Authenticity & empathy: Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010, is the founder and editor Feminist Current, Canada’s leading feminist website and has published work in numerous national and international publications.

This is the text of the speech she gave at the 22nd meeting of Woman’s Place UK.

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Picture by Lily Maynard

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about authenticity lately. We’re currently living in a culture wherein authenticity has been traded in for fakery. We support and reward virtue signalling and punish those who are real, those who tell the truth, those with integrity, those who insist on making political arguments based on critical thinking and what is right, rational, and ethical, instead of based on what is politically correct or popular.

I have a rather overzealous commitment to authenticity, which I think has played a sizable role in my insistence on pushing back against gender identity ideology and legislation. I know I have friends, or acquaintances, or friends of friends, or random internet followers with self righteous opinions who think maybe I should just back off of this. Or who claim I’m being ‘mean’ or unempathetic, because I continue to operate in reality rather than the fantasy land we’re told is the new normal, wherein black is white, up is down, and men are women.

But I see no empathy for women and girls on the part of trans activists, that is to say, those pushing gender identity ideology and legislation. What I see is bullying, threats, ostracization, and a misogynist backlash against the feminist movement and much of the work it’s accomplished over years.

I see no empathy for women who are now being forced to compete against male athletes in sport, essentially rendering women’s sport nonexistant, as they can no longer compete on fair ground, if forced to compete against men. I see no empathy for the female athletes speaking out against this reprehensible trend —  instead they’re being smeared and threatened. I see no empathy for the lesbians being bullied right out of their own events and communities, as the LGBTQxyz+++ whatever movement does nothing to support them, and in fact seems instead to support the men pushing them around and hurling verbal abuse at them, simply for asserting that lesbians are females who are attracted to other females, not heterosexual men interested in playing around with lipstick.

We held an event in Vancouver earlier this month, addressing the issue of gender identity and kids, and our venue — the Croatian Cultural Centre — received so many threats they had to file a police report, hire their own security, and bring in the Vancouver Police Department to keep protesters off the property. They, for once, didn’t blame us — women, feminists — for the threats of violence sent their way, and rather asked, with disbelief, how it was us the trans activists were accusing of being ‘hateful’, while simultaneously verbally abusing and threatening violence against the venue’s staff.

Somewhere between 150 and 200 protesters showed up, and stood outside with signs saying things like, “Support trans youth”, “Love and Solidarity”, “Love trans kids”, “be careful who you hate, it might be someone you love” and “love wins.”

All this branding around “love” has been incredibly successful, of course. We — women fighting for women’s rights, people fighting for the truth, those of us who insist on acknowledging that biology is real, that females and males are real things, and that, no, there is no such thing as a “female penis” —have been painted as hateful, intolerant, and bigoted, despite the fact that we are the only ones engaging (or trying to engage in) respectful, civil, rational debate and discussion, and being shut down over and over again.

Despite the fact that WE are the ones concerned about male violence against women and how gender identity ideology and legislation will hurt women, as well as kids, who are now being sent down a path towards hormones and surgery that will destroy their bodies permanently, simply because they don’t conform to sexist gender stereotypes, it is trans activists who have positioned themselves as caring and politically correct, and us as cruel and intolerant.

As I was leaving the venue after that event, the stragglers screamed at me that I had blood on my hands. Which of course I do not, and which, of course, is incredibly ironic considering how many times I’ve been told I should be murdered on account of my belief that you can’t change sex, and that it is not possible to be ‘born in the wrong body.’

I see no empathy in trans activism for the girls who will lose scholarships and opportunities to boys who can easily beat them in athletic competitions.

I see no empathy for women and girls who don’t feel comfortable with naked men in their change rooms at the pool. I see no empathy for youth being put on hormones that will have a lasting impact on them, including permanent sterilization, all to accommodate adults who don’t want to see trans ideology questioned under any circumstances.

I see no empathy for the women and their children who will have nowhere to turn if their local transition house is defunded on account of a women-only policy.

