The 21st Year of the 21st Century, and where are we?
by Louise Paine, Let a Woman Speak
I know it is only February, but I feel it’s necessary to reflect on where we are now, and the direction we appear to be travelling in; so let’s have a look at what has happened thus far.
Let’s start with the UK.
Scotland is leading the way in actions and legislation that are distinctly against the interests of women. Joanna Cherry has been removed from the SNP’s self-declared “front bench” under circumstances that are far from clear. The official line would suggest it was due to her “support” for Alex Salmond, yet it cannot be ignored that her removal was enacted in conjunction with Nicola Sturgeon’s public statement declaring the SNP’s unquestioning support for transgender individuals; apparently a response to six Trans activists flouncing in tears. (*note that the SNP has lost 40,000 supporters in the last 5 years. Hundreds of them were women who were fed up at the party’s lack of action over the abusive tactics of Trans activists within the party. Source: Wings Over Scotland).
It also coincides with the passage of the ‘Hate Crimes Bill’, presented by Humza Yousaf, which has seen amendments added, withdrawn and still, at time of writing, appears to afford more protection under law (as I have seen described) a man dressed as Frank-n-Furter at a showing of The Rocky Horror Show, than a woman under any circumstances. Now tell me that the removal of an intelligent, fearless, forensically astute political woman who has never wavered in her championing of the rights of women has nothing to do with any of this. It all seems a bit fishy to me (sorry, not sorry).
I am in total solidarity with our Scottish sisters who certainly are not taking this lying down, and have made their feelings very clear via the medium of chalk messages at Holyrood and elsewhere.
We can add Joanna’s name to the ever-increasing list of women who are being “no platformed”, gagged, silenced, sidelined, ignored, oppressed.
In the meantime, Owen Jones is allowed unfettered access to national and international media to promote his increasingly hysterical and unhinged personal agenda of misogyny with nary a word of dissent from any quarter. (Except of course thousands of women, everywhere; but what would we know? And we know he isn’t listening, he must have a full time staff of willing minions whose sole purpose is to block any adults who dare pull him up about his appalling behaviour.)
Crossing the boundaries of politics and show business, we have the joy that is Eddie Izzard. A man previously somewhat admired for his openness around being a crossdresser/transvestite, proving that that aspect of his personality was no barrier to him being a successful comedian and marathon runner….or so we thought. We have been witnesses to his transformation into someone bearing a distinct resemblance of a fever dream Baby Jane Hudson. He requires us to use female pronouns when referring to him, claims he runs his marathons whilst in “girl mode”, yet has just been given a part in a new Netflix series, playing a man called Harry, so will be acting in “boy mode” presumably, unless he intends going all ‘Victor, Victoria’ on us; and in the most bizarre twist yet, has been named in a recent ranking exercise as the UK’s funniest woman comedian, coming in above Sarah Millican and Victoria Wood.
Izzard is now the most high-profile man declaring his desire to be the UK’s first “openly” transgender MP. Will he be parachuted into an All Women’s Shortlist constituency, in “girl mode”, having previously failed in his political ambitions whilst in “boy mode”? Yet there are people who are adamant in their opinion that men will not, and do not, go to such lengths in order to get what they feel entitled to. I beg to differ.
At this point, I would just like to briefly tie in the links between the manipulation of language and internet content. Eddie Izzard’s demand for others to use female pronouns is swiftly reinforced through a wholesale revision of his pronouns on the internet, a feat demonstrated with breathtaking speed when Ellen Page donned a hoodie and said her name was Elliott. Transing/queering the dead is a burgeoning hobby for keyboard activists, but for me the most worrying trend is the literal erasure of women scientists that is underway on Wikipedia; Chemistry World has an excellent article on this phenomenon.
Away from the UK, we are witnessing the roll back of women’s rights and women’s fightback. Poland has recently passed a quite frankly shocking law that outlaws abortion in all but a couple of circumstances, in a process that many claim is unconstitutional, bringing thousands of protesters to the streets. Spain was forced to declare a state of emergency in response to years of protest by women over the level of sex-based violence against them. Women in South Korea are still protesting against their oppression, women in India are still being raped and murdered when all they want to do “is pee”, girls are still being subjected to FGM, child marriage, ‘honour killings’. Low waged, minority ethnic women were being dragged through the courts in Canada by a man demanding intimate cosmetic procedures from them, although he appears to have turned his attention to his local Fire Department recently. It’s not going well for him.
