31 comments on “Questions in The Guardian we can answer

  1. “Why do I have the right to write about an intersex character when I’m not intersex?”

    Well, for the same reason Anne McCaffery could write about dragons without actually being one. And I believe some of Jeffrey Archer’s characters were quite noble chaps, too…

  2. If the question is “what research did you do so it sounds like an actual intersex person and not a cis person’s imagination of an intersex person sounds like?” then that would be a useful article.

    This is not that article

  3. Because members of admired groups- those classes of persons adopted by the Progressives- are believed to have a special experiential nature which is intrinsically unknowable to others. This is not true of non-admired groups, whose nature is simple and knowable.

  4. I think the point here is not that a voice was found, but that the voice was “authentic”.

    And authenticity is judged, especially in fiction, by a panel of the pure and the enlightened (and, obviously, the state-employed left wing, because anybody who actually works for a living is tainted by the stain of neo-liberalism.)

    I don’t know why there aren’t more intersex characters in literature. It doesn’t make sense to me …

    a. Because there aren’t that many of them in real life.

    b. Because, unlike say spacemen or spies, they just aren’t that interesting. Unless you are one of the “pure and enlightened” as mentioned above. Most people read fiction for entertainment, not to signal their PCdom.

  5. Sorry, I haven’t got the time/inclination to Google it …

    WTF is ‘intersex’?

    And why can’t these progressives just get a proper job/life?

  6. 1. “Intersex” – well, it’s when you’re not quite sure whether you are a boy or a girl. You also need to remember that these people are talking about “gender” not “sex”, so what you “are” is unimportant, it is what you feel you “should be” that is.

    Now, there are actually technical definitions for “intersex” – one that depends on chromosomal abnormalities but those afflicted tend to express as one sex or the other. The other is people who are misidentified at birth and express as a different sex at puberty (therefore end up being rather gender confused.) But they are mere victims of the neo-liberal conspiracy that is genetic inheritance and embryo development, so are unimportant to the progressive author of fiction.

    2. “Proper job”? They have a proper job – we neo-liberal peons need to have our pathetic reality-focused world-views challenged by the “pure and enlightened”. Also, if we’re not regularly sneered at, we might actually stop talking about piano-wire and actually doing something about it.

  7. @Richard Gadsden

    ‘If the question is “what research did you do so it sounds like an actual intersex person and not a cis person’s imagination of an intersex person sounds like?” then that would be a useful article.’

    To be honest, it wouldn’t.

    Here in the real world, no-one gives a flying fuck.

    That is to say, yes, there are people who are a bit confused about themselves – I knew a brother a sister years ago who fell squarely into this, in that he was extremely feminine and she very butch – and any decent person should act appropriately.

    Which is, be kind, understanding and help where you can, and don’t take the piss because that’s rude and nasty.

    That’s where my interest ends – I’m certainly not going to read books about it, or Guardian articles, because I am not interested.

  8. Which is, be kind, understanding and help where you can, and don’t take the piss because that’s rude and nasty.

    Ah yes, but you see, we took that approach for hundreds of years, and made allowances for people’s less usual habits (because it takes all sorts to make a world, and that’s what makes horse races, after all) and that was all deeply wrong and prejudiced for some reason that no one every quite succeeded in explaining.

    I think words like ‘heteronormative’ and ‘hegemony’ usually make their unwelcome entrance about now.

  9. “How did non-intersex author Alyssa Brugman find an authentic voice for writing about an intersex teen Alex?”

    I don’t understand the question, and I won’t respond to it.

  10. How did Sir Ian McKellen successfully portray a wizard in Lord of the Rings, when he is not a wizard?

  11. sam

    …and yet witness the outrage when a man writes something with no women in…

    I like the outrage over films failing the Bechdel Test – which if you don’t pay attention to these professional spinster complaining about nothing, it is a rule that says that:

    1. A film has to have at least two women in it,
    2. who talk to each other,
    3. about something besides a man.

    Have you actually checked which films pass this test? I wouldn’t say that passing it means a film is crap, but it is not far from it. However thanks to the Guardian now we can understand why – cis-males cannot write about cis- or trans-women. Hormones or something.

  12. JuliaM – “Well, for the same reason Anne McCaffery could write about dragons without actually being one.”

    But perhaps her otherkin identity is as a dragon? Perhaps she is, in some meaningful but deep sense, a dragon? I don’t think we should take a narrow blinkered view of sexuality and identity here.

    “And I believe some of Jeffrey Archer’s characters were quite noble chaps, too…”

    Yeah but are they convincing?

  13. I can confidently assert that I will not be reading this book or any others written by the author.

    However, would a quality writer not research what it was like to use a strap-on to pleasure another person to experience in very broad terms what life is like as a male?

  14. SMFS – Did a quick google to find out what the Bechdel Test is. Apparently it was created in a poorly drawn feminist cartoon called “Dykes To Watch Out For”. Hmmm.

    Anyway. So apparently Hollywood hates money, how else to explain why so many films don’t live up to the standards of lesbian feminist underground cartoon makers? I’m sure there’s a huge potential audience for a female version of My Dinner With Andre.

    In real life, women HATE talking about men, because human biology isn’t a real thing.

  15. Sam>

    “that was all deeply wrong and prejudiced for some reason that no one every quite succeeded in explaining.”

    Intersex people tend to be very unhappy due to the way our society/culture treats their condition, so evidently we could do a lot more when it comes to being kind and understanding. At the moment we don’t even have appropriate words in our language to hold a conversation about someone with indeterminate gender – he/she don’t apply.

    We still have a very, very strong cultural assumption that male and female are all there is. That’s understandable, but not laudable.

  16. Have you actually checked which films pass this test? I wouldn’t say that passing it means a film is crap, but it is not far from it.

    Coming from the other perspective, some of the greatest films ever made (eg Lawrence of Arabia. Morning Departure et al*) don’t have any speaking female parts at all. So the test is clearly irrelevant to quality.

    *I think someone was referencing Ice Station Zebra above, too…

  17. BraveFart: “However, would a quality writer not research what it was like to use a strap-on to pleasure another person to experience in very broad terms what life is like as a male?”

    ‘…and that’s my defence in a nutshell, your honour’.

  18. Dave – “We still have a very, very strong cultural assumption that male and female are all there is.”

    Are there any people who aren’t male or female?

    So I know that a handful of folks are born hermaphrodites, but they still are either XX or XY right?

  19. Steve>

    There are rare cases – not always related to intersex conditions – in which humans are born with something other than XX and XY.

    Without opening the door too wide, one can also legitimately challenge the rigid XX/XY definition of sex in cases where the normal development processes associated with and/or triggered by chromosome configuration do not take their usual course.

    One can argue that the latter group are still defined as male of female by their chromosomes, but equally one can argue that a chromosomal definition of sex makes no sense when a/the chromosome(s) is/are not acting as such.

  20. Yes you can have an extra chromosome, being XXX, XXY, XYY. I suspect the condition is more common than we suppose, mostly because it rarely makes much difference so bearers don’t present to doctors.

  21. How did non-intersex author Alyssa Brugman find an authentic voice for writing about an intersex teen Alex?

    Remarkable. She apparently found an authentic voice for being a ‘teen’ which, given it’s a part of everyone’s shared experience (if they’re over 19) is surely much harder to achieve.

  22. Steve – “So apparently Hollywood hates money, how else to explain why so many films don’t live up to the standards of lesbian feminist underground cartoon makers? I’m sure there’s a huge potential audience for a female version of My Dinner With Andre.”

    I think that Hollywood hates money because they listen to the standards of lesbian feminist underground cartoon makers. This is why female characters can’t be rescued by men any more – they have to kick some ar$es themselves. Hollywood hates White men, especially men, and especially Christian men. Even worse if they love the West.

    “In real life, women HATE talking about men, because human biology isn’t a real thing.”

    Absolutely. Well known that they never do it.

    Squander Two – “What I don’t get is, how can you write a murder mystery while you’re still alive?”

    Well don’t get me going on Jessica Fletcher – clearly one of the most prolific serial killers in cinema history – but perhaps we should take heed from this and arrest all crime writers. I mean, if you think about it, how *can* they write with such convincing authenticity?

    Dave – “We still have a very, very strong cultural assumption that male and female are all there is. That’s understandable, but not laudable.”

    I am wondering about this and I think I am going to go with “very subtle parody”.

    sam – “Coming from the other perspective, some of the greatest films ever made (eg Lawrence of Arabia. Morning Departure et al*) don’t have any speaking female parts at all. So the test is clearly irrelevant to quality. *I think someone was referencing Ice Station Zebra above, too…”

    They wrote in a couple of good female roles into “Where Eagles Dare”. So it can be done. Hard to see it being done in Ice Station Zebra.

    The question is whether it works both ways – are films that pass the test inherently crap? What do women have to talk about that we might be interested in if not men? As long as they are not the main characters anyway, they play a supporting role. And the story is invariably, solve the puzzle, find the prize, get the girl. Hard to see how two women talking makes any sense unless it is related to one of these three – usually the last one.

    But hey, women control 80% of spending in the West. Film going is invariably a couple experience. So girls are going to films that fail the test. Choosing to go to see films that fail the test. So perhaps women don’t want to hear women talking about anything other than men either.

  23. Let’s take it as a given that there are people who, while biologically male or female, have a hard time deciding if they’re one thing or t’other. There are also people who are quite convinced they are Napoleon. At the present time, we usually try to treat them kindly and keep them away from sharp objects. We do not list ‘Napoleon’ in the smorgasbord of sexualities offered by Facebook, say, or provide them with Napoleon-only bogs. This is clearly Napoleophobic and must be addressed.

  24. SMFS – “Hollywood hates White men”

    Isn’t Hollywood run by white men? Yes, yes, I know: the gay Jewish liberal mafia. But they’re still white men.

