Author Topic: DM20 Fan TERFing-tastic  (Read 11323 times)

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Offline Daen

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DM20 Fan TERFing-tastic
« on: January 29, 2022, 12:55:29 AM »
Daen's Musings #20- Fan TERFing-tastic

I've long been a fan of well-performed standup comedy. From Jeff Dunham to Gabriel Iglesias, to Iliza Shlesinger, to a great many more, I found their work hilarious. Even given the controversial topics they sometimes chose to use as their content.

When Dunham had his puppet dead terrorist berate the audience, I laughed. When Iglesias talked about his struggle with his weight, in earlier segments not caring, and in later segments working hard to lose pounds, I found it interesting and valuable. When Shlesinger talked about how critical women are of potential romantic partners, I wondered if maybe she had a point.

Then I heard news about Dave Chappelle. How he'd been 'canceled' for a transphobic segment on Netflix.

Let me be clear about this, first and foremost: cancel culture is not real. There are a lot of made-up concepts, such as money, nations, governments, and leprechauns. Cancel culture is one of them.

Yeah, I should probably explain that. Chappelle claimed that he was being censured for saying he's 'team TERF', and other transphobic parts of his Netflix special. That his work was being removed from various platforms, as punishment for what he'd said and how he'd said it. Ostensibly, that it was a violation of his First Amendment rights.

First off, the First Amendment doesn't apply here! Freedom of speech doesn't guarantee freedom of platform. Just because I can make whatever hateful, idiotic, bigoted claim I want to, doesn't mean that anyone has to listen, or to put it up online for anyone else to see. But second and much more importantly, he's lying. Chappelle isn't being silenced in the slightest. If anything, he's being amplified!

Here's how it works. Public Figure A makes Horrible Bigoted Statement B. Some people watching or listening think he's on the right track, and applaud him. Others think he's a monster, and condemn him. Social Media Platform C has to make a choice: whether it's more profitable in the long run to remove PFA's statements from their platform, or to just leave them.

Regardless of the platform's decision, PFA's statements are amplified! People are talking about it, both for and against, in all sorts of media, all across the country! Making controversial statements like that and getting tons of free media coverage because of it isn't the bug, it's the feature. It's almost the whole reason how one notable president got elected!

early angry silence this time

See, originally I was intending to talk about TERFs and what they believe. I just got sidetracked because of the whole Chappelle thing. I even fell into the trap, amplifying the story myself. Regardless, that's over now. Back to the main event.

TERF stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. The term is self-explanatory, and the comedian-who-shall-no-longer-be-named just claimed to be one because it would generate interest and make him even richer. There are others, however, who have been claiming that title for a lot longer, and probably believe it themselves.

One of the most notable examples in the modern day is JK Rowling. As a prominent fantasy author, I followed her work closely for a while back in the day. I kind of lost track in recent years, until I started hearing about her political views. I actually read the Harry Potter series later than most, in college. I wanted to see what the hype was all about, and I did find the books enjoyable.

The trouble started more recently, when I re-read them with a more critical eye. Rowling is opposed to trans people, specifically MTF (people who were assigned male at birth, but transitioned to female later), being called women. That is a bigotry. After realizing that, and reading the books a second time, I could see other bigotries in her work.

The first example isn't that extreme. She describes the centaurs living outside of Hogwarts as being rugged, fit, bow-wielding naturalists with a keen eye for the movement of the stars and a knack for predicting the future. Basically she's talking about druidism. There's no real condemnation of people who like being outdoors and studying astrology, aside from possibly a rebuke of their technological primitiveness. The centaurs were seen as territorial and utterly unwilling to be 'used' by humans, so much so that they even tried to kill one of their own for 'serving' the story's main characters. That's a stretch, though. Moving on.

The goblins were where things really started coming into focus for me. Rowling describes an entire race of creatures with intelligence matching our own, but no magic to speak of, other than the devices they build in their workplace. There are references to goblin wars, in which they fought for freedom or something, but it's barely mentioned in the overall storyline. The trouble was when she talks about how they behave. The only profession any goblin is seen doing in the entire series, is banking. They're all bankers, down to the last one. The single most important goblin in the series, Griphook, is only really brought into the story in the last book. He's played by Warwick Davis, by the way, a truly phenomenal actor.

