Georgetown Prof who called for “miserable deaths” of white men off the hook
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has launched a Title IX investigation against Georgetown University to formally determine if the school’s women-only programs violate Title IX. The OCR, however, has declined to look into the feminist professor whose tweet about Brett Kavanaugh triggered the investigation in the first place.
Title IX—a federal law that threatens to revoke funding for schools found guilty of discriminating “on the basis of sex”—was initially implemented in 1972 to fight for women’s equality in U.S. universities.
2020 is here, but the idiocy of 2019 is lingering in the pages of everyone’s favourite think piece rag, The Guardian. The first truly horrific take comes courtesy of feminist columnist Moira Donegan who asks the questions: “What is the price that women pay in enduring sexual violence, sexual harassment and domestic violence, for men’s good time? Is all this female suffering worth it to us for the male privilege to drink? Should men, really, be allowed to drink alcohol?
The answer, for Donegan, is of course, probably not.
Her defence of temperance goes back to the origins of the movement, which in the U.S. resulted in prohibition. This led to the creation of organized crime syndicates, incredible violence, cottage moonshine operations, a methodical black market that had deep roots in many communities, the prevalence of police bribery, and the rise of illicit, illegal clubs.
The Christian temperance movement aimed to bring men away from the sin of alcohol consumption, which had been a scourge in many communities. The Women’s Christian Temperance Movement was involved in advocacy for fair labour laws, prison reform, and obtaining women’s right to vote, as well as temperance. It was a valiant effort at social reforms toward equality. What Donegan is proposing is not a cohesive movement, but a prohibition one-off, where removing the liquor elixir will solve the problem of male violence against women.
She writes: “Rather than a regressive movement consumed with moralist disdain for alcohol use, many of its most ardent supporters wanted alcohol banned for a much more practical reason: women’s safety.” But no, they were Christian. The women who pushed for prohibition were doing it because they thought it was the right thing to do before God and everyone.
In fact, Donegan would do well to remember that until our recent wash in the toxic hormones of atheism, morality and religious belief were inextricably linked. There was no morality without religion. Many would say that this is still true, we’re just blind to it, that our society is much like Wile E. Coyote who has run off the cliff of morality and can’t yet see that there’s nothing holding us aloft, but without religious underpinnings of morality, we will plummet. Much like Donegan has. Morality is not something that can be constructed out of thin air.
Donegan actually blames liquor for male violence. However, as anyone who has lived with drunken male violence against women can tell you, liquor is a symptom, not a cause. Women who leave alcoholic men, children of alcoholic men and women, men who leave alcoholic women, can all tell you this. Alcohol may fuel the fire of rage, but the anger is there, simmering beneath the surface, all the time. Donegan’s trolly “let’s bring back temperance because drunk men are mean take” is wholly designed for clicks, not an attempt at useful discourse.
“Acknowledging this connection between alcohol and sexual violence is usually the province of moralizing misogynists, who use it as an excuse to chastise women not to drink. This was the tack taken by the contrarian writer Emily Yoffe, who in 2013 wrote in Slate of warning her college-age daughter not to drink lest men take advantage of her drunkenness to sexually assault her. But the fact remains that, although alcoholism and binge drinking are on the rise among women, they are still not nearly as prevalent among women as they are among men—nor are they linked to an attendant increase in violence by women. In short, it is by and large men, not women, who get violent when they are drunk.” Donegan writes
The Atlantic, Salon, HuffPo, Jezebel and The Daily Mail all wrote deeply angry missives about how Yoffe was off her rocker to suggest that girls should not drink just because they might get raped. The pushback against women protecting themselves by not losing their heads was that men are to blame for rape, not women, and that women shouldn’t have to adjust their behaviour just so they are not preyed upon by drunken predators. Now Donegan is basically saying that rape isn’t men’s fault; it’s alcohol’s fault. That pesky bastard alcohol, who comes from nowhere and plants seeds of rape in men’s heads.
She asks: “What if we took women’s safety as seriously as we took men’s pleasure? What would such a commitment obligate us to do?” In fact, this is what society used to do! They had super great ways of taking women’s safety as seriously as men’s pleasure, and as usual, women paid the price. There were curfews for women, women couldn’t sit at the same bars, women had separate entrances, chastity belts, chaperones, male escorts, restrictions on where they could be, who they could talk to, and when. Why? Because women’s safety was everyone’s concern, and it was everyone’s job to protect those of the weaker sex from all that could befall them.
What Donegan is really advocating for is less freedom. It’s a regressive gesture, an attempt to take safety culture to its logical end. In a sense, though, Donegan unwittingly does us all a favour. She reveals exactly how social justice maniacs think. Temperance and other anti-freedom measures are where all of this nonsense leads. Choosing to not drink may be the right choice for many men and women, but enforcement because “men are bad” is not the answer. Extreme safety requires extreme limitations on freedom, usually women’s freedom.
Hating on Hallmark has become an annual right of passage for progressive journalists, and Amanda Marcotte’s Salon piece “Hallmark movies are fascist propaganda” absolutely does not disappoint. Instead of taking the usual tack of calling it basic and boring, Marcotte deems it discriminatorily heteronormative, and authoritarian.
She writes: “Hallmark movies, with their emphasis on returning home and the pleasures of the small, domestic life, also send a not-at-all subtle signal of disdain for cosmopolitanism and curiosity about the larger world, which is exactly the sort of attitude that helps breed the kind of defensive white nationalism that we see growing in strength in the Donald Trump era.”
I haven’t actually seen a Hallmark movie. But these are an odd handful of things to conflate. It’s not authoritarian to want to live in small towns. It’s not white nationalist to be happy to leave urban life. And it’s not Trumpian to plant roots in a locality and find a home there. He doesn’t seem to be about that at all, in fact.
Hallmark movies are for that wacky, wild subculture that everyone loves to hate, white heteronormative women. It’s super popular these days to hate women who want to fall in love and raise families, and if they’re white, we heap on the vitriolic icing even thicker.
“The qualities that people cite when they defend Hallmark movies — comforting, formulaic, soothing—are all a result of the aggressively conformist impulse that drives them,” Marcotte writes. “And that impulse and fealty to the dominant culture stands in direct contrast to the values of diversity Hallmark facetiously claims to hold.”
But Hallmark is a cable channel making saccharine movies for a niche audience. The only thing that the recent kerfuffle over a lesbian wedding shows is that Hallmark is anxious not to piss anyone off. First, they ran ads for online wedding registry Zola, which featured a lesbian wedding, then when they got blowback, they pulled them, and when that engendered hate, they tried to put them back. Does Hallmark Channel have integrity? Maybe, maybe not, but really they just want people to watch their cute little movies, have a good cry, and hope for a better tomorrow.
That’s the message I got, and as I said, I haven’t even watched the films. Marcotte takes issue with the typical Hallmark leading lady, a career woman in the big city who only realizes true values and happiness when she heads back to her small town and establishes meaningful relationships. But the thing is, and this is coming from a career woman in the big city, relationships are the most important thing in life. Love really matters, and pretty much nothing else does. Marcotte’s idea that finding compassion, companionship, and camaraderie in a familiar place, is authoritarian, is demeaning. In fact, it’s anathema to real-world experience.
Career and success are great and whatever, but finding understanding in another person is better, and creating a life into which you can bring a new human is probably the best thing of all. Yeah, I said that. I even think it’s true. Lots of people do, even if it never seems to turn out right or be what you expected. These movies are fantasies, after all, just the kind where learning from past mistakes is possible, and happiness is more than a fleeting, fickle emotion.
In hating on Hallmark, Marcotte takes aim at The Federalist (where I am a Senior Contributor). “If you don’t believe me,” she writes, “listen to authoritarians themselves. At The Federalist, which is ground zero website for generating frankly fascist ‘culture war’ arguments, Hans Fiene argues that, ‘culturally speaking, Hallmark Christmas movies are noticeably Christian.” But what is her argument if not a frankly fascist one? She’s saying that the lifestyle represented in these Hallmark movies, fantastical and unrealistic though it may well be, is authoritarian simply because she’s not into it, and finds it problematic with regard to her view of identity politics. She doesn’t like the predictable storyline. But not everyone’s up for complex meta drama all the time. We don’t need to watch Requiem for a Dream just to feel like we’re in touch with the dingy reality of things. And no, I didn’t watch that movie either.
