by Anonymous. Originally posted on Young Radical Feminists.
I never thought I’d end up one of the “Freeze Peach” brigade. I am, and always have been, a knit-your-own hummus guardian-reader type. My parents both wear birkenstocks, and weep loony lefty tears at the music of Billy Bragg. I always prided myself on being so broad-minded that there would be no cap capacious enough to accommodate my great, broad temple, bulbous with pious left-wing views. No minority was, well, minor enough for me. My lapels were positively weighty with rosettes and badges for this or that struggle – gay rights, women’s lib, etc. Greer was my God, the earnest feminist discussion group my church. I would tell men to “check their privilege”, or just generally put a sock in it with the zeal of the young and right-minded. The cannon, I gleefully told my fellow students, was sexist. It was important that we hold our tongues and listen to the views of those more marginalised. Public discourse, I maintained, was and is dominated by self-important white heterosexual men, with accents even plummier than my own. I still believe this – really, I do. I believed that freedom of speech could and should be curtailed in order to address what I saw (and still do see) as a fundamentally unequal status quo. The oppressed must be heard over the oppressor. That is, of course, until I got to university, and found out that it was, in fact, me, who was the oppressor. It was then that I found out I was cis, you see.
I’m well-versed in feminist stats. Two women a week die at the hands of a current or ex partner in the UK. Men own 95% of the world’s resources. The average entry age into prostitution in Europe is 15. FGM is endemic, and has reared its ugly head here in the UK. There is so much to be done. You can only imagine my surprise when I found that student feminism centred around pronouns, safe spaces, trigger warnings. The world is cruel to women, and rather than fight it, my fellow “feminists” wanted gender-neutral bathrooms and the right to ignore the ills inflicted upon other women. I criticised the porn industry and was duly chided for being “sex-negative”. I was boring, old-hat, a frigid old bra-burner; an oppressive one at that! Women, you see, cannot conceive of the endless harm done to non-binary and trans people by brats like myself. Woman, the implication was, has had the monopoly on suffering for too long. To struggle is to have a macbook, teal hair, and the pronoun “xir”; ten or so years ago these bouji brats would have been content being goths – but now they’re non-binary. Do you, dear reader, conform religiously to the dictates of gender? Are you not a walking pastiche of your sex? Trouser-clad women, look away now – you are, in fact, non-binary. Being non-binary sounds brill, to be fair. Even if you have a penis, you get to whinge a great deal, and tell women in no uncertain terms to shut up. Behaviour that would have seen you deemed a big dirty sexist three or so years ago gets you a great many approving nods in modern feminist circles. I had long thought that, as feminists, our whole schtick was that there was no such thing as the male or female brain – that woman had the grey matter necessary to lead countries and become CEO’s. That it was nurture, not nature, that had seen women consigned to the kitchen. These long-held views were thrown out the window in order to appease trans-activists. Caitlyn Jenner, I was told by one militant atheist-feminist, had a “feminine soul”. That would explain where all his/her decathlon medals and sired offspring came from!
Universities are pretty bad for sexual assault. That’s stating the obvious, really: the world is bad for sexual assault. But universities particularly so: lots of young people, many of whom spent the past 12 years in a single sex environment, suddenly descend upon a campus or small university town, and hit the pub. Efforts on campus to teach people about meaningful consent and things like that are meagre. The NUS’ one concessionary bid at combating sexual assault on campus was to ban pop ditty “Blurred Lines”, elevating a standard-issue sexist song into the martyr-ly anthem of free speech advocates who like creepy songs about coercing reluctant beaus into bed (or, to call a spade a spade, assault.) All women know about creepy men: there are few women who haven’t lingered too long by the tampon machine in the women’s toilet in order to escape the advances of a leering lech in a nightclub. Our student union bar has two such women’s toilets: sensible, considering that girls inexplicably wee more, and the university rugby team (the male one, naturally), has taken to pissing on the floor of the union bar at sports nights: the women’s toilets are often a great deal more appealing than the bar itself. This state of affairs will be coming to an end soon – one of the women’s toilets will be changed into a “gender neutral” one soon: for “non-binary people.” This is obviously very nice for non-binary people with penises (although any good feminist knows that penis does not mean male, you guys!), but not so fun for tedious, whining uterus-bearers, many of whom fear sexual assault, and know and recognise single-sex spaces such as toilets as a place of welcome respite from the threatening behaviour of men. Que sera sera – these spaces are hardly sacrosanct anyway. I recently went for a wee in the women’s loos, only to find the seat up and the bowl covered in piss. Interesting.
When I tentatively suggested that banning Julie Bindel (“Bindel”: the name alone is “triggering”) from campus might be a bit daft, I was deemed a transphobe, my presence in the university feminist group “unsafe”. God forbid your ideas go unchallenged at university! But the echo-chamber prevailed – she was turfed (or should that be TERF-ed?) from campus. The students slept safe in their beds (or polyamorous communes) once more. In the two years since, I marvel at my naivety. On the cusp of graduation, I would never dare to air my unpopular views like that. As a “cis” woman, I know full well that I am perennially on the verge of “cissexism” – to observe that the penis is male is akin to saying that you think that babies are lovely, but better fried than grilled. I play sports, but wouldn’t dare suggest to my team that I think it might be just a little unfair that transwomen can compete with women in the Olympics. That would be terribly oppressive – transwomen may be allowed to compete with the advantage of denser bones, greater height, superior strength, and testosterone levels seven times that of the average “cis” woman, but what about their feelings? The hard work and perseverance of potential gold medallist females pales in comparison to the importance of the feelings of transwomen; everything does, in fact. To question that a bloke in a frock has had the same experience of womanhood as, well, a woman, is oppressive. So don’t do it. Ever. That’s my experience of it, at least. That’s how I came to find myself on the side of those people I’d disdained for so long: free speech advocates. Bristly-necked men who consider it their constitutional right to watch rape porn; frothy-mouthed Christians who picket abortion clinics; religious fanatics who call gay people the most appalling things. And now me – a whey-faced guardian reader who queries the right of a man in a mini-skirt to use the women’s loos. Just recall the candidates for this year’s NUS women’s officer. One of the candidates has a manifesto that boasts of trans rights, and a five o’clock shadow to rival my Dad’s: by modern standards, he’s a far better feminist that I’ll ever be.