The Women's Room forum is about the vital importance of women's spaces to help protect women and girls and envision a future of equality in the midst of patriarchy.
This is a quote from The Women's Room, by Marilyn French:
by Nina Paley, Feb 7, 2018
Last week I posted on fecebook “If a person has a penis he’s a man,” which led to my widespread denunciation as a “transphobe.” I’ve written about this before, and anyone paying attention should know better, but I nonetheless commented this:
No matter how many times I state that I have trans friends, was standing up for trans people before the current crop of MRA “transactivists” was even born, and continue to defend the human rights of trans people, people accuse me of the opposite. I tire of defending myself, and it makes no difference anyway. I hated seeing the trans movement get taken over by misogynistic men’s rights activists; I hate seeing the misogyny of the “left” growing. I am witnessing a new, deeper, “postmodern” colonization of women. I bear no ill will towards trans people and like and love several; my concern is for WOMEN, especially those who aren’t white liberal middle-or-upper class, and especially lesbians. When an aggressive white male comes here and declares “I’m a dyke!”, and other liberal men gather round to support him, I see this colonization in action.
Do stick around, it takes a while to see, but I promise you I didn’t get to this place out of ill will. It’s so easy to just say “trans women are women!” and not deal with anyone’s hate. I’m resisting for a reason.
What do I mean by colonization? I mean the literal occupation of women’s spaces – rape shelters, prisons, locker rooms, bathrooms, swimming holes, and women-only events that women have fought very hard for. By men. Physically. But a huge component of this colonization is mental, existing in the realm of ideas and “identity”. What is a woman?
A sex without a people for a people without a sex
In American Liberal thought, colonization is bad. But immigration is good. And taking in refugees is doubleplusgood. This is why Americans backed the Zionist colonization of Palestine. Israelis weren’t regarded as colonizers; they were refugees! And Palestine wasn’t even inhabited, not really. It was a land without a people for a people without a land. The only reason you could possibly object was if you were ANTISEMITIC. Even if you were Jewish yourself, you self-hating Jew!
Taking in trans “refugees from masculinity” is also doubleplusgood. This is why Liberals back the modern transactivist colonization of womanhood. “Transwomen,” who I will henceforth refer to as trans-identified males, or TiMs, aren’t regarded as colonizers; they’re refugees! And womanhood isn’t even inhabited, not really. Womanhood is a “land without a people,” because women aren’t viewed as people. We’re an open space for men to define.
What is the difference between a refugee and a colonist?
A colonist has guns and the backing of another state.
Unlike yesterday’s transsexuals – those “refugees from masculinity” – today’s TiMs have penises and the backing of Liberal Patriarchy.
My trans pals of the 90’s didn’t have today’s backing of Patriarchy. It was riskier to be trans then, even among Liberals. They more resembled refugees, and I welcomed them. They also either didn’t insist they were women, or if they did insist they were women, they ‘disarmed’, if you will, by actually going through genital surgery. Today’s TiMs proudly keep their penises and testicles and demand to have them acknowledged as “female body parts”.
Obviously, times have changed.
Men’s Rights Activists eventually figured out they could eliminate the middleman – transsexuals – and colonize women themselves. This fits nicely with regular old run-of-the-mill male dominance. Heterosexual men “identify” as lesbians, and patriarchal Liberals enforce women’s compliance. Women are not to resist or even question this program. To write, “if a person has a penis he’s a man” is an act of resistance so powerful, it will get you widely denounced and blacklisted.
You know what else would get you denounced and blacklisted in recent decades? Questioning or criticizing the State of Israel. The thought-terminating memes, the refusal to discuss, the disproportionate outrage are all familiar to my anti-Zionist activist friends.
Under the spell of American Zionism, no right-thinking Liberal believed atrocities were happening in and on behalf of Israel. No matter how much evidence activists produced, Zionist Liberals always downplayed it, or ignored it, or justified it because whatever the Palestinians were doing was surely so much worse. Likewise, no matter how much evidence feminists produce, of death threats and rape threats, of actual physical violence, of blacklisting and purging and no-platforming, we are dismissed as “transphobic.” Even when the people presenting the evidence are trans, such as Miranda Yardley and Jenn Smith.
Simultaneous marginalization and support
Of course no males would be “refugees” if they had a home in the male sex class. But it’s in Patriarchy’s interest to simultaneously marginalize and support trans people, just like it’s in Europe’s and America’s interest to simultaneously marginalize and support Jews. The marginalization drives the pressure of expansion. When people are secure in their homelands, they don’t emigrate. It’s the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free that up and move to a new land. Without antisemitism, the “west” would have no colony in the Middle East. Without patriarchal gender enforcement, TiMs wouldn’t be spearheading the further colonization of women. So men simultaneously threaten TiMs, and demand the protection of TiMs as “the most oppressed.” That male-imposed marginalization is what drives the whole project.
Trans people themselves are a tiny fraction of the population. So why are language, laws and institutions being changed just for them? Because it’s not just for them, it’s for all men. TiMs are the “settlers” of the latest patriarchal colonization project.
Both Zionism and transactivism have a religious component. In Zionism it’s the Torah/Old Testament, which simply states that God gave the land to the Jews, His chosen people. In transactivism it’s gender identity, as summarized by Miranda Yardley:
We all have a ‘gender identity’ which is innate. This ‘gender identity’ can be at odds with the physical embodiment of our sex; This ‘gender identity’ has more weighting to our sex than the physical embodiment of our sex; and so it follows that
‘Trans women are women and trans men are men’.
…for transgender individuals, personality determines sex.
Philosophical analysis aside, the reality is that the concept of gender identity collapses into the statement ‘trans women are women’, and this is the foundation of most of their other claims to rights, spaces and validity. It is also the single most defended claim in transgender ideology, so much so that no debate is allowed.
I support freedom of religion, and everyone is free to believe whatever they want. I oppose forcing everyone else to believe what you believe. Everyone is welcome to their “gender identity.” If a male believes he is a female, that’s fine with me. If I have to believe he’s female, that crosses the line.
I oppose gaslighting. I oppose requiring others to deny the evidence of their own eyes and identify someone else as a sex they are not. Not because trans-identified males don’t “deserve” to be called women. But because they aren’t women. “Woman” is not a club or a prize or a reward. It’s a sex.
But it’s treated like a club and a prize and a reward. And like anything of value intrepid males “discover,” it is being colonized.
Women are not a land without a people. Women have always been people, even if men don’t acknowledge that. The trans colonization project is essentially misogynist, and is popular among male Liberals for this reason.
Why do I care?
Believe me, if I could not care about modern transactivism, I would. I think it’s my Muse’s doing, because my film Seder-Masochism is about the same story: the colonization of women.
God used to be female. All of Her attributes were taken over by the male God. Creation, fertility, vegetation, the bringing forth of food, life and death – all that was once the Goddess’s is now God’s. It’s like the male God put on Her clothes, and then “identified” as Her, and there’s no Goddess any more.
Our connection to ancient goddess worship is completely broken. There’s some art, and some ruins, and some echoes in myths and fairy tales, but we have no idea how these religions were really practiced. Modern western goddess-worship is re-built, re-invented, and re-imagined; it is immature, instead of building on thousands of years of tradition.
The establishment of YHWH as the One, Male God effectively erased the Goddess, and most don’t even know enough to grieve. We sense there’s something missing, but most can’t even name it.
Gods and Goddesses are fictional, of course. What’s happening now is a continuation of the erasure of the Goddess: the erasure of womanhood itself. The erasure of biological reality isn’t only of concern to biological women, but to everyone who values science and some relationship to reality beyond individual “identity.”
Woman means adult human female.
Womanhood is a biological reality. That’s it. It’s not an identity, a prize, an “exclusive club”, or a land to be conquered. The more men regard womanhood as any of those things, the more inclined they are to colonize. Patriarchy regards women as property already, with disastrous consequences.
I am a reluctant feminist. I don’t particularly enjoy being a woman. I don’t “identify as a woman.” I AM a woman. It’s not a choice, it’s biology. It’s not a special club I’m trying to keep men out of.
Biology is the beginning and end of “womanhood,” the alpha and the omega. If I wear pants, I’m a woman. If I wear a dress, I’m a woman. If my hair is long or short, I’m a woman. If I take testosterone, I’m a woman. If I cut off my breasts (don’t think I haven’t thought about it, I have fibrocystic breast disease and they can be very painful) I’m a woman. If I identify as a man, I’m a woman.
And if a person has a penis he’s a man.
If you think that’s “hate speech,” the colonist is you.
Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.
Police lay first terrorism charge for Toronto case involving misogyny
by Molly Hayes, The Globe and Mail, May 19, 2020
A 17-year-old has been charged with terrorism in connection with the February slaying of a woman at an erotic massage parlour in Toronto – a killing that police now allege was motivated by the “incel” ideology, which is rooted in the hatred of women.
The charges, announced Tuesday by Toronto Police and the RCMP, mark the first time police in Canada have formally acknowledged an alleged misogynistic crime as terrorism – a positive signal for advocates who have long been calling for the recognition of violence against women as terrorism
“This is monumental in Canadian history,” said Nneka MacGregor, executive director of the Women’s Centre for Social Justice in Toronto. “I’m hopeful that it’s a wake-up call. … I’m hoping that this move will help society at large understand what those of us in in the [violence against women] sector have seen, and have been calling for, for decades.”
