‘A bizarre little rant’ – enriched
Some of the weirdest emails I get—and, as a transgender educator with a book out, I get a lot of them—are those blaming me for the seeming perversity of my sexual fantasies. But rather than take the trouble to read all that I have written on the subject, and there is quite a bit, my correspondents (all, of course, men) prefer to speculate at length on all the vile and degrading things that I probably like doing to people. The men who send me these e-mails are presumably exculpating themselves by positioning me as the real author of sexual fantasies which they have of course fabricated entirely without my help.
So my objection to the drops of warm hate that Brendan O’Neill splashed on the pages of my memoirs, please miss, isn’t it his lustful focus on the other’s perversity – I’m pretty used to it now. No, my objection is more basic: Brendan O’Neill did not read my book before writing or publishing his review. He scanned the index and pretended to have read it. For money. There’s simply no other way to explain the bizarre misquotes — more or less every quote — that populate his review. Let’s get rid of this:
- I’m accused of ‘demanding[ing] everyone calls me ‘Miss Lavery’. In fact, in please miss I correct people who call me that twice by emphasizing “Dr. Lavery”. It’s a running joke;
- The critic laments: “But woe to those who refuse to bow to the idea that this asshole obsessed with his dick is in fact a woman”. However on page 4, at the very beginning, I write “the desire to be a thing proves that one is not one”. Hardly the words of a “trans women are women” dogmatist – a position I clarify again and again in the book;
- At one point, pouting because I had been mean to some people comparing me to Jimmy Savile on Twitter, Mr O’Neill wrote: ‘[Lavery] goes in a cultural riff on Martian attacks!, in which he talks about the ‘womanbot’ in the film.’ Tim Burton’s classic is presumably under the critics’ radar, but of course it doesn’t contain female bots – as anyone who has read my analysis of Austin Powers (which begins by referring to a much earlier section on Burton’s film) might tell you;
- ‘It even includes a still from the movie [Edward Penishands]’ – four photos, thank you very much;
- The “cover features a picture of him with a shadow at five o’clock and a dodgy wig” – there’s a saying about the books and the covers, but it’s not a wig anyway, my friend.
And then finally:
- “It’s almost entirely Lavery’s penis – as its title confirms, Please Miss: Stunning Penis Ripping Job.’ Uh, no, it’s not. I’m talking about penises (including mine, but also their representation in Dark Jude, and a little in the work of Melanie Klein, Jacques Lacan, Judith Butler and Joan Copjec) in the first chapter then abandon the subject by the second. He returns (or rather does not return) in a short section of chapter four.
So he’s read the title, and maybe skimmed the index for any rude words he can pretend to be offended by, and took a quick look at the pages they’re on. But he hasn’t read the book, and he clearly didn’t expect anyone reading his review to notice or care. This should confuse readers of dopeeven if they are more inclined to adopt Brendan O’Neill’s view on trans civil rights than mine.
I don’t normally like to read reviews, but reading the British press munching on my book’s curse has been quite funny, in a depressing way. A colleague to whom I had sent Mr. O’Neill’s odd little diatribe replied “there must be some satisfaction in hearing the crackle of someone greedily biting the bait”. There are. But as a feminist, I’m less encouraged by lines like “Hot tip for Mr. Lavery: women don’t refer to their boobs as boobs.” On my Instagram feed, Brendan clarified this remark – even making it After ridiculous – to suggest that he only meant that working class women don’t use that word. I think someone who believes themselves to be a “first-class” type of leftist would use a more rigorous definition of class than whether or not someone describes their body in a way that Brendan O’Neill considers frivolous.
But then, Brendan O’Neill’s review of my book—as dishonest, disrespectful to his own readers, and hilarious, terrifying as it was symptomatic—exemplifies the general rule about exulting in hatred of trans women: it’s a dress rehearsal of attacks on the real thing. This is a point I make in the Austin Powers section that Brendan actually pretended to read. You may recall that at the start of this film, Austin beats up a waitress whom he correctly identified as “a man, a man!”, before later beating Basil Exposition’s mother for the same reasons. – although the second time, he is wrong. Anyway, the ones Brendan O’Neill got to read please miss because of his deliciously sinful nature will probably be disappointed to miss the “portion of his memoirs written in the style of pornography”. (There’s no such part – but what is “porn style”?) But at least by prefacing his dirty fantasies with “Lavery thinks _____,” O’Neill was able to put in light of fantasies that would otherwise continue. in his own brain swamp. Unless he’s the one sending me these anonymous emails. Well, that’s what literature is for, I guess.
Grace Lavery is the author of please miss.
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