A neoliberal concept of freedom has allowed gender identity ideology to take hold

The neoliberal concept of freedom has opened up a space where a patriarchal authoritarianism, exemplified by gender identity politics, has been able to take root and thrive.

Neoliberalism is the political philosophy (of the left and the right) that was developed in the West during the 1980s as populist “common-sense.” It has several problems:

1) It regards the individual as an autonomous agent, primarily motivated by self-interest;

2) It tells us the unregulated free-market economy alleviates social inequalities;

3) It describes personal freedom in terms of the individual’s ability to “choose” in a market place of choices.

What is wrong with this neoliberal, economistic view of the human being? It is reductive. As well as being individual agents, human beings are also located in psychological, social, and political contexts that render our autonomy and inter-relationship with others more complex than such an ideology allows.

Neoliberal philosophy creates a specific political problem for girls and women. The case of the female body illustrates this perfectly: On the one hand, women’s bodies are seen as material objects which can be sold through pornography and “sex work,” to be consumed like any other product in the market. On the other, women’s bodies have now been positioned as immaterial, because any man can allegedly “become” a woman — not in Simone De Beauvoir’s sense, who argues that female-bodied people are not born “feminine,” but taught femininity — but through men simply identifying as women. In the last few months, trans activists in the UK have worked very hard to silence women who wish to discuss proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, in order to adopt sex self-identification. There have been various policing strategies ranging from accusations of “hate speech,” bigotry, or transphobia; successfully persuading venues not to host the various meetings women’s groups have been holding in order to discuss the issue of gender identity legislation and ideology, claiming those hosting the meetings are “hate groups;” bomb threats to venues that have not capitulated; and the perpetration of actual physical violence on a woman.

Broader issues have also emerged in relation to the language women are permitted to use in order to discuss these issues. Indeed, women who say that human beings with penises are men have seen their Twitter accounts locked or suspended. Recently, founder and editor of Feminist Current, Meghan Murphy, was permanently banned from Twitter after referring to a male as “he.” The words we are allowed to use to refer to our own sex organs are altered as well — even the term used to refer to adult human females has been altered, as we’ve seen the Green Party use the term “non-men,” and the Wellcome Collection museum, Goldsmiths College, and the University of London adopt the word “womxn” in order to be more “inclusive.”

It is apparently insufficient to insist, as I do, that individuals have the right to identify with “gender” in ways they feel comfortable, that no one should be discriminated against because of their gender identity or expression, and that everyone, without exception, must be legally protected from violence. Gender critical women and men are compelled to make a further leap with regard to trans ideology and accept, as an article of faith, the completely irrational proposition that men who identify as women not only must be respected and protected in their choice to do so, but that they are women. Furthermore, just in case the public is too intellectually or politically regressive to understand, we are instructed to repeat the mantra, “Transwomen are women” until we accept it.

In the very year that we celebrate the centenary of (some) women winning the right to vote in the UK — an achievement wrought by gender critical women speaking out against patriarchal power and then suffering, for their pains, from vilification by other women as well as from men — we have witnessed trans activists actively silence women from speaking out about our bodies and boundaries. When tiny stickers reading “Women don’t have penises” were placed in public places and in buildings in protest to the assertion transwomen are literally female, the police spent our taxes investigating these acts of resistance and truth-telling as hate speech.

Men telling women how to understand and experience their bodies is as old as recorded history. Since Eve was framed, men have positioned themselves as generically human. Religion, populist evolutionary biology, and medicine have all historically constructed Man as the norm with Woman as his Other. In the 1970s and 1980s feminist theorists deployed the term patriarchy — literally the rule of the father — to also describe a social structure of inequity based on the naturalization of “femininity.” This epistemological and political development was never intended to reject the material reality of binary sex. This political theorizing took place in tandem with grassroots activism whereby consciousness raising groups sprang up and women shared personal stories. In doing so, they revealed the sheer commonality of their sexual experiences and exposed a structural sexual abuse of women and girls, perpetrated by men. In this sense, the current #MeToo campaign is not new, but a revived political “calling out” of men’s sexual conduct. Perhaps it should be renamed and addressed to men as #YouToo.

