What is wokeism? And a conversation with McWhorter, Loury, and Goldblatt gets banned from YouTube

May 1, 2023 • 11:15 am

Mark Goldblatt, a writer, teacher, and journalist who you can hear below in conversation with Glenn Loury and John McWhorter, wrote this book that came out last October (click on screenshot to access Amazon page). I have no idea why I haven’t heard of it, but I’ll read it very soon:

The link just below gives the ten-minute video discussion and a transcript, part of which I’ve posted:

As you see and hear, Goldblatt sees subjectivity as a defining characteristic of Wokeness, in the short video below from The Glenn Show, featuring Loury and his colleague McWhorter.

Part of the discussion:

JOHN MCWHORTER: The summary of the book is this. This works perfectly.

People often grouped under the umbrella term “woke” share more than a perpetual sense of grievance and attraction to street theater and an intense dislike of straight white guys who drink cheap beer and wear their baseball caps backward. They share a devotion to subjectivism. Their gathering principle is the idea that subjective belief, if it’s heartfelt, trumps whatever objective, verifiable evidence may be brought against it. For these social justice warriors, if you sincerely and passionately believe and injustice is being done, then the effort to determine whether that belief corresponds with reality is a further injustice.

So this sounds like people who are clinically insane, and yet you’re not referring to people who are clinically insane. They are thoroughly sane, usually highly intelligent. What are these people? What do they do?

MARK GOLDBLATT: You know, a couple of weeks ago there was a woman, a conservative author, who was out on a book tour about wokeism and who was asked to define woke, and it just stumped her. So I’ve been working on a generous definition of “woke.” I want to give the people who advocate it the benefit of the doubt, insofar as I can. I think wokeism, in generous terms, is a cluster of advocacy positions that are designed to promote an understanding of and equity for historically marginalized people, historically marginalized communities.

I think on that level, it’s impossible to object to it. It’s the methodology by which that promotion proceeds that is the problem with wokeism. Because wokeism is a religion. I completely agree with you on that. The first time I heard it referred to that way, I think, was Andrew Sullivan talking about “the Great Awokening,” which I think sets it in its past well.

This is good, but it stints the important part: the methodology itself. What about the methodology? Well, for one thing, it tends to be afflicted with grievance, a sense of dogmatism, and, especially performativeness. True Wokeists like to kvetch about societal problems but don’t do anything about them (they equate kvetching with activism).  This is the difference between Social Justice (Wokeism) and genuine “social justice”, like that demanded by Dr. King.  It is this new methodology that has taken the original term “woke”, meaning a sensitivity to societal injustice, and turned it into a pejorative term.

It’s curious that those who are in favor of language evolving nevertheless take the hard line on “woke”, insisting it must retain its original meaning. That, of course, gives the Woke the right to go after anti-wokeists like the three men above, saying “they don’t even know what the term means”, or “it means simply compassion for the downtrodden”, as if these were criticisms of the arguments they’re making. The squabble over whether to use “woke” or some other term like “The Elect” (McWhorter’s original choice) or “Authoritarian Leftists” (one of my choices) is a way of diverting an argument over substance into an argument over semantics. As I said, I will use “woke” in its pejorative sense, as that is now its primary meaning. But I’ll use other terms as well.  My attempt to get readers to suggest the perfect replacement for “woke” ran aground, with most readers just saying, “Oh, hell, just use ‘woke’.”

You can see the entire hourlong conversation by clicking on the “repost” screenshot below. Why wasn’t the whole video left on YouTube? Loury explains it below:

As you may have noticed, the episode of The Glenn Show I posted on Monday, April 24 is no longer available on YouTube. It was removed because it allegedly contains “hate speech.” I, of course, disagree. I do not think any reasonable person can listen to this conversation and honestly call anything either John, Mark, or I said “hate speech.” We do discuss trans issues, and at times the conversation becomes critical toward aspects of the discourse surrounding trans issues. But at no point does anyone suggest that transgender people, as individuals, deserve anything less than full dignity and respect.

YouTube’s policy on hate speech removal stipulates that they “remove content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups” that fall into a long list of categories. The idea that anything in the above video promotes “violence or hatred” against trans people or anybody else is absurd. It was removed merely because it questions some of the premises of progressive discourse on trans issues. That is censorship, plain and simple. It is outrageous. And, ironically, it proves exactly the point that Mark makes when he notes wokeism’s prioritization of subjective feelings over empirical facts.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. We’ve reuploaded the video directly to Substack. You can watch it right here in this post, and it’s not going anywhere. No doubt I’ll be discussing this incident further on future TGS episodes. Until then, feel free to share this video widely as you can.

