The term “Cancel Culture” is a part of a larger system of domination and, frankly, is used itself to cancel conversation to avoid uncomfortable conversations and accountability. “It was just a joke” is part of that, too. The image below is framed in terms of men, but it’s part of the greater system of organized oppression.
I return again to what I am now calling the Ideal Alpha: The ideal alpha is white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied, Christian, of British descent, English-speaking, affluent, neurotypical, and of reasonable STEM intelligence (but not TOO smart!).
The system is designed to protect people higher up on any particular parameter, and silencing people lower on any particular parameter. So when people like JKR or DC are diminishing trans people (and trans women specifically), they’re operating on their proximity to the Ideal Alpha on the cisgender parameter, and even using their marginalization on other parameters (woman and Black, respectively) to defend that marginalization.
“I won’t talk about it at all”, even without the passive-aggressive undertones in the image, is not a productive strategy. It’s why cis people use a trans person’s name over and over instead of using pronouns. It’s why white people won’t talk about race: Many claim they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, but I’ve been told repeatedly by Black folks that they would rather we make mistakes and remediate those mistakes than we avoid conversations entirely.
It’s complicated, because there really are people in the dominant groups who want to reflect, who want to be inclusive, but who feel stuck in a system designed for their benefit and who worry about the risk of apostasy. But there are also people who claim that “ally” role but who are very comfortable with the power they have and are disinterested in risking it, and who therefore use that “ally” claim to divert from personal responsibility.
Image text: _lifeofjada tweets “Men are so dramatic. You can tell a man “i don’t like when you joke about that” and they’ll respond with “ok, fine. I’ll just never speak again.” p0tbarbie responds “This is a manipulation tactic that men use to make it such a pain in the ass to set a boundary with them that you don’t attempt it again.”
On a private Discord:
I tend to think in terms of the protection of the Alpha Ideal. The Alpha Ideal is white, male, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, neurotypical, Christian, and affluent. The closer someone is to the Alpha Ideal, the more the system is designed to protect their interests, usually at the costs of anyone who is farther away from it. Whiteness and maleness in particular are reinforced, and it’s difficult to tell which is “more” protected, although I would argue that maleness has a historically longer place on the top of that structure. Queerness, in particular transness, is often interpreted in the frame of its threat against masculinity rather than in its own right: A gay cis man or trans woman/nonbinary AMAB represent apostasy to the Cult of Masculinity, while a cis lesbian or trans man/nonbinary AFAB represent an attempted invasion of the Cult and usurpation of its power.
It’s interesting that a lot of TERF dialogue is about the perceived invasion of “women’s” (i.e., cis women’s) spaces by people they perceive to be “men”, while there seems to be much less overt dialogue about trans men “invading” men’s spaces. It’s facile to interpret that as men (actual men, not trans women) invading women’s spaces is a more immediate physical threat than vice versa, which it is, but I think we’re missing a cultural dialogue about how trans men in “men’s” (i.e., cis men’s) spaces represents a huge cultural threat to the Alpha Ideal, a thread that is there in the shadows and the mutterings (“You will not replace us! You will not replace us!”) but which to my perception is rarely said aloud.