She got the coward part right

Sarah Phillimore is scathing about the cowardice and malice of Ayesha Hazarika.

[T]here was only strange and timorous silence from the Fawcett Society following [Maya] Forstater’s victory, until it was finally broken by an article in the Evening Standard on Wednesday.

Hazarika calls for “more moderate voices” to overcome the toxicity of the current debate, and an end to “cruelty and polarisation”:

As with so much right now, extremist, unforgiving, rigid voices on both sides dominate the online war in a fight to the death of who can scream and shame the loudest. And all it does is alienate people in the middle who want to find a solution which is humane, modern and common sense. But more moderate voices who could find the common ground here and find useful solutions are too scared to join in and who could blame them?

It is not merely the crude and unfair caricature of the current position which reveals the bad faith of this author. This is emphatically not about “both sides”. It is not trans women who are facing criminal trials or secret police recording their political speech; nor is it trans women who are being no-platformed by universities in breach of their statutory obligations to protect freedom of speech. It is also not trans women who are being sacked from their jobs for talking about issues of sex and gender.

And it is also not trans women who are the subordinated sex. It is not trans women who are assaulted on the street, murdered in their kitchens, sold into sex slavery, kept out of school, stoned to death on suspicion of talking to a man.

I am sorry that Hazarika finds herself so threatened by legitimate criticism that she needs a mental health professional on speed dial. Perhaps she might like to spare a thought for the thousands of women every day who face much worse and who do not have this privilege.

Define your terms. No discussion can take place unless we can agree what we are talking about. I suspect Millicent Fawcett had no difficulty defining a “woman” — they were the ones denied the vote. What does the Society that bears her name and operates under her banner of “courage calls to courage” now think a woman is? And what rights will it fight for her to have?

The right to chat about shoes and scarves with men who claim to be women?

I can’t recall any great campaigns that were won by squeaking mice, but if the Fawcett Society thinks timidity is the way to win women’s equality, fine. Do as you wish. But please don’t expect to go publicly unchallenged when you suggest that this represents the limits of what a woman can aspire to be, or to criticise her for defending her legal rights with vigour and robust language, in the face of continued threats of physical and sexual violence. If you really find argument and discussion so traumatic then that is your weakness to address, not our responsibility to fix with our “kindness”.

There is no “middle ground” here. Either women have rights, or they do not. Either they are allowed to speak about their rights, or they are not. If you seek to persuade us that “being kind” is more important than “having rights”, then you will need to do better than this. And change the name of your society. You have offered sufficient insult to the legacy of Millicent Fawcett.

Also…Maya has offered to have a conversation with Hazarika, and Hazarika has simply ignored her.

Nothing. Lots of lovey thank yous to people who flattered her, but no response to Maya, whose position she did not describe accurately.

She’s annoying.

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