It’s getting harder and harder to be politically correct, no matter how assiduously one may try. Consider the tale of the poor feminist philosopher who has gotten herself sideways with the prickly Jacobins of her profession.
Rebecca Tuvel is an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis. When she submitted an article to an academic journal of “feminist philosophy,” Hypatia, she thought she was being as progressive as progressive can be. The article “In Defense of Transracialism” was written, she says, “from a place of support for those with non-normative identities,” including not just those who identify with a gender other than the one they were born with (think Caitlyn Jenner), but also those who identify as a race not originally their own (think Rachel Dolezal). She hoped to show that “arguments that support transgenderism support transracialism.”
When her article appeared in the esteemed journal, the backlash against Tuvel was as swift as it was severe. Junior professors specializing in race and gender rushed to denounce her, many through those most intellectually rigorous and peer-reviewed of venues, social media. Nora Berenstain—assistant professor and no doubt important thinker at the prestigious University of Tennessee—was typical, taking to Facebook to accuse Tuvel of “discursive transmisogynistic violence.”
Oh, no! Not discursive transmisogynistic violence! Someone get the snowflakes to a safe space!
Tuvel seems to have committed a whole slew of offenses we might call “trans-gressions”—the inevitable faults, grievous faults, that even true believers commit in efforts to talk about trans persons. For example, as activists will be quick to let you know (and to denounce you for not having already known), “being transgender” is respectful lingo but the word “transgenderism” is a no-no. To which The Scrapbook can only say, Whatever—just be sure to give us advance warning when the term “being transgender” will itself be judged hate speech so that we have time to learn whatever new terminology has been approved by whoever seems to care (and, oh my goodness, do they care) about such things.
Met with a teapot-tempest over Tuvel’s article, the courageous editors of Hypatia promptly capitulated, not only retracting the piece but confessing their error in having published it in the first place: “We . . . extend our profound apology to our friends and colleagues in feminist philosophy, especially transfeminists, queer feminists, and feminists of color, for the harms that the publication of the article on transracialism has caused.” It gets more craven from there.
If The Scrapbook ever ends up in a foxhole, we hope it won’t be with editors of a journal of feminist philosophy.
This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard