This article originally appeared in Common Dreams.
“This is the time to unite together to build the healthy and just future we know is possible for each other and the Earth.”
By JULIA CONLEY
As world leaders gathered in New York for the United Nations General Assembly Thursday and amid preparations for a global climate conference coming up in November, women leading more than 120 international organizations delivered a call to action demanding “a transformation of how we relate to the natural world and to one another”—one that will enable far-reaching action to save the planet.
“As the world prepares for one of the most important climate talks since the Paris Agreement, we know solutions exist to mitigate the worst impacts, and that women are leading the way.” —Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN International
Led by Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN) International, the organizations called on governments and financial institutions to commit to policies that prioritize “social, racial, and economic justice for all” as they work to keep the heating of the planet below 1.5C.
“We must rapidly halt the extraction of oil, gas, and coal and end all deforestation while building a new economy predicated on community-led solutions,” reads the call to action, which was signed by groups including MADRE, CodePink, and Women’s Earth Alliance.
“As we herald in sustainable, democratic, and equitable governance paradigms, we need to prioritize the leadership and well-being of women, gender non-conforming people, Black and Brown communities, and Indigenous peoples who are disproportionately impacted by climate change, but also lead the frontlines of systemic solutions,” the groups said.
The organizations also plan to present their demands at the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November, where leaders from nearly 200 countries will be under pressure to increase their ambitions to reduce emissions and uphold their existing obligations to frontline communities across the globe, particularly in the Global South.
“We are at a choice point for humanity,” said Osprey Orielle Lake, executive director of WECAN International. “Every day, we can see for ourselves forest fires burning all over the world, massive flooding, extreme droughts, people losing their livelihoods and lives—we are in a climate emergency. As the world prepares for one of the most important climate talks since the Paris Agreement, we know solutions exist to mitigate the worst impacts, and that women are leading the way.”
The call to action includes a number of steps recommended for governments as well as financial institutions, including:
- End fossil fuel expansion and rapidly accelerate a just transition to 100% renewable and regenerative energy;
- Promote women’s leadership and gender equity;
- Protect the rights of Indigenous people by upholding all treaties, and follow Indigenous communities’ traditional ecological knowledge;
- Protect forests and biodiversity with a global moratorium on logging and a phase-out of agricultural practices that cause soil erosion and depletion;
- Preserve oceans and freshwater;
- Promote food security and food sovereignty;
- Protect the rights of nature; and
- Halt the financing of all fossil fuel projects.
The call to action comes ahead of a six-day virtual forum organized by WECAN.
At the Global Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice, which begins Saturday, speakers will include scientist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall; Casey Camp-Horinek of the Ponca Nation, a WECAN board member and environmental ambassador; Ruth Nyambura of the African Ecofeminist Collective in Kenya; and Sônia Bone Guajajara of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil.
“As a Matriarch of the Ponca Nation, I am honored to have the responsibility of caring for the generations to come by ensuring the health and welfare of Mother Earth, Father Sky, and Relatives in every form,” said Camp-Horinek. “Life itself hangs in the balance, and we women are coming together to say that we must make the correct choices for our collective future now.”
Events at the six-day forum will include discussions about protecting the planet’s forests, rejecting “greenwashing” by corporations, and supporting feminist frameworks for climate justice.
“We can act now and we must act now, which is why WECAN is hosting the Global Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice to uplift women, gender-diverse and community-led solutions, strategies, policies, and frameworks to address the climate crisis,” said Lake. “It is code red and we are drawing a red line to say no more sacrifice people and no more sacrifice zones. This is the time to unite together to build the healthy and just future we know is possible for each other and the Earth.”
Editor’s note: They hate our freedom, spreading democracy and your with us or you are against us has failed. And all we needed was another five more years of fight them over there, so we don’t have to fight them here. A War on Terrorism can never be won if you are a terrorist.
This article originally appeared in FAIRNESS & ACCURACY IN REPORTING.
By JULIE HOLLAR
Just as US corporate news media “discovered” Afghan women’s rights only when the US was angling for invasion, their since-forgotten interest returned with a vengeance as US troops exited the country.
After September 11, 2001, the public was subjected to widespread US news coverage of burqa-clad Afghan women in need of US liberation, and celebratory reports after the invasion. Time magazine (11/26/01), for instance, declared that “the greatest pageant of mass liberation since the fight for suffrage” was occurring, as “female faces, shy and bright, emerged from the dark cellars” to stomp on their old veils. In a piece by Nancy Gibbs headlined “Blood and Joy,” the magazine told readers this was “a holiday gift, a reminder of reasons the war was worth fighting beyond those of basic self-defense” (FAIR.org, 4/9/21).
The media interest was highly opportunistic. Between January 2000 and September 11, 2001, there were 15 US newspaper articles and 33 broadcast TV reports about women’s rights in Afghanistan. In the 16 weeks between September 12 and January 1, 2002, those numbers skyrocketed to 93 and 628, before plummeting once again (Media, Culture & Society, 9/1/05).
Suddenly remembering women
Now, as the US finally is withdrawing its last troops, many corporate media commentators put women and girls at the center of the analysis, as when Wolf Blitzer (CNN Situation Room, 8/16/21), after referring to “the horror awaiting women and girls in Afghanistan,” reported:
President Biden saying he stands, and I’m quoting him now, squarely, squarely behind this decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, despite the shocking scene of chaos and desperation as the country fell in a matter of only a few hours under Taliban control, and the group’s extremist ideology has tremendous and extremely disturbing implications for everyone in Afghanistan, but especially the women and girls.
This type of framing teed up hawkish guests, who proliferate on TV guest lists, to use women as a political football to oppose withdrawal. Blitzer guest Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R.-Illinois), for instance, argued:
Look at the freedom that is being deprived from the Afghan people as the Taliban move into Afghan, or moving into parts of Afghanistan now, and you know how much freedom they had. Look at the number of women that are out there making careers, that are thought leaders, that are academics, that never would have happened under the Taliban leadership…. The devastation you are seeing today is why that small footprint of 2,500 US troops was so important.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R.-Iowa) gladly gave Jake Tapper (CNN Newsroom, 8/16/21) her take on the situation after CNN aired a report on the situation for women:
As you mentioned, for women and younger girls, this is also very devastating for them. The humiliation that they will endure at the hands of the Taliban all around this is just a horrible, horrible mar on the United States under President Joe Biden.
‘America rescued them’
Charity Wallace claimed in the Wall Street Journal (8/17/21) that Afghan “women and girls…made enormous progress over the past 20 years.”
Such analysis depends on the assumption that the US invasion and occupation “saved” Afghan women. In the Wall Street Journal (8/17/21), an op-ed by former George W. Bush staffer Charity Wallace ran under the headline : “The Nightmare Resumes for Afghan Women: America Rescued Them 20 Years Ago. How Can We Abandon Them to the Taliban Again?”
Two days later, a news article in the Journal (8/19/21) about the fate of women in Afghanistan explained: “Following the 2001 invasion, US and allied forces invested heavily to promote gender equality.”
The Associated Press (8/14/21), in a piece headlined, “Longest War: Were America’s Decades in Afghanistan Worth It?,” noted at the end that “some Afghans—asked that question before the Taliban’s stunning sweep last week—respond that it’s more than time for Americans to let Afghans handle their own affairs.” It continued, “But one 21-year-old woman, Shogufa, says American troops’ two decades on the ground meant all the difference for her.” After describing Shogufa’s experience for five paragraphs, the piece concludes with her “message to Americans”:
“Thank you for everything you have done in Afghanistan,” she said, in good but imperfect English. “The other thing was to request that they stay with us.”
Atlantic’s Caitlin Flanagan (8/19/21): “The United States military made it possible for those women to experience a measure of freedom. Without us, that’s over.”
Perhaps the most indignant media piece about Afghan women came from Caitlin Flanagan in the Atlantic (8/19/21), “The Week the Left Stopped Caring About Human Rights.” Flanagan argued:
Leave American troops idle long enough, and before you know it, they’re building schools and protecting women. We found an actual patriarchy in Afghanistan, and with nothing else to do, we started smashing it down. Contra the Nation, it’s hard to believe that Afghan women “won” gains in human rights, considering how quickly those gains are sure now to be revoked. The United States military made it possible for those women to experience a measure of freedom. Without us, that’s over.
Flanagan pointed to Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, whom she accused “critics of the war” of forgetting, saying Yousafzai “appealed to the president to take ‘a bold step’ to stave off disaster.”
Next to last in women’s rights
Such coverage gives the impression that Afghan women desperately want the US occupation to continue, and that military occupation has always been the only way for the US to help them. But for two decades, women’s rights groups have been arguing that the US needed to support local women’s efforts and a local peace process. Instead, both Democrat and Republican administrations continued to funnel trillions of dollars into the war effort, propping up misogynist warlords and fueling violence and corruption.
It’s hard to read an essay (New York Times, 8/17/21) that addresses “the countries that have used Afghans as pawns in their wars of ideology and greed” and says that the Afghan people “have been trapped for generations in proxy wars of global and regional powers” as a call for unending military occupation.
Contra Flanagan’s insinuation, Yousafzai didn’t ask Biden to continue the occupation. In an op-ed for the New York Times (8/17/21) that most clearly laid out her appeal, she asked for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and for refugees fleeing the country. In fact, her take on the US occupation’s role in women’s rights (BBC, 8/17/21) is much more critical than most voices in the US corporate media: “There had been very little interest in focusing on the humanitarian aid and the humanitarian work.”
As human rights expert Phyllis Bennis told FAIR’s radio program CounterSpin (2/17/21), Malalai Joya, a young member of parliament, told her in the midst of the 2009 troop surge that women in Afghanistan have three enemies: the Taliban, warlords supported by the US and the US occupation. “She said, ‘If you in the West could get the US occupation out, we’d only have two.’”
Things did get better for some women, mostly in the big cities, where new opportunities in education, work and political representation became possible with the Taliban removed from power. But as Shreya Chattopadhyay pointed out in the Nation (8/9/21), the US commitment to women was little more than window dressing on its war, devoting roughly 1,000 times more funding to military expenses than to women’s rights.
Passive consumers of US corporate news media might be surprised to learn that Afghanistan, in its 19th year under US occupation, ranked second-to-last in the world on women’s well-being and empowerment, according to the Women, Peace and Security Index (2019).
As the Index notes, Afghan women still suffer from discriminatory laws at a level roughly on par with Iraq, and an extraordinarily low 12.2% of women reported feeling safe walking alone at night in their community, more than 4 points lower than in any other country. And just one in three girls goes to school.
Wrong kind of ‘help’
In 2015, a 27-year-old Afghan woman named Farkhunda Malikzada was killed by an angry mob of men in Kabul after being falsely accused of burning a Quran; US-backed Afghan security forces watched silently (Guardian, 3/28/15). The shocking story spread around the world, but the only US TV network to mention it on air was PBS (7/2/15), which offered a brief report more than three months after the murder, when an Afghan appeals court overturned the death sentences given to some of the men involved.
FAIR turned up no evidence of Caitlin Flanagan ever writing about Malikzada, either—or about the plight of any Afghan woman before last week.
According to a Nexis search, TV news shows aired more segments that mentioned women’s rights in the same sentence as Afghanistan in the last seven days (42) than in the previous seven years (37).
The US did not “rescue” Afghan women with its military invasion in 2001, or its subsequent 20-year occupation. Afghan women need international help, but facile and opportunistic US media coverage pushes toward the same wrong kind of help that it’s been pushing for the last two decades: military “assistance,” rather than diplomacy and aid.
For more than 20 years, US corporate media could have listened seriously to Afghan women and their concerns, bringing attention to their own efforts to improve their situation. Instead, those media outlets are proving once again that Afghan women’s rights are only of interest to them when they can be used to prop up imperialism and the military industrial complex.
Research assistance: Elias Khoury
Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated Malala Yousafzai’s nationality. She is Pakistani.