Yes, do watch it.

I listened to most but not all of the hourlong video, and it’s perfectly clear that it was banned from YouTube because Goldblatt makes statements like “a transgender man is a woman, simply as a matter of. . .if language can convey truth, a trandgender man is a woman.” Speech like that is considered “hate speech”, although it’s a perfectly reasonable point of view if by “woman” you mean “biological woman” (this is the way I take it).  Yet a sentence like “a transgender woman is a biological man who identifies as a biological woman” is considered hate speech.

Click below watch the entire video, and I recommend watching it if you have a spare hour. It goes into far more depth than the ten-minute excerpt above.

And the part that led to the banning clearly begins at 26:45., when McWhorter asks Goldblatt why he has a “bee in his bonnet” about the definition of “men” and “women.” In response, Goldblatt makes the heretical statement that sexes in humans are binary and it’s perfectly clear what a man versus a woman is (sadly, both McWhorter and Goldblatt use the “chromosomal” definition rather than the real biological definition based on gamete size). Goldblatt sees “gender” as a mystical kind of “sexed soul”, and McWhorter asks him whether what one feels is in fact a denial of reality or just a statement of observed reality: someone feels they’re of the sex other than their natal sex.

What is ineffably sad about this kind of banning is that Goldblatt says nothing hateful or tranphobic: he merely maintains that, although trans people have almost the same claim on rights as non-transpeople (as usual, sports are an exception), the claim that a “trans woman is a woman” is in one sense a lie.  And it is, if you take the second “woman” as meaning “biological woman”.  This is a perfectly discussable point, but one that’s been rendered taboo by trans activists. McWhorter participates in this discussion, asking Goldblatt in effect, “well, language changes, why can’t we just accept this as another language change?” Good question, but, as Goldblatt notes, it changes more than just language, it requires that we all must sign onto not just a semantic change, but an ideological change it. If we don’t affirm the mantra, we are bad people. At this point Loury jumps in to defend Goldblatt, but it’s clear that McWhorter has not yet applied his many neurons to the sex and gender question.

Anyway, I’ll leave you the pleasure to listen for yourself. If you want to start on the sex/gender stuff, just start the video below at 26:45.

47 thoughts on “What is wokeism? And a conversation with McWhorter, Loury, and Goldblatt gets banned from YouTube

  1. If, for the purposes of the discussion, I allow that stating that “a transgender man is a woman” is intolerably hateful, well, can someone give a clear (and, ideally, concise) definition of “a transgender man” that is acceptable? Perhaps in some circles, even asking such a question is considered “hateful”, but I’d really like to know.

    1. The woke orthodox position is that a transgender man is a man, and a transgender woman is a woman. A man is whoever identifies as a man, and a woman is whoever identifies as a woman. Talk about subjectivism!

      Documentary: What Is a Woman?June 2022
      Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42ivIRd9N8E

      Leor Sapir: Transgenderism and the Therapeutic Attitude
      Matt Walsh’s What Is a Woman? skewers the irrationalities of “gender ideology”—but a broader belief system that underpins it will be harder to defeat.
      Review of What Is a Woman?, directed by Justin Folk (The Daily Wire, 94 minutes)
      Excerpt from the article:
      The real lesson of What Is a Woman? is that the trans movement is fueled less by “gender ideology” than by an extreme form of expressive individualism with a distinctly therapeutic hue. Expressive individualism is the engine; gender ideology, the rudder. Justice, according to our therapeutic ethos, means self-expression, while injustice means forced repression of one’s innermost feelings, and it is in the realm of feeling that we tap into what is most real and valuable about ourselves. There are, to be sure, Marxist themes embedded here, but it is Rousseau and his sentiment of existence that is the true idol of our age.