On a Monday afternoon in February, police were called to the Crown Spa in the north end of Toronto over reports of a stabbing. When they arrived, officers discovered a 17-year-old male youth and a 30-year-old woman outside the massage parlour, both of whom were suffering from multiple stab wounds. Inside, they found a woman – later identified as Ashley Noell Arzaga, 24 – who was pronounced dead at the scene. The 17-year-old (who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act) was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder.
Shortly after the incident occurred, investigators say they uncovered evidence that the case had been allegedly inspired by the “incel” movement – an online women-hating collective of “involuntarily celibate” men who are frustrated by their lack of success sexually attracting women.
The ultimate targets of the incels’ anger are known as “Chads” and “Staceys,” sexually active men and women who the incels believe have been rewarded by unfair social standards. The incels feel that they – the “beta males” – have been punished by those same societal standards.
The deadly Toronto van attack in 2018 brought the incel movement into the public eye in Canada.
Because federal authorities lay the majority of terrorism charges in Canada, Toronto Police detectives contacted the RCMP-led Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, which worked with federal and provincial prosecutors to add the terrorism charges.
The 17-year-old appeared in court Tuesday morning, where his charges were upgraded to first-degree murder with terrorist activity and attempted murder with terrorist activity.
Michael Nesbitt, a criminal law professor at the University of Calgary, said the case will be a legal watershed for the Anti-Terrorism Act that Canada passed in 2001.
Over the past two decades, Canada has seen roughly 60 terrorism charges laid. Almost all of those have been against extremists inspired by al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.
The Crown’s decision to lay terrorism against an alleged follower of the incel movement is highly significant, Prof. Nesbitt said – and may be a signal that Canadian prosecutors are gearing up to pursue a wider array of suspects as criminal terrorists.
“It’s a really big deal,” he said.
Amarnath Amarasingam, an assistant professor in the School of Religion at Queen’s University and one of Canada’s leading scholars on terrorism, agreed that the new charges are a legal landmark.
Police and prosecutors in Canada “are more and more realizing that seeing the full-threat picture is important,” he said
In the past, he said, the argument against laying terrorism charges in murder cases has been that they are not worth the extra burden in court when the road to conviction is simpler on murder charges alone.
"The challenge still exists, in terms of courts. But maybe one of the shifts that has happened is that politically speaking they want to make a more consistent argument to the public about what they consider to be terrorism."
As far as Prof. Amarasingam knows, this is the first criminal case globally to have brought terrorism charges in an alleged incel case.
“I think there have only been ... maybe seven attacks total globally from the incel community," he said. "I don’t think any of them other than this one has been charged with terrorism.”
Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, said she was surprised by the news given how little attention this particular case seemed to have gotten, but she called it a “welcome development.”
“I think it’s a response to public pressure and stakeholder pressure to expand the understanding or the interpretation of what constitutes terrorism in this country specifically,” Prof. Perry said.
Legal scholar Amanda Dale, who is a member of an expert advisory panel with the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, said that while she appreciates the rhetorical value of recognizing misogyny as terrorism, she is uncomfortable with the nature of terrorism charges to begin with.
“The whole concept of terrorism is itself problematic in my view, because it's legally subject to a great deal of interpretation,” Dr. Dale said. “[It’s a charge that] was never legally airtight, and was really politically defined.”
She is also concerned that by classifying a particular form of public violence against women as terrorism, it suggests there is a “supreme” form of violence, “and all the other forms of violence that are connected to it start to look like they're just garden variety, so not worth our attention.”
“I think it is important to understand all forms of violence against women in a continuum,” she said.
Prof. Perry, on the other hand, said she believes this case “raises the bar in terms of acknowledging violence against women as this serious. And I don’t think that means all other cases need to rise to the same level in order to be taken seriously.”
University of Ottawa law professor Elizabeth Sheehy agrees.
“I think that it’s a positive signal. I think it is a recognition that virulent misogyny is a form of terrorism,” she said. “I think it is important for us to call it terrorism and to find the mechanisms to respond to it appropriately. … It requires strong denunciation, it requires action.”
Radical Girlsss Statement in Support of JK Rowling: Migrant Perspectives
by Radical Girlsss, Jun 12, 2020 · Medium
As the Young Women Movement of the European Network of Migrant Women, Radical Girlsss unequivocally supports and stands behind JK Rowling’s position on sex and gender. Since she first began researching and speaking out on this complex issue, Rowling has received a torrent of misogynist abuse and harassment which we condemn in the strongest way possible.
Why We Are Making This Statement
We make this statement against the backdrop of an increasingly hostile world for women. The sharp decline of global feminist cultural production in the 1990s ushered in a new world, a neoliberal world, promising possibilities in the new millenium to liberate entrepreneurial and individual freedoms. The gradual build-up of postmodern theory capitalised on the radical heart of previous mass social movements, creating new careers and policy around American academic-born terminology such as ‘gender identity’ and ‘hybridity,’ instead of the more definitive notions of ‘sexism’ and ‘misogyny.’
As Susan Hawthorne notes, “Postmodernism took theorising out of the activist meetings into the ivory towers. Political energy was buried in some attic and left to gather dust.”¹ Meanwhile, the culmination of neoliberal individual-oriented capitalist freedoms, the proliferation of postmodernity and “post-feminism”, alongside the new digital market, culminated into a world ripe for the sexual exploitation industries of pornography, prostitution, surrogacy and human trafficking. The increased commodification of women’s bodies introduced a new era of ideological “choice-feminism”: a proposition that negates historical class inequalities between men and women and instead offers a brave new world in which women and girls can chose their way out of their own subjugation through the offerings of exploitation-based industries.
While centres of feminist activism disappeared, many feminists were re-directed to “non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which were dependent on funding from governments or corporations and therefore were often too compromised in their objectives.”² It is no coincidence that feminism as a political movement was swiftly replaced with feminism as an opportunistic market, one which conveniently asserted that women in the “Global South” need only to participate in this market to gain the supposed freedoms which the women in the Western capitalist economies claimed to enjoy. This new, more liberal and more intersectional feminism is grounded, not in the historical violation of the female sex, but in the individual feelings of how each woman identifies with socially constructed gender roles. Not only does this make it impossible for women to name their own subjugation as being structural and historical, it invisibilises the lives of migrant, black and global ethnic majority women all over the world.
The Global Situation: A Migrant Perspective
Today we find ourselves in a global pandemic which has exposed the deep-seated structural inequalities, already having existed longitudinally throughout history, between men and women. In Europe, terrifyingly familiar stories still occupy media headlines, such as in Wales when a 69-year old man strangled his 44-year old wife Ruth Williams after an argument during coronavirus lockdown. A mother and daughter were stabbed to death in a murder-suicide committed by the father in Hertfortshire, while police rattle off the same old line that “we are treating this as an isolated incident,” without mentioning the systemic proliferation of murder suicides and its origins in male entitlement over their families. 14 women and two children have been killed by men in the UK since the beginning of Coronavirus lockdown measures. The effects of pandemics are not gender-neutral.
Taking a global perspective, then, highlights the insidiousness of male violence even further. Beginning with Venezuela, where over 5 million citizens have left their country for Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and the Caribbean since 2014, of which 50% are women migrants. While Brazil and Colombia have now closed their borders to Venezuelan migrants, this creates catastrophic conditions for migrant and refugee women and girls’ access to “contraceptives, medicines and personal hygiene products, increases the unwanted pregnancies, lack of access to safe abortions, increased risk of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, undermining every principle of autonomy, equality and dignity of women and girls.” The uncertainty of migration provides a feeding-ground for the male exploitation of women, in a situation where women and girls are at their most vulnerable. Pandemics such as SARS and Ebola have historically proven to increase the trafficking of women and girls, and so, predictably, Tatiana Kotlyarenko — an advisor on anti-trafficking issues — says about the increase of human trafficking during Coronavirus that “[she is] already hearing that victims are being forced to participate in even riskier activities to earn money for traffickers, that they’re facing higher levels of violence, and also that they’re in more debt [to their traffickers] every day.” To make sense of this, it is crucial that liberal feminists emerge out of their “freedom of choice” cocoon and expand their individualistic world views to contend with the systemic exploitation of migrant women and girls.
In Mexico, almost one thousand women were murdered in the first three months of 2020. Martha Tagle, from the opposition Citizens’ Movement party, says that “the deadliest pandemic for women in our country, more than the coronavirus, is feminicidal violence.” The prevalence of femicide, or the killing of girls and women, cannot be made sense of if the basis of femaleness is based on individual choice. Did the thousands of women and girls in Mexico identify themselves as women, and were killed because of this identity? Or were they killed because male supremacy has othered the female body and sees it as nothing more than a resource for their own sexual and reproductive gains?
Most recently in Canada, a 26-year old Indigenous woman Chantel Moore was shot and killed by police in New Brunswick during a “welfare check” in which the police were called to ensure Chantel’s wellbeing. In Canada, Indigenous women and girls are murdered and sexually assaulted at rates as high as 10 times the average of white women, despite making up only 4% of the total population. These killings are most likely to happen in areas surrounding oil and gas development projects when transient male workers are housed in so-called “man camps” that often encroach on traditional Indigenous territories and communities. Kanahus Freedom — a Secwepemc woman, land defender and traditional birth keeper — says about man camps that “We say that the first man camps were the Hudson’s Bay camps and the highway camps, railway camps, that are still bringing violence against Indigenous women. We say Indigenous women were the most vulnerable in our society, the most over-policed and the most under-protected, and then we have the highest rates of unsolved murders and missing women in the world — tens of thousands of indigenous women and girls in databases across the country that have disappeared.”
