Sunday, 25 November 2018

Envy as a motivation for gender self-identification

I feel I would not wantonly deny recognition of a person I met as being the gender they identify as. I feel disposed to do that as a matter of courtesy, but if I do it would depend on the individual circumstances.
But I don’t want to feel that to deny that recognition is unlawful, or that my appeal to sex differences is considered meaningless, even if some may find it offensive.

I think what really motivates this ‘self-identify’ phenomenon is avoidance of envy. It seems to me that it is a manoeuvre of male persons to not feel envy of female persons, or women in general. The wish is to eliminate the difference between men and women, make men the same as women. That cannot be!

That such a feeling is felt is not a crime. It is an emotion, I would even go so far as to say it is a principle, of complex living organisms, including humans.

There seem to be many accounts online of male persons feeling “gender envy”, and seeking a way out, perhaps through assigning their envy to “gender dysphoria”,

[Link to Sheila Jeffry’s on the development of this DSM psychiatric designation ]

and perhaps craving this designation because, I suggest, it relieves them of having to take personal responsibility for possessing the negative human emotion: “It’s not me who is envious but that I have the condition gender dysphoria. I am a girl in a boy’s body, I can’t help having that envious feeling.”

The answer is, surely, to acknowledge males’ lack (reproductive capacity) and the painful envy this invokes, and to have females’ help, mothers’ help, to develop and deepen understanding and compassion for each other (men depend on women and vice versa), recognition of what each lacks which the other has, and of differences. Psychoanalytic writers have dealt with this.

(I don’t know why I am not seeing more references to psychoanalytic thinking on this self-identifying phenomenon. It smacks of narcissistic psychopathology - denial of difference, denial of dependency - commonly acknowledged to be a psychic defence against the pain of envy).

I can relate to the intense feelings of nullification expressed by some trans-rights activists. I have experienced such feelings of nullification by what appeared to me to be an implacable, oppressive power:
I exist! When you tell me faith is a delusion, when you tell me that my very consciousness is an illusion (!), and that people are deluded who have religious faith, you are telling me I do not exist!”

Among those denying that I am not an illusion were people in positions of power and influence, such as respected research neuro-scientists, people of that very noisy ‘new atheist’ wave, who felt alarmed at other people carrying on doing things - carrying on their forms of life - for which they had no feeling, and chose to see as a destructive force, wishing to eliminate them. ("Why can't they all be reasonable, like me!?")

Admittedly, I was envious of their power and position in society. But I felt they were wrong, and wanted make it clear to them (or have someone make clear to them!) what they do not recognise, what they fail to understand.
But I came to accept that there is no way to force another person to see things as I do. I just have to accept this difference. Even a radical empiricist or an eliminative materialist has kids and loves them.

It is no crime to feel envy, but the best response is surely not to seek to eliminate the difference in order not to experience that most painful emotion.


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