Category Archives: Airing thoughts

Drafts of ideas I am thinking about, which might be useful to you too

The forgotten pay gap: The latent identity of the ‘gender pay gap’ discourse

It is not controversial to assert that there is no justification for two similarly-able people to be remunerated differently for the same job. It’d simply be discrimination in its most basic form, and anyone with a common sense who  ever cared for fairness and not only if they were paid less themselves, can see that. The fact that we have a gender pay gap in our society is nothing less than an absolute outrage and disgrace, and we must support any immediate collective action that demands to mend it unconditionally. Nothing less.

B U T  – this inclusive campaign might is at the same time be exclusive. Or, put in a better way: Can we allow ourselves to take this argument further and make bigger claims? Continue reading


‘Consent’ is not enough: The risk of communication reductionism

The campaign for [sexual] consent is a very important and helpful tool on the legal front. It’s also a good response for the male argument ‘she said no, but meant otherwise.’ But both as a nonliberal feminist and as a discourse analyst, I find it a problematic concept.

The starting point here, which is particularly importnat to make as a cis-hetro-man, is that there is no doubt that no one deserves to be harassed, or raped, for any reason. That’s pretty basic.

Still, human interaction is much more complex than what ‘consent’ has to offer.


Look at the poster to the right, for example. It states that Yes means yes, and No means no. This statement is tautological, and so always true, without needing any context. But, this also implies that verbal messages are simple to understand, as well as that ‘consent’ (or indeed any interaction) boils down to a binary yes or no. The poster also says that ‘clothing is not consent,’ which, again, without the necessary context is a weird thing to say, because, [tauto]logically clothing is clothing. Of course, we still understand the full message of this poster because we have the contextual (pragmatic) prior-knowledge that this is a response that confronts the rapist argument that ‘she said x but meant otherwise’ or ‘just look at what she was wearing,’ that tries to justify sexual predatory behavior or worse (excuses that are much more urgent to fight when they come from the police or courts). This is how we can also understand that this is about sex or sexual violence, although neither of these words are even mentioned! (Indeed, consent to what).

I bring this example to briefly demonstrate the complexity of communication. WITHOUT GIVING ANYONE LEGITIMACY TO, SAY, RAPE, from both a communication and a nonliberal and nonlegalist perspective, there are inaccuracies and risks to consider about reducing human behaviour and communication to concepts like consent:

  1. Communicative messages are more complex than simply what we say.
    This is how irony and sarcasm are possible. So, you can say one thing and mean the exact opposite, and, as any pragmatics professor will tell you, communication, is rarely unambiguous. Everything is said in context, and is interpretive (and therefore bound to mistakes). This fact also allows us to make many more feminist arguments about subtext and lack of consent, e.g. that even a Yes can still mean something else. Intonation, nonverbal messages, body language, and other communication channels and prior knowledge help the addressee to decipher the message. (Much of the art of flirting relies on this ambiguity). And, yes, mistakes in interpretation happen; but this only means that we must be much more careful!
    Advocating ‘consent’ risks simplifying communication and encouraging people to be less sensitive to each other. No wonder that some even opt for machines for consent, rather than rely on feelings. (Also, the linked app ignores the fact that consent can be withdrawn at any point). In fact, you can have sex or avoid it without any moral issues and without any verblisation. NONETHELESS – IT’S QUITE SIMPLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT, IF IN DOUBT, JUST COMMUNICATE MORE TO AVOID HARMING OTHERS. ESPECIALLY IF YOU LIKE THEM.
  2. Clothing actually IS a message.
    Always. What you wear to class or work or dinner at any other time, carries a message about who you [think you] are, and what your expectations are of the interaction. It can even mean consenting to something (e.g. uniform), or rejecting it. And we also continuously interpret what others wear. To say that clothing is meaningless to a message (e.g. the poster above), is, I think, both counter-intuitive to the broader public, and generally wrong. Clothes are practice of meaning, and meaning is always fluid and depends on interpretion. Instead, we should clarify that clothing is insufficient and its message is highly sensitive to misinterpretations.
    I find this statement better: Even if somebody is walking naked on the street, it still gives no one the right to harm or be offensive to them. period.
  3. Wants and messages can be more complex than the binary yes-or-no.
    There are many shades of grey in human interactions and communications (see what I did there?…). HOWEVER, AGAIN, IF IN DOUBT, COMMUNICATE MORE TO AVOID HARMING OTHERS.
  4. While we are often able to simply say what we want, at other times we don’t even fully know what we want.
    ‘Consent’ is a burden that assumes that individuals are rational beings whom are necessarily able to know what they ‘want.’ This assumption goes against psychoanalyst approaches where we are ‘split’ in many ways inside our heads, or are on a spectrum, and are very dynamic, and so on. STILL, TO REMOVE DOUBT, COMMUNICATE MORE TO AVOID HARMING OTHERS, and remember that we can still change our mind.
  5. In fact, wanting is not simple either.
    The genius feminist philosopher Sarah Ahmed has an entire book problematising will. A key point in the book can be simplified to this: Because we are subjects designed by social positions, discourse, time, place, etc., there is at least a doubt about our will being genuinely ours, and not what others will us to will. Are we sometimes having sex, or avoiding it, for reasons that are decisively shaped by society? AND, YET, AGAIN, THIS DOES NOT GIVE ANYONE THE RIGHT TO HARM.
  6. To make this even more controversial, interactions and relationship are almost by definition a constant compromise over wills. In sex too.
    Moreover, sometimes, as the feminist patriarchal bargain theory argues, women rationally trade things they have (including sex) with men, and this is part of their agency and strategies within ‘the logic of practice.’ (Men can also have sex as compromise, although it’s not really the same). In a micro-scale, a woman can compromise her ‘will’ as part of her strategy to cope with her position. So, while women consent to sex, it is not so straightforward, because their consent is not independent but pressured by their position within power structures.

