It takes only a cursory examination of our tumultuous human history to appreciate that periods of liberty—when individual citizens are largely free to speak, think, believe and act as they choose—are vanishingly rare and must be jealously guarded. In the span of three days last week, incidents in Toronto and Vancouver demonstrated that shockingly few people seem to understand this, and fewer still actually care.
Both incidents involved radical feminist Meghan Murphy, who had speaking engagements booked at the Toronto Public Library and Simon Fraser University (SFU) in B.C. on the topic of sex-based rights and their apparent conflict with gender identity.
Actor Laurence Fox says that “the wokist is a fundamentally racist bunch.” On BBC’s Question Time, he said that the backlash against Meghan Markle was not racist, and called a woman of colour racist for suggesting that his identity means he can’t discern racism.
“The problem we’ve got with this is that Meghan has agreed to be Harry’s wife,” a woman spoke up from the audience, “and the press has torn her to pieces, and let’s be really clear about what this is, let’s call it by its name: it’s racism.”
He decried her view, saying “It’s not racism, we’re the most tolerant lovely country in Europe.”
“Says a white privileged man,” she shot back.
“It’s so easy to throw the charge of racism at everybody,” Fox replied, “and it’s really starting to get boring.”
“What worries me about your comment,” she said, “is you’re a white privileged male.” A round of audience boos rose up.
Fox was clearly annoyed by her comment. “I can’t help what I am, I was born like this,” he said, “it’s an immutable characteristic, so to call me a white privileged male is to be racist. You’re being racist.”
For this, he was skewered in the press and received death threats. Even after “Equity’s minority ethnic members committee… called on fellow actors to ‘unequivocally denounce’ Laurence Fox for comments he made during an appearance on BBC1’s Question Time,” author Shappi Khorsandi spoke against that denunciation.
And Fox wouldn’t back down. Instead, he took to the airwaves with Julia Hartley-Brewer on Talk Radio’s Breakfast Show this morning to expand upon his views.
It was in talking with Hartley-Brewer that he said “I think there’s racism everywhere but I don’t think we’re a systemically racist country. I don’t see a lot of racism, but then I’m a straight white male.” He went on to say that “identity politics is fundamentally racist as well,” because “it’s about silencing opinion,” and “seeing colour everywhere.”
Fox gave voice to what many people have been thinking, that the language of racism and accusations of bias have jumped the shark. Racism had been a charge that could only be levelled by minority racial groups against dominant racial groups. It was a scourge that needed to be rooted out at the highest levels of power to prevent systemic inequity. This project was undertaken by Civil Rights activists, and that work has continued in all of us. As Fox notes, there is still racism.
But the way to fix that racism is not by categorizing everyone into their own little identity boxes and determining what they are allowed to say or think based on the rights and privileges of that identity. The thing to do is to treat everyone like a human being, capable of having their own thoughts and ideas. People must look for the best in one another, not the worst, and not seek out every opportunity to be offended.
Calling someone a privileged white male, said Fox, is a way of “silencing opinion,” saying “you’re not allowed an opinion, mate, you’re white.” Fox has had enough of it, as have so many people.
There are no identity factors that make someone a bad person. Identity factors, such as race, sex, ethnicity, or sexual orientation should not have value judgements associated with them. For one hot minute, we used to know this. The goal was to look at each other and not parse up individuals into their requisite labels, to not use a person’s external characteristics to determine the worth of their ideas or their rights under the law.
That all turned around with concepts like “valuing differences,” wherein we were supposed to look at the ways in which we were different first, dissect and acknowledge those, before seeking for the ways in which we were the same. How much better it is to find kinship with one another first, before sorting all the ways in which we are different.
Fox’s perspective on racism and identity will most likely continue to be discredited because his identity factors are deemed more essential than his actual perspective. His views are taken with large grains of white cis het male privileged salt. But it’s time to start realizing that the brilliant Civil Rights movement, which told us not to judge someone on the basis of their physical characteristics, has been co-opted by haters who would have us do that very same thing. It doesn’t matter who is being boxed by immutable identity factors and judged by them, it matters that it’s being done at all, and it must stop.
The Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) is no stranger to controversy, but it was still a bit of a surprise to have their New York event on Cancelled Women cancelled by the New York Public Library (NYPL). The event is going ahead, and if you’re in New York tonight you should come check it out, but you’ll have to reserve a ticket to find out where.
