decembercat asked: You're so articulate, patient, and well-reasoned in your responses to Cathy Brennan. It just highlights how hysterical, irrational, and incoherent her responses are. You're absolutely brilliant and really insightful.
I’m leery of the word “hysterical” in this context, given its origins and historical usage to silence/control women. I predict that Cathy Brennan or one of her supporters will use that word to dismiss this whole exchange and possibly draw any number of other conclusions about us for having it, to say nothing of people not even involved in it
Ordinarily I’d add “if I hadn’t called it out in advance”, but I don’t really expect her to read as far as the second sentence of my opening paragraph. Not for content or context, anyway… just for things to jump on.
But terminology aside… it really is hard to understand her actions if you don’t realize how much of her reaction to trans* people is just that, a reaction. I prefer to call her version of feminism “reactionary” rather than “radical” for this reason. Trans* existence assaults her. Trans* speech threatens her. Trans* lesbians (and cis lesbians with trans* partners) endanger her very existence.
Basically, Cathy Brennan’s life is an existential horror show. If she’s not careful, a pamphlet that has nothing to do with her could destroy her. Can you imagine living like that?
It’s extreme, but far from a unique way of coping with life… there are a number of people who use religion in the same way. They cling to interpretations of beliefs that confirm their unspoken fears that the whole world is against them and then use their faith as both shield and bludgeon against those fears. It seems like an exhausting way to live, but it suits them better to feel like they have a handle on their fears than to leave them formless and undefined.
Heck, look at the way Cathy Brennan repeats “name the problem” like it’s a liturgy. For her, it is. Name the problem and you can deal with it… not in a practical sense, but in the sense of pushing it away. Ignoring causes and effects that would be inconvenient for your world view. Fighting back against its actual implications for you and your life.
A trans* woman denied admittance to safe spaces dies. Cathy Brennan Names The Problem: Male Violence. It’s like casting a magic spell. It’s better than casting a magic spell, because it works… at least in her head, which is the only place it needs to.
And now there’s not only any need to talk about how the denial contributed to the violence, it’s impossible. The demon has been given shape and form, and banished.
I keep making comparisons to American Evangelical Christian culture because they keep being apt. One of the paradoxes the evangelicals rely on in their rhetoric is the idea that they are the established majority and thus have more right to take up space than anyone else (“America is a Christian nation!”) and that they’re a persecuted minority beset from all sides and oppressed by a corrupt establishment (“Christianity is under attack!”)
Cathy Brennan’s feminism is like that. Depending on the needs of the day she’s either speaking with the authority of What Has Been Established And Settled Long Before You People Tried To Worm Your Way In, or she’s the martyr, the outcast, the lone prophet in the wilderness, one of the few champions of truth and goodness in an LGBTQ* establishment that’s never had any time for her and hers.