This is a well-reasoned and articulate essay from a writer in the UK. I chuckled a bit because she declares there is NO CONSPIRACY, but then explains the reasons why someone might be thinking that it sure seems like it. – Madam Nomad
WILD WOMAN WRITING CLUB
reviewing new poetry & fiction, writing for women’s liberation
I hold no truck with conspiracy theories, but I understand their appeal to some people. The human mind seeks simple causes, goodies and baddies, reassurance that the universe is an orderly place. Although conspiracy theories are incomplete, and misleading, they represent an attempt to make sense of structural injustices which would otherwise defy explanation with the cultural and cognitive resources available to that person. To point the finger at evil individuals, and their immoral motives, is a more accessible way of explaining injustice than complex sociological theories in which agency and responsibility are more diffuse, and in which the evil in question spreads thanks to people who believe they can only be, and do, good because they ‘identify as’ Good People.
Hannah Arendt’s theory of the Banality of Evil, in which she attributes individuals’ propensity to collude in systemic evils as a feat of detachment, as opposed to grandiose maleficence, is not common currency. If it were, presumably there would be no holocaust deniers. In contrast, conspiracy theorists sell books, and fill auditoriums. People crave simple stories which break the world down into good and evil, with an easily-identified scapegoat (women and jews being among Europe’s most popular), hence the enduring popularity of Hollywood movies, and the effectiveness of demagogues’ tactics of dog-whistling to their base to destroy their opponents.
When it comes to the cognitive takeover of all of our major institutions by gender ideology-driven policies, we are not looking at a conspiracy but a complex confluence of forces engaging a wide range of people with differing motivations. The move to mainstream gender ideology may have begun decades ago as an adult male sexual dysfunction around which a political grouping began to coalesce, one which infringed on the activities of second wave feminists, and the efforts of a handful of autogynephiliac men, seeking a new frontier on which to practice their fetishism, to infiltrate a lesbian music festival, but along the way it has caught up many different groups with varying reasons for getting involved.
Not least of these groups is parents of transed children, in pursuit of social acceptance of the extraordinary things they have allowed medics to do to their children to make them appear straight, sometimes tallying this pursuit into paid campaigning jobs, media careers and book deals. The creation of a cohort of transed children has been weaponised by a number of well-resourced autogynephilic middle-aged men, both to validate their sexual self-expression (they can more persuasively claim they were ‘born this way,’ gaining a moral shield for their fetishism), and to grant a veneer of legitimacy to their politics. This is one of the better-known routes through which the ideology has proliferated. Who owns the major shareholding in the corporation owns the media and the university, and it is this element which goes some way to explaining why journalists and academics – with a handful of honourable exceptions – stopped doing their jobs of investigative reporting, and of interrogating and debating ideas.
Then there is the money element (see Ferring Pharmaceuticals purchasing political influence with the Liberal Democrats, to the tune of £1.5 million), the philanthropic element (see the Tides Foundation, Tawani Foundation, Open Society Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and others, funding gender lobby campaigns), those who earn salaries doing the bidding of the companies and charitable foundations – including some academics, and a diverse gang of activists working with, or from within, institutions. Some are galvanised by non-economic factors – cult membership. Some are motivated by their sense of what would be best for a child or relative suffering from unhappiness focussed on their sexed body, and a wish to have that affirmed by society at large; others are driven by their desire to ‘do good,’ while wilfully oblivious to their blind spots around women and children; others still are motivated by an obsessive sense of sexual entitlement, misogyny, and no doubt mental illness. They are a heterogeneous bunch. You could probably come up with several more sub-categories.
Then there are all of the people with nothing direct to gain from self-ID policies, who have been going along with the agenda, parroting its dogma and slogans, and without whose enthusiastic endorsement the process might have been halted – or at least slowed down – somewhat sooner. They are not bad people, merely busy, righteous people with neither the time nor the inclination to look more closely at what they have been asked to believe. One knows they mean to be ‘good,’ in the broadest sense, because it is their feelings of wanting to be kind, and wanting to ‘include’ those unfairly ‘excluded,’ which made them so receptive to the gender lobby’s stories and slogans to begin with. Before the decline in influence it is now embarking on, Stonewall was extremely effective at communicating stories to pluck at the heartstrings, and its legion of foot-soldiers delivering talks in schools used the same tactics to effect cognitive capture at local level. Hats off to them, they show how having deep pockets and knowledge of campaigning can persuade a lot of people either to believe absurdities, or play along to keep their jobs and status. For many, the lip service they must pay to gender ideology is no more meaningful than a hostage statement, especially where their families depend upon their compliance.
