by Joan Smith
Monday, 23
January 2023
Analysis
10:28

Politicians are mysteriously blind to trans activists’ misogyny

Public abuse of women is now plain to see, from Glasgow to Westminster
by Joan Smith
Sarah Jane Baker addresses a protest opposite Downing Street on 21 January. Credit: Getty.

Misogyny has always existed. Sometimes it’s more frowned upon than others, going quiet before bursting out in a fresh guise. But we are entering new and terrifying territory, where spittle-flecked rants against women are everywhere, including the House of Commons. Death and rape threats are openly paraded at demonstrations, prominent women are threatened with murder — and the fear that a woman will be seriously injured is growing by the day.

At the weekend, Scottish politicians appeared at a rally in Glasgow in front of a placard bearing an unequivocal death threat. ‘Decapitate terfs’, it read, next to a drawing of a guillotine. A couple of days earlier, a man allegedly left a voice note in Gaelic threatening to kill the author JK Rowling with a hammer. Rowling tweeted that the same individual had threatened to drive into a rally organised by the activist Posie Parker and to shoot the Labour MP Rosie Duffield.


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Threats of violence against feminists are not new. For several years now, women have had to meet at undisclosed venues in the hope of avoiding noisy protests by trans activists. But now something has changed. The threats are appearing at bigger, more mainstream events, such as the one in Glasgow attended by SNP MPs and MSPs. 

They say they didn’t see the placard threatening to behead women and would have condemned it had they done so. A few days earlier, three Labour MPs shared a platform at a rally outside Parliament in London next to a trans activist, Sarah Jane Baker, who was recently released from prison after serving thirty years for kidnapping and attempted murder. The MPs say they had no idea of the identity of the activist and did not hear the crowd telling the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, to ‘eat shit’.

Also last week, in scenes of stomach-churning disorder in the House of Commons, female MPs were shouted at by Labour MPs when they supported the government’s blocking of the GRR bill. Make no mistake about what’s happening here: public abuse of women, which began at small protests organised by trans extremists a few years ago, has now moved into the very heart of British politics. Misogyny has gone mainstream and the very people who should call it out remain silent. Starmer could not even bring himself to rebuke the most egregious offender, the MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, let alone withdraw the Labour whip. 

Trans activism has now become so extreme that it is disfiguring public life. This could have been stopped years ago, if politicians and public figures had paused to ask themselves who and what they were supporting. Instead, they unthinkingly accepted the dubious claim that trans activists speak for ‘the most vulnerable people in society’, ignoring alarming (and escalating) behaviour towards women.

Now we can see the result. Trans extremists have developed a sense of impunity, threatening women’s legal rights, women’s spaces and now our physical safety. Trans activism is a monster — and the people who looked the other way while this new species of misogyny took root should be thoroughly ashamed.

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Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
15 days ago

It is truly ironic that a band of people claiming to have abandoned maleness are exhibiting all of the worst traits of toxic masculinity in their extremely violent, abusive, and potentially very dangerous effort to suffocate even the barest hint of dissent from women. Bullies of the worst sort.

Jane Hewland
Jane Hewland
15 days ago

The emperor has no clothes and a great deal more people need to be saying so. b****r how many months or at what age people are “allowed to transition”. There should be no such thing and no laws covering it. The whole process is meaningless. People cannot change sex. It’s an immutable biological fact. Entirely possible to want to live as a woman. I have no problems with that, although it seems a bizarre way to try to find purpose and fulfilment. But a man can never BE a woman. And a woman can never be a man. These categories evolved over millions of years, for the purposes of reproduction and evolution of the species and no matter how many bits you cut off or stitch onto yourself, a person born a man will never be able to conceive, bear and feed an infant. Nor will a person born a woman ever be able to inseminate anyone. These are a tiny minority of people suffering from a variety of mental disorders. They are certainly not the most vulnerable and oppressed minority as Emily Thornberry recently claimed. For that, lets look to children who are victims of sexual or physical abuse, addiction and poverty.