AUGUST 20 – 23, 2021
Sovereign Women Speak is a full weekend of women-only workshops, interactive circles, discussions, performances, and meals with a public protest on Saturday and a public conference on Sunday afternoon.
WHY WE ARE PROTESTING
Washington State is letting men into women’s prisons. One man, convicted of multiple sex crimes, was transferred to Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW), where he immediately raped a female prisoner.
Women are being locked into cells with proven predators. This is a violation of international law, the 8th Amendment, and women’s human rights! Come to WCCW on Saturday, August 21 and let the world now that we will not stand by while women are raped by men who claim to be women! 9601 Bujacich Rd, Gig Harbor, WA at noon!
Women are meeting for a full weekend of sisterhood, solidarity, and action! Join us for women-only workshops, interactive circles, discussions, performances, and meals.
Nine brave women will shed light on the systematic sabotaging happening under the banner of “gender identity.” Come to the first Sovereign Women Conference and learn how you can be a part of the resistance to this assault on women and girls.
Sunday, August 22 from 1 PM – 6 PM.
On Saturday August 21, women from all over the country and the world will gather at WCCW to protest.
- We will tell the state of Washington that we are ready to do whatever it takes to stop this.
- We will tell the incarcerated women that they are not forgotten—that an insult to one is an injury to all.
- We will tell the gender identity movement that we see what they are and we will not submit.
- And we will tell the world that women are fighting back. Please join us in this fight!
In this short but very dense talk, Kat Lillian Hellwoman is explaining the connection between transgenderism, transhumanism and the 4th industrial revolution and the scary future vision that lies behind the relentless push of transgenderism by rich technocrats, governments and institutions.
Editor’s note: Gender ideology is another form of postmodern insanity becoming a norm in this insane culture. Disguised as Human Rights, this sect-like ideology is even being embedded into the legal system of many countries. It’s also another example of how this culture, and neoliberalism specifically, destroys any form of identification (as a sex-based class in this case), replacing it with superficial, abstract ideas that have no relation to physical or biological reality whatsoever.
This article originally appeared on Feminist Current.
by RAINE MCLEOD
Women in Canada are joining together in increasing numbers to oppose the ever-growing impacts of gender identity legislation, as gender ideology takes root in our country. There are now numerous feminist groups across Canada, advocating for women’s sex-based rights. On May 2, 2021, four of those groups — WHRC Alberta, Alberta Radical Feminists (ABRF), Alberta Women’s Advocacy Association (AWAA), and Canadian Women’s Sex-Based Rights (caWsbar) — gathered in Edmonton, on the steps of the Alberta legislature, to take a public stand in support of our sex-based rights and in protest of the wholesale dismissal of women as distinct group and the insistence that we should redefine “woman” to include men.
The attack on women’s rights is nothing new. Several bills have been passed or are in the process of passing which impede women’s rights and, more broadly, limit the ability of Canadians to question or challenge gender identity ideology and protect kids from dangerous, irreversible medical procedures.
Bill C-16, Canada’s gender identity legislation, passed in 2017, adding gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. The effect has been that males who identify as women now have unrestricted access to women’s spaces like rape shelters, change rooms, and prisons.
In 2020, David Lametti, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, proposed amendments to the criminal code, which would criminalize “conversation therapy.” Bill C-6 is currently going into its third reading, and would prevent therapists, for example, from taking a moderate, exploratory approach to so-called “trans kids,” rather than immediately affirming a child’s self-declared gender and putting them on the path to medical transition.
More recently, the Liberal government proposed a removal of Section 4.1 of the Broadcasting Act, the clause excluding “user-generated content” from regulation by the CRTC, Canada’s public authority in charge of regulating and supervising broadcasting and telecommunications. The reforms, should Bill C-10 pass, will curtail free speech online, ensuring individuals who challenge government-sanctioned ideology cannot speak out about their criticisms and concerns on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube, a form of censorship feminists are already experiencing in our attempts to remind the public, media, and politicians that human biological sex is important, real, dimorphic, and immutable. If Bill C-10 passes, the platforms women use to connect with each other and advocate for women’s sex-based rights will be forced to censor our words and content, under threat of fines from the CRTC.
