Myth Happens - sive femina sive mas est

Sovay
Date: 2014-06-03 02:10
Subject: sive femina sive mas est
Security: Public
Music:Ricky Riot, "The Only Queers in the Room"
So this is me shouting at the internet in reponse to a nauseatingly transphobic and shoddily written article. (I started on Facebook, but thought perhaps I should not eat strange_selkie's bandwidth alive.)

Dear Mr. Williamson,

Who are you, why is anyone publishing you, and how long do I have to wait for any and/or all the gods mentioned in Frazer's The Golden Bough to vaporize you? I disagree with Frazer all the time and I would pay good money to watch Saturn, Anahita, and Xipe Totec fall out of the sky onto you like a ton of bricks. Failing that, I'll have to call your editors and complain.

Being a person who knows a thing or two about Eros μανίαι τε καὶ κυδοιμοί myself, I could not fail to note the classical references in your didactic and impressively hateful attempt to persuade the readership of the Chicago Sun-Times that biological sex is clear-cut and immutable, gender is automatically cis and binary, and anything else is a twenty-first-century delusion to be cured with medical intervention, although only the kind you approve of, i.e. no transitioning. Allow me to remind you that ancient world actually contained concepts of gender which are not yours. You can bang on all you like about how "sex is a biological reality" which "no hormone injection or surgical mutilation is sufficient to change," but if you're going to slather classical allusions all over your trans-bashing, surely you're conversant with Catullus 63 in the original Latin, in which all the adjectives describing the protagonist Attis change from male to female (vectus, stimulatus, vagus . . . citata, adorta, tremebunda) the moment she castrates herself in the divine frenzy of Cybele? The Metamorphoses is a pretty basic mythological go-to, so I assume you know about Iphis, born physically female, raised male, who prayed to Juno and Isis to change her body to match her desire? The goddess listened. The boy Iphis was happily married to his beloved Ianthe; Hymenaios himself presided over their union. If you object that myth is not historical attestation, try the fourth-century philosopher Axiothea of Phlios, who studied at Plato's Academy and dressed as a man. You read Frazer, so you must have a smattering of interest in comparative religions; are you familiar with the diverse gender identities of the gala/kalû of Inanna/Ištar, who were sometimes men who took female names and wrote hymns in the exclusively female eme-sal dialect of Sumerian and had sex with men and married women and fathered children and were sometimes women? And that this is a rudimentary and almost certainly misgendering way to discuss this priesthood, because as the above description implies, the gala were not defined on a gender binary? Aṣûšunamir the assinu of Ištar's Descent is another gender-crossing figure of Mesopotamian myth. Often assumed to be a eunuch. Maybe. You can find lots of literature describing the assinû as homosexual cult prostitutes, although since Aṣûšunamir's explicit function is to delight and distract and soften the mood of Ereškigal, Queen of the Underworld . . . The kurgarrû are likewise ambiguous in gender. Shall we return to Frazer? For all his many failings, and they are many, even he doesn't deny the existence of people who live as other than they were assigned at birth. Try Part IV of the third edition, Adonis Attis Osiris. I can do this all night. Perhaps you were not a very close reader. Your reference to "the number of names for the Almighty in one of the old mystery cults" concisely demolishes any vestigial inclination I may have retained to take your screed seriously as a piece of comparative anthropology. If you are the kind of person who genuinely believes that the classical mystery religions were only applying their different monikers to the one true Christian God, I can't say much to you except AH HA HA HA NOPE. For the record, I believe you also misunderstand the theory of sympathetic magic.

I am not actually more incensed by Williamson’s failed attempts at classical scholarship than his raging transphobia, but seriously, if you invoke Cassius Dio to shore up your bigotry, you deserve all the mockery the internet can heap on you. Read up on the galli and then come crying back to me.

In other news, I have always liked those statues of Aphrodite as Aphroditos where the goddess lifts his skirts to show off her cock. Remind me to translate the relevant passage of Macrobius sometime. I'm going to bed.
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desperance: luke
User: desperance
Date: 2014-06-03 07:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconluke
Oh, tell me that you actually sent this to the man?
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gaudior
User: gaudior
Date: 2014-06-03 11:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Seriously, yes, this! Or for that matter, the letters section of the Chicago Sun-Times. Or both.