    Biggest grossing US films of 2014 so far:

    1 – The Lego Movie
    2 – Captain America TWS
    3 – Amazing Spider Man 2
    4 – Divergent
    5 – Ride Along

    So that’s one childrens film based on a Danish toy line, two films where the white male hero saves the world, one Young Adult adaption about white teens saving the world, and a police comedy starring two black guys.

    If Hollywood hates white men, it does a shitty job of monetising it.

  25. Steve – “Isn’t Hollywood run by white men? Yes, yes, I know: the gay Jewish liberal mafia. But they’re still white men.”

    Self-loathing White men.

    “Biggest grossing US films of 2014 so far:

    1 – The Lego Movie”

    This was the surprise. Almost escaped the rule. But not quite. Who is the bad guy?

    Lord Business, an evil businessman and tyrant of Bricksburg who is the company president of the Octan Corporation under the name President Business.

    Yep, White Anglo-American business men are the problem.

    “2 – Captain America TWS”

    Zola reveals that ever since S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded after World War II, Hydra has secretly operated within its ranks, sowing global chaos in the hope that humanity would willingly surrender its freedom in exchange for security. The pair narrowly escape death when a S.H.I.E.L.D. missile destroys the bunker.

    Yep. The FBI are really secret Fascists.

    “3 – Amazing Spider Man 2”

    Another Evil Western Corporation film

    “4 – Divergent”

    Another Evil Western Government/Twilight rip off

    “5 – Ride Along”

    WTF? The only White guy is the bad guy.

    “If Hollywood hates white men, it does a shitty job of monetising it.”

    Well yes. White people buy a lot of tickets. But it doesn’t mean they don’t hate what they do. And do it reluctantly. Look at the War on Terror. Hollywood has consistently blamed America and excused the terrorists. To the point where something like the Hurt Locker can sort of look like almost a pro-War film.

  26. SMFS – “Lord Business”

    I haven’t actually seen the lego film but that sounds like “The Evil League of Evil” or “Tex Richman” from the Muppets. You know, a bit tongue in cheek? Are any of the Legopeople white? I thought they were yellow.

    True, Hollywood does seem to think all business is evil, except showbusiness of course. And, sometimes, plucky small businesses. This can be counterproductive: Gordon Gekko encouraged a lot of young men to get jobs in Wall Street and wear red braces. American Psycho, which I thought was the most underrated comedy of its time, probably had a similar unexpected side effect of encouraging people to think serial killing is all expensive business cards and Huey Lewis CD’s, when actually it’s hard work.

    OCP from RoboCop inspired me to join a big evil technology corporation. Unfortunately I found out too late that instead of building killer robots and snorting cocaine off hookers’ boobies, I’d mainly have to do paperwork and sit in interminable meetings or conference calls while pretending to care. If there is a real life Patrick Bateman out there, he probably decided to get into serial killing as a way of thinning the herd of smug, useless land-cows from HR.

    The only actual evil I’ve encountered in the workplace has involved people eating things that didn’t belong to them from the fridge.

    But I digress….

    So you say Hollywood hates white men and I’m not saying you’re wrong, because I don’t know what James Cameron or Harvey Weinstein think about white men.

    But seeing as they’re both white men and so are most of the other rich and powerful folks in la-la-land, it would seem prima alba facie unlikely that they hate themselves.

    Therefore I’m struggling to be convinced by the idea that a possibly white lego baddie and a white human baddie in a black-oriented comedy prove your point, given that most other popular Hollywood films are about heroic or sexy or funny white male protagonists.

  27. Steve – “I haven’t actually seen the lego film but that sounds like “The Evil League of Evil” or “Tex Richman” from the Muppets. You know, a bit tongue in cheek? Are any of the Legopeople white? I thought they were yellow.”

    I think we can agree like the Simpsons, what colour the Lego people are, is different from what they are.

    A bit tongue in cheek? Why would you think that? If they were all Jewish Rich Businessmen would you think it was a bit tongue in cheek? Part of it is that White men are the last group that don’t complain much but not all of it.

    “True, Hollywood does seem to think all business is evil, except showbusiness of course. And, sometimes, plucky small businesses.”

    Again if they were so laser focused on Blacks or Asians or Jews we would not be having this conversation.

    “If there is a real life Patrick Bateman out there, he probably decided to get into serial killing as a way of thinning the herd of smug, useless land-cows from HR.”

    Next season of Dexter? It could work.

    “The only actual evil I’ve encountered in the workplace has involved people eating things that didn’t belong to them from the fridge.”

    Now that is real evil. So we are agreed that in the West, the actual evil is not done by White men in suits working for large multinationals but, for instance, by young Black men in trainers. Hollywood focuses on one and not the other. There must be a reason. I am open to suggestion.

    “So you say Hollywood hates white men and I’m not saying you’re wrong, because I don’t know what James Cameron or Harvey Weinstein think about white men.”

    I think it is a little more complex than just White men. White Christians. White Republicans. White Anglo-Saxons.

    “But seeing as they’re both white men and so are most of the other rich and powerful folks in la-la-land, it would seem prima alba facie unlikely that they hate themselves.”

    And yet they keep making the same films. Scripted to the benefit of the Kremlin to be blunt.

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