THIS blog is sheer genius (which is why it probably won’t make a damn bit of difference, in the long-run):

https://culturallyboundgender.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/the-concept-of-the-culture-bound-syndrome/

This part is particularly lucid:

Gender identity disorder is a culture bound syndrome–not something you’re born with.

Culture bound syndromes include a wide array of medical issues.  Some are very familiar to Americans and Europeans, like anorexia and bulimia, which arise because of the complex interplay between our culture’s views on beauty, food, and (often) femininity.  Others, though, are experienced more frequently (or exclusively) in other parts of the world, which can give them the air of otherness.  For example, the phenomenon of koro–in which, depending on one’s culture, one believes one’s penis to have been stolen or to have started shrinking into nothingness–is experienced today primarily in West African nations and parts of Southeastern Asia and the subcontinent, although it has been experienced as an epidemic in European/American cultures in centuries past.

Similarly, Dhat syndrome is experienced by people who believe very strongly that they are losing energy and sexual function, and are experiencing extreme symptoms of depression and anxiety, because they are losing semen in their urine.  It happens because of religious views about semen and ejaculation in some cultures in India and Nepal.

The idea that trans identity is neurologically innate, set by laws of biology in utero, is one that can only come from a perspective that is blind to historical and anthropological realities.  In some cultures, people who are outside the gender binary believe quite fully that they have chosen their gender path.  In some, it’s a choice made after the mid-point of one’s life, while in others, puberty is when the issue is decided.  What’s more important is that in different cultures and times, the idea of gender identity and what it means to violate the gender binary and have a non-conforming identity is different.

If the transgender identity phenomenon was, as many people have said (ad nauseam with arguments that sound way too much like people saying that men and women have different brains that explain their culturally-assigned differences), genetic/epigenetic and determined at/before birth, this would imply that the phenonemon of painful, debilitating dysphoria would manifest in this way throughout history and in many cultures.  It doesn’t.  While there are gender non-conforming people throughout history, the near-obsessive, anxiety and depression provoking, dysphoric feeling that one’s primary or secondary sex characteristics are “wrong” for one’s brain is a phenomenon that isn’t reflected in all history or cultures worldwide. It’s culturally specific.

What that means is that some elements of our culture are leading to the ways in which gender non-conformity manifests here, including the phenomena of transgenderism, gender identity disorder, and dysphoria.

This blog looks to explore some of those cultural elements from what I hope will be a somewhat different perspective.  Before we start looking at the specifics, though, I’d like to lay out some basics of what I believe and don’t believe, so that we’re all on the same page and I don’t get hate mail based on the fact that one time you interacted with a radical feminist who was mean to you.

What I DO Believe:

The reluctance to acknowledge GID as a culture bound syndrome comes from a history of discrimination against gender-nonconforming people and the greater willingness of Americans and Europeans to accept gender non-conformity if they view it according to their biological/neuroscience model, in which gender identity is innate and unchanging.  In some way, this makes it “not the person’s fault,” which is a sad and upsetting way to see gender non-conformity viewed.

Dysphoria and GID are experienced as real, sometimes painful phenomena.

Gender non-conformity occurs in many cultures and is the result of the fact that the sex-based gender binary makes no goddamn sense.  GID and dysphoria–the specific ways in which gender non-conformity are experienced in our culture–are what I’m referring to when I say that transgenderism is a culture bound syndrome.

Gender non-conformity and non-compliance is different from culture to culture, both historically and in contemporary societies.

A phenomenal amount of energy is devoted to telling people that their gender identity is brain-based and innate, and that there are “male and female brains.”  This notion is incredibly destructive and has little place in feminist thought.

That “third,” fourth, and so on gender identities in other cultures are also culturally mediated, and that in some of these cultures third gender identities work to reinforce rather than subvert sex-based binaries (we’ll get into this later, I promise).

That the concept of transgenderism as currently manifested in the United States can lead to complex issues of identity, appropriation, and acceptance.

What I DON’T Believe:

That being transgender is a “born this way” phenomenon bound by genetics that is experienced in the same way in all cultures.

That referring to GID as a culture bound syndrome is transphobic.  It is not anorexia-phobic to refer to anorexia as a culture bound syndrome–it doesn’t erase their experiences or trivialize them.  Your culture is an important part of you, and it’s not surprising or abnormal that your culture would manifest in important parts of your gender identity and self-concept.

That being transgender, inclusive or exclusive of SRS and hormone treatments, makes you somehow a bad person.

That transgender and non-gender conforming people should be subject to employment discrimination, street harassment, et cetera.

That people with gender dysphoria or a strong aversion to their culture’s typical gender identity are “faking it” in some way.

That it’s off-limits to discuss the ways in which our culture mediates and creates the phenomenon of gender identity and transgenderism.

