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A Reply to Sally Hines by Heather Brunskell-Evans, FiLiA Spokeswoman.

(23 Posts)
R0wantrees Wed 16-Jan-19 08:51:11

"The representation of women’s bodies has been subject to masculinist authority for much of recorded history. Before the 19th century, religious leaders in the West informed women it was the lusty, disobedient Eve, not Adam, who was to blame for earthly sexual corruption. Since the 19th century, scientists added to the historical narrative the ‘truth’ that women were incapable of taking up positions of authority in the public sphere since women’s hormones and brains were clearly responsible for their educational, social and political inferior status.

In the 1960s and 1970s feminist women (and some male allies) refused to give traditional politicians, knowledge-makers, doctors, religious leaders, historians – the men and women who did patriarchy’s bidding – the authority to naturalise male superiority. Feminist sociologists distinguished between sex and gender, a conceptual move that enabled them to demonstrate that patriarchal societies invest the female and male body with meaning, a system they called gender. This innovative, radical theory was quickly appropriated by queer feminism in the 1980s, and it has been increasingly depoliticised ever since.

Queer feminism now naively asserts that sex is irrelevant to women’s lives since it is self-identity as a woman that is paramount. In the words of Sally Hines, Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds: ‘‘sex’ is no longer applicable to contemporary feminist theory and activism’. With all the simplicity of the binary thinking from which transgender ideology allegedly frees her Hines asserts: ‘No-one without an anti-trans agenda says female anymore. People say woman’.

On the 19th November Hines made an earlier statement about her views when she appeared on Woman’s Hour in a conversation with Dr Kathleen Stock. Here she appeared thoroughly confused, failing to make a distinction between sex and gender, and indeed ascribed ‘gender’, not sex, as in-born. Tragically, given that she has a professorial position in a Russell Group university, she believes that ‘trans women are women’, an article of faith not material reality.

Has queer feminism facilitated escape from the tyranny of binary gender, freed women from sex-based violence, and silenced some men’s self-assumed authority? No, it has not! It has done little more than amplify the voices of male-sexed transactivists who, irony of ironies, mobilise their authority by declaring they are women! What is blatantly sign-posted by Hines’ attempt to silence the terms ‘female’ and ‘sex’ is the urgent necessity to claim them. It is our very body, in its political and social context, that we should assiduously fore-front in this latest 21st century battle: What does it mean to be a woman, and who has the authority to make that meaning?"

R0wantrees Wed 16-Jan-19 08:56:54

Transcript of Womans's Hour segment with Professor Sally Hines, Professor Kathleen Stock & Jane Garvey

