Hyperbole Waives The Rules
12 March 2023
Towards the end of March, Kellie-Jae Keen, aka Posie Parker, will be visiting NZ with her Let Women Speak roadshow. On cue, some members of the Green Party have called on the government to ban her, either from entry to NZ, or from speaking in public. They claim what she has to say is “hate speech”, and she’s depicted as a fascist, a white supremacist, and a transphobe.
This is yet more of the sort of hyperbolic rhetoric that has helped Keen become way more influential than she perhaps deserves to be. The issue of free speech to one side, to ban her from entering NZ or from speaking here would make her a martyr, and add more fuel to an already destructive blaze.
I find it hard to comprehend how any person who claims to be on the left, and especially those who lay claim to being Marxist, can fall into line with the metaphysics of gender identity ideology, and fail to grasp why so many women are angry about it.
I have no patience with those political infants who hurl the terms fascist, nazi, and white supremacist etc at anyone who deviates from complete affirmation of the current gender identity ideology. My irritation is increased by their failure to grasp that by so doing, they’re helping to strip all the political meaning out of the concepts.
Perched on top of what they declare to be the moral and political high ground, the more zealous of the trans rights activists have lost sight of the fact that for the vast majority of people, there being two sexes – female and male – is a foundational given.
It’s among the most ancient of beliefs, supported both by modern science (1) and by a multiplicity of religious and political ideologies. It runs so deep, and crosses so many social and cultural boundaries, that to hack away at it root and crown was always going to generate the mother and father of all backlashes.
Most people happily accept that gender is all the socially constructed stuff we wrap around the biological reality of dimorphic sex – and in its extreme forms, gender harms a lot of people in obvious and subtle ways.
Some of that harm manifests in forms of behaviour that hurt others, and given the role gender has played in creating and propping up patriarchy, those harmful behaviours are mostly perpetrated by men against women and children.
Woman: Adult Human Female
Turning the dictionary definition of “woman” into a slogan, and that slogan and her personal styling into a brand, Keen has struck a chord with a lot of women who are not au fait or comfortable with academic or political settings and debates.
Most of those women are also very angry at what they perceive to be yet more misogynistic silencing of their views, and denial of their concerns. The more they are insulted, marginalised, and silenced, the angrier they will get. If they believe that those who are doing the insulting, marginalising, and silencing are left wing, they may be more inclined to move rightward – on this issue at least.
Also, as the rhetoric around these issues becomes more inflamed, a lot of people are likely to get more anxious, and anxious people often seek security and certainty by following a leader who presents frightening and complex issues in simple and absolutist terms.
This phenomenon is not confined to Keen and her followers.
A Cult of Personality
Keen’s strategy is to present herself as the common sense, straight-talking representative, and defender of the rights of “ordinary” women.
Standing for Women, the group she founded, is wholly centred on her; it has become a literal cult of personality. Take her out of the equation and SFW would certainly falter and possibly fold. Even though there are women working closely with her and to whom she owes a great deal, the camera and spotlight are solely on her and her personal brand. Handing a microphone to some of women who attend her open-mic events is actually just more showcasing of her as the “voice of everywoman”.
Whilst I’m wary of overly competitive people and political opportunists, and even more so of cults of personality, I understand why Keen has become so popular with some women. She’s charismatic, straight talking and a clever marketer both of easy to grasp ideas in the form of slogans, and merchandise.
I was prepared to accept she was genuine in her belief that transgenderism – as the most spectacularly showy pony in the identity politics stable – is the single most important issue facing women and children. I was amused by the way she used the transactivists’ tactics of hyperbole and sloganeering, back against them.
My tolerance ended when, as she drifted rightward, she and her followers became more and more overtly critical of the large number of staunch left wing feminists whose track records, in terms both of practical work and theoretical inputs, are way more long standing and impressive than her single issue focus and relatively recent entry into political activity.
Labelling socialist feminists as “left-purist” or deriding them as “ivory tower academics”, as some of her supporters have done on social media, is doing the patriarchal right’s work for it.
I’m not saying Keen is solely responsible for this damaging schism but that’s the thing with cults of personality, you get all the glory but you also get to cop all the blame.
I can’t say for certain if she is any of the things her detractors claim, but she has made public statements that were seen by many people on the broad left as ill-advised at best, and racist/Islamophobic at worst.
She has refused to distance herself from far right coat-tailers of her group and events. Her political position, certainly her public rhetoric, has hardened over the years, and is likely to get harder still if she moves any further to the right.
Just as trans lobbyists and allies have been happy to deploy exaggeration and hyperbolic rhetoric to paint a picture of trans people as the most marginalised and oppressed of all minorities, Keen is also prone to overstatement and pulls in a range of wider issues to paint the picture of “trans-identified males” as the group of men most dangerous to women and children.
