Month: February 2016

Organ-Based Genders

In a continuing discussion of my view that gender should be assigned based upon organs, I want to summarize three further reasons.

First, in terms of biological sex, organs are the distinguishing characteristic. That is, for reproductive purposes, what counts are organs. Now, of course, sometimes those organs don’t quite work properly for reproduction. A (biological) woman who is past menopause has female organs, but they can no longer function for reproduction. A male who has a vasectomy no longer sends sperm out when ejaculating. But in both cases, one is still definitely ‘the female organ,’ and one is definitely ‘the male organ.’ A uterus that doesn’t work for reproduction is still a uterus, just like a car that has an oil leak is still a car. If you have a penis and testes, it does not matter how much you ‘feel like a woman.’ You are biologically male.

Second, let’s consider this in terms of sexual attraction. I am an heterosexual male. Thus, I attracted to female characteristics, but on top of that, I would not be interested in having sex with any person with a penis. Even if a person had an extremely attractive effeminate body, the penis is a deal-breaker. I suspect that is pretty much the case for most straight males. Similarly, most straight females would probably say that they would find the lack of a penis to be a deal-breaker; or at least, that the presence of a vagina would be a deal-breaker. So again: to be useful, the concepts of ‘male’ and ‘female’ here need to be primarily a question of what kinds of genitals a person has.

Third, the argument I usually hear regarding Trans persons is that they have ‘the wrong brain for their biological sex.’ In other words, a trans woman is someone who always had a female brain, but was born with a penis and testicles instead of a vagina and womb. I have a problem with this idea, however. It relies on the notion that among non-trans people, male brains and female brains are distinctive. Now, it is true that there are trends. Given a random brain, you can guess with more than fifty percent accuracy which biological sex it came from. However, that is a far cry from the claim that there are definitive male versus female brains. If I tell you a person’s height, you can guess with more than fifty percent accuracy which gender the person is. A six foot tall person is more likely to be male, a five foot person is more likely to be female. Yet we know that there are six foot tall women, and five foot tall men. There’s substantial overlap between the two sexes here. The same argument applies to things like weight. And, from what I have seen, the same applies to brains. These trends may even become less dependent upon gender when we consider the most intelligent and successful males and females – or at least those who are most successful in business.

Now, I have no problem with people cross-dressing. I have no problem with people getting sex change operations. But they remain, to me, a body-modification. A person who is obsessed with swapping their genitals around is not really any different to me than a person who gets fixated on putting enormous hoops in their ears (except that people tend to be much more fixated on genital changes than anyone gets over ear lobe stretchers).

Voting 3rd Party

Disclaimer: This is not an academic publication, so I frequently am rather lax about citing sources. In this instance, however, I don’t want to cite a source, I want to cite someone else who has similar views to myself, Scott Santens. He has written up his reasons for voting 3rd party in the US: Scott Santens’ Third Party Article.

Okay. This year, if Kasich or Trump wins the GOP nomination, and Hillary wins the Democrat nomination, I plan to campaign very, very, hard for Bernie or (if he has begged off from running and seems low on support) for Dr. Jill Stein.

Conventional wisdom, however, says that a vote for a candidate who lacks Republican or Democrat support, is wasted. You are throwing your vote away. Here is why I, personally, believe that this is not true.

First point: it may not be entirely accurate in itself. That is, I believe, with the substantial number of independents (many of whom are sick of ‘establishment candidates’), as well as the substantial number of Democrats who are sick of centrists running for their party (and sick of establishment candidates), that we could actually see a victory by a third party candidate. But only if enough people who usually support the Democrats as the lesser of two evils decide that they will go out on a limb and support a third party candidate.

Second point: even if it fails, it sends a strong message to the DNC. Okay, this will take more explanation. Conventional wisdom in American politics is that Republicans are right-wing, Democrats are left-wing, and to win, a candidate needs to appeal to the ‘moderate’ centre. This ignores the fact that in Europe, the Democrats would be considered fairly far right-wing. But more importantly, it ignores the fact that there may be many, many, left-wingers out there, who don’t bother voting because no matter whom they vote for, they know that they will be voting for a corporate right-wing puppet. The best president we have had in decades is president Obama, who was a big improvement, but who still refused to push for decriminalizing marijuana, refused to push for Single Payer Healthcare (which most industrialized nations take for granted), and so on – in other words, someone who refused to push for things that even ‘right-wingers’ in other countries are committed to keeping. Now, the reason, pundits tell us, is because the Democrats need to appeal to the ‘centrists,’ who are really the ‘not-quite-as-extreme-right-wingers,’ in the US. But do they really?