It’s okay for people to live in different ways than Marcotte wishes them to. Her evidence of fascism, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism, and she uses these terms interchangeably for purposes of degrading these films, is entirely symbolic. She claims that Hallmark movie harken back to Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s work, that Goebbels would have approved of them because they emphasize a certain, dominant concept of normalcy. She doesn’t define fascism, authoritarianism, or totalitarianism outside of 20th century symbols of them, and one wonders if she knows what the words mean. What is totalitarian is the Chinese government’s burning books that don’t align with the communist party line, and the crackdown on theaters by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
“Running down this year’s schedule of Christmas movie offerings is like a trip into an uncanny valley of shiny-teethed, blow-dried heteronormative whiteness, with only a few token movies with characters of color. It’s like watching ‘The Stepford Wives,’ but scarier, since the evil plot to replace normal people with robots is never actually revealed. None of this should be a surprise, because Hallmark movies, as cloying and saccharine as they are, constitute the platonic ideal of fascist propaganda,” write Marcotte.
But what Marcotte forgets is that the heternormative concept of normalcy is not dominant anymore. Most televised offerings have plenty of alt lifestyle living characters, these heteronormative pumpkin spice latte storylines are pigeonholed onto a little cable network that is super easy to avoid. Plus there are heteronormative white people out there, and we shouldn’t judge people harshly just because of their identifiers. Straight, white people with boring taste in movies don’t deserve hate for it, and they’re not fascist for accepting who they are. And if they’re watching Hallmark, they’re paying for cable—haven’t they been punished enough?
Flimsy, guilty pleasure movies, that have an easily digestible story where the leading lady always gets her man, are just that. Many women and men would trade everything they have for that kind of real life storyline. Hallmark movies make going home again look easy, and we know it’s not, we know it’s excruciating, complicated and messy. It’s okay to wish for true love outside the complex confines of independent films, and to want to watch a narrative that you can fall asleep to and still not miss anything. There’s nothing inherently bad about being a white woman who wants to fall in love and raise a family and live in the same small town where she grew up. No one has to want it, but we can all aspire to love if we want to.
So just why are so many people standing with Maya? That’s what Mark Hamill would like to know. He saw JK Rowling’s now infamous tweet, tagged, #IStandWithMaya, and added his own little like. For that, he was called out by a fan who absolutely does not stand with Maya.
Hamill backtracked instantly.
He didn’t realize that thinking a woman should not lose her job for believing women are more than fictional creatures conjured up out of ponytails, makeup, and a yen to be submissive, was actually transphobic.
So what is #IStandWithMaya all about, and why are so many notables standing up for Maya Forstater, and for women who believe that biological sex exists?
This is the tweet that started it all.
In September 2018, Maya Forstater hit “peak trans.” After careful consideration, research, digging into the issue, and spending a lifetime advocating for women’s causes, fairness, inclusion, and compassion, Forstater could no longer stand behind the idea that men who transition gender, either socially or surgically, are actually women.
Forstater, who had been a tax researcher at the London Centre for Global Development, wrote on Medium that she “…started by viewing the issue as a straightforward matter of compassion, inclusion and social progress. People should be free to live their life without discrimination or harassment. Vulnerable minorities should be protected… At the same time,” she goes on to say, “I have never believed that women are people who share a common innate sense of ‘gender identity’. Women are people born with female bodies. Womanhood does not depend on dressing, acting or thinking in a feminine way.”
All good so far. Forstater had co-founded a group in 2012 called Let Toys Be Toys, which advocated for toy and advertising companies to stop “boxing” children according to gendered roles and preferences, but to open up STEM based educational toys to girls. She marched in London’s Women’s March. She wore a pink, pussy hat, and was surprised when that turned out to be non inclusive of non-vagina owners. But it was when she saw footage of the attack by trans activists on Maria MacLachlan, a woman in her 60’s, in 2017 that she started to take notice.