Women who speak out about gender identity ideology are threatened with sexual assault, murder, beatings, job loss, social alienation, and silencing, and because trans activists have labelled us “TERFs,” and therefore “hateful,” “bigoted,” and even “Nazis,” this response is passed off as righteous and even progressive. Today in the West, this form of misogyny is accepted and supported. In the 20th century, suffragists faced similar attacks — slander, propaganda, violence. If you look at anti-suffragist imagery, you can see the parallels.
Criticism of trans activism and gender ideology has been labelled “hate speech,” but defences of women’s rights are not an attack on people who believe they are transgender. This response is revealing, though, in terms of the foundation and goals of trans rights activism. Women fought for decades to be considered persons under the law, for our right to sport, access to public toilets, the right to vote, and have autonomy over our own reproductive choices. Many of these efforts are being undone by the work of trans activists who want women to set aside our safety and comfort in favour of the desires, fetishises, and demands of men.
The May 2 rally in Edmonton was not advertised, and for good reason: we were concerned about interference or assault from groups who oppose women’s rights advocacy. We wanted a safe place to peacefully meet up (in compliance with Covid restrictions), talk, and share. So we limited knowledge of the event to our own circles, opting to livestream it to the ABRF and AWAA Facebook pages, later uploading the video to the WHRC Alberta YouTube page. An hour before it started, we shared an event poster across social media.
We were really happy with the turnout, with women coming from Calgary, Cochrane, Lethbridge, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Some were afraid to attend in person, but watched online and sent us supportive messages. Some passersby stopped to listen to us speak. Just the opportunity to meet with one another in person was inspiring and galvanizing, as many of us had only known each other from social media and zoom meetings. There is power and energy in women gathering — especially for the purposes of feminist movement building or activism — that is hard to come by in mixed-sex groups. It may sound cliché or contrived, but it is invigorating — women can support and lift each other up in a space where we all know that womanhood is a shared experience of growing up female, not an identity one adopts.
I emceed the event and emphasized that this fight is not a partisan issue, saying:
“This isn’t about being a Liberal or a Conservative, it’s about being adult human females who have experienced oppression on the basis of our biological sex. This isn’t something we can just identify out of. This isn’t a magic trick that will cure the real issues we are faced with. Do not misunderstand: we are explicitly and exclusively pro-woman. Any insistence that we are hateful or bigots or fascist is a deliberate misrepresentation of what we are saying and our goals.”
Thousands of Canadian women have begun calling themselves “politically homeless,” because we are not represented by any party. We seem to be faced with voting against our own interests no matter who we choose.
I then introduced Charlotte Garrett, a teacher who spoke about children’s rights to a complete, accurate education. She said, “If a child is taught that five plus five equals whatever you feel it to be, you are destabilizing material reality; the very ground the child occupies.”
She also spoke about the female experience as an inherited birthright that goes “back and back and back.”
We then played a recording from Kathleen Lowrey, a University of Alberta anthropology professor who was punished for speaking out in defence of women’s rights, who encouraged us all to persevere, saying:
“Resistance to one mode of male aggression leads inexorably to other resistances. That’s why we face so much ferocious opposition for asserting common sense on gender identity ideology. But it’s also why we’re finding so many women swelling the ranks of feminist political action these days. They see what we see. They’re making the connections we’re making.”
Alline Cormier, WHRC Alberta coordinator, followed with a message in French, reiterating the message advocated in The Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights: that women and girls’ sex-based rights exist, are important, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls that result from replacing the category of “sex” with that of “gender identity” must be prevented.
The last speaker was Coach Linda Blade, who invoked the Famous Five in her call to courage:
“Like the Famous Five of old, we gather today in this new century to serve notice that we will not stop asking ‘why?’ until we reclaim our sex-based rights. Female persons of today, as well as future generations of Canadian women and girls, have the right to live in dignity and security.”
It is pivotal that we speak out loud about these issues, not just online, where powerful men can shut down our accounts, censor our content, or monitor what we’re saying in secret groups and private messages. We have to be able to talk about these things in public.