      Here’s an excerpt from the documentary What is a Woman?5 mins
      Matt Walsh interviewing Patrick Grazanka [PhD, American Studies
      University of Maryland, 2010], a professor in the Department of Psychology and Chair of the Interdisciplinary Program in Women, Gender, and Sexuality at the University of Tennessee’s flagship campus in Knoxville

      1. Matt Walsh raises important points in this film, and it’s excruciating (in a good sense) to see the gender theorists squirm when they’re asked simple questions. These people have NO place in academia, because they have NO interest in the truth. I really don’t think most of them believe half the crap they spout, but they are so invested in it that they have no option but to dig deeper. Their professional existence depends on toeing the line and maintaining the deceit, and for that, I honestly find them despicable.

        However, I don’t like Matt Walsh at all. Although he might dress it as such, his occupation is not that of a true journalist. He makes no effort to explore this complex issue with sensitivity and compassion. Instead, he behaves like a snarky little bully, and goes about his reportage showing no concern for, and being deliberately nasty about, those he is criticising.

        The man is a provocateur; he constantly packages ‘The Left’ into a monolith and blames everyone belonging to that monolith for the gender nonsense we see. He repeats the tired old stuff like: ‘This is what The Left wants your kids to believe’, ‘The Left are forcing your kids to watch drag queens’ . But he knows this is untrue, he knows it’s dishonest, divisive and polarising, yet he continues because he wants to polarise and divide.

        Just look at wikipedia if you want to see some of the things he has said and done. He’s a childish, arrogant troll who’s very vocal about his disdain for women’s rights. His goal is to drum up division through his misogyny, bigotry and flinging of accusations at ‘The Left’. Like most of these right-wing trolls, he has no integrity and doesn’t want to help the debate. He wants to cause trouble, he’s part of the problem.

    2. Here are “woke” definitions (which I don’t accept, because they presuppose the postmodern gender philosophy I reject):
      * A trans(gender) man (boy) is a person who was assigned female at birth but identifies as male, or has a male gender identity.
      * A trans(gender) woman (girl) is a person who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female, or has a female gender identity.

      1. The funny thing is that if “woman” is wokishly defined as “person who identifies as female”, then “Transwomen are women” becomes tautologically true in Wokespeak by meaning that “Persons who were assigned male at birth but identify as female are persons who identify as female.”

  2. I’ve followed the nomenclature issue, agreeably, but perhaps all becomes clear (IMHO) when it (woke) is seen as the child of post modernist “scholarship” :


    … giving it a new name makes it sound hip, new, special – when in fact it is the product of a tired old formula – one of the “olds” – that can’t sound fashionable.

    Not arguing against “woke” per se, just looking at another level…

  3. This is by no means the first “controversial” video to be removed, on entirely spurious grounds, by the ever-more-censorious YouTube (Rumble and BitChute are far superior). Very disheartening indeed is the increasing trend, from the giants of Big Tech to our many colleges and universities, towards the ostracism, from the mainstream, of ideas and thoughts deemed to be potentially offensive to some.

  4. Yuval Noah Harari, while he can be highly opinionated, has a long section on “feelings” in his book Homo Deus, describing it as the defining characteristic of the new religion he simply calls “humanism.” I think he’s spot on here. It’s always “How you do you feel?” or “I feel [fill in the blank spaces].” We do experience the self subjectively, so I don’t dismiss the world of feelings, but this obsession with feelings does seem to be a First World malady, though. As far people attacking Enlightenment values, it’s partly because of the West’s hypocrisy and failures on some promises, for sure, but maybe because some of the plaintiffs can’t compete in a meritocracy.

  5. For these social justice warriors, if you sincerely and passionately believe an injustice is being done, then the effort to determine whether that belief corresponds with reality is a further injustice.

    So this sounds like people who are clinically insane, and yet you’re not referring to people who are clinically insane.

    It doesn’t sound to me like people who are clinically insane; it sounds to me like people who are kids. Like young teenagers, in particular, who are furious over something they think is unfair and even more furious when you try to explain to them that they shouldn’t be mad because here’s why it’s not unfair, but perfectly reasonable.

    They don’t want to hear it. The more reasonable you try to be, the more they up the level of emotion, the more they push you to just listen to them, see how upset they are, see how hurt they are — because there’s obviously no injury without something bad enough to cause that injury. There’s no such thing as feeling hurt or disrespected but wrong to feel that way. It’s a primary stance of people who have not left —or not quite left — the self-focused subjectivity of childhood.

    It’s also, curiously enough, a fairly common stance taken by many modern How To Parent books. The child is never, ever wrong to feel what they feel. Their feelings are always valid. It’s our job as parents to acknowledge this, tell it to them, and then see if together we can find a solution which makes all parties comfortable.