If Hillary wins the DNC nomination, I want to push for a more liberal third party candidate. Maybe that candidate will lose. But if that candidate gets a substantial vote at all, it sends the message to the DNC that they can, and should, look to go more liberal, if they want to win more support – that going centrist costs them support, rather than being a net gain for them. I don’t want to live in a nation where the two political parties keep thinking that one can go extremely to the right, and the other will have to go mostly right, just to grab up enough votes in the centre. I want to send a message that the loss of the ‘liberal’ (in practice, right-centre) party is because it is not liberal. I want to send a message to the Democrats, that it is time for them to either vacate the stage, or become real progressives. For that reason, I say ‘Hill No!’ and ‘Bernie or Bust!’ (or Dr. Jill Stein, if Bernie is a hopeless cause).

Equal opportunity

I am a firm believer in equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of their demographics. But that does not mean I believe we should or will see every occupation or area attain ‘equality,’ in the sense of seeing each demographic represented in the same proportions as they are represented in society at large.

Let’s take an example from real life. A few years ago, I looked up the highest paid players in the NBA. Although African-Americans make up something like 13% of the US population, the percentage of the highest paid players in the NBA who are African-American was substantially higher. I also believe that the overall number of players in the NBA identifying as African-American is substantially above 13%. So, the NBA certainly lacks demographic equality when it comes to its player base. But does this mean the NBA lacks equal opportunity?

There are three reasons, off-hand, why we might see this apparent ‘bias.’

  1. The NBA teams have an irrational bias against white people or in favour of black people; in other words, qualified white players are being overlooked in favour of less qualified black players. I don’t believe this one. NBA teams play to win. That’s how they make money. I suppose it could happen occasionally, but I don’t take it seriously.
  2. Black people are much more likely to have an interest in playing professional basketball than members of other demographics.
  3. The physique which is ideal for playing basketball is more common among people of African descent than those of European descent.

Personally, I believe that reasons 2 and 3 probably account for most, if not all, the apparent disparity among NBA players. And I believe that is perfectly fine. I don’t actually know if point 3 is true or not, but it’s a reasonable (and testable) hypothesis. I’m pretty sure point 2 is true, and again, it’s something that could easily be tested. The point is, I believe white people have the same opportunity as black people to become NBA players. They are just either less interested on average (2) or less qualified on average (3).

Now, such a view of the NBA is not controversial. Nor do we see anyone desperately trying to figure out how we could ‘get white people interested in basketball!’ However, such a view does seem to become controversial in other situations. For me, however, my analysis of the situation will be parallel to the analysis given above. When we ask ‘Why is demographic A under-represented in field X,’ we have three main reasons that could explain this.

  1. Irrational bias against A.
  2. People of demographic A tend to lack an interest in X.
  3. People of demographic A are, either through their upbringing or through a genetic correlation, less likely to be ideal for X.

Now, only in case 1 do I think there is a lack of equal opportunity. And generally, only if there is a lack of equal opportunity should we consider any sort of legal intervention with X itself. In case 2, I do not see how legal intervention could be of use. We could ask whether it would be desirable to try to change the subculture of A such that they are more likely to have an interest in X, but changing something like that is not really a legal issue. In case 3 likewise, we could ask whether a flaw in upbringing within A’s subculture could make their members more likely to be suited for X. If that upbringing is part of public education, then we need legal intervention in public education – for instance ensuring that males and females both have the option to study sciences (though for the record, women are now getting employed at twice the rate as men in most STEM fields) – but not in X itself! It is not the fault of X or of the organizations within X, that people from A are less likely to be qualified, due to their upbringing. And of course, if the issue is genetic/physiological, then there is nothing to be done anyway. A good example of the latter case would be any sort of job requiring hard physical labour, in that such an occupation will likely always have an under-representation of females, even if both genders are given equal opportunity to apply, simply because of the distributions of strength between genders.

So, if the problem is 3, then the only legal intervention that makes sense is to consider if there’s something missing from the public part upbringing of people within A. If the problem is 2, then there’s not much that can be done legally, except to again ask if there’s something missing from the public part of A’s upbringing. Only in case 1 do I believe it would be justified to have any sort of legal intervention in the field of X itself. More particularly, only in that case should we blame the organizations within the field of X itself for the problem. In all other instances, X provides equal opportunity – and that is all that we can or should expect it to do.


PS Note that occasionally, there might be a seeming bias against A which really falls under point 3. For instance, in acting in historical pieces, the actor needs to at least somewhat resemble the person they are portraying. Now, you could have a French person portray a Swedish person pretty easily, but a French person probably couldn’t pass as, say, Nigerian.

