Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Good riddance 2019, the year of the woke police

DOUGLAS MURRAY asks if Boris Johnson's resounding triumph proves the tide is finally turning on extreme political correctness

This was the year of ‘woke’. Or at least the year that ‘woke’ made its biggest land grab. For anyone lucky enough not to have encountered the term, woke is essentially political correctness after a course of steroids. Its followers spend their lives punishing any wrong-think committed, which can include thinking something everyone thought until yesterday. And includes saying things that are true.

The main inspirations for the wokerati are anything to do with relations between the sexes, race, LGBT issues, and the last of these (Trans) in particular. In each case a legitimate rights debate is weaponised into a culture war.

This year started in the manner in which it meant to go on. In January, former policeman Harry Miller was contacted by Humberside Police after a member of the public reported him for allegedly ‘transphobic’ comments made on Twitter. His offence? The 53-year-old posted a limerick that questioned whether trans women are biological women. The police recorded it as a ‘hate incident’.

Meanwhile, Gillette, which had previously advertised razors under the slogan ‘The best a man can get’, decided men were the problem. In a fresh advertising campaign the company focused on ‘toxic masculinity’. They depicted men as bullying, boorish sexual abusers in the advert with a voice-over saying: ‘Bullying, the MeToo movement against sexual harassment, toxic masculinity, is this the best a man can get?’

Explaining their decision, the company said the advert was part of their broader initiative to promote ‘positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man’.

In other words, Gillette’s millions of customers had seemingly let Gillette down so far, and needed to do better.

In February, the world woke to the news that Hollywood actor Jussie Smollett, who is black and gay, had been the subject of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago. The woke had a perfect new martyr.

Fellow celebrities blamed Donald Trump for the attack which turned out to have involved two men who were known to Smollett and appeared to have been paid by him to fake a ‘hate incident’. The culprits were Nigerian body-builders, making them the least likely white supremacists seen in Chicago or elsewhere.

In March, Cambridge University summarily stripped the Canadian academic and internationally best-selling author Jordan Peterson of a visiting lectureship. The reason given was that, at a post-show meet-and-greet, one of Peterson’s thousands of fans was photographed wearing an ‘Islamophobic’ T-shirt.

Elsewhere, the university fired a young researcher because a mob of student activists claimed the researcher’s work was ‘racist’ (it wasn’t). And one of the universities grandest colleges removed a bell when it was discovered it could once have been rung on a slave plantation. For it is 2019 and even the bells have to be in tune with the times.

Dame Edna Everage may be one of the most famous comic creations of our time, but in April the Melbourne International Comedy Festival announced the ‘Barry Humphries Award’ was being renamed. Dame Edna’s creator had recently described Trans issues as ‘a fashion’ and called Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner a ‘publicity seeking rat-bag’. So Australia tried to ‘erase’ its most famous comedian.

In May in Britain it was the turn of John Cleese to be a target of the wokerati after comments he made in 2011 resurfaced.

He had remarked in an interview eight years prior that he thought London was ‘no longer an English city’. He tweeted that such a view was now shared by his friends abroad and ‘so there must be some truth in it.’

In a strikingly unfunny intervention, Sadiq Khan got involved. ‘These comments make John Cleese sound like he’s in character as Basil Fawlty,’ the London Mayor said. ‘Londoners know that our diversity is our greatest strength.’

As every school child ought to know, June is compulsory Pride Month. In recent years the day has become a week, a month and perhaps at some point soon could become an all-year-round event. Banks and businesses fall over each other to join in.

Barclays, among other high-street banks, festooned its branches in rainbow flags for the month. While Marks & Spencer tried to go one better by creating an ‘LGBT sandwich’ (lettuce, guacamole, bacon and tomato) that was on sale for the month. Because it is very important to show your woke solidarity by eating a sandwich which, while horrible, at least signals all the correct opinions.

After all, holding the wrong opinions carries a cost.

In the same month, an ASDA worker was fired for sharing a video of Billy Connolly. While Scotland’s funniest comedian is allowed to make a joke about suicide bombers, it appeared that supermarket workers were not.

A primary obsession of woke ideology is ‘unconscious bias’ (we are all racist, sexist and homophobic whether we know it or not). Denying you are is merely more proof that you are. And in July, it was the Royal Family’s turn to tell us all about this bias when the Duchess of Sussex guest-edited Vogue magazine. Indeed, Prince Harry used the platform to talk about ‘unconscious bias’ and announced he and his wife would limit themselves to having only two children because of climate change. Though when it comes to the issue of privilege (another woke obsession), Harry and Meghan remained strangely quiet.

Come August and Goldsmiths University announced that it was banning beef. Because of climate change, none of the university’s cafes would serve it. Meanwhile, in America, there was a flurry of concern when the New York Metropolitan Opera house announced that it was planning a new staging of Porgy And Bess. While previous generations had praised Gershwin’s masterpiece, it was now accused of ‘cultural appropriation’ because Gershwin was writing about black characters while being guilty of being white.

In September, The Guardian newspaper decided to play the ‘privilege’ game in an editorial about David Cameron, whose memoirs had just come out. The former PM may have felt some pain in his life, the paper conceded, but this was only ‘privileged pain’. That is where woke ideology gets you. Weighing up the pros, cons, benefits and privileges of a father losing his severely disabled eldest child at the age of six.

The new term started as it meant to go on. The pop singer Sam Smith, who had previously come out as gay and ‘genderqueer’ announced he was now ‘non-binary’. He insisted that all future references to him should use the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’ instead of ‘he’. With an online mob trying to whip everyone into line, the BBC, among others, immediately obeyed. Presumably from now on Smith will be nominated in awards ceremonies for ‘Best Group’.

Naturally the pandering politicians wanted in on this. At the PinkNews Awards in October, the Labour Party’s leader announced himself on stage thus: ‘My name is Jeremy Corbyn, pronouns he/him.’ As though he was likely to say ‘she/her’ or ‘a/dolt’. The gay press oozed sycophantic admiration. Everybody else rolled their eyes in bemusement. But other politicians worried about getting behind the times. That same month the then-Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson criticised the six men she claimed were conspiring to carry out Brexit. Summoning up her most derogatory insults, she called them ‘Six white men stuck in the past, conspiring to wreck our future’.

For, in 2019, both ‘men’ and ‘white’ had become acceptable terms of insult. A month later the electorate got a chance to express its opinion about what we used to call a ‘useless woman’.

By November Barack Obama had joined the voices starting to worry about where all this might be leading. ‘I get a sense among certain young people on social media that the way of making change is to be as judgemental as possible about other people,’ he said. He went on to explain why this wasn’t a good way to live. ‘The world is messy.’ The woke brigade were furious and America’s first black President was criticised for being a ‘boomer’ – that is, for getting old.

But interventions like his do achieve something. As did the Conservative win in our General Election earlier this month. It shows there is a backlash and that people are fed up with being ordered what to think.

That feeling is something Prime Minister Boris Johnson well understands. Not least because the would-be censors have come for him so many times, pretending he has said things he has not said and mercilessly misrepresenting things he has said. The fact the country gave him and his party such a resounding mandate on December 12 is some sign the tide might be turning, in this country at least. The Conservative Party has repeatedly suggested that it will take issues of academic freedom and police over-reach seriously.

But if there is a lot of work to do at the level of government, there is even more to do in the wider culture, to push back at these cultural Marxists.

Earlier this month Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling was the target of an international campaign after she defended a woman’s right to say that biological sex exists. And on Christmas Eve, after the new governor of the Bank of England was announced, the BBC ran the headline ‘Why didn’t the Bank of England appoint a woman?’

Madness like this is why, in 2020, alongside comedian Andrew Doyle, I am doing a tour of the UK called Resisting Wokeness. Our aim is to inject a bit of sanity, as well as fun, into an increasingly dark and divisive ideology.

This dementing game has to be undone. Men and women have to be allowed to get along. People of different races should be brought together, not driven apart. And gay people should be seen to be like everyone else, not as some mad, avenging, authoritarian furies.

