Deirdre McCluskey and Crossing, Steubenville and Landsberg

One of the best books I ever read was Deirdre McClusky’s Crossing. It is the story of her journey from Donald to Deirdre. It is heart wrenching and exhilarating and a thousand other trite words. If I could write like her…. oh anything!


I don’t have my copy, any of my copies any more. Its a book I’ve bought and given away more times than I can count. I gave to many friends who I knew were, if not out and out homophobic, at least queasy about the idea of gay and lesbian relationships, as in “its okay for someone else, but I wouldn’t want my daughter…” It is not a book about gays and lesbians. It is a book about changing gender in our society. It is a great book  precisely because it made you think about gender and sex. It took the idea of things that might be different from the standard and turned it into something good and strong and reachable.

What surprised me is that several of my early boomer/greatest generation friends actually came to me and said “I was wrong about homosexuality and this book helped me see it”.

There is one particular part in the book that stays with me, even though I  haven’t read it in years. I can’t quote exactly, because, as I said, I have given away all my copies. This is based on my memory. McCluskey is an economist, and people tried to use economic reasoning about cost/benefit to persuade him not change. She says that there are some things that are just not subject to cost benefit analysis – they are too fundamental to measure in that way.

I thought of this when I was reading about some of the nonsense that Steven Landsberg, an economist at U Rochester, said about the Steubenville Rape Case. I’m not linking to his nonsense – if you must, go find him on the internet. He was busy interpreting the case in particular, and rape in general, in terms of libertarian economic reasoning. He did not get McCluskey’s point (which he should at least know of, as she is quite famous for her work). People, not just women people, have things that are precious and important and vital and critical to sense of self. They are just not amenable to that kind of analysis.


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