    If part of what drives the Critical Social Justice Culture of Victimhood is the coddling of the minds of youth, then this may be a source.

    1. Point well made, Sastra. If we look at Wokeism in all its aspects, we see, in addition to their being in thrall to subjectivism, what is perhaps the foundational to their standpoint, namely, immaturity. One of my favorite takes on this issue is Coleman Hughes’s interview with Ayishat Akanbi:

    2. The philosopher Brian Leiter (University of Chicago), at his blog, he files blogposts concerning woke stuff under the tag “New Infantilism.”
      Though there are limits as to what you are allowed to feel and get accepted as valid. Can I, a white male of European descent, identify as a woman and demand access to women-only spaces? Yes, and if you don’t validate me you are a genocidal fascist. Can I identify as black or indigenous? Hell, no!
      Here’s what Helen Joyce said about this in an interview a few months ago:

      So ask yourself: Why is it okay for a man to say he’s a woman, but it’s not okay for a white person to say that they’re black?
      In academia the reason is that these are two completely separate fields. One of them is critical race theory and the other is queer theory. And in critical race theory whiteness is original sin. I mean it literally is that. If you’re white, you must atone for that for the rest of your life, and you will never be finished atoning, and you will never get to the point that you can say you are not racist. Sorry, man. You have to be anti-racist all your life. And so you could never allow a white person to identify as a black person, because then they can identify out of their sin, right? Whereas if you move over to queer theory, this post-modern field where categories are evil, and where we make utopia by destroying categories. So, if you’re theorizing male and female within that, it’s good to destroy the categories [man and woman].
      But I think that’s a contingent explanation. I don’t think it’s by chance that those two fields grew up the way they did. I think critical race theory very much follows from the American history of race. It just doesn’t make any sense anywhere else. It doesn’t make sense there either, but what I mean is you can see where it came from. Whereas the queer theory thing, the reason that that’s where sex landed is because there are men who want to be women, and they want it more than anything else, and those men have the drive to make it happen because it’s their erotic drive. They have the money because some of them are rich (really rich). They have nothing else to be thinking about. So they make it happen. The way that you can kind of see that this must be the case is if you look at what trans activism is. It’s not what you would do if your concern was trans people. I mean trans people do have poor health outcomes, poor mental health, low income, all of those things. So you would have policies focused on that. But actually the policy is exclusively focused on gender self-identification, which is legally changing your sex, which means that you can go into spaces for the opposite sex. So the policy is clearly formed for the benefit of people whose fixation is to count as the member of the opposite sex, not people who just want to try and get by while being highly unusual. I was watching a documentary on Rachel Dolezal and she, it was after she was exposed [as white], and she went to do a talk at this university, and the talk was done to black students, and this girl put her hand up afterwards and went “I don’t think you can call yourself black,” and Dolezal was like “Why not?,” and she went “Because you haven’t earned the right to be black.” And I found that so interesting. I was like “No, she can’t call herself black because she isn’t black.” But “you haven’t earned the right,” oh, isn’t it very odd? The equivalent I’ve seen of that in trans is when people say that trans women are better women than what they would call cis women [biological women], and who I’d call actual women, because they [the trans women] have worked for it. It didn’t land on their lap. And you’re like: “Nothing lands on anybody’s lap in the way of which sex they are. When an egg meets a sperm, and they combine, they form a male person or a female person. That’s the way it works. It is that simple.”
      Triggernometry: What’s Causing the Trans Explosion? – with Helen Joyce. Dec 2022

  6. In “The Culture of Complaint”, Robert Hughes described wokeism perfectly: “…obsessed with therapies and filled with distrust of formal politics; skeptical of authority and prey to superstition; its political language corroded by fake pity and euphemism.” That
    was 30 years ago. All that happened in the last 30 years is an
    intensification of the same style, particularly on campus, then also off-campus. Why has it intensified? Did similar patterns prevail in 5th century Rome and 9th century Palenque and Tikal?

    1. I still have an original hardcover of ‘the Culture of Complaint’! Why did it intensify? At least for ‘wokeism’ in relation to ethnicity, I use my own definition of wokeism ( which is highly effective in pissing off its acolytes ) : ‘White People Drooling Postcolonial Guilt’. I use this term in the comments section of the article below.