The murder of Indigenous women in Canada is most effectively understood as a systemic and historical domination by the means of European settlers believing in their right to access and control Indigenous female bodies. Instead, the national enquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women completely misses any mention of male violence. Hilla Kerner, a collective member of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, says about the national inquiry that “In the 10 page document, there is not one mention of men. Men are the ones who commit the violence against women, men are the ones who created and maintain oppressive and sexist laws and policies and men are the ones heading the institutions and agencies who are responsible for the plight of Indigenous women.” Again, this should signal to all feminists concerned with femicide that it is becoming increasingly impossible to name the root cause of the global killing and abuse of women.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, armed gunmen stormed a Kabul maternity hospital and killed 24 children, babies and women — three of whom were in the middle of giving birth. Frederic Bonnot, Head of Programmes for Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Afghanistan, said “They came to kill the mothers.” While the Taliban has denied it was involved, as feminists we know that the cause is a particular kind of terrorism: male violence.
In the Ukraine, the shockingly under-regulated surrogacy industry is dealing with an excess of babies due to Coronavirus. BioTexCom, a Ukranian agency specialising in “human reproduction”, are unable to sell the babies while travel restrictions are in place: “The women who gestated and gave birth to them, besides all the risks they faced to have them, are now facing two different fates: either they will not receive the money promised for this ‘service’ and will have to choose to leave the child in foster care, or they will be raising a child who was not planned for themselves. Either way, it’s a grim outcome for women who largely turned to the industry out of financial desperation.” Commercial surrogacy, or “womb rental”, is a devastatingly exploitative market which most governments overlook or dismiss as a non-issue.
As Dr. Sheela Saravanan has found in her research on the “rent-a-womb” industry in India that trafficking and abuse is inherently linked to the surrogacy market. She highlights how after embryo transfer, women are forced to sleep with their legs crossed for 3 months, they are not allowed to laugh loudly, urinate forcefully, or to move at all. If they refuse, they carry the guilt of miscarriage and don’t get paid. In addition, the surrogacy industry takes advantage of sex trafficking networks to access vulnerable women: poor, uneducated and unemployed women are promised a way out of poverty to provide for their children. In the 45 interviews Sheela Saravanan did with surrogate women in India, a majority of them had to have their uteri removed as a result. Again, as feminists, we ask: is this use of women’s bodies as profit-generating gestation machines an identity which women chose, or is it a continuation of the exploitation of the female body for male capitalists?
Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, says that “Both commercial surrogacy and prostitution are industry-driven — one by gestational surrogacy companies, and the other by a multi billion-dollar sex trade and its lobby. Both thrive on the vulnerabilities of disenfranchised people, especially women of colour. Both turn their profits on growing demand for women’s bodies as commodities, and both kick open a wide door for sex and reproductive trafficking.”
The industry of prostitution is under particular scrutiny during the Coronavirus pandemic, with the largest European sex industry markets — such as Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland — shutting down brothels, proving what feminists have argued all along: that sexual access to women is not an “essential service.” However, for migrant women, who make up the majority of the EU prostitution market due to either deliberate force or lack of economic choices, the closure of brothels means that these women have everything to lose unless governments step in and ensure that migrant women are not forced to make the “choice” of entering the sex trade.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, the online sex industry is thriving. PornHub, which is owned by MindGeek — a multi-million dollar search engine optimising, IT and web design company — has offered free upgrades to its premium service in a philanthropic gesture to men during the lockdown. What this means for women is that while they continue to do domestic work, rearing and educating children — their husbands or partners are consuming image-based sexual violence at rates much higher than before the pandemic. The European Network for Migrant Women has pointed out that “as the sex buyers locked at home are unlikely to change their behaviour — if anything, the psychological impact of isolation risks to worsen it — a double supply of women will be needed to meet the demand. Those women will come from the most disadvantaged backgrounds — they will be single mothers, unemployed, students without income, migrant and refugee women.”
How to grapple with this unprecedented global exploitation of women and girls necessitates a clear analysis of its roots and origins: an age-old violence which is located in male domination and control over the female body. If we fail to come to terms with the structural underpinnings of how and why 48% of the world’s population has managed to subdue 52% of the world’s population — then any uproar over male violence will be futile. Increased domestic violence, femicide and sexual exploitation should force all women to recognise the ever-occurring and historically-prevalent pandemic: male violence against women.
In reporting on the 10-year peak of femicide in Argentina, reporters use language such as “twelve women are killed every day in Latin America because of their gender,” when they really mean sex. This distinction is important, as outlined above, because of the way in which gender — when used as to define the category “woman” — distorts the power imbalances between men and women and leaves us with a shaky foundation on which to make sense of male violence and femicide.
Most recently in Nigeria, a 22-year old woman Vera Uwalia was raped and murdered while she was praying at the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Benin City. During the current uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States and across Europe, as feminists we should wonder why Vera’s name and face is not being painted on murals, or why her death does not warrant an internationally-broadcast and celebrity-attended funeral service. The rape, torture and murder of migrant, black and global ethnic majority women and girls is accepted — even expected — as isolated incidents that “belong” in the “Global South.”
As we face an increasingly violent and exploitative world for women and girls, we must not bow down to watered-down liberal “feminist” theories which men, all too readily, are willing to get behind. Instead we must critically examine the roots of femicide and male violence, and feel courageous enough to state in the face of institutional backlash that it is embedded in male control of female biology. If we cannot state this simple truth, then we cannot address the global pandemic of male violence.
What JK Rowling Said
Underlying Rowling’s position is a concern for the erosion of women’s rights that rely on an understanding of oppression on the basis of sex. She highlights how the UK has experienced a 4400% increase in gender dysphoric girls being referred to for life-long medical transitioning treatment, and convincingly links this to the pressures of anxiety, dissociation, eating disorders, self-harm and self-hatred. These feelings are inherited across generations of women by the means of gendered social constructs to keep women and girls in subordinate political, social, cultural and economic positions. While Rowling acknowledges that transition may be a solution for some “gender dysphoric” people, she also argues that the body dysphoria which most girls experience throughout their lifetimes is alleviated when girls become adults and recognise these feelings as a set of socially-imposed gender roles. However, as Rowling highlights, “we’re living through the most misogynistic period I’ve experienced.” In a brave and courageous gesture, Rowling disclosed her own experiences with domestic violence and sexual assault, which has given her the “visceral sense of terror” to empathise with and advocate for the safety of trans women assaulted or killed at the hands of abusive men. She says that while she “wants trans women to be safe,” she also “refuse[s] to bow down to a movement that [she] believe[s] is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it.” Rowling asks for empathy and understanding to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse.
How People Responded
Instead of self-described feminists contending with gender identity theory as a potentially regressive and harmful theory, they have doubled-down on telling women like Rowling to shut up, calling them cunts and insisting they literally kill trans people, as well as publicly wishing the rape and death of any woman willing to challenge socially gendered categories. Rowling’s concerns were immediately met with thousands of abusive tweets and messages, such as:
“That TERF deserves a punch straight in the ovaries.”
“I’d pay to watch someone violently rip her ovaries from her abdomen.”
“Nah, no disemboweling. Just punch them til they bruise/burst, or just til all the eggs are ruined.”
“All terfs should be raped by both men and women for a year straight, chained down to a bed and fed minimum food to live, not allowed to get up to piss or shit, and be forced to bear the resulting kids, which are then sent to rational, loving families. That way you can be tortured AND possibly give me a future kid for me to love and care for if I choose not to have one biologically.”
“If I had an opportunity to beat a TERF to death with a baseball bat w/o repercussions I’d be sure to break its legs first and work my way up.”
“Would you kindly suck on my womanly dick?”
“Suspended for saying I’m cumming over the thought of a TERF being brutally murdered or smth”
“Hey TERFs — suck my fucking tranny dick.”
Unsurprisingly, these obviously violent and misogynist threats are not seen as violating social media guidelines, and such abusive responses are being completely dismissed by high-ranking, progressively-identified people in the public eye. Daniel Radcliffe — the actor who played JK Rowling’s Harry Potter character and arguably based his entire acting career on the talents of the female author — quickly took the opportunity to chastise her:
“Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”
Radcliffe is right in signalling that he has no basis or knowledge on which to form this opinion. But to infer that Rowling, a sexual assault survivor and woman, cannot and should not write about her own experiences and research of the major overhaul of women’s hard-fought rights, is blatantly misogynist. Emma Watson — the actress who played Rowling’s character Hermione — jumped on the bandwagon and said that “Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are,” followed by an announcement that she has made significant financial contributions to Mermaids and Mamacash.
If she had taken the time and intellectual courage to actually read Rowling’s statement and research the organisations she is now spearheading, she would quickly find evidence that Mermaids’ entire approach relies on affirming young children they are in fact born in the wrong bodies and sending them on the path of life-long medical transition. As British journalist Janice Turner has pointed out:
“Mermaids pushes for the US ‘affirmation’ model in which any child who declares that they are trans must be treated as such without examining any possible underlying issues, such as frequently undiagnosed autism, depression or sexual abuse.”