Women always find a way to get around barriers put in place to keep them out, and women who have been locked out in one way or another are more than capable of picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and starting again.
In this case, the event, An Evening with Cancelled Women, was booked into a room at the New York Public Library. All was moving along as planned, until the night before the deposit was due, WoLF Board Chair Natasha Chart received an email from the NYPL saying that the booking was cancelled. No reason was given. And the irony, of course, is plain: an event about cancelled women was cancelled.
It will never cease to amaze me how threatened people are by women, getting together in libraries, to talk. Drag queens in full costume reading to and occasionally flashing children is fine, but women talking about their experiences? Absolutely not.
Libraries in Vancouver, Seattle, and Toronto have been protested for hosting talks by gender critical feminists, but those libraries have not caved to pressure the way the NYPL has. As a long-time lover of the NYPL, its beautiful research and reading rooms, its exhibits, history, massive archive, and dedication to scholarship, this was both hugely disappointing and surprising.
The root of all this is the continued divide in feminism over whether or not biological sex is a fantastical concept, or simply an unalterable aspect of reality. Transgender ideology has taken hold of our culture and it refuses to let go. But the truly crazy thing is that most people don’t actually believe that surgeries, hormone treatments, and wishing really hard can change your sex. Instead, people just say that they do in order to not hurt trans people’s feelings.
The women who will be featured at the event include Dominique Christina, Posie Parker, Meghan Murphy, Linda Bellos, Natasha Chart, and myself. All of these women are outspoken about their unwillingness to accept trans women as women, balk at the term cis, refuse to allow women’s spaces to be overrun with men, and reveal the truth about the butchering being done to children in the name of transgender lies.
They have been harassed and derided for these views before, and for the most part would rather not have to talk about it all the time. But so much of women’s experience is being erased under the guise of trans acceptance. Language about women and women’s bodies is being altered to include male-bodied persons—pregnant woman is now pregnant person, the word mother is now an identity and not a verb, even menstrual products are being rebranded to eliminate references to women. Women’s sports are inclusive of men who say they are women, leading to men winning women’s championship titles in cycling, track & field, and that’s just the beginning, as the IOC has opened the doors for trans women to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Women are expected to sit back and quietly take it, whatever is thrown at them, to acquiesce, to give in, and they are threatened when they don’t. These women have proven that they will not be silenced, and the more people that want them to shut up, the louder they will speak. Erasing and cancelling women may be the going trend, but we’re not going to accept it just because trans activists want us to.
Students can now get paid to snitch on their peers at the University of Sheffield. The students will earn £9.34/hour to be “race equality champions,” and their training for the work will include teaching them how to “lead healthy conversations” on racism, microaggressions, and how to deal with those peers who commit infractions. Hours range from two to nine hours per week, like any part-time work-study job. But Sheffield University’s foray into “snitch culture” sounds alarm bells.
Following a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission that cautioned about the “common occurrence” of racism for some students on campus, the University decided to combat the problem by weaponizing other students. Twenty, lucky kids will get this job, and it’s probable that plenty more would have done it for free, as have their authoritarian forebears.
This new job, such as it is, is rightfully being hailed as completely authoritarian and crazy. Anyone who has studied 20th-century history knows that the worst dictators and totalitarians of that era counted on citizens to report on one another, under threat of punishment if they did not.
Citizens in the Soviet Union, Germany, China, Spain, and other nations with brutal, paranoid leaders impressed upon their citizens how important it was that they rat out their friends, family, and co-workers.
Now that trend has some to the ultimate allied nation, the U.K. The students who take these jobs will undoubtedly think they are doing the right thing in carrying out their duties. But in trying to overcome racism, they are dividing them further.
Part of the job description is for students to call out their peers for microaggressions.
If a fellow student says to another “Stop making everything a race issue,” that’s considered a microaggression and is a reason for reporting under this new plan. If a student says “Why are you searching for things to be offended about?” That’s considered “not okay,” and that peer must be punished. The question “Where are you really from?” is apparently out of bounds, and other geographical infractions like “I don’t want to hear about your holiday to South Africa. It’s nowhere near where I’m from” is a reason to call out a kid for being racist.