by OrchidInTheSun 19-Nov-18

"J = Jane Garvey (interviewer)
S = Sally Hines
K = Kathleen Stock

J - Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be looking at the current debate about sex and gender, terms which have been used interchangeably by many of us. Some feminists say that sex is simple biological fact and that gender roles is a social construct imposing restrictions and demands on women and girls. Increasingly, there are more voices – including transgender voices – that say it’s more complicated and more nuanced than that.
This is the start of the whole series of conversations.
What are sex and gender?
S – Sex I would argue is a very complex mix of chromosomes, hormones and genitals. So we are talking about biological factors, but we’re not talking about anything at all which is straightforward. We’re talking about a complex mix of factors which is specially in the West have often been seen through a binary framework so sex …
J – Hang on: binary?
S – so sex is believed to divide people into two categories of male and female. And gender is the way in which people understand or experience these sex differences. Again in the west, sex has largely been understood in terms of a binary framework – so male and female.
J – so these understandings are less understood, or more widely challenged? How would you define it?
S – I think when it comes to sex that many scientists are arguing that the binary framework is a very simplistic and quite a reductive way of understanding quite a complex procedure. Similarly, the way gender has been understood in contemporary society has broadened out and young people especially are experiencing and understanding their gender as more diverse than a binary male-female framework allows for.
J – when a baby is born, the first thing that happens is that you find out is its biological sex
S – yep, I think the term ‘assigned female or male at birth’ rather than male or female at birth is a really useful way of looking at the ways in which sex is something social. So what that’s doing is arguing that someone is making a decision – a presumption – about what sex that baby is. And as we’ve seen with intersex, that’s clearly not always the case.
J – [big sigh]. Okay, well I suspect that some people will take issue, including I suspect, Kathryn.
K – Well I agree that we’re increasingly good at understanding intersex variations and a very, very small number of those are atypical chromosomally, so you might get an XY male with a feminised genitalia or you might get an XX female with virilised genitalia. But that’s not the 1.7 we’re always being told about. That’s a very, very small number something like 1 in 20,000 I think for CAH. But I think that’s the wrong way to look at it – that a doctor looks at a neonate and says ‘I’m going to assign a sex’. What they do is that they carry out genetic testing and blood testing and work out .. there’s a standard. The vast majority of intersex children, there’s an absolutely standard route ..
J – but as you say, this isn’t a common problem is it?
K – no it’s not but in the rhetoric of sex as a spectrum and the assigning of sex as a social decision on the part of the doctor is to gloss over the medical procedures that are pretty well understood now and result in predictable outcomes, whether the child is male or female.
S – (with a laugh) Okay, well neither I nor Kathleen are scientists and there are many scientists however who are pointing to the rather simplistic understanding of sex in the way that Kathleen has just talked about. And this has also been long understood in many non-western cultures who have understood that people are not simply male or female. And just to say that it doesn’t affect many people or it’s a minority problem or disorder, that’s ignoring the way that lots of young people are now experiencing their lives and their sense of gender as something that is non-binary, that is something that is neither female nor male.
J – Okay well I can see you’re struggling with that Kathleen.
K – (laughs) Well Sally’s moved there from talking about a medical issue to a social issue and if you’re non-binary or not, that’s got nothing to do with intersex – those two things are completely distinct.
S – I’m not talking particularly about intersex …
K – well you were originally
S – well I used it as an example of how sex itself can be diverse.
J – yes, well I appreciate you both feel very strongly about this but I worry we’re getting up a cul de sac up which our audience travel down in their real lives. What we do know is that the lives of women on the whole are more restricted and women can feel more vulnerable than their born male counterparts. That is simple fact isn’t it?
S – [pause, deep breath] it depends who you’re including in the category of women. Are you saying that transwomen are not women? Women? Cis women, okay?
J – cis women – a lot of people won’t know what you mean by that, can you explain?
S – so cis women are women who were assigned female at birth, women who haven’t transitioned, okay. Arguing for trans rights and arguing that transwomen are women doesn’t take away that we live in a patriarchal society.
K – I’m very happy to agree that we live in a patriarchal society and since we do I think we need to retain categories and sub-categories that do important explanatory work and one of those is women; natal females. You can call them what you like. But if cis is taken to mean happy with the gender stereotypes as soon as they are born then most women don’t feel cis. If you mean some really strong feeling of being a woman, then most women don’t feel like that. They just are. So it’s really, really difficult in these discussions to find some commonality that all transwomen and all natal women share and can explain that they are members of the same group. And more radically, as claimed by you Sally, that there’s no underlying difference between the two groups in terms of social treatment. It’s my view that being female, being viewed as a woman, imposes a significant causal predictor on you to be the subject of all sorts of discrimination. We see this in the sexual violence statistics, we see this in the pay gap – it’s not a gender pay gap, it’s a sex pay gap – it’s to do with reproduction.
S – I fundamentally disagree. I think transwomen also, if not more so, suffer harassment, suffer violence, suffer sexual disadvantage in society. And for me, regulating the category of woman, arguing around who can and who can’t belong to that category based on an idea of gendered authenticity or realness is not the way forward.
J – yes well again, we’ve got to make this conversation relevant to our listeners and many of our listeners have had tough lives for one reason or another and that they may now – still – be facilitating the lives of others. Possibly they’ve done nothing but that for the last 50 years. And it’s hardly surprising that some of those women are feeling that their hard won rights are somewhat vulnerable at the moment Sally to the progress of some other – for example – transwomen.
S – (scoffing) I completely disagree. Gender and progressive politics can’t be based on a hierarchy of difference in this way and we’ve seen this before and it’s very, very dangerous. We’ve seen this before in relation to the position of black women, we’ve seen it before in relation to the position of working class women. As feminists we’ve got to move away from a politics which is based around perceptions of realness. And that white cis women – such as myself, such as Kathleen – have got to give up some privilege here.
K – I am exactly here to fight for the interests of black and working class women. It is them that bear disproportionately the brunt of society and if we lose the ability to name those people as such and talk about the causal factors that lead to their predicament then we won’t be able to fight for them and so it’s dangerous the kind of rhetoric that’s coming out of gender politics.
J – sally can I just ask that if it were why do we not hear as much from transmen as we do from transwomen?
S – [deep breath. Looooong pause] I think trans men are often ignored. They are not seen to be such a threat by feminism as trans women are. There has been a critique by second wave feminists such as Sheila Jeffreys who have argued that they are women who are trying to get male privilege. So they have been attacked by feminism. But in the culture we’re living in at the moment, in contemporary times, it is transwomen who have become the bodies of fear to some feminists.
J – okay. Last word to you Kathleen.
K – transwomen are not inherently dangerous and no one on my side of the debate thinks that. But we recognise that they are male biologically and socialised as males and that makes it more likely – statistically – that some of them will be violent, more violent to females.
S – I completely disagree.
K – I know you do but the stats bear it out
S – transwomen are women
K – well you can keep saying that but I’m not talking about that. But I’m talking about how this is practically resolved within society."

