This is a post-letter to a young woman who protested against the meeting to discuss changes to the Gender Recognition Act. You know who you are.
You were holding up a placard with misogynistic slurs, you put a mask on and blocked the path of women who could be your mothers and grandmothers, you encouraged your masked male colleagues to intimidate them, you abused women you never met before. And you turned a deaf ear when trans-identifed male speaker came out to appeal to you to calm down and stop trying to prevent a democratic and peaceful gathering. You also refused to come in and politely debate your point.
For a long time now, I ‘ve been trying to gently explain to you why this wasn’t ok, but you are not listening. In fact you’ve done it again and now we need to talk.
There is 3.8 billion women on this planet. We are harmed in myriad ways by male violence and misogyny. We spent hundreds of years fighting for the rights and protections we have. We are not going to allow you and a bunch of privileged white students drunk on postmodernism, who have no life experience or knowledge of the issues, to jeopardise our lives. We are not going to allow you to jeopardise YOUR life. So listen up!
A man is not a woman. There’s no medical procedure that can change sex in humans or any other mammal. When you fight for the right of men to call themselves “women” and enter woman-only spaces on the basis of their say so, you are doing what Men’s Rights Activists have always done. You are violating women’s boundaries for personal gain. You are allowing men to colonise women’s spaces. You are creating a climate of fear where women and girls will start to withdraw from public life, because all semblance of safety – access to sex seggregated spaces when they are vulnerable – will be destroyed. Your activism is not feminism, it’s at best a misguided naiveté, and at worst opportunism to get ahead while throwing other women under the bus. And by the time you realise how foolish you’ve been, because you are “just” a woman in those men’s eyes, it’ll be too late. The way entitled men disrespect women, the way they mow women down, the way they put their own needs, feelings and wants before women’s lives and livelihoods, they’ll do the same to you when you’re no longer useful to them.
To be honest, you remind me a little bit of that woman who revels in stealing other women’s boyfriends and husbands, who gets validation that she’s “the fairest of them all” because some man chose her over another. And as the cheater man gets bored of her, she gets cheated on. Surprise! Only this woman is doing the wife or a girlfriend a favour – she’s exposing the cheater for who he is and it’s good riddance. You are gambling women’s rights away.
Also, you are not original. History is full of women who thought they were being radical and revolutionary for aiding abusive men. The patriarchy has always rewarded women who are willing to police other women. The only gift patriarchy is giving you is the ability to feel “empowered” and “privileged” about the status quo, so much so that out of gratitude, you are helping them undo legal protections designed for women and children. This is the genius of misogynists’ reverse psychology, underestimate them at your peril.
I’m sure you’re feeling wise and enlightened while you chant “transwomen are women”, but there are many things you don’t yet know. Things you cannot know unless you are willing to listen to that group you’ll belong to sooner than you think.
For example, you haven’t experienced situations that would make you care, even if you don’t want to, even if it’s hard and inconvnient, about a man putting his need for validation over your need for dignity during your pap smear. You don’t have to believe me, just reserve judgement until you’ve had ten pap smears, and a couple of kids, and a full time job, and a crappy marriage, and a chronic illness or two, a sexual assault if you are unlucky, because then you’ll be able to fully appreciate how rights women have won don’t actually translate to reality a lot of the time.
This is why misogynists are seducing you into attacking older women. They have always worked hard on interrupting the flow of information between us. This latest backlash against feminism only capitalised on it.
A woman I greatly admire, Penny White, has a video about why it’s so hard for young women to be feminists. You are young, you have a biological imperative to couple with men, you have no societal power and you are still very much in the throes of growing up, trying to figure out who you are, what you want to do with your life and where you belong. I get why it’s not easy for you, because I was in your position once, but now your baseline unwillingness to do the work of feminism has been weaponised against all women. Misogynists groomed you for your reluctance and they stuck a label “feminism” on your eagerness to bargain your way out of oppression.
And because I know you are not stupid, and that many times along the way you felt a pang that alerted you that something wasn’t quite right about the way you are made to prove your worth by attacking mothers, and constantly “checking your privilege”, you are now maintaining cognitive dissonance thanks to fear of offending “liberal” men, and being ostracised by your equally ignorant peers.
So you do what you’re told. You campaign for men’s right to masturbate to violent pornography, to purchase sex from women who were trafficked and sexually abused as children, to compete against women in sport, to call themselves “women” (because let’s face it, you are not screaming at older feminists on behalf of trans-identified women aka “transmen”, it’s always about the men, ie. “transwomen”, somehow). You enable all men to hurl misogynistic abuse at women because you do it alongside them, while liberal dudebros get to bask in the glory of being better than those vile manspreaders on public transport and the “incels” you are allowed to denounce. Don’t you see that your “feminism” must intersect with men’s interests at all times? That it’s the only framework you are allowed to operate in?