Does Watson not care about the wave of detransitioned women bravely speaking out about their traumatic experiences of medical transition, such as Detransicion Chile? Does she not care that young girls are having their ovaries removed, their puberty development halted through medical intervention, their breasts sliced off? In short: she doesn’t — and neither do most people — because liberal “feminism” has become a catch-all fashionable term that does not in fact deal with uncomfortable structural realities, but rather it symbolises identity-confirmation, regardless of that identity serving the deep-seeded patriarchal conceptions of what a woman is.
To top it all off, on Friday morning the UK tabloid newspaper The Sun published a cover that reads “I slapped JK and I’m not sorry.” The newspaper approached Rowling’s abusive ex-husband for an exclusive interview and is monetising the wave of misogynist harassment Rowling has faced over the last few weeks.
Cover of The Sun newspaper on Friday, 12 June, 2020.
Jameela Jamil, a British actress, radio presenter and an outspoken supporter of gender identity ideology, said about The Sun’s cover that “Women who receive this abuse over their GC views, know their rhetoric is what contributes to the ostracization, actual rape and actual murder of trans women.” In other words, Jamil is arguing that radical feminist theory, rather than the historical subjugation of women through male violence, is what is responsible for the death of trans women. No mention of Rowling’s disclosure of sexual assault, or the opportunism and gaslighting of her ex-husband. In fact, she directly attributes the abuse towards Rowling as though she were asking for it.
As if this weren’t enough, Owen Jones — a well-known Guardian columnist and socialist — said in reference to Rowling’s statement that “[the] powerful opponents always portray themselves as courageous truth telling martyrs,” in this case referring to Rowling as the powerful opponent. Backtracking quickly, however, Jones said about The Sun cover that it was “An absolutely rancid front page, providing a mass platform for an abuser, which will undoubtedly cause immense distress to JK Rowling and to all women who have suffered domestic abuse from men.”
While Jones, Jamil, Watson and Radcliffe have no problem in blaming feminists for the rape and murder of trans women, goading abusive men to harass and abuse feminists online, they feel no responsibility for the anti-woman hatred that The Sun has galvanised with its front cover. Their backlash and encouraging pile-ons has directly resulted in the justifying, normalising and celebrating male violence against women. They should all hang their heads in shame.
Why We Agree With JK Rowling
Radical Girlsss agrees with and supports JK Rowling’s position, and this is why:
Gender as a Social Construct vs. Biology as the Basis for the Female Class
The radical feminist position asserts that the binary categories of masculinity and feminity are socially-imposed mechanisms to keep women and girls subordinate. Female biology is what has historically motivated men to control women and control the female reproductive system to ensure a continuity of male lineages. Women’s bodies are the sites of male violence, women’s bodies are conceived of as vessels for sex and reproduction, which has led to the use of socially imposed gender categories to passivise us. This distinction between sex and gender is essential in order to understand the root of women’s oppression.
We believe in the right for women to gather, organise and meet in women-only spaces. As Patricia McFadden says in her essay Why Women’s Spaces are Critical to Feminist Autonomy:
“The issue of male presence, in physical and ideological terms, within what should be women-only spaces is not just a matter of ideological contestation and concern within the Women’s Movement globally; it is also a serious expression of the backlash against women’s attempts to become autonomous of men in their personal/political relationships and interactions.”³
If men who identify as women are allowed in women-only spaces, the ability to develop feminist consciousness and understand women as a historical class becomes impossible.
Male Violence is the Cause of Trans Oppression, Not Feminist Theory
We agree with Dr. Jessica Taylor when she says that “Men are to blame for 100% of the actual rape of transwomen. Men are so far to blame for 100% of the actual homicides of transwomen. They didn’t read feminist theory debates before doing so. Women are not to blame for the rape and murder of transwomen. It’s male violence.” When feminists are being blamed for the stigma which transgender-identified men experience, the actual perpetrators (men) are invisibilized and let off the hook. This is detrimental both to transgender-identifying people and women, while men are alleviated of any responsibility. One has to ask oneself why men are so easily and quickly supportive of gender identity ideology — and the answer to us is obvious — that it is to shift the blame onto women, something which is what Susan Faludi has described as follows:
“The anti-feminism backlash has been set off not by women’s achievement of full equality but by the increased possibility that they might win it. It is a pre-emptive strike that stops women long before they reach the finishing line.”⁴
The Wilful Misinterpretation of the Radical Feminist Position
The radical feminist position is wilfully misinterpreted as supporting biological essentialism. This is a deliberate tactic in order to “prove” that radical feminism is outdated and belongs to the “white feminists” of the second wave. This narrative foil makes way for a third wave of feminism that is supposedly more intersectional, more progressive, and more open minded than any wave which came before it — and in doing so promises to eradicate the failures of feminist history. In fact, if those who claim that radical feminist are biological essentialists would actually engage in the history of this debate, they would find that the radical feminist position has always been clearly against biological essentialism. We believe that gender expression is not linked to biology, as we believe that nobody is inherently conforming to just masculinity or just femininity. As Julie Bindel says, “I am not gender critical. I am a gender abolitionist.” In the same vein, we believe that while female biology has been the basis on which women are oppressed and define us as a historical class, gender ideology is the mechanism by which women are held captive as passive participants in society.
We strongly support all women’s right to speak their minds. We support JK Rowling’s right to speak about her own research, sexual assault, and worries of gender identity ideology. We support those who speak out in a climate of fear, who have managed not to get sucked into the mob mentality of hounding women who go against the grain. We support the detransitioned women who have vocalised their experiences despite the threat of backlash from medical transition clinics and their proponents. We support all women who have a vested interest in the history of feminism, the articulation of gender and sex, and the overhaul of legislation which eradicates this distinction in law. We support the resistance against neoliberal conception of “the individual” as the sole indication of a progressive society, and instead we advocate for a class-based analysis that will benefit women as a whole, even those we disagree with. We support migrant, black and global ethnic majority women and girls to make sense of their subjugation through a historical understanding of how the female body has been the site of violence, motivated by male control over reproduction and sexuality. We support critical thought of the disclosure of the “true self” being divorced from the physical body, in fact, we believe that the body is indivisible from our sociopolitical positioning within society. We support JK Rowling, and we support all women’s right to speak their minds.
Follow Radical Girlsss on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
¹ ² Susan Hawthorne. Bibliodiversity: A Manifesto for Independent Publishing. Spinifex Press, 2014.
³ Patricia McFadden. “Why Women’s Spaces Are Critical To Feminist Autonomy.” ed. Ruth Barrett. Female Erasure: What You Need To Know About Gender Politics’ War On Women, The Female Sex and Human Rights. Tidal Time Publishing: 2016. 309.
⁴ Faludi, S. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. Crown Publishing. 1991.
Trans people agree with JK Rowling while 'woke allies' perform their outrage
by Blaire White Los Angeles, 19th June 2020
From the outside looking in, it may appear that a mutiny is arising amongst the transgender population against beloved Harry Potter author JK Rowling, amidst her tweets about biological sex which have been deemed by many as “transphobic” and “hateful.” She took to Twitter a few weeks ago to state that while she loves and supports trans people, she believes in the existence of biological sex and how it may shape the lives of biological women in ways that trans women do not experience.
However, as a trans woman myself, it has been interesting to see that most trans people actually agree with her. The outrage you are seeing is almost exclusively from white liberal allies who are determined to speak on our behalf, often launching extremely hateful and misogynistic attacks on Rowling for her opinion. Celebrities like Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Halsey, Ben O’Keefe and more have all had choice words for Rowling. Below are some of their reactions, and then we’re going to juxtapose them with the reactions from the *actual* trans community rather than rich, virtue-signalling celebrities.
This woman is complete scum. Shut the fuck up you transphobic fuck. You don’t know or love any trans people if you won’t even acknowledge their existence. Thanks for ruining the books of my childhood. Just stop talking. We know you’re a TERF. You don’t need to keep doing this. https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/1269389298664701952 …
If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.
4:15 PM - Jun 6, 2020
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Imagine writing a generation defining series about a youth uprisal that defeats a tyrannical monster motivated by the preservation of “pure blood” and looking at THIS time in the world and going “hmm...yep. I’m gonna invalidate trans people.”
6:09 PM - Jun 6, 2020
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According to the media and those who seek to destroy Rowling, the above opinions are the ones that matter. Now, let’s hear from the actual trans community, who largely agree with Rowling.
· Jun 10, 2020
When you defend so-called “biological sex,” you sound scientifically ignorant and you elevate transphobia.
I disagree with you! I am a transsexual man. Transitioned from a woman to man 25 years ago. I am and will forever be a biological female. How is this so hard to understand. If I was not a biological female them I would not be transsexual. Its dangerous to discount biology.
Kathleen Stock @Docstockk
My timeline is full of a) trans people happily discussing their biology; b) non-trans people furiously saying we shouldn't discuss anyone's biology in case it upsets trans people. https://twitter.com/BuckAngel/status/1271265104382681093 …
Replying to @GeorgeTakei
I disagree with you! I am a transsexual man. Transitioned from a woman to man 25 years ago. I am and will forever be a biological female. How is this so hard to understand. If I was not a biological female them I would not be transsexual. Its dangerous to discount biology.
5:37 AM - Jun 12, 2020
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· Jun 10, 2020
When you defend so-called “biological sex,” you sound scientifically ignorant and you elevate transphobia.
