Embrace the diversity

The BBC also can’t figure out how to talk about Meghan Murphy. What is one to do when yesterday’s feminists are suddenly today’s bogey persons?

A Canadian library has been criticised for refusing to cancel an event hosting a feminist with controversial views on transgender rights.

And misogynists have been criticized for trying to shut down and silence a feminist with reasonable views on women’s rights. We can all play this agentless “Xs have been criticized” game but it’s a bit cowardly and vague and uninformative so let’s not. People who think unspecified “trans rights” are always and everywhere more important than women’s rights are trying to shut women up when they object. That’s a more direct way of putting it.

Ms Murphy says she wants to ensure the safety of women in places like female prisons, women’s refuges and changing rooms.

In Canada, she has spoken against a bill that amended Canada’s rights act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender expression and identity over concerns it could undermine women’s rights by eroding their “safe spaces”.

“Under current trans activist doctrine we’re not allowed to exclude a man from a woman’s space if he says that he’s female and I find that quite dangerous and troubling,” she told the BBC.

Judith Taylor, from University of Toronto’s Women and Gender Studies Institute, calls Ms Murphy “basically a provocateur”.

She thinks that Ms Murphy, in asserting the rights of one group “is implicitly trying to sideline another” and disagrees with Ms Murphy that safe spaces and diversity cannot coexist.

“The more that we start embracing that diversity the better our learning and the better our strength,” she said.

You can tell what Murphy is saying. Taylor? Not so much. Ok she disagrees with Murphy that safe spaces and diversity cannot coexist, but what does she suggest? How for instance do we know which trans women really do think of themselves as women and really do just want to hang out with other women, and which want to invade and usurp women’s spaces? How do we know which trans women it’s safe to trust and which it’s not? And, more basic, what do we do about the fact that feminist women may want to gather to talk about women’s issues and women’s rights, as opposed to the issues of men who want to be women? What do we do about the fact that those are different things? What do we do if we don’t want to give up on the whole idea of being able to talk with and organize with women around issues that affect women? What if we don’t want to share everything with men who feel, or claim to feel, girly? What do we do about the fact that we’re told to shove over in a way that no other oppressed group is? What do we do with our suspicions that that’s because misogyny really is that deeply rooted? Do we just shrug it off and resign ourselves to including some men in every single thing we do? Is that what Taylor thinks we have to “embrace”?

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