5 Ways to Spot an Ideological Puritan


Since writing about ideological purity and toxic communities, I figure that some people might enjoy a guide for spotting ideological puritans. Because they aren’t necessarily always the easiest people to spot, especially not in a mixed community. And, for me, it has been a slow, somewhat painful experience, to learn over time what the red flags are (at least what I’ve been able to determine so far).

It has been painful because dealing with ideological puritans, even if just on a personal level, rather than the communal can be a really traumatic experience. Between the loss of self-esteem or self-worth, the gaslighting, the general emotional manipulation, bullying and so forth, it’s easy to feel like, at the end of it all, that you lost yourself for a little while. And it is really easy to feel ashamed over what you did and what happened while you were under the sway of an ideological puritan.

And… I’m not trying to absolve anyone of the harm they caused becasue we must all make our own peace with that, but rather hoping that people understand that this is a type of victimization. Which, no, does not ‘excuse’ any harm you may have done, but… it should hopefully allow you to put these experiences into context and maybe get to a point where you can forgive yourself.

This is important to me, because shame is one of the major tools of ideological puritans. And the ongoing feelings of shame simply allow their damage to keep hurting you. But it also prevents you from taking any real assessment of the harm you may have caused and from taking any steps (if possible) to rectify or do something else productive to perhaps heal the harm. Shame and guilt are paralyzing emotions and often prevent us from doing anything productive or useful with our feelings.

1) Prestige, charisma, and conviction.

I think one of the things that constantly attract me to ideological puritans is their sense of conviction. It really is, perhaps, one of the ‘best’ things about them. They often have such a clear sense of purpose and morality that it is very appealing to those of us who are still…. trying to feel our way to understanding and wisdom.

In turn, their clear and compelling sense of conviction does then to lend them a certain kind of charisma. Because they appear to truly and deeply care about whatever ideology they are committed to. And this passion is exciting and enticing when you feel like you’ve lacked a voice and/or presence for a long time, within your own life. It feels powerful and wonderful to have someone speak up so vocally for you (or at least people like you).

The charisma and convinction usually mean that many ideological puritans occupy some position of prestige within their respective communities. Their voice and vigour often mean that many people understand them as authorities on whatever doctrine they espouse. This is perhaps easiest to understand in many different kinds of religious communities.

But something that I want to make super clear is that these people don’t always occupy obvious positions of power. Sometimes, but not always. Because they usually care more about prestige than overt institutional power. Thus, ideological puritans aren’t always going to be the ‘pastor’. But rather, they could be an involved church member to whom many people implicitly defer to or who holds a disproportionate amount of influence.

This last point is important because in a lot of leftist types of communities, they’ll often have some explicit denunciation of hierarchies. Or in other types of communities, they’ll attempt to claim that they aren’t a ‘community’ in the way that lends itself to this type of dynamic. Or the group will simply lack any formal organizational structure that would make identifying clear leaders very difficult.

The key though is prestige and influence. The ideological puritan may not hold any formal or explicit position of power, but you almost always immediately know who they are (even if you do not necessarily recognize them as a puritan). Their influence on the group dynamic is always always there. And often? They themselves will announce it in subtle ways…

2) Flattery

When you first step into one of the situations where a puritan has influence over a group of people, they are usually the person who ‘welcomes’ you. Why? Because, ultimately, they and whomever else is in the select, elite group, are the ones who decide who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’. So if you get ‘in’? That means they wanted it.

My experience with puritans generally starts with praise and flattery of some kind. They make you feel special and not like everyone else who is ‘out’. They do this to set up a dynamic where you crave or desire their validation for your sense of worth.

Obviously, this is something that targets vulnerable people because as a perennial outsider, it does feel great to be told that I’m special to be a part of this group (or within the puritan’s sphere of influence). For some of us, this might be the first time that we really get any meaningful external validation…

3) Rules

One thing I’ve noticed about a lot of puritans is that their overall ethics is usually within what is known as ‘deontological’ ethics. Deontological ethical systems are characterized by rules. That within these systems, ethical behaviour is determined by your adherence to these rules.

Now, I don’t want to say that all deontological ethical systems are ‘wrong’. Because they aren’t. The key for a good deontological system of ethics is that the rules must be clear and consistently applied. Look at the Old Testament. If we consider just the ten commandments (or even the other books like Leviticus), these rules are clear and explicitly communicated to the people who are supposed to follow them. The consistently application matters because it means that even the leaders or people in authority positions are subject to them. Essentially that no single person is immune or above the ethical system.

Ideological puritans do not do these things. They often have an unspoken set of rules that do not remain stable over time, in part because the point of these rules is that they (and the elite few) are always the only people who actually know what all the rules are. Which gets us into the consistent application problems. You can’t hold puritans to their own standards and rules if you don’t actually know what those rules are.

The other important aspect is the punishment for breaking rules. Another system of deontological ethics is the law. We have a set of rules we must follow. They are clearly stated and (ideally) consistently applied. They all also have fairly clear and defined consequences.

But this is not the case with puritans. Depending on the situation, you may end up getting punished for a rule you didn’t know existed and are never actually told what it is. Since you are generally ignorant of the rule and how you broke it, you also have no way of knowing if the punishment is actually reasonable. Often, you can only infer what possible punishment you could receive by seeing others arbitrarily punished for breaking an unspoken rule. And often, the punishment will be entirely disproportionate to the ‘infraction’.

For example… Kicking out and entirely ostracizing someone from the group for simply disagreeing with one of the puritans. Usually, this disagreement will be couched in terms of the offender being impure… but it is really about not falling in line.

Because ultimately? That’s what these rules are for. They aren’t actually a system of ethics but rather a structure that enables abuse, manipulation, and control.

4) Lol, boundaries.

While one might think that the puritan’s violation of individual boundaries might be one of the most obvious red flags, it is actually fairly subtle in how it operates. Because it isn’t quite that they violate your boundaries, but that they try to induce you to violate them yourself.

For example, for a lot of reasons to do with my own history with abuse, I’m really conflict avoidant. And I’m not the only one. One major thing that I’ve ended up doing in the cases where I’m under the influence of an ideological puritan, is consistently push myself to either enter their conflicts, or start my own. And it is usually the case that the person may not explicitely ask for help, but there’ll be an implicit understanding that one of your roles is to support them.