Through May and June we’ll be in 11 cities up and down the country. Unless we all get cancelled beforehand, I look forward to seeing you there.


An Agenda That Corrupts Our Social Norms

Walter E. Williams

Here are several questions for biologists and medical professionals:

At all levels, governments ignore biology and permit people to make their sex optional on a birth certificate, Social Security card, or driver’s license.

If a person is found to have XY chromosomes (heterogametic sex), does a designation as female on his birth certificate, driver’s license, or Social Security card override the chromosomal evidence?

Similarly, if a person is found to have XX chromosomes (homogametic), does a designation as male on her birth certificate, driver’s license, or Social Security card override the chromosomal evidence?

If you were a medical professional, would you consider it malpractice for an obstetrics/gynecology medical specialist not to order routine Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer for a patient who identifies as a female but has XY chromosomes?

If you were a judge, would you sentence a criminal, who identifies as a female but has XY chromosomes, to a women’s prison? One judge just might do so.

Judge William Pryor of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit focused on a Florida school district ruling that a transgender “boy,” a person with XX chromosomes, could not be barred from the boys’ restroom. Pryor suggested students shouldn’t be separated by gender at all.

Fear may explain why biologists in academia do not speak out to say that one’s sex is not optional. Since the LGBTQ community is a political force on many college campuses, biologists probably fear retaliation from diversity-blinded administrators.

It’s not just academics and judges who now see sex as optional.

Federal, state, and local governments are ignoring biology and permitting people to make their sex optional on a birth certificate, passport, Social Security card, and driver’s license. In New York City, intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun, or title is a violation of the city’s human rights law.

If I said that my preferred title was “Your Majesty,” I wonder whether the New York City Commission on Human Rights would prosecute people who repeatedly refused to use my preferred title.

One transgender LGBTQ activist filed a total of 16 complaints against female estheticians with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal after they refused to wax his male genitals. He sought financial restitution totaling at least $32,500. One woman was forced to close her shop.

Fortunately, the activist’s case was thrown out by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, and he was instructed to pay $2,000 each to three of the women he attacked. The LGBTQ activist is not giving up. He is now threatening to sue gynecologists who will not accept him as a patient.

In 2012, an evangelical Christian baker in Colorado was threatened with jail time for refusing to bake a custom wedding cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony. When Christian bakery owner Jack Phillips won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case with a 7-2 decision in June 2018 over his refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple based on his religious convictions, he thought his legal battles with the state of Colorado were over.

But now Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, faces a new court fight. This fight involves a lawyer who asked him to bake a cake to celebrate the anniversary of her gender transition. There are probably many bakery shops in and around Lakewood, Colorado, that would be happy to bake a cake for homosexuals; they are simply targeting Phillips.

For those in the LGBTQ community, and elsewhere, who support such attacks, we might ask them whether they would seek prosecution of the owner of a Jewish delicatessen who refused to provide catering services for a neo-Nazi affair.

Should a black catering company be forced to cater a Ku Klux Klan affair? Should the NAACP be forced to open its membership to racist skinheads and neo-Nazis? Should the Congressional Black Caucus be forced to open its membership to white members of Congress?

If you’re a liberty-minded American, your answers should be no.


Australia's charming African refugees again

Their way of thanking us for giving them refuge

Beloved grandfather, 50, left brain-dead with just hours to live after being 'stomped on and beaten with baseball bats' by gang of 10-15 youths outside his home after Christmas Day with his family

Brother-in-law said gang of 10-15 'African guys' set upon the family in the street

A 50-year-old grandfather who was allegedly bashed with baseball bats outside his home in a Christmas Day dispute with neighbours will have his life support switched off.

Anthony Clark, 50, was allegedly 'thrown around like a rag doll', stomped on and hit with bats in the street outside his home at Moorolbark in Melbourne's outer eastern suburbs shortly before 11pm.

His wife was also knocked out in their driveway and Mr Clark's stepdaughter Jessikah Clark said he was 'pretty much gone'.

'My daughter's lost her everything now. She just wants her poppy to come home and he's never going to come home,' Ms Clark told Nine News.