The feminist movement began because women talked to each other in person, and realized banding together and getting out in public to speak and fight could make a difference, and it will continue to grow the same way. We have to protect our free speech rights and our spaces. On June 13, we will be holding another rally — this time in Calgary, presented by organizations from across Canada, including Canadian Gender Report, LGB Alliance Canada, We The Females, Alberta Women’s Advocacy Association, Canadian Women’s Sex-Based Rights, Alberta Radical Feminists, and WHRC Alberta. The location and final list of speakers will be announced at a later date. I hope you can take the time to watch, be it online when it is live streamed to the ABRF and AWAA Facebook pages, or in person.
On May 2, I said:
“Today we stand in the footprints of the Canadian feminists who came before us, who demanded that we be acknowledged and protected on the basis of our sex, who fought tooth and nail for the rights that we have today, the same rights being undermined by a new cult-like religion that requires obedience and acceptance of medical experimentation without question and without complaint, under threat of social and professional alienation and blacklisting. We have to stop staying quiet, we have to stand up.”
Any woman who does is not alone. If you reach out, you will find someone. We’re here and there are so many of us. We aren’t the first women to do this and we won’t be the last.
Transcripts of all of the May 2 speeches are available on the AWAA website.
Raine McLeod is a project coordinator and editor based in Calgary and is president of Alberta Women’s Advocacy Association and the founder of Alberta Radical Feminists.
In this article which originally appeared on FeministCurrent, Megan Murphy is talking with two members of the Irish Women’s Lobby about their fight against the Gender Recognition Act and its consequences for Irish women.
By Megan Murphy
The Irish Women’s Lobby (IWD) launched on March 8, 2021. I interviewed three members of the group recently about their goals and the particular issues they are dealing with in Ireland.
Meghan Murphy: What is the purpose of the Irish Women’s Lobby? What are your main aims and fights?
IWL: Well I guess the first thing we’d say is that, as Irish women, we’re in a very peculiar and disturbing time in Irish history. We are living in an environment and time where not only are our rights being eroded in Irish legislation, but the erosion of our rights is being championed as progress by people who should know better — among them some who are well paid to know better. There’s nothing unique about our situation, we see this being rolled out all across the Western world, but it is significantly more advanced in Ireland than in many other nations, and we have the “self-ID” [this is shorthand for this kind of legislation, allowing essentially anyone to self-identify as the opposite sex, easily] aspect of the Irish 2015 Gender Recognition Act to thank for that.
We set up the Irish Women’s Lobby (IWL) in response to this and other situations women are currently facing here. Ireland has become an increasingly hostile environment for any woman raising her voice in defense of her own sex-based rights, and this has been increasing year after year since 2015, but at this point we have reached a ludicrous level. Our predicament might have some comedic value if it weren’t so likely to cost some women their lives. This is because the situation here has advanced to the point where male sex offenders are now being incarcerated in female prisons.
The problem here is that Ireland passed the Gender Recognition Act in a form which allows legal “gender” changes without any requirement for medical intervention or evaluation. This was introduced with virtually no discussion and certainly no real investigation into possible negative repercussions. The enactment of this legislation has created a scenario where trans-identifying males can gain access to any spaces or services designated for females, with zero safeguarding. Alongside the legislation there has been relentless campaigning from “social justice” activists, propagating an environment where feminists are unable to voice their concerns without fear of retaliation.
Reflecting the power of the lobby, the takeover of the policy-making arena and NGOs in Ireland is extensive, and of course it is women who are targeted. The Irish Health Service removed all mention of “woman” and “women” from an ad campaign to prevent Cervical Cancer, apparently in an effort to be “inclusive.” Following protest spearheaded by Radicailín, a radical feminist group made up of Irish and migrant women, the ad was updated, but it still uses “woman” only once, and “people” five times (“women” doesn’t appear at all). Meanwhile, in Ireland, unlike with cervical cancer, prostate cancer remains a men-only disease, and has not magically become “gender-neutral” in an effort to be “inclusive.”
