Emma Watson: People are Who They Say They Are – Would she say the same about Rachel Dolezal?
Recently, J.K. Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter universe, tweeted in opposition to some of the linguistic changes being forced on society in apparent aid of transgender and non-binary people. Following this, Emma Watson and other actors – who have made their millions off of the franchise created by Rowling – turned on her statement, making it clear in no uncertain terms that they opposed her. Even mainstream outlets which had stayed silent on the Rowling controversy gleefully jumped on the bandwagon when the young millennial actors, still known primarily by their roles in the Harry Potter movies (perhaps because few of them have seen success outside of it), reporting on their every statement and tweet as if newsworthy. The celebrities, recognizing that their successes are partially reliant on signalling to the woke mob that they are social justice champions, responded swiftly, not bothering to address the points made by Rowling or her reasons.
Unlike the demands of trans activists on their allies, this is not meant to be a denouncement of Emma Watson’s choice in the debate. She, like all others, is free to take a position. But the way she chose to express her support reveals an actress that seems to give barely any consideration to her words and statements, automatically repeating whatever is popular.
To elucidate, Emma Watson’s grand gesture consisted of this mind-blowingly vapid tweet.
Really? Just like that, people are who they say they are? It is a dark indictment of our times that a celebrity actress with 24 million followers typed this out, and didn’t pause to think how utterly ridiculous this sounded before hitting send. Really Emma, ‘everyone is who they say they are’? This is the road that these celebrities have merrily hopped on, imagining, in some bizarre post-truth, post-fact, post-logic world makes sense.
Trans activists and their allies absolutely despise it when opponents to their rhetoric sarcastically mock them, saying ‘I identify as an attack helicopter’, or ‘I identify as Bezos’ son’. If you’re an individual who leans left in political and social issues, you’d have rolled your eyes and said ‘oh sure transphobe, that’s what we’re trying to say’. But really, what does this utter pile of manure disguised as a statement, imply? ‘X people are who they say they are’? What does that have to do with ‘living a life free of judgment’? In what other area of life is ‘you are what you say you are’ a necessary prerequisite for rights, respect, tolerance, or non discrimination? (Spoiler alert: no other). The mocking analogies are a direct and inevitable application of the stupidity inducing logic behind their argument – and yet they explode in incandescent rage when it is pointed out how ridiculous the basis for the statement is.
If Emma Watson wants to stand by her thought-breaking drivel, she should also answer similar questions for every other form of categorization.
Elizabeth Warren was famously controversial for claiming she was part Native American – a socially constructed category of a human populace that is not based on biological differences, but rather based, quite simply on rules of Native citizenship. She willingly undertook an ancestry test, which actually did indeed prove that she had strong genetic links, and later apologised to the Chief of the Cherokee Nation, who was quite rightly outraged that she had been appropriating the identity, and reminded her that their identity was based on rules of citizenship rather than a blood test from 23AndMe.
So what would Emma Watson say with reference to this situation? Or would she back away from the recklessly inane drivel that millennial celebrities distribute like candy?
What about the now famous case of Rachel Dolezal, who famously claimed to be black, and was indeed thought to be black but instead turned out to – well not actually be of black descent and was then called out, mobbed and became a global hate figure? Consider also, that given the justification given by Rachel, and the very real shift in her internal sense of self, there is a logical, credible discussion as to whether trans-racialism is possible as a phenomenon. Remember also, the tarring and mobbing of Rebecca Tuvel, who, following this rhetoric that has been propounded and screamed from the rooftops by transgender activists, dared to point out the similarity in Hypatia, a journal of philosophy that was forced to issue retractions and apologies by the truckload.
It is often the claim (cowardly and contradictory) made by trans activists and their allies, that all of these arguments themselves are transphobic (presumably because they show up the utter lack of anything resembling basic logical thought and consistency underlying their rhetoric) but they will respond, viciously and vehemently, that it is not the same. Why not? More importantly, why should the argumentation that they put forward not be analyzed, and questioned as to its implications? Why is it, that the philosophical position they pretend to espouse under the guise of ‘trans rights’ should never ever be applied to other cases, to assess its viability as a legitimate argument that society should accept or tolerate. Every single time proponents of such patently nonsensical statements, who denounce those who don’t conform is are confronted with the implications of these sound bites they so casually put out, the extent of their vapid and lacklustre response stretches to ‘its different’ They are never quite able to show, how its different, just that it is – an assertion made as an article of faith. Like everything else with this group of self styled social justice activities, the assertion that application of their incoherent sloganeering leads to even more stupid outcomes is casually dismissed.
Let’s move away from Elizabeth Warren and Rachel Dolezal for a minute, and consider this situation – where contractors with white ancestry got contracts worth $300 million by claiming to be Cherokee. When this article was shared, and women inquired why, if white men claiming to be Cherokee evoked outrage, male people claiming to be female does not organized society revolts at the mere comparison.
This, despite the fact that ethnic, cultural and racial identities aren’t actually based on biological facts, since there are infinitely more biological and genetic differences between men and women than there are between people of different ethnic or cultural groups. Ethnicity in particular is a largely fungible concept, its boundaries being largely made up – yet this claim was met by choking outrage whereas the same people support males ‘claiming’ they have a right to be included in the category of biological women because they ‘feel like it’ . When this analogy is made in social conversations you will be apt to be set upon by a mob of woke, progressive, leftist men, snarling as to how dare you compare white men, the most privileged class to transgender people? Except of course, white men aren’t compared to transgender people, the insanity of advocating a position that everyone is who they say they are is. But this will never be the response of the largely white, middle to upper class, or over educated liberals who practically howl in outrage at Rachel Dolezal and Elizabeth Warren, who then shamelessly and without a hint of irony advocate the opposite approach when it comes to transgender people – their best argument when confronted with their collapsing argument? ‘Its different’. It really isn’t – it only seems like that to a misogynistic, sexist cult because they have decided that transgender people are at the top of the hierarchy of oppression, and all rules of assessment, consistency, and uniformity should be discarded because these (mostly) white men and women have decided so.