The internal view is not always accurate

Continuing from the previous blog, I want to consider further the relationship between understanding a culture, or a situation, and living within it.

First, a person who follows a religion may not know very much about that religion at all; they may not know much about what other followers of the religion do, or what the holy books of that religion say. An outsider could easily know more. In many cases, the outsider might even know more about the individual follower. Let’s say that James is a person who follows a cult leader. He’s been thoroughly brainwashed by that cult leader. Surely, it would not be reasonable to think that James has a terribly accurate idea about the cult culture in which he lives? A similar observation might be made about people in abusive relationships; it is common for those who are victims of abusive relationships to fail to grasp that they are, in fact, in an abusive relationship, even when this fact is obvious to outsiders.

Furthermore, two people within a given culture can have completely contradictory views of that culture. This is amply demonstrated by debates over whether or not the United States has a rape culture.

I do not deny that living within a situation, or a culture, can give a person an advantageous position from which to observe that culture. What I do maintain is that living within a situation, or culture, does not inherently make a person more qualified to talk about the realities of that situation or culture.

You don’t need to BE me to ‘get’ me

There is this odd notion that I’ve heard, primarily from the regressive left, with the idea that a person from one demographic can never understand a person from another demographic. I find myself somewhat perplexed as to why a person would argue this and stop there, instead of going further and saying that no person can ever understand another person at all – after all, if I’m incapable of understanding a person with a different skin colour, what makes these people think I could understand someone who looks similar to me, either?

The thing is, though, that wherever this notion comes from, it’s a load of bollocks. Sure, maybe you don’t see a situation the same way that I do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t understand my point of view! Maybe you see that I’m working on mathematics, and that I’m happy, and I tell you that I’m ecstatic because I just figured out an important step in a theorem I’m working on. You might think to yourself that you can’t understand what I’m feeling, because you don’t like maths. But let’s back up a moment: you know what it is to feel ecstatic, right? And you know what is making me feel ecstatic? Then congratulations! You understand how I’m feeling.

As another example, perhaps you are not the sort of person who gets attached to pets. One day you see I’m sad, and I say it is because my pet rabbit just died. Now, that happening to you might not make you particularly upset, but: you know what it is to feel sadness, and you know what is making me sad. You understand how I’m feeling.

Similar remarks apply to just about any two people, however. I read the remark by a white college student saying ‘I know I cannot understand how people in the Black Lives Movement feel.’ Really? Have you tried, I don’t know, asking them? Because they’ll come right out and tell you they are angry and frustrated. So: do you know what it is like to feel angry and frustrated? Do you know what it is like to feel like your life might be in danger (I do, through medical issues)? Then guess what. You understand how they feel. In fact one might also think that you would feel the same way, assuming that you agree with their premise. After all, if you agree that there’s a great deal of violent racism going on, are you really such a demographically absorbed asshat that you are incapable of being upset by it unless you belong to the demographic of the victims? I’m not palestinian, but I’m upset when I see palestinians losing their homes because Israel is screwing around again. I’m not jewish, but I’m upset when I see victims of anti-semitic violence.

Concomitant to this idea that people can’t understand others outside their demographic is this odd idea that a person who has lived through something (say, a culture, or an event) knows more about it than others. This is an absurdity. Let’s take some event like the battle of Waterloo. A soldier who participated in the battle probably knew a lot less about the battle itself than any historian – some soldiers who were present did not even realize they had been in a major battle until other people told them. As another example: who knows more about, say, Irish culture? An Irishman who lives their whole life in one town in Ireland, or a Frenchman who extensively studies Ireland and the Irish? I think it is pretty clear that the latter will know a great deal more about Irish culture than the former. The idea that this could never be the case seems to derive from the idea that people cannot overcome their own bias. But there are two points about this:

  1. If people can’t overcome their own bias, then being born into and living in a culture does not let you understand that culture, because you yourself are biased. In other words, if you think an ‘outsider’ can never understand a thing because of bias, then you really have to conclude that nobody can understand a thing. Because being ‘inside’ will carry its own set of biases. If a non-Irishman can never understand Irish culture because of their biased viewpoint, then an Irishman can’t understand it either – because of their biased viewpoint. If outsiders are incapable of true knowledge because of bias, then everyone is incapable of true knowledge because of bias.
  2.  The fact is that we can overcome our biases, and we constantly work on methods to do so.

Finally, I’d like to note, with regards to the idea that being an ‘insider’ grants greater understanding of a thing: people often don’t even understand themselves. People go to psychologists so that they can understand themselves better, and often the psychologist understands more about that person than they do about themselves.