Students complained about the microaggression of “Being compared to black celebrities that I look nothing like,” which would be pretty annoying for the kid who got that wrong, but is it a reason to be reported?
The University of Sheffield claims that they are just “opening up a conversation” by paying students “to help their peers understand racism and its impact.” In 2018, the University suffered some racially motivated incidents, with racial slurs found written on a whiteboard, and slurs yelled at games.
Of course, there’s no place for racism on campuses, but the way to root it out is through education and conversation, not monetized McCarthyism. Call-out culture, snitch culture, and the reframing of the conversation around how to control our thoughts does not alleviate racism; it buries it where it can fester.
Fighting racism is a positive project, but it’s not done through dividing us, through pitting peers against each other, but through a culture of egalitarianism and equality. Knowing that we are different is not as important as recognizing all the ways in which we are the same.
The result of the constant barrage of trans ideology and inclusion is that the media talks about periods way more than they used to. Once the purview of women’s medical journals and whispers, the state of modern menstruation has taken up lots of pixel space, but only in the context of trans men’s experience with it. The new claim is that periods are more painful for female-bodied trans men than they are for female-bodied female persons because, in addition to the physical discomfort, they experience mental anguish as well.
A new report by NBC News speaks to the conundrum of women who believe they are men but are still saddled with women’s reproductive systems. In addition to not wanting to deal with menstruation, trans men find it troubling to use tampons and pads in men’s public bathrooms. There’s concern about the sound of the packaging, where to wash hands, and where to dispose of the used materials. While an easy solution would be to use the women’s bathroom, this, too would be a problem for trans men who would be viewed as men, not women. No matter where they use the washroom, there are problems.
Kenny Ethan Jones, a transgender model and activist, found that having his period after his transition was remarkably difficult, and wanted to speak out to help others who experience the same problem. He told NBC “I didn’t believe that having periods would be a part of my lived experience. I felt isolated; everything about periods was tailored to girls, yet me, a boy, was experiencing this and nothing in the world documented that.”
It’s interesting how much more dialogue there is about periods now that people who present as men are having them. Period products are changing to be more accommodating to people who don’t like pink, and products are being made available in more locations. What’s missed in all this inclusivity is that there are loads of women who loathe the pink buttercup infantile quality of women’s menstrual products. But companies never asked or cared to find this out, so women had no choice but to buy the overly girly products for a condition that feels anything but feminine.
Jones notes that trans and gender non conforming people can feel alienated by the menstrual products currently available on drug store shelves. And while this is undoubtedly true, it’s also true for most women. No woman likes buying menstrual products. Walking up to the register and proclaiming that you are now or will soon be bleeding feels humiliating. The same is true for use of public washrooms. No one wants to be heard ripping the plastic off a tampon or caught red-handed at the sink. It’s embarrassing all around, not just for women who have beards. But it’s only since women with facial hair and six-packs started talking about it that anyone is the least bit concerned about how uncomfortable this is.
With an interest in normalizing menstruation for trans men, Jones helmed an advertising campaign in 2018 for Pink Parcel, a subscription service for period products. In doing so, he said that “During my transition I did have to deal with experiencing periods each month and many of the negative stereotypes that can come along with it. Assuming periods are inhibiting to people tends to perpetuate period shame even more, and makes people even more reluctant to talk about them.” Jones had attended an all-girls school, came out as trans at 14, started socially transitioning at 16 by shaving his head and changing his name, and began hormone treatment at 17.
His outspoken words on periods and their discomfort, however, apply equally to trans men and to women, because despite the rhetoric saying that periods are so much worse for those who present as men and don’t want them, periods are literally just as awful for everybody who has them, because no one actually wants to experience them. The division between trans men and women with regard to period pain, body dysphoria, and the difficulty in dealing with the logistics of it is entirely arbitrary. All this language does is isolate women into a category where it’s assumed that they like all the weird things that happen to their bodies, simply because they know they are things that are supposed to happen to healthy bodies.
Women and trans men are not different when it comes to experiencing menstruation, and all this division does is box women in cutesy pink packaging of acceptance. Separating trans men who bleed from women who bleed reinforces gender stereotypes, and while trans men may feel lifted by new period products with trucks and rifles on them instead of bows and duckies, this does nothing but further ghettoize women who accept the inevitability of their femaleness.