And I don’t mean this in the way that friends can have a reasonable expectation that you’ll stand up with and for them, but rather that puritans will often manufacture conflicts in order to force you to participate (and thus harm you in some way). They’ll also be very careful to stand by you whenever a conflict arises (because, unlike you, they aren’t usually conflict avoidant). But it sets up an implicit expectation that you will (and are morally obliged) to reciprocate.

Or they’ll push you into uncomfortable situations as a way for you to demonstrate or prove your ideological purity. One great example for this is the sex-positive queers/leftists. Who insist that being ‘sex positive’ necessarily means making yourself sexually available to anyone in the group, regardless of your past, preferences, or safety. Otherwise? You’ll be named and shamed as ‘sex negative.’

5) Shame

Coming from that last point: shame. Notions of purity are almost always linked to shaming in some important respect. And this (along with guilt) is always one of the primary tools of the ideological puritan.

Much in the way that puritans of old would use shame as a way to discourage people from having sex. Having sex is bad because our bodies are unclean and sinful. Just as above… not having sex means you’re sex negative and that’s something to be ashamed about. Just as not showing up at every conflict means you are cowardly and not truly committed to the Ideology.

And, yes, this is about control. Shame is necessary because it means that you come to doubt your own thoughts and feelings. Instead, you look more and more towards the puritan to guide your actions and thoughts. You end up relying on their validation so that you feel pure and good. You live in fear of being shamed and punished from breaking a rule.

I think my favourite thing that puritans shame you over is, obviously, the ways that you are impure. What is the problem? Well. Say we are talking about militant vegans. I remember an exchange between one vegan and an autistic person, where the autistic person challenged the vegan to make a grocery list within their budget and dietary needs and restrictions. The result? It was impossible. But the vegan still insisted that everyone could and should be vegan. The message? Ideological purity matters more than your life.

This is the message that sex workers get from radfems. The message that the poor get from either environmentalists or anti-capitalists. The message that disabled people get from anarchists or libertarians.

That oft trotted about phrase “there is no ethical consumption in capitalism” is about ideological purity. It isn’t about giving up but about the hard fucking reality that we live a world that structures all human life around the harm and exploitation of another. It is inescapable, other than through death. Which is, ultimately, what ideological puritans want.

But note the very basic hypocrisy of this. Ideological purity is incompatible with life. And, yet, the puritans are around to shame you. This is how you know, ultimately, that they aren’t actually about the cause in the way that they profess to be. If they were? They’d have been martyred long before you come into the scene.

Example: I like to rail against environmental puritans who push for individual choice activism, which largely amounts to telling poor people that we should die. Environmental puritans will go on and on about how human activity is destroying the planet. About how you need to stop eating instant noodles or consuming whatever else. And yet… they are still around to tell you this. If an environmental puritan were really as committed to their ideology as they proclaim, they wouldn’t be alive. Because their very existence is feeding into what they are against. And the only real solution, is that they (and other humans) go away.


I think, above all, I want it to be clear that ideologial purity is about performance and not actually about living up to the values of some ideology or another. As noted, there is always a basic hypocrisy between their words and their actions.

They make all of this stuff about you, as an individual. Rather than recognizing the complexities of the world we live in and the choices (or lack thereof) we must make in order to live.

What Queer Is, or Get Off My Lawn

Sometime ago, I tweeted something to the effect of ‘queer is a slur’ and a bunch of younger people on here (and around) were upset about this. After watching the discussion unfold, it became pretty clear that there was a generational divide with how some people conceive of what ‘queer’ means and is. This post is an attempt to – outside of discussing any individual or specific identities – relate some of the historical and political context of ‘queer.’

First. Queer is a slur. This is a fact. It isn’t up for debate. It is a slur. It remains a slur today, despite the fact that people are increasingly comfortable with its reclamation and broad usage.

Now… I don’t think many of the ppl objecting to this fact where abject to it as such, but rather the implications:

  1. if queer is a slur, then only some people can reclaim it (ie, those who it is used against – as is the general rule for all slurs).
  2. if queer is a slur, then anyone who isn’t queer (see implication 1) isn’t allowed to use it. This means both reflexively and in reference to other people.
  3. if queer is a slur, then it cannot be considered interchangeable with ‘gay’ ‘lesbian’ ‘bisexual’ ‘asexual’ ‘trans’ or any other non-slurs used to name and identify certain communities.

The first implication is where a lot of people disagreed with me. Many youth responded with ‘isn’t queer about accepting everyone and not just about negative experiences’ or some variation thereof. And the short answer is ‘no.’ That’s not what queer is being about. It can never be about that. Because it is a slur.

Its funny bc this objection to Implication 1 actually turns the entire political project that queer originally was on its head. Because… when I first ID’d as queer, this was about denoting a certain political stance and a willingness to work with others who shared a certain experience of oppression (this shared experience being within the group of people targetted by this violent word). It was about signaling a resistance to the homonationalism and trans*nationalism of the mainstream LGBT movements. It was about reclaiming a slur.

Queer was about recognizing and acknowledging a shared experience of oppression in order to cut across the individual, atomic groups as a way to organize collective action. So yes, being queer is about whether or not ppl say this to you in hate. It is about the ‘negative’ parts of your sexual identity. Because it is about oppression and a resistance to that oppresion.

Of course, things change. As they clearly have since, instead, I see youth expecting that there exists a ‘queer community’ (there does not) and that this imaginary community is open and welcoming to any and all who chose to come to it. And perhaps, one day, this is what queer will become. But right now? It isn’t that. Because I’m not even that old and there are many people who conceptualize queer in the same way I do.

I actually think this is where a lot of the… disagreements are coming from. These conflicting (and ultimately incompatible) understandings of what queer is and what it means and what it should mean. Which runs us afoul of Implication 2, since not every can use ‘queer’ to describe themselves or even other people. Because it is a slur. But… when you are coming from this perspective, and trying to discuss with a person who thinks it is an expansive, open term… they think you’re policing identities or gatekeeping. But the discourse on slurs is fairly consistent on this point. Only the ppl who it applies to can decided (for themselves) whether or not to reclaim a slur. This discussion has gone on a long time in various racial communities.

This conflicting (newer) sense of openness is where disagrements over Implication 3 come from. This is also where the sense of identity policing comes from, I think. But ‘queer’ and ‘gay’ ‘lesbian’ ‘trans’ ‘bisexual’ ‘asexual’ etc aren’t interchangeable. You can be gay and not queer. Indeed, I know ppl who are this. The same applies for each respective community.

In the politics of slur reclamation, you can’t decide for anyone else whether or not the slur is reclaimed. This means that make a quick equivocation with any gay man you meet (for example) as them also being queer is harmful and potentially violent. There are many people who have a traumatic history with the word. And some of them choose not to reclaim it. So calling them it anyway, because you think they are interchageable is fucked up. And wrong.

What this also means is that being part of one of the groups of people who could reclaim the slur, doesn’t guarantee automatic admission. It was supposed to be an intentional way to signal your politics re: teh movement as a whole. So, for example, a gay republican could reclaim the slur but I’d never actually consider him queer, because their politics (and praxis) do not reflect it. Heck, I don’t even consider most of the white cis gays in charge of many of the large LGBT orgs as ‘queer’ and never would, because of their commitments to homonationalism. They could chose to reclaim the slur, but they’d never be part of my queer community.1

  1. I do want to note that the political aspects of ‘queer’ runs a lot of people into the area of ideological purity and the way this creates toxic communities. In fact, this exact reason is one of the main reasons why I don’t actually identify as queer anymore. Bc many white queers care more about performing ideological purity than actually doing anything. But this is a different discussion….

My Relationship to Ace as Identity

i want to spend a little time digging into my relationship with ‘asexual’ as both identity and community. someone i like a great deal as been posting a little on this in ways that implicate me, since i’ve been guilty of what they say (ie, of framing the ace vs. queer discussion in ways that denies the reality that asexual ppl have always been a part of the queer community). i know i’ve definitely have said, in the past, that if aces aren’t happy with current community, they should do their own community building…

and as i make these comments, i realize that pretty much no one has any real reason to know that i’d be a part of the community if i chose to identify that way.

how identity is treated these days… always interests me. bc a lot of ppl will assume that if you do not explicitely claim an ID that it doesn’t apply to you. or that you don’t actually have those experiences. for me, its a personal choice to keep the number of ‘identity words’ that i use to describe myself at a bare minimum.

not too long ago, i mentioned i wasn’t IDing as a twoc anymore and someone said something to me in a way that suggested… like this wasn’t actually my experience (still). regardless of whether or not i explicitely or formally ID as a trans woman of colour… this is how i navigate the world, as far as most outside observers are concerned (which is why i still say ‘us’ at times).

i came of age in the time before google made finding information on the internet a fairly easy thing. at this time… asexual wasn’t really conceived of as a distinct (non)sexual identity. gosh. i think it was 2010 or something when i first heard about ‘asexual’ being used as a distinct identity included in teh ~community~?

and for a while, i did embrace the term. before my politics changed.

but why?

because i had spent years actually wondering if i was asexual, or somehow physically deficient for my near total lack of sexual desire.

but also… by that point, i’d reached a place where i could actually enjoy the physical act of sex (a place where i pushed myself bc i thought that having and enjoying sex was necessary to be ‘healthy’). i still enjoy sex. its fun and releases a lot of endorphins (without me having to, idk, exercise for half an hour). i still rarely desire it (but i have complicated feelings and attitudes about it bc of never really encountering ace shit when i was young enough for it to matter to me).

and maybe… my early 20s would’ve been so much better if i’d had an actual ace community instead of trying to shoehorn myself into the gay one.

beyond the whole ‘het ace’ debate, this is the actual potential for asexual people working on serious community building for themselves, rather than trying to join an imaginary ‘queer community’. i mean… look at where these community building efforts have already taken them. sure, aven is a shithole of racism, but a lot of ppl started there and ace as identity and community is at a level of visibility and awareness that was unthinkable five years ago and not even really possible 10, 15 years ago.

i also came of age before people were regularly identifying as ‘queer’ as way to mark political intent and long before people began using it as an identity in and of itself. my views on this are predicated on my knowledge and understanding that there is no queer community. there never has been.

what there has been, is distinct communities like the lesbian community, the gay community, the bisexual community, etc and so on. some ppl within these distinct (sometimes overlapping) communities ID as queer. some do not. and this matters, because not everyone in these distinct communities is queer. mayhap they have the potential to ID that way, if they want, but they aren’t it unless they actually say they are (autonomy and self-determination is a thing, yeah?).

my only issue with some asexuals (and other newer identities/communities) is this idea that being one thing (your sexuality or lack of it) automatically means you are the other thing. or that you’re entitled to it and to the space and labour of everyone involved in it.

i also realize that there is a distinct historical, generational disjunct here. bc many of the ppl i end up arguing with about this are younger than me. and ‘queer’ has shifted from a signifier of political intent to an identity. and maybe i just need to gracefully accept this and stop telling all the kids to get off my lawn…

and i think this post is actually helping me get there. i haven’t identified as ‘queer’ (in either the political or identity sense) for quite a few years now. i don’t really have a… stake in this discussion and i ought to let it go.

but… i do think that people ought to be aware of this history? context? because (as ppl might note) i’m not the only person who is my age and who thinks this way. this tension between the older sense of ‘queer’ and the current sense is ongoing and isn’t going to go anywhere for a while (i’m only 30… so… yeah).

then again… so much has already changed in the 15+ years that i’ve been consciously thinking and trying to understand who i am. maybe in a few years this tension will be resolved and it’ll be great. idk. i’m not even sure how much i care.

either way, i hope this explains to friend-person where i’m coming from. although, this was really supposed to be a post about my actual experiences of aceness. lol. maybe the next one…

A Guide to Decoding Transbr0 MRA Rhetoric


Overall, I think that the trans community is particularly vulnerable to men’s rights activism, particularly as it instantiates itself amongst trans men. A lot this has to do with the erroneous idea that there exists a singular trans community. But as I’ve written in the past:

the fiction that there is an ~umbrella~, that there is a ~trans community~ hurts trans women of colour most

The trans community is a curious community in the sense that it is one of the only I allegedly belong to that truly thinks that transness, on its own, is enough to overcome the differences that exist between men and women. Obviously, I don’t mean physical difference but differences in power and oppression. It treats ‘trans’ like this great leveler rendering trans women and trans men (and enbys) alike in our experiences of oppression.

Of course, reality shows us that this is far from the truth. Trans women (in general) do not experience gender-based oppression like trans men. Indeed, white trans women do not experience gender-based oppression like trans women of colour. Why? Because overlapping oppressions compound each other and cannot coherently be extricated from the whole. None of this is particularly controversial. Indeed, many of the transbr0s I refer to in this piece explicitly acknowledge that trans women of colour have it worse. The problem lies in how they use this information.

