Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What Some Treatments of Chelsea Manning Teach Us About Views On Women

On CNN Newsroom:

CNN host Fredricka Whitfield continued to incorrectly refer to Chelsea Manning as a male as one of her guests suggested that providing Manning with hormone therapy while in prison would be "beyond insanity."
During the August 24 edition of CNN Newsroom, Whitfield invited civil rights attorney Avery Friedman and criminal defense attorney Richard Herman to discuss the possibility of providing Manning - previously known as Bradley Manning - with medical treatment for her gender dysphoria while she serves her sentence in an all-male military prison for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Herman, who is a regular CNN legal commentator, railed against the possibility of providing Manning with adequate medical care, calling the idea "beyond insanity" and suggesting that Manning could get "good practice" presenting as a female in prison: 
HERMAN: It's absurd. Sometimes we have to step back and say, "you know, some of these cases we cover, this is beyond insanity." There's no way that taxpayers are going to pay a hundred thousand dollars for a gender transformation for this guy while he's in prison. If he wants to be Chelsea, he can practice all he wants at Fort Leavenworth, because those guys are there for a long time. So he can get good practice and when he gets out, he can have the operation or whatever, and he can pay for it.

Bolds are mine.  I wonder what on earth Herman might have meant by that comment.

No, I don't.  The implication is that the role of women is to get raped and that a male prison is a good place to practice for that role, given the high rates of prison rape.

Meanwhile, in Finland, the chief editor of a newspaper called  Kaleva cut a joke on the topic of transgender Manning:

Tietovuotaja Bradley Manning haluaa muuttua naiseksi. Se ei ole ihme. Laverteluhan on aina ollut ämmämäistä".

My translation:

The information leaker Bradley Manning wants to turn into a woman.  That's no wonder.  Blabbing/tale-telling has always been what chicks/hags do.

When questioned about it, editor Mantila defended his joke as summarizing everything important really well.  He also didn't get what the fuss was about and pointed out that his newspaper has been among the most liberal when it comes to sexual minorities.  Nobody should be wrapped in cotton wool, he also stated, not even sexual minorities.

I went and read the comments to the story about Mantila's beautiful and hairy foot in his mouth, and most didn't think his joke was that good.  But one person there linked to a Daily Mail article which argued that women do so speak more than men.*

The placement of transgender individuals into a scheme of theoretical analysis about gender can be very difficult.  But one way of approaching this might be to look at it in the context of enforcing rigid gender norms, including the impossibility of leaping over the border between male and female sexes.

 If we apply this tool, the above two examples seem to demonstrate the idea that Manning is moving from the better sex to the worse sex, one which is sorta made for passive reception of sexual advantages but which also talks nonstop.
*The article from last February, which I missed, is about testing boy and girl rats.  The boy rats are more vocal than the girl rats and get more attention from the mommy rats.  There's a difference in a protein P2 between the boy and girl rats (boy rats have more of it), and when the researchers switched the relative amount of P2 in the boy and girl rat brains, the girls became more vocal and got more mommy attention. 

The researchers then argued that in a small sample of human children (5 girls, 5 boys) the girls had more of P2 than the boys.  But they never measured how vocal those girls and boys were.  Yet the popularization argued that "Women Really Do Talk More Than Men."

There are all sorts of problems with that, of course, because the study didn't show any difference in how vocal the children were and even the initial study didn't compare adult rats with each other.  A sample size of ten can be a bit tricky, for all sorts of good reasons, too.  For a nice discussion of the issues, go here.

But do see the leap the commentator took:  We move from the idea that women tell more tales, blab more to the idea that women just speak more.  The latter is now somehow associated with the idea that women would leak more information than men.