〽️ars ⚓️ @_Mars_F
Do us transsexuals a favor and sit this one out. You’re embarrassing not only yourself but us, too.
If the assertion is that acknowledging the existence of biological sex is indeed transphobic, there is clearly not a consensus within the trans community about it. How can trans allies who often have much larger platforms than the trans people they defend take it upon themselves to decide what is transphobic, while ignoring the outcry of trans people who are defending Rowling?
You can watch my recent video about this entire fiasco below:
‘Men’s rights’ lawyer linked to attack on U.S. judge’s family had history of misogyny
By Maryclaire Dale, Michael Balsamo And Michael R. Sisak The Associated Press, July 20, 2020
A self-described “anti-feminist” lawyer found dead in the Catskills of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound is the prime suspect in the shooting of a federal judge’s family in New Jersey, the FBI said Monday.
Roy Den Hollander, who received media attention including appearances on Fox News and Comedy Central for lawsuits challenging perceived infringements of “men’s rights,” was found dead Monday in Sullivan County, New York, two officials with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press.
Read more: Man found dead may be linked to shooting at U.S. federal judge’s family home
The FBI said Den Hollander was the “primary subject in the attack” and confirmed he had been pronounced dead but provided no other details. Found among his personal effects was information about another judge, New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, a state court spokesperson said.
A day earlier, a gunman posing as a FedEx delivery person went to the North Brunswick, New Jersey, home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, and started shooting, wounding her husband, the defence lawyer Mark Anderl, and killing her son, Daniel Anderl.
Salas was at home but in another part of the house and was unharmed, said the officials, who could not discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
0:46 Friend of slain son of US district judge Esther Salas tells people to keep their ‘doors locked’
Friend of slain son of US district judge Esther Salas tells people to keep their ‘doors locked’
Den Hollander was involved in a lawsuit, filed in 2015, that was being heard by Salas involving a woman who wanted to register for the men-only military draft. In writings posted online, Den Hollander derided the judge as having traded on her Hispanic heritage to get ahead.
A package addressed to Salas was found along with Den Hollander’s body, the officials said
In a screed Den Hollander posted online, he also wrote of posing as a FedEx delivery person to speak with a young girl, the same tactic the gunman apparently used at the door to the judge’s home.
Den Hollander was best known previously for unsuccessful lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of “ladies night” promotions at bars and nightclubs. His litigation, and willingness to appear on television, earned him spots on The Colbert Report and MSNBC.
Read more: Despite crackdown on incels, their discussion forums are still online
Another lawsuit argued night clubs were violating human rights by charging men hundreds of dollars for bottle service. In 2008, he unsuccessfully sued Columbia University for providing women’s studies classes, saying they were “a bastion of bigotry against men.”
Daniel Anderl, Salas’ son, was set to be heading back shortly to The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he was named to the Dean’s List this spring.
“I was shocked last night to hear news of Daniel Anderl’s tragic death Sunday evening in New Jersey. Daniel was a rising junior, enrolled for classes beginning in the next few weeks,” university President John Garvey wrote on Twitter. “He turned 20 last week.”
Salas, seated in Newark, was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed in 2011. Prior to that, she served as a U.S. magistrate judge after working as an assistant public defender for several years.
In more than 2,000 pages of often misogynistic, racist writings, Den Hollander criticized Salas’ life story of being abandoned by her father and raised by her poor mother as “the usual effort to blame a man and turn someone into super girl.”
In another section — part of a collection posted online that resembled an early draft of a memoir — he wrote about being treated recently for cancer, and wanting to use the rest of his time to “wrap up his affairs.”
Read more: Montreal blogger who praised École Polytechnique gunman granted bail
“No more chances now, if there ever really were any, for glory and fortune, but maybe a little old time justice as in all those 1950s television westerns I watched as a kid when the lone cowboy refused to give up without a fight,” he wrote. “The only problem with a life lived too long under Feminazi rule is that a man ends up with so many enemies he can’t even the score with all of them. But law school and the media taught me how to prioritize.”
Den Hollander’s writings also point to a possible connection to the area where he was found dead. He described going to a family cabin in the Catskills community of Beaverkill, about 40 minutes by car from Liberty.
Den Hollander filed for bankruptcy in 2011, citing more than $120,000 in credit card debt, as well as rent and other expenses. In the filing, Den Hollander estimated he made about $300 a month from his work, with the bulk of his income coming from a $724 monthly Social Security payment.
Salas, born in California to a Cuban immigrant mother and Mexican father, spent most of her childhood in Union City, New Jersey. After helping her family escape a devastating house fire, she acted as her mother’s translator and advocate, foreshadowing her career in law as she argued her family’s case to welfare officials, according to a 2018 magazine profile.
1:10 Accused anti-feminist blogger to remain behind bars for a few more days
In the profile, Salas spoke of her son possibly following his parents into the legal profession.
“He’s been arguing with us since he could talk _ practicing his advocacy skills,” Salas told New Jersey Monthly. “I don’t want to dissuade him, but I was pulling for a doctor.”
Several college friends had spent the weekend visiting Daniel for his birthday, leaving just hours before the shooting, neighbour Marion Costanza said.
“These are people that will never see their friend again. Then to think of Esther losing her only child. It’s just devastating,” said Costanza, a lawyer who watched Daniel grow up, and had dinner plans this coming week with his parents.
“I want the world to know what a beautiful kid this was,” she said. “It’s just devastating.”
Read more: N.S. mass shooting ‘completely senseless,’ Mounties said. Experts disagree
Salas’ highest-profile case in recent years was the financial fraud case involving husband-and-wife “Real Housewives of New Jersey” reality TV stars Teresa and Joe Giudice, whom Salas sentenced to prison for crimes including bankruptcy fraud and tax evasion.
Attorney General William Barr said in a statement Monday that the FBI and the U.S. Marshals will continue investigating the shooting, adding: “This kind of lawless, evil action carried out against a member of the federal judiciary will not be tolerated.”
Why feminists like me stand with JK Rowling in trans rights row
As one transgender woman complains about ‘a lot of really unhelpful feminism’, Susan Dalgety explains why she and others fear women’s rights are now at serious risk.
By Susan Dalgety, Scotsman, 11 July 2020
The glamourous model Munroe Bergdorf was adamant. “There is a lot of really unhelpful feminism out there...” she told Glamour magazine earlier this week.
And she cited the “feminism that JK Rowling follows” as the ideology that she so heartily disapproves of, because, she says, its adherents believe that “trans women are men” and that women without a uterus are not women.
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Munroe was born a boy, a “very effeminate boy” she said in a previous interview. She has gone through a series of hormonal treatments and surgery to “feminise” her face, but baulks at revealing whether or not she still has her penis and testicles.
She is a striking, very vocal trans woman, and is courted by big beauty brands such as L’Oreal. She recently joined their UK diversity and inclusion advisory board, presumably to give them an insight into what trans women think about blusher and lipstick.
JK Rowling on Twitter: why has the Harry Potter writer been accused of transphobia - and her latest tweets on ‘conversion therapy’ explained
I say trans women deliberately, because with the best will in the world, Ms Bergdorf cannot offer any insights into what it is to be a woman, just as I could not, would not, advise anyone on how a trans man feels.
I can empathise with people with gender dysphoria, but I would not dream of speaking on their behalf. So, excuse me Ms Bergdorf, but your thoughts on what constitutes feminism are neither here nor there.
By all means advocate on behalf of trans women, explain queer theory to a population largely ignorant of it, but please do not tell women what makes good or bad feminism.
When we want to learn more about sex equality, we will turn to sisters such as Suzanne Moore, Julie Bindel and Malala Yousafzai.
In Scotland, we look to feminists like Claire Heuchan (@ClaireShrugged), campaign group Forwomen.scot (@ForwomenScot) and policy collective Murray Blackburn Mackenzie (@mbmpolicy) for information and analysis.
And we will read Andrea Dworkin, Janice Turner (who won the Orwell prize for journalism this week), Toni Morrison and yes, JK Rowling.
We don’t care if a woman has a functioning uterus – mine stopped working 13 years ago. We don’t care if a girl prefers khaki to pink and Doc Martens to kitten heels. We don’t care if a woman is a lesbian, straight, a grandmother or a single woman.
What feminists do care about is social, economic and political equality for women and girls.
And what gets us very angry is the pay gap between men and women that persists 50 years after the Equal Pay Act. The marketing men who insist on branding everything pink for girls, half a century after we burned our bras. And we get very angry about domestic violence that sees two women murdered each week in their own home.
We cry when we learn about Yazidi women and girls sold as sex slaves by their Isis captors. Some girls killed themselves rather than endure being raped on a daily basis by men who “owned” them.
We cry too for the millions of girls across sub-Saharan Africa who get little or no education because their brothers’ needs come first.
And when we have calmed our anger and dried our tears, then we campaign for equal pay, for an end to violence against women and girls, for education for all. That is our “unhelpful” feminism, Ms Bergdorf. What’s yours? As we entered into the existential doom of lockdown, the bitter war between women and trans activists and their allies that had dominated social media seemed to enter an uneasy truce. There was a bigger threat on the horizon, an invisible virus intent, it seemed, on wiping out humanity.
Then in early June, JK Rowling posted on Twitter her objection to an article about periods that was headlined “people who menstruate”.
“I am sure there used to be a word for those people,” she wrote. “...Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
The word is, of course, women, but in the world some trans activists inhabit, calling a female human a woman is considered an act of tyranny against trans women.
JK Rowling compounded her crime against trans-humanity by then writing a thoughtful essay where she laid out her personal views on sex and gender.
For every women who cheered her to the rafters for articulating what they had been too afraid to say out loud, there was a trans activist or ally who screamed abuse at her. Actors such as Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe, whose careers had been made by Rowling’s genius, disowned their creator.
And in a dystopian move that could have been scripted by Margaret Atwood, Scots children’s author Gillian Phillip was sacked by her publisher, Working Partners, for daring to stand with JK Rowling publicly.
In 2020, for tweeting her support for feminism, a woman lost her job. And there are many other examples of women being punished for objecting to the new orthodoxy.
Maya Forstater, a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development, was dumped by the think tank for saying that a woman cannot change her biological sex.
Black lesbian feminist barrister Allison Bailey is being “investigated” by her own chambers, which ironically specialise in human rights, for daring to suggest that trans activism threatens women as a political class.
And one of the doyens of the women’s movement, Beatrix Campbell OBE, has just left the Green Party because she can no longer support their position on gender.
“Of course trans people exist,” she writes. “And trans rights aren’t at risk from debate – people do not die from debate.
“But women’s rights and resources are at grave risk, not only from the effects of ‘austerity’ funding regimes, but also from an extreme trans activism seeking to silence women and assail feminist organisations.”
Scrape away some trans women’s make-up and underneath you will find the same misogyny that has stunted the lives of women and girls since the start of human evolution. They and their allies have decided what is good feminism and what is bad.
And by decreeing that their brand of feminism is better than that of women like Julie Bindel and JK Rowling, they are doing exactly what men have done for thousands of years – telling women what to think.
Meet the new boss, sisters. Same as the old boss, but in heels. Only this time, we won’t get fooled again.
Sissy porn and trans dirty laundry
Louise Perry reviews Females by Andrea Long Chu
Books, January 2020
"When a porn-obsessed writer can be lauded as a feminist prophet for describing the “barest essentials” of “femaleness” as “an open mouth, an expectant asshole, blank, blank eyes” we should wonder how on earth we got to this point." (see last paragraph)
When Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol on 3 June 1968, her publisher worried he might be blamed for producing SCUM Manifesto, Solanas’s luridly violent treatise that called on women to “overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex”.
“But it was a joke. It had to be!” he later wrote. “She could not possibly have convinced herself that she was about to carry out the greatest genocide in the history of mankind single-handed!” He had, along with so many others, failed to take Solanas seriously.
Females by Andrea Long Chu, Verso, £7.99
Andrea Long Chu, in contrast, takes her very seriously indeed. The 26-year-old Brooklynite and NYU graduate student is a rising star in the literary world, widely praised as an essayist and critic, and now also as the author of a debut book, Females, a “genre-defying” meditation on transgender politics. Her most influential piece of writing to date was an op-ed published last year in the New York Times titled “My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy”, in which she argued that although her impending sex reassignment surgery was not likely to improve her mental wellbeing, she had the right to go through with it. Females has received glowing reviews in left-leaning publications and Chu has been credited with launching the trans movement’s second wave by no less a figure than Sandy Stone, the academic widely considered to be the founder of transgender studies.
Chu has chosen to structure Females around the writings of Solanas (referred to throughout as “Valerie”), in particular the odd and smutty Up Your Ass, a play that Warhol allegedly promised to produce and then didn’t, justifying (to Solanas’s mind) his attempted murder. It is a surprising choice of feminist inspiration, since Solanas’s work is hardly the most lucid of the canon.
SCUM Manifesto, her most famous piece of writing, is a very strange text written by a very unwell woman. Despite her intense interest in Solanas, Chu fails to mention those aspects of her biography that might explain the deep well of rage we see in her writing. The fact that Solanas’s father sexually abused her as a child, that she was beaten by her grandfather, that she was impregnated as a 15-year-old, that her baby was taken away, and that, after her release from prison, she spent the rest of her life shuttling in and out of psychiatric institutions, drug-addicted and trapped in prostitution. She ultimately died of emphysema and pneumonia, destitute and alone, at the age of 52.
If you replace every use of “female” with “feminine” the claim begins to make sense
Chu does not tell us any of these salient facts. But then they aren’t very sexy, which is another way of saying that they aren’t very interesting to Chu. You see, Chu credits Solanas with persuading her not only that she is a woman but also that she is a lesbian. “Valerie can sound like a dominatrix,” she remarks, before confessing self-pityingly: “I find Valerie extremely attractive which probably means she never would have agreed to sleep with me.” Describing a pornographic video featuring lines from SCUM Manifesto, Chu is instantly enthralled: “This made instant, perfect sense.” Throughout the book Solanas is presented, not as a traumatised woman driven to violence, but as a bit-player in a masochistic fantasy. Chu is quite open about the fact that her interest in Solanas is, to put it bluntly, a sex thing.
Females — a witty, provocative and highly readable book — is about the nature of desire, identity and love. It is also, to a rather startling degree, about Chu’s masturbation habits. Most of the second half of the text is devoted to discussions of her porn preferences, particularly genres concerned with feminisation. “Sissy porn did make me trans,” writes Chu, in a passage that has provoked outrage among a section of trans activists, some of whom object to the candour with which Chu discusses the sexual aspects of her desire to transition (“all I want for Christmas this year is for Andrea Long Chu to get a better fucking therapist,” reads one representative tweet).
There is a sense that Chu is airing the trans movement’s dirty laundry by focusing so determinedly on sex. Indeed, she seems compelled to express ideas that are not supposed to be expressed. In her essay “On Liking Women”, she writes: “I am trying to tell you something that few of us dare to talk about, especially in public, especially when we are trying to feel political: not the fact, boringly obvious to those of us living it, that many trans women wish they were cis women, but the darker, more difficult fact that many trans women wish they were women, period.”
It is largely due to the tender and confiding tone of Chu’s writing that this is, despite everything, a book well worth reading. The thesis is bonkers, of course. “Everyone is female” we are informed in the first line. “Femaleness is not an anatomical or genetic characteristic of an organism but rather a universal existential condition, the one and only structure of human consciousness.” You are forgiven for being confused, since Chu herself seems reluctant to commit to her argument, suggesting at times that it may all be, pace Solanas, “an elaborate joke”.
This form of feminism is far more interested in the liberating power of lipgloss and orgasms than improving the lot of women
But if you replace every use of “female” with “feminine”, the claim begins to make sense. No one conforms entirely to gender stereotypes, no man is as macho as he might have you believe, nobody can entirely escape the charge of being a “sissy”. We are all, Chu insists, a little bit queer — a perfectly defensible argument, inexplicably expressed in the obscurantist vocabulary of Literary Theory. But then “Everyone is, to varying degrees, somewhat feminine” would be a less explosive opening line. And also, I suspect, an approach that would offer less psychic comfort to Chu herself. Because, like many trans women, Chu’s conception of herself is not just as feminine, or even womanly, but as, crucially, female: a woman in every possible sense of the word. Yet at the same time Chu writes of the vulnerability of that identity, the constant internal and external threat of invalidation:
Gender transition begins, after all, from the understanding that how you identify yourself subjectively — as precious and important as this identification may be — is nevertheless on its own basically worthless. If identity were all there were to gender, transition would be as easy as thinking it — a light bulb, suddenly switched on. Your gender identity would simply exist, in mute abstraction, and no one, least of all yourself, would care. On the contrary, if there is any lesson of gender transition — from the simplest request regarding pronouns to the most invasive surgeries — it’s that gender is something other people have to give you. Gender exists, if it is to exist at all, only in the structural generosity of strangers.
The feeling of desperate, conflicted desire is a thread running through Chu’s writing. Where she departs from mainstream trans activism is in vocalising that conflict, rather than wishing it away: “What I want isn’t surgery; what I want is never to have needed surgery to begin with. I will never be natural, but I will die trying.”
It is impossible not to feel compassion, despite the fact that Chu does not spend even a moment wondering what it might feel like for cis women — a little over half the human race — to be the objects of all this longing. To engage with her writing as a female reader is to be constantly coming up against passages that trigger unease:
I transitioned for gossip and compliments, lipstick and mascara, for crying at the movies, for being someone’s girlfriend . . . for feeling hot, for getting hit on by butches, for that secret knowledge of which dykes to watch out for, for Daisy Dukes, bikini tops, and all the dresses, and, my god, for the breasts. But now you begin to see the problem with desire: we rarely want the things we should.
Reading this, I happened to be sitting in a hospital waiting-room and looked at the women around me: tired nurses, frail elderly ladies, mothers pacifying screaming children, and not a pair of Daisy Dukes in sight. Observing femaleness in its unvarnished reality, I am forced to wonder whether Chu’s idea of womanhood is dependent more on an idealised image than on day-to-day reality: more on Solanas the dominatrix than on Solanas the person.
But then Chu is hardly alone in her preference for fantasy. Females, and the praise for Females, is the product of a school of feminism now dominant in academia that has abandoned interest in the material aspects of women’s lives and has instead embraced confection and self-obsession. This form of feminism is far more interested in the supposedly liberating power of lipgloss and orgasms than in the difficult business of incrementally improving the lot of women and girls. When a porn-obsessed writer can be lauded as a feminist prophet for describing the “barest essentials” of “femaleness” as “an open mouth, an expectant asshole, blank, blank eyes” we should wonder how on earth we got to this point. Chu’s writing may be funny, engaging and thought-provoking, but this is not a feminist book in any meaningful sense of the term. This troubled and talented writer is in need of a hard-nosed editor and a cold shower.
