Saturday, February 22, 2014

Who Is Julie Burchill?

Julie Burchill is Great Britain’s answer to Camille Paglia. Or is it the other way around. Perhaps Camille Paglia is America’s answer to Julie Burchill.

Paglia is an American academic, a denizen of the political far left. She is, by her own admission, lionized around the world. Burchill also inhabits the far left of the political spectrum. One of the most famous journalists in Britain, she is, according to Paglia, less well known around the world than Paglia.

Both writers are firebrands. Both grew up on radical feminism. Both have notably turned against today’s leftist cultural politics.

Both are excellent writers, though, for my money, Burchill is the better.

Burchill in particular has incurred the enmity of many of her former radical colleagues by openly declaring her love for Israel and for Jews. In British leftist circles, being pro-Israeli passes as a sin.

When it comes to the ability to live a chaotic life, Burchill has it all over Paglia. The details are readily available for those who seek them.

Like Paglia, Burchill is disaffected from today’s leftist cultural politics. Here she explains:

It’s easy for me to sentimentalise those days when the trade unions held sway, chiming as they did with the calf country of my communism, but whatever their beery and sandwichy limits, they were far better than what replaced them; the politics of diversity. While working-class left-wing political activism was always about fighting the powerful, treating people how you would wish to be treated and believing that we’re all basically the same, modern, non-working-class left-wing politics is about… other stuff. Class guilt, sexual kinks, personal prejudice and repressed lust for power. The trade union movement gave us brother Bill Morris and Mrs Desai; the diversity movement has given us a rainbow coalition of cranks and charlatans. Which has, in turn, has given us intersectionality.

Apparently, intersectionality is all the rage these days.  In brief, it offers diverse groups of people the opportunity to torture themselves over their so-called privileges. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s today’s college student guilt trip.

Burchill describes it in typically gritty terms:

Intersectionality may well sound like some unfortunate bowel complaint resulting in copious use of a colostomy bag, and indeed it does contain a large amount of ordure. Wikipedia defines it as ‘the study of intersections between different disenfranchised groups or groups of minorities; specifically, the study of the interactions of multiple systems of oppression or discrimination’, which seems rather mature and dignified. In reality, it seeks to make a manifesto out of the nastiest bits of Mean Girls, wherein non-white feminists especially are encouraged to bypass the obvious task of tackling the patriarchy’s power in favour of bitching about white women’s perceived privilege in terms of hair texture and body shape. Think of all those episodes of Jerry Springer where two women who look like Victoria’s Secret models — one black, one white — bitch-fight over a man who resembles a Jerusalem artichoke, sitting smugly in the middle, and you have the end result of intersectionality made all too foul flesh. It may have been intended as a way for disabled women of colour to address such allegedly white-ableist-feminist-specific issues as equal pay, but it’s ended up as a screaming, squawking, grievance-hawking shambles….

Entering the crazy world of intersectionality is quite like being locked in a hall of mirrors with a borderline personality disorder coach party. ‘Stop looking at me funny! Why are you ignoring me? Go away, I hate you! Come back, how dare you reject me!’ 

In-fighting and backbiting have been raised to the level of a very sad Olympic sport — that’ll be the Special Olympics, of course, the real ones being ‘able-ist’. Every thought is an ism and every person an ist in the insania of intersectionality, where it is always winter and never Christmas — sorry, ‘Winterval’. (Mustn’t be Islamophobic.) But sexism, interestingly, isn’t really the hot ticket there; women get picked on — or ‘called out’, to use the approved phrase — more than anyone. Natural-born women, that is. When it happened to one of my dearest friends last year, I became an unwitting participant in this modern danse macabre.

Did I mention, Burchill never pulls her punches.

Recently, Burchill got into something of a shouting match—or was it mud wrestling-- about the “trans” community. One of her friends, the radical journalist Suzanne Moore had incited that group’s wrath for saying some untoward things about them. Burchill rushed in to defend her.

Suzanne Moore ignited the flap with these words:

We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape — that of a Brazilian transsexual.

When the wrath of the trans community started falling on Moore Burchill could not resist adding a few choice words, the better to clarify the issue. Here she describes her intervention:

I opined that a bunch of gender-benders trying to tell my mate how to write was akin to the Black and White Minstrels advising Usain Bolt on how to run. I stated that it was outrageous that a woman of style and substance should be driven from her chosen mode of time-wasting by a bunch of dicks in chicks’ clothing and their snivelling suck-ups. The usual cool, calm and collected sort of consideration I’m famous for.

