This cartoon is by Becky Hawkins and I.
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This cartoon’s theme is pretty obvious – I’ve just seen (and I think we’ve all seen) a lot of people who support anti-trans laws or write anti-trans screeds taking a moment after whatever awful thing they just said to stick in a little disclaimer. “I’ve got nothing against trans people” or “some of my dearest friends are trans” or whatever. It’s a little piece of hypocrisy that’s worth calling out.
The politician in the second panel is just a generic politician. The other three characters are caricatures of real people – Abigail Shrier, author of Irreversible Damage (subtitle: “The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters”); Matt Walsh, who has been caricatured in Leftycartoons once before; and the queen of putting transphobia into polite-sounding arguments that seem soooo reasonable on the surface, J.K. Rowling.
(Katy Montgomerie provides a very detailed rebuttal of Rowling’s anti-trans essay.)
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has five panels.
A white woman with a big smile and brown hair is smiling and holding up a book. The book is entitled “Save The Children” and shows a small crying girl behind bars with a red frowny face over her abdomen.
The woman appears to be on TV – a two-level scrolling chyron at the bottom of the panel reads “Gay Menace Is Now Trans Menace” and “…enator says woke trans stole her lunch mone…”
WOMAN: My book is about how trans people are indoctrinating our children and enticing lesbian girls to become transgenders!
WOMAN: Please understand I’ve got nothing against trans people.
A middle-aged white male politician, wearing a gray suit, is speaking from behind a podium; we can see that a TV camera is pointed at him. The podium has a seal that says “Real America.” He’s standing in front of two American flags. He holds up a finger to make a point.
POLITICIAN: My legislation bans medical care to help trans kids and teens. AND forces teachers to report transgenders to their parents.
POLITICIAN: It will also let doctors, nurses and pharmacists refuse to treat transgenders!
POLITICIAN: Of course I’ve got nothing against trans people.
A white man with a full beard, wearing a open neck shirt under a suit jacket, is sitting in front of a laptop and typing rapidly (“tap tap tap tap tap tap tap”). He’s grinning in an unfriendly way. On the table next to his laptop are a number of take-out coffee cups, a crumpled-up soda can, and a mug that says “Liberal Tears.” In the space above his laptop, we can see what he’s typing.
MAN: Why say “trans women” when I can say “men wearing dresses” instead?
MAN: But I’ve got NOTHING against trans people!
A hand holds a smartphone. On the smartphone screen, we can see a red-headed woman in a gown, wearing a dress with blue earrings and a blue necklace, sitting comfortably on a huge, old-fashioned wooden chair that would look at home in Hogwarts. She leans on one arm and makes an open gesture with her other palm.
REDHEAD: I’ve spent YEARS writing about how the trans movement is a mortal danger to REAL women. It’s practically my only subject!
REDHEAD: But I’ve got nothing against trans people.
The set of a TV chat show called “Just Asking Questions.” (We know that’s what it’s called because “Just Asking Questions” is printed in huge letters on the side of the table the guests are sitting around. Plants on either side of the set are in pots with the painted on words “The JAQ Off.”)
The host, a nicely-dressed woman with stylish hair, sits in a chair on the left, smiling. Her guests, seating around the table, are the four characters we met in the first four panels of this comic strip.
HOST: Why do so many trans people say you’ve got something against them?
“SAVE THE CHILDREN” AUTHOR LADY: (shrugs as if bewildered)
POLITICIAN (arms folded, above-it-all expression): It’s a Mystery.
BEARDED DUDE: (ignores everything around him while he grins and types quickly on his smartphone)
REDHEAD: I blame cancel culture.
Actually, I haven’t seen anyone propose or enact legislation that would ban trans people from participating in sports. I have seen such that would ban them from participating in sports that are restricted to the sex they don’t belong to. But that’s not the same thing.
Gay people made SUCH a noise about “gay marriage”, before it was legal. It wasn’t like they were being discriminated against; they could marry people of the opposite sex just like everyone else.
It is exactly the same thing and you know it.
JOS @3 –
RonF might not know it’s the same thing. I mean, as he made clear, he has nothing against trans people.
my favorite moments:
19:49 “Because when you dehumanize the villains you become unable to recognize the villain within.”
Listen to the quotes and see the empathy in her response:
1:03:50 “So these are the thoughts of someone whose been hurt.”
The only caveat I have is:
13:30ff “No one is born thinking that the gay are destroying the family, or that women are naturally subservient, or that the Jews are trying to control the world economy.”
I do think one of these three things is different than the others. Cis women (or maybe we should say, people who went through puberty with low testosterone?) can be pushed into subservient positions that cis men (or maybe we should say, people who went through puberty with high testosterone?) simply will not tolerate.* We see it cross culturally over and over again. I do think that when fighting sexism, we are fighting biology on a deeper level that we are with other prejudices.
*As you can see, I don’t know how trans people fit into these constructs. But, I think a world in which most trans people get puberty blockers, and aren’t forced to go through the wrong puberty for them will be a game changer. Whether it is my ignorance, transphobes not accepting the gender of trans people and continuing to misgender them, early socialization, pre-transition hormones, or something I have not thought of, at least from the outside, trans women appear to be the dominant ones in the trans community today. I think that is one thing that makes it hard for some feminists to accept trans women as women. To be clear, that isn’t ok.