Nothing discussed in this essay is particularly new, especially not if you’ve paid any amount of attention to the arguments radfems typically use to dehumanize trans women. Which, on its own, should tell you something about the nature of these statements and why they should be treated with great suspicion.

It isn’t even new for transbr0s to regurgitate radfem ideology as their men’s right activism. Here’s a great example of how this looks in practice:

I’m not using [female socialization] to justify excluding trans women from women’s spaces though, just because that idea has been used against trans women doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold any truth…The idea that trans men were never socialized as female hurts trans men.

I’ll discuss this example later on in greater detail. For now, simply take it as evidence that some of these transbr0s are fully aware that the ideas they espouse have been used to harm trans women. That this isn’t just some clueless men asking ‘what about teh menz?’. That this is a real problem that is growing and becoming mainstream. But becoming mainstream just as the wider trans community fully begins to grapple (at long last) with the violence that trans women of colour have to deal with. This timing isn’t accidental.

No, there isn’t a conspiracy or anything like that… but we are seeing the same growing backlash within trans discourse that feminism has been experiencing for a while. Elements that have always existed moving out of the fringe and into the mainstream. The fact that we have people within teh ~community~ taking up radfem ideology and dressing it up as ‘inclusive’ politics should concern everyone, given that trans men have the potential to damage and harm trans women in ways that radfems only dream of. Why? Because they (and many other people) think they are fully entitled to the spaces, energy, lives, labour, of trans women. Trans women are pressured to work with and accept trans men in ways that has never been true of radfems.

The Looming Danger of Transbr0 MRAs

in the spirit of my ‘new’ approach to blogging, i’m going to assume this is in good faith and actually answer. let’s deal with each screen cap (i’m going to transcribe the text for accessibility reasons).

One thing to keep in mind, as you read through this, is that a lot of these tweets are responding to trans women or nonbinary dmab ppl.

Screencap 1

  1. Trans masculinity is markedly different from cis masculinity.
  2. We are essentially men who have not been indoctrinated into the patriarchy since birth, and we behave different around each other.
  3. And yet, around cis men, for survival, we must perform to patriarchal standards to be accepted.
  4. So basically if you wanna see what men would be like without being born into the patriarchy, sit and talk with a group of trans men.

For me, this is the most obviously absurd set of tweets. I mean… really? Okay. So the first tweet basically says ‘not all men.’ That’s really what the rhetorical force of this is. Trans men are men, but they aren’t like cis men, so not all men. Trans men are a magically distinct and special class of men.

How are they special? Well they haven’t been ~indoctrinated into the patriarchy since birth~. This br0 doesn’t know much of anything about gender theory, feminist theory, sociology, psychology, etc and so one. This relies on the ‘female socialization’ premise that a post that’s coming out later today refutes. There is no such thing as female (or male) socialization. Thus, this claim is false.

Indeed, he contradicts himself with the content of the third tweet. Around cis men (and cis men only apparently) trans men must conform to patriarchal standards to survive. But… how would they know how to do this if there weren’t indoctrinated with the patriarchy since birth?

Let me try to clarify this with an analogy. You know how culture shock is a real thing? This is what happens when people have sudden, massive changes to their social environment. Like when I moved to China. It took me a while to adjust but I never ‘settled’ or ‘fit in’ in any meaningful way. Why? Because I hadn’t been socialized as a mainland Chinese person. I didn’t know the customs, habits, context, etc of being in China. And even after a year… my cultural copentency was nowhere near that of a native born Chinese person.

Culture shock can happen with changes in class status or even just social groups (a lot of new college students experience culture shock because university is very different from high school). How quickly you get over the culture shock and adapt to your new circumstance depends on a few factors, one of which is how radical the change actually was. Highschool to college? A lot of neurotypical, white, otherwise privileged students will usually take a semester or two to adjust. Because the change isn’t that radical. Moving between countries and languages? Can take a really long time (if ever). I mean… it isn’t for nothing that Asians are labelled ‘eternal foreigners’ in white settler countries.

People write science fiction novels trying to explore societies where the ~aliens~ weren’t indoctrinated with the white version of patriarchy. Ursula K. LeGuin’s the left hand of darkness comes to mind. So what this person is suggesting is that trans men basically grow up on a different planet, do interstellar travel to settle in a ‘alien’ world and culture, and yet manage to ‘perform’ patriarchal standards such that cis men don’t threaten them? Trans men are truly magical!

The last tweet… assumes that anyone who is criticizing the way that transbr0s (like this person) embody toxic masculinity hasn’t spent a sufficient amount of time around trans men…

Except that I have. I have been in groups with mostly trans men. I have seen how the interact with each other in ‘safe’ environments (ie, where they don’t have to be stealth).

And from this experience what can i say? welp…. that trans men are men.

Screencap 2

If your trans advocacy attacks other trans people, you are transphobic. Simple as.

So… This is basically saying that I, a transpinay, must support and help trans men, otherwise I’m transphobic? I, a transpinay, owe my labour and dedication to men? That if I level any amount of criticism (ie, ‘attack’) of trans men, then I’m transphobic?

I’ll put this very clearly: i do not owe men (trans or cis) any amount of attention, time, labour, energy, thought, sympathy, empathy, or any other thing.

  1. do. not. owe. men. anything.

and saying that i do, that i’m oppressive for not wanting to deal with transbr0s sexist bullshit? lololol. ok.

Screencap 3

This delusion people have that trans men are ALL perfectly cis passing IMMEDIATELY upon IDing as male needs to die out immediately.

In one part, this is a straw man. i don’t think i’ve ever heard anyone say this.

but what is this actually about? this is about the claim that many trans women have that trans men are men and, thus, have male privilege. what this tweet is really saying is ‘not all men’.

Screencap 4

  1. Like um why are you writing trans men off because of a couple bad experiences? Stop making us responsible for representing ALL of trandom.
  2. If I wrote off all cis people because of a few bad experiences I’d not speak to 75% of you.
  3. And I wouldn’t speak to trans women because I have literally been abused by more trans women than cis people.

Okay… So the first tweet is, again, ‘not all men.’ This is frequently heard in many MRA circles when women are talking about sexual assault. So…

The last tweet… is interesting to me. Because what he’s doing is framing trans women as the aggressors (abusers) for resisting his misogyny. Remember the dynamic here: men oppress women.