The 1990s saw a fierce backlash against the radical feminist critique of patriarchy. Society, we were told, had reached a stage of “post feminism,” and we could all rest easy because the feminist movement’s demands had now been met. The Spice Girls became the epitome of young women’s newfound, individualized sexual empowerment. Feminism became a dirty word, conjuring up a spectre of miserable, sexually starved, repressed women who hated men. My students at Goldsmiths College (one of the first universities unequivocally committed to understanding sex and gender through the lens of Queer Theory, and now the proud UK hotbed of the latter), revealed an actual revulsion towards the “F word.” Any suggestion that the equality laws and the sexual freedoms from which they benefited were brought about by feminist activism and our refusal to be bound by sexist gender roles was met with disavowal. They confidently derided any suggestion that second wave feminists were sexual freedom fighters.

By the 1990s the idea of women as a sex class had been rejected, and the particular oppressions experienced by women as a collective, and enacted on female bodies, were lost. Queer Theory developed the concept of social constructionism beyond that which the poststructuralist, feminist analysis ever intended. Transgender ideology is an outcome of the meteoric rise of Queer Theory which, contrary to the claims of trans activists, does not reject biological essentialism, but reifies it by simply reversing the order: It asserts that binary sex — being female or male — is socially “assigned,” not a biological fact; in contrast gender — an individual’s feeling of “femininity” or “masculinity” — is said to be pre-social, emerging from the inner being. This ideology has no human scientific basis and overrides simple facts.

Woe betide anyone who dares critique transgender truths since the other face of this alleged progressivism can be a furious authoritarianism. The particular issue for which I have been vilified is my view that society should tread carefully with children who step out of stereotypical gender roles, and not set them on a medicalized path of hormone treatment which will almost inevitably have irreversible consequences, including sterility, and — the increasingly common trend — mastectomy for young women. Medical intervention and surgery will never actually transform an individual to the opposite sex, despite the fact that we feed youthful fantasies with the narrative that it is possible. “Sex change” (or “gender reassignment”) surgery can only simulate sex organs, for example by excising the penis and testicles to construct an internal, insensate cavity into the male body, or by creating a prosthetic penis fashioned from flesh taken from elsewhere on the female body. The consequence of this is sterility, as well as the reduction or even complete elimination of sexual, genital sensation.

At the very same moment that high profile men who identify as women insist they ARE women, have facial reconstructive surgery and breast implants, but see no need to have their penises removed (perhaps for the reasons described above), there is insistence from well-established trans-affirmative children’s organizations like Mermaids that early medical intervention on children’s bodies in the form of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones is essential for the wellbeing and health of these youth. We need to pause at this moment and contemplate whether children are being sacrificed on the ideological altar of “inherent gender identity” which allows men who identify as women to explain their adult behavior stripped from any psychological or social context. We could also have a public debate about suicide statistics of youth who are encouraged to understand their experiences through the lens of transgender theory, and call for rigorous data provided by recognized social scientific methodology, in contrast to the data collected and the conclusions reached by the transgender lobby group Stonewall.

“Gender identity” is essential to the organization Gendered Intelligence, whose CEO is a Queer Theory proponent. A “Trans Youth Sexual Health Booklet” produced by the organization reads:

“How you look, how you speak, how you have sex are all aspects of you, but your identity is paramount. A woman is still a woman, even if she enjoys getting blow jobs. A man is still a man even if he likes getting penetrated vaginally.”

Gendered Intelligence’s concept of freedom as individual self-realization seems progressive, inclusive, and commensurable with children and women’s rights. However, it performs the reverse function — it actually reinvigorates traditional ideas of girlhood, boyhood, and womanhood, and endorses the reactionary sexual politics which it allegedly subverts.

