As I grew up, I assumed that the world would only continue its steady plod onwards re: progress, inclusion and justice. But it hasn’t: it’s been stalled- why? by an ageing generation who want permission to be awful under the guise of free speech, who want to blame the next generation for ruining the world they fostered and worse still- we’re letting them. Powerful men sit in mountain-high towers waving gold wrapped fingers to strike down rights they enjoy themselves- and all the time, as these men continue their oligarchical stranglehold on society, we’re all too busy biting each other’s backs to fight the real enemies.
It’s such a strange time to be alive. A virus that, in 2020, terrorised the globe now isn’t even a consideration: people cough and splutter openly in public (a woman just coughed near me in the cafe I’m in and my immediate thought was “great”) without masks or without even a hint of contrition. Minorities like disabled people, people of colour or LGBT+ people and all those who exist in-between those minorities are still fighting the same harmful battles we’ve been struggling against for generations, as ministers like Kemi Badenoch swell the ranks of a government whose race report was absolutely condemned by experts on racial disparity; and we’re called misogynists because we think trans people deserve to live in peace, because apparently misogyny is when you don’t hate trans people. Poor people line the streets to vote rich people into power, who spend their terms consolidating their wealth to unfathomable heights whilst telling poor people they just need to work harder. And all the time, everyone’s ire is aimed at each other, at cross purpose, never at those in charge.
At times it’s hard to picture better, but my good friend Dr Maria Norris said just that to me recently: it starts with the imagining of better. The world seems to be, less slipping and more lurching to the right politically, and the essence of right wing politics is the self. People are only invested in themselves and their own happiness- but this isn’t the fault of the individual. It’s right, fair even that people who are disadvantaged are only interested in themselves- their very survival. This is the essence of the trouble we’re in. So many people are economically deprived, two paycheques away from poverty in most cases, that we don’t have the mental space to imagine better for ourselves. How can we care that other people suffer more, when we suffer so ourselves? But care we must, or this cycle spins again.
The question I ask myself many times a day is- is this an accident? Are those in charge just so serially inept that they cannot come up with broad solutions to this? Of course not. There are ways, means to go about fixing these problems. But nobody with a scintilla of power will lever attempt it for reasons I understand but revile- but that is an article for another day: let’s stick with the material: the fact that society is fractured in a million ways.
The irony is how easy it is to point out the hypocrisy.
Lets take someone that I was always warm towards until recently as a perfect example of societal hypocrisy, an unexpected source no doubt: Bette Midler.
Recently in the US, the Supreme Court overturned Roe Vs. Wade which has upended the bodily autonomy and therefore safety and equality of roughly 50% of US citizens. The outcry was heard around the world and this terrible travesty has shaken any decent person’s faith in the idea that choice is sacrosanct when it comes to forcing a person to carry an unwanted child to term, and has even legitimised death from disturbingly common conditions like ectopic pregnancy as “god’s will”.
Midler was on fire, sharing stories about how Donald Trump’s wife allegedly sought an abortion previously, pointing out the logical fallacies around preserving life at the expense of those whose lives are fed to the baby making business, making memes that both twisted your guts and resonated in their truth.
Then Midler tweeted this:
There was immediate shock: anybody who knows the battle for trans equality knows those talking points. Trans people are often accused of erasing women, erasing the word woman, taking women’s rights away, appropriating women’s battles… so, was Bette Midler revealing transphobia writ large to the world?
As it turns out, no. Midler has since clarified that she was clumsily talking about the intersectional battle all women face. Let’s just break the talking points down and debunk them. The word woman is not being erased at all, there are simply alternatives on offer for medical journals to allow more inclusivity to trans people- women can still call themselves women, trans women call themselves trans women, and chest feeding and breast feeding are interchangeable as you see fit- nobody is forcing anyone to use gender inclusive language for themselves but when referencing society- if you want to fight a battle for people, consider that not acknowledging a significant part of those affected doesn’t exactly engender the fight in it’s totality. Trans men are capable of having children and will of course fight for abortion rights, but not acknowledging that they face that oppression is unfair on them and in tandem, lessens the true horror of just how many people this affects.
As for “people with vaginas”- are women not people who have vaginas or did I miss something? That tweet seemed to blame gender inclusive language for the removal of womens rights. but is it gender inclusive language that stripped back access to abortion or was it a bunch of rich right wing people?
The answer is obvious- and as I cover further down, blaming people whose very happiness and existence relies on bodily autonomy being a basic right for the rolling back of bodily autonomy is utterly wrong.
But Midler also tweeted this:
Another minority who shouldn’t be there in Midler’s very famous crosshairs.
Muslim people had nothing to do with this decision: not a single person who made the decision is muslim. But Midler tweeted this image, swivelling the cannon to face muslim people again, America’s favourite scapegoat. Amazing how many devisions in America made by Christians end up being blamed on muslims.
Please bear in mind as I write this some very simple facts: I do not hate religious people- if religion brings you comfort, happiness, security, answers then I wish you that joy in totality. But I hate religion. All religion. I don’t need a god, a book, a set of yellowed scriptures to tell me murder is wrong, women should be equal to men and that I’m not a disgusting degenerate because I think other men are attractive. If the only thing stopping you from shooting someone is fear of punishment then you’re scum. What’s stopping me from doing it? It’s wrong.
I’d love the same sort of respect and response from religious people. Your religion says I’m disgusting and immoral for being gay? Well I’m sure it also says only god can judge me so button your mouth and let god tell me when I die, but until then I pay the same tax you do, I have the same bad hair days you do and I struggle to get out of bed some days just like you do. Let god tell me why I’m wrong for existing in this skin and just let me be.
Back to the problem at hand.
Transgender people are a tiny part of the population. They had no say about the overturning of Roe V Wade, though trans people who do support the overturn are, frankly- stupid.
The very essence of trans existence revolves around bodily autonomy being a base sacrosanct right. If cis women can’t decide they are not ready physically, emotionally, monetarily for a child, why would trans people be able to decide to undergo hormone therapy or surgery? The battles are linked: anyone who separates the two lacks the zoom-out vision required to understand intersectional existential battles.
Muslim people are also not to blame: Midler tweeted a jibe at six very much christian people who, in their christian conviction, made the christian decision to christianly remove the right to abortion for the US. What do muslim people have to do with it: under the Taliban women are allowed to seek abortion so let’s congratulate the US Supreme Court for giving women less reproductive choice than the literal Taliban.
Aiming our ire at the wrong place is a life time mistake: those foreigners who come here and steal our jobs and endanger our families are fleeing the wars our governments paid into for oil or to reap economic benefit. They, like us, are just people seeking the best for their families and themselves, and the best doesn’t exist in a country ravaged by inequality.
Gay people aren’t forcing our agenda down your throat, you’re just bothered you have to acknowledge we exist: the problem is yours. If you get angry because a woman kisses another woman in a children’s movie then you’re insane: Throwing accusations of sexualisation at two women kissing belies the fact that YOU think it’s sexual. Children see two adults kiss. If it confuses them, it’s as simple as “sometimes ladies like other ladies”. Did society end or are you just being histrionic over nothing…?
When it comes to coronavirus, people will still flatly deny the virus was ever a problem, never mind that it is now. They’ll accuse scientists and doctors of being on the payroll of a government who openly scorned and reviled them through the whole pandemic, then turn around and critique the government too, heedless of the fact that we should all be united together in protection and against a government who used our ever higher corpse piles as tinder to alight the economy- and not even well!
If we had let coronavirus persist unabated the death toll would easily have exceeded a million in the UK alone, not just from coronavirus itself but from hospitals crawling with patients, unable to provide care for anything.
Zoom out, people.
Were you unhappy you had to sit indoors for a year? If we’d all done what we needed to, if we’d sacrificed for each other and listened to people who made their entire raison d’être fighting back against these once in a lifetime events we wouldn’t have had to play the Hokey Cokey with lockdowns. But did we? Or were we too busy concocting conspiracy theories about Wuhan labs, about spike proteins and 5G chips and the like? And why? Occams razor says the simplest answer is most often right. So was Bill Gates putting gay semen into vaccines to control your brain into accepting a new world order helmed by Jewish trans women- or did a virus start infecting humans and make a lot of people very sick, a lot of people die and did we need to try our best to prevent that from spreading?
Humanity is so angry at itself- why? Don’t we all have to exist together? Why would I be angry at someone who wears a face veil or a face mask – it doesn’t affect me? I don’t care what someone else does with their body as long as it doesn’t endanger me!
Coronavirus was and is such a problem because in this economy even a couple of weeks off work would decimate my finances- I could lose my home. But I’m a snowflake for popping on a thin bit of cotton occasionally, not taking my sickness like a MAN.
I once had garden variety flu and I wet myself in bed because I was too physically weak to get to the bathroom so even if coronavirus was “just the flu” it’s a flu I could certainly do without thanks.
And as for the other existential battles, isn’t it weird that transphobic people will scream at these “male impostors” IE trans people whilst almost completely ignoring the very real actual 100% garden variety cis men who are actively working against women’s rights?
If you’re more bothered about being able to call yourself a mother, or a trans person having a quick pee next to you in a cubicle in a gym toilet than you are about rich groups of men chortling into expensive whisky as they sign paper that means your healthcare options are limited, may I glibly suggest that your privilege overextends your awareness.
I don’t think we can win battles against these groups who work so hard against us until we stop aiming our ire at each other.
I’m not a misogynist because I want trans people to be able to live how they want to- and if you think I am then that’s your very different definition of misogyny that you’re free to apply to my very unconcerned self. I’m not a woke snowflake because I choose to listen to people of colour who tell me their experiences of both casual and out and out galling racism, of how tiring it is to still be having the same discussions about racial disparity, or because I plop a face mask on both because coronavirus floored me and because if I have it I’d hate to accidentally kill someone I share a crowded coffee shop with- or even mildly inconvenience them by making them unwell if I could avoid that…
If your ethos is “if it doesn’t affect me, I don’t care” then how very sad for you. You can’t expect the world to do better by you if you won’t do better by other people. And if you don’t expect the world to do better by you and you’re comfortable both being miserable and pushing that misery just know that you and those like you are the axis of the problem, the enablers of those faceless rich men who laugh at their continued control of the miserable status quo, the men who get away time and again, generation on generation with betrayal of the masses because the masses have decided it’s each other’s fault and not the very purveyors of our misery.
Elliot Page, in his coming out speech a few years ago, said something I say to myself at least once a day: “The world would be a much better place if we could all stop being so horrible to each other for five minutes”. So start your five minutes now, lets all start our five minutes collectively and stop blaming the minorities and the other, and start blaming the same people who have been in charge for hundreds, almost thousands of years. Lets blame the decision makers who have pushed us, always pushed us, down the path of division. If we have to hate- lets hate the right people. And if we have to fight- let’s stop fighting each other and start fighting the people handing out the weapons.