'My mum is worried about everyone and is just lying there with him praying. But he's pretty much gone that's it.'

'We have lost the best man in our whole lives,' Ms Clarke told the Herald Sun.

'No-one should have to die on Christmas Day just for looking after his wife and kids.'

The man's family was scheduled to arrive from Ireland and Canada on Sunday after which Mr Clarke's life support will be switched off.

The violence began as the family were saying their farewells on the street and fireworks were let off, causing a dog to bark and the owners to get angry, Jessikah Clark said.

The family said a gang of youths with weapons, including bats and metal bars, were involved in the attack.

Ms Clark also claimed there were about '15 men' that set up on them she and her mother were hit.

'They had bats...they smashed my car and they threw mum around like a rag doll.'

Mr Clark was allegedly confronted by a large group of men during the massive brawl.

His wife and 25-year-old stepdaughter were also allegedly attacked, his brother-in-law Mark told 3AW.

'He's a gentle giant, and he was brutally, and I mean, savagely, attacked,' he said.

'A whole gang of African guys, ranging from teenage to mid-20s, approximately 10-15 of them with cars and baseball bats, attacked him, knocked my sister out.'

Mark said he believed his brother-in-law was trying to shield his baby during the brutal attack.

'They knocked my sister out, and had my niece - from what I understand - by the hair,' he told 3AW.

The man was repeatedly bashed in the head and was taken to hospital in a critical condition and placed in intensive care.

The family said there was no hope of recovery and his life-support will be turned off.

His wife suffered minor injuries and has been by his side at the hospital ever since.

An 18-year-old man was arrested but was later released.


A whole generation of women is being led to believe that parenting and having a career is doable when it patently is not

By Christine Armstrong

My friend had called at 7.40am to say she couldn’t cope. “I got up at 3.30am, my mind was on fire, I couldn’t stop ­worrying, so I got out of bed and cleared my email backlog for the first time in months. Then the kids got up and I chased and shouted to get them ready and now I’m charging into a long day of meetings that run into each other and I feel like I never see my kids and I never get through the work and when I get home tonight my email will be full of more stuff I need to do. I’m at full capacity. Beyond full capacity. I can’t do anything more than I do. And yet people keep telling me I should do yoga. Of course I should bloody do yoga. But when? Oh God, when will this end, what do I do?” She had just dropped her kids at childcare and was walking (“Got to get some steps in”) to the station to get the train to her sales job in town.

If history is told by the winning men, I worry that the story of equality at work is too often being told by the winning women, the ones with the board seats and big pay packets, most notably Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, whose 2013 book advised ambitious women to Lean In. Sometimes they have a nanny or an at-home husband. Either way, they are the exceptions. I remember reading an interview with British ­politician and sporting executive Karren Brady in which she said she split her time between her kids in the country and her job in town, and that it worked really well for her. Which I’m sure it did; it just didn’t much help me — or my friend in sales, who has a full-time ­working husband and is currently confronting the bitter reality that ­modern working life doesn’t combine well at all with having a family.

This mother doesn’t have her sights on a board-level job and is just working to pay the bills. She says her children are “the love and light” of her life and yet sometimes she feels they don’t even respond to her because she’s away from them too much and is ready to cry with tiredness when she finally gets home.

When I was working full-time with two small children, I too tried hard to make it work, but couldn’t. There were some memorable lows. Like a work trip to America when my breast pump broke and, after seeking help from the concierge, I had to take a taxi in the middle of the night to buy a new one, before spending the dawn hours crying and pumping milk down the drain of the hotel shower. Feeling desolate, I started to seek advice. I read a lot and went to talks and events about what women need to do to “get ahead”. High-profile female business leaders spoke at many of these. They inspired. But very often I found that the advice boiled down to “you have to work really hard, get great childcare and be super-well-organised”. This all made sense, but didn’t seem to help.

