Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Distorting Reality...

There are times where the way that the christianist right wing distorts and abuses languages is truly offensive. (Especially to those of us who have taken the time and energy required to understand the language correct)

Today's 'offender du jour' comes to us in the form of Lifesite News with some of the most amazingly dense screed I've ever encountered.

Apparently, they are all upset because the Spanish government is going to introduce some education curriculum into the schools that is supposed to be what they (Lifesite) call "gay-friendly":

The new Education to Citizenship subject, set by the Ministry of Education, will include training in acceptance of the new realities of "gay marriage.

The curriculum will teach children to accept "diverse family situations" and include training in "overcoming homophobic prejudice," and rejection of "discrimination" with regard to gender.

Okay, so far this sounds pretty good to me - actually teaching people that discrimination and bigotry against people is a bad thing sounds like a great start.

However, Lifesite's writer descends into the swamp of proving to us precisely how illiterate they really are:

In the parlance of the international pan-sexual movement, that encompasses radical feminism and homosexual identity politics, "gender" is an almost infinitely malleable social construct, having little to do with biology or reproduction. Groups at United Nations conferences have proposed such recognition for up to eleven "genders" including male homosexual, lesbian, bi-sexual, male-to-female "transgendered," asexual, hermaphrodite, and transvestite.

Let's start off with the amazing abuse of language here.

Pan-Sexual: Pan-sexuality is a variation on the term Bisexual, and merely refers to individuals who have a particularly fluid sense of sexual identity. It has exactly nothing per se to do with "radical feminism", "homosexual identity politics", or "gender identity".

Radical Feminism: I don't even know where this one gets into the mix here. As near as I can tell, Lifesite and other christianists throw this one in whenever they want to rant about societies "deterioration". It sounds good, but is quite unrelated sexuality issues. {although it might overlap somewhat with gender identity issues - but only peripherally}

Then they really make Alphabet Puree out of the whole thing by confusing a mixture of gender and sexual identites as "gender identities":

eleven "genders" including male homosexual, lesbian, bi-sexual, male-to-female "transgendered," asexual, hermaphrodite, and transvestite.

Let's get a couple of things straight:

Sexual identities, like homosexual include gay, lesbian and bisexual (bisexual is a grey zone between heterosexual and homosexual). The concept of asexuality is relatively new, and refers more to a lack of sexual interest than anything else.

Intersex (or more classically, Hermaphrodite) refers quite specifically to people born with ambiguous genitalia, and does not speak to either the sexual or gender identity of the individual. It is long formally recognized, although only relatively recently have such people begun exercising demands for some say in how they are to be treated.

The last category that they have incorrectly lumped into their list are gender identity issues:

male-to-female : Refers to a transsexual that is transitioning from male to female. It is not a "gender" per se, rather it is descriptive of the actions someone is taking to resolve a conflict between their body and mind.

Transvestite: Refers to the practice of cross-dressing. This is a bit of a slippery concept when applied to transsexuals, as they will often - and legitimately - claim that the early stages of their transition were not "cross-dressing" at all. To the best of my knowledge, this does not constitute a discrete "gender" - at least not in the sense that Lifesite uses the term, but rather refers to someone whose gender expression is at times different from their physical sex.

Transgender: Is a very broad term that encompasses a wide range of people from cross-dressers to transsexuals - it simply refers to someone whose gender identity and body are at odds with each other to some degree. The degree to which someone expresses their cross-gender identity may place them into specific subgroups.

Amusingly, Lifesite tries to claim that these are all "genders" - or that they have been put forth as "genders". This is in fact an amazing abuse of language. These are all identifiable subgroups of the population, to be sure. But they are not discrete genders per se. (Ironically, I think you would find a great many transsexuals in particular would argue rather strongly that they are not a "special gender" at all, rather they wish to conform to the social gender norms - of their chosen gender) It would seem that Lifesite's writers have forgotten a basic rule of using language - namely if you don't know what something means, look it up!

Politically all of the groups that the article lists have asked for specific protections in law to alleviate the discrimination and hostility that they face from a variety of people (but especially extreme christianists) who do not comprehend the unique human traits that these people possess.

I for one applaud the Spanish government for having the courage to do what the Harper government has not - actively move to alleviate the discrimination and hostility that a clearly identifiable group is subjected to on a daily basis.


Anonymous said...

When you read the garbage that they spew it's easy to recognize that their aim is not to educate to eliminate discrimination (that's just the window dressing).

The goal is that by "educating" using their own particular distortions of the truth, they can create in children a duplicate of the same revulsion and disgust that they feel when faced with any gender or sexual identity that it outside their narrowly defined "acceptable norm".

I could teach you that many different cultures accept different foods - and in doing so I could either entice you to want to try them, or to curl your lip in disgust.

Try: Japanese restaurants serve cold, slimy raw fish and dried seaweed on rice with a side of soya sauce, vinagary pickled ginger (that has a leathery texture), and gritty green wasabi (a poor cousin to the horseradish that is served with traditional North American fare). Through slathering the uncooked fish in a mixture of soy and hot wasabi the diner is able to mask the taste and choke down the fish.


A Japanese Delicacy, Sushi is an artisticly arranged platter of a choice assortment of tantalizing slices of fish wrapped with specially prepared rice, nori and sometimes an assortment of fresh vegetables. Served with a side of wasabi, soyasauce and delicately pickled ginger, this is a healthy treat that is sure to capture the heart of the epicurean!

Somehow I don't see the wingnuts trying sushi anytime soon either!

Grog said...

Well Said!

I think what's worse here is not merely the choice of words, but the obvious and deliberate misuse of language with very specific meanings.

Anonymous said...

Anon, very well said. Lifesite truly is a swamp of bigotry and stupidity. Very little to do with being a christian actually. The disrespect that Landolt and her buddies show others is so far removed from the mythical Jesus.