If you watched the National Press Club address by Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins – which I did – and you blinked – which I didn’t – you may have missed the question that was asked by Shuba Krishnan from SBS World News, the answer to which qualifies sexual assault survivors in this country to have a voice.
Krishnan asked, ‘When you look at the debate over lesbian, gay, and trans students do you think the parliament is doing enough to protect their rights?’
Women in Australia are not allowed to talk about themselves without acknowledging that there is a more vulnerable type of woman than those women who have a vagina … and that is a male woman.
In reality, walking around in possession of a vagina is the single biggest risk to rape and sexual assault anywhere in the world. This risk is most certainly exacerbated by being Indigenous, by being poor, and by being unable in some way to protect your body from males. This is why disabled women are especially vulnerable. We know this because of aggregate statistics and because we understand reality.
Women like me – who have survived sexual abuse and campaign for safeguarding around sex primarily, and gender secondarily – are shouted down and called bigots and transphobes.
My testimony is framed as a type of hatred that is exactly the same as racism because I ‘demonise’ trans-identified men by not including them in the category of women. Indigenous women are silenced because they are told they will ‘demonise Indigenous men’.
What we end up with are protected categories of men that feminists can’t touch.
The only conversation about violence against Indigenous women that we are allowed to have in Australia places the driver of violence in colonisation and white men, which completely removes agency from Indigenous men. This is an example of adapted American Critical Race Theory, just as gendered speech is controlled by gender theory. The imposition of these American systems of ideological control is itself a form of cultural imperialism – a point our media is unlikely to raise.
The reality for all women is that we are most in danger from sexual assault by men in our own communities, men we are in relationships with, and men with whom we share intimate physical space. Not all men, but they are almost all men.
Of course, Tame and Higgins passed the ideology test with flying colours, otherwise their platform would be taken from under their feet. Tame answered Krishnan’s question with a very sweet and innocent question: ‘Why does one group of people have more of a right to be themselves than another?’ I am very disinclined to attribute malevolent intent to Grace Tame, even toward our Prime Minister, of whom she is clearly not a fan. I think Tame is a young woman who is doing her best within the cultural limitations her supporters have given her.
The more politically savvy Brittney Higgins said that there has to be a ‘sensitivity around the dialogue’ and that during the same-sex marriage referendum people were deeply re-traumatised just by having a debate. She said that these ‘are people’s lives and identities and it’s a deeply triggering and difficult time for them’.
And here we get the crux of the issue.
The legislation around LGBTQ rights are key tools in the Left’s armoury that it desperately needs to gain and maintain power – not just in government – but its stifling control over language, speech and culture. Under the cultural language control dominating the media white, upper-middle class, professional, left-wing, educated women are permitted the loudest voice in the conversation around sexual violence in Australia because those women can be trusted to stay within the boundaries they are given.
Compliant women in this country have exchanged truth for power. A series of purity tests will make sure that they will not gain a platform if they fall outside of the advocacy space they are permitted. They are permitted to advocate only for cultural change in ‘gender’ or policies that will protect and empower the most privileged of Australian women against the most privileged of Australian men.
Internationally left-wing governments are re-enforcing speech control with hate speech laws that aim to silence women who raise concerns about redefining women or the sexual boundaries of protective infrastructure.
In Britain, women are bearing the brunt of this legislation, many of them lesbian. Some women are being arrested (Marion Millar) and harassed by police (Ceri Black), others have faced ongoing legal expenses to fight workplace discrimination and sanction (Maya Forstater, Allison Bailey), and more have been hounded out of their jobs (Dr Kathleen Stock). All of these women are feminists who are concerned about the failure of female and child protection mechanisms from gender identity legislation.
Just a few weeks ago, a disabled middle-aged woman in Wales was arrested and held in a prison cell for over ten hours for placing feminist stickers around her town. Jenni Swayne’s stickers read, ‘3+ women killed by men each week’ and ‘Domestic violence kills’. The stickers were called ‘transphobic’ by police.
Early critics of gender identity legislation feared that removing words that describe women as a sex would lead to a situation where women are not allowed to speak about male violence in meaningful ways. The evidence that this is happening is met with nauseating claims of the virtue of those who hold the correct opinions.
This virtue is gained in the way all dictators gain virtue – by shielding themselves with the most vulnerable. Evil dictators will store their weapons in the children’s hospitals. If you attack, you destroy the innocent, validating the virtuous claim of the dictator. If you expose the weaponry, they will claim the weapons are there to protect the children. Either way, the dictator mines virtue from vulnerability and uses it to shield the most sinister type of power.
Unfortunately, there is a segment of the right who have such little value for women and gender non-conforming children that they happily attack the vulnerable or cede the cultural and political ground around the protection of the vulnerable to those who have no intention to provide the protections that women have fought and paid for.
In the new political space that is not left and not right, we must fight this stifling authoritarian control over what belongs to us; our language, our space, our bodies, and our rights to contend with each other in open and honest dialogue.
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