‘It’s a story being told by the winning women, the ones with the board seats and big pay packets’

Some of these superwomen talked about ­“flexibility”. It took me a while to realise that what they often meant was the flexibility to leave at the end of their contracted hours to pick up, feed and bathe their kids before working online again later to catch up. One ­mum-of-three, describing this in practical terms, told me: “I start eating my dinner and catching up on work at 10pm, just as everyone else is going to bed. It’s completely normal for me to finish at 1am or later.” The underlying message seemed to be that modern jobs are fine — as long as you’re willing to work all the waking and non-waking hours of the day.

Which means that it mostly doesn’t work well. Not only does it not work, it’s getting worse. Twenty years ago, the average working day was about seven hours and many mothers didn’t have a job outside the home. In the years since, the working day has grown by an average of about two hours and a million more mums have jobs. This is partly because house prices have soared in that time. Most households now need to have two parents out of the house working for long periods of the day. But, in that time, the needs of our ­children and the structure of childcare and the school day haven’t changed at all — as every parent of a school-age child discovers when there are weeks of the summer holidays still left to go, their own leave is used up, their finances are spent and the kids are going bananas with the need for involvement and undivided attention.

We’ve all got so used to accepting that it has to be this way that we keep at it. But my mum and my mother-in-law seemed so perplexed by my experience that I started to ask their friends and women of previous generations about their ­experiences, so I could shed some light on how we got here, trying to be superhuman and feeling like we’re failing ourselves and our kids.

I found that women in their 50s and 60s are often highly conscious of how working life has changed for the worse. There was a time, they explain, when you left work — probably frantic — at about 5pm and went home to your kids. But then came the laptops, mobiles and BlackBerrys that mean you still leave work frantic at about the same time, but then are expected to answer a call later or edit a document. Now, even when we are home, we aren’t really able to be present with our children and partners. Now, all over the country, we have parents wrestling their kids away from TVs and iPads to get them into bed without for one second letting go of their own mobile phones as they continue to field messages from work or dial into a conference call hoping no one can hear the kids splashing in the bath.

I realised we needed better answers to these questions one night when I met a friend in a pub. Between us, we had four children under three and two full-time jobs and, as the wine flowed, we let rip about how hopeless we were. Our lives were shit. She was leaving work by the fire escape in the desperate hope of seeing her kids awake once a day without annoying her colleagues. I was crying before work because I didn’t want to go in. We felt remote from our kids and our partners. We both wondered how we’d screwed up so badly and become such disasters. But then we began to question whether the world of work was set up for both parents to be in it full-time. Maybe there was a different story to tell where, however hard you work, there are very tough choices along the way and just being well organised doesn’t fix it.

Hungry for better advice, I set out to find it myself. I began to interview women, and some men, who were managing to combine work and family life to see what they had found out. We had great conversations. As the interviews went on, though, I was increasingly niggled by gaps in the stories I was telling. I would, for example, interview a wonderful, witty, smart woman and she would tell me about her family’s life. She would describe some manageable challenges and how she was tackling them. But then there were the things they told me but begged me not to write up, like the woman who’d put on a vast amount of weight after giving birth and suffered terrible depression but didn’t want her colleagues to know. Other times, I was asked to tone down a light joke about their partner not doing their fair share of the household jobs, or an admission that sometimes they ended up screaming blue murder at their kids, or maybe to take out one too many references to needing a few glasses (or bottles) of wine to get through the week.

I would still finish the interviews thinking we had got somewhere. But then a week, a month, six months later, I might run into some of these women and something more complex might emerge. Perhaps she was no longer with “the rock” partner who made it all work. Or her boss was a bully. Or her daughter was anorexic. Or her son was struggling at school. Maybe she’d been signed off work with stress or depression. Or she expressed regret at not being around enough during her children’s early years. Others said they didn’t have time for many friends.

A psychologist explained to me that the couples who have spent years being in control of their decisions — living in a nice place, choosing everything they do — can find the shift to parenting especially hard. A nanny told me the mums she worries most about are those desperate to keep up appearances. It matters to them that they drive a decent car and that the house looks neat. But they are, she says, often also the parents who come through the door glued to their phones and wave hello before hiding somewhere to work more.