Don Butler
Don Butler
15 days ago
Reply to  Jane Hewland

It is such a profound indictment of the state of rationality in our time that you would ever feel obliged to write such words. But they need to be written. I hope we next don’t have to defend the law of gravity or the roundness of the earth.

Christiaan Neethling
Christiaan Neethling
15 days ago
Reply to  Don Butler

At the University of Cape Town there are student leaders who demanded that “Science must Fall” a few years ago.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
14 days ago

I remember the video. Ridiculous and tragic.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
14 days ago
Reply to  Jane Hewland

“The emperor has no clothes and a great deal more people need to be saying so. b****r how many months or at what age people are “allowed to transition”. There should be no such thing and no laws covering it.”
Well said. We need to insist on the truth, and to be forthright and disagreeable in doing so.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
15 days ago

This writer doesn’t mention the worst aspect of Lloyd Russell-Moyle’s behaviour – he crossed the floor of the Commons to the Tory side and then sat staring at the MP Miriam Cates after she’d been speaking about the risk of women experiencing sexual assault. Pure intimidation!
Its astounding how militants and men who pretend to be women are so contemptuous of women – but I think it reinforces my own view that extremism, whether political or identitarian, is generally led by males with violent tendencies.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
14 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I am deeply shocked by this man’s behaviour. He is my own constituency MP and (for the record) I have found him perfectly charming and pleasant at local occasions. Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde?

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
13 days ago
Reply to  Mark Gourley

He comes across as a massive narcissist tbf, and narcissists are very good at being charming when they want to be, but take off the mask, and they are aggressive, intimidating and abusive individuals

Last edited 13 days ago by AL Crowe
Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
15 days ago

Follow the money.
A movement as grotesque as activism that celebrates chemically and surgically deforming and wounding children does not spring forth organically and unbidden.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
15 days ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson
Last edited 15 days ago by Julian Farrows
Janet G
Janet G
15 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Thank you for these links. The Pritzkers are a scary lot!

Last edited 15 days ago by Janet G
Xaven Taner
Xaven Taner
15 days ago

It’s an insurgency and we need an equally ruthless counter-insurgency.

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
15 days ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

Okay, but be warned that your ruthlessness will be prosecuted beyond the law while theirs will be ignored.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
14 days ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

Exactly.

Ben Shipley
Ben Shipley
15 days ago

It’s ridiculous to rope straight men into this conversation, as if the trans disaster is another symptom of their supposed toxicity. These activists do not represent manhood—in fact, they’re running away from it. Real men on both left and right have accepted and supported feminism for decades now, just as they have gay and racial rights. This entire issue was manufactured out of a desire to harvest votes by embracing a crude victimology at the shallowest common denominator. If you’re a women and you drank the kool-aid and voted for this, then yes, you brought this on yourself. If not, you have my sympathies. .

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
15 days ago
Reply to  Ben Shipley

I disagree. Straight men very much need to be involved in this debate. While women are clearly the group most directly threatened by Gender Identity ideology, this is a doctrine that compromises us all – male and female, young and old, gay and straight. We all need to be involved in discussing how to resist and oppose it. Crying “Not all men!”, stamping one’s foot and mocking women for having ‘brought this on yourself’ is deeply unhelpful.

Ben Shipley
Ben Shipley
15 days ago
Reply to  Huw Parker

You didn’t read my comment. I was reacting to other commenters who characterized these activists as yet another face of male toxicity. And there was no mocking.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
14 days ago
Reply to  Ben Shipley

I absolutely did read your comment, and I stand by everything I wrote. You can’t pick and choose which men embody ‘manhood’ and which don’t. Toxic masculinity is an issue for all men, whether we practise it or not. What it isn’t is a phenomenon for which we should hold women responsible.

Last edited 14 days ago by Huw Parker
Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
12 days ago
Reply to  Ben Shipley

That bloke missed the point by so far if he’d been aiming at Australia he would have hit Finland.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
15 days ago

Someone will say all those trying to intimidate Rosie Duffield were men. I disagree – There wasn’t a man amongst them. A pox upon the Scum, a veritable pox upon them and their houses. PS I’m right leaning politically I suppose I’ve been something of a misogynist or patrician from time to time like holding a door open for a woman but then I also do it for deliverymen with their hands full.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
15 days ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

That’s simply not true. I cite Owen Jones, which should come as little surprise. He was delighted to be photographed alongside a victorious Rosie Duffield in 2019, but has a long subsequent history of hectoring her for supporting women’s rights. It is my understanding that the Labour Party has received a number of complaints about his ‘misogynistic bullying’ of Duffield. Even so, I wouldn’t hold your breath while you wait for them to make a ruling.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
14 days ago
Reply to  Huw Parker

I think Doug is pointing out, correctly, that people like Russell-Moyle and Owen Jones aren’t real men.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
13 days ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I profoundly disagree. If we are to declare ourselves gatekeepers of what it is to be ‘real’ men, we are buying in to the same flawed premise as Gender Identity ideology – that sex is not a biological fact, but an unverifiable quality of spirit, and thus open to endless dispute and negotiation.

ALL men are ‘real men’, whether we approve of their behaviour or not. We cannot rid ourselves of those men we find troublesome merely by declaring them not ‘real’ men. In order to address the problem, we need to acknowledge them all,

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
13 days ago
Reply to  Huw Parker

I’m afraid there is no way you’re going to get me to give up using words like “manly”.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
13 days ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I’m not in the business of telling people which words they can and can’t use. That said, you didn’t use the word ‘manly’, so I don’t understand your point.

Daniel P
Daniel P
15 days ago

Thinking I need a t-shirt that says “Trust the TERFs”

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
14 days ago
Reply to  Daniel P

I’ve got one that says “I stand with J.K.Rowling”. Nobody gives me any grief whatsoever about it when I wear it in the gym, although outside on the streets of Bristol one or two woke scum have been a bit abusive, but they are easily silenced just by asking them what JKR has said or done that amounts to transphobia. Stupid woke morons.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
14 days ago

“Trans activism is a monster — and the people who looked the other way while this new species of misogyny took root should be thoroughly ashamed.”

Very true. And you can say the same for other protest groups like Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, BLM, and others.

All of these groups seek power and control, and are coercive, destructive and violent. The mistake people make is to believe that they are what they pretend to be.

They are not. In every single case they represent a core of hard left, anarchic, agitators. Often the same few, sick-minded individuals.

Last edited 14 days ago by Albireo Double
Huw Parker
Huw Parker
14 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

There’s nothing ‘left’ about trans activism or gender identity ideology in general. The very idea that sex can be both defined and recognised by appearance, behaviour or feeling is deeply conservative.

R Wright
R Wright
14 days ago
Reply to  Huw Parker

The very idea that reality itself can be shaped through words is a leftist tendency. No right thinking person would ever claim that Truth does not exist, everything is relative and everything is about power beyond the odd fascist.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
13 days ago
Reply to  R Wright

I take your point. Orwell’s 1984 warned in no uncertain terms that those who control the language control everything else.

And perhaps this practice is more prevalent on the left. However, I don’t think it is an inherent quality of the left, nor that it is only found on the left. Every ideology has its own vocabulary, designed to create a lens through which its doctrine appears to make sense.

