All posts filed under: Feminism

Life as a Stand-Up Comic Can Be Brutal. ‘Safe Space’ Call-out Culture Is Making it Unbearable

Most of you have never heard of Chanty Marostica. But in 2019, they were considered a rising star in the Canadian comedy industry. Originally based out of Winnipeg, Marostica is transgender and non-binary, and was hailed as a leader of the growing diversity movement in Canadian comedy. They’d won some of Canada’s most prestigious Comedy Awards: SiriusXM’s Top Comic in 2018, as well as the Canadian Comedy Awards’ 2018 Best Breakout Artist and 2019 Best Album. In 2018, that album, The Chanty Show, was also nominated for a Juno Award (our Canadian version of a Grammy). On the basis of these credentials, one might imagine Marostica to be one of the funniest people in Canada. Search Marostica’s name on the web, and you’ll find plenty of information about these accolades, as well as glowing accounts of the comedian’s role as an advocate for queer comics and safe spaces in stand-up comedy. What you will not find is any indication that Marostica has (or rather had) anything in the way of a real fan base outside …

Gender Transition and Desistance in Teenage Girls: Two Psychotherapeutic Case Studies

When doctors always give patients what they want (or think they want), the fallout can be disastrous, as we have seen with the opioid crisis. There is every possibility that the medical treatment of young people with gender dysphoria may follow a similar path. Practitioners understandably want to protect their patients from psychic pain. However, quick fixes based only on a patient’s self-reporting can have tragic long-term consequences. There are now a growing number of people who once self-identified as transgender but now have reversed or renounced their trans identity. Depending on their circumstances, these individuals are variously known as desisters, detransisitioners, or regretters. Some are seeking accountability from the medical professionals who affirmed their wish to transition, without adequate assessment. An increasing number are speaking out on social media and at conferences, arguing they have been let down by mental-health services that failed to assess their psychological problems before prescribing medical treatments such as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, and referring them on for surgeries. Having initially felt welcomed in and encouraged by the …

Rescuing the Radicalized Discourse on Sex and Gender: Part Two of a Three-Part Series

Our choice of words affects the way we think. That’s why we spend so much time fighting over which terms to use, whether it’s “undocumented immigrants” versus “illegal aliens,” “foetuses” versus “unborn babies,” or “militants” versus “terrorists.” In recent years, the question of word choice has figured prominently in the activism of gender supremacists (as I described them in the first entry in this essay series), who seek to entirely replace biological sex with self-identified gender as a legal category. According to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, a priest’s blessing transforms the material substance of communion wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ, even as the wafers and wine retain their outward appearance. Gender supremacists have a comparable doctrine—let’s call it transgenderation—by which the faithful must believe, literally, that “transwomen are women.” (It also demands that transmen are men, though it’s interesting to observe that the male-identified half of the trans community isn’t nearly so strident in its insistence on transgenderation as the female component.) I am not speaking figuratively here: …

Interview with Slavenka Drakulić—the East-West Doyenne of the 1990s

For anyone interested in Eastern Europe in the 1990s—that surreal time when the Berlin Wall had just fallen but the gulf between East and West remained palpable—the Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulić was required reading. Her books opened up to us that world from inside, written by a woman—one of the pioneering feminists in her country—who’d lived 40 years under the old system and knew it in her bones. Each book illuminated some different aspect of life in that part of the continent hitherto so difficult to approach. How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed (1991) told us about everyday survival under communism, its textures and minutiae as felt by normal people. Balkan Express (1993) described the horrors following the system’s collapse, as Yugoslavia disintegrated and a bitter civil war broke out. Café Europa (1996), meanwhile, spoke of the region’s longing for normality, to leave the communist past behind and become part of the New Europe. Her collections of essays were short and hard-hitting—about 200 pages—packed with anecdote, detail, vivid description, and with each you felt …

Standing Up to the Gender Ideologues: a Quillette Editorial

On June 23rd, Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts put out a carefully worded five-paragraph media statement regarding German-born textile artist Jess de Wahls. “We have apologised to Jess de Wahls for the way we have treated her and do so again publicly now,” read the RA communiqué. “We had no right to judge her views … This betrayed our most important core value—the protection of free speech.” The controverted speech in question was contained in a 2019 blog post, in which de Wahls wrote that “a woman is an adult human female (not an identity or feeling),” and that trans women are “biological males [who] choose to live as a woman, or believe they actually are women.” These are statements that almost every person knows to be true, but which have become unfashionable to say out loud in highly progressive subcultures. And so, when a handful of people raised a fuss about de Wahls’ work being sold in the RA gift shop, Academy officials not only purged de Wahl from their inventory earlier this month, …