from thread:

R0wantrees Wed 16-Jan-19 09:06:55

relevent threads:

NotTerfNorCis Wed 16-Jan-19 14:20:24

At some point Sally will admit to herself that she's wrong. Maybe she already has done. But she'll have years ahead of pretending to believe this gender nonsense.

QuietContraryMary Wed 16-Jan-19 14:23:10

Sally earns a fucking fortune (literally millions for her & her colleagues) pushing this shit, she won't change.

R0wantrees Wed 16-Jan-19 14:23:53

At some point Sally will admit to herself that she's wrong. Maybe she already has done. But she'll have years ahead of pretending to believe this gender nonsense.

Universities will have to take seriously the need for academic credibility before then.

VickyEadie Wed 16-Jan-19 14:24:10

Sally earns a fucking fortune (literally millions for her & her colleagues) pushing this shit, she won't change.

Yep - she really has sold out.

HerFemaleness Wed 16-Jan-19 14:53:13

At some point Sally will admit to herself that she's wrong. Maybe she already has done

As of 3 hours ago she was merrily accusing women who were concerned about male sexual violence of ''myth making'' and creating a moral panic.

How original of her. As someone who has 'historical knowledge of feminist battles'' you'd think she would be aware that women are always accused of lying and/or being hysterical when we talk about male violence, including sexual violence.

NotTerfNorCis Wed 16-Jan-19 15:54:48

Oh yes I see she was 'outraged' on Twitter this morning.

FloralBunting Wed 16-Jan-19 16:01:34

Contemptible person. I'd love to see the stand up show with her humour and rhetorical flourishes on show.

Roy Chubby Brown'd be really worried about the competition...

R0wantrees Wed 16-Jan-19 16:08:03

As of 3 hours ago she was merrily accusing women who were concerned about male sexual violence of ''myth making'' and creating a moral panic

current thread:

"Cross-dressing pervert, 48, travelled 400 miles on bus from Kent to meet 14-year-old schoolgirl he groomed on WhatsApp... only to meet paedophile hunters when he arrived in Glasgow"

"A cross-dressing pervert who travelled more than 400 miles across Britain believing he was meeting a 14-year-old girl was trapped by paedophile vigilantes.

Richard Grattige, 48, who lives in Maidstone, Kent, and is also known as Vicky Green, believed he was in contact with a child after talking to her on WhatsApp.

He travelled by bus to Glasgow after arranging to meet her - but was confronted by vigilantes who recorded him confessing his plans before handing him over to police.