Gender Identity ideology suggests that feelings, appearances, interests, behaviour, mannerisms etc., above actual sex, indicate whether someone is a man or a woman. Even though it may be championed by some on the left, this is a deeply reactionary idea.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
14 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Well said.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
12 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

It’s the same type of nasty bullies who have always tried to cloak their bullying nastiness in ‘a cause’. Back in the day it was any hard left party or ’cause’ in the ‘class war.
After they lost that one they have moved on to anything else they can cause division over..climate change ‘war’, Racial ‘war’, the Trans Rights ‘war’, in Scotland the ‘battle’ for independence.
Politics is the personal and these antifa facist types are very often nasty and bullies with it.
The people who go along with them are just endlessly trapped in a loop of signalling how nice they are by supporting whatever cause they’ve fallen on and wilfully averting their eyes from the people who lead them.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
15 days ago

Amen.
Thanks for that.

R Wright
R Wright
14 days ago

The sheer aggression of many of these activists betrays their sex.

Janet G
Janet G
15 days ago

Jacinda Ardern has resigned as Prime Minister of New Zealand. Commentators are saying she suffered the most vitriolic verbal abuse of any prime minister of the country. The word misogyny keeps popping up. One comment was that New Zealand has always had a strong element of misogyny in its national life and this has been exacerbated by social media.
In Australia we saw a similar level of misogynistic hatred directed against our former prime minister Julia Gillard. It seems in this Great South Land of the Holy Spirit only men are allowed to share in the greatness.

Mint Julip
Mint Julip
15 days ago
Reply to  Janet G

Yet Jacinda Ardern led New Zealand into the murky waters of Self ID, lionised guys taking over women’s sports (even sending one to the Olympics in a women’s event) and generally visited all the evils of the the new gender intersectionality upon people in general and women in particular. You don’t have to be a man to practice misogyny.

Janet G
Janet G
14 days ago
Reply to  Mint Julip

Unfortunately, Mint Julip, you are right. Some of the most ardent supporters of gender self-ID are women, witness the recent presentation to the Queensland Parliament of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Bill 2022. The minister who presented the bill is the Attorney-General, Shannon Fentiman, who is also Minister for Justice, Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence. During preparation of the bill she declined to meet with women’s group and blocked messages from women trying to contact her.
It is a mystery to me how so many female leaders have been captured by the gender ideology movement.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
14 days ago
Reply to  Janet G

Maybe it’s because, over and above almost everything else, patriarchy stresses to women the importance of ‘being kind’.

cara williams
cara williams
14 days ago
Reply to  Janet G

jacinda ardern has totally trashed democracy and women’s rights in nz. she bought in self identification laws without meaningful public consultation. we are state funding the chemical and surgical ‘transition’ of more kids per head of population than tavistock did. we have violent male sex offenders in women’s prisons. there is no such thing as any kind of safe women’s space anymore. we are teaching pre schoolers that they can choose gender. and our family planning clinics advise that men can have babies. our country has descended into madness.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
14 days ago
Reply to  cara williams

In some ways the betrayal by other women is worse! Maybe those women who reach the top of politics need to be exceptionally ruthless so are strangers to the more usual solidarity that women show to each other.

Nancy Kmaxim
Nancy Kmaxim
14 days ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

Maybe we should avoid making excuses for politicians on the basis of immutable characteristics such as sex. Bad policy is simply bad.

Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
15 days ago

Problem is, we were told by feminists that trans women were women and that any disagreement was patriarchal nonsense.

Last edited 15 days ago by Galvatron Stephens
Michael James
Michael James
15 days ago

We weren’t told that by the feminists who are saying the opposite.

Chris W
Chris W
15 days ago

Problem is there are so many vociferous minorites that tbe majority is both confused and cowed into submission. No politician dares to support anything in case it offends a minority. Tbe result – a political vacuum. An autocracy seems the only way forward.

Last edited 15 days ago by Chris Wheatley
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
14 days ago
Reply to  Chris W

We need to start being a lot more cavalier in disregarding the feelings of the offence-takers.

Lori Regenstreif
Lori Regenstreif
15 days ago

There was a time when we all believed this was a reasonable, human rights argument in defense of a vulnerable minority. Then it became clear that it’s something else, highly privileged and about the hijacking of vulnerable narratives by a powerful, class-based majority.