The actions of the gender lobby – a phrase encompassing all of the above actors (bar the people with nothing direct to gain but woke cookies on social media, or credit with the equalities representative in their workplace, unless they subsequently morph into committed activists) – cannot be attributed to one single goal, determined by an individual or secret cabal who pulls all the strings. Far from it. However, we should reserve our closest attention for those leading from the top, because this is very much a top-down astroturf movement. If they are halted in their tracks by a public outcry, those depending on them will also have to stop for lack of public support. The cause of self-ID is not even remotely grassroots, but has been gussied-up to look as though it is a spontaneous upraising against systemic injustice. We need to slow down the roll-out of gender ideology-based policies long enough to debate properly, and to broker a genuine consensus on how society should deal with the various claims of the gender-confused, most urgently those which vitiate women’s sex-based rights and dismantle the safeguards around children.
None of this is to claim that some people with divergent gender identities do not face real challenges because of the very public nature of their coping methods. Coping with the suffering and pain which attend the human condition is, of course, hard, but it would be wrong for society to respond to e.g. a man’s desire to exercise his sexual fetish at work (even if he is one of the FT’s 100 Businesswomen of 2018), by mandating that all his female colleagues become props in his fantasy. Some of the challenges they face – e.g. in getting others to honour their shifting preferred pronouns on the right day of the week, using women’s toilets and changing rooms, and working in positions of influence over children – are simply a matter of butting up against the boundaries which right-minded people want to preserve, because they were put in place for good reason – male violence is real. It is not prejudice for people to insist Girl Guides residential trips be for girls only, and lead by female leaders, to the exclusion of men and boys. Neither is it bigotry for women to insist that Women’s Officers in their political party be female.
The question is whether society should be re-shaped to accommodate the coping methods and inclusion claims of those who are – whether genuinely (in the case of a small cohort of transexual-identifying men), or strategically (in the case of predators who adopt trans identities to gain access to vulnerable women and children) – unclear about the relationship between their sexed body, and the social system of gender, if to do so puts women and children at unnecessary risk. We have no practical means of determining, on sight, which male with a claim to inclusion in women’s space is acting in good faith, and which is not. Upholding boundaries on the basis of biological sex is the only practical way to preserve women & children’s privacy, safety and dignity.
James Kirkup’s most recent blog landed at the right moment. While he wasn’t saying anything women haven’t been saying for years – and had the good grace to confirm he was merely following the path cleared by Janice Turner, and Julie Bindel before her – he has the right reproductive biology to be taken seriously in non-feminist quarters, and has used that advantage to amplify women’s concerns to an extremely resistant political establishment. Kirkup revisits the question – which everyone who gets wind of what has been happening comes to ask – of how we arrived at this place where absurdities are taken for granted, and speaking openly about them gets you pilloried. He quotes from the leaked Dentons law firm document which sets out the modus operandi of trans activism (italics mine):
‘In many of the NGO advocacy campaigns that we studied, there were clear benefits where NGOs managed to get ahead of the government and publish progressive legislative proposal before the government had time to develop their own. NGOs need to intervene early in the legislative process and ideally before it has even started. This will give them far greater ability to shape the government agenda and the ultimate proposal than if they intervene after the government has already started to develop its own proposals.’
This is how we arrived in our current state, where there are serious social penalties for making statements such as ‘trans women are men.’ The activist’s agenda is deliberately manipulative, advanced behind closed doors to avoid the public scrutiny which would have caused the outcry which is now beginning to be heard. Individuals may still feel profoundly disempowered to speak out, yet arguably more of us must gird our loins and stick our necks out – together, for safety. They can’t sack and silence a crowd. It is terrifying that, knowing what they cannot but know about the collateral damage their campaigns have caused, Stonewall are ploughing ahead with a petition to get GRA reform back on track, so we are not there yet. The money interests persist even as some of the more vocal genderist activists have begun to fall quiet.
Kirkup’s piece was picked up by Madeleine Kearns, a U.S. journalist who has stuck her neck out, to her credit. She explores why resistance to the trans trend is not more forceful in her country, when on every metric the medicalisation of gender non-conforming children, and oppression of women and girls by self-ID laws and policies, is more advanced than here in the U.K:
Conversations with doctors, teachers, policymakers, and legislators can be discouraging, as some admit that they know what is going on and that they find it deeply troubling, but they vow to “stay out of it.” After all, it doesn’t affect them or their families. (Yet.) When I ask them to help with a story, even on background, they often say things such as, “This is not my fight,” or, “It’ll blow over eventually,” or, “I have my reputation to think about.”
A charitable interpretation is that such people are simply ignorant of the scale of the problem […] But is ignorance an excuse? Is it reasonable to think that the attempt to redefine sex in state and federal law and the blatant pursuit of eroding parental rights is some distant fringe issue?
