Men on the left hate women, men on the right hate women, but who has the power to take our rights away?
This is my third letter in my exchange with Meghan Murphy, in response to the question: “Can feminist causes be furthered by working with right wing or religious people and groups?”
“Who is the “far right”? What defines them in terms of policy proposals and aims? What does it mean to “ally” with someone? Who in the women’s movement is doing this? And, most importantly, what is the harm or concern, in practical terms, with regard to these purported relationships?”
I am not going to single out any individual women that have made the choice to ally with the hard/far Right, because this exchange is not intended to pour scorn or blame on anyone. Its purpose, in my view, is to look at what harm such alliances or allegiances do to women's rights and our potential for liberation.
Firstly Meghan, I need no convincing about the misogyny of men on the Left, those that happily campaign to remove our rights to sex based services and legislation. These men hate us, and I hate them back. I will not work with them, and I will not compromise, ever. But it is my firm belief that feminists need to be the gatekeepers of the Left, and claw it back from the boys. We are talking about Leftist politics NOT people, and I refuse to allow these woman-hating bigots to set the agenda. Men on the hard/far Right love women if we are in our place - beneath them in the pecking order. They will protect us, as they do all their property, so long as we play the game. And since the outbreak of the so-called “culture war” where feminists such as you and I, and many, many others, have been deplatformed, attacked, vilified and misrepresented by so-called progressives, Right wing men with a much broader agenda have tried to suck us in to their plans.
For example, last year I received an e-mail from a staffer to the CEO of Gettr, a hard Right wing pro free-speech social media platform. He was inviting me to meet with Trump's former spokesman, Jason Miller, a man who is as much a friend to women as a butcher is to vegans.
The email read: “Our CEO Jason Miller will be in the UK at some point in the next few weeks, and he would very much like to meet you to discuss your campaigns and the pro-free speech landscape in the UK more generally.”
Why would Miller, clearly on the radical Right, and opposed to all of the liberation struggles I have been involved in throughout my adult life, want to work alongside a hardline, uncompromising lesbian feminist? Strangely, before the gender wars, these men looked upon the likes of me as scum, as freaks, and as diametrically opposed to their ideology as is possible to be.
I responded thus:
I will not be meeting with Miller. I can't think of much worse except for meeting with Trump himself. I have no idea why are you think a feminist (a real one, not those women that collude with the far right to achieve a single aim) would entertain a racist misogynist in this way? This is not about freedom of speech or censorship – it is about values. Your values are in direct opposition to mine and have harmed women immeasurably. Such values have also had a dreadful impact on the lives and freedoms of people of colour and indigenous communities. Go and take your offer to meet and shove it as far as it will go.
I despise everything you stand for.”
I include my response in full because it might help clarify my views on the harm in colluding with such men. They try to charm us with promises of support, when in fact they are using the 'stopped clock is right twice a day' routine to attempt to draw us in. If they agree with us on the trans issue, for example, then they are our friends. Well, no they are not. They don't like trans people for the same reason that they don't like lesbians, gay men, single mothers, those on welfare, immigrants, asylum seekers, and anti-racists.
But, I hear you say, what about men on the Left? Leftist misogynists such as Owen Jones and Billy Bragg also feel they have the right to tell women who we are and who we should include in the definition of woman - i.e. men. This is true, and therefore some women are temped to denounce the entire Left and move towards the Right, which, as any feminist should know, is opposed to women’s liberation.
In my view, any relationship with men on the hard Right would be similar to that of coercive control. When women have been treated the way you and I have by men on the Left, Right wing men can seem an attractive alternative. They promise to protect us, and they tell us they agree with us. It's difficult not to be pulled in by this, but I think it's important we recognise it for what it is. We are being used.
The hard Right loves ‘gender’ as in sex stereotypes – so long as women do as mandated by patriarchy, that’s fine. They hate trans ideology because it subverts their world view; we hate it because it perpetuates sex stereotypes, and puts women and girls in danger. These men have been handed a gift from ‘gender critical’ activists.
You mention the Canadian truckers and how they have been labelled ‘far Right’ by leftist/progressives, and how this assumption is based on class prejudice of the elite.
I am deeply critical of the slur ‘far right’ and ‘fascist’ being applied to all and sundry, as I have often made clear.
What we seem to be stuck on is the definition of ‘far Right’. As I made clear in my previous letter, I have no problems with Conservatives, or regular conservatives, and I have worked with and broken bread with both. These people tend to oppose socialism (which I broadly support) and communism (which I too oppose). They are economic liberals and may or may not be liberal about issues such as abortion, but they do not picket abortion clinics.
Those on the ‘hard’ or ‘far Right’ wish for an autocratic government and will always favour the dominant class – such as males over females, as well as the dominant ethnicity and religion of the nation. In the UK and the US it would result in a society governed by conservative white men, in the US definitely Christian, who would make decisions for everyone else.
I talk to people from a broad range of political standpoints on a regular basis, not just as part of my job as a reporter, but as a feminist and lesbian who strives to end the oppression of my people. For example, in 2013, during the debate for marriage equality in the UK, I ended up debating a man on national TV in Northern Ireland – the UK’s Bible Belt. This man told me his children were not safe amongst lesbians, that we were freaks, and that gay sex was akin to bestiality.
I debated him despite doubting that he was going to hear a word I said because I believe in talking to people with opposite views to mine in order to better understand where prejudice comes from.
I also wanted the audience to hear those views get challenged and to be presented with an alternative.
Out of sheer defiance, I debated the useless idiot Milo Yiannopoulos at Michigan University a few years back. His arrogance told me he would assume the floor had already been wiped by me before we even began. Yiannopoulos was on his childish anti-feminist schtick, and before we went on stage, he said to me: “I assume we are not taking this too seriously and just having a bit of a laugh?” I nodded, and then proceeded to tear him limb from limb, in front of an audience of men’s rights activist, Trump supporting students.
I will debate with these men. I will often talk to these men. But I will not find common ground on the ‘my enemy’s enemy’ front when they are actively working to roll back my rights whilst expecting me to conspire with them to sacrifice the rights of other institutionally oppressed groups, just because they too don’t like gender ideology.
Such men use feminists to further their own aims, which are always in opposition to ours.
Take Matt Walsh (please, won’t somebody!)
When his documentary, What is a Woman? was broadcast earlier this year, I was intrigued to watch it. I knew he was a sexist, bigoted dinosaur, but wondered what he had come up with. Walsh’s motivation was twofold: telling his right-wing crowd of sneering sexists that he certainly knows what a woman is, because he defines it. Walsh plays to the right-wing woman-haters by reminding them that ‘real women’ are useful only in the bedroom and kitchen. As Walsh said in a tweet:
“Feminism is rotten at the core. Each "wave" led inexorably to the next. There is no good feminism. It's one of the worst things to ever happen to western civilization.”
Men like Walsh will use us and toss us aside, and we will have conceded ground and rights, not gained.
Whenever I publicly oppose the alliances between women’s rights activist and the hard Right, I get accused of practicing 'purity politics' and jealousy, and am told I have 'head girl' syndrome. None of us are in any position to tell any woman what to do but we have an absolute right to point out allegiances which are damaging to all of us.
The gender war is a trojan horse that the hard Right has used with great effectiveness. They know how disillusioned we feminists and women’s rights campaigners are with men on the Left, and wish to capitalise on our homelessness, offering us sanctuary. But we enter at our peril.
In friendship, Julie x
PS Your recent article on the bellend that is Matt Walsh is BANGING!
PPS I think we might need to extend this chat beyond three letters each - what do you say?