PM   #121
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You know where this is going with 50+ genders. Increased sexual confusion, the need for "anti-transgender laws," lawsuits and accommodation by all of society regarding bathrooms, school sports, etc. See MA and CA recent laws.
Right, Facebook giving people more options is going to lead to increased sexual confusion. Because if you only provide two options, no one ever deviates!
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Old 02-25-2014, 09:10 PM   #122
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Right, Facebook giving people more options is going to lead to increased sexual confusion. Because if you only provide two options, no one ever deviates!
Promise it stops with Facebook?
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Old 02-25-2014, 09:12 PM   #123
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What's not really clear here, INDY, is what the problem is supposed to be if we allow trans and other non-gender conforming people to feel like they are normal. What happens that's bad after that?
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Old 02-25-2014, 09:20 PM   #124
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Sorry you feel the need to marginalize the trans-species community. Inclusiveness requires that their voices and contribution to diversity be brought out from the shadows.

Henceforth I will identify as a cisHomo sapien.
i'm not sure why you have to be so rude about it. it's one thing to say "i don't understand" but it's another thing to jump to ridiculous conclusions and paint people who feel differently than you to be some kind of freak.
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Old 02-25-2014, 09:24 PM   #125
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I agree with you completely, but I wouldn't bring this up in the same-sex marriage thread. They will tell you that SSM should be legal because gays have no more control over their orientation than blacks do over their pigmentation.
Lol. No you're right, there's a gigantic conspiracy going on and you're just not in the know. Gay people just want to be gay. That's all there is to it!
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:26 AM   #126
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On a whole other note... one thing about the transgender community I am genuinely curious about. Discussed this with a coworker last weekend as we had a girl at work who is going through the transformation to become a boy now. What I honestly wonder about, is that, since this person was 17 or something, they obviously are too young for surgery. But the behavioural changes and hormone treatments are there. So say, a girl fell in love with this person, acting like a boy, wanting to be a boy, but biologically still female... would she be gay or straight?

Since one could argue that you fall for someone's personality, but that doesn't take away the physical attraction... so I really don't have a clue!
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:00 AM   #127
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Does it really matter? This issue is actually what makes conservative religious folks advise intersex people to remain celibate for life--because it could up that you're kind of gay by accident. I think that maybe once you move into the trans community you can move past who is post surgery and who is not, since the whole idea is that gender is based on identity rather than biology. Many trans people never choose surgery, esp. since there is some risk in change of sexual function. Hopefully the partners of trans people get over this and just love the person.

That said, some people do have boundaries. I had to read the autobiographical novel Stone Butch Blues last semester, in which the main character's girlfriend broke up with her when she (the MC) decided to transition from butch lesbian to trans man (with hormones but not surgery, mainly to keep from getting killed.) This was pre-Stonewall and girlfriend felt that passing as the straight partner of a man was not being false to her lesbian identity and her community. It's very sad but maybe it's fair, I don't know.
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Old 02-26-2014, 08:33 AM   #128
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I'm not saying it matters, I'm just genuinely curious...
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:43 AM   #129
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On a whole other note... one thing about the transgender community I am genuinely curious about. Discussed this with a coworker last weekend as we had a girl at work who is going through the transformation to become a boy now. What I honestly wonder about, is that, since this person was 17 or something, they obviously are too young for surgery. But the behavioural changes and hormone treatments are there. So say, a girl fell in love with this person, acting like a boy, wanting to be a boy, but biologically still female... would she be gay or straight?

Since one could argue that you fall for someone's personality, but that doesn't take away the physical attraction... so I really don't have a clue!
Straight. Even the transgender person generally views themselves as straight.

A man undergoing a male to female transformation will consider themselves a straight female attracted to men (from what I've seen).
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:46 AM   #130
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Promise it stops with Facebook?
Is your fear that people who aren't gay might think they're gay, or that people who aren't trans* might think they're trans*?
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:20 AM   #131
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I think the argument (such as it is) is that if people see options, the very fact that such options are out there in the open and not actively shunned/shamed/hidden away behind blast doors will lead them to question their sexuality/gender identification.

Because as soon as I learned that gay people exist, I suddenly wasn't sure whether I was sexually attracted to females anymore. And once I learned that it was becoming more acceptable for gays to get married, I questioned the validity of my heterosexual marriage. And once I realized that some people identify as a gender other than their birth gender, it made me question my gender identity.

The logic is flawless, you'll have to admit.
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Old 02-26-2014, 11:02 AM   #132
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It's clear that he values gender identity, I'm just failing to see where recognizing the existence of identities that already exist actually, you know, DOES something.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:15 AM   #133
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Righteous indignation?
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Old 03-01-2014, 07:04 AM   #134
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We can force people into two sex buckets with narrow-mindedness or we can acknowledge that human biology is messy and personal identity messier still.
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Old 03-01-2014, 07:07 AM   #135
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Old 03-01-2014, 10:50 AM   #136
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We can force people into two sex buckets with narrow-mindedness or we can acknowledge that human biology is messy and personal identity messier still.
Ding ding ding.
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Old 03-01-2014, 11:05 AM   #137
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Creating a 'Living Image' of a Transgender Woman - Jake Flanagin - The Atlantic

Janet Mock has arrived. The 30-year-old New Yorker is the American transgender community’s most vocal and visible advocate. Her memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, released earlier this month, recounts her experiences as a trans woman navigating poverty, abuse, familial dysfunction, sexism, racism, and—as if that weren’t enough—finding love in New York City. Mock’s tale was ultimately a triumph, and the book a fiery success—it reached No. 19 on The New York Times Best Seller list last week. Author and feminist activist bell hooks called it a courageous work: “Told with a spirit of raw honesty that moves beyond confession to redemptive revelation, this book is a life map for transformation—for changing minds.”
The publication of Redefining Realness also kicked off a flurry of high-profile interviews: The Colbert Report, Melissa Harris-Perry, and
two
now infamous on the recently canceled Piers Morgan Live. After the first interview, Mock accused Morgan and his production team of trying to “sensationalize” her experience, placing undue emphasis on her transitional surgery and asking obtuse, invasive questions like, “How would you feel if you found out the woman you are dating was formerly a man?”

In an interview with BuzzFeed Politics, Mock said Morgan was “trying to do info-tainment. He doesn’t really want to talk about trans issues, he wants to sensationalize my life and not really talk about the work that I do and what the purpose of me writing this book was about.”

Morgan’s response was predictably petulant. On top of Alec Baldwin’s front-page cri de coeur against allegations of antigay speech, it’s safe to say that while February was an excellent month for Janet Mock, it was not so great for heterosexual white dudes navigating privilege. As a heterosexual white dude, probably just as susceptible to foot-in-mouth disease as Morgan or Baldwin, I was somewhat apprehensive at the prospect of interviewing Mock, face-to-face. We met just before she took the stage Tuesday evening at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library for a discussion with Washington Post columnist Helena Andrews.
I worried for nothing. Mock was a delight to interview. Her thoughts—on everything from Orange Is the New Black to third-gender anthropology—were candid and full of insight. Fellow white dudes, pay attention.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Forgive me if you’re hearing this question for the umpteenth time, but why did you choose the memoir as a vessel for your activism?

It was a challenge to write in the first person. The last three years have been about forcing myself to use “I” statements, which I’m very uncomfortable with even though I just wrote a memoir. But I think there’s an intimacy there—a lack of barrier, a lack of gatekeeping, or someone else’s filter. So that’s why I choose the “I” statements, even though I’m uncomfortable with them. I think the other reason is Maya Angelou, who was such an influence on me growing up. And others. I felt that there was this whole canon of women-of-color writers who’ve written in first-person. But I’ve never seen a trans woman of color received in that same canon.

On the subject of influencers, in Redefining Realness you recall, as a child, being asked what you wanted to be when you’d grow up. You’d say “a secretary,” because that was an accessible image of success to you at the time. But you later write you really wanted to be Clair Huxtable, you just didn’t know she existed yet. Was part of the purpose for writing the book to provide a Clair Huxtable-image for young trans women?

I guess. I’m stealing from Laverne Cox when I say this, but I don’t feel comfortable with “role model.” But I like “possibility model.” With the book, I wanted to show that there are other images of us out there. It’s part of the reason why I fought—well, I didn’t really fight—to be on the book’s cover in daylight. Because you don’t necessarily see trans women, young trans women, young trans women of color out in the daytime. Usually they’re banished to the darkness of street corners, or shown in their deaths. There’s never a living image of a trans woman—specifically one of color, growing up poor, all of the various facets of my identity.

You first gained notoriety in a 2011 profile in Marie Claire magazine. Was the tone of that piece partially behind the desire to present a more honest, three-dimensional self-portrait?