When a child starts presenting as the opposite sex at school, and teachers try to “educate” parents on how to be “affirming,” aren’t we curious about what will happen to that child? Aren’t we interested in the fact that when we tell a little boy that he is a girl — which, incidentally, is not the same as letting him dress or play-act in stereotypically feminine things — we are partaking in a medical experiment in which he is the subject? Aren’t we aware that we are shaping his future? At the very least, we must be aware that small children are incapable of making rational decisions and cannot give consent to this.
To be clear: “Affirming” a child’s “social transition” is a form of social-psychological treatment, one with very little research behind it, and one on which no school counselor, teacher, or parent should embark lightly. Some medical experts and researchers worry that this treatment might make it harder for a child to accept his or her body later on and might also put them on a pathway to irreversible medicalization.
This strikes me as precisely the right question to be asking at the moment. We need to find ways of having this conversation with our school leaders, voluntary organisation leaders, HR departments (for those who are well-enough established to weather the fallout) – anyone in a position of authority who is enabling gender ideology to inform the restructuring of their occupational space to women and girls’ detriment. The excuse that it’s ‘not [their] problem’ has begun to look rather threadbare, when evidence of the harms caused mount up, yet the gender lobby leaders are continuing to push their agenda regardless. We need more groups of like-minded individuals to break ranks and make a show of public resistance. They have something which was lacking back in the early ‘teens – greater numbers of resisters, a more organised pushback by women’s groups, and a left-liberal media with (fingers crossed) both ears open.
Recently I learned two new, very useful, terms from an academic who is looking into the full extent of regulatory/cognitive capture of our administrative apparatus by gender ideology. The first is ‘ideological laundering.’ The second is the concept of ‘capturing respectable fronts.’ There is no grand conspiracy here, but it is fair to say that an ideology with its roots in the late nineteen seventies philosophising of male fetishists, coalesced into activist groups, infiltrated LGB organisations, and has, since the nineteen nineties, been laundered by various philanthropic trusts, charities and NGOs until the key ideas – that some are ‘born in the wrong body,’ and that changing sex is not only possible but to be celebrated, normalised, and offered to the masses – have captured respectable fronts: the list is long, but consider, for example, the strange behaviour of the NSPCC with regard to the James Makings incident, or the extreme delay in expelling Aimee Challenor from first the Green Party, then from the Liberal Democrats – the same party which accepted £1.5 million from a puberty blocker manufacturer. Consider the bizarre, pseudoscientific, cultic beliefs teachers are indoctrinating four year olds with, the indignity of an NHS trust calling a woman a bigot for requesting a female healthcare practitioner, the election of one L Madigan to the position of Labour Women’s Officer.
The connection between all of these incidents is not a half-baked conspiracy theory, with Jennifer Pritzker at the centre laughing like a comic book villain as paraphilia becomes the new normal and the profits grow, but the core tenets of gender ideology: gender identity trumps sex, sex can be changed, and a person’s internal sense of gender identity stands supreme above both women’s rights and children’s safeguarding. Because these beliefs are outlandish – to put it generously (a less generous characterisation would be that they are absolutely bonkers – irrational, counterfactual, and destructive of their adherents’ connection with reality) – the trans lobby knew very well that it had to work in the shadows, shielded from public scrutiny. The Dentons document merely confirms what we already knew. This unwelcome top-down ‘movement’ is not about helping confused children, or even confused adults. It is about extending the entitlement of already-powerful men, reshaping the public sphere one policy at a time, at the expense of everyone else.
People need to believe in something. Even atheists exercise their disbelief with zeal, and expel heretics from their ranks. The feminist movement itself has a long history of ‘trashing’ individual women for the most bizarre justifications, often disguising jealousy of individuals with exceptional talents. All collective political and religious groups abuse power in this way, to a greater to lesser extent. Humans also seek out ideas which enable us to believe in our own goodness, in contrast with the bad out- group. In an era of declining faith in the old religions, the secular belief system of gender ideology is one which has rushed in to fill the vacuum.
Men have spent millennia elaborating on belief systems which elevate maleness above femaleness, all the while wrestling with their sexual dependence upon the feared/desired Other. This is what feminists mean when they deride the gender lobby as promoting male sex rights, because this is what – when you strip away the layers of emotional manipulation and weaponising of gender non-conforming children – you are left with. Men’s self-awarded entitlement to get their sexual kicks, their dysfunctions normalised, and their egos propped up, and even to make money while doing it, regardless of the impact on women and kids. It’s not pretty, and it’s unpleasant even to have to say it (good grief, there are infinite things I would prefer to be talking about than the latest in penis news), but there it is. An unpalatable truth, one which its promoters wish to plush down the Memory Hole, and replace with something more respectable, and less tawdry. We should do our best to make that act of erasure as difficult as humanly possible.