Men Oppress Women

This isn’t a two way street. this set of tweets is like someone telling me that i shouldn’t write off all white ppl just bc only some of them colonized my ppl for over 300 years. and that if my (and my ppl’s) resistance to white ppl is… abusive. lol. ok.

Screencap 5

I think I was just mentioning something about trans men’s lived experience as women being irrelevant the second they ID as male…

again, this is the socialization issue. do you know i literally saw a transbr0 saying that they’d trust a man’s experience of womanhood more than a woman’s? sure. in the original comment it said ‘trans man’ and ‘trans woman’ but…

one of the easiest ways to evaluate just how misogynist these br0s are being is to remove the ‘trans’ from it.

d00d literally said: men have more authority on women’s experiences than women.

i hope it is pretty self-evident why this is fucked up.

Screencap 6

I love love love non trans men speaking out in any capacity for trans men. Makes me feel like other gropus actually do care about us.

For other ppl who have trouble with tone, the latter sentence is meant sarcastically. in general, he’s referring to the issues we are discussing here. that trans women are silencing trans men bc we say they have male privilege.

remove the ‘trans’ from that last sentence and…

‘women are silencing men bc we say they have male privilege’

interesting how clearly misogynist this is.

Screencap 7

Don’t RT any of this otherwise some trans woman will come into my mentions and tell me I’m bad for being afraid and I can’t handle that.

Lol. This obviously relies on the trope that trans women are really just aggressive men in dresses. Seriously.

And the don’t RT? is basically saying “i’m afraid to be held accountable for my words and sexism”.

And the last? I’m afraid? who is actually the victim here? the women harmed by his misogyny or the poor man they are resisting?


Some Thoughts on M/m Tropes: Gay Cops and Barebacking

People who follow me on twitter will be unsurprised to know that I listen to a lot of m/m romance audiobooks. Being depressed has meant that I basically spent 60% of my waking hours lying in bed and essentially doing nothing but listening to books.

(I don’t read as much these days because it has been over two years since I’ve had much capacity to sit and focus on reading. When I can get the focus/concentration for sustained, deep reading, I try to read articles or something nowadays.)

I occassionally, on twitter, will complain about certain tropes and elements of these m/m books, many of which are written by straight women. Or just women. The audience for these books, as with m/m slash fanfic, is usually considered to be other women. By and large, m/m is a genre for and by women. Except that it has gay men as the main characters.

One of the things I’ve mentioned is that the reason why this is the genre I’m into at the moment is because while I like romance genre fic in general, these days my feelings about sexism and misogyny make reading 99.9% of het romance unbearable. Given that many of the het romance plots use boundary violation as a plot device, I just can’t. I can usually get about half an hour into a het romance (basically around the time that the interactions between the two romantic protags begin) before I have to ragequit or quit out of disgust.

And it is possible that this is one of the things that draws het women to m/m romance too, since it allows for the exploration of romantic themes amongst characters that don’t have a basic power imbalance that colours every aspect of their interaction. It also allows them to escape many of the het romance tropes.

Unfortunately, all this means is that m/m romance has its own set of tropes that usually end up being homophobic and heteronormative in ways that are damaging to gay men. The thing about presumed audiences is that the only ppl reading m/m isn’t just het women. I remember as a young bakla, before the rise of mainstream m/m, that I lived for the very few fun/fluffy gay books I was able to find. Yes, I read gay literature and this was all well and good, but I do like my escapist fiction. I can well imagine that there are many gay youth out there reading these books bc they offer a welcome respite from their daily lives and from (perhaps) literature that is less fun/escapist.

So. What are the tropes that have me ranting on twitter? Here are a few:

1) Gay cops, gay cowboys, and gay veterans.

Between these three professions, I think almost half (if not more) of m/m books have at least one gay character in one of these professions. The least irritating of these is the gay cowboys. Whatever.

Perhaps the most irritating is all the gay cops. Many of whom are closeted when the book begins.

The thing about cops is that they tend to be one of the most violent and outright oppressive groups of ppl towards gay people. Many gay people don’t report crimes against them because cops either don’t care or further traumatize them. This is a real problem in many, many places.

Does this mean that there are no gay cops? Well, of course not.

The problem I have is in the romanticization of them. Because this isn’t a neutral occupation. There are no ‘good gay cops’ because there are no good cops. It is a fundamentally violent and oppressive institution. Yet in these books cops are often presented as moral, masculine, and desirable.

Like. One book I tried (but failed to finish) was about this gay cop who saves a homeless gay man. Which, of course, is ridiculous since cops tend to be violent towards homeless people in general and gay people in general, so why wouldn’t this (gay) cop likewise be violent?

I’m troubled by narratives like this because some stats show that up to (or more depending) 50% of homeless youth are lgbt. But the thing is, is that homeless lgbt youth are generally poorly (if at all) served by many existing social services. And, by and large, it really isn’t cops who are rescuing these youth (or anyone else, tbh).

The military thing… I just. The nationalistic narratives of this are just troubling from an anti-oppressive standpoint. I literally listened to one book where the main character was former military, who then was a mercenary, and the book kept saying over and over again how he wasn’t a murderer… and I’m like, just because your murdering is sanctioned by the state (and not all of it was), doesn’t make it suddenly ‘ok’. By and large, these books are unlistenable for me. Worse than the cops because they always try to make me feel sympathy for white cis d00ds who were in poc countries killing poc. And I just can’t.

(There’s also a bunch to be said here about toxic masculinity and why these specific occupations are considered to be so fucking ‘masculine’ and desirable by m/m authors.)

2) Heteronormative sex tropes

The main thing here is the idea that all gay men have penetrative anal sex and that this specific act alone is the most intimate that gay sex can be. Or, as is often the case, that barebacking penetrative anal sex is the most intimate that gay sex can be. That this is the height and goal of gay intimacy.

The thing is, is that not all gay men do anal. Many, many do not. And they don’t do it for a variety of reasons. The point being, that the gay men who don’t do anal aren’t failing to being deeply and meaningfully intimate with their partners (if this is what they want). Of course, there are also heaps of gay men who do anal and it means all of nothing to them. They do it with anyone they can.

