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  1. #1
    Platinum Poster martin48's Avatar
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    Default Thought for the Day

    A new series - contributions should be witty, thought-provoking or better still both
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  2. #2
    Silver Poster hippifried's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thought for the Day

    How'd this meme that gender & sex are interchangable terms get started? & when? & why?

    "Gender" is the name given to the sexual bias of our perceptions. Perceptions of anything really. Shapes, sounds, words, traits & aspects of thoughts & attitudes or objects (animate or not) etc..., get gender assigned to them through how we sense them. Especially traits, when it comes to people. Who we are, is a complex mix of a multitude of aspects, made up of various traits, that have their own traits & aspects. Every little piece has an assigned gender, whether masculine, feminine, or neuter.

    So SRS is now GRS? Doctors physically alter the sex organs to transform someone from one sex to another. There's hormone therapy involved. Male to female or vise versa is "SEX" reassignment. Gender is perception.

    We're using "gender" as a euphemism? It isn't working. Sex is still sex, whether the word is a noun verb or adjective. Suddenly rewriting the dictionary confuses the issue, confounds the dialog, & is counterproductive when attempting to converse with anyone outside your own clique.

    What we're really talking about is sexual self identity & orientation. That too long for twitter? Gender is part of the discussion, but masculine, feminine, or neuter really doesn't address whether someone is male, female, transforming, or transformed. Doesn't cover orientation or sexuality either. None of the really important physical &/or psychological aspects of the dialog.

    Anyway: I could go on, but I think that should be enough to get some shit going. I think it's a poor choice of terminology, & I refuse to use it in this context. Make up a new word that actually means what you're trying to say. Just sayin'...



  3. #3
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    Default Re: Thought for the Day

    The questions asked about Gender and Sexuality, like the answers, have become a minefield of contested ideas because there is a confusion between nature and social role that cannot be reconciled. Anne Phillips in an academic but very readable and accessible paper on essentialism and constructionism, writes:

    Essentialism is a way of thinking not always so easily distinguished from more innocent forms of generalisation, and what is wrong with it is often a matter of degree rather than categorical embargo. It should be clear, however, that we cannot hope to draw the line between an acceptable and indefensible essentialism in a distinction between the natural and the social.
    http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/30900/1/Wha...28LSERO%29.pdf

    Essentialism argues that nature has produced fixed categories, for example Male, and Female, while Constructionism argues that meaning is in fact contingent on social construction and that meaning may be endowed through social role. It is often seen at its clearest in the distinctions people make between human behaviour that is considered to be 'Manly' or 'Effeminate' or in the belief that Men can naturally do things Women cannot do, but where nature is extended to construct a social argument that there are things which a man ought to do which a Woman ought not to do. One example of this is fighting on the front line of a battlefield in uniform.

    An obvious problem with essentialism is that it is not itself secure or fixed: nature has created Men and Women who are the building blocks of life through their ability to unite together to procreate and perpetuate the species. Yet nature also produces men and women who are infertile, just as nature produces humans with physical deficiencies -harelip, one lung, blind,etc, or more obviously for HA, intersexed. Nature is thus at one and the same time fixed and contingent. But does this mean gender categories have no meaning? Not at all, because it is only in opposition to the binary concept that a non-binary person can claim their individual identity, otherwise being non-binary would be meaningless, just as the term cisgender only has real meaning when contrasted with transgender. Otherwise, this side and the other side could just as well be the same sides of the same thing, and I don't think that is what is intended.

