Women’s rights here and there

Last Monday evening I attended a small dinner in London for a group of people with strong connections to Afghanistan to discuss the current situation. The plight of the whole country is dire, a humanitarian disaster unfolding before our eyes. Also of huge concern is the refusal of the Taliban to accept the full human rights of women and girls meaning that female students who saw a bright fulfilling future ahead of them have had that cruelly taken away from them. Independent women are perhaps the greatest threat to a patriarchal regime and I don’t think we can be in any doubt that the Taliban is an extreme example of that.  As a woman I feel a mixture of sadness and anger. Sadness for those women and girls who may now face a life of virtual imprisonment, and anger at the way it always seems to be women who are the first victims of so many extreme religions and ideologies.

Later in the week  here in the UK a media storm brews up around an article, “We’re being pressured into having sex by some transwomen” published by the BBC. The piece was written by  Caroline Lowbridge who immediately  had to close her twitter account. Challenging the orthodoxy of the gender identity movement comes at a cost… personal, financial, professional.

Lowbridge’s crime was to draw attention to the fact that some transwomen  put pressure on lesbians  to sleep with them even though this attraction is not reciprocated. I have been aware of this phenomenon for a few years. If you believe that gender identity – an inner feeling that cannot be observed – has priority over biological sex, then a transwoman who has retained her attraction to women wants to be recognised as a lesbian. This is one of the absurd consequences that taking the mantra ‘transwomen are women’ to its conclusion brings. As lesbians are same sex attracted they are not attracted to male bodies, even modified ones.  This reasonable fact has not prevented activist groups shouting in the media and accusing these lesbians of being transphobic!

The BBC article even contained a statement from Nancy Kelley, the CEO of LGBT lobby group Stonewall, in which Ms Kelley likened not wanting to date trans people to not wanting to date people of colour, fat people, or disabled people,”  telling us that “there is no ‘right’ way to be a lesbian.” She talks as if attraction to transwomen was something we could all perhaps learn in a Stonewall training seminar:

“But if you find that when dating, you are writing off entire groups of people, like people of colour, fat people, disabled people or trans people, then it’s worth considering how societal prejudices may have shaped your attractions.”

So there you have it. An organisation that was started many years ago to promote and protect the rights of lesbians and gay men is now telling those lesbians that they are prejudiced if they don’t want to sleep with biological males. You couldn’t make it up.

It is almost always feminist women who are the target of this narcissistic rage and it is unsurprising that many are lesbians.  These women are the most likely to challenge patriarchal restrictions and as lesbians they have absolutely no need of men, even men in dresses.

 I began this post writing about an evening discussing the disaster unfolding in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, particularly the concern for women and girls. If that seems a long way off from the arguably more trivial concerns of who should sleep with who, yes it is. But it served to remind me that feminism as a global movement feminism is still so needed and should be wrested from the linguistic mind games that postmodernism has cast it in. The end of the week’s debacle here was not a disaster of any magnitude but nevertheless a reminder that women’s rights, even here in the UK are never as secure as we think they are. When it comes to oppression men know exactly who women are.