I see no empathy for Kristi Hanna, a Toronto woman and survivor of sexual assault, who had leave her room at Palmerston house, a shelter for recovering addicts, because she was made to share a room with a man, and did not feel safe.

I see no empathy for the 14 female estheticians who were asked to give a male a brazilian bikini wax, then dragged to court when they declined, saying they only offered the service to women.

I see no empathy for the girls allegedly predated on by this man, who is being protected by our very liberal, very progressive society that’s choosing to put male feelings and desires above all else, under the guise of ‘inclusion’, and thanks to trans activism.

Women and girls are being told they may not have boundaries. That they may not say ‘no’ to men. And this is what we are told it means to ‘choose love’. This is what we are being told is ‘feminism’.

Trans activism says women may not define their own bodies as female. That we may not have our own rights, services, and spaces, that ‘exclude’ men. It says gender stereotypes are real and innate, but the female body is a social construction. It says that ‘woman’ is based only on adherence to or an affinity towards femininity, something feminism has fought against for years.

So much of what women fought for over the past century is being rolled back, and progressives are insisting we all shut up and take it, because it’s ‘nice’, and of course, women must always be ‘nice’, even if it means putting our lives, autonomy, safety, opinions, and rights aside.

NOTHING about the trans movement is progressive and nothing about it is feminist.

I brought up authenticity earlier on, partly because I am sick to death of this social media based culture wherein we put forth personas we believe our audience will like, modeling perfect faces, lives, and thoughts, which I find incredibly boring and depressing, but also because I see this devaluing of authenticity as having an incredibly destructive impact on political discourse, and certainly it’s manifested itself powerfully in the trans movement.

I don’t believe that, aside from a few exceptionally delusional or troubled people, a majority of the population believes it’s possible to change sex. I don’t believe that all these so called progressives look at a man we call him ‘she’, and believe he is literally a woman. I don’t believe all these people claiming ‘love wins’ and insisting women be more ‘empathetic’ as they give up all their rights and spaces, while these activists spout vile, hateful insults and threats at us, are really very loving at all.

I think people are not telling the truth. I think they are repeating mantras and going along with ideas and policies in order to appease their Facebook friends. I think they value social status a lot, and are willing to give up ethics and truth in order to be liked. And I think it’s pathetic. I think that these people are throwing women under the bus and even selling themselves out in the process, knowing that they’re spouting lies for virtual cookies and using us all to fake politics.

And I refuse to be used as some kind of stepping stool for empty headed, cowardly hipsters — these extremely privileged people who have fetishized oppression, but have no idea what marginalized groups actually face and deal with on a daily basis, because certainly it’s not ‘misgendering’ that is keeping people poor and vulnerable — who can’t be bothered to read, listen, or think before announcing, boldly, that women with actual politics, who actually understand history, and who are  bold enough to take a stand against actual bigotry and oppression should be silenced, punched, or even killed.

The wrong side of history is an embarrassing place to be.

But unfortunately I worry that, by the time these people realize how much damage they’ve caused by going along with such a destructive trend, it will be too late. What does give me hope is all of you. This massive and growing movement of people standing up and saying ‘no’, we won’t take this silently and sitting down. This groundswell of people insisting on telling the truth, despite the fact that we lose friends, jobs, social status, and sometimes safety, for doing so.

And the more we keep doing it, the more will join us.

Meghan Murphy

20th May 2019

Watch the film of Meghan speaking at #WPUKLondon

Thanks to Lily Maynard for the pictures.

 

Discrimination Against Women in the Name of Inclusion

We are re-publishing this statement from Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter and would encourage our readers to send messages of support. They have had their funding withdrawn simply because some of their services are only available to people who were born female. A short article with an attempt to justify the move is here.

1. On March 14, 2019, at the end of a flawed and unfair process, Vancouver City Council voted to terminate the yearly grant given to us in support of our public education work.