    The confusion arises from the need to argue that a social construction is itself natural, when it can only be contingent- the language of morality steps in to separate and conflict with a concept of rights to give this dilemma political clout even though the distinctions cannot always be resolved. For example, an infertile man is not just a fact of nature, in social terms he can be described, even condemned as 'a failure' because even if married he has produced no children. Thus one man can say to another 'You are not a man in my estimation' even though on all natural markers other than procreation, he is clearly a man. For some, a major weakness of religion is the way in which it attached moral distinctions to natural life, to condemn as an abomination same-sex activities and masturbation (in men) when clearly for those who engage in it, it is natural behaviour -although the shame and guilt associated with masturbation is part of that discourse of 'failure'. This stems from ancient views that men stored semen in their bodies and that it was too precious a liquid to be spilled for nothing. It is also related to the social phobias people have over smells and bodily fluids where white liquids -semen and breast milk- are associated with life, and red liquids -blood shed in anger and menstrual blood- are linked to death and shame and anxiety, with obnoxious odours to match.

    A denial of essence can be seen at the core of the concept of Race. The Nazis manipulated the concept of nature to use Race as a measurement of nature in which the Aryans became a Master Race, and the Jews were entirely stripped of nature to become Sub-human. It was, and remains an insult to humanity because Race not only denied the natural reality of being a Jew (or an Aryan, for that matter), but attached a moral judgement to nature and in doing so begged the question which has emerged to produce a narrative in which 'we are all the same', hence the ease with which we condemn the Nazi theory of Race morally, as well as scientifically and politically.

    But it is also clear that humans group themselves into apparently identifiable categories, of which 'the nation' is the most obvious, even though it is a social construction as it is surely impossible to be 'naturally' an American, when the history argues every American at some point arrived on the continent from somewhere else. As it happens, I think most Americans would accept that they are a construct, but probably argue that the sense of being American is the natural consequence of centuries of settlement and a sharing of the language, behaviour, values, beliefs, etc that we are told comprise a 'nation'. More specific to the American experience is the fact that the USA was founded on the basis that human beings have Rights. The Constitution thus has become a vibrant document that has never aged, and is to be contrasted to the Magna Carta of 1215 and the 1689 Bill of Rights, both of which were signed in Britain by privileged elites whose primary interests were their own, at a time when the broad mass of people were considered 'subjects' rather than 'citizens'. Even if you follow Charles Beard's famous interpretation of the Constitution as a passport for the privileged, the broad mass of population, with the stunning exception of slaves, were all equally identifiable as citizens, no such fortune for the Brits at the time -indeed, we have only been described as citizens since 1983, before that we were subjects.

    This has given issues around identity politics more traction in the USA than in other countries, because the Constitution is open to the view that everyone has Rights, only it remains to be argued precisely what those rights are, and it is in the precision that some have become confused as to what gender rights are, what rights of sexual identity might be, or not be. The paradox also remains that in attempting to replace Nature with Social Role, many of those people arguing for their Rights do so on the basis that their identity is in fact endowed, not by social role or a constructed identity, but -yes you guessed it, by Nature. And from this binary love-hate relationship I see no liberation. It remains for the legislators of the USA to decide what Rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, and for the rest of us to use Human Rights legislation to at least give rights to very very small groups of people, even individuals, because in the grand scheme of things, it really is not that important -however many 'Gay' people there are, they will not prevent the human race from reproducing.


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  4. #4
    Silver Poster hippifried's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thought for the Day

    Viva la difference!
    Or is it "le" difference?
    All this word gender in the Romance languages gets me discumbobulated.



  5. #5
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    Default Re: Thought for the Day

    "He's a little idiot from Molenbeek with a petty criminal background - a follower rather than a leader. He has the intellect of an ashtray, his vacuousness is abyssal."

    He added: "He is the perfect example of the GTA generation who think they're living in a video game. He and his mates have managed to give an entire religion a bad name. I asked him if he'd read the Koran, which I have, and he replied that he'd read its interpretation on the Internet. For simple minds, it's perfect the Web, it's the most they can grasp."

    -The surviving suspect in the attacks in Paris, Salah Abdeslam as described by Belgium's Federal Prosecutor. It puts me in mind of Andreas Baader of the notorious 'Baader-Meinhof' gang that morphed into the 'Red Army Faction' which sent West Germany into a political tailspin of media hysterics and very real arson, murder and fear. The extent to which the Federal Republic and the East German 'socialists' were in fact engaged in a proxy war has been hinted at by the late Christopher Hitchens in the article linked below.