Interestingly enough, a rather stark bit of evidence for at least some variant of the above hypothesis is the phenomenon of forced sex-changes, in iran:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transsexuality_in_Iran

 

Even Eric S. Raymond says good stuff every now and again:

Top Ten Reasons I’m Not A (Left-)Liberal:

  1. Gun control. Liberals are completely wrong about this. A fair number
    of them know better, too, but they sponsor lies about it as a form of class
    warfare against conservative-leaning gun owners.
  2. Nuclear power. They’re wrong about this, too, and the cost in
    both dollars and human deaths by pollution and other fossil-fuel
    side-effects has been enormous.
  3. Affirmative action. These programs couldn’t be a more diabolical or
    effective plan for plan for entrenching racial prejudice if the Aryan
    Nations had designed them.
  4. Abortion: The liberals’ looney-toon feminist need to believe that
    a fetus one second before birth is a parasitic lump of tissue with no
    rights, but a fetus one second afterwards is a full human, has done
    half the job of making a reasoned debate on abortion
    nigh-impossible.
  5. Communism. I haven’t forgiven the Left for sucking up to the monstrous
    evil that was the Soviet Union. And I never will.
  6. Socialism. Liberals have never met a tax, a government
    intervention, or a forcible redistribution of wealth they didn’t like.
    Their economic program is Communism without the guts to admit it.
  7. Junk science. No medical study is too bogus and no environmental
    scare too fraudalent for liberals. If it rationalizes bashing
    capitalism or slathering on another layer of regulatory bureaucracy,
    they’ll take it.
  8. Defining deviancy down. Liberals are in such a desperate rush to
    embrace the `victimized by society’ and speak the language of
    compassion that they’ve forgotten how to condemn harmful,
    self-destructive and other-destructive behavior.
  9. William Jefferson Clinton. Sociopathic liar, perjurer, sexual predator.
    There was nothing but a sucking narcissistic vacuum where his principles
    should have been. Liberals worship him.
  10. Liberals, by and large, are fools.

Top Ten Reasons I’m Not A Conservative:

  1. Pornography. The complete absence of evidence that exposure to
    sexually-explicit material is harmful to children or anyone else doesn’t
    stop conservatives from advocating massive censorship.
  2. Drugs. We found out that Prohibition was a bad idea back in the
    1930s — all it did was create a huge and virulent criminal class, erode
    respect for the law, and corrupt our politics. Some people never learn.
  3. Creationism. I don’t know who I find more revolting, the drooling
    morons who actally believe creationism or the intelligent panderers
    who know better but provide them with political cover for their
    religious-fundamentalist agenda in return for votes.
  4. Abortion. The conservatives’ looney-toon religious need to
    believe that a fertilized gamete is morally equivalent to a human
    being has done the other half of making a reasoned debate on abortion
    nigh-impossible.
  5. Racism. I haven’t forgiven the Right for segregation, Jim Crow laws,
    and lynching blacks. And I never will.
  6. Sexism. Way too much conservative thought still reads like an
    apologia for keeping women barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.
  7. Anti-science. Stem cells, therapeutic cloning — it doesn’t matter
    how many more diabetes, cancer and AIDS patients have to die to
    protect the anti-abortion movement’s ideological flanks. Knowledge —
    who needs it? Conservatives would try suppressing astronomy
    if the telescope had just been invented.
  8. Family values. Conservatives are so desperate to reassert the
    repressive `normalcy’ they think existed in Grand-dad’s time that they
    pretend we can undo the effects of the automobile, television, the
    Pill, and the Internet.
  9. Ronald Wilson Reagan. A B-movie actor who thought ketchup was
    a vegetable. His grip on reality was so dangerously weak that the
    Alzheimer’s made no perceptible difference. Conservatives worship him.
  10. Conservatives, by and large, are villains.

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=153

This list pretty much nails it.

The confusing/infuriating thing about it is: He originally created this list in (I think) 2002.  It is now 2017.  NOTHING substantive has changed on either “side” of the so-called “culture war”.

15 years of ZERO genuine social progress.

 

So, this is actually pretty impressive

Rummaging in the Debian repositories.
Found an application called QTM which is essentially an application for writing/publishing blog posts “offline” (IE: without having to use the “post to my blog” applet).

This is actually pretty cool, because I genuinely like the minimalism of the interface, and also the fact that I can compose/edit posts in a thorough fashion.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve concluded that approximately 90% of the content on most blogs (and the vast majority of “websites”/social media in general), is fluff. Nobody gives a shit what you had for breakfast 3 days ago.

To be honest, this goes for my own efforts at blogging as well.

I mean, seriously: how many times can I blog about the “geography of religion”, or Karl’s idiocy, or how much my “blood-kin” suck – and still expect it to be at all interesting?

Not as often as you’d think.

Worse yet, the fact that I blog about the above issues doesn’t translate into anything actually chainging, about them:

1. 99% of the global population will still continue to merely ape and parrot their religious “beliefs” and “practices” from others – as opposed to actually bothering to think them through rationally. (Regrettably, Emotional blackmail “works”, far too frequently.)

2. If my “blood”-kin actually gave a shit aboutt my views/values, (or even just about me as a person), they wouldn’t have mistreated me they way they did, in the first place.

3. Same goes for Karl: if he was either willing – or able – to be better, then he would do so – without me complaining about it on the blog.

So, what the hell am I doing, exactly?