I find the barebacking aspect of pernicious because it sets up this belief that safer sex is less intimate sex and that is…. yeah. Again, this is a heteronormative conception of intimacy because it pushes for obligatory monogamy. This is also, perhaps, one of the most dangerous tropes in the ways that it can possibly influence gay youth into engaging in less than safe sex because they internalize this.

Also? This marginalizes and demonizes those people with STIs (especially those with HIV). People in mixed status relationships (ie. all partners not either negative or positive) who use condoms and other barriers aren’t in relationships that necessarily have less intimacy than those who have sex without barriers. And this is to say nothing of the disgusting way that many of these m/m authors use descriptions like ‘clean’ when it comes to their characters disclosing their HIV status.

Next comes over-investing ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ with heteronormative emotional content. Some of this, yes, does happen within the community, but it generally isn’t quite as deep as some of these authors take it. I read one book where one of the main protags is so deeply conflicted about ‘topping’ and ‘bottoming’ that it is one of the central conflicts of the story. He has no issue suddenly being gay, but rather is emotionally wrought over the fact that he is macho and after bottoming in his first sexual encounter it creates this giant fucking existential crisis for him. Or another book that I just finished where two of the characters (who are now best friends) dated once but stopped bc they are both tops and after one tried bottoming, he hated it so much that it turned off all romantic feelings.

I read shit like this with my face like O.o, because it is just so fucking ridiculous. Again, it isn’t that ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ don’t have some of these connotations within the community, but with the way that this ties into the ‘anal sex is the most intimate sex’ trope, is that this becomes important to a degree that is ridiculous. A relationship falling apart for the sole reason that both men are tops? Absurd. But only possible within a belief that anal sex is something all gay men do and is the most meaningful, intimate sexual act.

Okay. I’m only listing these two for now because I’m done writing and I want to take a shower.

I will say this about why I’m writing this, because I have seen some of the defenses women who write and read within this genre have used against criticism like this, this stuff exists within a larger culture.

Sure. Maybe the heteronormative barebacking anal sex thing wouldn’t be a big deal in isolation and within these books. Except that we are currently at a time where many gay porn studios are showing more and more bareback sex (it is becoming the norm). We are currently at a time where bug chasing has actually become a thing. We are at a time were many new cases of HIV are amongst gay youth because there is a whole generation of people who weren’t impacted by the AIDS crisis (and never learn the history). We are at a time when the HIV epidemic has never actually stopped for trans women of colour.

Within this larger cultural context, pushing this barebacking sex as teh most intimate sex is really fucking dangerous and harmful. Because intimacy isn’t about which sex acts you and your partner(s) engage in. Some acts don’t have more emotional content than others. It is about the people and their feelings, not about the specific activities.

On the Ethics of Disclosure

I find myself unable to resist writing a response to this blog post about whether or not trans ppl have a ethical duty to disclose our trans status to potential sexual partners. There are a few problems with the way that the question is posed in the post.

First, the difference between sex and gender:

Cutting back to our question about disclosure, we see that most people seeking a partner would consider the fact that a potential partner is of the “wrong” sex for the seeker to be a “deal-breaker.” For a straight man, knowing that the potential partner is a man would preclude a relationship, and the converse would be true for a gay man learning that his potential partner is female. Bisexual people may feel differently (or may not, depending on the individual). Other than knowing that one’s partner has an STI, there are probably few other facts (besides the sex of one’s partner) that nearly everyone has a strong desire to have before embarking on a sexual relationship. Perhaps that should count toward the “yes” side of the balance.

Within the discussion, this is perhaps one of the strongest arguments on the ‘yes’ side of the question (ie, that trans ppl do have an ethical obligation). Of course, the immediate problem with this is that people aren’t attracted to each other’s ‘sex’ but rather our genders. This might seem like splitting hairs to some people, but it is an important distinction.

Insofar as you believe that sex represents the ‘biological’ fact of a person and gender their felt identity, attraction and desire don’t depend on the ‘biological’ fact of a person. By and large, I’d wager that almost all of us do not know (and will never know) the ‘sex’ of anyone we’ve ever had sex with. Determining sex depends on quite a few biological factors, some of which almost no one actually knows about themselves (like my chromosomes… I have had no genetic testing, I do not know with any certainty whether I’m XY, XX, or any other possible combination). Sex at birth is usually determined on a cursory glance of genitals. So, at least as far as ‘sex’ is concerned, if that material reality has changed, then so too has the sex1. If your ‘sex’ has changed, do you have an obligation to disclose this change?

And, let’s be honest, this is the real question (or at least it should be). The problem with the discussion as it goes down in the post is that it posits trans people’s identities and genders as inherently deceptive. This is the word actually used. With the invocation of ‘rape by deception’, it makes it clear that she (and presumably her colleagues) consider that being trans ultimately represents a deception (or possible deception) that could be considered to obviate the consent of the partner.

I agree that gender is an important, deal-breaking aspect of a person for many people. However, I’m having a hard time with this given that if a person who has met all personal, medical, psychological, and legal requirements to change their sex (and gender), how can it be considered deceptive to not disclose what a some doctor called your genitals based on a quick glance when you were born?2

I also find it interesting that this question doesn’t actually go in the other direction. Noting how this fundamentally posits trans identities as deceptive, the post doesn’t actually consider the actual situations that might be considered deceptive.

As in the case of a closeted trans woman. She gets married, fathers children, and then later decides to transition. Is this not a better case for analyzing the potential need to disclose a person’s trans identity? Given that many trans ppl feel that living and presenting as our birth gender is the real deception, I find it interesting and curious that this situation never ever occurs to the cis ppl who wish to discuss the ethics of disclosure. Similarly, why is the discussion never about cis gays and cis lesbians who engage in heterosexual sex before (or even after) coming out?

Instead, the discussion is always focused on burdening trans ppl living as their felt gender (and potentially having done any number of things to live authentically up to and including full medical transition), with an ethical obligation to tell our potential sexual partners what our ‘real’ sex or gender is.

Earlier in the article, Colb mentions the situation where an otherwise white looking (I’m guessing based on context) person is a quarter Black but doesn’t disclose this to potentially racist partners who might care a great deal about their partner’s race. One thing I find interesting about this analogy and how the discussion happens, is again where the burden of disclosure rests.

