Like regular patriarchy, but woke
I was at a progressive conference some years ago when I realized that something was very, very wrong with that morning’s reproductive rights panel.
Forty minutes in, and it felt like the time I had been tricked into sitting through a multilevel marketing presentation.
Not that they were trying to sell me a pyramid scheme, of course, but the things they were talking about did not make any sense to me in the context of the moment.
Something was not what it seemed.
Donald Trump had just been sworn in, Roe v Wade faced its greatest threat since 1973, and activist friends were writing how-to books about home abortion, but the panel discussion was taking place in an entirely different universe.
There were no new strategies for activism on display. Instead, I heard lectures on the importance of pronouns.
“Inclusiveness” and “intersectionalism” and validation exercises were vital things we all needed to learn and practice and be mindful about in everything we did to advance the cause of abortion rights.
The only alternative was right wing bigotry, I was told. Abortion rights could be saved, and the larger progressive agenda succeed, only if activists spoke the cant correctly, in ritual format.
“Gender neutral” language would now replace the staid, second wave language of our foremothers in the new rituals of social justice purity. This meant changing our words and what we meant when we said them.
And then it struck me: nobody was talking about women.
The word had not been erased, exactly. It had simply changed its meaning. “Woman” was no longer a kind of biology that is subject to patriarchal oppression because of its role in human reproduction.
The entire premise of reproductive rights activism had become unmentionable once again.
I was learning that “woman” now included men who say they are women, and that I needed to remember that not all people with female bodies identified as women, because avoiding “triggers” is more important than clear communication with someone about their own medical care.
It was at this point, with the cognitive dissonance made plain and mandatory, that the last figure spoke up.
A large black trans woman filled the room with feminized presence, calling on the ghost of Sojourner Truth to say Ain’t I a woman and preach a transhumanist gospel.
For stem cells and uterus transplants exist, you see, which means that trans women will need reproductive services one day, which means men can have abortions too.
I stood up and walked out of the room.
I came to the main hall, finding that most of the restrooms had been marked as “gender neutral” while the women’s restroom was the last in the row, furthest from the plenary hall.
Some time later, I learned that my friend and author writing about post-Roe, at-home abortions had become an enthusiastic cheerleader for female erasure. She no longer wishes to be my friend because I think this is an incredibly stupid idea.
Nor has this been a purely grassroots phenomenon, exactly. If anything, the greatest successes of transgenderism have largely come through institutional capture, skipping the part where anyone debates the wisdom of their program.
If you take some measure of control over a national conference and its agenda, you necessarily influence what kind of panels it presents, and what questions are allowed to be asked.
Planned Parenthood has also transitioned from a women’s health services provider to a gender clinic. This move seems likely to be one of the “philosophical differences over the direction and future” that Leana Wen hinted at when she resigned leadership of the organization last year.
In the context of various Republican-led efforts to defund them, one can understand the logic behind PP’s decision.
However, to really understand what has happened to abortion rights activism, you have to read the emails that these orgs send out on a regular basis anymore.
Here is one. Search it in vain for the word “woman,” or any hint of how this training event will restore reproductive rights in Missouri.
This is a cruel joke on every woman affected by that state government’s forced birth crusade.
I would much rather my donations went to free late term abortions than the validation of men who say they are women, but then again I don’t have the millions of dollars that transgender advocacy has spent to buy this level of attention from what used to be a women’s rights organization.
Empowered by money and cachet, the takeover happened at every level by way of funding and forced teaming in local and national organizations.
Because many local clinic defense organizations have always found volunteers in local queer groups, especially those on college campuses, they are a particularly ripe target for wokist conversion to the new gender orthodoxy.
The anarchic nature of social justice organizing lends itself to communal narcissists, “people who talk about having a ‘mission’ or are ‘committed to a cause,’ and they make it clear that while your life and concerns are petty and shallow, theirs are possessed of deep meaning and intent,” according to Psychology Today.
You may have run into them on the PTA or at a charity event, booster club, or fundraiser. You may have been surprised when one showed his or her true colors by becoming hugely territorial and much more concerned with personal aggrandizement and appreciation than the communal goal you thought you were all working toward. And then there’s some terrible politicized brouhaha: Bingo!
That “politicized brouhaha” has repeated itself everywhere that you look. Women who show any hint of wrongthink are purged with cries of “TERF” and “transphobe!”
Women who want to stay involved cannot simply keep their heads down; rather, they must participate in the witch-burning with the most enthusiasm of all, lest they be accused of witchcraft themselves.
I was taking part in a clinic defense some years ago when I unexpectedly met Lizz Winstead and her band of video volunteers, a radical group which styled itself Lady Parts Justice League.
Back then, the famous comedienne and former Daily Show producer was an unapologetic defender of women and women’s rights.
Today, she has surrendered all of that outspoken feminism to be more “inclusive,” bending the knee to a men’s rights movement in drag.
It was not enough for Winstead to erase women from her own project; she has actively hounded radical feminist “TERFs” out of all her associations.
I know this because some of them are my friends.
And so the entire premise of reproductive rights activism — that women are a sex class distinct from men as a sex class, with rights to control their own reproduction — has become unmentionable once again.
Such progress, this is. So forward-thinking that it resets the conversation to somewhere in the 19th Century.