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By Jason Michael
YESTERDAY I REACHED OUT to Rosa Zambonini, an SNP activist and former councillor, to ask her if she would share an article I had published stating my positionality on the so-called gender debate. Rosa and I have kept communications open with one another since the 2014 independence referendum despite the fact we have not always seen eye-to-eye on politics or indeed on the best route to independence. The recent activity of the Women Wont’s Wheesht movement and the trans exclusionary feminism rallying around Marion Millar have caused both of us some concern.
Neither of us buy into this form of feminism — a feminism roundly rejected by mainstream feminists and the political left, but neither do I wholly accept the more radical tenets of gender theory. Where Rosa and I do have common ground is in our shared intolerance of intolerance, be that misogyny or transphobia. So, In good faith, I reached out to her.
She was so kind to share the piece and I was most grateful. In light of everything that has been happening over the past week — a nuclear explosion of a dog-pile after I published a series of articles critiquing the gender critical movement — she dropped me a wonderful and much appreciated note:
I see you getting so much flack and I’m so sorry for that. I understand the place where you found yourself but I hope you saw that, at all times, you had a friend … and you do.
That was wonderful, and I promised that the next time I was over in her neck of the woods I would treat her to a coffee. But then something strange happened. Later in the day I discovered Rosa had blocked me on Twitter. It was then brought to my attention she had commented on why she had decided to block me and hang me out to dry:
Rosa, it appears, only decided to share the article on the proviso it was indeed an apology — an apologia (my words). She also makes the claim that I have personally ‘hurt’ her. A man hurting a woman, certainly in this climate, is a serious accusation, but I am unaware of ever having hurt her. We have never met in person — but she does state that this hurt happened ‘on Twitter’ — and so I simply cannot think what this hurt could have been. We have disagreed on politics, but to the very best of my knowledge we have never engaged in a personal exchange. This said, if I have hurt her or caused her offence, then I have this to say to her:
Rosa, it has never been my intention to hurt you, insult you, or cause you any kind of harm. If I have, through ignorance or spite, caused you any kind of hurt, then I am deeply sorry for this and sincerely apologise and beg your forgiveness.
But back to my apologia. Rosa has assumed that my article was an apology for my transphobia. If I have ever uttered anything transphobic, homophobic, racist, or bigoted and hateful in any way, then yes, I am sorry. However, this article was not an apology for my transphobia for the simple reason that I have always positioned myself against transphobia and other kinds of prejudice. My apologia was something else entirely. Here is what I actually wrote:
Sure, I can see the confusion. It does contain the word ‘apologia.’ But this was part of the phrase ‘apologia pro vita sua.’ Sometimes — always — I forget that other people might not be tip top with their Latin expressions. So, here is what it means:
The apologia pro vita sua is an apologetic — a formal defence or justification of a theory or doctrine. The article I was sharing with Rosa was a defence of my position. I was explaining why I have taken the position I have on this debate, and that is that I do not accept the biological essentialism of the gender critical people and nor do I uncritically endorse everything about gender theory. What I am against is hatred and bigotry. I stand by this apologia.
31 thoughts on “Rosa’s ‘Apologia’”
I rest my case 🙂
Good luck during the ensuing.
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What is your case?
I thought you might have noticed that it seems to me almost inevitable that all contributions to this so called debate are pulled into a restrictive and violently polarised dialectic. Particularly opinions like yours that attempt to straddle this division or relativise either pole.
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There is no room for nuance on the pro-TRA side of this debate. You either completely give into their demands or you are the enemy. We all get called transphobes eventually. That includes trans women, by the way, who are also labelled transphobic by TRAs. Have a look at the case of Miranda Yateley.
Perhaps you should look at what Marion Miller, Julie BIndel et al have done to “deserve’ the label before you wade in with “both sides bad” stuff?
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Exactly the same on both sides. Only one side has abused me, and that was the Women Won’t Calm Doon side.
What about the racist stuff from Millar?! Think you have to have a wee think about this.
You haven’t responded to my point. And don’t be so patronising. Since you’re indulging in whatabootery, there are loads of racist, sectarian and especially misogynistic examples on the TRA side.