The public, for the most part, are largely unaware that the Gender Recognition Act is in place, nor do they understand the level of threat it carries for women and girls. The IWL is attempting to raise these and other issues, and create room for discussion across the public narrative. We are, of course, bullied and abused for it in a multitude of ways, as feminists are and always have been.
Our first and most urgent aim is to provide media and political representation for women in Ireland. This is because the National Women’s Council of Ireland is actively working against women’s rights. They — along with Amnesty International, Trans Equality Network Ireland, and other well-funded NGOs — signed a petition calling for the removal of “legitimate representation” from women like ourselves and others who “defend biology.” In a situation where we have the National Women’s Council of Ireland and Amnesty International demanding that any Irish woman (or man for that matter) who speaks out against the damaging and harmful effects of the 2015 Gender Recognition Act be denied media and political representation, we had no choice but to insist on our democratic right to that representation. When that letter was signed by those groups, and the National Women’s Council of Ireland in particular, we knew that as Irish women we had no choice but speak out in defiance of those who signed on to a call to silence Irish women in the public sphere. We feel the facts here speak for themselves; it should be plainly apparent that the signatories to that letter acted in a manner that was aggressive, disturbing, and blatantly totalitarian.
MM: How does the Irish women’s movement differ from the women’s movement in other parts of Europe and North America?
IWL: The women’s movement here differs in all sorts of ways, one unfortunate manifestation being the number of women who declare themselves feminists while undermining or outright aggressing against women’s sex-based rights. You’d have to despair for a feminism that doesn’t recognize its own purpose. All of this is of course heavily underpinned by social class, as is everything in Ireland. You could say class is to Ireland what race is to the United States – of course they’re not the same thing, but there are some startling parallels. In Ireland, class is the great unmentionable — you’re not supposed to talk about that. The problem is deeply rooted in our history of British colonialism, and has persisted for centuries.
Every part of the West will have its own regional issues. For us, a shift towards the left was socially necessary in order to counterbalance a national narrative that had leaned too heavily towards religious and social conservatism for too long, but we are knee-deep in neoliberal nonsense now. Some parts of the Western World have issues with the political narrative going too far right. We have the opposite problem: we’ve gone too far left — but like so many other places, it’s a “left” that has abandoned a class analysis, and with it, the working classes, both female and male. Ireland’s woke brigade have got drunk on their own Kool-Aid, but we’ve all got to share the hangover.
MM: What is the situation with prostitution currently?
IWL: The vast majority of women in Irish prostitution — about 95 per cent — are migrant women, predominantly from the poorer countries of Eastern Europe but also from Nigeria, Brazil, and parts of Asia. The percentages will fluctuate, but foreign women in the Irish sex trade always figure somewhere at 90+ per cent. That’s been the situation for years; it’s very sad. It’s also very sickening to see the Soros funded pro-prostitution lobbyists relentlessly campaign to decriminalize pimps in Ireland. Migrant women are generally paid a pittance once their pimp takes their cut, and the push to decriminalize their pimps comes from women who charge 300 and 400 euros an hour in escort prostitution and are salaried to press for the full decriminalization of the Irish sex trade on top of that. They’re in no way representative of the women who would suffer most if they got their way in decriminalizing the pimps of the Irish sex trade.
It is now illegal to purchase the body of a woman (or anyone) for sexual use in Ireland, but male habits of sexual entitlement die hard, and we would say there are not nearly enough convictions, though there have been some. There are numerous problems in this area, including that some organizations and individuals who speak out against prostitution use apolitical language, like “sex work” and “the sex buyers’ law” etc. This kind of framing argues against itself: you cannot say that prostitution is inherently violent while simultaneously framing it as employment, and you cannot say that what men purchase in prostitution is sexual access to women’s bodies while at the same time referring to them as “sex buyers.” The international abolitionist movement and the survivor’s movement in particular has very strong ties to Ireland. That movement has a language all of its own, much of it framed by survivors. It’s a pity more Irish campaigners didn’t take the time to learn it.
MM: Can you explain the issue around language a little further? What is preferable?