2. Vancouver City Council’s decision is intended to coerce us to change our position and practice of offering some of our core services only to women who are born female. Our organization’s status as an equality-seeking group and our entitlement to serve women who are born female was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 2003, by the British Columbia Court of Appeal in 2005 and by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2007.


3. Vancouver City Council’s attempt to undermine our autonomy as a women’s group — to decide who we serve, who our membership is and who we organize with — also undermines the protections the law has granted us. Such conduct has no place in a democratic society.


4. Vancouver City Council’s decision to cut funding from Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is discriminatory. Many Vancouver City grants are given to organizations that deliver programs and support to specific groups of people such as Aboriginal youth, Chinese seniors, deaf persons and migrant workers. Rightfully, none of these groups have been challenged with the demand that they demonstrate “accommodation, welcomeness and openness to people of all ages, abilities… and ethnicities.” Such a demand of these organizations would be incomprehensible, as it would contradict the essence and purpose of their work. Yet, this is what is being asked of us under the guise of inclusivity. 


5. Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is the longest standing rape crisis centre in Canada. Since 1973, our group has responded to close to 46,000 women seeking our support in their escape from male violence. Since we opened our transition house in 1981, we have housed over 3,000 women and over 2,600 children.
The operation of our rape crisis centre and transition house are forms of direct action, developed for women by women in the 1970s as a part of the second wave of the North American women’s movement. More than just providing immediate safety, we offer a place to group, analyze, strategize and fight back against male violence.


6. In addition to our frontline work, we put a substantial effort into public education, as it’s an essential tool for social change. We are intentional in organizing public education events that are free, open and accessible to all.


7. We are also active in national women’s equality reforms. In the past year, we appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada case of the murder of Cindy Gladue; we conducted cross examinations and made oral and written submissions as a party with standing at the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls; and spoke to the House of Commons of Canada and to the Senate of Canada on legislative reforms related violence against women.


8. We have no doubt that people whose behaviour is not consistent with the patriarchal socially imposed definition of manhood or womanhood, including transgender people, suffer discrimination and violence. Transgender people deserve and must live in safety and have the equal rights and opportunities that are promised to us all. When it comes to our services, we have a collective commitment to see to the safety anyone who calls our crisis line, including transgender people.


9. As part of ongoing efforts to discredit us, we were accused that we “do not support sex workers” (including by a Vancouver City Council member on social media).
Our services are available to all women who have experienced male violence. We provide assistance to women and girls in prostitution who have been assaulted by johns, pimps or men pressuring them into prostitution. We provide assistance to women who are currently being prostituted, women who are trying to escape prostitution, and women who have been trafficked into prostitution.


We understand prostitution as sexual exploitation and male violence against women. Prostitution normalizes the subordination of women. It exploits and compounds systemic inequality on the basis of sex, race, poverty, age and disability. Our analysis of prostitution as a harmful patriarchal institution and our commitment to abolition is derived from, and is reinforced by, the prostituted women who call us and the members of our own collective who have exited prostitution.


10. Being born female still means being trained, socialized and forced to submit to male domination. The fact that we are born female and raised as girls to adulthood as women shapes our lives in profound ways.


Male violence against us is a harsh but common experience, and in no way the only one. Our sexuality is controlled and manipulated — whether by punishing women for not being virgins, or by the promotion of pornography and BDSM as liberating expressions of women’s sexuality. Our reproductive ability is controlled and manipulated — whether through forced abortion and sterilization, pressuring women to get pregnant, or forcing women’s pregnancy through rape.


Being girls and women in this world often impacts both how we look and how we act in private and in public; what we are allowed to do, encouraged to do and rewarded for; and also what we are discouraged from doing, prohibited to do or punished for.


And from that place, in a woman-only space, with other women, who have the shared experience of being born without a choice to the oppressed class of women we come together to organize and strategize our resistance and our fight for women’s liberation.

In the last few days we have received many messages of solidarity and donations from around the world. We are encouraged and grateful for this tremendous support.


The Collective of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter