Professor Jordan Peterson faced little opposition to speaking at the Oxford Union last week. In fact by all accounts he was welcomed at Oxford University despite his very public and consistent criticism of aspects of trans activist ideology . This is in stark opposition to leading feminists who have been no platformed in other universities for similar views. And to the violent protests that met women meeting in Oxford recently just to debate the consequences of any changes to Gender Recognition Act.
Professor Peterson has been in trouble at his own university in Toronto, Canada because of rejecting a rule forcing him to use particular pronouns of someone’s choice. In fact it was this suspension that made him something of a global star. He argues pretty persuasively that we do not choose our identity – it is something that is negotiated in society and is constantly in flux. Using gender identity as a social category rather than sex has led to 31 different gender identities being recognised in the state of New York and he says it is absurd and unworkable. And that it is undemocratic for a tiny percentage of the population to impose changes in language which everyone else is forced to use. He sees it as an attack on free speech.
Yet even questioning the right of biological men to claim to be a woman (self ID) ‘I am a woman because I say I am’ has been enough for a number of well-known feminists to be barred from speaking publicly about anything! Germaine Greer, whose work was life changing for many women of my generation, faced fierce opposition to speaking at Cardiff University and still faces abuse because of her views (she is speaking though at Oxford Union next month) ; Julie Bindel, a campaigner against male violence was no platformed by Manchester University and Linda Bellos, a lifelong feminist activist was banned from speaking at Cambridge University. All three are critical of the transgender ideology, particularly of self ID. Why is that Professor Peterson, who is dismissive of feminism, was applauded almost unreservedly at Oxford yet women who have been activists and done huge amounts to promote the equality of women are being silenced because of views that they actually share with Peterson? Is it because he has an adoring fan club of mostly young men?