Identity politics without the politics

Morning Star reports on the WPUK meeting on Saturday:

Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) know better than most how challenging it can be, simply being able to gather together to discuss women’s rights. Many of their meetings have suffered intimidation, threats of violence, even a bomb scare.

A group of around 30 protesters did make a brief appearance as delegates arrived, claiming that the organisers were trans-exclusionary.

How dare women gather to talk about women’s rights.

In the packed hall, Pragna Patel, co-founder of Southall Black Sisters, helped kick-start the day, telling the crowd: “What a hopeful moment in history we have reached as feminists — and I know you’re thinking ‘what is she talking about’?”

Her optimism sprang, she went on, “from the fact that, all over the world, women are leading an unmistakably secular resistance against tyranny, misogyny and oppression. There is a new kind of feminism stirring in the air … women are on the rise, demanding a new kind of feminist citizenship, based not on identity but political values.

“It is exciting because it feels different … waves of ordinary, marginalised and poor women are rising up to demand economic equality and justice, and to prevent their leaders from ripping up well-crafted constitutions born out of long and painful struggles for freedom.”

On the minus side, said Patel, “we haven’t yet found a way of getting rid of the cul-de-sac of identity politics [which] muzzles voices of dissent from within. If we are not careful, we will find ourselves sliding towards regressive politics, that reinvigorates patriarchy and inequality whilst appearing to be progressive.”

This is especially true, true x a million, when the “identity” in question is based on nothing but a feeling, and is deployed to appropriate the materially real identity of marginalized people, i.e. women.

Joanna Cherry, QC and SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, praised “the bravery of people at UCL in holding this conference — though it is ludicrous that it requires bravery.”

She expressed “sadness about the way in which the LGBT+ movement has become fragmented over a resistance to talking about the true meaning of equal rights.

“I really believe that women’s rights are human rights, and I strongly believe in equal rights for everyone, and of course that includes trans people. But it has never before been part of the movement for equal rights that one group’s trumps another’s.”

Naturally enough, since a movement for equal rights that claims one group’s rights trump another’s is not a movement for equal rights. Not treating Xs as inferiors does not take away anyone’s rights; there is no such right as the right to treat Xs as inferiors. It all hinges on how one defines rights.

Maya Forstater, who lost her job at a think tank after tweeting about the difference between sex and gender identity, said: “My mother’s generation found the words to talk about the unfairness between the way that men and women are treated in society.

But our daughters are being told that it is unkind and exclusionary to even state the material reality that women are female, that being a woman is not a feeling, that being a woman is not a costume; it is not something you can identify out of, or identify into.”

Journalist and campaigner Julie Bindel addressed particularly younger women at the event, “for whom things are hellish right now, but also full of possibilities.

This was not a revival per se, she said: “We have always had a women’s movement. But we’ve seen that, in the past couple of decades, young women who would describe themselves as feminists got dragged into the neoliberal politics of the individual, where they dismiss any necessity of collectivism, where they would not have it that focusing on ridiculous, meaningless identities would get them absolutely nowhere.

Identity politics, without the politics, is what we’ve got now.”

Read the whole thing.

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