It is often pointed out that gender self-identification is an equal opportunity issue: women can identify as men too! The disparity between the responses of men who identify as women, and of women who identify as men, demonstrates rather than refutes the feminist point. In all the kerfuffle about progressivism, women who identify as men do not insist, for the purposes of inclusivity, that men rename their genitals in non-biological terms because to name the penis as a penis is exclusionary of female-bodied men who don’t possess one. Nor do they urge organizations to re-spell the noun “men” as “mxn” (I notice Goldsmiths is notably remiss in its alleged commitment to diversity on this point!) or vociferously and aggressively protest, “Transmen ARE men.” Finally, they do not whip up misandry and direct sexually threatening language at any man who disagrees with transgender ideas.

I assert that a woman is an adult biological female. Our sex, like that of men, was not “assigned” at birth, but empirically observed. Women are not “cis,” as per the new nomenclature of transgender ideology. “Cis” sets up a hierarchy in which allegedly “cis” women have privilege because their biological body and “femininity” match. In this view, “women with penises” are the most oppressed women of all and are even more essentially women than women themselves. “Cis” also performs the function of defining “femininity” as inborn, something feminists reject. Finally, “cis” erases corporeality as having any component part of lived womanhood.

I hope that one day we will look back with disbelief that we once lived in a culture where it was unacceptable to say, following De Beauvoir, gender is not inherent in a child, but is socially achieved by both boys and girls; children should be allowed to be who they are outside of gender constraints; it is society that needs to change, not children’s bodies; adult caretaking requires — no, obliges — us to be the grown ups and (in anything other than the most exceptional of cases), guide all our young people through the psychological, maturational stages of adolescence necessary to achieve adulthood, before allowing them to take any deep, irreversible decisions about their bodies.  I hope that one day we will find it incomprehensible that we sterilized healthy children and turned with wrath at voices raised in alarm, all in the name, irony of ironies, of child protection.

Neoliberalism, with its focus on individualism and personal choice, ignores the existence of patriarchy as a social structure. This has led to a newly minted form of patriarchy’s exercise — the emergence in the 21st century of a masculinist disembodied narrative of womanhood that has been elevated as progressive by all political parties, in particular those of the Left. The consequence of the neoliberal concept of freedom is the opposite of progressive, since it has opened up a space where a patriarchal authoritarianism, exemplified by gender identity politics, has been able to take root and thrive, and where alleged liberals will brook no dissent and scream freedom for men at the expense of women.

Heather Brunskell-Evans is an academic consultant on sex , sexuality and gender. She is a Trustee and Spokeswoman for the women’s rights charity FiLiA and sits on the management board of OBJECT, a feminist campaigning group.

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  • David_Sharp

    An excellent article.
    I think that advertising, and ad-supported media, bear a heavy responsibility for neo-liberal ideology in general, and the “gender identity” campaign in particular. All those ads telling people that “you can be who you want to be”, or variants on the same. In real life, you can’t be whoever you want to be, which is in one sense regrettable, but in another, a very good thing!

  • Neoliberalism is only a hairs-breadth away from libertarianism, which is a philosophy of “might makes right”, and which no women can actually live freely within. Under such a system women’s only choice is which man she will accept as her protector. It’s men who dislike the democratic state, which demands that they give up some of their freedoms so that other people can also have freedom. Neoliberalism is a stealth attempt to eliminate that power of the state. The whole aggressiveness and controlling authoritarianism of the trans movement reveals that those men are insisting that “might makes right”, that their power gives them the right to do what they please and force others to conform. That makes them pretty dammed quintessenially masculine right underneath the skirts and makeup.

    • susannunes

      It is the exact same thing. “Neoliberalism” is Chicago School speak and means the same thing as libertarianism. Libertarianism is pure evil. Read “Democracy in Chains” for a clear understanding of “libertarianism” and especially Charles Koch.

  • oneclickboedicea

    Great piece … the new fascism is just like the old fascism, men have just got themselves a new outfit to do it in …

  • May Loo

    I couldn’t agree with you more. We need to be able to say these things more often and louder without the threats we are facing now. We should not give in to neoliberalism. In some ways, it’s even worse than extreme conservatism – except on the abortion debate.