They’ll never be your pals, Jason. They want capitulation, not debate. Anyone who wants debate is transphobic in their book.
As a correction to my own comment, I apologise for getting Miranda Yardley’s name wrong.
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Anne, I’m not looking for ‘pals.’ The para-social relationship doesn’t do it for me. I am happy to critique both sides – theirs and yours. And yes, I never addressed your point.
Jeggit. Can I invite you read the following and to join in with discussion?
“… I am happy to critique both sides – theirs and yours… ”
Evidently not, since you never do it. You try to critique the gender critical argument, but you never, ever critique the trans argument. It’s usually called bias. Perhaps you could explain, without going into the realms of dense scripture why women are barred from the RC priesthood? The principle applies equally, surely excepting that there are many more church-going Catholic women than there are men, the opposite of the trans gender issue – or, at least, that is what those with an interest in having self-ID passed want us to believe. Personally, I wouldn’t wish to be a priest, and I also respect the reasons that the RC Church offers for not allowing women into the priesthood. Why do women’s reasons and respect for their boundaries not feature in your last several blogs?
There isn’t a trans argument! Trans gender people aren’t all in a big clubhouse plotting. What you may be thinking about is ‘gender theory,’ but that is a massively complex academic field. And it’s not a monolith. This is the whole conspiracy garbage that I reject. As do most women, most feminists, and everyone on the left. Look at this objectively.
Jeggit: you assume a great deal. I have never claimed that there is a trans conspiracy. Actually, I think it is in the fall of the cards that all this has come about. Pure chance, in other words, that unscrupulous and porn-driven individuals, via social media platforms have made hay with. Some saw the opportunity, others hitched the opportunity seen by others to their bandwagon and, as per, good old capitalism jumped on the chance to make a fast buck or two.
Every so often, this happens in sexual politics, and, often, it is women themselves who enable it. It can be no coincidence that it is often female academics and philosophers, in the wake, as per, of entitled and, sometimes, seemingly unhinged, male academics/philosophers, what have you, who disseminate the toxin. It has never happened in quite this way before, however, with men claiming to actually BE women, not just facsimiles of women, and the threat to children has never been more evident and more blatant in modern times. Part of the threat lies in ensuring that ‘trans children’ exist in numbers (no doubt that body dysphoric children exist, but in tiny numbers) so that trans women can exist (and it is trans women because trans men are erased most of the time, too, by the trans lobby).
That involves hormones and surgery – again, the surgery appears to be de rigeur for FtM but not for MtF, which is, in itself, a clue – which, in most cases, cannot be reversed. However, there is the other little problem that no one wants to talk about: access to children through access to ALL women’s spaces and rights for purposes that are very much everyone’s concern – if they have a conscience at all. That is not to say – and I would never say it – that all trans women are a threat to children, of course they aren’t, but taking risks that we don’t have to take is beyond the pale. So, why are we doing all this? Why are we positioning vulnerable women and children in a situation where they WILL – not might be – at risk? Why?
I have no trouble believing that many in the trans movement/trans activism are being used as foot soldiers by those whose agenda is – and I hesitate to use the word, not being of a religious bent – evil. We wouldn’t ever have wars if evil b******s were not able to persuade the foot soldiers to do their dirty work. You seem so naive. Jeggit, so innocent as to the real intentions of some of those pushing this stuff. Yes, much of it is prosaic and pedestrian and stupid, some of it is truly pathetic and worthy of compassion, some of it cruel and ultimately pointless in order to lance a suppurating boil of misogyny and hatred, but, behind it – and I’m not talking of capitalists who would skin their granny and then tan her hide for a halfpenny and who are utterly amoral in a different sense – are some very evil and amoral people whose ultimate aim is to destroy, then remould, society in their image – no, not Islamists or Jews or other handy scapegoats. Again, the excesses of the Roman Empire are just peeping through, just discernible.
You don’t need to. You referenced the ‘trans argument.’ That’s as conspiratorial as the Jewish argument or the Black argument. Trans people are not all in one big club. ‘Comments’ aren’t really for this. A series a dissertation length conversational articles is a bit much. Maybe publish your own blog and we can respond to one another?
