I for one welcome our new Lesbian Overlords

Did you know that there is a “Lesbian Apocalypse” coming? No? I didn’t either, but apparently there is one. From Wipedia:

Catherine “Cathy” Brennan is an attorney in the state of Maryland and a prominent supporter of “trans-critical” radical feminism. Her main accomplishment in this regard is coauthoring a letter to the United Nations, insisting that trans people’s gender identity should not be legally recognized and protected. She is also a frequent columnist for Baltimore OUTloud’s LGBTQ blog section, which she uses to warn of the coming “lesbian annihilation” at the hands of “the queers” and trans people and stridently argue against legislation protecting gender identity.

I received a note from Secular Women linking to a petition to the Southern Poverty Law Center asking for the SPLC to treat Brennan’s organization as a hate group. Having never heard of trans-critical radical feminism, I worried at first that this was one of those awful breakdowns among allies (in this case, feminists) over how some issue or another is being handled, which had escalated to the extreme outcome of labeling a group with different views but within the same movement as a hate group. This didn’t seem like something Secular Women would do. So, I followed the links and read up on it a bit, and apparently this is a thing. Here’s the letter I got from Secular Women:

Southern Poverty Law Center:
Monitor “Gender Identity Watch”
as a Hate Group

As a feminist organization, Secular Woman promotes gender equality. We stand against and combat sexism, hate, intolerance, and misogyny.

Transgender women are women.

Cisgender women are women.

We do not, in any way, view the existence of transgender women, genderqueer individuals or transgender men as a threat to the safety of women, female identity, or the goals of feminism.

As intersectional feminists we acknowledge the privilege that cisgender people experience. We aim to dismantle the axis of oppression that this represents.
Unfortunately, not all who claim the label “feminist” agree with us. They do not represent us and we reject their actions and views as unethical and devoid of reason.
We stand in opposition.

Members of our community have been targeted by trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs). Personal information such as former names, current legal names, and photographs have been compiled and displayed on the website “Name the Problem”. Several of the entries are self-attributed to “Pegasus” (“PegasusBug” is a pseudonym of Cathy Brennan, the head of Gender Identity Watch). This information was presented alongside reports describing rapists and batterers of women.

Countless others, including members of transgender advocacy groups have reported similar treatment, as well as other alarming behavior, such as Cathy Brennan contacting employers, schools and medical doctors of transgender women, girls and young men.

This is unacceptable.

It is anathema to our vision of a future in which women have the opportunities and resources they need to participate openly and confidently in every aspect of society.
Cathy Brennan’s tactics, as described, are reprehensible, reckless, and irresponsible as they have the potential to embolden violence and harassment of those she targets and to result in job loss and other discrimination informed by the open knowledge of the target’s transgender status.

Refusal to afford transgender women inclusion, safety, and civil rights is a form of misogyny that is antithetical to feminism.

We invite fellow feminists and secularists, as well as others concerned, to proactively affirm the inclusion of all women as women. Condemn the toxic ideologies used to rationalize hate, fear, and discrimination based on gender.

Stand with us in petitioning the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to track the activities of Cathy Brennan’s Gender Identity Watch as a hate group in accordance with SPLC’s stated mission.

Signed in Solidarity,

Secular Woman
Stop Abuse Online
Skepchick

Trinity Aodh, Melody Hensley, M. A. Melby, Veronica K. Berglyd Olsen, Kim Rippere, Mary Ellen Sikes, Dana Lane Taylor

Please sign the petition here!

Click through to follow the documenting links. Sign the petition.

Petition asking Google to stop funding Science Denialist Alec

From Forecast the Facts:

Google’s motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” but it has recently been revealed that Google is secretly funding one of the worst climate-denier groups in the world: the fossil-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, which argues that global warming is good for America and fights to kill renewable energy standards. Google has been a corporate leader in fighting climate pollution. Its support for liars like ALEC is a glaring mistake.

ALEC denies global warming is causing glaciers to retreat or sea level to rise. They’ve even argued “substantial global warming is likely to be of benefit to the United States.”

