President Oprah?

Oprah 2020?  In America, yes, it is conceivable.  When a belligerent and dubiously successful businessman and reality TV celebrity can become President of the United States, there is no reason to suppose that a narcissistic billionaire TV talk show host can’t potentially run for the office as well, and plausibly win.

The US presidency has largely become like a short-term version of the British monarchy; a figurehead whom people either love or hate based on entirely subjective and emotional reasons.  Style has not only triumphed over substance, substance is no longer part of the equation.

The Democratic Party continues to miss the point and to disappoint.  All of the same reasons they felt Trump was unqualified to be president apply to Oprah Winfrey, yet, after Trump’s victory, they are rushing to embrace his model.  She is almost an archetypically perfect point-by-point anti-Trump.  Again, it is not because they are opposites, but because they are twins.  She is his liberal incarnation; a Black, female, Democrat version of Donald Trump.

Both are obscenely wealthy, Oprah more so; both have willed themselves into popular culture; both are celebrity icons; both are endlessly enamored with their own names and shameless about self-promotion; both inhabit the highest echelons of elite power in business and the media; both are (in real life) utterly disconnected from the daily struggles of average people; and (since his campaign and election) both Trump and Winfrey can lay claim to broad popular support.  Both, also, have absolutely no political expertise or experience; though by 2020 Trump will have 4 years of experience tweeting about the brilliance of his non-accomplishments.

As a rags-to-riches Black woman, daughter of a single mother, with a record of advocating liberal causes, and connections with high level potential donors; Winfrey ticks all the right boxes for the Democratic National Committee.  She is technically an outsider in Washington, as Trump was, and can appropriate the “maverick” persona that worked in his favor in 2016.  But, all of these calculations fail to factor in the underlying reasons for Trump’s election win; namely, that there are real economic and political issues that genuinely matter to the population, which have been entirely ignored by both political parties for generations.

We can perhaps best begin on this topic by mentioning the issues that matter very little to most people, but which are at the heart of the liberal agenda and about which Oprah Winfrey has been outspoken; namely, gay rights; the definition of gender and transgender rights; gender equality; hate speech; police brutality; diversity in institutions of power; sexual harassment in Hollywood (and in the business world generally); and gun control.

While none of these issues is trivial, they are dwarfed in their significance by the fundamental economic grievances of Americans who have seen their real wages remain stagnant since the 1970s, while actual productivity has risen by around 75%.  Income inequality has grown radically over the past 3 decades; the last two generations in the US (Generateion X and the Millennials) are the first generations in American history that are worse off than their predecessors in terms of opportunity and financial stability.  Outsourcing of jobs, relocating factories outside the US, and so on, have obviously hurt workers, and this was one of the core themes of the Trump campaign that engaged with voters.  Blue collar workers, the middle class, and rural communities gambled on Trump; voters who were taken for granted as Democratic Party mainstays, precisely because the Democrats had all but abandoned them since (at least) the early 1970s.

Embracing Oprah Winfrey does not in any way represent a reversal of that abandonment.  As pointed out above, the issues she is associated with are issues of marginal importance to the traditionally Democrat voters who flocked to Trump.

Personally, I doubt Winfrey will run; but ultimately that isn’t the point.  The point is that the Democratic Party does not get the point, and nothing demonstrates that more clearly than their excitement over the possibility of an Oprah candidacy.


Gender as a social construct?                                 هل نوع الجنس يعتبر نتاج المجتمع؟

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Let’s pretend for a moment that gender is not, in fact, a product of one’s biological sex, and that it is, as the transgender community argues, a social construct.  Let’s pretend that gender is something people learn and is programmed by society.  OK; even if you accept this concept, it is still not viable for someone to change their gender.

If gender is a social construct, then we are talking about a person’s living experience; what they have learned, what they have done, how they have felt, how they have been treated, and how all of this impacts their identity.  A man has learned all his life that he is a man.  He has been treated as a man, has lived as a man, has functioned as a man; all of his experiences are as a man.  He cannot one day decide that he is a woman though he has none of a woman’s experience and background.  He is, in short, unqualified to be a woman.

It would be akin to appropriating the cultural identity of an ethnicity different from one’s own; which is something about which Liberals are quite vocally critical.  When a Caucasian person imitates the speech, mannerisms, style, and so forth of a Black person, that is called cultural appropriation, and everyone condemns it.  The person is attempting to own an identity for which their life has not qualified them.  You have not lived the experience of Black people, it is therefore invalid.  And, of course, the reverse also holds true.  The Black community ridicules any Black person who tries to “act White”; though this is often for different reasons (the general argument being that “acting White” is a form of selling out which will anyway not immunise the person from the inevitable reality of racism).  You are what you are; and whether you admit that this is a biological fact or contend that it is merely due to social programming, it remains the case.

It is tremendously negating to the lived experience of women to claim that someone who has lived his entire life as a man can become a woman by means of surgery or hormone treatment, let alone by merely deciding that he is a woman; though he has never lived or gone through what women experience.  He can imitate a woman, certainly.  He can even make himself resemble a woman.  He can never, however, BE a woman, even if we accept the argument that gender is a social construct.  In fact, this argument makes it even less plausible for one to switch their gender.  And this holds true for both males and females.  It is absurdly dismissive of the lived experience of men to claim that a woman who has lived her entire life on that side of the gender line can somehow become a man simply by injecting herself with testosterone.

There is no doubt that there IS an enormous amount of social programming for both genders, and men are taught to BE men in very specific, often tough, even repressive ways, from boyhood onward.  A woman has not undergone any of that, and even if she can superficially appropriate it, and imitate the behaviour of men, the psychological and emotional results of that lifetime of programming will never be present in her. The “social construct” of gender bars the possibility.