Why isn’t the real question over whether or not bigots have an ethical obligation to disclose their bigotry? If I know, in advance, that a potential partner hates Asians, then I can make the decision not to have sex with them or otherwise associate. Indeed, this was one of the few benefits of online dating for me, since many white gays are more than happy to disclose their racist preferences in their profiles. Likewise, it would be super useful (if I were still dating) to know which men hate girls like us so that I can be sure to avoid them.

The problem, here, of course is cisnormativity, where everyone is considered to be cis unless specified otherwise. This is, in fact, an actual aspect of trans ppl’s oppression, since cisnormativity feeds into cissexism, where cis genders are considered more real and authentic than trans genders. Which takes us into the above discussion where trans ppl are framed as being always inherently deceptive about our gender (or sex).

  1. This isn’t my actual view of the matter, but given that in many jurisdictions where you can amend your birth certificate, this change is a pre-requisite and will satisfy the legal (and medical) requirements necessary for changing your sex.

  2. Just so that it is clear, I don’t think this is the only context where non-disclosure is acceptable. I don’t think that any trans person has a moral obligation to disclose our trans status in any context.

My Small, Vocal Message to White Trans Women ‘leaders': Fuck You

After reading a second response to Burkett’s now infamous NYT article by a white trans woman in a leadership position who decides that taking a potshot at “a small but vocal portion of the transgender community online” (in context she’s referring to the trans ppl who think that the “Vagina Monologues” is outdated, cissexist garbage — which it is). The first response by a different white trans woman leader is more explicitly dismissive: “these are the actions of some college students, and they hardly represent the trans community”. Her contempt for trans youth is palpable.

Both of these things concern me more than Burkett’s NYT piece. That article has literally nothing new or interesting in it. Same recycled transmisogynist shit that radfems have been saying for forty years.

I’m interested in these responses because these two white trans women are leaders of organizations that claim to be fighting for people like me. While I can’t be dismissed as a ‘darn college kid’ by Beyer bc I’m too old and graduated years ago, I probably do count as part of Tannehill’s ‘small but vocal’ online community of trans ppl who are creating a negative stereotype of the trans community.

In many ways, both of these women (especially as expressed via their responses to Burkett’s piece) exemplify what I’ve been calling trans*nationalism. These responses demonstrate a clear position of wanting to assimilate to the dominant culture by responding to hate with a conciliatory nature. Moreover, they attempt to shape trans discourse into something that is politically palatable to current structures of power.

And they do all of this while trying to marginalize, diminish, and dismiss the voices and dissent of trans people they apparently find too disreputable to fit into their trans*nationalist agenda.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects to both of their arguments is an insistence that there is some biological basis for gender. In both cases their assertions merely reveal a deep ignorance and misunderstanding about what social constructions are and what it means for gender to be one. Their position that gender does have some biological basis pretty much runs counter to most trans/gender theory.

Nonetheless, what these arguments for a biological basis for gender serve to do is support the cis-normative edict that trans/gender must be medicalized and pathologized in order for it to be coherent and subject to ‘human rights’. And, in turn, this belief that trans/gender is a medicalized and pathologized reality is likewise white supremacist so I’m not entirely surprised to see to older, white trans women advocating for this position.

In any case, here are ‘our’ trans leaders. This is what they have to say in response to a hateful article written in a major news media outlet. And in case they ever end up reading this blog post, please know that I’m quite sincere regarding the title. My small, vocal message for these two women (and white trans women in similar leadership positions) is “fuck you”.

You are just as much my oppressor as the cis woman you’re replying to. The only difference is that you think you can speak for me (or alternatively dismiss my voice because I don’t agree with you). You are sadly mistaken if you think that pushing your trans*nationalist agenda will accomplish anything truly meaningful. You’re just a different part of the problem, not the solution.

Universal (White) Philosophy

I’ve been discussing philosophy these past few days on tumblr. One conversation about what counts as philosophy and one post about how white philosophy is considered universal by default. In a very simplistic way, all I’m really communicating is that because white men are the default human, their philosophy is assumed to always be universal and valuable. This is why the question is, “why we can’t just take white philosophers for hypocrites and still value some aspect of their work”, and never actually anyone putting forth any real argument as to what value white men’s philosophy should have for anyone who isn’t a white man.

I pointed out, on Twitter, one of my early experiences in an intro to epistemology class. As an intro class, it was a survey class that had a chapter on the various approaches to epistemology in white philosophy. To save time the professor decided to cut out the section on feminist philosophy and, thus, in one fell swoop ensured that the only ‘philosophy’ we studied was that of white men. Beyond the issue of the fact that white women were segregated into one easily excised chapter, this material was considered an appropriate broad, introduction to epistemology.

And, yeah, so the fact that we can’t even get white women’s contributions to philosophy taught as a regular part of introductions to philosophy, what hope is there for non-white philosophical traditions? None at all. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a single philosophy department in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe that teaches any tradition of philosophy not centered on white men. You know how I know? I once tried to do phd in Philosophy and the only school that accepted me was a school in Asia (bc my focus was on Chinese Philosophy). In white run schools, I usually had to apply at ‘East Asian Studies’ or ‘Religious Studies’1.

But, as noted in the posts I linked above, I mainly situated my discussion of the limits of white philosophy in ethics. In this post, I actually want to talk about logic, which was my actual specialization. Indeed, I have a compiled book on my writings about how white logic isn’t universal.

Logic is interesting because of the ways that many misconceptions people outside of the specialization have about this branch of philosophy. One of the biggest misconceptions there is some kind of universal logic that can be appealed to. There isn’t. There are many kinds of logics.

However, I know that a lot of people might look at this discussion about white philosophy and think that maybe some value might still be extracted from white philosophy… and one of these areas, for a lot of people is logic. I mean, it is reasonable easy to demonstrate that we maybe we shouldn’t follow the ethics of a slave-master, but a lot less intuitive to claim that John Stuart Mill’s, A System of Logic is just as historically bounded and limited as his Utilitarianism.

(One thing to note is that I am purposely picking on enlightenment thinkers, since their philosophy is generally explicitly (but sometimes implicitly) white supremacist. Their philosophy is the ideology of colonialism and this matters… I generally might be more open to exploring the value of white medieval philosophers or the classical white ones. Basically, what I’m saying is that I can see more value in Aristotle than I do Kant. The historical contexts for how their philosophy matter (indeed, one could say that characterizing Aristotle as a ‘white’ philosopher is anachronistic bc the white race hadn’t been invented yet). With the creation of race as science and organizing socio-political-legal principle, the whiteness of enlightenment philosophers is always relevant. It is with their philosophy that the current white supremacist modern world was built.)