IWL: Terms like “sex work”, “sex buyers’ law,” and “the Equality Model” are never used here — not by anyone political, strategical, or experienced. Irish abolitionist activists say “prostitution” to refer to prostitution, “punters” to refer to johns, and “the Abolitionist Model” or “the Nordic Model” to refer to abolitionist legal frameworks. Survivors who spent a decade fighting for the Nordic Model now have to listen to the corporate reframing of “the Equality Model,” which may work well elsewhere in the world, but that’s not what Irish women fought for. This language was imposed on Irish sex-trade survivors by corporate feminists who never took the time to ask. You’d be interested to know what they’re thinking, except they’re not thinking. Feminist organizations that ignore survivor groups in their anti sex-trade campaign planning are not thinking at all.
MM: Is anything else of note happening with gender identity legislation and ideology in Ireland?
IWL: In 2007, the Irish High Court found that Ireland was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights as it did not have a process to legally recognize the “acquired gender” of transsexual persons. In 2011, a Government Gender Recognition Advisory Group after broad consultation recommended medical gatekeeping, and living full-time for a two-year period in the “changed gender” prior to receiving a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). The subsequent Gender Recognition Bill published in December 2014 required medical evaluation and certification.
However, following lobbying and subterfuge, the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) that was passed in 2015 had no such requirements, or any gatekeeping whatsoever. In fact, the GRA allows any person to download and fill in an A4 form, have it notarized, making them, for all intents and purposes, legally the “opposite” sex.
The lack of any gatekeeping whatsoever means that any man — be he a rapist, a pedophile, a voyeur, or any type of sexual pervert — can obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) that allows him to access all areas dedicated for women. That includes: hospital wards, changing rooms, prisons, domestic violence refuges, clinics treating victims of sexual assault, changing facilities etc. There are literally no limits. What’s more, “sex” is not a specific “protected characteristic” under Irish Equality legislation — “gender” is, rendering any defence of women’s right to single-sex facilities even weaker.
Because of self-ID, any violent male sex offender can legally identify as a woman, and demand to be imprisoned with vulnerable women in Ireland. This has already happened. One man charged with ten counts of sex offences was taken directly from the courthouse to the women’s estate in Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison. Another violent young man — whose court report states that the expert from the Tavistock gender clinic did not believe he had gender dysphoria — was allowed to obtain a GRC while in state care as a violent offender, and has been housed in Limerick Women’s Prison. His own mother had to move cross country to a secret location to escape him, such was the seriousness of his homicidal intentions, which are wholly transfixed on women. The Irish public, however, were fed a story in the mainstream press about “Ireland’s Homicidal Girl.” Needless to say, the safety, health, and welfare of the imprisoned women — most of whom, if not all, are victims of sexual and violent abuse — are completely disregarded. Ireland’s terrible history of abusing incarcerated women is being perpetuated, but this time in the name of the “new religion” rather than the old.
MM: The IWL has an upcoming online event, on April 29, called “Speak Up For Free Speech.” Can you tell me about that event and why you felt it was important to organize something specifically addressing free speech?
IWL: The issue of free speech has become very urgent, both here in Ireland and across the Global North as legislation is being drafted and enacted to expand “hate crimes” to include “hate speech.” Wherever this legislation is enacted, it curtails our right to free expression in harmful and dangerous ways. Women face the prospect of being accused of a hate crime for stating biological facts, or even “misgendering.” If this bill passes, the National Women’s Council of Ireland and Amnesty International won’t need to sign a petition demanding our right to political and media representation be removed, because those of us who “defend biology” will already be silenced by law.
Of the many pressing issues facing women and girls, the issue of free speech is absolutely crucial — if we are not allowed to say that women have the right to single-sex spaces, how the hell can we defend our right to those spaces?
We think the timing of this webinar is absolutely perfect — we are hosting Iseult White, who will be discussing free speech and cancel culture here in Ireland; Lisa Mackenzie, who will be talking about the Scottish experience, and of course we are really looking forward to hearing from you about what women across North America have been dealing with too.