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has said: “You can lie about the effects of climate change, but eventually you’ll be seen as a liar.”

Since Susan Molinari took over Google’s lobbying operations, the company has financed top members of the climate-denial machine, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and now ALEC. Tell Google: live up to your corporate values and don’t fund evil.

Here’s the petition.

Why I Don’t Edit Wikipedia

Every now and then I find a mistake in Wikipedia. Often, I note the mistake on one of my blogs or, more often, on my facebook page. Usually, somebody fixes it. But also, usually somebody tells me that I should just go and fix it because I can easily do that because Wikipedia is the people’s encyclopedia and everybody can fix it.

I don’t do that, and here’s why. There are actually three reasons. The first and least important reason is that making a change in Wikipedia is part of a community process in which the change I make may be unmade by someone else, or challenged. There’s nothing wrong with that … that process is how Wikipedia manages to get to a point where the articles (depending on the article) are reasonably accurate and useful. The problem is, I can’t tell in advance what that process is going to entail. I may make a change and it gets revised to be better. That’s good. But I also might make a change and find myself in the middle of a pre-existing fight (or a fight that emerges simply because I made the change) that I wasn’t planning on getting involved in, and once I’ve gotten involved in it … especially in the case where my change caused the fight … I’d have the responsibility to continue engagement. There would be a risk that a change I’d make would lead ultimately to a change I would be very much against if I don’t maintain my involvement. I don’t want to do that because I’m already engaged in more fights than I want to be engaged in.

Second, as a writer I like to write my own tuff. Other people can certainly critique or comment on the things I write (especially if it is on a blog where they can comment) but it is still my writing. I am perfectly happy with collaborative writing, and I’ve done plenty of that, but I don’t consider any involvement I’d have in Wikipedia collaborative unless I more fully engaged in it and became part of some sub-community maintaining certain pages. Again, I chose to not expend my energy in that particular area.

Third, although it seems to be easy to get involved in Wikipedia page writing, editing, and maintenance, I don’t think it is all that easy. The people who do it make it look easy, and I very much appreciate their efforts. But for me to assume that I can engage in this activity without learning to become effective, and backing up my inputs with a longer term commitment, is hubris. I’d be very happy to help any Wikipedia contributor working in an area where I have some expertise or knowledge by providing information I have at my fingertips. But, I think engagement in Wikipedia is a responsibility that involves some skill and knowledge and a longer term commitment which I’m not interested in doing at this time.

There is a fourth and less specific and less well articulated reason that I should mention. I think Wikipedia is great, but it also has the potential for messing up the information that is available on a certain topic. Since it is collaborative and often does not include the perspective of experienced experts on a topic, it can become too homogeneous and even in its treatment of sources. Here’s an example. If you try to find out in Wikipedia what the proper divisions of the geography of Africa are (what countries should be included in terms like “West Africa”, “Central Africa”, “East Africa” etc.) you’ll find, I think, something that you’ll never or only rarely see in an actual course, or module in a course, on the divisions of the continent, or in a standard textbook. This is, I think, because there are multiple government agencies or NGO’s, such as the US CIA, various units of the UN, and so on, that have taken the more traditional ways of dividing the continent and revised them significantly for their own purposes. These particularistic paradigms of division address institute-specific issues like which languages are spoken, where an agency has resources, or other large scale economic, political, or cultural issues that are useful for those specific organizations but that conflict with other requirements. The best overall geographical divisions are probably those that include a large number of factors and have a strong link to historical background, and also, that are relatively stable. In other words, there really is probably only ONE way to divide up a continent like Africa, and this way will have problems for every single division (should Rwananda be part of Central or East Africa?) but by having one single method, terms like East Africa, North Africa, etc. will have general utility. Last time I checked Wikipedia on this there was no single best method proposed, and none of the methods discussed were the classic method that I learned in school and that the vast majority of my colleagues in Anthropology and Geography actually use.

Thank you to all the people who actively engage in making Wikipedia so useful. But I’ll need to continue to use my current method: Suggesting changes or pointing out problems now and then, and hoping others with the skills and experience that I don’t have consider addressing those issues.