It’s always seemed to me that that’s the case because trans women are, generally speaking, much more visible than trans men. This dynamic is reflected in the celebrity world, as well.
Yes, that’s what my perception is based on. I don’t know if it has any broader basis in reality, though.
Kate: I liked that video a lot too. (Contrapoints is controversial, but she makes wonderful videos. Possibly she’s especially good for people like me, who need 101 level trans theory).
I think this is painting with too broad a brush. There are many cases of populations – such as the slave population in the US before the civil war (hat tip to Mandolin for the example) – in which men and women alike are pushed into subservient positions and simply have no choice in the manner. (Or so little choice as to be practically no choice).
I suspect that, in communities where physical strength is important – which was all of them until very recently – the physically strongest are able to use that advantage to dominate, and so some form of patriarchy is a likely outcome, unless they’re really lucky or something comes along to change things. But that’s not the same as saying that we are born with patriarchy already in us at a deep level. (Obviously I’m oversimplifying here – being in the social position to convince a lot of the strong people to support you usually matters more than personal physical strength, or so I’m guessing.)
However, I should make it clear I’m really talking waaaay beyond my knowledge set here. So perhaps someone will correct me.
I think we’ve overemphasized the role of testosterone, and people too often talk about it as if it’s a magic bullet for separating groups. But I don’t think any one factor really works for that.
It’s true that cis men have much higher T-levels than cis women, on average. But there is still some overlap, and studies have shown that some cis women have higher T-levels than some cis men. (Which is why some cis women are being shut out of Olympic events by the testosterone ceiling requirement).
Most trans people I know, or that I’ve read, will either say “women” and “men,” or if they need to be more specific might say “cis women and trans men” or “cis men and trans women” or something like that. I think it’s best to follow trans writers’ lead in this sort of thing.
Much of the writing on this subject that I’ve found persuasive emphasizes the limitations on women’s social roles that come from the need to be able to accommodate pregnancy and early infant care. This both creates situations where there are vulnerabilities to be exploited (which underly some forms of patriarchal oppression), and also just more ordinary divisions of labor.
Some theories also suggest the inventions of property and inheritance are also formative in patriarchal social structures.
If you take a look at a society like the FLDS (and this is a common social pattern, so it’s hardly limited to the FLDS — I’m using them as a familiar American example), you have the oppression of women in relationship to men. But there is also a strongly abused male underclass of sons who are driven out or gotten rid of in other ways (potentially including murder) in order to sustain the demographic inequity required by extreme polygyny. Like their sisters in forced marriages, these often-cis-males neither consent to be treated poorly, nor are they able to force better treatment by withdrawing consent to be treated poorly.
I suspect that, in communities where physical strength is important – which was all of them until very recently – the physically strongest are able to use that advantage to dominate, and so some form of patriarchy is a likely outcome, unless they’re really lucky or something comes along to change things.
I’m not sure whether you’re talking about history or pre-history here.
If you’re talking about history, you’re wrong. While pre-rifle war is somewhat dependent on physical strength, social authority has not been equivalent to physical strength in human society for a very long time. To use an example of history I know about: a Tang scholar-bureaucrat held the power of life and death over Tang peasants who were (by virtue of their profession) certainly much stronger than him. Social domination comes through social role, which is not largely determined by personal strength.
If you’re talking about pre-history, then while I can’t directly say that you’re simply wrong, you are probably wrong. The evidence I point to is:
* In recorded human history, physical strength is not the primary determinant of social power. There’s no reason to believe that this started only when recorded history started.
* In modern hunter-gatherer societies, social power is not primarily determined through physical strength. Although pre-historical societies were almost certainly quite different than modern hunter-gatherers, many people do draw a comparison on a “closest we’ll get” basis.
Real human societies have never been anything like Conan the Barbarian or other fantasies of pure strength. Social manipulation, group status, organizational ability, tactical ability, generosity, and so on have always played an important role in the distribution of power in human societies.
(Nor is power cleanly divided along gender lines. Most societies are some manner of patriarchal, but these relationships have always been complicated by other power systems. Many upper-class women enjoyed immense power over, for example, the men they or their husbands employed.)
Related: I don’t think that there’s anything implicit in women (or in estrogen) that makes them more tolerant of oppression, and I don’t think that there’s anything implicit in men (or in testosterone) that makes them less tolerant. If testosterone diminished one’s ability to accept oppression, I think history would look very very different.
Lee – I’m completely convinced that every word I wrote about pre-history was wrong. :-)
Jacqueline @ 3:
I know no such thing. If I thought they were the same I would not say what I did.
@12 If you don’t know it it’s only because you don’t want to know it and that’s functionally the same thing as knowing it.
I finally got around to watching the episode of ContraPoints that you linked. Worst episode ever and I could not disagree with her more. Silence of the Lambs was a terrible movie and how she can believe otherwise is beyond me. Yeah, sure Foster’s & Perkins’ performances were unbelievably fantastic but the movie itself is just awful.
@ Jacqueline – I hadn’t even been thinking about her take on Silence of the Lambs. Good point.
Speaking of Contrapoints, she has a new video out.
Envy | ContraPoints – YouTube
Just wanted to note that the nickname for that talk show (noted on the plant pots) is BRILLIANT. Just Asking Questions indeed.
I agree! I’ll tell Becky you said so. :-)