Do it do it DOOOOOOOO IIIIIT!
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Owlet
User: snowy_owlet
Date: 2014-06-03 12:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Agreed, agreed.
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Co-conspirator of Squee: fairy
User: muffyjo
Date: 2014-06-03 13:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconfairy
Let me simply say, "Yes, please send this. It's really well done."
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Sovay: I Claudius
User: sovay
Date: 2014-06-04 03:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconI Claudius
Oh, tell me that you actually sent this to the man?

I shall see if the article is accepting comments.

[edit] It's been taken down!

Edited at 2014-06-04 03:21 am (UTC)
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steepholm
User: steepholm
Date: 2014-06-03 07:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, well said! I only wish he'd be capable of appreciating it, but having just read his article I doubt that.
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nineweaving
User: nineweaving
Date: 2014-06-03 07:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Magnificent!

Nine
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2014-06-03 08:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think of Min masturbating the world/the Ennead into existence..
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Sovay: I Claudius
User: sovay
Date: 2014-06-04 05:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconI Claudius
I think of Min masturbating the world/the Ennead into existence..

I know Min is an ithyphallic god—is he also represented as female?

(Thumbs up.)
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2014-06-04 08:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have seen some representations of Min with feminine attributes..
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Swan Tower
User: swan_tower
Date: 2014-06-03 09:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I find myself in the odd position of being grateful to Williamson for inspiring this screed, which is a veritable gold mine of awesome non-binary gender stuff I hadn't previously been aware of.
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asakiyume: definitely definitely
User: asakiyume
Date: 2014-06-03 13:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
icondefinitely definitely
This, exactly.
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Sovay: Sovay: David Owen
User: sovay
Date: 2014-06-04 05:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconSovay: David Owen
I find myself in the odd position of being grateful to Williamson for inspiring this screed, which is a veritable gold mine of awesome non-binary gender stuff I hadn't previously been aware of.

I hope it bears fruit!

I would like Williamson to shut up and stop spreading malicious disinformation, but I will also accept drowning out him and others like him with sweet genderqueer literature.
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Alex Dally MacFarlane
User: alankria
Date: 2014-06-03 10:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
BOOM

Remind me to translate the relevant passage of Macrobius sometime.

Oh, please do.
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Sovay: Cho Hakkai: intelligence
User: sovay
Date: 2014-06-04 03:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconCho Hakkai: intelligence
Oh, please do.

Done! I spent the day out of the house, or I'd have gotten to it sooner.
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hey love, I'm an inconstant satellite: Winry kicks ass
User: jinian
Date: 2014-06-03 10:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconWinry kicks ass
The linked article was appalling, but your response is entirely correct and delightful. Thanks for it!
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Sovay: I Claudius
User: sovay
Date: 2014-06-04 05:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconI Claudius
Thanks for it!

You're welcome! Thank you. [edit] It kept me up later than I needed last night, but I feel it was worth it.

Edited at 2014-06-04 05:19 am (UTC)
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gaudior
User: gaudior
Date: 2014-06-03 11:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I hate how in the article he's like "you can't just assert that what you want is reality," and then he does so many many times by saying things like "Laverne Cox is a man."

For fuck's sake, dude, what makes your reality the Real one? Besides that you like it best?
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Sovay: Sovay: David Owen
User: sovay
Date: 2014-06-04 04:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconSovay: David Owen
For fuck's sake, dude, what makes your reality the Real one? Besides that you like it best?

Solipsism?

I was not impressed by his logical abilities. His excuse for introducing Frazer and sympathetic magic was an egregious straw-man argument—I don't think anyone has ever claimed that transition works a magical retroviral transformation on a person's chromosomes, as five minutes with a resource on actual trans people rather than the inside of his own head would have told him. It's funny that he's so welcoming toward the idea of complex sexual orientations, but not identities. (He's not very well-informed about it, to be fair: "our neat little categories of sexual orientation" after a mention of "simple homosexuality," as though he is unaware of the existence of bi people, asexual people, people whose sexual orientation is not toward other people . . . He does not sound more open-minded for his ignorance.) Though his insistence that "homosexual acts as such seem to me a matter that is obviously, and almost by definition, private" does cause me to wonder whether his comfort with gay people maxes out when he has to watch them being, you know, gay. In public. And everything.

