Woman's suffrage protest, 1917. (Photo by Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Hold the line!

Famous women should not bow to social media rage

Artillery Row

On Wednesday morning judgement was handed down in Forstater v CGD Europe. It found that Maya Forstater had been unfairly discriminated against because of her belief that “it is impossible for a male to become female”. It had already been established that her views were “worthy of respect in a democratic society”. 

It is a shock that backlash against the truth is so brutish

Forstater had refused to back down to critics with opposing views on gender identity. She said what she believed to be true and then she held the line. She triumphed. It takes courage and steadfastness to discuss the meaning of the word “woman” in a time of deep woman-hating.

This week, two more famous women stepped forward with very similar views and the reaction was extraordinary. These women, Bette Midler and Macy Gray, did not hold the line after stating their view that sex is real, and very quickly found themselves on their knees before trans activist bullies. 

Bette Midler, arguably one of the most famous singers and actors in the world, tweeted:

If you look at any of the key arguments of feminists who oppose gender ideology then these words are identical. Bette Midler was, without any doubt, objecting to the removal of language for biological women. When she talks about “owing” she means that every human is born from a woman; that women are therefore “owed” respect. There is no ambiguity to her words. 

The user @ripx4nutmeg replied to her with sad resignation:

This has become the way with any woman in the public eye who steps forward on the “woman question”. The famous woman says with confidence what she knows to be true: that men cannot become women and it is unfair to women to say that they can. When she first utters these words, she assumes that what she says is uncontroversial because it is true. It is a shock to these women that the vitriolic backlash against the truth is so nasty, brutish … and lengthy. 

Bette Midler has an estimated worth of $250 million. There is little in the world that she could say that would see her reduced to poverty. She is universally adored and, more importantly, financially cushioned, as few other women in the world are. She could have stuck by what she said with little penalty, other than people on social media and in sensationalist media headlines calling her a “bigot” or a “terf”. Predictably enough the trans activist bullies piled on the pressure, emotionally manipulating her to “be kind”. Her embarrassing “apology” took roughly 40 hours to elicit. We had apparently “misunderstood” her. 

She tweeted:

But it most definitely was about “that”. Namely, the truth. 

The singer Macy Gray also became a short-lived heroine for gender critical women this week. She appeared on Piers Morgan Uncensored to discuss her work and when engaged on the issue of transgender ideology, she said:

I’m gonna say this and everybody’s gonna hate me, but as a woman, just because you go change your parts doesn’t make you a woman. Sorry.

Morgan pushed her:

You feel that?

With utter confidence, and attitude to spare, Gray answered:

I know that for a fact!

As with Bette Midler there was no ambiguity to her statements. Piers Morgan pressed her to clarify and she did. She was in no doubt about her belief in the immutability of biological sex. Contrary to her worry that everyone would hate her, she was immersed in the gratitude and support of gender critical women; not least the author J.K. Rowling, who tweeted:

Today feels like a good day to ensure I’ve bought @MacyGray’sLife entire back catalogue.

If anyone knows how to hold the line it is Rowling, who is now in her third year of speaking out about the threat to women’s rights from transgender ideologues. If Macy Gray needed anyone behind her to encourage her bravery, she could not ask for more than the support of Jo Rowling. 

But within 24 hours Macy Gray appeared to be backtracking. She tweeted that her comments had been “grossly misunderstood”. She had also come under tremendous pressure from trans activists calling her “Terf” and “bigot”. 

Gray subsequently deleted her “apology”. Perhaps she has sensed that women are hugely appreciative of her courageous stance. We know she is not wrong, and hopefully our voices have reached her ears as loudly as the voices of aggressive trans-identified men like India Willoughby who tweeted:

Macy is done in the real world — and will absolutely be getting booed and shunned at whatever gigs she has left. It’s over. Finished. #Cancelled

This kind of threat is no doubt frightening to an artist, but Macy Gray has a net worth of approximately $12 million. I would argue that she does not need to be so cautious. Women on low incomes also step forward and say what she said, and they do not buckle when called “TERF” on social media. 

You can only command women to believe a lie for so long

For women who have been standing up to the trans activist bullies for many years, we have ceased to flinch at such words or to stumble when we are told to “be kind”. We know there is too much at stake for the poorest and most vulnerable women in society. Women in prison, rape crisis centres and women’s refuges must have their rights defended by the rest of us. That includes those women with the protection offered by wealth and social status. Women have to be brave and speak the truth so that women who cannot advocate for their own needs will have the protections they deserve and are entitled to.

When women step forward, we must do it boldly, with our shoulders back and our voices steady. Then we brace. Men will come for us. The bullies will arm themselves. We must hold the line together against them. 

When I stood before my last employer, a headteacher, and he asked me about my views, I said clearly:

I don’t believe that people can change sex and if you do, I think you’re an idiot.

He laughed. I don’t know if he thought I was joking or if he was shocked, and I didn’t care. I was investigated for “transphobia and man-hating” and cleared. I was less formally investigated for transphobia two further times and each time I refused to bow to any of the requests made of me. I did not bend and I did not back down. I held the line. 

We may not have Macy Gray or Bette Midler with us on the front line right now, but I think those women will come back eventually. You can only command women to believe what they know is a lie for a limited time. Eventually they will return defiantly and stand in the only place they can. With women. With the truth. Then they too will know, like J.K. Rowling before them, that the only way to keep your self-respect is to hold the line.

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