      Though the title was given by this website’s owner, readers of this blog may be entertained by the responses to my article on New Zealand Classical Music and its ‘Mataurangisation’ :

      Scroll to the bottom of the article and hover a while for the comments to load. Unlike the authors of the NZ ‘Listener’ article, I did not maintain a dignified academic silence when attacked. So I wrote a few responses, at least before I went on holiday. The various definitions for wokeism used on this website, such as ‘authoritarian leftism’ etc, are far more encompassing than my ‘White People Drooling Postcolonial Guilt’. Wokesters don’t react so much to academic definitions — but my definition is more fun to deploy.

      Ramesh 2% oppressed Denisovan

      1. I suggest the counter-hypothesis that most language of white “postcolonial guilt” is an attention-getting device, rather than an expression of any feelings whatsoever of actual guilt. As a purely hypothetical example, imagine a British immigrant to New Zealand so concerned with self-presentation as to dye the hair pink. If such an individual were also to make noises of the “white postcolonial guilt” variety, one could reasonably ascribe these noises also to the self-presentation impulse.

    2. My feeling is that it was just the passage of time, the replacement of an older cohort w a newer one, combined with the heavy moralistic tone of the Social Justice belief system, which gradually made it much harder to dissent and not suffer serious social penalty.
      When Hughes wrote his book, the world of Culture & Letters (the world he was referring to, more or less the Humanities in and out of academia) was say 75% rooted in the Old World—meaning believers in free speech, thought and expression, and not as politically monomaniacal—and say 25% (just a guess) were more or less true believers in the new dispensation, that all of our history and culture is a single giant hate crime and the goal of thought and culture could only be the rectification of historical power balances (served w a side dish of heavy guilt).
      But as the years passed, as the believers in the Old retired and/or died off and were gradually replaced by the young who’d all been baptized in the New Faith (whether obeying in sincerity or else just to not be banished), one by one the balance of power tipped, until a critical mass of true believers was formed and took power and both routed their enemies and began to propagate their doctrines.
      Social Justice, among many other things, was also a career coup for younger academics looking for a way to speed the exit of all those famous old profs who’d been teaching Shakespeare for centuries, as well as a strong belief system for young people raised in a much more disorienting and deracinated culture.

      1. Wokeism: the belief “that all of our history and culture is a single giant hate crime, and the goal of thought and culture [is] the rectification of historical power balances (served with a side dish of heavy guilt).”

        This is a good operational definition. Thanks!

  7. . . . the claim that a “trans woman is a woman” is in one sense a lie. And it is, if you take the second “woman” as meaning “biological woman”.

    I find this a curious point. The term “woman” has always included as a necessary condition that of being an adult female human. Indeed, that has always been the primary definition of the word. Of course, this was often left unstated. Who would think it necessary to explain that statements such as “Now, that is a real woman” meant not only all types of context-dependent things but also included reference to a female? Certainly, we can try to cleave the social context of being a woman from the biological and then apply the term to whomever wants to claim the label, but what do we gain as a society for doing so? And what do we lose? (There is much to the social aspect of womanhood that is inseparable from being female. Do we lose this sense so that we can cater to the subjectivity of the few?) I also wonder why the modifier must be “biological”. Why not “social”? Using “biological” as a modifier to woman suggests an unstated assumption that the essence of “woman” is the social—it becomes the default. Once we have assumed such, we have already entered the funhouse of social constructionism. Good luck escaping.

    I admit being vexed by this issue. One wants to treat people cordially and with compassion. (This is why the activists have weaponized empathy.) Nevertheless, there comes a point at which I simply cannot partake of their falsehoods.

    1. Your vexation highlights one of my concerns. It is perfectly reasonable (if no real harm is being done) to tolerate other peoples’ beliefs and behaviours. The demand that other peoples’ beliefs and behaviours should be respected is perhaps a demand too far, especially as ‘respect’ for my own beliefs and behaviours is sadly lacking.

  8. I thought you had mentioned this book earlier so I checked. I thought WEIT was the first place I’d heard about it . This attribution was mentioned, very briefly — no wonder you didn’t remember it — in an article he’d written for Quillette in which you were critical of many points raised in his essay. It is dated February 10, 2023 and under these tags: academics, Science, science journalism.