Keen also uses the dog whistle of paedophile and groomer to aid fuel to the concerns of social conservatives and worried parents, and she may not intend it, but the ugly old link between gay men and child sex abuse can be read between the lines of her script, and in some of her followers’ reactions to such phenomena as “drag queen story hour”.
She and some of her supporters might actually be transphobic, especially in respect of anyone covered by Ray Blanchard’s typification of “autogynephilia”, or they have become so as a result of the intransigence and irritatingly smug self-righteousness of their opposition. If they are, the label of transphobe has been so stripped of political and critical glue through over-use, it no longer sticks even where it needs to.
Keen is on record as saying she’d “side with the devil” if it would protect women’s sex based rights. What she means is, she will organise with, and accept sponsorship from the religious and secular far right if it helps to get rid of gender self ID. She might even go as far as Daily Wire commentator, Michael Knowles, speaking at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, (2) in seeing the endgame as “banning transgenderism from public life” altogether.
I suspect Keen is fully aware of the many trade-offs there are for gaining the support of the religious right given she has said that the protection of children from paediatric transition is so important it would be worth giving up abortion rights to achieve it.
Given there are a number of clear and present dangers posed to women’s formal and informal rights by the religious and the secular far right, either Keen and her supporters don’t see the threat, they don’t care about it, they think it’s of a lesser order of threat than transgenderism, or they think they’ll be able to deal with the threat once the enemy has been defeated.
Or perhaps they just aren’t thinking that far ahead.
- To those who would so argue, the existence of DSDs and chimerism is not proof that human reproduction is anything other than dimorphic.
- Her current tour is sponsored by the American Conservative Union which organises the CPACs in the US and elsewhere.
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Fleshed out version of my thinking! Thanks
For a while I noticed a thread of GCs in my Twitter who were horrified by effeminate men, were super mean to detransitioners as if they could never be washed of their trans sins…
I started calling them out, and started a private list of “nasty GCs” … to my unscientific view they seemed to fall into the PP camp: heterosexual women who’ve never had broad experience of GNC men & women (aka gays and lesbians). These types hyper focus on autogynaphilia, ignor the issue it TransID females, and complain of any man wears makeup.
I am a lesbian, definitely GNC, and a supporter of KJKs Let Women Speak initiative. I haven’t met any people who are gender critical and who fit the description you have given of ‘nasty gcs’. Anyone who doesn’t accept GNC people is not GC. The very foundation of GC thought is that anyone should be able to present however they feel most comfortable. But presentation does not change sex. Having said that, nasty people are everywhere. In every movement. They don’t define the movements they belong to, only themselves.
LWS is non partisan. Any woman who wants to can get up and speak, regardless of her views, including supporters of gender identity ideology.
Of course, any opposition to the invasion of women’s spaces and will focus on the men who are doing this. TransID females, while a result of the same ideology, are not the same threat to women. Addressing them requires a different focus.
And indeed the nasty people are everywhere and don’t represent us. But they are among us – ask some of the detrans folk who routinely have run ins with them.
I 💯 agree w your definition of GC.
It’s a reason I really baulk at the term “men in dresses” because there should be no shame in men being GNC. It is simply when they cross the line to claiming to be women.
I’ve seen a few women who claim to be GC attack harry stiles for wearing dresses even though he makes no claim to be a woman. We need to keep strongly supporting GNC so kids know that being GNC is fine and we support them.
When I was a young feminist in the 70s I thought gender would be less important than it was then, we’d discover that were all human beings and support each other and of course women would be equal, whoever they chose to love. Certainly didn’t see this current situation in any shape or form!
Although I am a supporter of trans rights, I was heartened to read your disavowal of Posie Parker’s association with white supremacists, conservative Christian anti-abortionists and their ilk. It’s good to see that some gender-critical feminists are willing to say enough is enough and object firmly to disgraceful fascist displays akin to the ones we’ve witnessed throughout Parker’s visit to Australia. And for the record, I strongly support the excellent work radical feminists do in the context of rape prevention and incest survivors work, so we’re not as far apart on other issues of importance to you as you might think.
Thanks: but most GC women do NOT support CPAC. Our movement comes from the left not the right
Sure the right who can’t cope with gender nonconformity or homosexuality share common concern for child transition, and suddenly are waving womens rights banners 🤪 (whatever!!), but they also share our view that the earth is round and the sky is blue. Common Ground doesn’t make us nazis.
Regarding the actual nazi’s who showed up in Auckland to hijack and disrupt #LetWomenSpeak… linking them to KJK is a travesty. Reporters clearly saw police move them nearer to #LetWomenSpeak even thou they didn’t have a permit to protest.
Please watch this guy who independently observed the entire event.