If you want to argue that a man dressing and behaving, and even making himself resemble a woman through surgery, or that a woman doing the same to present herself as a man, constitutes a form of freedom of expression; fine.  But, just as with any other form of personal expression, no one else in society is obliged to agree with you, nor are they obliged to refrain from criticising you.  And, just as is the case with all other forms of expression, society can decide that it is offensive or dangerous or harmful, and impose restrictions.


دعونا نتظاهر للحظة أن نوع الجنس ليس هو الجنس البيولوجي للإنسان وأن نوع الجنس، كما يدعي مجتمع المتحولين جنسيا، ليس إلا تركيب وبناء مجتمعي… أي دعونا ندعي أن نوع الجنس شيء يتعلمه الإنسان ويقوم المجتمع ببرمجته عليه، حسنا؛ حتى لو قبلنا هذا المفهوم، فهو سيظل غير قابل للتطبيق ما لم يقم الشخص بتغيير جنسه!

إذا كان الجنس عبارة عن تركيب وبناء اجتماعي، فنحن نتحدث عن تجربة حياة الشخص: ما تعلمه، وما فعله، ما شعر به، وكيف تعامل، وكيف سيؤثر كل ذلك على هويته. فسيعلم الرجل طوال حياته انه رجل، وسيتم التعامل معه على أنه كرجل، وسيعيش كرجل، ويتصرف كرجل… وكل تجاربه ستكون كرجل. ولن يقرر فجأة أنه امرأة لأنه لم يتعرض لخبرة أو خلفية النساء. فهو باختصار، غير مؤهل ليكون امرأة.

قد يكون ذلك أقرب إلى تخصيص هوية ثقافية عرقية مختلفة عن الأصل العرقي للإنسان؛ وهو شيء يعارضه الليبراليين بشدة. فعندما يقوم شخص قوقازي بتقليد طريقة نطق وتصرفات وأساليب شخص أسود، نجدهم يطلقون على هذا “استيلاء ثقافي” وهذا شيء يدينه الجميع. فمثل هذا الشخص يحاول امتلاك هوية لم تؤهله حياته لها، فهو لم يعش تجربة السود ولهذا فما يفعله لا يصلح. وبطبيعة الحال فالعكس أيضا صحيح. في المجتمع الأسود يتم التهكم من أي شخص أسود يحاول “التصرف كأبيض” على الرغم من أن هذا يتم في كثير من الأحيان لأسباب مختلفة (والحجة العامة هي أن “التصرف كأبيض” يعد شكل من أشكال التخلي عن الأصل وهذا على أي حال لن يحصن الشخص من واقع العنصرية الذي لا مفر منه… فأنت هو أنت، وسواء كنت تقر بأن هذه حقيقة بيولوجية أو تدعي أن ذلك يرجع فقط إلى البرمجة الاجتماعية، فهذا لن يغير حقيقتك في شيء.

عندما يأتي شخص عاش حياته كرجل ليدعي أنه سيصبح امرأة عن طريق الجراحة أو العلاج الهرموني فهذا لا شك يلغي بشكل هائل “تجربة حياة النساء” وكأنها تجربة غير مهمة أو لا تعني أي شيء على الإطلاق! ناهيك عن أنه قد قرر فجأة أنه امرأة؛ على الرغم من أنه لم يعيش أبدا حياة النساء ولم يختبر ما تمر به كل النساء. قد يقلد النساء بالتأكيد، بل وقد يجعل نفسه يشبه النساء، ولكنه لن يتمكن أبدا أن يكون امرأة، حتى لو قبلنا الحجة القائلة بأن البناء الاجتماعي هو الذي يحدد نوع الجنس. في الواقع، هذه الحجة تجعل من غير المقبول أن يغير المرء نوع جنسه، وهذا ينطبق على كل من الذكور والإناث. فهذا يلغي بشكل سخيف تجربة عيشة الرجال عندما تأتي امرأة عاشت حياتها كلها على هذا الجانب من نوع الجنس لتقول أنها ستصبح بطريقة أو بأخرى رجلا ببساطة عن طريق حقن نفسها بالتستوستيرون.

ليس هناك شك في أن هناك قدرا هائلا من البرمجة الاجتماعية لكلا الجنسين، فالرجال تتم برمجتهم على أن يكونوا رجالا بطرق محددة جدا، وغالبا ما تكون صعبة، وحتى قمعية، بدأ من سن الصبا إلى ما بعده، أما المرأة فهي لا تتعرض لأي من هذا، وحتى لو تمكنت من تحمله بشكل سطحي، وقلدت سلوك الرجال، فإن المحصلة النفسية والعاطفية لمثل هذه البرمجة المجتمعية لن تتواجد فيها، ببساطة لأن “البناء والتركيب الاجتماعي” لنوع الجنس يقف حائلا دون هذه الإمكانية.

إذا أردت أن تجادل بأن رجلا يريد أن يرتدي ملابس النساء ويتصرف مثلهن ويشبههن من خلال إجراء عملية جراحية، أو امرأة تفعل الشيء نفسه لتقديم نفسها كرجل، يعد شكل من أشكال حرية التعبير، فلا بأس… ولكن، كما هو الحال مع أي شكل من أشكال التعبير الشخصي، لا أحد في المجتمع ملزم بالموافقة على هذا، ولا هو ملزم بالامتناع عن انتقاده. وكما هو الحال مع جميع أشكال التعبير الأخرى، يمكن للمجتمع أن يقرر أن هذا الشيء قبيح أو خطير أو ضار، أو أن يفرض عليه قيودا.