  • Deborah

    “The consequence of the neoliberal concept of freedom is the opposite of progressive…”

    And the opposite of freedom, incidentally: freedom from economic oppression, freedom from classism, freedom from sexist reinforcements, freedom from censorship, etc. Excellent article! Thank you for writing it; it needed to be spelled out. The entire purpose of neoliberalism is to prevent us from seeing ourselves as part of an empathic whole, ready to gather and organize with others for the sake and progress of the common good.

    • Jani

      The concept of freedom is very interesting. When I hear right-wing Americans on TV or online talking about ‘freedom’ I doubt they could ever explain what they mean. I don’t see this ‘freedom’ in the US. I see inequality, people being unable to afford healthcare, people working 2 or 3 jobs just to pay the bills, people hooked on prescription opiates, and racial inequality is off the scale. There are also the mass shootings that seem to occur more and more frequently. And an idiot for a president who is the laughing stock of the world. No, I don’t see much freedom at all. It seems that anyone who speaks out about anything important or anything that needs to be challenged will become a public hate figure. I just wish these eejits would STFU about their “freedom” which doesn’t resemble freedom very much at all.

  • Neo-liberal or ten thousand years of male supremacy… I don’t know, when were the first eunuchs employed to spy on women?

    But it does seem like the U.S. has exported worldwide the idea that life itself is a mall. Everything and every non-male or non-white male is up for sale. Transgender is both a best selling product in the mall, and an aspect of the men who own the mall. Its one of the driving forces of the colonization of all the women of the world. If the sale of porn and prost. haven’t quite achieved enough desired results, then transgender will up the ante and boost sales into the bargain.

    ***** Once again, I think there’s only one gender. If force makes for gender, how can men, who supply force, have a gender? Men are a sex. Women are a gendered sex.

    • Sumi

      But men “supply force” in maintaining gendered behavior even among each other…

      Men often police other men’s behavior (such as when a term like “sissy” is used to admonish men who may not perform masculinity correctly). Both sexes are gendered. And both sexes receive social pressure to perform their respective gender roles correctly. Thus, the Hierarchy of Gender is maintained and upheld.

      A society which respects and values women’s lives as full human beings cannot just be attained by breaking the social role of femininity. It must also undo the toxic way men are socialized from the time they are little boys to dominate and subjugate the female class…

  • Jen Miller

    Thank you for your fearless work in this space.

    As regards groups like Mermaids, I’ve been wondering: is it possible that a couple of these parents are impacted by something resembling Munchausen by proxy? Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure the majority of parents of transitioning kids are loving and supportive and just struggling to get by in a difficult situation. But there’s one or two whose zeal for underage transitioning (including surgery) is so extreme, and who have benefited from this themselves in terms of public profile, sympathy and power, that I wonder.

  • Kathleen Lowrey

    Neo-liberalism is bad and I think this critique is right on in terms of its applicability to “sex work” (let’s sell everything on the open market! Bodies! Babies! Organs! whatevs!)

    But the trans stuff honestly seems more like old-fashioned totalitarianism to me. Its assertions are so baldly Orwellian:

    “A woman is still a woman, even if she enjoys getting blow jobs. A man is still a man even if he likes getting penetrated vaginally.”

    war is peace, ignorance is strength, freedom is slavery, we have always been at war with Eastasia.

    The upside of neoliberalism is it truly does not give a hoot about any system of values. That is its downside too, of course, but it can be pushed in a feminist direction.

    Totalitarianism does care, though. It wants to win and to destroy its opponents. I think that’s what we are seeing and we should sort of gird ourselves accordingly.

    • Tim

      This issue is the most blatant example of newspeak I can ever remember.

      How this is impacting kids is horrifying. I sadly believe your prediction of how we’ll look back on this time is true. 15 year olds should not be “groomed” into sacrifices that will impact their ability to have children or a fully pleasurable sex life. Its completely different if an adult chooses it.

      It’s also interesting how you pointed out how different trans women are from trans men. I have personally witnessed the anger of a trans woman (wasn’t directed at me) and the energy I felt was very familiar. It was that of an enraged man.