Same objections obtain in relation to broader sociopoligical issues: Trump voters are stupid/gullible/racist/xenophobic/sexist etc. – and nothing I post to this blog (or anywhere else) will magically change that.

So, there’s the ironic thing:

I’ve simultaneously figured out how to make the process of “blogging” easier – and also realized that most of what I’ve been “blogging” about was utterly pointless.

On some level, I guess my reasoning with this blog has to do with it being a “cautionary tale”: about the perils of mindlessness and enabling one’s own destroyers.

Thing is: no matter who this blog manages to ‘reacdh”, it will NEVER be those who caused the problems in the first place.

I don’t even know what to title this post:

So, my wife and I had the opportunity to attend a “Passover Seder” put on by a local church.

Some acquaintances of ours  turned us onto this about a year ago.   The weird thing is: I genuinely love it.  It is literally one of my most favorite things.

Several reasons – most of which undoubtedly have little to do with whatever you might consider the “True” meaning of the events in question to be:

First, (as mentioned by another friend of ours who was raised Jewish, who later became a Baptist): the entire thing is brazenly, screechingly inauthentic.  Don’t get me wrong — it tries hard.  However, it would be impossible to take a ritual meal which is designed for a single family, and scale it up to 150+ people.

So, there are huge  errors just on that level.

However, the primary error/violation would have to be the way that Christianity has been “grafted” onto the passover seder itself (on the premise that the “Last Supper” involving Jesus/his disciples was actually a passover seder).

Now, here’s the thing about that:

  1. Even assuming that there was some sort of “historical Jesus”, he was obviously something of a “heretic” against Judaism as it then existed (at least judging by the shit-slinging against the “Pharisees” and “Sadducees” – especially among Fundie protestants.   Given the whole “the sabbath was meant for men, and not men for the sabbath”-thing, it is pretty obvious that “jesus” – if he actually existed – was something other than a strictly “devout” Jew.

2. Grafting the Christian “communion” ritual onto the Seder serves to distance it further from authenticity.

Having said that, I love it, in a way that I have never experienced with any other religious ritual.

Several reasons – most of them deeply personal.

For one, my ability to get even that close to a “foreign” culture strikes me as almost too unendurably beautiful to bear.  According to bigoted scum-fucks like my idiot, heroin-addict half-brother, I “should” only engage in “Aryan” culture (whatever the fuck that means).

So, one of the reasons I genuinely love the “Passover seder” (even if it is merely a crude parody of the genuine article), is that it is a mean – no matter how subtle – of spitting in the faces of my idiot, racist “White Trash” relatives, and shitting all over their bigoted idiocy.

Literally everything about it is a way to (vicariously) throat-punch the Junkie Psychopath in particular — which is an opportunity I would never be able to pass up, under any circumstances.

In a way, I also view it as a sort of “penance” for having stood by silently, while the drug-addled sub-animal rambled on about “Kikes”.

I was too cowardly to call the evil fuck out, back then.  On some level, even being able to get this close to (a crude parody of) Judaism is a throat-punch to my upbringing, and a means for me to make amends for the fact that I permitted my idiot, bigoted White-trash relatives to get away with being bigoted white trash.

The other reason I love it is: it is an opportunity to see fundie nut-jobs (who spend the rest of the year spewing anti-semitic bigotry against the purported evils of “Judaizers, from their pulpits) attempting – inexpertly – to ape and parrot the rituals of a religion their “Supercessionist” delusions “teach’ them is a “Satanic counterfeit”.

I can’t help finding a sort of subtle meta-humor in that — somewhat equivalent to getting a Hasidic rabbi really drunk, and tricking him into eating a bacon cheeseburger. 🙂

I’m sure the other attendees wouldn’t regard the above reasons as being consonant with the “True meaning” of the event.  Then again, I am equally certain that actual, observant Jews would find the event to be a brazen slap in the face, and – in particular – the inclusion of Jesus-imagery as the most brazen insult possible.

Somehow, that fact makes me feel even better about the whole thing.

Yeah well, I’m an asshole. 🙂

 

 

 

I haven’t heard from Karl in several weeks: GOOD.

  1. I haven’t had to sit through 45 minutes (or more) of his incessant whining about how shitty his “lifestyle” is – the endless pawing through boxes of scrap, the fact that his rickety shit-bucket of a jeep is still technically illegal for him to drive (because it is neither inspected nor registered), the fact that he doesn’t “trust” it to run well enough for him to go over to the repeater site (where he used to loiter incessantly), to say nothing of the various storage-units also crammed floor-to-ceiling with un-sorted scrap, etc.
  2. I haven’t had to listen to him yammer incessantly about david Icke, Fritz springmeir, or any of his other inane “paranormal” obsessions – including the “fact” that he has seen an inordinate number of burnt-out license plate lights.
  3. I haven’t had to listen to him whine about the shitiness of his job, how “under-appreciated” he is,  how he could supposedly “be doing so much more”, etc. — when he can’t even manage to sort the garbage cluttering his trailer enough to be able to use the kitchen.

All in all, not having to hear him whine, throw tantrums, and then hang up on me has been a wonderful thing.

Just sayin’.