I’m a pensioner. I have no other source of income. I am also a WASPI woman who was deliberately and coldly cheated out of her pension. Either that, or the men who took the decision did not even factor in women at all. Probably, that is closer to the truth of it, as happened with the Yogyakarta Principles, where women were not invited or even considered before they were passed. 50% of the world’s population are not even worthy of inclusion in anything, are not even thought of. I do try to contribute as and when I can to various blogs, and, of course, I don’t want to take advantage. If you don’t want me commenting, fine. The sarcasm is unnecessary. Your conspiracy theories of a conspiracy theory against trans people is just that, conspiracy theory, illogical and based on absolutely nothing. Your protestations of kindness towards trans people and women falls rather by the wayside when you have little to no compassion for women in all of this, while our compassion for trans people has been used very cleverly against us by unscrupulous people, many of them in a headlong dash to escape reality, others to indulge their porn-saturated existence and others to make a buck and/or amass power and/or money. Where are women in all this? Nowhere. As per. Not even an afterthought. Thank you for allowing me to comment, regardless.
“… Exactly the same on both sides… ”
Actually, no, that is not the case. For a good number of years, women have been aware that transsexuals (fully transitioned MtF) were entering our toilets. No big deal. They were very few and they were respectful – and, crucially, they posed no threat because they no longer had their penises. Women were polite and accepting. Self-ID has changed the playing field.
The penis itself excites to rape? Is that the foundation of this logic?
No, other items are used to rape – but, again, and crucially, usually in the hands of male rapists. The penis of a rapist is his weapon of choice, and he may rape for any number of reasons. For trans women who fear injury and who want access to female spaces because of that, is inviting in all-comers also putting them, as well as us, in danger the best way to deal with male violence? The illogic of that position is patent. Surely, since it is male violence that is at issue, the best solution for both women and trans women is to keep ALL males at bay, in the knowledge that we cannot identify those who are likely to use violence against us. Having a low forehead, for example, need not denote lack of intelligence, as once thought, just as having a big smile and a friendly demeanour need not denote harmlessness. Experience should tell us that protections are necessary and that we cannot protect if all-comers are allowed into our spaces and rights. Ergo, third spaces for trans women make sense, as female spaces for women make sense.
The facts are that men commit most crimes; they commit most violent cries; and they commit most rapes and sexual assaults – hence the drive to change the data collection procedures where men who rape can be classed as females and distort the information. It always comes back to the same thing: men are far, far more likely to hurt women than vice versa, although I would never try to claim that doesn’t happen. Half the journey to containing any addiction is to admit you have it. Many males have an addiction to the assumption that they are superior to females. It is an addiction that has been observed over millennia. They are certainly, in general, superior in strength. It is, at its most basic, that strength that allows them to dominate and domineer most females. If women had equal strength, I doubt we’d even be having this non-debate.
Oye vey? Did I make any reference to Jewish people? The Ghetto? The Pale? No, I did not. Your reply was gratuitously offensive for no reason. The whole argument for keeping women’s spaces and rights male-free is because it is male violence that predominates, and it predominates against women who are physically weaker and less able to defend themselves. It really is very simple. The incursion into women’s rights and services, is opposed because women had to fight long and hard for them and because they are specific to women’s needs.
The Jewish people offered no violence to anyone, and Judaism was, by the 20th century, a pacifist religion, having once been an aggressive, imperial one in ancient times. Their persecution was based entirely on nonsensical beliefs that they had been responsible for the death of Christ – and, of course, that they were a very clever and industrious people who invariably did well in any society they lived in, garnering jealousy and hatred. The accusations against witches – mainly female – are in the same category. Ignorant and jealous people who used the cover of witchcraft to make gains. Both Jewish women and witches had their hair shorn. too, and used for various things.