    • Deborah

      ” “A woman is still a woman, even if she enjoys getting blow jobs. A man is still a man even if he likes getting penetrated vaginally.” ”

      And yet, according to some “lesbian trans women” on twitter: a lesbian can’t be a lesbian if she enjoys being penetrated vaginally but refuses penetration from a lady penis…

  • corvid

    The trans movement is so completely invested in the ideas of “gender identity” and “transition.” These ideas have the character of creation myths, and like any other poorly thought-out, irrational belief system, must be enforced through denial, silencing and thought-policing. We need to be extremely wary of this backward slide into the very same tendencies we thought we had abandoned in secular culture.

  • VY

    Neoliberalism is not a left ideology. It is a right-wing ideology par excellence. The confusion about this in North America stems from the essentially right-wing culture of the continent, where health-care issues such as abortion are seen as “left”, for example. Hence the absurdity of a construction such as a left neoliberalism. It doesn’t exist.

    • Tobysgirl

      Yes, just because some men call themselves leftists and subscribe to a neoliberal point of view does not make it a leftist point of view.

    • Alienigena

      Neoliberalism or neoconservatism is an approach that favors free market capitalism that has widespread consequences beyond the economic sphere. Liberals in my country have been applying neoliberal economic policies for a very long time. They just spin their choices differently than neocons. Unless you are claiming that liberals (including Canadian liberals) are not in fact liberals in terms of social policy. Though liberals claim to support progressive social policies but often don’t have generate enough tax revenue (by heavily taxing corporations) to support those policies so they don’t actually stand behind their social policies financially.

  • susannunes

    Neoliberalism, also known as libertarianism, is pure evil. It doesn’t matter if it is “economic libertarianism” or “civil libertarianism.” Both are wrongheaded. Actions have consequences, not just for individuals but also for society as a whole. Some people, like those vulnerable to “transgenderism,” need to be saved from themselves, as they are mentally disturbed, so they have NO right whatsoever to mutilating surgeries or hormone treatments. Those treatments should be illegal. The job of doctors is not to treat mental illnesses with quack surgeries. It is a similar issue to so-called “assisted suicide,” another issue pushed by “civil libertarians” and just as wrongheaded. You have the right to kill yourself, but you have absolutely NO right to ask third parties, namely doctors, to do your dirty work for you. Doctors are not in the business of killing people, either directly or indirectly. It becomes eugenics, and, in the case of psychosurgery, it is always unethical. Psychosurgery is quackery. Nobody can change sex. Sex, race, age, and disability are material realities, not “identities.” You don’t become something just because you say you are. However, transgenderism dovetails perfectly with the Charles Koch agenda, which says there should be no limitations to acquiring wealth, either by businesses or individuals. If there aren’t protected classes, then people cannot advocate for their collective rights. This in turn gives the financial elites the right to streamroll all over their rights. Transgenderism as a political movement exists solely to destroy the rights of protected groups, namely women.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I don’t believe any of your posts have been deleted?

    • J Gripes

      You are correct, They were pending approval for a few days.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Sorry. Moderation can be slow here, unfortunately…

  • susannunes

    You are wrong. Talk to some disability rights activists, and maybe you will understand the issue. It has been and will be easily abused by the so-called “loving relatives” looking for a big inheritance or by HMOs and insurance companies looking to save money by knocking off the old, the sick, the disabled as cost-saving measures. This “assisted suicide” is legalized murder. People like Kevorkian were nothing but glorified serial killers who “assisted” in killing people who weren’t even “terminally ill.” He was the American version of Harold Shipman (look Shipman up). It isn’t “kindness” to force doctors to KILL people, either directly or indirectly. People already have the right to commit suicide–they don’t have the right to force others to do their dirty work for them. It isn’t about “your rights” or “kindness.” It is about the misuse of the medical profession whose goal is to heal the sick, NOT kill them. It IS eugenics right out of the Josef Mengele playbook. Understand the issue, please.

