Who let the thought police invade our universities?
No-platforming protests are taking place at universities across the globe. Credit: Mario Tama / Getty   

Feminism used to thrive in universities in the UK. In the good old days when even working class women such as myself could afford higher education, doing a degree was one way that women became involved in activism.

How different things are today. The propaganda being peddled within universities is the very antithesis of actual feminism, and anyone who does not adhere to the party line will be severely punished.

Whereas the true definition of feminism is the liberation of all women from the shackles of their sex, it is now being rebranded and repackaged by academics and students alike. It used to be widely accepted that lap dancing, stripping, and prostitution demeaned women, and students would protest against pornography and the sex trade in general. Today however, all forms of commercial sexual exploitation is hailed within academic circles as ’empowering’, with sex trade apologists claiming that feminists like me deny women ‘the right’ to do what they wish with their bodies.

The propaganda machine in universities is currently at full pelt, offering students an Orwellian version of feminism, and academic staff are part of the problem

I am regularly contacted by young women who tell me that they are under pressure, mainly from ‘woke blokes’ and their handmaidens in student societies to say that they love ‘sex work’ and ‘stripping’, as well as transgender ideology, the two issues of the moment that appear to obsess Millennials. These young feminists are being driven mad with isolation. “We are accused of being anti-sex and ‘bigoted’ if you do not pander to the current propaganda,” one first year student tells me.

Last week, students from Sheffield University held a protest outside lap dance club Stringfellows, in protest of the campaign to revoke its licence. The students, one of whom held up a sign with the slogan, “Lesbians for the License”, were supporting the licensing of lap dance clubs, and had slurred the feminists trying to shut Stringfellows down as ‘SWERFS’ (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists). The protest group included a number of male students, all adorned with beards, looking like 18th-century carpenters.

The propaganda machine in universities is currently at full pelt, offering students an Orwellian version of feminism, and academic staff, as well as student societies, are part of the problem. Ever since the introduction of postmodern theory, which, in turn, gave birth to Queer Studies, feminism is rarely on the curricula.

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I recently spoke to a first year student at a university in England who thought she had signed up to a feminist module. The course content was developed by a lecturer who openly despises radical feminism, and included statements against some well-known feminist academics; promotional videos from so-called ‘sex workers rights’ lobby groups; and lectures on the ‘wrongs’ of radical feminism. Students were told not to use sources from particular anti-trafficking organisations, because, in the lecturer’s view, they were biased.  There was not one single reading by a radical feminist within any of the course materials.

During the launch of my book on the global sex trade in Sheffield last year, I was greeted by a number of male and female students who held a protest against my ‘whorephobia’. Screams of ‘Blow Job Or No Job’, and, ‘Trans-Women Are Sex Workers Too’ could be heard during the event.

The students clearly have nothing better to do than to try to shut down discussion about abuse within prostitution. The brainwashing the students undergo is partly the fault of the National Union of Students (NUS), a defunct and increasingly irrelevant body.

Universities should not replicate the Stasi. The whole point of higher education is to challenge and test theories

Despite the fact that the likes of Julian Assange and the odd former dictator get past the NUS gatekeepers at Oxbridge, the NUS is notorious for no-platforming speakers they disapprove of. I am regularly disinvited from delivering lectures or taking part in debates on the grounds that I am ‘transphobic’ and ‘whorephobic’.

For example, in 2015, the Student Union Women’s Officer campaigned to get me disinvited from a debate about feminism and free speech by claiming I had run a “tireless campaign to deny trans people their basic human rights.” This so-called campaign amounts to a handful of articles I have written over the past 14 years, that present a critical view of the ‘born in the wrong body’ ideology.

Chloe, a third year student at a university in England, set up a feminist society at school, and was bullied by boys as a result. Now she is at university, Chloe finds that the bullying comes from students that swallow the modern-day propaganda.

“I came to university excited to meet other young people who were involved in challenging patriarchal structures, but instead I find people defending the very structures I aimed to dismantle. Since when did defending the commodification of the female body become on the feminist agenda?”

Sheila Jeffreys is a well-known feminist academic and author, who taught at the University of Melbourne for 20 years before returning to the UK. Jeffreys firmly believes that the sex trade is bad for women, and that much transgender ideology is misogynistic.

“I was teaching at the University of Melbourne in 2014 and some ‘queer’ students who were not in my classes discussed on social media how to show their hatred of my ideas. They wanted to face-pie or glitter bomb me. University security advised me to take the nameplate off my office door and watch my back as I walked home from the university.”

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Annie was, until changing careers recently, an academic who wrote and spoke critically about the ideology of gender identity.

Her students largely agreed with her on the topic, but were soon browbeaten out of having their own opinion. When Annie gave a talk about gender in the same town as her University, she received an anonymous email warning her of plans to come to her office and harass her.

“Later I was made aware of an event being held on campus, organised by the Feminist Society, called ‘Turf out the TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical feminists)’. I was specifically named at this event as someone who was a danger to students and should not be permitted to teach.”

Universities used to be places of learning and debate, not indoctrination and propaganda.  As Annie puts it: “I do think there is a disturbing atmosphere in universities at the moment, where people who do not uncritically accept all aspects of transgender ideology are afraid to speak up for fear of the consequences for their livelihoods, and sometimes, their physical safety.”

Universities should not replicate the Stasi. The whole point of higher education is to challenge and test theories, and encourage fruitful, vigorous debate about contentious issues. How is anyone supposed to learn when only one ideological viewpoint is up for discussion? Let’s get back to our universities being bastions of free expression and open minds.

Further reading

Why you can't rely on the news media to understand... trans issues

By Julie Bindel