Forstater writes that “This attack was celebrated by ‘trans rights activists’ on social media, and by organisations such as Action for Trans Health, who argued that beating up this woman was a legitimate part of their struggle because she was a ‘TERF.” She started to dig deeper, to find out just how this movement affected and re-classed women. The Gender Recognition Act was being fast-tracked through UK legislative bodies, fueled by consultations with LGBT groups, heavy on the T. Women and women’s groups were not consulted, instead, the GRA was pushed ahead under the banner of inclusion and compassion.
The upshot of the GRA was the concept of self-ID, wherein a person could change their sex simply by saying so, thereby earning access to sex based protections for that group, covering everything from bathrooms to political quotas. Though many women found this to be a problem, no one listened. Women started leaving the Labour party over it, but they were dismissed as bigots.
In was in September 2018 that Forstater found she could no longer stay silent, and she dipped her toes in the gender critical waters with a 4 tweet thread on Twitter. These were not viral tweets, they didn’t take the internet by storm, at time of writing they still have barely double digit likes. So she kept going. She wanted to have this discussion. She believed it was her right, as a woman, to raise concerns about the GRA, which would make anyone who said they were a woman, a woman.
A conversation began to pop over the sometimes trans gender CEO Pips Bunce, who wears femme clothes some days, masc clothes other days, and was counted among the Top 100 Female Executives that year.
It was after this series of tweets, wherein Fostater posited that “Women are adult human females. It is not about gender identity, or gender expression or medical treatment,” and said “I don’t know what the ‘feeling of being a woman’ is. If ‘woman’ is defined as someone who has this feeling I don’t fit the criteria!” When she was contacted by HR at the Centre for Global Development. In the end, she was told that she had used “offensive and exclusionary” language, and that her “appointment as a Visiting Fellow at CGD would not be renewed, even though [she] was named in a successful funding proposal for a two-year research project…”
Forstater wasn’t the first woman to suffer professional consequences from speaking up for women’s rights. And she wasn’t the last. But she took her employers to court, to hold them accountable for her termination. She crowdfunded her legal team’s legal fees, and caught the attention of gender critical feminists around the globe.
That case was heard, and the verdict came down that Maya Forstater’s belief that women are adult human females and men are not is a legitimately fireable offense. Forstater lost, with a court saying that it’s not okay to think men are not women.
The suit was brought to the Employment Tribunals under the Equality Act of 2010, and Forstater’s claim was that she had been discriminated against based on belief. The Judgement states that “The Claimant [Forstater] contends … that sex is immutable, whatever a person’s stated gender identity or gender expression. The Claimant contends that her gender critical views are a philosophical belief and that she has been subject to direct discrimination because of them…”
Forstater claimed that her belief in the absence of the essential nature of gender is a philosophical belief that deserves protection under the Equality Act, just as a trans advocate’s belief in the existence of innate gender is protected.
The Judgement goes through all of Forstater’s gender critical tweets, and expert witnesses were called. The Employment Judge, MJ Tayler, states in the decision: “I conclude from… the totality of the evidence, that the Claimant is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
Believing that men and women are different, and stating that fact, is “not worthy of respect,” per Taylor. It’s hard to even read that without screwing up your face in confusion and perplexity.
Taylor goes on to reference “decision of the Supreme Court in Lee v Ashers that persons should not be compelled to express a message with which they profoundly disagreed unless justification is shown.”
Taylor believes that this is the justification: “The Claimant could generally avoid the huge offense caused by calling a trans woman a man without having to refer to her as a woman, as it is often not necessary to refer to a person sex at all. However, where it is, I consider requiring the Claimant to refer to a trans woman as a woman is justified to avoid harassment of that person.”
The judge actually states that Forstater should be compelled to speak according to government dictates because otherwise it would not be nice. Forstater’s right to not say something is trumped by someone else’s right to force her to say it.
Taylor writes: “I do not accept that there is a failure to engage with the importance of the Claimant’s qualified right to freedom of expression, as it is legitimate to exclude a belief that necessarily harms the rights of others through refusal to accept the full effect of a Gender Recognition Certificate or causing harassment to trans women by insisting they are menand trans men by insisting they are women.
While Forstater is making a claim against the Gender Recognition Act, the judge uses the Gender Recognition Act to say that the claim against it is invalid.
Taylor goes on to say that “Believing that a trans woman is a woman does not conflictith… the Gender Recognition Act, or involve harassment. It does not face the same issue of incompatibility with human dignity and fundamental rights of others as the lack of that belief does because that lack of belief necessarily involves the view that trans women are men. It is also a slight of hand to suggest that the Claimant merely does not hold the belief that transwomen are women. She positively believes that they are men; and will say so whenever she wishes. Put either as a belief or lack of belief … she does not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief.”
If this all seems absurd, that’s because it is. If believing one thing is a philosophical belief, then believing the opposite must also be a philosophical belief. If a person is making a claim that a law is unlawful, that same unlawful law cannot be the basis for the law being lawful. This entire judgement reads like an indictment in Kafka’s The Trial, when K is brought up on charges, but never quite told what they are. Except in this case, the lie is Forstater’s own body, and fiction is truth.
The smack of absurdity in the face of rational reasonableness is why so many people are standing with Maya. The trans advocate’s ask for compassion and kindness, the desire for preferred pronouns, to be treated as the sex they choose to portray, all made basic sense. Women were like, “yeah, okay, you want to use the fitting room, and we can’t tell the difference, and everyone’s basically discreet, sure, be comfy, you do you.”
But where the entire trans ideology began to fall apart is when women were redefined in the context of trans, by being called cis. Or when laws began to appear that legally required women to use preferred pronouns, under threat of arrest or interrogation. Or when women were told that men with penises and beards were actually women. Or when those spaces where women are most vulnerable—prisons, crisis centers, bathrooms, hospitals—-were opened to men who said they are women. Or when women started being fired for stating their belief that biological sex is an actual real thing.
And now, when a Judge can state that a grown woman who believes men and women are different is able to be lawfully fired for that, while at the same time protections are rolling in for trans people who claim the opposite, we have truly walked into the realm of absolute batshit craziness.
No matter what Mark Hamill thinks, or how he’d like to appease his fans, men and women exist, and they are different. Everyone who knows that stands with Maya. To do anything else would mean you believe your own body is a lie. #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill
“Shock and disbelief” is how Maya Forstater opened her CrowdJustice update as the Employment Tribunal in central London released their judgement today against Forstater.
Forstater, a former researcher at the European branch of the non-profit Centre for Global Development, was fired for views she expressed on her personal Twitter account related to gender self-identification. In March of 2019, Forstater penned a Medium article asserting that self-identification had serious implications for women’s sex-based rights, and asserted that “ensuring human rights protections for people who are transgender does not depend on accepting the belief that men can become women.”
Forstater was terminated from her position as a visiting fellow, one she held since 2015, shortly after.
Taking her case to the Employment Tribunal, Forstater claimed sex- and belief-based discrimination. The Tribunal ruled against Forstater in its released judgement today, the details contained within the judgement to support it often shocking.
On page 24, Judge Tayler writes that there is “significant scientific evidence that is wrong” about Maya Forstater’s belief that there is an “immutable reality of the male and female sex.” On page 25, the Judge writes that calling a “trans woman a man may even be unlawful harassment” later writing that Forstater’s beliefs on sex are “not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
While the judgement seems to be largely centred around an apparent unwillingness for Forstater to call individuals by their preferred pronouns, in her witness statement presented to the Tribunal on November 22nd, Forstater advised the Tribunal she was willing to call an individual by whatever pronoun they preferred as a courtesy, but that “there is no fundamental right to compel people to be polite or kind in every situation.”
Forstater’s CrowdJustice campaign raised over 70,000GBP ($120,000CAD) in a matter of months.