    • Alienigena

      ” It has been and will be easily abused by the so-called “loving relatives” looking for a big inheritance or by HMOs and insurance companies looking to save money by knocking off the old, the sick, the disabled as cost-saving measures.”

      I agree, I am very suspicious of countries with legalised euthanasia, including my own. People act like a good number of North American jurisidictions didn’t support eugenics up to 1970’s (my own province) and 1980’s (province of BC) and have panels (or other bodies) that decided who to sterilize and institutionalize.

      http://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/institutions/history

      USA
      http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/unwanted-sterilization-and-eugenics-programs-in-the-united-states/

      People like to think that because North Americans (unlike Europeans) never elected Nazis or were occupied by Nazis they didn’t share values with them but a lot of people did.

    • Tobysgirl

      Sorry, but I am severely disabled and very much support assisted suicide. And I don’t want someone else who is disabled telling me I have no right to die. No one who supports death with dignity is advocating for mentally incompetent people to be killed by their relatives. As someone who has suffered unbelievable pain, I DO NOT WANT ANYONE TELLING ME I have no right to die. People want assisted suicide because they want to be sure they die and don’t end up crippled even further; they would also prefer a way to die that is painless. I’m fortunate — I have easy access to vehicles, a generator, etc, and can take what I call a carbon monoxide sauna, but many people do not have access to these machines.

      • Maria Gatti

        Thank you, Toby. For the moment I’m only mildly disabled (arthritis) but I know people with both motor and sensory disabilities who want the RIGHT to relief when they can no longer go on, which is very different from “wanting to die”. I’m very sad that a very longterm friend who has gone pretty much blind is thinking of that, but at the same time it is his right and his life. So I tell him how important he has been and still is (as an eco-activist) but ensure him of my support for his choices whatever they are.

        Mengele was against choices, he wanted to conduct sadistic experiments, usually on Jewish or Romani (Gypsy) women and their babies, especially twins.

        The non-authoritarian solution to the dangers susannunes raises is better advocacy for the rights of disabled people, and by disabled people to the extent they are capable of it. Not denying other people (disabled or simply debilitated) a dignified ending to life. We all die.

    • Hanakai

      Assisted suicide is legal in the Pacific Northwest states. It has not been abused and the numbers availing themselves of it are small, something like 30 people a year, usually people with painful cancers who have no chance of any long-term survival and who want to die before they fully deteriorate. The medical profession is about diagnosing and treating disease and about alleviating suffering — and sometimes giving people the means, the pills, to commit suicide does the most to alleviate suffering.

  • will

    Facebook is Toxic.

  • will

    “Women will always need men to protect them.”

    You mean “Women will always need men to protect them from other men because we will not stop raping and killing you all to keep this protection racket going.”

  • Gruvfrun

    conservatism and neoliberalism are separate ideologies that both exist in the right-wing sphere

    • radwonka

      Besides the alt right (racist libertarians), liberalism/progressive politics, are not supported by the right wing. It is mainly defended and pushed by the left.

      Furthermore the right wing in my eyes is the one that defends traditionalism. Anything else is either centrism or liberalism.

    • Alienigena

      Not entirely true, neocons and neoliberalism both support the free market.

  • Jani

    Screeching?

    What’s all this about “screeching of how bad men are”?

    And please enlighten us on who these “assertive, masculine men” actually are? Can you explain what you mean by “hating on all along”?

    Are you an “assertive, masculine man”? How do we identify who is a “masculine man”? Do they have beards? Do they have hairy chests? Or hairy legs? Do they have deep voices? Or is it what they do? Can you give us an example of what a “masculine man” actually DOES? And more importantly, are YOU an “assertive, masculine man”? What do you do that makes you a “masculine man” that differentiates you from a man who isn’t “masculine” (according to your definition)? We need specifics. And they are your words, after all…

  • Hanakai

    The NYT today has an op-ed piece titled “Being Trans is Not a Mental Disorder.” The comments to the piece are in disagreement with that characterization. Add your voice if so inclined.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/06/opinion/trans-gender-dysphoria-mental-disorder.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

  • TheFuture

    Identity politics has a lot to answer for. It is right wing in a sinister manner..

