A lot of feminists are feeling very sorry for themselves over the threat posed by biological males who identify as women. For example, male criminals who identify as women can serve time in women’s jails where they pose an obvious threat to biological females. Similarly, males who have been through puberty will be able to compete in women’s sports with predictable outcomes.
Self identification is predictably a mess and feminists in the media are exercised by the problem. Everyday, we are be told by activists that women will not be erased. That is the kind of being erased or silenced that MRAs only dream of, but that is another story. More disturbing is the attempt to rebadge this problem as an example of oppression of women by men. In truth, it is nothing of the sort and feminists need to take ownership of the issue.
This is not just about the obvious fact that this two way traffic, there are about four times as many biological females who choose to identify as males as the other way round. Men could claim that they are being erased too. More important to me is that the steps leading to this malaise and biological denialism have been laid by feminists not MRAs. Here are three of the most important steps.
Step 1. The concept of gender and even sex being performative.
This concept is often linked with philosopher Judith Butler who has taken the idea to such an extreme that sex as well as gender is regarded as being performative. Janice Fiamengo (here) has written persuasively on this subject and points out that the concept has a much longer provenance and dates back, at least, to the work of Simone de Beauvoir (1908 -1986) and her book The Second Sex. She argued, ‘one is not born but rather becomes a woman.’ An early example of biological denialism. Similarly, American feminist writer Kate Millett, a product of St Hilda’s College Oxford, in her book Sexual Politics, laid the ground for feminists rejecting sex roles and a denial of biological reality. Much of the thought behind this was the idea that men could be and should be trained out of masculinity and that women were the pinnacle of creation. While gay conversion therapy was being outlawed, masculinity conversion therapy was being promoted.
The problem is that if you argue that gender and even sex are performative, there is nothing to stop people performing as whatever sex they like. Predictably, that is what is happening.
Human beings are a physically and cognitively dimorphic species and the denial of that reality was an important first step along the road to tans-orthoxy.
Step 2. Men and Women as Interchangeable Widgets
The idea that men and women are physically interchangeable, has been promoted in our media. For example, in previous post I criticised the reporting of a Belgian cycle race that allegedly had to be paused when female rider, Nicole Hansman caught up with the male riders who started 10 minutes before her (see here). This was reported as a story a men holding back their more able female colleagues, of fragile male egos etc – you know the script. The truth? Nicole never caught up with the mens race and the leading male rider had gained 4 minutes on her by the time the race was neutralised. Nicole only caught up with some the following race-cars due to an obstruction in the road. Either the reporting journalists were too lazy to research the story or they knew the truth but didn’t care because the false narrative they spun suited their agenda.
Similarly misleading narratives have been pushed by film producers. My post Some Women Who Never Existed, outlined two supposedly faithful depictions of real life events where men where written out of the script and replaced with female characters. The first example was the film Aeronauts released by Amazon Films that depicted the remarkable 1862 ballon ascent of James Glaisher and Henry T Coxwell. The balloon, filled with coal gas, kept ascending higher because the valve to control gas release had become jammed. At 29,000 feet, Glaisher had already lost consciousness, but the balloon continued rising until it reached an estimated height of 37000ft. Coxwell’s vision was failing, his fingers had turned black with frostbite and he had lost the use of one arm. Unless something was done soon both aeronauts were going to die. In an act of astonishing bravery and physical endurance, Henry Coxwell managed to climb up onto the rigging and released some gas from the balloon envelope by opening a trapped valve with his teeth. Both men were saved when the balloon stopped ascending and then began to descend and Glaisher rapidly regained consciousness. In the film, however, Coxwell was erased from the script and replaced with a female character, Amelia Wren, who climbed the rigging to save the day.
You might say that this doesn’t matter if it helps drive the plot although I suspect Henry Coxwell’s descendants feel differently about that. I suspect the intention was to feed into the myth that men and women are physically equivalent.
Step 3. Denial of Good Faith Objections
This tactic comes straight out of the feminist playbook. Civilised dialogue is not allowed and any departure from feminist orthodoxy is met with cries of ‘misogynist,’ ‘rape apologist’ or accusations of male fragility. The recent developments in the case of Andrew Tate who has been arrested for trafficking and prostitution reveal the intellectual poverty of this approach. Are you really going to use the same word to describe someone like Andrew Tate as you use on someone with a different opinion?
Feminists have shown themselves to be adept at shutting down speakers they dislike. Look what happened to Warren Farrell when he tried to speak at the university of Toronto. Protesters, mostly female, blocked all entrances and exist and accused anyone wishing to attend of being misogynistic and apologists for rape. Perhaps the most chilling part is where a mild mannered man is followed by a young feminist and repeatedly called called ‘fucking scum.’ Reverse the sexes and this would be classed as harassment.
Gender critical feminists and anyone else who challenges trans-orthodoxy have faced the same kind of anger. Indeed, the word transphobic is used in the same way as misogyny, not to illuminate but to chill debate. The sort of abuse that has been normalised on University campuses has been utilised by trans activists. Think about the problems at Cardiff University where academics who challenged trans-orthodoxy and questioned Cardiff Universities affiliation with Stonewall were threatened with throat punching and attacks with a a length of 4X4 timber. Think of the affluent Cambridge students who campaigned to have a porter sacked for being allegedly transphobic.
So, do I have sympathy with individual feminists such as J K Rowling or Kathleen Stock who have faced abuse? Yes, of course. However, academic feminists, at least, need to own up to role they have played in this social contagion. Also, I have little sympathy with feminist bleating over their supposed erasure and claiming they will not be silenced. They are anything but silenced or erased.