This morning I looked at Twitter and saw this from Liza Cowan:
I mention such a wide variety of people on this site that I laughed out loud when I saw this. Perhaps Catharine MacKinnon, Pope Benedict, Susie Bright, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, and Leonard Nimoy (to mention five names that have occurred here more than once) are all together in some darkened room plotting iniquity at this moment, but I find it hard to imagine. So I wrote in reply:
Apparently Liza’s nemeses had Googled her name and Pam Isherwood‘s together and found our old page of “Artists and Art Blogs.” They are both mentioned there, because of course they are- they’re both very distinguished artists, and you’re in for a treat if you go to their sites. But the inquisitors took the presence of their names on the same list as evidence that Pam is Liza’s “follower.” Looking over the list, Liza seems to have a pretty impressive set of followers, including Harvey Kurtzman, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Queen of England.
This controversy stems from Liza’s view of transgenderism. As I understand it, her view is related to that of the late Shulamith Firestone, who held that the relation between men and women is very much like the relation that Marxism describes between bourgeois and proletariat in the later stages of capitalism. Women form a worldwide class of the oppressed, men a worldwide class of oppressors. Femininity, on this view, is a scar left by abuse, masculinity a weapon wielded by the privileged. Liza’s opposition holds that gender is a more playful thing, that it is a set of roles we play, some by choice, some under duress, and that by playing the game our own way we can subvert the oppression that certainly does characterize gender relations by and large.
I am not qualified to have an opinion about this issue. Maybe Liza is right, maybe the Politically Correct Thought Police who are calling her names are right, maybe the truth is something else altogether. What I do know is that Liza is an exciting artist, a rigorous thinker, and a good friend. So if someone is out to ban or silence or smear people associated with Liza Cowan, I hereby volunteer to be banned, silenced, and smeared. As I put it this afternoon: