In the tents with the girls

Janice Turner in the Times:

In 2005, when WH Smith sold Playboy-branded pencil cases, parents argued that little girls were being groomed into porn culture; in 2011, when the Playboy club reopened in Mayfair, it was picketed by feminists who, like Gloria Steinem, saw it as a “gendered version of a minstrel show”; in 2017, Hugh Hefner’s obituaries catalogued the misogyny of his porn empire and sordid mansion. But in 2019, posing for Playboy is “empowering” and qualifies you to be hired as a role model for Britain’s most vulnerable children.

What did I miss? Despite PR spin by Hefner’s son Cooper, men still don’t read it for the articles.

When I saw that Munroe Bergdorf, whose day job is modelling for Playboy, fetish and lingerie shoots, had been made an “ambassador” for Childline, I asked the NSPCC why.

A single tweet.

For which I’ve been vilified by, among others, The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC. None of which contacted me for comment, since this issue is uniquely exempt from fair reporting codes.

Because Bergdorf is trans, you see, so Bergdorf must not be questioned in any way.

So I must say it here. That Munroe Bergdorf is transgender is immaterial.

If the NSPCC hired any woman who’d augmented herself into a hyper-sexualised persona — Katie Price perhaps — I’d ask the same. What about the page three girl Melinda Messenger at Barnardo’s, some said?

Yes, given the world’s gazillion accomplished women, she too is a dismal choice.

Looking like a blow-up doll isn’t the same thing as being accomplished.

Besides, although everyone loves a witch-burning, it was not, as Bergdorf claims, my tweet that caused the NSPCC to sack her. (Which they did unkindly and for which they have rightly apologised.)

It was because “her statements on the public record . . . [were] in breach of our own risk assessments. These statements are specific to safeguarding and equality.”

If your charitable mission is to protect children, your spokesperson cannot — as Bergdorf does — invite kids on social media to contact you privately. This violates online protocols since it encourages children to entrust adult strangers with secrets.

But Bergdorf still says it’s no problem.

Recently Ruth Hunt, outgoing head of Stonewall, was asked in The Observer about fears that gender self-ID could be exploited by male abusers. Hunt replied: “Men are always going to rape women.” It was a revealing statement.

Men will always rape women, so why try to stop them with our hard-won protections like single-sex changing rooms, refuges or prisons. Women may end up as collateral, but then what’s new?

This dismantling of safeguards by extreme trans activists is building a reluctant mass movement. Women are forming new organisations, mustering legal challenges, lobbying politicians.

These are not modern Mary Whitehouses but Labour members, Greens, lesbians; progressive, humane women — including trans women — who marched against Section 28, who’d defend to the death rights of trans people to live and work free from harassment and discrimination.

They don’t want this fight, just as I don’t want to write about it, given the hideous abuse, and the risk to careers and even physical safety it engenders.

They’d rather be running book clubs or the PTA or walking their dogs. But fight they must. Because their inner sirens are screaming.

A guide leader wonders why male-bodied trans teenagers are now allowed to sleep in girls’ tents without parents being told, and is sacked.

The NSPCC tells a concerned parent: “Should the child or adult identity as female then they are female and there are no safeguarding concerns.”

How does the NSPCC know that no man will every claim to “identity as female” in order to be able to sleep (and stay awake) in girls’ tents? It doesn’t know that, it can’t know that – yet it talks as if it can and does. What kind of safeguarding is that?

But women see what is happening.

We know what battering down our boundaries with insults and threats can allow in.

Not, to be clear, from trans people, but potential abusive chancers looking for open doors. Peter Bright, a left-wing US tech writer, argued endlessly with feminists on Twitter about gender self-ID.

As a proud trans ally, he decried “TERF [trans-exclusionary radical feminist] fear-mongering about public restrooms” as “fact free drivel”, asking “Is that a great disaster? That a girl sees a penis?”

Following an FBI sting in which he believed he was grooming a mother into allowing him to have sex with her children, Bright has confessed to discussing “engaging in sexual activity with minors”.

But don’t worry, girls, everything will be fine. We magically know this because we say so.

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