For those of you were slightly confused by Facebook’s list of dozens of different genders, Burchill shows how the unfortunate, cis-gendered Moore was vilified by those who had chosen their genders from the list provided by Facebook:

Suzanne’s crime, it transpired, was to be ‘cis-gendered’ as opposed to transgendered (that is, she was born female) and not to have ‘checked her privilege’ — what passes for a battle cry in certain ever-decreasing circles these dog days. It’s hardly ‘No pasarán!’ — rather, it declares an intention that it is better to be nagged to death on one’s knees rather than stand by one’s principles on one’s feet. Consider how lucky you are, born women, before you raise your voice above that of a trans-sister! — that veritable cornucopian horn of plenty which we lucky breed fortunate enough to be born to a sensory smorgasbord of periods, PMT, the menopause, HRT and being bothered ceaselessly for sex by random male strangers since puberty take such flagrant delight in revelling in, shameless hussies that we are. 

On a more sober note Burchill attacks the intersectional crowd for reducing society to a bunch of special interests. It divides people and turns them against each other.

Burchill also grasps the intersectionality’s pretense to being therapeutic:

Though it reminds us ceaselessly to ‘check our privilege’, intersectionality is the silliest privilege of them all, a gang of tools and twats tiptoeing around others’ finer feelings rather than getting stuck in, mucking in, like proper mates — the ultimate privilege, which is to serve each other with collective love and action. 

Of course, intersectionality sounds like mindless drivel. Yet, no less than Facebook has made it official. And many publications rushed out to defend Facebook.

Now each individual can choose his or hers of its own gender. Burchill opines:

I personally can understand black women occasionally getting teed off with their apparently carefree Wash’n’Go white stepsisters. But the most recent and reactionary development within this hissy-fitting hothouse — the insistence of intersectional feminists on the right of transsexuals not to be offended — tells you all you need to know about the essential stupidity of the movement.

The idea that a person can choose their gender — in a world where millions of people, especially ‘cis-gendered’ women, are not free to choose who they marry, what they eat or whether or not their genitals are cut off and sewn up with barbed wire when they are still babies — and have their major beautification operations paid for by the National Health Service seems the ultimate privilege, so don’t tell me to check mine. 

One would like to say that only a card-carrying militant feminist could write such things. Alas, Burchill, like her friend Moore, has discovered that even impeccable leftist credentials do not shield you from the terror of the trans community.

So, let’s say that only a card-carrying militant feminist would find it so disturbing to see militant feminism disintegrating into mindless and self-defeating chaos.


Sam L. said...

Ah, feminists! The Leftie circular firing squad. Middle-school cliques.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

They almost get it, but not quite.

Step 1: individual dignity (i.e. individuals are the basis of diversity)
Step 2: intrinsic value (i.e. human life is not a commodity. its value is not assigned but inherited from conception)
Step 3: evolutionary fitness
Step 4: internally, externally, and mutually consistent principles (i.e. religion aka moral philosophy, with or without an accompany faith other than the articles in step 1 & 2)
Step 5: reconciliation

I'll summarize the feminist plight as: Get off my lawn!

Progress is monotonic change, which from a wider perspective (e.g. generational, tribal) is merely chaos. Today's progressive is tomorrow's conservative.

Anonymous said...

Somehow I'm reminded of Scott Peck's "Four stages of community". What makes it useful to me is a reminder that process is about regression as much as progression, since we're all sitting on top of various hidden agendas and defenses that color how we see things.

Burchill's description does sound like Jerry Springer's show, and we stop at chaos, or fall back to fakeness, since the emptiness stage is apparently too boring for observers who are just there for the fight.

I talked to my church pastor about the history of the Christian church and all the centuries of division, and if they all worshiped the same god, why can't they find common ground?

Religion and ideology are competitive places apparently, and jealous gods abound.
1. Pseudocommunity - conflict avoidance
2. Chaos - individual differences surface
3. Emptiness - hardest and crucial stage
4. True community

Lastango said...

"...wherein non-white feminists especially are encouraged to bypass the obvious task of tackling the patriarchy’s power in favour of bitching about white women’s perceived privilege..."

She's entertaining, but gets no pass from me unless she mans up and admits there is no patriarch power oppressing women. Til then, she's just another mush-for-brains leftist ideologue, or a fraud. I'm not inclined to credit her for getting her head out of her ass on bumph like "intersectionality", only to shove it up her vagina regarding key fundamentals. She's either shallow, or ruthless enough to employ the fiction of patriarchal oppression to further a political agenda.

Paglia, on the other hand, said:

“One of feminism’s irritating reflexes is its fashionable disdain for 'patriarchal society,' to which nothing good is ever attributed. But it is patriarchal society that has freed me as a woman. It is capitalism that has given me the leisure to sit at this desk writing this book. Let us stop being small-minded about men… If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.”

That strikes me as a much more grounded precept on which to build an understanding.

Anthony Miller said...

I think Burchill is a **** but I'll cheer anyone who has a pop at the twisted Malcolm Xish ideology of "intersectionality". My because unlike the intersectionalists I believe that my enemy's enemy is my friend.

I've got a lot of time for trans people I think they suffer a lot but I do wish they'd divorce themselves from the intersectionalists.