Note: All the judges on his hit list were female.
Judge Whose Son Was Killed by Misogynistic Lawyer Speaks Out
By Tracey Tully, NY Times, Aug. 3, 2020
“Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same,” Judge Esther Salas said in a video statement. Video transcript 1:39 ‘We Are Living Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare,’ Judge Salas Says
Esther Salas, the federal judge whose son was killed by a misogynistic lawyer two weeks ago, released a videotaped statement.
Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same. A madman, who I believe was targeting me because of my position as a federal judge, came to my house. While my husband is still in the hospital recovering from his multiple surgeries, we are living every parent’s worst nightmare. Making preparations to bury our only child, Daniel. My family has experienced a pain that no one should ever have to endure. And I am here asking everyone to help me ensure that no one ever has to experience this kind of pain. We may not be able to stop something like this from happening again. But we can make it hard for those who target us to track us down. We know that our job requires us to make tough calls, and some — sometimes those calls can leave people angry and upset. That comes with the territory. And we accept that. But what we cannot accept is when we are forced to live in fear for our lives because personal information like our home addresses can easily be obtained by anyone seeking to do us or our families harm.
The federal judge whose son was killed by a misogynistic lawyer spoke out Monday for the first time about the shooting, describing the horror that unfolded as her only child ran to answer the door and a “madman” opened fire.
The judge, Esther Salas, also issued a call for increased privacy protections for federal judges, saying the death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel, should not be in vain. Her husband, Mark Anderl, who was shot three times, remains hospitalized.
“Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same,” Judge Salas said in her video statement. “A madman, who I believe was targeting me because of my position as a federal judge, came to my house.”
She described a weekend celebration at their New Jersey home for Daniel’s 20th birthday that included several of his friends from Catholic University of America, who had stayed overnight.
“The weekend was a glorious one,” Judge Salas added, choking back tears. “It was filled with love, laughter and smiles.”
She and her son were in the basement talking when the doorbell rang.
“Daniel looked at me and said, ‘Who is that?’”
“And before I could say a word, he sprinted upstairs. Within seconds, I heard the sound of bullets and someone screaming, ‘No!’”
Daniel’s final act, she said, was to protect his father from the man she described as a monster.
“He took the shooter’s first bullet directly to the chest,” she said. “The monster then turned his attention to my husband and began to shoot at my husband, one shot after another.”
Judge Salas said the man, believed to have been Roy Den Hollander, who later killed himself, was carrying a FedEx package — an apparent ruse to coax the family to open the door.
Until that moment on July 19, it had been an otherwise routine Sunday: Judge Salas and her husband went to church, and Daniel, who was about to start his junior year in college, caught up on some sleep after his friends left for the weekend.
She said Mr. Hollander had compiled a dossier on her and her family, including their address in North Brunswick, N.J., and the church they attended.
Days before, Mr. Den Hollander, 72, had traveled by train to San Bernardino County, Calif., where he shot and killed a rival men’s rights lawyer, Marc E. Angelucci, at his home, the authorities said.
Hours after the shooting in New Jersey, the police found Mr. Den Hollander’s body off a road in upstate New York with a single gunshot to the head.
Mr. Den Hollander was a self-described “anti-feminist” with a record of virulently misogynistic and hateful writing. He represented the most extreme element of the men’s rights movement whose online discussions in recent years have become increasingly menacing toward women.
He was apparently angry at Judge Salas for not moving quickly enough on a lawsuit he had brought challenging the constitutionality of the male-only draft.
Judge Salas said she understood that judges’ decisions would be scrutinized.
“We know that our job requires us to make tough calls, and sometimes those calls can leave people angry and upset,” she said. “That comes with the territory and we accept that.
“But what we cannot accept is when we are forced to live in fear for our lives because personal information, like our home addresses, can be easily obtained by anyone seeking to do us or our families harm.”
She called for a national conversation on ways to safeguard the privacy of federal judges.
Judge Salas said it was a “complicated issue,” but urged those in power to “do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench.”
She specifically cited companies that sell personal details, which she said “can be leveraged for nefarious purposes.”
Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who recommended Judge Salas for the federal bench, said he was drafting legislation with Senator Cory Booker to keep personal information about federal judges outside of the public domain.
“No parent should have to go through the devastating tragedy that she has,” Mr. Menendez said of Judge Salas, who was appointed in 2011 after being nominated for the lifetime position by President Barack Obama.
“If a federal judge has to worry that his or her decisions at the end of the day could cause a loss of the life of a loved one, then I’m not sure how that full independence — even when one works hard to maintain it — can ever be achieved,” Mr. Menendez said Monday during a news conference on an unrelated topic. “No federal judge should have to worry about the writs that they issue, the decisions that they make.”
After investigators found Mr. Den Hollander’s body, they discovered a list in his rental car that named more than a dozen possible targets, including Judge Salas and three other female judges. The list also included the names of two oncologists; Mr. Den Hollander had told a former rugby teammate that he was dying from a rare form of cancer.
His beliefs teetered between the views of self-proclaimed anti-feminists and men’s rights activists. The final version of his autobiography, a 1,698-page manifesto, ended with a vow to fight “feminazis” until his last breath.
Mr. Den Hollander’s connection to Judge Salas and Mr. Angelucci involved similar cases.
In 2015, Mr. Den Hollander brought a legal challenge to the male-only military draft that was assigned to Judge Salas in Newark federal court.
Mr. Angelucci had filed a similar lawsuit in a different jurisdiction. A federal court in Houston ruled in Mr. Angelucci’s favor in February 2019, angering Mr. Den Hollander, who complained in his online writings that Judge Salas was moving too slowly.
Mr. Den Hollander also had a photo of New York State’s chief judge, Janet M. DiFiore, in his car, according to her spokesman, Lucian Chalfen.
A former federal judge in Manhattan, Shira A. Scheindlin, agreed that access to judges’ home addresses and phone numbers too often puts them and their families at risk. She said she supported Judge Salas’s call for greater safeguards at a time when private details are often only a few computer clicks away.
“It only takes one crazy person,” said Ms. Scheindlin, who resigned from the federal bench in 2016.
In 2005, a Chicago federal judge’s husband and mother were killed at home by a delusional man whose lawsuit had been dismissed by the judge, Joan Humphrey Lefkow. In 1988, a New York federal judge, Richard J. Daronco, was shot and killed as he worked in the garden of his home in Pelham, N.Y. Both of the killers later took their own lives.
Ms. Scheindlin recalled getting threatening telephone calls after she issued a controversial ruling in 2013 rejecting New York City’s former stop-and-frisk policy, which she had concluded was “indirect racial profiling.”
“This is getting to be a very serious problem,” Ms. Scheindlin said, “and a very scary thing for judges.”
‘What is a woman?” This was the question asked of the Lib Dem leadership hopeful Layla Moran late last month, on the radio programme Political Thinking with Nick Robinson. “You talked of giving straight answers to straight questions,” said Robinson. “Here’s a nice one for you, philosophical: what is a woman?”
There was a pause, before an answer that probably wasn’t as direct as Robinson had hoped. “Well,” said Moran, “a woman is a gender, it is a way to self-identify and there are lots of genders. There is male and that is biological. There is female, which is also biological. A woman is a gender identity which is more akin to being a man. Those are the opposites and then there is also non-binary, which is people who don’t identify with either.”
This seemed confusing to me. So being a man is akin to being a woman? How does that work? I asked the same question on Twitter – what is a woman? – and Naomi Wolf, no less, the author of The Beauty Myth and Vagina: A New Biography, answered that a woman is anyone who wants to be one. It is a personal choice. “Many men and trans people have thanked me for The Beauty Myth,” she wrote. “I didn’t write it only for readers born with uteri.”
The confusion continued on Twitter with a row over a tweet from Piers Morgan, in response to a CNN tweet reading: “Individuals with a cervix are now recommended to start cervical cancers screening at 25.” Morgan replied: “Do you mean women?”, and when Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, liked Morgan’s tweet, she was accused of being a transphobe. Duffield then tweeted: “I’m a ‘transphobe’ for knowing that only women have a cervix...?!” Progressives who presumably want to win back those “red wall” seats called for her sacking.
I am dismayed at the persecution of trans people – and also at the bile directed towards women who are questioning a narrative in which our experience, needs and reality are too often overlooked. Why can’t we use the word “womxn”, someone asked on Twitter. It’s obvious, isn’t it? To erase the word “woman” means we cannot speak of our biology and our experience. Leftwing feminists, me included, see women as a sex class. American “choice feminism” was a disaster; feminism repackaged as capitalist attainment. The backlash is now here, and in some cases it comes in the form of an ideology that overrides the demands of women.
We don’t talk so much now about the terrible violence meted out to women – the appallingly low rate of rape convictions and the huge and growing incidence of domestic violence – because that would be to see women as still oppressed. And there is a popular narrative now that often says we’re not. For some people, victimhood has become the preserve of a tiny percentage of the population – trans and other seriously marginalised communities – who do indeed have a very hard time. But while their difficulties are recognised, women’s difficulties are considered merely the bleatings of privileged females.
