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Oh, Those Pesky Pronouns! March 2, 2013

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Queer politics, Transhumanism.

From the lovely Dale Carrico:

But more concretely what is happening in this instance is that you are pretending to be reasonable while identifying as a transhumanist — and all that while blathering on about how radical it is to pretend the sea is made of lemonade and how you are smashing the state when you are sleepwalking on a dlancefloor and how you are smashing patriarchy by castigating actual feminists for not keeping up with the latest fashionable theory-head pronoun choices and all the rest of your incessant bullshit — and there is simply no reason to extend to you the pretense that are reasonable in the least.


I consider the bolded section rather telling. As far as I can recall, this is the main spat Dale and I have had over pronouns. I read it as rather civil and see any castigation on my part as targeting Dale’s overall tone and insistent agism rather than the pronoun issue. I’m a bit confused why Dale now cites this as the key example of my purported posturing and frivolity. In my experience with anarchist and queer circles, it’s utterly standard to give preferred pronouns along with your name during introductions. I interpret the practice as a gesture of respect for transgender politics and trans individuals. If that’s fashionable, it’s a form of fashion I can firmly get behind. I get a warm and fuzzy feeling whenever people seem to care that I prefer gender-neutral pronouns.



1. Cass - March 3, 2013

Yeah, that’s kind of disturbing…I can agree with him on transhumanism though, and I can understand him thinking anarchism is stupid, certainly very used to that opinion myself.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to comment on what I remember him saying on anarchism. To quote him: “The state is not essentially violent.” That obviously depends on how you’re defining “the state”, “essentially” and “violence”. I’m not sure how he is, so I’ll just give my own. The state is a system in which a small privileged minority maintain their domination over the rest of the population via military might, economic exploitation and various authoritarian ideologies. Now, what is violence? In my opinion, any meaningful definition of violence cannot merely be restricted to assault. It may be physical harm or threats of such, it may be economic coercion, etc. Now, obviously, not everything the state does is violent per se. But it certainly depends on violence in the sense of poverty and economic exploitation, wars, kidnapping and imprisonment, political repression, and, one way or another, slavery (in the forms of chattel slavery, wage slavery, debt, whatever). Now whatever you might think about these definitions, clearly these are features that all states have shared to one degree or another. Is it for the greater good? Well, I think the answer is clearly no, but it’s certainly possible that there’s no other reasonable option. But I hope not.

2. Summerspeaker - March 3, 2013

Dale responds as follows:

Summer coughs up another hairball of misdirection in response to this exchange here, pretending that I am shoring up patriarchy — you know, in between my misleading bouts of teaching of queer theory and feminism and environmental justice at the university level — by regarding pronomial politics as always only contextually useful and never particularly central as interventions in sex-gender systems go — and despite the fact that I literally take them up myself where they are clarifying, but whatevs. Summer derides my withering critique of faux-radicalism by declaring me an old coot telling the kids to get off my lawn. If I were Summer this would be the point at which I sought to change the subject by announcing such unspeakably awful ageism entails the murder-torture of millions of poor helpless old ladies blah blah blah, but of course I take the difficult, compromised, heartbreaking politics of education, agitation, organization, stakeholder-struggle and reform in the service of sustainable equity-in-diversity (yes, obviously including for women and children and queer folks, older folks, people of color, nonhuman animals) far too seriously to indulge in such bullshit. And so we circle elegantly right back to the initial complaint — the utter superficiality and unseriousness of anarcho-transhumanoid Summerspeaker’s pseudo-radicalism. Go back to the dancefloor, Summer, go back to sleep.

I consider the bolded section a substantive critique. I specifically avoided using an image with a human in it as a way to migate the agism involved. Here my desire to be cute may have indeed gotten the better of me.

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