In the age of 24 hour social media, it's hard to keep abreast of news, fake or otherwise. Stories burst forth in a moment only to quickly become placeholders for the next beat of the drum, the rhythm of which keeps the blood of the wavering multitude constantly simmering on the boil. It's often said that we are in danger of forgetting the past. Sometimes it seems we're in just as much danger as forgetting the present.
But before Trump got Covid, before he nominated Amy Coney Barrett, he took the first decisive action any administration has yet taken against one of the most pervasive ideological poisons ever to invade the West. He struck the first real counter blow in the culture war, to curb an insidious and novel iteration of racism known as critical race theory, which, in 2020, has spread like a Californian bushfire across the English speaking world on the meme of "Black Lives Matter".
But how did we get here? How did this post-modern fluke infect the West and threaten its cultural implosion so quickly? The fact is, while things seem to be moving very quickly today, this has been a long and drawn out process which is as old as the women's liberation movement, aka, feminism, itself.
At a feminist conference in 2014 , the iconic radical feminist Germaine Greer declared, "We've gone as far as we can with this equality nonsense. It was always a fraud!"
She then encouraged women to work together to "institutionalize the values that unite us," and lock arms with other women to "put pressure on the system."
Just a year later, Greer was booked to give a speech at Cardiff University entitled Women & Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century. Rather than locking arms in solidarity however, the university women's officer decided to lock ideological horns, launching a petition urging the school to cancel Greer's lecture because she had, "demonstrated misogynistic views towards trans women." (Note: "trans women" are biological men who adopt a female gender. It is, as of yet, scientifically impossible to change ones sex.)
During the hormonally saturated mid teens of the 21 century, a still nascent cancel culture would find its feet via the practice of no platforming, ironically, once a tactic employed against self-proclaimed fascists and Holocaust deniers, today used against implicit fascists by explicit Holocaust deniers.
Cleavages, ahem, in women's liberation have always been common, and have a habit of emphatically dancing around whatever phallic symbol it is they are demanding to be liberated from. This is an odd state of affairs if you think of other campaigning groups. For instance, I'm not aware of any deep ideological differences between the American Tortoise Rescue and the ASPCA. Though both are competing in the same pond for limited resources, I've never heard of the former trying to no platform the latter for its blatant indifference to reptiles. Each group has its focus and differences of focus are not duly labelled as phobias or outrages.
Wherever feminists meet however, fisticuffs fly. Why?
In 1982, the radical "women's liberation" magazine Spare Rib responded to accusations of white middle class feminist bias, still a common criticism now, by exploring and giving voice to "black and third world women," and an "emerging black feminist identity." It welcomed these voices into their non-hierarchical cooperative. Pretty soon, it wasn't a cooperative anymore and it was noted that the newbies now had more editorial power than the rest. An interview with Palestinian women was published, entitled, "Women Speak Out Against Zionism: If a woman calls herself a feminist, she should consciously call herself an anti-Zionist." I have not been able to ascertain if one of these women was, in fact, a time travelling Linda Sarsour, but so began a new sundering in the feminist hinterland identical to the one occurring today, 38 years later.
As documented in the British Library archives, the controversy was intense in a movement that was already riven with disagreements between anti-porn radical feminists demanding a pornography ban, and free speech radical feminists who opposed such censorship. These anti-porn radical feminists are the same feminists today, derisively labelled TERF's by trans activists and intersectional feminists.
The disagreements now, as they did then, all centre on what flavour of liberation you fancy. Radical feminists only want liberation from patriarchy and maybe capitalism. Intersectional feminists, those feminists who were warmly invited in by the radicals, want liberation from white-cis-hetero-capitalist-patriarchy, so they are all aboard the family and gender disrupting trans train. Those are also the goals of Black Lives Matter, which is itself, just another political tentacle of the intersectional feminist matrix.
It seems what we are witnessing today are simply the feminist postmodern chickens coming home to roost.
While radical feminists battle intersectional feminists for the right to female only places, it was radical feminists who, decades ago, began campaigns to make same sex clubs illegal, and they are still doing it. The Garrick Club, one of the oldest "gentlemen's clubs" (no not that kind!) in London is being sued by a female lingerie tycoon because she cannot become a member, but is welcome everywhere in the club as a guest, as are other women. And this is happening while exclusive women's only clubs, such as The Wing, are popping up all over the shop! What's good for the goose is clearly not good for the gander.
What the archives of Spare Rib show, is that orthodox radical feminism was bludgeoned to death in the 80s and then reanimated with intersectionality. Via the fraud of equality, as Greer admitted in 2014, intersectional feminism has weaponized a benign sounding "liberal feminism" and used it as a vector to mainline itself into, and undermine, every one of our institutions, as Trump noted. Orthodox radical feminists don't like it, but they laid the foundations for it. And they should not be trusted as egalitarians because of it.
I shared my thoughts with prominent liberal feminist Christina Hoff Sommers, and asked her why, in light of the growing preposterousness of feminist claims on sex and gender, a stance both radical and intersectional feminism have equally wrong, she still called herself a feminist?
She replied, "I think I agree with you. The term 'feminism' was hijacked by male-averse hardliners long ago. I always assumed that moderate, equal-opportunity feminists could get it back. Now I'm not so sure."
She proposed a new term, "equalist." But for me, this would just establish a new front for ideologues to build on. Women's rights suffices and lays the ground for the acceptance of non-ideological men's rights. At the moment, men's rights activists are using the feminist playbook, weaponizing suffering as means to a political end, and doing very little to ameliorate suffering.
It's also worth remembering that most people, male or female, do not identify as feminist even while they agree with egalitarian principles like equality under the law. Many feminists complain that this consistent finding is because women don't actually understand what feminism is. I beg to differ. They know exactly what it is and what stops them from identifying as feminist is the ideological bag of bricks that feminism comes with; social constructionism, patriarchy theory, gender theory (which both intersectional and radical feminism have wrong), critical race theory. How can denying the laws of biology possibly be in anyone's best interests? What's next, decolonizing gravity?
These battling dogmatic demographics are vanishingly small yet have complete executive control of the debate. Trans activists and intersectional feminists need to understand, it's not TERFs they are fighting, it's just normal women who do not identify as feminist. Radical feminists need to understand that their theory does not represent what women want either. It has been clear for many years that feminism and women's rights are not one and the same thing and all creeds of feminisms, which necessarily sign up to ludicrous post modern, neo-Marxist, critical theories of the world and human nature, are fundamentally intellectually compromised in their supposed goal of social and moral amelioration.
Feminism does not support women, it supports other feminists. It's not an inclusive human rights movement, it's an exclusive partisan movement. The turf war for control of the feminist brand, a brand which has direct and privileged access to our political infrastructure, is being fought by people who do not represent the commons. It is an ideological, undemocratic power grab. The answer to the dilemma is not to take sides with one creed of feminism or the other, but to disavow both.