The Gathering Resistance to the Stigmatisation of Masculinity

On the face of it, Brilliant Bob is an unremarkable character for a children’s book—a playful boy who loves football and embarks upon fun adventures with his friends Dazzling Dave, Genuine George, and Superboy Sam. But Bob and his three friends were created with the clear purpose of celebrating masculinity. They are brave, competitive, curious, persistent, risk-ready, strong, and stoical—traits that enlightened sections of society now frown upon and which educators tend to present to children as negative. The perceived need for stories and role models that reaffirm traits and values like these is suggestive of how widespread and pernicious the attack on masculinity has become. A section of the books’ website entitled “Morals Conveyed” elaborates: The Brilliant Bob books will teach young boys to appreciate positive morals and traits that will add greatly to their life journeys. Male role models—such as fathers and grandfathers, older brothers, or teachers—are encouraged to read these books to the young boys in their lives, reinforcing the positive impact these traits have had on their masculinity. “I wrote the …

Gender Activists Co-Opted British Columbia’s Courts. Meet the Woman Who Stood Up to Them

We have become so habituated to acts of deplatforming that many of us can no longer keep up: Though each new incident still elicits a ritual sigh of regret, we increasingly shrug it off as just another sign of these crazy times. Yet many of these episodes signify important injustices that deserve our attention. The recent deplatforming of British Columbia lawyer Shahdin Farsai falls into that category. The back story begins on December 16th, 2020, when the B.C. Provincial Court issued an announcement advising lawyers and the public of a new practice directive stipulating that all parties appearing in court would henceforth be asked to specify what pronouns they want others to use when referring to them, as well as their preferred forms of address. (Examples provided are “Mr./Ms./Mx./Counsel Jones.”) The Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court issued a similar practice directive on the same day, though without a press release. “Using incorrect gendered language for a party or lawyer in court can cause uncomfortable tension and distract them from the proceedings that all …

Lesbians Aren’t Attracted to a Female ‘Gender Identity.’ We’re Attracted to Women

There is commonly held to be a difference between a sexual preference and a sexual orientation. Sexual preferences include preferences for blondes over brunettes, or macho men over pretty boys. At the more exotic end, they can include predilections for cars, chandeliers, and dalliances with farm animals. None of these are sexual orientations, though. Opinions differ on what makes an orientation an orientation, but my preferred explanation says that for a preference to count as an orientation, it has to be stable in individuals, widespread among the human population, and have a range of relatively important social consequences. Two such orientations are heterosexuality and homosexuality. They are defined in terms of specific patterns of attraction. You are heterosexual if you, a member of one sex, are stably sexually attracted only to members of the opposite sex to you. Alternatively, if you’re stably attracted only to members of the same sex as you, then you’re homosexual. If you’re stably attracted to both sexes, you’re bisexual. In addition to these terms, equally applicable to both males and …

The Ugly History of Rape Panics

The abduction and murder of Sarah Everard in London on March 3rd created a wave of outrage and protest. It is easy to understand why a crime like this would generate reflexive disgust, but less straightforward to explain why society chooses to focus so intently on a small minority of crimes like these, while largely ignoring the majority. In this case, the answer partly lies with the identity of both victim and perpetrator, which fit neatly into prevailing activist narratives. The worrying slide of British society (including much of the mainstream media) into tribalistic, identity-based thinking has led repeatedly to episodes of selective outrage. But such moments are dangerous for civil liberties, and inevitably provide activists and opportunists with an opportunity to advance self-serving and authoritarian political agendas. The first time I remember encountering an identity narrative was in my teens. I was leaving school with a friend, and we bumped into two older boys, who stopped us and asked if we were interested in joining the National Front. My friend and I were both …

Australian Indigenous Activists Call Out White Feminism’s Deadly Blind Spot

In March, three Indigenous women flew to Canberra in an attempt to draw attention to a horror story playing out in their communities. These were Alice Springs Deputy Mayor Jacinta Price, who heads up the Indigenous Research Program at the Centre for Independent Studies; and Cheron and Meesha Long, cousins of 15-year-old Layla Leering, who died in 2017 after apparently being sexually assaulted in the Northern Territory. Layla’s death—along with that of two other girls, Fionica Yarranganlagi James and Keturah Cheralyn Mamarika—has been the subject of a coroner’s inquest, and has brought renewed attention to the threat that Indigenous girls and women face within their own communities. Unfortunately, the scope of that attention has been limited, because the narrative of intra-Indigenous abuse is seen as unfashionable to report. Since reporting my own story of childhood sexual assault, I’ve been closely attuned to the many other survivors who’ve shared their own. I’ve also observed how these stories are variously ignored or signal-boosted according to the political and cultural agenda of journalists and politicians—adding another layer of …