[edit] I see he responds with consistent nastiness and muddled thinking to the Sun-Times' removal of his article. Bonus misogyny on top of his transphobia.

I guess I'll have to complain to the National Review.
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moon_custafer
User: moon_custafer
Date: 2014-06-03 11:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You win. Whether your opponent has the wisdom to recognize it may be another matter, but you win.
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fidelioscabinet
User: fidelioscabinet
Date: 2014-06-03 11:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It is a continuing source of profound annoyance to me that the American Right so often grabs hold of classical scholarship in their frantic efforts to justify themselves. For every ancient author who tries to maintain a tidy binary standard, safe within ordered categories, there are three rejecting the paradigm and pointing out how untidy real life is.
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ethelmay
User: ethelmay
Date: 2014-06-04 01:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Next up: Plato was a Republican, right? Well, it says so on the tin!
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Adrian Turtle
User: adrian_turtle
Date: 2014-06-03 12:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, this needed saying! Before this morning, I had no IDEA this specific thing needed saying, because of course I had never heard of Mr. Williamson. But it is a thing of glory, and I agree you should send it to him.
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asakiyume: feathers on the line
User: asakiyume
Date: 2014-06-03 13:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconfeathers on the line
Your letter, even though it's a letter of castigation, is beautiful and moving. I didn't know all these precedents and actualities, and I am so very, very happy to learn of them.
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ashlyme
User: ashlyme
Date: 2014-06-03 13:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well said. Respects.
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Dr. Kvetch
User: rose_lemberg
Date: 2014-06-03 13:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*Standing ovation*
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Erik Amundsen: Crow
User: cucumberseed
Date: 2014-06-03 13:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconCrow
PREACH
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Half of what I say is meaningless
User: farwing
Date: 2014-06-03 14:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I do hope you send this letter.
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some guy named Larry: enjoy everything
User: lnhammer
Date: 2014-06-03 14:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconenjoy everything
*applause*
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handful_ofdust
User: handful_ofdust
Date: 2014-06-03 14:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You've heard it all before, but very well-done.;) While I understand (sort of) that it's apparently unfeasible to point out how Williamson's BS qualifies as hate-speech, it's just inaccurate, and better yet, fucking rude. He deserves everything I can only hope/pray he gets.
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Sovay: Sovay: David Owen
User: sovay
Date: 2014-06-04 05:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconSovay: David Owen
He deserves everything I can only hope/pray he gets.

Currently he's mocking the Sun-Times, so I can only hope the backlash continues to the point where even the conservative National Review drops him like a hot rock. I know he's not the only person voicing this kind of hatred or acting on it. I hope their hot rocks find them, too.
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oddmonster: Bones: Woot cam!
User: oddmonster
Date: 2014-06-03 14:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconBones: Woot cam!
Spectacular response! Spectacular. Thank you for taking the time to skim this bacteria from the written gene pool. Regardless of the question of whether he has had his genitals amputated, Kevin D. Williamson is not a pundit, but an effigy of a pundit.
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Sovay: Cho Hakkai: intelligence
User: sovay
Date: 2014-06-05 01:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconCho Hakkai: intelligence
Kevin D. Williamson is not a pundit, but an effigy of a pundit.

+1.

(Thank you.)
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Liz
User: hawkwing_lb
Date: 2014-06-03 17:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*\o/*
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Beowabbit: People: Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet
User: beowabbit
Date: 2014-06-03 19:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconPeople: Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet
Spectacular!

(And now I want to see all those statues of Aphroditos.)

Edited at 2014-06-03 07:55 pm (UTC)
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Sovay: I Claudius
User: sovay
Date: 2014-06-04 05:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconI Claudius
(And now I want to see all those statues of Aphroditos.)

I linked one!

Thank you.
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the singing-woman from the wood's edge
User: ungemmed
Date: 2014-06-04 00:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is inutterably beautiful.
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aphrabehn
User: aphrabehn
Date: 2014-06-04 02:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
BRAVO!
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