Last week, as has been reported in The Times, in her own words and Quillette, radical feminist activist Julie Bindel was attacked after giving a speech at Edinburgh University. The speech was about “male violence toward women and girls,” so it was somewhat absurd that her point was made upon her leaving the venue. The attacker was Cathy Brennan, a trans activist, who admitted on Twitter to having “lost my shit.” But it’s super easy to get angry when your very concept of reality is refuted by facts.
The redefinition of biological woman to include male-bodied persons has created all kinds of problems. Trans women housed in women’s prisons have assaulted and raped female prisoners. Trans women housed in women’s shelters have pushed women out of those spaces. Trans advocates have successfully defunded rape crisis centers for their lack of inclusivity of trans women. In the U.S. female athletes have lost out on opportunities to compete for university scholarships because trans identified boys routinely trounce the female-bodied competition. Trans women athletes claim that their male bodies give them no advantage, and are lauded by LGBTQIAP+ press.
To help trans women feel more like they have the bodies women are born with, the National Health Service in the U.K. is piloting a program to determine the feasibility of giving male bodies the capability to bear, gestate, and birth young through womb transplants. Despite years of understanding that boys are girls need separate washroom spaces in schools, trans advocates are pushing for shared bathrooms, and silencing those parents who would ask for more thoughtful consideration of the needs of girls and boys in schools.
When dangerous practices that are said to affirm trans identity are pointed out as the medical dangers they are, accusations of transphobia fly. Violence against those who would claim a biological basis for the female body is advocated for, and memorialized in art exhibits. Women who have the nerve to speak their mind are accused of being funded by hate groups and conservatives, because in the minds of trans advocates, those are the same thing.
It’s no wonder that Julie Bindel was attacked, that Megan Murphy has been Twitter banned, that gender-critical women who march in pride parades or feminist marches are deplatformed, removed, or threatened. The men who are certain of their femaleness don’t just want to believe it themselves, they want everyone else to believe it to. The problem is that for women to believe that male bodies are female, they have to discount and ignore the experience of their own bodies. Gender-critical feminists are not trying to deny the rights of trans individuals, but simply want to have their own spaces. One has to wonder why so many trans activists are insistent on denying them either the space or willing to admit the need for it.
Women’s bodies are objectified, vilified, raped, harassed, protected, commodified, regulated, reshaped, repackaged, and criticized in any and all areas of culture. Growing up female in a culture that has no consensus on the value of women is now compounded by a cultural indoctrination that tells us that women are not even definable by their undervalued bodies.
Julie Bindel spoke out in support of women’s rights, advocating for women’s worth in the face of male violence, and all the evidence suggests that she will continue to do so. The women who take up this fight are routinely harassed for it, receive masses of inbox hate, risk social media bans, and are ostracized from their families and communities. So why do they keep doing it?
Let’s be clear, it’s not an easy choice to make to keep stating the obvious: that women’s bodies have a biological reality. The fear of being shouted down and vilified is real. It sucks to be called names online, in person, and to have the reality of your own body and lived experience questioned to the point of erasure, simply so men feel more comfortable colonizing women’s bodies and spaces.
Perhaps it’s that women have spoken out for their own equality, obtained legal acknowledgement of their natural rights, separated their own worth from the worth of their associated men, that has made men strive for a new avenue in which to claim the female form for their own.
Maybe it’s the oppression hierarchy that is pushing men to find a way to give their own bodies and experience a new value in a culture that paints them as either sexless and violent or oversexed and violent, that makes this small but increasingly vocal percentage of the male population proclaim their feminine gender.
The reasons that women are accepting this nonsense are as much about the power structure as men’s reasons for it. Women often find power in compromise, in acceptance, and are so used to acquiescence as a form of survival that they are apt to accept another person’s view of reality over their own. Women are used to hearing crazy things about themselves posited as fact, and believing it just because the source seems good. Examples abound from our perverse medical history, that showed women’s reproductive organs with horns, classified women’s emotional realities as hysteria, and defamed women as incapable in so many areas of public life.
That’s why we need women who will speak and write the truth, who will demand acknowledgement of the reality of women’s bodies and experience. There is nothing wrong with being biologically female. There is nothing wrong with our bodies as they are. Men who wish to present and be perceived of as women can do that, and all reasonable people will support their choice and their rights, but they absolutely may not do that at the cost of women’s reality.