Add to this the harrowing and distressing accounts coming to light of the treatment of minority Uighur women in the so called “re-education camps” of China, stories of such depraved rape and torture of women, planned and carried out by their male captors, I cannot bring myself to repeat them here. Stories that fill me with such horror and rage it paralyses me. Stories that should be bringing every decent human being out onto the streets to end it now: to remember the Yazidi women, to remember the Chibok girls, to remember the thousands of women who are routinely raped and tortured as an act of war, as an act of re-education, as an act oppression.
Which brings us neatly to the United States, the self-declared leaders of the free world, and the dawn of 2021.
Old, orange man was, eventually, replaced by even older white man, Joe Biden.
On January 1, 2021, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and James McGovern, House Rules Committee Chair, introduced the Rules of the 117th Congress, a process which accompanies every new congress. The change which garnered the most interest was the one which stated “to honour all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House Rules to be gender neutral”, a change that was duly ratified on January 4th 2021.
On the face of it, this can be seen as a fairly benign change, after all it is hardly a new process. We have been replacing gendered language for years, mainly to remove the inference that certain jobs and positions are the sole preserve of men or remove the feminisation of a role/position. On closer examination, this new ruling appears to only apply to the written language of the Code of Official Conduct for the House and specifically to Clause 8 (c) (3) of Rule XXIII which at its simplest level bans nepotism for financial gain. It does not cover the words spoken in the House of Representatives. So, it would appear that some of us have had a knee jerk reaction to this rule change by claiming that gendered language had been effectively banned in the U.S. Congress, but I think it’s more subtle than that and requires being put into context.
Just read the first five words of the new rule. For me those are the most important and concerning words.
Now, go to January 19th 2021; the new President elect, Biden announces that Dr Richard ‘Rachel’ Levine was his appointment for Deputy Assistant Health Secretary. Dr Levine is an undeniable trans identifying man. He is also a paediatrician. So, “honour all gender identities”, trans identifying man at the heart of U.S health policy making….all leading up to the next, and arguably most worrying, move made within the first month of 2021. Biden’s Executive Orders orgy.
On 20 January, 2021, Biden signed EO 13988: Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation. (my italics) You can read the Executive Order here. It is only three pages long.
On the 25 January 2021, Biden signed EO 14004: Enabling all Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform. You can read the Executive Order here. It is also only three pages long.
Although both Orders are extremely brief, the implications of the enactment of these orders are immense. In the space of five short days, Biden had, with no debate or discussion, passed into law measures that will impact negatively, on a Federal level, women and girls by legitimising “gender identity” via EO 13988. (The only definition I can see of gender identity within the document appears in Section 1: “Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes”.) Children are also mentioned: “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.” As it is not clearly stated regarding children, we can only assume, given the title of the EO, that this directive is also based on the definition highlighted above regarding adults. Plus, we have the evidence in front of our eyes, with boys who were failing to achieve the standards required in sports stealing the places of girls, so I am comfortable making that assumption.
Regarding EO 14004, the title would suggest a wide-ranging list of “qualified Americans” were being reassured of their right to join the Armed Services but no. This Order is specifically and only for “transgender” individuals, so why so coy? Why not say what it is? Why are laws being put in place that state they are one thing yet on the briefest of readings reveal themselves to be for the benefit of one, extremely small, group of people? It’s almost as if they are passing these laws, without scrutiny and under a deceptive cover, before anyone properly cottons on to what is happening. Now why would they do that?
So, “honour all gender identities”, appoint a Trans identified man to a position of power over health policy within the administration, and pass two Executive Orders almost as soon as was humanly possible without debate or discussion, and with misleading and deceptive titles. I see a pattern. And I see a deception. And I see a betrayal.
Why am I so concerned about what is happening in the US? Because there is a whole heap of truth in the saying “when America sneezes, the world catches a cold”, that’s why.
The world today for women is as dangerous as it has ever been; the bright flame of hope we thought we had seen beginning to spread with our hard fought for rights won over the relatively short time period of 150 years or so, a flame which was still to reach the majority of the world, is being swiftly and brutally extinguished in the blink of an eye, aided and abetted by a misogynistic movement which is using the power of the patriarchy it is part of to deceive, dissemble, bully and destroy women. It is patriarchal oppression, regardless of how it dresses.