The airbrushing hit me hardest when I was asked to interview a senior woman onstage at a corporate event so she could inspire her colleagues with her progression. I called her in advance and we had a brilliant chat about some difficult “time vampire” bosses she’d had when her children were young and how she had to change jobs to escape them. We talked about the battle to find the right nanny in the early years — and the total crisis when the nanny left. We talked about the pressure her job put on her relationship. So far, so familiar. But on stage, fearful of being judged by the audience for being a bad or lazy mum or too negative, she said none of this. She sat up straight, smiled and told me a completely different story. All her bosses had been on side. She’d never had a nanny, let alone one upon whom she wholly depended to keep the household working. Her husband was her biggest supporter. I left the stage furious with myself for not cutting through it.

‘Many women think that if they can’t make it work, then they’re not trying hard enough. Or they are not good enough’

I started to wonder why this clean-up routine was happening. She, like many others, didn’t want to conceal these things one-to-one; she wanted the catharsis of talking about it. But in public she feared everyone would judge her harshly if she was honest. As my articles about work/life were published, I could see the judgment pouring in and realised her instincts were right. In response to one piece I wrote about a high-powered woman with four children who said that the nanny cooked the family dinner, someone commented: “She might be powerful, but she is no mother.” Ouch.

The limits on these public conversations create a big problem. Because if the only people heard talking about what it takes for women to rise to the top at work are extremely senior, and they feel constrained from telling the truth about the hard bits, then we end up with an airbrushed public story that suggests you simply have to put in the effort. A whole generation is being led to believe that all this is doable when it patently is not. The really negative effect of these big little lies is that so many other women conclude that if they can’t make it work, then they’re not trying hard enough. Or they are not good enough.

I realised that to tell the full story of working parents I would have to talk to people without identifying them so they didn’t have to hide the truth. So there was a chance we could share stories — of the winners, losers and everyone muddling through in between — and, through that, get some proper answers that might help the rest of us. Take a woman I interviewed. We’ll call her Jane because she lives in fear of you or anyone else finding out who she is. She has three children and works in marketing. She is someone who, by her own admission, built her career over the 15 years before kids by being “always on”. She would have appeared to be successful in an interview in which she was named, even if she admitted some challenges. But there is no way she would have told the real story.

The truth is that after her kids arrived, she just ploughed on as she had before, typing busily with a tiny baby on her lap. Her boss, she admitted, was a “bitch with no personal life” who bombarded her with messages 24/7, even on holiday. Every day, she churned with restless anxiety and was racked with guilt that she dedicated only a quarter of her waking hours to her kids and husband and her own needs, the rest of it being gobbled up by work. She wouldn’t have revealed that she self-medicated with three glasses of wine a night. Or that she and her husband rarely connected aside from worrying about paying for the house and kids. Or that she was hopelessly unfit. She definitely wouldn’t have revealed that one of her children was so badly bullied at school that she stopped turning up or that, even though she was the mother, Jane didn’t know there was a problem until the school called her in for a crisis meeting.

Jane’s working practices — which are seen as pretty normal in her business — eventually drove her to anxiety attacks and stress leave. On the advice of her doctor, she used an Out of Office email message for the first time in her life and spent weeks watching TV and reading to recover. Gradually she started to get help and connect with other women in similar situations. Initially shy of sharing her experiences, she was amazed to find so many others who related to what had ­happened to her. Now things are different. Jane would have liked to change roles, but felt under pressure to keep her salary, so instead she changed teams and works from home some of the time.

She is now very engaged with her kids’ lives. She has taken up triathlons to get fit and protect herself from the constant invasion of work. She’s happier, though still working on building a better connection with her husband, and admits that she slips back into her old ways and has to reset. She says she’s mostly fine because she has stopped conforming to what her working world expects of people. But she also says she won’t get promoted now, because she isn’t 100 per cent responsive as she puts her family before work some of the time.

She is far from alone. Another mother I spoke to, a PA to a CEO, had downshifted to working three days a week after having kids, but was still drawn back into being online the rest of the time. The stress of trying to serve her boss led her to shout at her kids and lose control because she was distracted even when she wasn’t officially at work. This culminated in a trip to the park with her sons where one ran off and hid in a tree and one insisted on doing a poo in the bushes. She chased them home raging and, mortified by her own behaviour, locked herself in the bathroom crying before realising changes had to be made.