In conclusion, my point is that there is a series of issues with the reliance on the simplifying notion of ‘consent’ for feminist advocacy, which is also falling into the trap of legalism. While it has been immensely helpful in the short run, it might end up counterproductive for the sensitive society we want to build in the long run.

And, I’m not the only one thinking that.

Immigration discourse hutzpah: ‘If they’re coming to a place, they should adopt the local culture’

Seriously, White Europeans should be the last ones to speak, and historically cannot make the claim that if you’re arriving at a place you must adopt (to) its culture. Have the French, English, Spanish or Zionists adopted the local culture to which they arrived in their imperial conquests!? This is really Christan whitedom blindness at its best.

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#MeToo and beyond: We, men, owe a lot to feminism, and must fight everyday misogyny

I think I am an average bloke, really. I am not different than you, or about to preach you to position myself as better. I am not better. And, I guess that, like many men, when I am exposed to the spontaneous #MeToo movement (not exactly a ‘campaign’), I get at the same time hopeful and inspired and upset, but also reflective and ashamed about certain regrets, immaturities and retrospect stupidities (although I don’t think I’ve ever touched a woman without her ‘consent’). But what I have to say is not about me, as an individual, but about our society and time.

We might just be living a momentous shift in the appreciation of, and resistance to, the unfair treatment and structural inferiority of women. But because anti-feminist arguments are still common, let’s start by taking stock of how much we, men, have actually benefited so far from the gender-equality movement: by creating the conditions for fathers to have significantly more meaningful and affective relationships with our children; by having our life-partners shoulder in the house’s responsibility for income; by ridding us of the tedious and violent position of being in a constant cock fight, or being always ‘strong,’ if not by generally liberating us from emotional repression; by allowing men of alternative sexualities to be equally happy, as well as letting us all have a larger variety of sexual and other non-conforming experiences; by making the women and girls we love live up to their potential with confidence and security, and by letting our boys enjoy their lives in more ways than before. Feminism provided/s us with new opportunities, as well as betters our practice of fairness and emancipation from domination, so we benefit both as men and as human beings.

(If you disagree with all of these, you should probably stop reading now).

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How dare the Russians and Iranians interfere in internal affairs!? Don’t they know that that’s our role? – A reminder of CIA (and SIS) foreign involvement

Today, Theresa May has joined trump in accusing Russia in secret programmes for destabilising Nato societies and interfering in free elections. Concerning indeed! But both leaders have refrained from comiting not to do the same in other societies that democratically elect a leadership that the US and the UK disfavors, as they have done in the past.

A brief reminder of historical episodes like Syria (1949),  Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Brazil,  Chile, Guyana, Nicaragua, Libya, and many more, some of which are still concealed under the guise of security and secrecy.

But for now, we can all start educating ourselves here:
UPDATE: The US is also manipulating social media

Update on my numeral literacy hypothesis and a theater show recommendation

Last week, we watched Rashdash’s award winning show Two Men Show. I cannot recommend this show strongly enough! (Despite a redundant [and inaccurate] opening and various class issues). Its a powerful experience, phenomenal performance and extraordinary text. The show is about gender and [its] language and more, by a duo/trio that calls itself ‘radical feminist,’ but in my view, everything that is feminist today beyond liberalism is quickly titled radical, which is more telling about our misogynous time than about the radicality of the feminists. During most of the show, I was able to enjoy it as a comrade, sharing the criticism that was overall suggested about other types of masculinity. Yet, the feeling that it is not about me did not last to the end of the show (no spoilers), and I have then enjoyed discovering another layer of masculine dominance populating my subjectivity.

Anyway, the reason why I decided to write about the show was not (only) to recommend it and Rashdash generally, but also because of something entirely different. A while ago I wrote a hypothesis about how literacy, prevalence and dominance of numbers and digits have changed and design our ways of thinking. Well, in a discussion after the show, the artists mentioned the book The Alphabet versus The Goddess, as influential to their work. In the the book, anthropologist Leonarad Shlain has made similar – but more gendered – arguments about how alphabetic literacy has changed our thinking from holistic and feminine ways into textual-lexomatic-iconic-linear and masculine thought. So I just wanted to leave an update on this thread.


Is transgederism liberal?

Notes about transsexuality, Palestinian-hybridity, and subjectivity in liberalism


1) Is transgederism humanist/liberal?

According to one typical narrative of ‘trans people,’ certain individuals ‘have always known that they were a man/woman locked in the wrong body.’ (By the way, the following analysis is equally true for cisgenders, who also, albeit silently, ‘know’ that they are inside the correct body). This narrative is anti-queer in its acceptance of normative definitiveness of categories of sex (men/women) and gender (masculine/feminine), as well as their respective alliance.

More importantly, such narratives assume that a subject can rise above a gender-sex ‘mistake,’ listen to one’s body (neutralisation), ‘know it,’ t and then want to, or demand to, or actually correct it, at ‘will.’ In this way, gender is ‘chosen’ or ‘sensed’ by an individual, and is not a latent social discursive structure (unlike race or class). Put another way, to say that you ‘have always known your true identity’ is a practice that reproduces subjectivity (against the poststructuralist view that subjectivity is created by discourse, and that individuality is a concept that in itself needs to be critically contextualised with socio-political-cultural-historical context(s)). The above narrative is arguably part of the naturalised liberalist zeitgeist that foster it, where individual’s agency is exaggerated.

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