Marie Claire was a baby step. I think it was everyone’s first public interaction with me, and it was a big deal for me at the time. When I did it, it was just to disclose the fact that I’m trans, and that’s all I did in that piece. I talked about my childhood and very much followed the typical transsexual tropes in media—you know, “I struggled with my body for so long, blah, blah, blah … ” I mean, I know it was more powerful than that. It changed a lot of peoples’ thinking. And lives. People came out as trans afterward. But for me, the book was a lot more complicated—in terms of talking about these different experiences that are beyond a single-identity-focus lens. If you’re a trans woman of color who grew up poor and engaging in sex work, there’s really so much more involved there.

Intersectionality?

Yes. But I try not to say that word too much. So many people are scared by it! And I try to speak accessibly, which is also a difficult thing when communicating through media. I try not to reduce the discussion, but I keep it open.

You brought up Laverne Cox, from Orange Is the New Black—someone who has totally revolutionized portrayals of trans women in media and pop culture. But there’s still that pervasive Law & Order trope of the “sassy tranny hooker” to deal with. In your mind, how much have those stereotypes affected America’s perception of trans individuals?

I think they’re so limiting. It’s not as if I don’t want those images to exist, but if the only images that exist are of trans women being belittled and reduced to punchlines, or tragedy, meaning only reporting on us in death—you know, when a trans woman is murdered, which might be the only time you even hear about a trans woman outside of trans, gender-justice, and feminist circles—then it’s dangerous because that’s your only representation, your only portrait of someone. Especially in Law & Order, there’s no story for those girls. It’s just a detective walking down the street, and there’s some tranny hooker. Literally—that’s it. She doesn’t have a name. She’s not necessarily a source to get more information.

I think the credits literally say “tranny hooker” sometimes—which is nuts, because on some shows even the most minor characters get at least a first name.

Yeah! Laverne often talks about her time playing those roles. They’re the only roles available. Now she has Orange Is the New Black, and she can really show what she can do, and be impactful. People are realizing, “Wow, I don’t really know much about trans women’s lives. I don’t really know much about trans peoples’ lives.” We don’t show them living. We may show them going from pre- to post, before and after. But that’s about it. And so I think it’s rare to see a portrait of a trans woman, post-transition, living life. And I think it has to do with the objectification of women’s bodies in general, but then there’s the added stigma of being a trans woman in this culture. It just becomes even more of a point of dehumanization and belittlement and objectification.

You grew up in Hawaii, and in the book you write about the extant but slightly less severe stigma attached to trans women there. Did that make it any easier for friends and family to accept your identity?

Hawaii was so integral to my journey. I was just there at the right time. I think about Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers—he talks about being at the right place at the right time. For me, it was also the right medical experience, of being able to have access to hormones at such a young age. But there was also this whole community of people who were there already. Specifically the Hawaiian Kanaka Maoli community, which has a space beyond male and female, beyond the gender binary. There is a space to be other. I guess Facebook has now has tons of space for others… but this was a space beyond having to be a man, or a woman, or in transition to either.
I was told that because I expressed femininity in a boy’s body, I needed to be silent about it. To be ashamed. That led to isolation, which then made it easier for me to be prey to a predator in my own home.We have mahu, which are kind of like the hijra in India, or the fa’afafine in Samoa. It’s a third space for gender. Oftentimes it’s a feminine male-bodied person, someone who was assigned male at birth, who then takes on the housekeeping and culture-bearing—meaning teaching hula and dance. They’re very much a pivotal group in native Hawaiian culture. So, for me, having grown up in that space even though it’s been colonized and Westernized and very Americanized, it was nice to have that remnant in the culture.
In seventh grade I met my best friend Wendi, who is a trans woman. Also my hula teacher—in school, who was paid by the public school system to be there—was openly mahu, which would loosely translate to transgender, in a sense. She didn’t want to go through medical transition, but she was living her life as a woman. She was very visible. And having those composites of womanhood in my life really empowered me.

But your childhood wasn’t entirely free of hardship. You wrote about being sexually abused at a young age—and made a point I thought was really necessary: that trans identity doesn’t stem from instances of abuse, or confusion resulting from abusive scenarios.