Self-deception and victimhood

I realized something very peculiar about myself today. For background, I have anxiety-triggered depression as well as OCD. I dislike telling people this, not because I’m embarrassed about it, but because I don’t want them to treat me differently. Unlike SJW professional victims, I do not care to be treated as a victim by others. I realized, however, that I have been – on a largely unconscious level, I believe – treating myself differently.

I am pretty good at manipulating people. Unfortunately, this extends to manipulating myself. In this instance, my self-manipulation was of the form that, when faced with things I didn’t want to do, I began triggering myself to feel like I were getting a panic attack. Now, you might ask why I would do this; very simply, it would make me feel like I had a valid excuse to avoid the thing that I wanted to avoid. Just wanting to avoid it didn’t strike me as a good reason, though, so I was subconsciously providing myself with what I thought of as a better reason.

Of course, that’s not to say I think all my feelings of panic are brought on this way. Sometimes, they are not, and are instead genuinely brought on by the situation at hand (example: being stuck in traffic on the highway). But the fact remains that I began to actually make myself panic in situations that would not, in themselves, make me panic, simply as an excuse for not wanting to be in those situations. And again, I didn’t do this deliberately or consciously.It was largely a subconscious thing.

I think, more broadly, that this is a danger in encouraging people to think of themselves as victims at all. When we tell someone that they have a status which entitles them to sympathy and special treatment, that status takes on a certain quality of attraction, and consciously or unconsciously people may be tempted to try to prolong or increase that status (whether that status is ‘being a victim’ or some other characteristic).

Bathrooms, genitals, and transgender rights

Okay, I want to talk a bit about transgender rights, and about who can go into which bathrooms.

First, I want to say, I completely support homosexuals of both genders. In fact, I support any person marrying any other person (although reproduction is another matter – to be discussed elsewhere). Marriage, in the legal sense, is about one person having legal access to certain aspects of another person’s life. How can I say that one person should not have access to another person, legally, if they both agree to it? To disagree, would be to defy my belief that each person should be autonomous over their own body (including over whom else to give access to it).

By the same token I believe that people should have the right to modify their own bodies. If you want to chop off your own genitals, and replace them with something that resembles those of the ‘opposite biological sex,’ go ahead. Be my guest. I completely support you. I will even call you by the pronoun that you want. I don’t care what pronoun you want. So, I completely support transgender people getting operations, and being treated in public as whatever gender they identify with.

But, the issue is, some transgender people want to be able to enter restrooms based upon the gender with which they identify, rather than based upon which genitals they have. And there, I cannot agree.

Okay, let’s move back a moment. Who gets to decide who uses a public restroom? Well, public restrooms are not a matter of personal autonomy over one’s own body, exactly. I mean, at first glance, where you go is your choice, right? Yes – except this is not a special place, or even a public place. This is supposed to be a place of safety. A place of safety for whom?

Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but a place of safety for people based upon what type of genitals they have. Yes, not upon what sort of ‘social gender’ you might choose, with which to identify, but rather, with the kind of physical genitals you have.

What do you say, to the female who says, ‘I believe I should get to have a place to relieve myself, apart from those humans with penises?’ To those with vaginas who say ‘We want a place to engage in intimate hygeine, apart from those with penises?’ Why do you believe it is more important to say ‘Any person should be able to go into any restroom, just because they say they “feel like a woman”‘?

Historically, gender separation was based upon a desire (by the male biological sex) to keep the female sex from being accessible to the male sex (either in terms of tempting the male sex or available for rape). Now, the female sex, the biological sex, asks for privacy from cocks, but transgender people say, ‘No, we ought to let people with cocks go to the bathroom with cis-women, just because these people with cocks claim to feel like women.’

Does this really make sense? I cannot say that it does. Ultimately, I don’t believe ‘gender’ has any meaning, as a social term. Oh, sure, some people talk about gender. Yes, we make judgments based upon the ‘gender’ we perceive. But ultimately, when we are really asking about ‘gender’ – we either mean: ‘What kind of genitals do you have,’ or else, ‘what sort of chromosomes do you have?’ At least, that is what I mean. And as such, when a bunch of people with vaginas (‘women’ in the sense of biological sex) say ‘we want restrooms where we can guarantee nobody in there has a cock,’ I support their request.

Now, some people have said that making such a law would mean that, to enter a restroom, a person would have to show their privates. That is clearly inane. No, such a law would be enforced by saying that, if someone goes into a restroom for one genital type, and were later proved to have the other genital type, they would be subject to further penalties, rather in the manner by which an assault with a deadly weapon is more severe than an assault as such.

So, if anyone wants to say this is transphobic, I guess they will have to do so.c