The comparison is spurious at best and extremely offensive to me, personally, and to all women, at worst. Why don’t you argue on the basis of the transgender lobby’s beliefs, rather than platitudes that do not stand up to scrutiny? Why don’t you tell us how it is possible to change sex? That would be a start. You are aware that some trans women refute the sex-changing altogether? This was brought out by the work of Ray Blanchard and Michael Bailey and others, based on observation of many men claiming to be women, and their findings have never been refuted, albeit many have tried to get rid of the paraphilia aspect – autogynephilia, to be precise. Dr Debbie Hayton, a science teacher, is just one trans woman who admits openly that she is autogynephilic.
What are you talking about?!! Listen, the *comments* on the post are for comments. You are taking liberties. Publish your own blog to make these replies. I really don’t want to block you. I am serious. Comments welcome … your own encyclopaedic articles, not so much.
Okay. I apologize for taking up too much of your thread/blog. You may rest assured that I shan’t do so in future. I’m of a generation that is not inured to soundbites. Thank you for your indulgence thus far.
You are welcome to comment. Of course you are. But comment is not conversation. If you want a conversation by all means publish a blog and we can try to answer one another. The occupation of the comments is just annoying (from anyone). Duncan Spencer and I were talking about the possibility of a podcast and it would be great to include you in that. This is not about making you unwelcome. It isn’t.
I understand that, and I take on board what you are saying. Not in a huff. Just very tired of all this stuff and really worried about where it’s all going to lead. I really need a break from it all. I will think about a podcast, but I’m not much of a speaker. Thanks, anyway. Best wishes.
I would be delighted to podcast with you. It’s a touch more human. None of us know where social and cultural change is going. But trans identities will no more erase women than immigration will lead to ‘white genocide.’
“and they commit most rapes and sexual assaults”
I’ll make no comment on ‘sexual assaults”, but (in English and Scots law, I suspect also in Irish) men commit ALL rapes. That is by definition, as rape is defined as the insertion of a penis in to some orifice, without the consent of the party in to whom it is inserted. Inserting other items is a form a sexual assault, but not rape.
Other countries, have differing definitions of rape, and I believe for some of them, women can be convicted of such; but in the UK anyone convicted of rape had a penis at the time of the incident.
No, that is not the definition of rape.
JB: Jeggit is correct. Insertion of a bottle, for example, is still rape. It is the penetration without consent (mens rea) that constitutes the crime. A woman can commit rape, too, as art and part to the offence, with a male.
I provided another reply with a reference to the legislation. It has not been approved.
Approval is manual, and so may take some time.
lorncal – Thanks for the reference to ‘art and part’. An interesting evening of reading.
I recall a Scottish case from earlier in the year, but had assumed it was the usual poor media reporting.
I’ve now spent some time reading up on ‘art and part’, and yes in Scotland it would allow a woman to be convicted for rape. Chasing up the situation in England, it is the same; given the text of the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861, a woman can be charged as a principal in a rape performed by a man. I’ve since found some instances, including a case from 2001 where women were convicted of rape. So one lives and learns.
As to the offenses themselves, I maintain that at law (as opposed to colloquial usage) in England and Scotland, rape still requires that a penis be inserted somewhere.
If you follow the statue links I provided, you will find that insertion of a bottle falls under section 2 of the Scottish act (Sexual assault by penetration), whereas rape is defined in section 1. I also found a reference to 1910 and 1976 cases, probably under the common law, to that effect – a woman being “guilty art and part of rape on another woman, […], though obviously incapable of performing it herself.”
So where the assault involved inserting a bottle (and not inserting a penis), the charge will be sexual assault by penetration, not rape.
Thanks for the discussion.
I referred to the definition of rape in English and Scots law. Those are both currently defined by statue, in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 respectively, they replace the Common Law version of each, which also required the use of a penis.
For the former it is section 1(1)A(a), mentioning “with his penis”, for the latter 1(1) mentioning “with A’s penis”. These can both be found on the legislation web site:
Interesting the Scottish act includes a surgically constructed penis in the definition of a penis, so a female to male transexual would theoretically be within its scope, the English act has no such mention, leaving that question ambiguous.
Both acts have a subsequent definition of a assault by penetration (not involving a penis); both offences have the same punishment.
So how is my summary of the legal definition or the implications for anyone convicted of it incorrect?