I think a lot of people are very interested in why other people are trans, or why people are gay. I just am trans. That’s just the way it is. I knew this as a child. But I was told that because I expressed femininity in a boy’s body, I needed to be silent about it. To be ashamed. That led to isolation, which then made it easier for me to be prey to a predator in my own home. My brother thought maybe that was one of the reasons I’m trans. A lot of people think that. So, I just kind of wanted to unpack that a little bit, at least through the lens of my own experience.
Weirdly it wasn’t hard for me to revisit it. It was difficult for me to write about it and make myself clear—in terms of getting that confusion out of the way. Because so many people think that our gender identities and sexual orientations are a result of some kind of deviance.

Or being a victim of some traumatic event.

Exactly. Something bad must have happened! Or too much maternal influence, or something happened during gestation. I’m sure scientists and behavior experts think about this stuff all the time, but I’ve never invested in that conversation. I just am trans. Being a feminine, isolated child, taught to be secretive about her identity—that’s what led to me being targeted.

Reading your book has made me, and probably a number of other readers hyper-aware of how we use pronouns. But it’s still a difficult concept for some people to comprehend. Why do you think that is?

I think a lot of people say things like, “They’re just words. Get over it.” But for a trans person, you have to fight every single day. Especially if you don’t look like me. You fight every single day just to be recognized as who you know yourself to be, who you really are. I write about literally petitioning the government for a name-change, to get your proper gender markers. These things aren’t cheap, and they’re fought for, and they’re deliberate. Trans people are always told, “Oh, it’s no big deal. Just semantics.” The whole Piers Morgan thing was really about language.
For me, in my personal life, I could’ve accepted that interview as reductive. It wasn’t necessarily offensive or mean or done with ill-intent, but when the community captured it, I realized the issue was so much bigger than just me. I thought I was just there to talk about my little book project, but the community was looking at it with very fierce eyes. From a place of trauma, too. For me, if someone calls me a man, I can brush it off. No big deal. But if Janet Mock can be called a man and misgendered, what does that mean for the others? This media moment isn’t just about me. It’s about an entire community that’s told every every single day who they are is incorrect, delusional, unnatural, illegitimate.
That’s why pronoun usage is so basic. Giving people the space to define themselves—and for us to not assign them new definitions based on what we’re comfortable with. If anyone takes anything away from that discussion with Piers Morgan, it’s exactly that: just accept the definitions people give you.

Perhaps I should’ve started the interview with this question: How does Janet Mock self-identify?

First, as Janet Mock. Then writer. After all that, trans woman of color.
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Old 03-01-2014, 05:36 PM   #138
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Janet Mock is awesome.
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Old 03-03-2014, 03:27 PM   #139
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what's the matter with France?

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How do you upset the French? Gender theory

HISTORICALLY, the great boulevards of Paris have channeled not just pedestrians and cars, but also political passions and causes—especially when the Republic seems endangered. On Feb. 2, Paris once again became a vast political stage. One hundred thousand demonstrators had gathered, galvanized by a danger looming over the Republic. The threat was not, as in times past, fascism or Nazism, communism or totalitarianism. It was, instead, an ideology far more insidious and imported from, of all places, the United States.

A new specter was haunting France—the specter of gender theory.

In the United States, gender theory—embodied most notably, perhaps, by the work of Judith Butler at UC Berkeley—argues that gender is less a biological fact than a social fiction. Since the 1980s, gender studies has become a familiar part of the curriculum at liberal arts colleges. For the most part, though, the academy is where these theories have stayed, so much so that it’s impossible to imagine Americans protesting them. The current French scandal over this obscure branch of critical theory is a particularly bemusing example of the way in which certain kinds of intellectual goods get lost in translation: Not since their embrace of Jerry Lewis have the French responded so passionately to an American export we ourselves have never fully appreciated.


Behind the February protest were several political groups, uniting both traditionalist voters and conservative religious ones, that had organized massive demonstrations last summer during a vitriolic debate in France over the legalization of gay marriage. In May 2013, the Socialist government passed the law nevertheless. The battleground then shifted to a new proposed measure: an update to France’s “family law” that, among other things, stood to offer protections for reproductive assistance for gay couples. This year, many of the same protesters turned out again, their brightly colored pink and blue banners emblazoned with a battle cry: “Un papa, une maman: there’s nothing more natural.”

It wasn’t just the bill, however, that got the protesters out in force. The spark that rekindled the movement was, of all things, a grade school program called the “ABC of equality.” This experimental project, launched by the government in late 2013 in a handful of grade schools, encouraged children to consider that though some biological differences between the sexes exist, other differences are “constructed” by society, a product as much of stereotypes as of physical differences. According to its critics, the lesson plan was inspired in part by the work of American gender theorists like Butler.

As word got out about the program, rumors began to fly among conservative activists. One extreme right-wing website, Equality and Reconciliation, claimed that teachers were encouraging boys to be girls and girls to be boys, as well as inviting them to masturbate in class, none of which was actually part of the curriculum. Parents were urged to keep their children at home for a day in protest. As schools began to report significant levels of absenteeism, government officials scattered across the media to denounce the “folles rumeurs.”

It was to little avail: Enough people had become horrified by the new impact of “gender studies” that, in February, they turned out in droves. Nearly overnight, “la théorie du genre” was on everyone’s lips. Gender theory was the “obsession” of the Socialist government, one conservative news magazine declared. Activists contacted public libraries to demand that they pull texts tainted by American gender theory from the shelves.

As a result of all this, Butler suddenly found herself massively famous in France. She had established her reputation in the early 1990s with “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity,” a book that itself drew on French theory. Schooled in the work of Jacques Lacan and Michel Foucault, Butler argued that what we assume to be essential human characteristics are instead malleable traits fashioned by social habits. Rather than springing fully formed from our biological nature, sexual identity is sculpted by what literary theorists call discursive practices and what the rest of us call language, dress, and cultural conventions. Simone de Beauvoir had famously declared that one is not born a woman, but instead one becomes a woman. In essence, Butler doubled down by emphasizing the subversive as well as repressive possibilities in social constructions of the self.

Though a quarter century has passed since the publication of Butler’s book, barricades were never built in the United States to stop her. In part, this was because the liberal arts had walled themselves off with barricades of their own, with bricks of opaque jargon and cement of arcane subjects. Though Butler’s work became part of the canon of gender theory and queer theory on campus, few people outside the academy were concerned about the effects of a French-theory-quoting philosopher of gender. In France, her work was even more obscure.

Not anymore. Since January, interviews and summaries of Butler’s work have appeared in mainstream papers ranging from the Communist L’Humanité to the cosmopolitan Magazine Littéraire. In an interview with the culture magazine Télérama, Butler confessed she was struck, as well as frustrated, by the media attention. Rather than exploring the reasons for the protests, the press instead was scoring it like a “soccer match” between opposing camps. As she told me by e-mail, even reporters in France “do not very often try to learn about gender studies before they launch their polemical questions.”

More worrisome, though, for Butler are the reasons why a caricature of her work has gained such currency. Though she declined to comment on the recent protest marches, she suggested “the kinds of anxieties unleashed by the legalization of gay marriage in France strike at the heart of a national identity that is bound up with quite fixed and traditional accounts of the family, masculinity, and femininity.” Fundamentally, the fear that propels these protests, Butler said, is the fear of disorder. Gender theory, she suggested, had fused in the minds of its opponents with an “absence of rules,” and casting doubt on the biological verities of sexual difference created a void that could seem to threaten both the family and the nation.

In a way, gender theory for many in France is just another name for chaos. And some anxiety about chaos is, right now, understandable. With a floundering economy and faltering industrial base, rising unemployment and declining productivity, their borders besieged by globalization and their national institutions superseded by the European Union, the French have rarely been so divided over the identity of their nation and so demoralized over its prospects. (In a recent poll, scarcely 30 percent of respondents described themselves as optimistic over the nation’s future.) For Butler, France’s structural woes ratchet up the anxiety over sexuality and gender: Unable to stabilize the nation’s economy, protesters instead condense “those issues into the need to stabilize heterosexuality.”

The panic in the streets resonated in the corridors of power: Shortly after the “family-phobia” demonstration, the government delayed by at least a year a vote on its family legislation. For now, to the relief of those who took to the streets, the traditional family of maman and papa still stands, a last rampart against vast and disruptive global forces. If “gender theory” has been lost in translation, it may be, more than anything else, because of the desire of many in France to give those forces a name.

How do you upset the French? Gender theory - Ideas - The Boston Globe
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Old 03-03-2014, 03:58 PM   #140
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God forbid we teach anybody theory.

I swear, the biggest intellectual divide in the world is people who understand the concept of theory--examining ideas as ideas--and those who don't. "All beliefs must be unexamined in order to remain valid! Where is my pitchfork?!"
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