Last edited 15 days ago by Lori Regenstreif
Lindsay S
Lindsay S
15 days ago

They supported Trans women when they thought they were all gay men. Never did they think that their mortal enemies, the incels, would use trans ideology as a tool to empower themselves and get their revenge on feminists.

Will Rolf
Will Rolf
15 days ago

Anyone who has spent much time following TERFs on Twitter has discovered the same tired old misandry that has plagued British feminism for decades. This is a group that hates, despises and fears men while conveniently blaming them for everything wrong with the world. Nothing gets their blood boiling more than a man in a dress, the hated ‘other’ invading their space and claiming their special victim points as his own. Their rhetoric is as mean and personal as that of any junior high schooler. The TRAs are equally awful with their “kill all TERFs” mantras. Like anyone with a pathological victim complex, these two groups need each other to mutually project their internal misery.

Last edited 15 days ago by Will Rolf
Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
15 days ago
Reply to  Will Rolf

These sub-groups can yatter, yatter, all day and night without hurting anybody but when it comes to physical violence YOU should surely condemn it. My political views are probably completely opposite to JKR but she is entitled to put her point of view calmly and not too impolitely. In this matter I support her but then I’m an 80 yo white bloke so I’m usually invisible to all these activists.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
15 days ago
Reply to  Will Rolf

I’ve had the opposite trajectory, the trans movement is so full of hate towards women that I’ve warmed to Julie Bindel.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
12 days ago

Same here… I am thinking of seeking therapy after finding myself agreeing with Julie Bindel, Peter Tatchell, Joanna Cherry, Suzanne Moore and many others I have spent decades being against.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
15 days ago
Reply to  Will Rolf

Don’t know why you got down voted so much. You must have been right over the target.
We were set on the road we are on now by the feminist movement so they should eat it up.

A A
A A
15 days ago

Agreed

Will Rolf
Will Rolf
14 days ago

It irked them so much they took it down.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
15 days ago
Reply to  Will Rolf

Not sure why you are getting so many downvotes. For the last fifty years, feminists has been busy portraying men as crude little troglodytes who need to divest themselves of all trappings of masculinity, while at the same time encouraging women to adopt male traits. Traditional gender roles have even been lambasted as throwbacks to a primitive civilization. Almost every outlet for male expression is in the process of becoming feminized in order to meet female sensibilities.
While I totally disagree with the transgender movement, it is not wholly unsurprising that men, particularly unviable ones, are finding out that life is far more pleasant as a woman than a man. They are gaining far more attention, status, and commercial success for putting on a dress than they ever did as men.

D Walsh
D Walsh
15 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I’m reminded of the Radiohead song called “Just”

You do it to yourself, you do
And that’s what really hurts
Is that you do it to yourself, just you
You and no one else
You do it to yourself
You do it to yourself

A A
A A
15 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Well said.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
14 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Whether it’s trans-identifying males berating gender critical women, or patriarchal males berating feminists, some men will always jump at the opportunity to reframe a debate in order to put themselves front and centre.

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
14 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

“Misogyny has always existed.” Misandry has always existed too; more or less invisibly until it surfaced publicly in the 20th Century and became an activist political force that has shaped our brave new 21st Century world.

Emmanuel MARTIN
Emmanuel MARTIN
15 days ago
Reply to  Will Rolf

Will you get the record for “most downvoted comment on Unherd” ?
That would be a badge of honor, even if your comment does not deserve such infamy

A A
A A
15 days ago
Reply to  Will Rolf

Agreed that feminism is much to blame for this.

R Wright
R Wright
14 days ago
Reply to  Will Rolf

While I agree with aspects of your post they are definitely not equal.

Will Rolf
Will Rolf
12 days ago
Reply to  Will Rolf

How convenient they forgot #killallmen. That’s fine hyperbole but #killallterfs is violence.