A lot of women have worked against their own interests to appease men, you are not alone. Now is the first time misogynistic narratives are so nebulous and easy to pick apart, we have a chance for a massive wake up call. One day, we’ll all be thanking trans activists for forcing the issue, for forcing us to deal with male violence once and for all.
Take the example of the trans activist art exhibition at a San Francisco library. Nothing quite says “poor oppressed transwomen” like baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire, axes covered in colours of transgender flag next to blood-stained shirts, “I punch TERFS” and “Die CIS scum”, does it?
Is there a higher, more noble cause we could be fighting than the right of male sex offenders to “identify as female” and enter women’s prisons and DV shelters where they go on to sexually harrass and even rape women?
Can there be any double standards in the fact that in the UK and Ireland one can change legal sex for almost any purpose, but trans-identified women (transmen) still can’t inherit peerage or become Catholic priests? It’s almost as if the biological sex matters and lawmakers are still making sure they privilege the men with the new rules.
You are probably now thinking about your awkward male friend from Uni, who looks a bit anxious in his blue lippy and a mini skirt, and you are about to say “what a sweetheart, he wouldn’t hurt a fly, only a monster would force him out of women’s toilets and groups”. But you must understand that to allow your friend to self-identify as a woman means you must respect Ian Huntley, the child killer, when he does the same. And as far as those “intense psychological asessements” are concerned, well, you are campaigning to remove them all. That’s what gender self-ID means – any man just says he is a woman and the law orders everybody to treat him as one. And even if for every hundred harmless gender-bending men you get only a couple of male sexual predators who will take advantage of your activism to gain easier access to victims, how many women and girls are you prepared to sacrifice for your ideological beliefs? Think about that, please.
Now for the good news. I think things will get better from here.
Trans activism in all its violence and absence of logic is exposing the festering issues in our society. Such as that the education, more precisely the ideological backdrop to it, has lead to most of us not being taught critical thinking. Look at the climate change deniers, war mongerers, anti-vaxxers. The adult world has already let you down, and I know we are not a very worthy example. A lot of species including our own are in existential peril because too many humans don’t believe or don’t care about science or facts. But you must do better. We all depend on you, like you’ll depend on your children, to undo the damage unquestioned rule of men has done.
I know that’s a lot of pressure and a big ask, but every generation has it’s benefits and challenges. You can vote, go to University, divorce, run a business, have reproductive freedom and autonomy over your own body (if you are lucky). Today rape is illegal and you have the benefit of older women paving the way for conversations around why rape isn’t being punished, through initiatives such as #MeToo and #Time’sUp. You see women in all positions of power, even if they are rare, but you know of a woman president, politician, doctor, lawyer, teacher, soldier, engineer, Nobel Prize winner. Women older than you have fought for the right of children to be protected from abuse. This is something women dreamed of for thousands of years and you get to enjoy the benefits of it.
Of course these rights aren’t unalienable. There’s a reason why men didn’t see fit to allow women equal rights, and why women were put through medical and sexualised torture, force-fed, starved, lobotomised, incarcerated, why they were even burnt at the stake as witches, before these rights were granted to them.
Something’s gone wrong with men-kind, whether it’s nature or nurture history will decide, but their fury and violence toward non-submissive women is a chronic epidemic that comes in waves. This is your wave. And we need you to be fighting in our corner, not theirs.
And trust me, there are loads of men who will accept you without forcing you to work against rights of women and children. They’ll also be much less entitled to your body, a lot less selfish, more mature and with luck, they won’t even be pornsick. They’ll be better sharers, more honest and more accepting of their own flaws. Ok, this last one is probably my wishful thinking, as I haven’t met a man yet who didn’t have to be dragged screaming into an apology most of the time. Even so, if you raise the standards of male behaviour you will only miss out on jerks that you are much better of without anyway (no matter how cute they are).
Gender ideology you are being fed is really easy to pick apart. Being a woman is not a feeling. Women can’t “identify” out of sex-based oppression. As long as you tether yourself to facts and reality, remember that the more extraordinary the claims, the more solid the evidence must be, and understand why no man’s feelings or need for validation can ever be allowed to trump the needs of children to be protected from grooming and abuse, you’ll do fine.
It was Lierre Keith who initiated me into radical feminism. She is one of the greatest thinkers of our time so I’d like to share with you a video of one of her talks. It’s only twenty minutes long and it’s really worth seeing. And when you are ready, come and join us. It’s time we build a better world.