They respect, and treat with reverence wholly socially constructed cultural identities more than the existence of biological women. Because someone says so, according to them they need to be treated as belonging to a biological category that is objectively determinable.
By the biblical maxim laid down by the queen of nonsense sloganeering, Emma Watson, the case of Gwen Benaway – a white transgender woman who claimed to be indigenous for years in order to boost their writing career, is indeed, indigenous. Would Emma Watson be able to answer the questions of the community? What would you say to the communities damaged by the claims made by Gwen, Emma? They are who they say they are, according to you. So are they indigenous?Would you be the first in line to tell the indigenous communities demanding an apology, that really, they’re wrong, because trans people are who they say they are?
When groups come up with different arguments or rhetoric, it is always tested by application in wider society – viz what would be the outcome if said argument was applied in different scenarios? This is not a question raised only in respect to transgender rights or modern social justice debates – in fact it is frequently used by the cultural Left, to, rightly, criticize and mock equally inane statements from the right. Consider for eg., spoofs that apply the underlying argument of ‘All Lives Matter’ to other conversations in society to exemplify how ridiculous the whataboutery is.
If ‘All Lives Matter’ is, rightly, shown up as the illogical and bad faith deflection it is – so should the fluttery, ultimately inconsequential messages put out by Emma Watson and her ilk. Yet try doing so, and you’ll be met with a barrage of opposition that ‘the two things are not the same’. No, they aren’t. But the argument is extendable. No one should be making an argument that when applied to similar social situations, would result in nonsense. If they do, they should be hauled up and held accountable for it.
The massive intellectual, and basic logical failure behind this movement should worry everyone. Emma Watson, Ambassador of UN Women, prominent celebrity feminist who likes to apparently come out with these cutesy catchphrases without bothering to understand what the statements means or implies, are all the rage. There is a moment in time where she felt like announcing, ‘everyone is who they say they are’ and didn’t flinch about the incoherent and chaos inducing nature of that statement. Emma Watson didn’t pause to consider, “Wait, hang on, what does that mean? Can I apply that same argument to others and if so, are the consequences uniformly positive?” People might respond, well actresses and celebrity ‘feminists’ aren’t exactly known for their ability to formulate coherent arguments or analysis, so why should we be worried? But Emma Watson’s blithe endorsement of a self evidently indefensible statement is a reflection on the current mass failure of very very basic logical thought. She didn’t bother, and didn’t think to, because self identification as a defensible concept is actually the norm.
Emma Watson isn’t the first to propound nonsense like this, and won’t be the last. She was joined in this chorus of loud, and illogical sloganeering by Eddie Redmayne, the actor who plays the fascinatingly intelligent character of Newt Scamandar in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – another Rowling creation that launched him into the spotlight. It is perhaps exceedingly ironic that of all the reactions of the actors, the two actors who played the most intelligent characters also turn out to be the most painfully stupid ones. Radcliffe’s statement, riddled with superiority as it is, is still less self contradictory and incoherent. Eddie Redmayne, true to form expected of young actors, repeated the robotic slogan that all must today, irrespective of whether the mindless repetition is necessary or helpful to trans people and their rights – that “.. I disagree with Jo’s comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid.”
Let’s be very clear. This is not a criticism of the denunciations from the Potter triumvirate and others owing gratitude to Rowling for launching their professional careers and enabling their millions. Gratitude and loyalty are certainly not a constant in Hollywood, and even if it was, said gratitude, loyalty and personal relationships should not stop celebrities from denouncing positions they oppose or object to, even if it is from someone they may owe something to . Although, given Emma Watson’s timing, that she tweeted this after J.K Rowling released her own essay, detailing her abuse, one wonders if Emma even gave Rowling the basic courtesy of trying to understand her position before tweeting the necessary supplications. Nevertheless, this is not a suggestion that Emma Watson, Eddie Redmayne. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, should endorse J.K. Rowling simply because it was her work that launched them and they have every right to oppose her, and say their piece. But opposition has to be vaguely sensible and go beyond such obviously contradictory sloganeering, accompanied by carelessly tossed feel good statements like ‘X people are who they say there’.
This also does not mean that Emma Watson and others should not leap to the defense of trans people – a group that they perceive as the victims. Nor does it mean, transgenderism necessarily implies trans-racialism, or outright lying are the same things. Gender dysphoria is still a complex issue that has to be handled carefully and with sensitivity, instead of blanket equivocations and false assertions. They could have chosen to defend their cause with accuracy and detail, instead of repeating hashtags. Instead they take it a step further from ‘transwomen are women’ to ‘trans people are who they say they are’ – because… they’re trans? A standard applied to no one else in society?
Whenever opponents seek to point out how contradictory and intolerably ridiculous such a statement is by demonstrating with analogies, the cult of faux social justice warriors screams that it’s not the same. They wouldn’t apply the same standards to Rachel Dolezal, Elizabeth Warren, or Gwen Banaway. Only the category of material sexes apparently, is open to being claimed based on their say so – an approach that has disproportionately horrific effects on women. Therein lies the pernicious misogyny of its proponents – their underlying malice would have been less obvious if they weren’t so inconsistent in what they support. Native American and Indigenous identities – which can at best be determined by blood lineage – but are more frequently based on rules made up by the members, are treated more respectfully than the existence of half the species. Emma Watson, Ambassador of Feminism Lite, happily endorses it.
Lawyer, activist against sexual violence and exploitation. You can follow her on twitter @lblwcri.