A vehicle to attack women in public

Rosie Duffield MP is taking heat again.

Rosie Duffield got a standing ovation in the House of Commons last year when she revealed her experiences of domestic abuse in a speech that left many of her colleagues in tears. The Labour MP for Canterbury has been attacked by left-wingers for speaking out against antisemitism and vilified by right-wingers for campaigning against Brexit.

Now she is on the front line in the culture war accused of being “transphobic” after she liked a tweet suggesting that “individuals with a cervix” should be described as “women”.

Tweet-liking crime – it’s an epidemic!

The vitriol poured on her has left her “completely terrified”, she says. She has in the past suffered intimidation at home and threats from Twitter trolls, but, she tells us, “This feels worse — maybe because it strikes at the heart of who you are as a woman, and because it’s base, pure misogyny.”

There is, she claims, a witch hunt underway. “It very much feels as though the stake is built as soon as there is even the mere hint of any charges. A word like ‘transphobe’ gets spread around without any actual evidence and the fire is lit.’’

And in addition to the lack of evidence, there is also the extremely generous way “transphobia” is interpreted and detected – generous to the people who like to accuse, that is. It’s called “transphobia” to say that men are not women, which seems utterly absurd on its face. Even the most adamant enforcers of trans ideology are perfectly aware that men are not women most of the time. They can’t help it. We know the difference; we can’t help it; even the fanatics can’t help it.

This is a row that started in July, when the broadcaster Piers Morgan responded to a CNN report suggesting that “individuals with a cervix” should have regular cervical cancer screening from the age of 25 with the tweet: “Do you mean women?” Duffield liked the tweet, then she further angered her critics by tweeting: “I’m a ‘transphobe’ for knowing that only women have a cervix . . . ?!’ ” Since then the row has escalated, with some Labour activists calling for Duffield to be deselected as an MP.

Last week Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, became the party’s first senior figure to get involved, saying that Duffield — who resigned from the frontbench after admitting breaching lockdown rules — should “reflect” on her comments and realise they could be “hurtful”.

Here’s a thought. It could be “hurtful” to women to pretend that men become women by simply saying so. It could be “hurtful” to women to try to force them to agree with that claim. It could be “hurtful” to women to pretend that sex is like a shirt or a hat, something that everyone can put on or take off at will. It could be “hurtful” to women to insist that men get to tell women what we can say about our own sex. I could go on.

So far, Duffield has avoided commenting, but she tells us that she wants to explain her views because she feels it is wrong that women are being silenced in the gender debate. “All people need to do to attack me at the moment is be male and misogynist and angry,” she says. “Once you’re labelled a thing, that’s it. People attribute certain things to you . . . and actually I’m not sure they are bothered what I think. It’s just a vehicle to attack women in public. I feel like my female mouth is being well and truly closed without ever actually having been opened.”

And, possibly the most disorienting aspect of all, people who consider themselves progressive look on in approval. They’re fine with all this bullying of women.

“The other day I was walking through parliament wearing my mask and I thought, ‘This is a bit symbolic. I feel like I’m being shut up,’ and it was really horrible. It does feel like Gilead [in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale], where women aren’t allowed to ask questions or proffer alternative ideas. The shutting down of ideas is particularly dystopian. I am in a university city where ideas are everything; you’re supposed to be able to discuss, debate, question without being labelled.”

Duffield has received death threats on social media and admits that she has started to feel scared walking down the street. “There was a picture of a mocked-up hanging . . . and someone had put, ‘I wish I could photoshop Rosie Duffield into this.’

“You could take that as a joke and think it’s just some silly boy behind his keyboard, but it’s pretty sinister,” she says. “I regularly talk to people who don’t agree with me on things like abortion or Brexit. We have civilised conversations. I’m not being cancelled or threatened with a noose, so why is this particular issue so toxic?”

So toxic, and at the same time so vehemently endorsed and echoed on the left? What is that? Why is the left so happy to see women threatened and verbally abused because we don’t and literally can’t agree that men are women if they say they are?

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