Models of gender that aren’t based on self-identity

One model of gender is that you are the gender that you identify as. This is a great model because everyone gets to be the gender that they want to be. It is, by definition, desirable for people to get what they want.1

Many people express concerns about the self-identity model of gender. What if someone abuses it? What if someone disingenuously claims to be a woman, not because they want it, but for some strategic advantage? I don’t think this is much of an issue, since empirically this does not appear to happen very often, if at all. But the concern is noted.

I think a far more common issue is when someone is deciding what gender to identify as. You can’t use the self-identity model as a guide when your self-identity is precisely the thing in question. When the self-identity model works, it defines what is desirable, and that is well and good. But it’s necessary to find at least one other model to supplement it so we can understand what it is exactly that we’re desiring. Here I will briefly describe a few alternative models.

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SJWs, and those who mock them

One of my Facebook friends follows a page devoted entirely to mocking Tumblr SJWs (social justice warriors). There are many such pages on the internet, basically functioning as humor pages. I present an example purely for illustration purposes:

A5w9egCSee footnotes for transcript.1

Many people who follow such pages don’t think of themselves as opposing social justice. Rather, they oppose “SJWs”, who are supposedly a subset of social justice advocates so extreme that they cross into the absurd.

I think following these anti-SJW sites is unwise. Of course, people aren’t even trying to follow the rule of wisdom, they’re following the rule of funny.

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Learning by blogging

I’m not sure if I’ve ever admitted this on the blogs but… I was a really good at physics in college. This is like six years ago, and college courses aren’t very much like the real world, so it’s all water under the bridge now. But I never got so much as an A minus. I was consistently an outlier on tests. And I never really needed to study, because I got enough out of attending lectures.

Lectures are often derided as one of the least effective methods of teaching, since they involve no student participation. In retrospect, the reason I got so much out of lectures is because for me, lectures were participatory. Professors would solve problems on the board, and my practice was to solve the same problems in my notes, one step ahead of the professor whenever possible. Not everyone can keep that pace, so I’m not exactly offering this as advice to students. I was simply thinking about how participation is paramount to learning.

What makes blogging so valuable to me is that it is a kind of participation.

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Mental health should have been on the agenda

I read skeptical writing for over a decade. During that time, I should have been educated about the social issues surrounding mental health and disability. It should have been common knowledge in the skeptical community. It is outrageous that it was not.

I say this as a person who does not have any mental health issues, or disabilities of any kind. And I am still rather uneducated about mental disabilities (so please correct me on anything). To the extent that I know anything, I primarily learned about it through my participation in social justice activism, and through my boyfriend, who has a mental disability.

I list three major reasons why I think mental health should have been a major skeptical topic:

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What is normal: An analytic approach

This post has been cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda.

In an earlier post, I touched on a particular problem: not only do I not conform to what is “normal”, it is far from clear what “normal” is, or if “normal” even exists.

I think this is particularly a problem for aces. Aces must often identify what is normal in order to resist it, but at the same time they don’t have direct experience with what is normal. If aces are too confident in their perceptions of the normal, this could lead to offensive views of allosexuals (e.g. the notion that allosexuals are constantly horny). If aces are insufficiently confident in their perceptions of the normal, this can lead to crippling self doubt. So here I outline my analytic approach to the problem.

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Judgments by source should go alongside judgments by merit

Sometimes in social justice discourse, people evaluate arguments based on the person who is making them. For example, if a person argues that racism is not much of a problem today, and that person is white, we might choose to disregard that argument.

Many critics think this leads to an incoherent epistemology.  I emphatically disagree. Fallacies be damned, there are many practical reasons to care who is making an argument.

On the other hand, I have certainly observed some… excesses. For example, in some cases, a person is assumed to be white, cis, male, heterosexual, based on the thing they were arguing for.  In some cases, this assumption turns out to be incorrect, which creates a whole distraction.  I will not comment on whether this pattern is common or uncommon, but instead outline an approach that people should be taking instead.

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Ethnicity in Xenoblade Chronicles X

In my apartment, free time has recently become dominated by Xenoblade Chronicles X, epic Japanese RPG.  The premise is explained in this video:

Quick summary: In 2054, Aliens destroy earth.  Earth sends out colony space ships.  One of these, New Los Angeles, crash lands on an alien planet.

Xenoblade Chronicles X offers an interesting case study of ethnicity in Japanese video games, because unlike other games which take place in fantasy worlds, this one takes place in our world (although a different planet).  What’s more, it takes place in a future version of Los Angeles.  Los Angeles, of course, is very ethnically diverse, so by looking at the cast we can see a Japanese interpretation of ethnic diversity.
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Critiques of call-out culture: a linkspam

One of the most common complaints by social justice activists about social justice activism is that there’s a lot of toxicity.  Whenever an activist makes a misstep, other activists will “call out” that person, sometimes directing a disproportionate amount of anger and abuse at them.  This pattern is often (but not always) referred to as “call-out culture”.

For a while, I’ve been collecting a lot of articles and blog posts which critique call-out culture from an internal view point.  My main motivation is that I would like to write about the topic myself, and I’d like my ideas to be responsive to what has already been said.  For my continuing thoughts, please follow my call-out culture tag.  At some point I also intend to write a summary of the content in these links.

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Intersections as marketing

On my new blog, I’m resolving to be more unapologetic about talking about my various pet issues.  In the past, I’ve often moderated my views in light of who I think my audience is.  I know lots of readers are not ace, and therefore I tend to save the inside ace baseball for The Asexual Agenda.  I know some of my readers are religious, or otherwise unsympathetic to the atheist movement, so I try not to be terribly unfair on religion.

Well it’s my blog and I will talk about the topics I want.

But I wonder.  If I’m being more unapologetic, does that mean talking about intersectionality more, or less?

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