But it’s funny, the universalism of white logic is always already assumed. Even when their own writing makes it clear that it cannot be universal. Look at the title for the first chapter of A System of Logic, “Of The Necessity Of Commencing With An Analysis Of Language”. And so, Mill goes on to analyse language. Of course, he’s English so the language he is analysing is…. English. If Mill can state outright that any project of logic must necessarily begin with analysing language… and that language is English, then clearly this isn’t universal.

And this actually holds true for much of logic. So many logical ideas and philosophical considerations depend on a relationship to natural language. And we know for a fact that words, grammar, and syntax are not universally the same in all natural languages. So if look at a description of Mill’s logic (based on language analysis), we get something like this:

Where the import of a proposition is given by connotation, truth or falsity is determined by denotation. An affirmative proposition is true just in case that the thing or things denoted by the subject term are in the class of things denoted by the predicate term; otherwise it is false. Similarly, a negative proposition is true just in case that no thing denoted by the subject term is a member of the class of things denoted by the predicate term. Things and attributes are always such that any proposition is either true or false and not both. This states the Principles of Non-contradiction and of Excluded Middle. No thing or attribute is such that it can be said to be both wholly itself but also necessarily connected to something other than itself: each thing or attribute is logically and ontologically independent of every other thing or attribute.

So, based on Mill’s analysis of English, he comes to the principles of non-contradiction and the excluded middle. These to ‘principles’ are often called ‘laws of logic’.

And so, why can’t we take this part of Mill’s philosophy as valuable beyond his status as white supremacist? Well… if you’re a Black person reading this book how do you feel when you bump into this syllogism?

(tw: antiBlackness. i’m using a screencap here because the text for this is hard to read in html form)


Or later on he writes:

As for example: negroes have never been as civilized as whites sometimes are, therefore it is impossible they should be so.

But objects to this claim as a logical fallacy, not on the grounds that the claim that Black people aren’t as civilized as white is itself false. You can also read a discussion about Mill’s racism here. The discussion is interesting because a lot of people make the claim that while he is racist because of his historical times, he is somewhat less racist because of reasons. All this despite his clear advocating for imperialism and colonialism.

But back to the laws of logic… If their derivation here depends on an analysis of English, in what sense can they be considered universal? Well… despite what a lot of people think, these ‘laws’ aren’t even regularly followed in white logic itself. There are many formal systems of logic (and by ‘formal’ I mean the mathematical ones) that break one of these laws. For these systems, of course, their breaking of a law is usually motivated by some feature in natural language itself.

In any case, if Mill himself can note that an analysis of language is the proper starting place for logic, why is it suddenly controversial to suggest that white logic (as espoused by white men using a specific language) isn’t universal? That logics motivated and created using different natural languages might have different rules and features?

But… at the end of it, these considerations aside, it becomes curious to wonder what value we can take from Mill’s book on logic when he cannot even articulate something like this without expressing anti-Blackness (and white supremacy). Anti-Blackness is so deeply embedded into his worldview that he can’t talk about a branch of philosophy that (at least on its surface) has nothing to do with race (and/or socio-political relationships implied by race) without it creeping in.

Because that’s the thing, after it all, all of this is connected and you cannot abstract — even in their own considerations, the historical, material context in which these philosophies were articulated. If Mills (and others) cannot even talk about logic without embedding an anti-Black and white supremacist worldview in it, I’m not sure why we should try to understand his logic as being distinct from this very same anti-Blackness and white supremacy.

  1. The general interpretation of iaopoc philosophy as ‘religious’ is fucking rich considering how many white philosophers are christian and whose ethics are deeply influenced by that worldview.

#BlackAsianSolidarity, ‘women of Color’ and ‘people of Color Blindness’

I’m not necessarily saying anything new in this post. People generally familiar with my writing and opinions about stuff will know that none of this is new (or necessarily original).

I don’t even know where the hashtag being discussed comes from. Some panel somewhere? Idk. In any case, as always, I have a lot of feelings and opinions when it comes to ‘Black-Asian Solidarity’. Most of them… generally negative.

I can never forget how ‘women of colour’ is a thing given by Black women to the rest of us. This link will take you to a specific timestamp of the video of Loretta Ross talking about how ‘women of color’ (and, thus, ‘people of color’) came from:

Well, a funny thing happened in Houston when they took the Black Women’s Agenda to Houston then all the rest of the minority women of color wanted to be included in the Black Women’s Agenda.

I hope it is apparent why this poses such a problem, when we consider the possibility of Black-Asian solidarity (or any kind of interracial solidarity between any group and Black people). I’ll take out the important part of the quote:

the rest of the minority women of color wanted to be included in the Black Women’s Agenda

The level of entitlement to Black people’s labour and bodies required to think that we (non-Black ‘women of colour’) ought to be included in the Black Women’s Agenda is pretty fucking amazing.

I can’t help but make connections between this and Jared Sexton’s “People-of-color-blindness: Notes on the Afterlife of Slavery”:

This point allows us to understand better the intimate relationship between the censure of black inquiry and the recurrent analogizing to black suffering mentioned above: they bear a common refusal to admit to significant differences of structural position born of discrepant histories between blacks and their political allies, actual or potential. We might, finally, name this refusal people-of-color-blindness, a form of colorblindness inherent to the concept of “people of color” to the precise extent that it misunderstands the specificity of antiblackness and presumes or insists upon the monolithic character of victimization under white supremacy thinking (the afterlife of) slavery as a form of exploitation or colonization or a species of racial oppression among others.

We can see that this specific poc-blindness is a pre-requisite for non-Black movements towards ‘solidarity’ (or coalition building) with Black people. Like, this specific attitude/disposition towards the flattening (and thus erasure) of the specificity of anti-Blackness is necessary for the non-Black women of color in 1977 to think that they ought to be included in the Black Women’s Agenda.

It’s over forty years later and nothing has changed.

(non-Black) ‘Asian’ solidarity isn’t possible with Black people so long as our “refusal to admit to significant differences of structural position born of discrepant histories between blacks and their political allies, actual or potential” remains constant. It also will not be possible so long as we keep approach Black people with this idea that we ought to be included in their agendas (whatever the agenda might be). In essence, solidarity isn’t possible so long as non-Black Asians continue to believe that Black people and their work are property that we are entitled to.