written by Lisa Keogh
NOTE: This is one of many testimonies regarding institutional capture, given to me by employees, students and service users in various sectors across the UK. See this page for more examples.
In the very first class I managed to put a target on my back which made me stand out from my peers. This is because I was asked what my ‘definition’ of a woman was.
I started at Abertay University in 2015. I initially stared a Forensic Psychobiology Degree with an aim to do a Law conversion and become a criminal lawyer.
In 2017 I started my Law Degree. It was hard juggling university with children when I had a partner who worked away a lot. The experience all in was a good one. I generally kept myself to myself only really making 3 friends. I was always polite and would speak to everyone but as a mature student I found I didn’t have a great deal in common with the other students.
Covid hit in 2019 and I found myself home-schooling my boys and doing university classes from my home. It was a very different way of learning but I knew I would adapt. These classes were very different however, my peers were a lot more talkative which I put down to being isolated they were just happy to speak to more people and have social interactions that they had missed out on for so long. This was very enjoyable and encouraging to go to the classes. That was until the last semester.
In January 2021 I started a class “Gender, Sexuality and the Law”. It was a mandatory class and I had no idea what to expect from it. What did these things have to do with the law? I was intrigued. There were some familiar faces in the class so that was a bonus.
It soon became apparent that this class and the students in it were very different from me. They all described themselves as feminists. Now I didn’t really know what this term meant but I assumed it would be a group of girls all concerned with the rights of women. How wrong could I be?
In the very first class I managed to put a target on my back which made me stand out from my peers. This is because I was asked what my ‘definition’ of a woman was. Now I didn’t realise that this was a trick question to ‘sus’ me out. So, I answered honestly… “A woman is a person born with a vagina and the ability to reproduce.” It sounds simple enough, but this was not the answer I was expected to give and to be honest I’m still not sure what they expect from me. So after I stated that I was then asked “So, if someone can’t have children does that make them less of a woman?” and of course it doesn’t, I explained that I had friends who had trouble conceiving and I would never say that makes them less of a woman. How on earth could someone twist what I said and paint it as an insult? If a person is born with a disability for instance that doesn’t make them any less of a person I pointed out. But it got worse.
In the next class we were talking about transgender identifying people and sports. I am aware of Fallon Fox because my children partake in MMA I had heard about her and read a little about her and watched the fight that solidified in my mind that a person who is born male and has gone through puberty as a male should definitely not be competing against women. Not just in MMA but in any sport. There are so many physical differences between men and women, we are built completely different and this is something that Caitlyn Jenner agrees with me on and I would say she has more knowledge than most. So I cited this fight to my peers and lecturer who was also quite abusive to me and stated the physical differences between men and women were fact at which point the lecturer muted me and turned off the chat function so that I could no longer partake. I was told my opinion was wrong and irrelevant and I didn’t know what I was talking about because I was a typical white cis girl. At the time I wasn’t fully aware what this meant but I knew enough to know I wasn’t allowed to use ‘labels’ but I was being labelled. I was called transphobic among other names. What is wrong with my views? In my head they were just logical. I was unable to defend my stance however because I had been muted.
The class that sealed my fate was near the end of the semester. The lecturer and the girls in the class were saying that “all men were rapists”. Now I know this is just unfounded and untrue. All men are not rapists, but lets say for a second they are right, why are they so happy to share a changing room with a man? Why do they want to share women’s safe spaces with men? Again for asking these questions I was met with a torrent of abuse both from my peers and the lecturer, the very person who should have been moderating the class, not running at me with a pitchfork for questioning her… Isn’t university a place where we should be able to question things? Not Abertay it would seem. So I defended men, I stated that all men were not rapists, because they are not. I pointed out I have sons and I will bring them up to respect women, to which my sons were abused. I pointed out these people have fathers, brothers, uncles and male friends, were they really saying that all men were rapists? I was told I was missing the point and when asked what the point was no one seemed to be able to give me it.
I then found out a complaint had been made against me for ‘inappropriate comments’ and I was summoned to a meeting. I was keen to find out what these comments were and also a little worried because I couldn’t recall anything of the kind. I could recall being abused in that class for my different views during the debates, but I was 100% I hadn’t said anything untoward.
I was right, when I went to the meeting the first question asked was “Did you say that only women have vaginas?” I sort of laughed and explained myself. The next question followed, “Can you see why this is offensive?” absolutely not and I don’t think any other logically thinking person would. The next question was “Did you say men are physically stronger than women?” and the questions continued on like this.
My name was dragged through the mud, but I had to make people aware of the institutional insanities that happen. My worry is this is happening on a much higher scale but people are scared to come forward and speak about it. For many reasons, social exclusion, job prospects and losing their jobs just being a few. I went through 2 months of torture and to make it worse I was sitting my finals and writing a dissertation, ironically on Human Rights. The stress I was under, not knowing if all this hard work was for nothing was tormenting. It was cruel of the university to do this especially given the timing. It would have been so easy for me to fold and apologise for a quiet life, but I couldn’t do that. I can’t apologise for speaking facts and truth. This is the very foundation law is built on. It was found the complaint couldn’t be upheld. Both the university and my class mates know why as do I.
I know there will be many employers who now wont look at me due to this but I had to put my morals first and stand up to this bullying behaviour and scaremongering. My hope is now that others will stand against this otherwise my fight is for nothing.
I lost friends, one of which was a lifelong friend and sadly part of the complaint. Knowing what I had been through when she twisted the knife hurt me because she of all people knows what was said was absolute lies. I expected more from her, but being part of a witch hunt meant more to her than true friendship and I’m glad it happened now because I can close that chapter of my life and move on.
I have picked up new friends on the way. Women I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with and call my sisters! Women of all ages and backgrounds who accept me and my views and that is what true friendship is about.
I am now aware that I am Gender Critical, but before I just thought it was common sense.