At any rate, Griphook is described as being impressed with how Harry treats another sentient magical creature, and agreeing to help Harry break into the bank, in exchange for the sword that Harry is carrying. He keeps his word, for the most part, but then grabs the sword and runs when things go wrong. He's depicted as greedy and cowardly. In fact, in the series, goblin deals are described much the same way. When a man buys some trinket or artifact from a goblin, he assumes it's his forever. That it will go to his kids after he dies. Goblins, by comparison, assume that it's more of a rental. That when the man dies, the object belongs to the goblins again, by right.

Now what people group does that remind you of? Can you think of any segment of the population that has been stereotyped as greedy and acquisitive? Any, say, religious or ethnic collection that has been vilified because of that stereotype? No? Good, cuz I can't either.

Now we move on to the house-elves. Here, she's not even hiding it. This is an entire race of sentient creatures who have an instinctive need to serve humanity. Even those who want to be paid for their work, don't want to be paid too much. When Hermione starts trying to organize a labor union, or freedom for the house-elves, she's greeted with a complete lack of interest from them. They don't even want to be free. They think, genuinely, that they're better off as servants.

That... was one of the big justifications the South gave in order to keep their supply of slaves! They claimed that it was much better for the black people to be in servitude than to be free! The house-elves are slaves. The only thing that makes that acceptable is that they want to be slaves, in Rowling's opinion at least. At the very best this is an argument in favor of class divisions based on money. At worst, it's an endorsement of slavery.

There are a few other things I need to mention about Rowling, not connected directly to the Harry Potter books. She donated a ton of money to try and make sure that Scotland remained part of the United Kingdom. I'm neither Scottish nor British, and I only have a cursory understanding of all the details of that particular vote, but I do have eyes. And the ability to read. Given the long history of Scots being exploited and controlled by Brits throughout history, it makes sense to me that she would want to keep that trend going.

It's not just JK Rowling, either. I had watched most of Downton Abbey by this point, and had enjoyed it as well. When I heard about the series creator's views, I re-watched earlier parts, and felt a familiar sick feeling in my gut. In the show, one of the servants 'messes up', and gets pregnant out of wedlock. The child's father is killed, and she's basically stuck. She has no real hope of having any kind of good future with her baby. It's only with the benevolent, and very persistent, aid of one of the higher-ups, that she's able to eventually arrange a better life for herself and her baby. How dare she actually like having sex? The sheer gall!

Another servant aspires to leave her life of servitude behind and become a secretary. She eventually succeeds and leaves the show. It could have been an uplifting and inspiring story about realizing your dreams and bettering yourself, but Fellowes, the show's creator, ruined it. The character returns briefly, seasons later, and thanks the higher-ups for enabling her to better her life. She did all the work, but they got all the credit. Even worse, she gave them the credit! Just like the house-elves.

Rowling also claims that Dumbledore was gay, but it's never mentioned in the original text. I personally don't think she should get credit for including a gay character, if she only did it after the fact. It would be like claiming women should be able to vote, but only after they'd already gained that ability.

These are both minor points, though. Speaking of women's rights, back to TERF territory.

I follow a number of online personalities, and one of them is MTF. She talks about TV shows a lot, but she also focuses on the many difficulties faced by trans people in the modern world. She did a whole segment on Rowling, in fact.

When I talked about building my worldview, I specified that one of my core beliefs was that everyone is equally deserving. Whether you view trans people as men, women, or neither, one fact that is kind of hard to dispute is that they are at least people. They are human beings, gender or sex notwithstanding.

I guess my point is this: if you believe that women deserve the same rights and opportunities as men (like any good feminist would), and you assume that trans women are actually men, aren't you admitting that they have the same rights as men? Like you want women to have? You may not include them under the umbrella of people you're trying to elevate, but aren't you tacitly admitting that they have the same rights you do?

Ugh, I'm so far removed from personal experience here, I'm having a hard time even understanding the whole issues. I'm a cis white male. I might as well be trying to understand Dianetics.

I've bounced around a lot in this Musing, so if you've stuck with me so far, thank you. As usual it's mostly been about the different forms of bigotry and discrimination in our societies. Chappelle has used bigoted statements and the reaction to them to make himself even richer. Rowling and Fellowes have done the same, though they seem to be more sincere in their beliefs, as far as I can tell.

I like most of Chappelle's standup. Just like I enjoy the HP universe and Downton Abbey, for the most part. Still, I can't let that blind me to the wrongs of the content creators, or of the works themselves. I'm asking you to keep me honest in that way as well. If my characters or statements veer in that direction, tell me. I'll listen.

If your behavior does the same, I hope you ask the same of your friends.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2022, 05:33:36 AM by Daen »