Richard Grattige (pictured), 48, who is also known as Vicky Green, believed he was in contact with a child after talking to her on WhatsApp from his home in Maidstone, Kent

A video shows Grattige - who is undergoing hormone treatment for a sex change - admitting he planned to meet a girl and pleading to be allowed to return home.

Grattige appeared from custody at Airdrie Sheriff Court and admitted communicating indecently and intending to have sex with an underage girl." (continues)

ProfessoressWoland Wed 16-Jan-19 17:41:13

Great reply by H B-E.
The denial, or redefinition of sex seems to be a more recent strategy of TRAs (have they realised that their idea of gender is about stereotypes?). I can't be arsed to read SH's publications, does anyone know if she has consistently held these views about sex, or is it a more recent thing?
(I suspect the latter - in that Woman's Hour interview she sounded like she had started developing her theory in the cab on her way to the interview. She was totally incoherent. )

Coyoacan Thu 17-Jan-19 01:43:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jay55 Thu 17-Jan-19 10:10:13

Three women have been murdered by their partners in the borough where I live, so far this year.
But male violence is a myth. Okay then.

Manderleyagain Thu 17-Jan-19 11:01:46

Professor. I haven't read her work either but it wouldn't surprise me if she has been of the 'sex is a cultural construct' view for a long time. Butler's book came out in 1990. Its not uncommon for humanities academics to say they are taking that definition (though how far they really mean it in real life I don't know). I felt in the women's hour interview she chose not to explain her theory of sex, probably because it would be impossible to persuade the audience or articulate it in the short time, and she would come across as barmy.

I am not usually keen on being v critical of people from the 'other side' esp when I haven't read their work, but I was shocked by how dismissive she and Sharp were on twitter of the issues that many lesbians are raising. And stock made the point that even if she and her followers don't see the problem, thousands will look at the thread and see the problem. I was one of them.

Manderleyagain Thu 17-Jan-19 11:08:05

At the risk of sounding like a killjoy I don't think it's helpful to speculate about drinking problems. I've seen that said about hines a lot. The other side say it about Frances barber. I don't think it gets us anywhere.

Also the research grants don't increase her salary (though they do employ more people taking a similar line and increase her standing).

Needmoresleep Thu 17-Jan-19 11:27:11

Manderley, agreed.

I am not lesbian, but find it remarkably offensive that any woman should suggest who other women ought to be attracted to. If a lesbian does not find a male who is transitioning to female attractive, they don't find them attractive. End of.

I also understand it. I like many others can see many transgender people on YouTube and instinctively place them as their natal sex. For example I find Fox and Owl video's quite disconcerting for this reason. Fox passes relatively well, but still acts like a man. (And no I can't really define it - just a lifetime of socialisation has me placing people as male and female.)

Honestly how dare she. Just because she can claim to be a trans-ally does not excuse blatently and public homo-phobic and sexist remarks.

Qcng Thu 17-Jan-19 11:47:56

I keep hoping one day all these sickeningly influential deluded people will wake up and use their brains.

nojellybabies Thu 17-Jan-19 13:20:26

the alcohol comments cross a line in my book.

Coyoacan Thu 17-Jan-19 13:34:44

I take back the comment about her drinking nojellybabies. You are right, I have no evidence.

nojellybabies Thu 17-Jan-19 14:19:48

Can you report it? As you say it’s best withdrawn

Manderleyagain Thu 17-Jan-19 16:19:39

Needmoresleep - yes I am straight and I wouldn't ever have thought about this effect of making gender identity a more important social category than sex itself. Sharp and Hines were failing (or refusing) to see that even if no one says 'oi you have to sleep with me because I say I'm a lesbian', there is good evidence that young lesbians now exist in a broader culture which paints the desire only ever for female bodies as exclusionary. And not everyone is happy with that at all. Fancy not stepping back and thinking about how that might affect someone's ability to accept their own feelings?

Needmoresleep Thu 17-Jan-19 16:32:15

It is really offensive, isn’t it. The right to have a preference for same sex relationships is what Stonewall was set up for.

Actually I was agreeing with you on the ‘why does Sally do this’ point. Not need for slurs or accusations as it does not look like she has any good arguments anyway.

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