Or take the various parents who tell me that they have taken their kids to childcare or school knowing full well that they are ill. One child had a broken finger, another mother knew her son had chickenpox. But because their workplaces were so rigid, they would take the kids to school, depending on the staff to call them at work later to insist they collect them. Despite the possible distress to the children, the ­contagion, the wrath of the childcare centre or school and the double journey, this is still often seen as preferable to not turning up for work at all “because the kids are ill” — which in far too many workplaces is seen as a lame excuse that diminishes the person who uttered it.

There are so many other stories. The mum who threw up before her daughter’s birthday party because she works full-time and doesn’t know the other parents, who make her really nervous. The mum who works in a demanding job while her partner is mostly at home, but finds he doesn’t clean up or cook dinner or ­manage the homework, so when she gets home she often ends up crying at the burden of ­getting it all done and the injustice of being responsible for everything.

Then there’s the mum who leaves work totally exhausted on a Friday night, and on the way home sees all the other mums in a wine bar ­having fun and has the sickening realisation that she has no friends. Or the woman in finance whose husband hands her their baby as she ­staggers through the door at the end of the day, not appreciating her commute, her stressful job or the fact that she brings in the money. Or the woman who doesn’t want to work because she longs to be a “proper mum”, but can’t afford it and cries every day as she leaves her kids. Or the mum whose friends are based around work, and who spent her maternity leave pushing the pram around in the hope of just seeing people because she was so lonely; she went back to work so soon, she later regretted not spending more time bonding with her baby.

Then there’s the young mum raging at the logistical difficulty of getting her kid to and from school and working an eight-hour day, who asks me to whom she should complain to get this sorted, her rage triggered by the realisation that everyone with kids who works has to find a ­solution for this. And the mum of a boy with ­special needs, pushed out of her old job, who asks: “What kind of a job will let me take him to all the appointments he needs during the week?” And the mum who pulled a wriggling live nit out of her hair during a client presentation and squashed it before continuing.

These accounts are not unusual. Yet the true nitty-gritty horror of making it work rarely features in debates about the pay gap, the number of women who leave work after having kids and the lack of women at board and CEO level. We never get to hear the stories that make people feel less alone and realise that the failure isn’t their own. It also means we don’t share solutions that might actually help. Whether that is about being more conscious about the hours we work, changing our relationship with work, turning off our phones, taking control of our finances or rebalancing roles with our partner. If anything is to shift, we have to start telling the truth.


Time issues have an impact on both parents, but there is a big difference. Critically, men largely escape the judgment mums seem to face. Which is not to suggest that many men feel any different in terms of wanting to spend more time at home. Many would like to work more sensible hours and resent feeling diminished if they say so in their professional environment. They feel under pressure to “provide”: some relish this and some resent it. Some feel their partners have more choices because it’s more socially acceptable for them to ask for part-time or flexible work or to change careers. Others feel trapped by responsibility for the family income. The point is, men don’t feel like winners in this either; they are just a bit more likely to escape the stressful judgments women face.

Research by cognitive scientist Dr Barbara W. Sarnecka and her colleagues at the University of California, reported in The New York Times, found that subjects in a study were much less judgmental of fathers who left their children briefly (say, in a car) while they did a task: “A father who is distracted by his interests and obligations in the adult world is being, well, a father; a mother who does the same is failing her children”. Expectations of fathers remain far lower than those of mothers. Partly because of that lack of judgment they also express less guilt.

It may also be partly down to how the different genders tend to behave at work. Dr Bill Mitchell, a London psychologist who has treated workplace stress disorder for three decades, says: “I tend to avoid gender generalisations, but, increasingly, my clinical work makes the difference between the sexes more obvious. Women are hard-wired to belong, to take responsibility for others, and men are more able to be self-protective.” Which means, he says, that when an unexpected family problem arises, men are more inclined to dodge it.

