***long read for the weekend***
July 2022, UK, planet earth
Many of us do not forget we are well past the time we could have dealt with the climate crisis without cataclysmic consequences. Many of us are grappling with the cost of living crisis (that is, our government’s complete failure to address the problem of depressed wages accompanied by huge rent and bill rises), with the refugee crisis (that is, our government’s complete failure to deal with escalating wars, the climate crisis or even treat the resulting refugees decently), the housing crisis (that is, our government’s complete failure to realise that managing housing availability is their job), or the NHS crisis (that is, our government’s complete failure to see our essential services as anything more than a side-line business opportunity).
For some years now, many of us who are women play whatever part we can in the struggles above, whilst also having to fight back against the appallingly misogynistic behaviours many individuals and organisations indulge in over the trans issue.
The history books tell it
If you read about the state of society in the last days of the Roman empire, or any other big world system that ran itself into the ground, you will find over-entitled leaders of failing organisations behaving like spoiled children, whilst the neurotically terrified and those in steely denial sign up to nonsense theories and religions, in fated attempts to stick to a world-story they can cope with. I personally suspect the increasingly undeniable global crises facing us are a large part of why ‘the trans thing’ has got the grip that it has over many people. It’s most definitely not rational – any more than is the denial-fest coming out of 10 Downing Street this week.
The ACTUAL news this week
This week, whilst the mainstream news enthused over a blow-by-blow account of the remnant of our dysfunctional government trying to remove a spoiled child (his mother must be so embarrassed) from no10, the women’s campaign hit some extraordinary milestones. The failings of the Tory party’s government, and the appalling lack of aptitude displayed by the opposition who still struggle to match Johnson’s shower in the polls was NOT the big news.
From the courts
Due to our government’s and the vast majority of MPs’ complete failure to address the problem of women’s rights being challenged (Stonewall et al seek to replace ‘sex’ in law with the fuzzy, ideology-based concept of ‘gender identity’), women have had to address the problem through public campaigns (for which we are regularly vilified and marginalised) and the courts (well, whatever else happened in the last few years, some lawyers must have got very rich). The results usually come down in our favour, one way or another, because despite what the misogynistic tide may suggest, ‘sex’ is a protected characteristic and women do have the right to require language, services and association based on our sex.
The big one this week was Maya Forstater’s victory in her case against her former employers. Here are the magic words from the court ruling, the bit that details what we have finally established that women are allowed to think:
… if you are one of those who managed to miss all this (perhaps you are a man, or you are a woman who only ever says and does what she’s been permitted to say and do by our male-centred establishment), please think for a moment about everything you’ve been told about the women’s movement (you know, anti-trans hate groups, and all that). Please try to remember that all those lies got the opportunity to fly around the world whilst we were trying to run the sex-based rights campaign in a world that persists in acting as though it’s illegal/fascist/dangerous to talk realistically about women or sex. Talking realistically – that is what got women’s groups branded as ‘hate groups’, and women hounded out of jobs and political roles.
Here is Maya’s press statement…
… if you are an employer, a councillor or council officer, or if you hold any political or trade union roles, you may like to have a think and check whether you have illegally disqualified any women from political or employment positions in the last few years.
Social media was great fun in the hours after the Forstater result came out – everyone seemed to be letting rip, righting the wrongs of five years and more. I quite liked this one…
But what about the children?
As we (women in the UK) move ever closer to re-establishing acceptance of our sex-based rights, many of us, in our huge but strangely private and studiously ignored women’s world, have been discussing all year the importance of getting the attention back on what is happening to our children. The results of those discussions are seeing daylight now, with Miriam Cato’s presentation in Westminster, with this week’s broadcast from Transgender Trend, and the Woman’s Place meeting coming up on the 21st.
A bit of a drag
One of the many things the world hasn’t grasped yet, but that many women are keenly concerned about, is the way mature male cross-dressers contribute to the dangers our children are vulnerable to. The root of it seems to be some men’s enthusiasm for legitimising their own behaviour by dragging (sorry) kids into the trans story.
In the last couple of weeks, the most visible action women have taken to flag this up is their challenge to ‘drag-queen story hour’. The response of the organisers illuminates two very important issues. The first is the habitual claim that women’s actions come from ‘fascist’ or ‘far right’ organisations, the other is that their statement tag-ins and fund-raising choices demonstrate their connection with Mermaids, the organisation many of us suspect has been responsible for more transing of children than any other in the UK.
A word on those two issues:
1. The far-right thing
I remember a grumble by a rugby commentator at a match in Ireland a few years back, when there was a bit of a ruckus, “the problem with the English is that they don’t know their history,” he said. I’d say our schools have more or less stopped teaching history in a meaningful way, judging by what some people manage to emerge from universities not knowing.
Anyone with any sense of cultural history, for example, would know that far-right and militaristic cultures have always been very much in support of drag (which stands for “dressing up as girls”). Just look at 1930s Berlin – or the records of forces entertainments schedules from just about any country in the 20th century.
The reason the myth of ‘gender critical’ people being far right hangs onto life despite reams of evidence to the contrary is that there are people on the right who can’t cope with anyone stepping outside stereotypes, and they sometimes attack transgenderism because they think it ‘unnatural’, or something – but if you look a little deeper, you’ll realise that only a sexist, norm-bound society can have concepts such as “dressing up as girls”.
In fact, it is sexist, norm-bound societies that use it. Look at modern day Iran, for example – sexist, stereotype-driven cultures tend to prefer ‘changing sex’ to the idea of being gay or lesbian. In extreme times and places, ‘changing sex’ may be made compulsory, as a ‘cure’ for being gay or lesbian.
Yes, there’s been a lot of noise in the UK in the last couple of years about ONE women’s group, inspired by ONE PARTICULAR woman, working with far-right, religious and in some cases, anti-abortion groups in the States. This is unsurprising, because the movement coming out in support for women’s legal rights comes from ALL sections of our society, and therefore from all political stances. The vast majority of the women’s groups currently active in the UK movement are either socialist or middle-of-the-road, politically. That is because most people are either socialist or middle-of-the-road.
2. The transing children thing
In a nutshell, ‘changing sex’, or appearing to do so socially (because it’s not physically possible really — see Forstater ruling) has been around for decades, and has traditionally been largely the preserve of menopausal males wanting to present as women. Where women present as men (again, knowing your history helps) that has normally been in situations where women are not allowed to wear practical clothes, or take part in active roles – so they pretend to be men to do so; or else in times and places where being lesbian was just too dangerous, one member of a lesbian couple would pose as a man, to give the appearance of a normal marriage.
In the last ten years or so (as it happens, since Stonewall, Mermaids and other trans-oriented organisations started doing presentations about transgenderism in schools) there has been an exponential increase in the number of children and adolescents, particularly girls, wanting to ‘change sex’.
If you don’t know much about it, and would like to know more, I recommend that you start right now — the consequences of ignorance about it are serious for our children, and safeguarding is supposed to be everyone’s concern. Here is a link to Miriam Cate’s speech, and the details of the events I mentioned above…
Please also consider signing up to Fact and Fiction, with Transgender Trend, or book yourself a ticket for the up-coming Woman’s Place UK event in Lewes.
Things still appear to be worse in the United States than they are here, but the way women get treated for speaking their minds is much the same. There were two big stories from the celebrity end of women’s lives this week: Bette Midler producing a tweetful of definitely not-permitted opinions.
She immediately became a hero over here, and I dashed in and called for the women’s movement to adopt my favourite song…
… after her first tweet, and a tide of angry responses, Bette followed up with this…
(the article’s worth a read, it explains the nature of the misogynistic tide.)
… most of us smiled sympathetically. We’ve all been there, Bette – first, you carelessly say something you are thinking about the world’s attitude to women, then someone says you’re transphobic, then you say ‘but I only said…’ and then, when the abuse dies down a bit, they give you a list of things you can and can’t say, and some things you must say, and tell you to behave from now on. Then, either you retreat, a broken woman, or you become a raging ‘terf’ (or feminist, as we prefer to call ourselves). See you soon, Bette!
Meanwhile, shameless shock-jock Piers Morgan decided to have another show with ‘women who say shocking things’. This week’s example was Macy Gray, who willingly (and according to the mainstream narrative, shockingly) said that you can
“call yourself what you want but you can’t change sex”and she said that
“Being a little girl is a whole epic book, you know. You can’t have that just because you want to be a woman.”
It’s worth watching the whole (outrageous apparently) 12 minutes, in which Gray says what most women are thinking on several issues – in case you managed to miss it, here it is…
… so now you know why I have that wonderful flag image at the top of this blog – brilliant idea, Macy! I wonder if we could come up with something as lovely for the UK flag?
And then the inevitable backlash landed on Macy – one accusation in particular will do to illustrate – those on twitter who immediately brought up the case of two transwomen (male) who were killed by men (male) in the US recently. Tweeters did their best to claim that the responsibility for males killing males lies with women like Macy saying things like ‘call yourself what you like but…’
She seems to be coping with them fairly well.
As have other prominent women who received similar pile-ons
Perhaps now we have the Forstater ruling to back us up, more UK women will find the same mood.
[ NB written a week or so later – there is, of course, a sequel to the US side story. Here’s my version…
And here, as we’re short of sensible, socialist men who care to comment on what happens to women, is Piers Morgan’s version…
… you know, I’ve been talking a lot about the left in the UK losing its women activists (who generally used to do all the boring work for political parties) there really is a danger now that the less warrior-like women are going to end up voting Conservative in sheer frustration.]
Women and politics
So, bearing in mind the state of our government and, I think, the near ubiquitous realisation that we need to get rid of the current incumbents of Downing Street, where are we, as women campaigners, with UK politics? We don’t hold out much hope for the Labour Party – although, I hasten to say, some women are still battling away in the Labour Party to get them to give the slightest consideration to women and gay people. I wrote about this week’s skirmish here…
If you think I’m overstating the case there, please consider that the Labour Party have also rejected FiLiA, organisers of the biggest women’s conference in Europe, and the LGB Alliance – the newest and most active organisation I know of, that specialises in the needs of same sex attracted people. If you believe, as I do, that addressing issues of sex, race and class are *the* most important things a political party needs to be grounded in, you’ll see why I think we need something far better than the political parties currently operating in Westminster.
One of the things which will eventually be seen as a gain from all this nonsense is that many, many women now realise that we cannot trust men, or women in thrall to men’s language and outlook, to run things for us, so I will finish with a quote from Jane Clare Jones, from her article about the political allegiances row I mention above…
“Women cannot trust, and have never been able to trust, any political movement dominated by men to represent women’s political interests. That is why – that has always been why – we need a women’s movement. That is why males – from both the left and the right – have an interest in colonising that movement and turning it against women’s interests. That is why women who want to court institutional male power are rewarded for colluding in turning our movement against us. That is why, over and over again, we must build and rebuild our movement, from the ground up, on the basis of what women need to lead flourishing human lives, and what women need to be free.”Jane Clare Jones, in ‘Purity Spirals, Political Alliances, and Movement Building’
… there is no question now, we need the women’s movement. If you haven’t already, please join in. If you’re not sure where to start, start with FiLiA.
Involve yourself in the political parties we have if you think it will help. Personally, I think there’s more to be gained from the trade unions, now we have this ‘demand better’ campaign, in which most of the unions have agreed to work together to address some of our more urgent problems – but also, if you are female, please involve yourself in the women’s movement. We are going to need that more than ever. If you are male, please support and facilitate the women’s movement any way you can, even if it’s only by agreeing to hold the fort once in a while so that herself can go to a women’s meeting.
And never forget – from now on, everywhere you go, any time you speak, remember Maya Forstater has won her case – it’s official – you have a right to say what you think a woman is, and talk about it, and say why it matters.
Times are hard, and so the articles on this site are freely available but if or when you are able to support my work by donating a few pounds, I am very grateful.