If we cannot define what a woman is or name that experience, we cannot organise politically. As the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin once wrote: “Men have the power of naming, a great and sublime power. This power of naming enables men to define experience, to articulate boundaries and values, to designate to each thing its realm and qualities, to determine what can and cannot be expressed to control perception itself.”
For me, the debate around trans issues is not and never has been about toilets or changing rooms. It is about the right of women to define themselves in a system that is afraid we might do just that.
I will happily respect anyone’s pronouns and I ask other people, too, to respect the language that defines my life in a female meat suit. Men are never spoken of as prostate owners, or vehicles for their penises or testicles. I have never yet read a definition of “cis” that I identify with, even though, as a female whose gender expression matches her sex, this is apparently what I am. The fact is, when it comes to my appearance, I started wearing drag – makeup, heels, big hair – as soon as I knew that, in order to use my mind, I would have to appear on the outside entirely different to how I felt on the inside. Gender nonconformity has been an essential part of my life, as it is for so many people, whether this is apparent or not. I always liked the way the Stonewall activist Marsha P Johnson chose to call herself a “street transvestite action revolutionary”. She thought of herself not as a woman but as “a queen”.
All of us are a combination of biology and history, our bodies situated in a time and a place. I neither want to fetishise and essentialise biology nor deny it. It is different for each of us.
It is often argued on Twitter that the struggle for trans rights is the same as the struggle for gay rights. But, crucially, coming out as gay demands nothing from others but equality. There is now a demand from some activists – many of them not trans themselves; many of them men – that the class of women must be renamed.
I reject this. Am I more than a collection of body parts? Am I allowed to talk of my own life? Am I a woman simply out of choice?
What, then, is a woman? These days, I often find it is simply someone who does not agree to let misogynist men speak for us.
Who Should Compete in Women’s Sports? There Are ‘Two Almost Irreconcilable Positions’
Some experts say inclusion and competitive fairness conflict as leaders consider how to regulate the athletic participation of transgender women.
By Gillian R. Brassil and Jeré Longman, The NY Times, Aug. 19, 2020
JK Rowling returns human rights award to group that denounces her trans views
Head of Robert F Kennedy Human Rights group says Rowling’s views are transphobic
Irish Times, Aug 28, 2020,
JK Rowling: “No award means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow my conscience.”
JK Rowling is returning the Ripple of Hope award given to her last year by the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) organisation after its president, Kennedy’s daughter, criticised her views on transgender issues.
The award, which is for people who have shown a “commitment to social change”, was presented to Rowling in December for her work with her children’s charity, Lumos. On receiving the award, Rowling called it “one of the highest honours I’ve ever been given” and said “Robert Kennedy embodied everything I most admire in a human being”. Previous winners include Barack Obama, archbishop Desmond Tutu and Joe Biden.
Earlier this month, Kerry Kennedy, a lawyer and president of RFKHR, issued a statement describing her “dismay” over “deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements” made by the Harry Potter author.
In early June, the author wrote a series of comments on Twitter laying out her views on gender identity, including one that said: “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives.”
These comments were condemned by LGBT charities, as well as several actors who have worked in the Harry Potter franchise.
Rowling then wrotea highly personal essay revealing her experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault, in which she argued that trans women who have not undergone hormone therapy or surgical transition should not have access to single-sex spaces.
In her statement Kennedy said that Rowling’s comments “had the effect of degrading trans people’s lived experiences”, and that her “attacks upon the transgender community are inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs and values of RFKHR and represent a repudiation of my father’s vision”.
“The science is clear and conclusive: sex is not binary,” wrote Kennedy, adding that she had spoken with the author to express her “profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community”.
On Thursday, Rowling announced on her website that she would be returning the award.
“Because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope award bestowed upon me last year,” Rowling wrote. “I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.”
Rowling said that Kennedy’s statement “incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people”.
The author said she had received “thousands of private emails of support ... from people affected by these issues, both within and without the trans community” and that she “absolutely refute[s] the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community”.
“RFKHR has stated that there is no conflict between the current radical trans rights movement and the rights of women,” said Rowling. “The thousands of women who’ve got in touch with me disagree, and, like me, believe this clash of rights can only be resolved if more nuance is permitted in the debate.” – Guardian
Now they want to burn JK Rowling’s books
The hatred for Rowling has crossed the line from crazy to neo-fascistic.
Brendan O'Neill, Editor, Spiked, 16th September 2020
So it turns out that Jedward, with their quiffed Aryan hair and strangely intense mannerisms, don’t only look like a couple of members of Hitler Youth who’ve been on a shopping spree at TK Maxx. They sound like it too. Yesterday, ever keen to jump on a bandwagon, even if it’s a bandwagon of misogynistic hate, the Shining twins of Irish pop suggested to their Twitter followers that they should burn JK Rowling’s next novel when it is published. ‘Does anyone need firewood this winter!’, they tweeted. ‘JK’s new book is perfect to burn next to a Romantic fire. Aww get all cozy and comfy can’t wait.’
Let’s leave to one side the industrial levels of gall it must require for two blokes who don’t know the difference between an exclamation mark and a question mark to have a pop at the most successful British author of all time. The more striking thing about Jedward’s tweet is that it suggests book-burning is back. Their tween-fascist cry for the burning of Rowling’s forthcoming novel was retweeted and liked thousands of times, by armies of so-called trans allies who now look upon Rowling as a real-life Voldemort: a despicable, evil figure whose works should be tossed on to raging bonfires as the woke mob yelps with delight.
The hatred for JK Rowling is out of control. It goes far beyond the everyday attempted cancellations and screeching Twittermob assaults on anyone who dares to deviate from the correct-think of the PC elites. The hatred for Rowling is far more raw, far more intense, far more irrational.
Her intellectual sin, her speechcrime, is of course that she believes in biological sex. She thinks there are differences between men and women. She thinks biological males should bugger off out of women’s changing rooms, sporting tournaments, prisons, rape-crisis centres, and so on. Many of us agree with her. And for this, she is frequently bombarded with rape threats and death threats. ‘Suck my cock!’, sexist pigs tweet at her. They invite her to die in a fire. They send her explicit pornography. This week #RIPJKRowling trended on Twitter. These people are insane. When your ‘activism’ involves tirelessly insulting and sexually harassing a woman for having a thought that is different to your own, you need to have a serious word with yourself.
The deranged Rowling hate intensified this week after it was reported that her next Strike novel – the detective series she writes under the name Robert Galbraith – will involve a backstory about a man who dresses as a woman and then goes around murdering women. ‘Transphobia!’, the woke Twitterati predictably yelled. Not for the first time the sexist fury with Rowling for having the temerity to be a woman who thinks for herself was in large part inflamed by Pink News, the online gay magazine that has done more than most to depict women who are sceptical of certain aspects of transgenderism as ‘TERFs’ – that is, witches, bitches, uppity broads who really ought to do what the editors at Pink News tell them to.
Identity politics is turning violent
The blinkered philistinism of the anti-Rowling mob is confirmed in the fact that none of them has read her new Strike novel. It isn’t even published yet. But when did censorious mobs ever stop to read or observe or properly think about the book or painting or movie that they want to boycott or burn? Mobs are not known for reasoned engagement. Nor do they have any respect for the right of writers and artists to depict whatever they want. So just as National Socialists sought to erase degenerate art, and Mary Whitehouse types wanted to ban rude plays, so the anti-Rowling mob fantasises about setting fire to a novel they haven’t read because it’s by a woman they irrationally loathe.
Why is the hatred for Rowling so heated, so unstable? It strikes me that there are two reasons. First, the very uncancellable nature of Rowling infuriates these mobs who are so used to extracting mea culpas from every public figure they set upon. Rowling is too big, too established, too global to be easily slain by the PC speechpolice. Her refusal to abandon her beliefs and opinions on sex and gender drives these self-styled moral guardians insane because it reminds them of the limitations to their censorious power. Rowling’s resoluteness is a beacon to everyone else, too, reminding people that even in this darkly censorious era you can cling to your principles. And that is intolerable to PC mobs who want nothing less than unflinching, society-wide conformity to their political and moral dogmas.
And secondly, Rowling’s rejection of the idea that people can self-identify as whatever sex they like represents a challenge to the entire church of identitarianism. It might be an unwitting challenge – I’m sure Rowling is not completely against the politics of identity – but it’s a challenge nonetheless. Scepticism of transgenderism calls into question not only the right of men to be legally recognised as women and to access women’s spaces, but also the cultures of narcissism, therapeutic validation and conformism that are the building blocks of the identitarian outlook. It casts doubt on the 21st-century belief that an individual’s identity is sacrosanct and that society and all of its inhabitants have a duty to validate and bow down to that identity.
In bristling against the mad idea that people with penises can literally be women, Rowling implicitly calls into question the hyper-individualism and extreme self-regard of identity politics and helps to reintroduce into the discussion those small matters of collective reason and objective reality – in this case, the fact that society, and biology, have an understanding of sex and gender that you cannot just write off as ‘transphobia’.
This is why they hate her. This is why they hate TERFs. These questioning women are the flies in the ointment of the identitarian worldview. Rowling’s insistence that we think about women’s rights, biological reality and objective reason when discussing transgenderism represents a body blow to the irrationalism of identity politics more broadly. ‘Burn her books!’ they cry, because they know this witch threatens to upend their religion.