    Out of this one understands that just as Baader was a petty criminal with no strong family ties, and that both his partner Gudrun Ensslin and Ulrike Meinhof harboured an incendiary rage with their parents and 'that generation' -ie of the Third Reich- so many of the young men and women who have gone to fight for Daesh in Syria or Iraq appear to have catastrophic relations with their parents whom they see as having rejected an imaginary, pure Islamic way of life to live in the corrupt, infidel West.

    In neither case does Marxism or Islam give much of an explanation -Marx was opposed to the violent seizure of state power because his view of socialism as a transition, even a revolutionary transition, was shaped by the conditions in which the working class found themselves and the state in which they lived, hence he knew he was wrong about the Paris Commune of 1871 when he defended it, even if he criticized the 'worker's actions in his notorious pamphlet The Civil War in France. But it is partly on this basis that Rosa Luxemburg attacked Lenin and the Bolsheviks as leaping over a stage of history in 1917, with what we now know were hideous results for Russia. And yet the 'romantic' view of revolutionary violence has been -or was- a key element of the avant garde believing they are -or were- changing history.

    In the Baader-Meinhof case, although subsequent analyses added Ulrike Meinhof's Marxist intellectual to Baader's 'man of action' to produce the 'Marxism' of the Red Army Faction, it relies on the view that they took Herbert Marcuse's view that the masses had been co-opted and neutered by capitalism through consumer benefits, to leave only feral youth, hippies and drop-outs as the only free agency left to galvanize the working class to action through attacks on the state. Thus young Muslims believe they are on the fringes of their own society because their parents have sold out, but that by taking the revolutionary road they are paving the way for the 'true Caliphate' that every Muslims will endorse and support, just as the young revolutionaries sacrificing their lives for 'the struggle' will in the end have paved the way for the socialist transition.

    Every generation has its cause, and believes its cause to be noble and right, however feeble the ideas that inform it, however unpopular it is, and in spite of the grief it delivers and the damage that it leaves behind. But as Kant once put it, out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing can be made.

    Links:
    Hitchens on Baader-Menhof
    http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/20...errillas200908

    Karl Marx and the Paris Commune
    http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/s...-paris-commune

    Source of quotes on Salah Abdeslam
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016...ded-to-france/
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...-a7004536.html


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  6. #6
    Senior Member Gold Poster Laphroaig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thought for the Day

    As it's exam season.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Thought for the Day

    He's dead but he won't lie down. I refer to one Adolf Hitler, who yet again has become the means by which politicians measure good and evil, or rather, just evil. Ken Livingstone has been pilloried in the press for claiming that Hitler was a Zionist, now former Mayor of London Boris Johnson, lead spokesman of the LEAVE (the EU) campaign and potential leader of the Conservative Party has claimed in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph-
    The European Union is pursuing a similar goal to Hitler in trying to create a powerful superstate, Boris Johnson says.
    -The article states:
    The former mayor of London, who is a keen classical scholar, argues that the past 2,000 years of European history have been characterised by repeated attempts to unify Europe under a single government in order to recover the continent’s lost “golden age” under the Romans.

    “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically,” he says.
    “The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016...as-hitler-did/

    As if this were not bad enough, a group of like-minded Tory politicians have backed Johnson's point of view.
    I find it hard to believe that people who not only read books, but write them should play such cavalier games with the facts of history. The claim that Hitler was a Zionist is meaningless without a context in which the Zionism of Theodor Herzl and the 'Zionism' of Hitler cannot be distinguished, with one advocating a policy for the survival of the Jews while the other advocated a policy to destroy them, you can't find two more opposed positions than life or death.
    As for Napoleon, what evidence is there that he wanted to unite Europe under the Tricoleur? At the outset Napoleon fought defensive wars against those European Empires that wanted to destroy the French Revolution, and though Napoleon claimed to be fighting for the freedom of the common man when he did defeat and create new governments in places like Italy they were run by his Generals or members of his family with mixed results, usually poor ones, rather than the 'liberated' people. The invasion of Russia was not designed to unify Russia under one European flag, but a response to Russia's violation of the Treaty of Tilsit and Napoleon's fear that Russia was about to invade and subjugate Poland and threaten French influence in central Europe.

    Nor did Hitler want to unite Europe, as Hitler's aim was to create a Thousand Year Old Reich that would stretch far to the East incorporating the Slav people who, being unnecessary for planet Earth were to be exterminated to make way for the Aryans fulfilling the destiny Hitler had decreed for them (and after 'cleansing' the Reich of Jews, Communists, Homosexuals, Gypsies, the Disabled, the mentally challenged, and many more)...I can't think of a project more opposed to the European Union in scope and execution, execution being the operative word.

    The analogy with Hitler at least gets these people out of the difficulty of explaining what capitalism is, and why, if they want the UK to operate in a world of free markets, they don't improve their odds in a free market called the -wait for it- European Union, not least because it was their blessed Margaret Thatcher who signed the Single Market Act in 1986.

    By all means do not forget the lessons of history, but there are times when Hitler's charred remains are best left where they were found in May 1945 and not whisked up as a warning by those too lazy to think of an alternative. Or it could just be that Boris Johnson has, yet again offered the proof that he is not fit to lead anything other than his dog, if he has one.


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    Last edited by Stavros; 05-15-2016 at 05:29 PM.

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    Default Re: Thought for the Day

    Very informative post Stavros. I did not know before reading your post how good or bad the Napoleon analogy was, but anyone who thinks Hitler had a vision of a unified Europe is delusional for all the reasons you say. He considered most European groups to be untermensch and expendable. History can be valuable for drawing parallels, but they have to be carefully drawn out and the distinctions should be pointed out and then reconciled.

    When Iran has a Holocaust Cartoon contest pretty soon I am sure Netanyahu will compare the Iranians to the Nazis...and while having such a contest is beneath human dignity, it does not make the Iranian regime like Hitler or the Nazis and Netanyahu will not be able to make a strong appeal to the conscience of others while using such rhetoric. I know this post was not about the Israelis or Netanyahu, but I think it's a reasonable instruction to draw out a principle for universal application.

    I frequently tell anti-zionists that they are correct to take Netanyahu and others to task for trying to use the Holocaust in emotionally exploitative ways or for political cover, but ask that they pay attention to that rule as well. It does not mean that there needs to be some sort of rigid moratorium on that era, but only that when someone wants to draw the analogy they do it without evoking toxic emotions and stoking personal prejudice. They must be responsible and cautious, which many politicians and pundits fail to be.


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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Thought for the Day

    I would add, Broncofan that while it might make more sense for an Israeli to use Hitler as a yardstick when judging the enemies of Israel, the irony is that Netanyahu's politics are rooted in the revisionism of Jabotinsky whose movement had a difficult and not always sympathetic relationship with survivors of the Holocaust, and that some historians and commentators claim it was only after 1967 that both Likud and Labour politicians began using the Third Reich as a reference point in their conflict with the Palestinians.

    For me the point is that we don't usually need an analogy with Hitler to establish whether or not a contemporary politician is good or bad, unless of course he or she is a fascist or as close as one can get in which case they invite the challenge. Donald Trump has been labelled a fascist by some silly people, it is nonsense, and annoying because there are plenty of Americans to whom Donald Trump can be compared for better or worse, and it would make more sense too. Just as daft as comparing Trump to Ronald Reagan because the latter was once an actor, whereas Reagan was elected Governor of California and thus had experience of high office before becoming President.


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    Default Re: Thought for the Day

    This concluded last night's BBC-2 Newsnight debate on the UK's financial contribution to the EU...



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