Finished on 7/10/19 in Brisbane, Australia.
"It is a tendency identified by the late Australian political philosopher Kenneth Minogue as 'St George in retirement' syndrome. After slaying the dragon the brave warrior finds himself stalking the land looking for still more glorious fights. He needs his dragons. Eventually, after tiring himself out in pursuit of ever-smaller dragons he may eventually even be found swinging his sword at thin air, imagining it to contain dragons."
"GAYS VERSUS QUEERS
In spite of all of this, today being gay has become one of the absolutely central building blocks of identity, politics and identity politics. LGBT is now one of the groupings which mainstream politicians routinely speak about - and to - as if they actually exist like a racial or religious community. It is a form of absurdity. For even on its own terms this composition is wildly unsustainable and contradictory. Gay men and gay women have almost nothing in common. It may be too pedestrian to even mention, but gay men and lesbians do not always form the warmest of relationships. Gay men often characterize lesbians as dowdy and boring. Lesbians often characterize gay men as silly and displaying a failure to grow up. Neither have very much use for each other, and almost none meet in any communal spaces. There are places where gay men can hook up and places where gay women can hook up, but there have hardly been any places in the decades since gay liberation where gay men and women organize or assemble to be near each other on anything like a regular basis. Gay men and gay women, meanwhile, have a famous amount of suspicion towards people who claim to be ‘bisexual'. The 'B' in LGBT is a source of occasional angst within the gay media. But bisexuals continue to be viewed not so much a part of the same community' as gays as some kind of betrayal from within its midst. Gay men tend to believe that men who claim to be 'Bi' are in fact gays in some form of denial ('Bi now, gay later). And while a woman who sometimes sleeps with women will often get a hearing from male heterosexuals, few women react positively as partners to men who also sleep with other men. The question of what any of these people - gays, lesbians or bisexuals - have to do with people who decide to try to swap genders is a question for another chapter.
But it is worth bearing these internal frictions and contradictions in mind when people talk about the LGBT community, or try to co-opt it for any political purpose. It barely exists even within each letter of its constituent parts. And each has little in common with the others. Before decriminalization of homosexuality in the 1960s things were arguably slightly different. But the L's don't need the G's today, and the G's don't much care for the L's and almost everybody can be united in suspicion of the B's. And there is tremendous dispute over whether the T's are the same thing as everybody else or an insult to them. Still nobody is any the wiser about where any or all of this comes from. And yet it remains the means by which people are willing to identify vast swathes of the population, and build one of the defining justifications and bases for the liberal society."
"THE SAME OR BETTER
The belief that it is possible to be sexy without being sexualized is just one of the contradictory settlements that we have landed on. But there are plenty of others in the air. For instance, there is the one that simultaneously insists that women are in every meaningful way exactly the same as men, possessing the same traits and competencies and able to challenge them on the same turf at any time. Yet simultaneously, magically, they are better than men. Or better in specific ways. All this seems perfectly capable of being held in the same head contradictory though it all is. So that the current accepted way of regarding women is: the same as men, but different where it's useful or flattering.
So here is the first conundrum of the current presumption on the position of women as opposed to men in our societies. Women are exactly the same as men as capable, as able, as suited to the same array of tasks. And also better. Exactly how this is the case is ill defined because it is ill thought through. Nevertheless we have decided to embed precisely such ill thinking as deep into our societies as we can possibly manage."
"The move to present the answers of hormones and surgery in a radically simplistic light will certainly persuade a number of people that the problems in their lives can easily be solved by addressing this one fundamental misunderstanding. It may have worked for Jazz Jennings so far, and it may have worked for Caitlyn Jenner. But it did not remedy the troubles of Nathan Verhelst, if anything could have done. The problem at present is not the disparity, but the certainty - the spurious certainty with which an unbelievably unclear issue is presented as though it was the clearest and best understood thing imaginable."
"But there is a paradox here: that the countries which are most advanced in all of these attainments are the ones now presented as among the worst. Perhaps it is just a version of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's dictum on human rights: that claims of human rights violations happen in exactly inverse proportion to the numbers of human rights violations in a country. You do not hear of such violations in unfree countries. Only a very free society would permit and even encourage such endless claims about its own iniquities. Likewise, somebody can only present a liberal arts college in America or a dining experience in Portland as verging on the fascist if the people complaining are as far away from fascism as it is possible to be."
"In 2018 there was debate in the House of Commons about trans issues. During it the case of Karen White came up. This was a man who was a convicted rapist but who now identified as a woman. Although he had not had gender reassignment surgery he asked to be put in a women's prison, and (with his male body) proceeded to sexually assault four female inmates. During the debate one Liberal Democrat MP, Layla Moran, summed up the extreme of trans thinking perfectly. Asked whether she would be happy to share a changing room with somebody who had a male body, Moran replied, “If that person was a trans woman, I absolutely would. I just do not see the issue. As for whether they have a beard [a matter that has also been raised] I dare say that some women have beards. There are all sorts of reasons why our bodies react differently to hormones. There are many forms of the human body. I see someone in their soul and as a person. I do not really care whether they have a male body."
No sensible person or movement hoping to pull together a coalition to create a viable rights movement to defend trans people would make such a claim. They would not routinely claim that trans people are simply trans when they say they are. They would not say that a bearded man is no problem for them in the changing room because ‘I dare say that some women have beards’. And they would not claim to be able to see into someone's soul and there recognize whether that person is a man or a woman. These are deranged claims and - like so many claims in the trans debate - they go on to derange anyone who has to listen to them, let alone those pushed to go along with them or assume that they are true."
"One of the ways to distance ourselves from the madness of our times is to retain an interest in politics but not to rely on it as a source of meaning. The call should be for people to simplify their lives and not to mislead themselves by devoting their lives to a theory that answers no questions, makes no predictions and is easily falsifiable. Meaning can be found in all sorts of places. For most individuals it is found in the love of the people and places around them: in friends, family and loved ones, in culture, place and wonder. A sense of purpose is found in working out what is meaningful in our lives and then orientating ourselves over time as closely as possible to those centres of meaning. Using ourselves up on identity politics, social justice (in this manifestation) and intersectionality is a waste of a life.
We may certainly aim to live in a society in which nobody should be held back from what they can do because of some personal characteristic allotted to them by chance. If somebody has the competency to do something, and the desire to do something, then nothing about their race, sex or sexual orientation should hold them back. But minimizing difference is not the same as pretending difference does not exist. To assume that sex, sexuality and skin colour mean nothing would be ridiculous. But to assume that they mean everything will be fatal."