  • Alienigena

    Disability rights advocates disagree. Maybe not all. But I don’t know why people with disabilities should trust that society has changed enough that it won’t try to off them if they prove an inconvenience.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/09/legalising-assisted-dying-dangerous-for-disabled-not-compassionate

    https://www.independentliving.org/docs5/Wolbringeuthanasia.html

    I grew up with moderate to severe asthma and lived in an abusive family and my medical needs were often not met because my mother was too afraid to disrupt my father’s sleep (and cause him to rage) to take me to emergency. I often had asthma attacks at night. She admitted as much when I was older.

    If people can’t handle a very manageable disease like asthma I wonder how tolerant they are of less manageable illnesses and conditions. We have a very crappy palliative care system in most parts of Canada. I can understand why people would want to end their suffering when they are getting no support or pain alleviation. But I don’t think as others have stated that we should be turning doctors into executioners.

    I often wonder if it is mostly people who have always been high functioning, rarely get ill (e.g. no chronic illnesses, never get colds) that seek out euthanasia when they are diagnosed with serious illnesses. My mother became very depressed (talking about death, wanted us to write up details for her funeral, thoughts that nurses did not encourage as she was out of the ICU, where they told us she would likely die but she didn’t) when she ended up being hospitalised for months following a serious infection after routine surgery. The infection left her with an ostomy and made her into a bit of an invalid given that she was frequently hospitalised with kidney problems (loss of most of her bowel meant it was very difficult to get enough fluids (the part of her intestinal tract that absorbed most water and water soluble nutrients had been removed)) though she made an effort to drink fluids throughout the day (she always had a large glass of water or juice beside her). She said she finally got me (she had pneumonia during her hospital stay) and chronic illnesses after this happened to her. This surprised me because she had arthritis but the kind of terror (e.g. suffocating sensation) and emotional upset that comes with a potentially life threatening illness was not something she had experienced before.

  • acommentator

    “Any real conservative will tell you that liberalism has nothing to do with their ideas:”

    I think the comments in this part of the thread are all over the map because we use these words “conservative” “liberal” “right” and “left” in loose and contradictory ways.

    To my mind, what we call “conservatism” in the U.S. is indeed a branch of liberalism that comes out of the enlightenment. It looks back to the English republicanism of the 17th century and to people like Burke in the 18th century. Not to the Court party of Charles I and II.

    In contrast, to my mind the “right” is the party of high church and monarchy. There is no U.S. “right” because there is no party of high church and monarchy.

  • acommentator

    [I recognize the following is a massive generalization] To me, liberalism comes out of the enlightenment and places the use of reason in a privileged position for answering “the big questions” about how people should live and how government should be organized.

    To me, what we think of as “liberal” and “conservative” in the U.S. are two varieties of this same liberal thought. Liberals are biased in holding a stronger view of human possibilities, and are less concerned with upending traditional ways of doing things. They see more of what is wrong in the status quo, and focus more on changing things. Conservatives are biased the other way: less optimistic about how far human reason can get us, and more leery of radical schemes. They see more of what is right in the status quo. They have a strong anti-utopian bent.

    Both, however, believe that human reason is the primary tool for addressing political questions. Even when liberals (of either variety) are religious, they still believe that reason is the main tool for answering most political questions.

    And both largely accept the idea that individual rights and processed based protections are valuable regardless of their impact on particular areas of controversy. (E.g., freedom of speech is a good thing, regardless of whether it helps or hinders one’s position on a particular policy issue).

    My sense is that Europeans have tended to look at the U.S. this way. To them our politics has been a fight between two wings of a single philosophy.

    The post modern thing is something else, IMO. To me it is profoundly anti-liberal. It has no confidence in reason, and no belief in truths that are not almost entirely subjective. It is impatient with things like “rights” and with process based impediments to radical change. Our SJW types fit in here, IMO. I am astonished at how little regard SJWs have for the traditional freedoms when they stand in the way of achieving righteousness.

