Email Exchange from WMST-L:
First Email to WMSTL by Alice Dreger: Sept. 19, 2007:
On Monday, Joelle Ruby Ryan posted a CFP for the NWSA meeting for a session called "The Bailey Brouhaha: Community Members Speak Out on Resisting Transphobia and Sexism in Academia and Beyond." Ms. Ryan's call contains a number of interesting questions, but is, unfortunately, laden with factual errors and misrepresentations about the history of the Bailey controversy and my work. Those who wish to read my scholarly history of the matter can find a preprint at: http://bioethics.northwestern.edu/faculty/work/dreger/controversy_tmwwbq.pdf
I also encourage interested women's studies scholars to consider the call for commentaries on the work: http://bioethics.northwestern.edu/faculty/work/dreger/controversy_tmwwbq_cfc.pdf
Archives of Sexual Behavior will publish my paper, commentaries, and my response to the commentaries in mid 2008. I'm gratified that over 60 scholars from diverse fields have already expressed interest in providing commentaries on it. I hope Women's Studies scholars will be represented among them.
In this work, I trace what happened to Bailey, a sex researcher who said some politically unpopular things.. What happened to Bailey was shocking and important enough that my findings were covered in the
New York Times a few weeks ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/21/
health/psychology/21gender.html I encourage scholars in Women's
Studies to read my paper because I think they are in danger of similar things happening to them, since they often say politically unpopular things.
Alice Dreger, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Clinical Medical Humanities and Bioethics Feinberg School of Medicine Northwestern University personal website: www.alicedreger.com program website: www.bioethics.northwestern.edu email@example.com
A response to Dreger by Emi Koyama: Sept. 20, 2007:
On Sep 19, 2007, at 6:40 PM, Alice Dreger, Ph.D. wrote:
> In this work, I trace what happened to Bailey, a sex researcher > who said some politically unpopular things.
> I encourage scholars in Women's Studies to read my paper because > I think they are in danger of similar things happening to them, > since they often say politically unpopular things.
As someone who has been wrongly associated with Bailey and received some of the nasty attacks due to my supposedly unpopular position (see <http://eminism.org/archive/2007/05/10-8.html>, <http://eminism.org/archive/2007/04/25-5.html>), I would still caution this equation of attacks against Bailey with those often faced by Women's Studies scholars.
There is definitely a difference between members of a marginalised group (transsexual people) overreacting (however excessively) to an "expert" whose publications about them are perceived to reinforce the oppression against them and therefore as a threat to their lives, and the sort of backlash from the dominant group often experienced by Women's Studies scholars for exposing and confronting oppressive institutions.
Emi Koyama <firstname.lastname@example.org> http://eminism.org/
Response by Alice Dreger: Sept. 20, 2007
I respectfully disagree, Emi, both as a feminist scholar who is now being attacked (in truly weird ways, I must say) for her scholarship on this and as someone who believes there are, in fact, key similarities between what happened to Bailey and what sometimes happens to Women's Studies scholars who expose and confront oppressive institutions. In both cases, there are profound misrepresentations by "critics" about the work of the scholar and, in both cases, claims about identity are taken as being more important than indisputable facts. In both cases, "critics" have tried to get the scholars' institutions to censure and censor them. I do think that Women's Studies scholars are more likely than, say, straight white male scientists, to be attacked via these methods, and that's why urge them to be aware.
To state the obvious, marginalization doesn't make you right, any more than being in power makes you right. – Alice Dreger
Response by Emi Koyama: Sept. 20, 2007
I don't think we disagree, or at least what you wrote below doesn't contradict anything I've said. I stated that they are similar but not the same, and you are saying that they are similar, which I am not disputing.
Being marginalised doesn't make one's behaviours right--and I've never suggested that it did--but it does call for some empathy, especially when the person doing the judging isn't part of that marginalised group.
Just so you know, I challenged Joelle's characterisation of your work when it came up on another list (trans-academics), and told her that she was putting herself at risk as a scholar working within a controversial field (trans issues) by tolerating tactics that breed fear and stifle academic freedom. I don't disagree with you at all here. I'm just concerned that you do not seem to recognise the important difference between a marginalised group overreacting to outside "experts" and the dominant group silencing inconvenient scholarship.
- Emi Koyama email@example.com
Final response by Alice Dreger: Sept. 21, 2007
You're right -- we agree. (I.e., there is certainly a difference between a marginalized group and a dominant group in these situations.) Below is a relevant excerpt from my article, evidencing
I also appreciate your advising Joelle Ruby Ryan " that she was putting herself at risk as a scholar working within a controversial field (trans issues) by tolerating tactics that breed fear and stifle
academic freedom." I would add that one is not acting like a scholar when one repeatedly misrepresents facts and the work of other scholars, as Ms. Ryan did in her CFP.
Thanks very much, Emi.