    1. The last article linked to just says that puberty blockers give a person extra time to make important decisions. Beyond that, nobody claims that hormones or even surgery “make” a man or woman. The claim is that certain features of the human brain make a man or woman, and that when this causes discomfort due to a conflict with things like mammary glands and genitals, it can be safer and healthier to change the latter than to attempt to live with the conflict or change the brain.

      I could understand if you disagree with any of that.

      1. That article is remarkably dishonest, even by SciAm’s current standards. The author ignores all evidence that doesn’t fit her agenda. How, in 2023, do you write an article about puberty blockers without even mentioning England, Norway, Sweden, Finland?!?!

      2. Yes, I understand that this is the reason given for using puberty blockers, cross sex hormones and at times surgery. Blockers slow/interrupt a process and that thing which is interrupted is not a separate thing from the “sex of the brain”, nor is delaying, deciding and any and all of that. It is part and parcel of how you turn a man into a woman. That’s the theory, anyway.

      3. Lupron and similar drugs “give a person extra time to make important decisions” the same way that turning the keys in the ignition gives a person time to decide where to drive. Very few drivers who turn the key on then decide to turn the key off and not go anywhere, and very few “trans kids” who start puberty blockers later decide not to start cross-sex hormones.


  9. Thanks for calling Goldblatt’s book to my attention. I downloaded and have eagerly begun reading it. I’m totally in sympathy with his main argument about Wokism, but I came across this in his chapter on “A Brief History of Subjectivity”:

    “To summarize: The realist says that we can know the world beyond our perceptions. . . . The idealist says that our perceptions are the only things we truly know.”

    Well and good, but Goldblatt seems to want to equate and the difference between realism and idealism with the difference between objectivity and subjectivity. I can’t agree. It seems to me a huge mistake, as I’ve discovered from arguing with my wife, to dismiss the subjective as irrelevant or, worse, non-existent.

    The true realist, IMO, is the one who says that we can know both our perceptions AND the world beyond our perceptions. Granted, we live in a society that denigrates the subjective—e.g., “That’s just subjective.” You never hear anyone say “That’s just objective.” And yet it should go without saying that many of the things that we value the most abide in the realm of the subjective.

    Below is a poem of mine about that can happen when we neglect or undervalue the subjective.

    by Gary Miranda

    Some people would remember iron
    railings, the color of buildings,
    how a dog circled three times
    before settling in—novelists,
    certainly, or just good talkers.

    Most of us take only the light
    from a place, and translate even that
    into the way our spirits shape
    the light. We flash into knowledge,
    which, if we ignore it, will not forgive us.

    Objects can survive fine on their own,
    but the feel for how this face, that
    window, falls upon the momentary
    way we hold ourselves could easily
    get lost, and who would find it?

    Such loss, if lived with, stiffens
    into pain; it stands up, starched
    and handsome, ready to please the neighbors.
    We find ourselves forgetting dreams, whole
    days, the last time we were honest;

    we ask ourselves: say something
    in childhood, and feel only the weight
    of what that means brush against
    our face like snow. “Like snow,”
    we say, not even coming close.

    1. I appreciate the poem, but seeing a poem inserted in this discussion brings to mind what another commenter mentioned some days past: we are, in many ways, witnessing the continued struggle of the Romantic movement, or some elements thereof, against the Enlightenment.

      Is Goldblatt really arguing against subjectivity and devaluing its place in life? What I would argue against is the elevating of a subjective impression into a general truth claim that others must affirm. In the realm of feeling such impressions cannot be demonstrated; they cannot be proved. They can only be believed. This is the essence of a faith, and it rightly offends reason. The necessity of offense has been recognized in Christianity at least from Paul to Kierkegaard (even if the common believer sees no conflict between the feeling and the knowing). It is only one of many reasons why wokeness can justly be called a secularized religion. This family resemblance to traditional faiths likely explains why many believers within such faiths, as well as unbelievers possessing a strong familiarity with them, saw wokeness for what it is long before many of the secular associates of the woke had fully recognized what had taken root and risen among them.

      1. “What I would argue against is the elevating of a subjective impression into a general truth claim that others must affirm.”

        I couldn’t agree more. I have no need or desire to have others affirm my subjective beliefs, whether it be my belief in God or my belief that the Beatles are the best band ever. It just happens that my basic stance toward the universe is one of thanks. That being the case, I posit “God” as a target for my gratitude. I wouldn’t expect others, especially those less fortunate than I, to adopt such a belief.

  10. I still go with the view that the terms “man” and “woman” identify gender, and as such they are social constructs that hinge upon how one presents themselves, and how others perceive you. So a trans man is a man and a trans woman is a woman, if that is how they wish to present themselves and be referred to. It is simply polite to be agreeable to this, if that is what they want, and impolite to pointedly deny it of them. It does you no harm to be polite.
    But a trans man is also a female (a biological female), and a trans woman is a male / biological male. Because gametes.
    I believe we were just posting about this very thing here the other day.

    1. If who is a “man” and who is a “woman” hinge upon how we present ourselves and how others perceive us, then when explorers took aboriginal females back to their home country and mocked them as “not actual women,” they were right. Those females really weren’t women. When a gentle boy wearing pink is cornered in an alley by bullies jeering that he’s just a sissy-girl, they’re right. That’s not a boy. If society decides an unfeminine woman isn’t a woman, or an unmanly man is no man, they’re not wrong. They’re absolutely right. And progressive, too. The culture has decoupled sex from the categories “man” and “woman.”

      If being polite can legitimately confer womanhood on males, then being cruel can legitimately take it away from females.

    2. My litmus test as to how much I believe a transwoman is a woman is this:
      If I were single (which I’m not) and was sexually attracted to women (which I am), would I be willing to have sex with a transwoman who answered my dating profile or asked me to buy her a drink in a nightclub?

      My answer is an unequivocal No. They can play on women’s sports teams before I would sleep with one. About lots of women I might think, “Well, she’s sounds like she could be a nice fit once I get to know her, and I’m kind of flattered as I’m not exactly A-list myself.” But a transwoman? No way. And I would have to tell her, politely but pointedly to her face that I deny she’s a woman so will she please stop hitting on me.
      (I’m using her female pronouns here out of respect but in real life I’d be addressing her in the second-person “you”.)

      I have curiosity about who trans people actually think find them sexually attractive but that’s for another time and perhaps none of my business, as long as they stop calling me a transphobic bigot because I categorically don’t.

      A lot of people say the right things about respecting trans people and extending all the civil rights to them (which they have already) and only want reasonable exclusions in sport, shelters, prisons, and bathrooms (all of which trans activists reject.) But they never seem willing to say if they’d date one. And I don’t mean take-a-hint weasel words like, “Well, you’re not exactly my type….” I mean, “No. You are not who you say you are.”

      It’s almost as if the whole world of transgenderism exists in this strange universe where no one has sex (except for men raping women in prison cells.) They just “participate fully in society according to their realized gender identity.” (to quote from a comment under Hossenfelder’s video.) What does this even mean?

      1. “A lot of people say the right things about respecting trans people and extending all the civil rights to them (which they have already) and only want reasonable exclusions in sport, shelters, prisons, and bathrooms (all of which trans activists reject).”

        Well, I’ll stick my neck out here and say I agree with all the above. I support full equality for trans people, and I mean this sincerely. Being a trans person must be a very difficult life, and such people have my every sympathy and support. But when it comes to this:

        “But they never seem willing to say if they’d date one.”

        I am perfectly willing to say no I wouldn’t, it’s not my thing.

        However, I don’t think this scenario is one which occurs much in the real world. I work with a trans person (he -> she) and she absolutely hates what a tiny, but militant group of activists has done to her community. This kerfuffle damages normal (non-militant) trans people more than any other group, it paints them as zealots who want to force the ideology on everybody else, and it’s just not true.

        The vast majority of trans people are just normal, chilled out people. They have extra challenges navigating life, but they certainly don’t think that everybody should find them irresistible. This belief that you MUST find trans people hot, and that you are a bigot if not, is held by probably 5% of the trans community. They are not the problem at all; the problem comes from non-trans people from militant activist groups. They aren’t bothered about trans people – they are simply incensed by the fact that you will not acquiesce to their demands to view everybody equally, all the time.

    3. “social constructs”

      Deepity alert – see Translations from the Wokish by James Lindsay.

  11. We need to be careful not to use a term that becomes so expansive as to be meaningless. For more than a half century the right wing has called programs that they don’t like such as social security or Medicare to be socialistic or communistic, thereby stripping those ideologies of their true meaning. Likewise, I don’t like referring to wokeism as a religion. For me, a religion’s basis has some supernatural component. You can say that wokeism has some trappings of religion, but that doesn’t make it one. Moreover, it doesn’t serve the cause to call anything with a leftist tinge that one doesn’t like as woke and a religion as some on the right do. This will only turn non-woke people on the left against those combating wokeism. We should concentrate on how wokeism is infecting higher education, business, and government. Stop the silliness about it being a religion. Reject the efforts of Republicans to label anything Democrats propose as wokeism. In other words, don’t let the right wing co-opt the battle against wokeism for their political purposes. Allies such as Marjorie Taylor Greene or Matt Gaetz can result as a boon for wokeism. Don’t let the general public think that criticism of wokeism is just another right wing lunacy.

    1. Don’t let wokeism trick you into calling it a religion. It’ll want protection under the First Amendment’s free exercise thereof and then it’ll want tax-deductible contributions to its churches.

  12. “We should concentrate on how wokeism is infecting higher education, business, and government.”

    Most of the uproar is not what you cite … rather it is the psychological, hormonal, and surgical assault on children. I suggest you stop The Woke from being warriors for that.

    1. But what you call “the psychological, hormonal, and surgical assault on children” is only happening because “wokeism is infecting higher education, business, and government”.

  13. I think woke-ism is a political movement for promoting equal outcome by discriminating privileged groups.

  14. It has been long taken as axiomatic in the academic traditions of moral reasoning that different moral treatment must be justified by morally relevant differences. One such difference is age (e.g. babies aren’t given the rights or the responsibilities of adults), and another is criminal conduct. The key term here is “relevant”. Imagine a serious car accident, then when the ambulance arrives the EMT says “Sorry- can’t take you to the hospital; your hair is red”. Nobody except a crank would accept that justification, because hair color isn’t morally relevant. Same with pretty much every other characteristic: eye color, IQ, taste in ice cream, religious beliefs, and on and on.

    It’s the same with sexual orientation and gender identity. Moral treatment of individuals who are atypical in those respects must be the same as for more typical individuals, because those distinctions are irrelevant. We treat people as people because they are people (I should use the word “persons” because that term has special meaning in moral theory, and would include chimps, dolphins, dogs and other sentient animals), not because someone argues that the differences are imaginary and that those who acknowledge those differences are the dregs of humankind. Those arguments are faulty because they are false, because they require special pleading for every form of inter-personal difference, and because they are untenable – denying human differences cannot succeed as a rationale for equal treatment; recognizing the simple fact that those differences exist but don’t matter can.

    Per my thinking, the wokists’ atrocious reasoning is part and parcel of their complete ignorance of any other sources of information than their own imaginations fulminating within their own intellectual bubbles, as they hand down their divine truths of “lived experience” from Mt Sinai. They are ignorant of reasoning related to social justice, ignorant of science and on and on…. They are walking illustrations of the Dunning-Kreuger effect- they don’t know enough to know how much they don’t know. And they are convinced that anyone who thinks differently is an enemy to be crushed, not another human being they might- just might- learn something from.

  15. “It’s curious that those who are in favor of language evolving nevertheless take the hard line on “woke”, insisting it must retain its original meaning.”

    Just one example of the extreme lack of logic in wokeness.

    I like the definition that wokeness is what is believed by people who self-identify as woke. Since most woke claim to be on the left, one can make that more specific by adding that it refers only to those beliefs which are not part of the traditional liberal/progessive/leftist agenda.

  16. In my rummaging around psychology books of the likes of Dan Kahneman et al. It was found IIRC that individuals when asked a hard question and no easy answer was readily available, they would answer by asking themselves “how do I FEEL… ” and this is generally a go to position.
    Admittedly a wide hole but into that subjective hole we go.

  17. I think an aspect of wokism that isn’t emphasized enough makes the parallel with religion clear : it simply appears in conversation, posters, or institutions as if no evidence or questions are expected – as if it gets a “free pass”.

    That might sound easy, then, to counter with evidence. But for wokism, the end game is not deciding between true or false, likelihood, degrees – but the side of oppressor or oppressed. For Christians perhaps a more complex end game is going on.

    I arrive at that conclusion from (perhaps everyone can tell) James Lindsay’s analysis on New Discourses. I have to get McWhorter’s Woke Racism to see how much he discussed that.

    1. editing required : “conversation, posters, or institutions” – scratch that weird trio.

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