  • Jaco Zahn

    As another disabled person I am with you on this Tobysgirl. I am in constant pain and not medicated properly due to the new fear doctors have about prescribing pain medication. I manage to get through each day because I am strong willed and curious about life. Yet I know there will come a day when I just can’t stand the pain anymore. When that day comes I feel I should have the right to die with dignity. That means painlessly with a professional who knows how to get it done right. I absolutely loathe those self-righteous aholes who think they know better than me about what I should do with my life. I would never try to force my view on a doctor who didn’t want to do it but there are doctors out there with at least a basic concept of mercy. Some would be willing to help me. They should be allowed to.

  • William Malone

    Libertarianism is not the problem. Libertarianism allows for physicians to say no to treating gender dysphoria without fearing for their jobs. It allows one to state obvious facts, like men can’t be women, without deplatforming/economic penaltization.
    Freedom for one group to do whatever they want, at the cost of another group’s freedom, is totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is bred out of resentment/anger, which is an understandable, but destructive reaction to being victimized. Is there a way to fight an oppressor without resentment? There have been a few examples throughout history.

  • acommentator

    “The only thing the gives trans women power is that they can silence everybody by screaming ‘hate speech!’. All of their power stems from this. ”

    That is only a by product of what gives the trans movements power, which is identity politics and the SJW mindset. Trans ideology is kind of the apogee of identity politics, where one’s subjective identity is deemed even more “true” than one’s objective reality.

    “I thought this site would have a larger awakening after your views were silenced from the internet. Nope. Its just more screeching of how bad men are, as if the people inviting men into your bathrooms are the same assertive, masculine men you have been hating on all along”

    It is a feminist site. Its primary focus is always going to be on the oppression of women, as they see it ( which includes obvious things like murder and rape and harassment, and less obvious things like pole dancing classes or what actresses wear to the Oscars, or make up and uncomfortable shoes). Rather than bemoan this, it makes more sense to interject thoughtful comments addressed to particular topics.

    I do think the trans thing has created a greater appreciation among both feminists and conservatives for areas they have in common. It reminds me in some ways of the “sex wars” of the 80s, which I remember pretty well.

    There is little need to point out which men are behind the trans thing. Criticism of “progressive” men has been a fairly staple topic here, particularly men who view themselves as feminists. It is not all bashing of conservatives. Over the years I have even read a few posts on here by women who stated they liked or trusted conservative men more than liberal men.

  • Alienigena

    “Now the feminist victim can be reconstituted as the feminist oppressor. Welcome back Feminists you have just rejoined the masses who they also despise.”

    What planet are you from? Feminism has always had to deal with a backlash and a very sinister attempt to co-opt it (liberal feminism) utterly. I remember reading about the backlash in the early 1990’s. You may have heard of a book called “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women” which was published in 1991. All of the #MeToo movement experienced almost instantaneous backlash. Blaming women for everything that goes wrong on planet Earth is as old as the hills (or any religious text you might want to delve into).

  • radwonka

    My point was that a bastartized ideology is unlikely to change again. And I do think that postmodernism is not incompatible with individualism (which is also an important part of liberalism). It is just logical that individualism leads to désillusion and more.

  • I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. And liberalism believes in “enlightened self-interest”, which is enlightened because it recognizes that giving to others may be in one’s self-interest. Neoliberalism seems to have no respect for others, or even for the notion of the collective as being worth any self-sacrifice. Liberalism sees responsibilities as linked to rights. I’m not sure neoliberalism has the word “responsibilities” in its lexicon. You can confirm all of this for yourself. But I personally think it’s really really important for people to recognize the difference between the two philosophies because their consequences are so different.

  • Liberalism has been about “enlightened” self-interest, which can be quite magnanimous. Neoliberalism is the logical conclusion of patriarchy. And just btw, I suspect American and Canadian experiences of all these political positions are different.

    • radwonka

      En lightened self interest? It has been capitalist since day one.