Private spaces on the internet?

Private spaces on the internet? August 21, 2018

Two items:

First, have you read about the batty redefinitions of genitals?

It’s in the LGBTQIA Safer Sex Guide, as available at, and received tons of publicity in the past, say, 24 hours.  I won’t tell you how they’ve renamed basic human body parts, but you can click the link if you like.  The site has now put out a clarification, titled, “We’re Not Renaming the Vagina,” in which they say that the alternate term used was intended  “specifically for certain members of the trans community who identify with it” because the document itself was “created for a specific audience” — that is, despite the label of “LGBTQIA-inclusive”, the document is really specifically for the TQIA demographic.

Further, they say,

This usage is meant for one-on-one communication with trusted persons, such as your doctor or partner, not for broad discussion.

Similarly, in a document put out by the Human Rights Campaign, the author says,

We, as trans people, use a variety of words to describe our gender and our body parts, and these words can be very unique and personal. There’s no one right way to refer to our bodies, but to keep things consistent in this guide, we’ve decided to use the following words in the following ways.

before providing definitions which, again, will make your jaw drop, definitions which are clearly inappropriate if activists tried to demand that they make their way into wider usage.

But is that what they are doing?  Or has the wider world simply stumbled onto what was meant to be a private conversation, a specific usage within a subculture who acknowledge that these aren’t the “real terms” any more than, say, “Mr. Johnson” might be — except, of course, that ordinarily one doesn’t insist that subculture-specific terms need to be used in order to effectively provide healthcare.

Maybe.  I’m not sure if it stops at this or if, as the placement of this guide as a tile directly on the front page suggests, there is an agenda of bringing these terms into the mainstream.  I have done at least some looking at the HRC website and their guide is not easy to find, which suggests it’s not an action item.

Item 2:  the Sarah Jeong affair.  Yes, it’s forgotten about now, but earlier this month, Jeong was newly announced as a staff writer at the New York Times when conservative writers and twitter accounts revealed that from 2013 – 2015 she had tweeted numerous anti-white tweets.  (See my prior blog post.)  Her defenders said that this was all in response to hateful things being said to her, and, besides, among her social circle, it was understood that “hating white people” really meant being upset at racism, not, y’know, actually wanting to #cancelwhitepeople and so forth.

So does she get a pass?  Do we say, yes, her statements were out on the internet, but they were clearly not directed at any specific target, she wasn’t “@-ing” anyone, so it’s no big deal?

But at the same time — well, with apologies for not pulling up specific examples, but you know that there have been instances where individuals have used offensive language in what they believed to be private conversations which were overheard or taped, and have lost jobs or been publicly shamed as a result.

Oh, and item 3:  Patheos.  You know how it goes.  I write something that, as a Catholic, I want to discuss with other Catholics.  Atheists jump in and say, “well, the solution is to recognize that it’s all pretend and there is no god, so you should walk away, decide for yourself what’s right and wrong and let everyone else do likewise.”  And it’s frustrating, because that conversation I had hoped to have is lost.  I suppose one might say that I simply shouldn’t have expected otherwise, and that it’s a trade-off because Patheos gives me something more of an audience than if I were just one participant among many in the various “safe-space” Catholic discussion forums elsewhere online.  And that’s true and I don’t block angry-atheist commenters — but it can still be irritating.

So I offer this mostly as an item for discussion, rather than with an opinion that I want to push.


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