Whatever the differences between genders, the consequences for our children remain the same. We don’t have enough time for them. Why does this matter and what do we do? It matters because we have a lot of working parents who are struggling and feeling like failures and not enjoying their kids. We see the rise in children’s mental health issues, and more than one psychologist has told me that they really worry about the kids of professional parents who are always distracted.

To address that, we need to be more honest so we can take more control of our own working experiences. We need to be able to talk more about what does work and how to make it work within our own families. For some, the price of “always on” will be worth it, because they are driven and ambitious and have the systems in place to make it work. For others, stepping back a bit at key points will make all the difference to them and their families.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here.


Monday, December 30, 2019

Can the Left overcome its patriotism problem?

The British Leftist below, Angus Colwell, recognizes that the Left is not patriotic and proposes that there is a third way between rejecting patriotism and accepting it

He has a point that the mainstream political Left in both the UK and the USA were once patriotic.  We all know of the advice by JFK about asking what you can do for your country but it was also true in Britain. As a Times writer put it:

"When the mourners sat in the pews at Clement Attlee’s funeral in Westminster Abbey in November 1967 they were played, at the request of the deceased, the musical setting of a poem by Cecil Spring Rice. "I Vow To Thee, My Country" is a fitting testament to Major Attlee, the Gallipoli veteran who was as patriotic, almost as stereotypical, an Englishman of the first half of the 20th century as one could imagine. The congregation went on to sing Hubert Parry’s setting of Blake’s Jerusalem and John Bunyan’s To Be A Pilgrim in a festival that commemorated a successful prime minister and a great patriot."

So why has that changed so drastically?  Colwell doesn't know.  Maybe he is too young. He just thinks it is unnecessary.  But it is clear what has happened.  And it is encapsulated in the campaign slogan of "Supermac":  "You never had it so good".

Attlee was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 26 July 1945 to 26 October 1951.  Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 10 January 1957 to 18 October 1963.  What lay between them was the great postwar expansion of prosperity that was seen in Britain and elsewhere. And it was an expansion of prosperity that poured down through all the social classes.  Macmillan was referring to the eradication of the dire poverty in which working class Britons had found themselves at the end of WWII compared to their state in his era in the 1960s.

And the spread of prosperity throughout Britain led to a gradual erosion of working class support for Leftist salvation.  When  McKenzie & Silver wrote their book on the British working class in 1968, a quarter of the working class was already voting Tory.

But that was a tragedy for the Left.  The chronic anger and unhappiness that is Leftism lost its customary focus and justification for existence.  For generations the Left had a clearly defined enemy:  "The bosses".  The entire program of the Left was to "save" the workers from their Tory oppressors.  But when a big segment of the workers started siding with the Tories, that entire program was called into question.  To hate the Tories was also to hate a large segment of the workers!  That was too contradictory even for the Left.

A new focus for criticism had to be found.  And as the whole nation was becoming bourgeois and thus developing Tory instincts, habits and beliefs, there was only one possible target left:  The nation as a whole.  The whole nation was now essentially bourgeois so the whole nation had to be demonized.  And that has gradually developed into the recently seen major breakdown of working class loyalties at the hands of Boris Johnson. Boris has finally shattered the "red wall". Trump in the USA also gained massive working class support in 2016.

So the class basis of politics has changed markedly. The Left have lost a lot of the workers and gained educated elitists instead. And tertiary education is now widespread so the gain for the Left is not inconsiderable.

There are still poor people in Britain who hold to a traditional belief that the Labour party is on their side but that may be something of a last gasp of the old polarities. To the Leftist antipatriots of today, the workers are now no source of virtue so internationalism has become the Leftist dream, a dream with little working class support.

So, no, there will be no revival of Leftist patriotism

Notes:  "Windrush" refers to the opening of Britain's doors to  black immigrants from the Caribbean in 1948.  Colwell regards that as an achievement. Given the stratospheric rate of violent crime among people of African ancestry worldwide, others might regard it as a great mistake.  He also regards the legalization of homosexual marriage as a Leftist achievement, even though it was an initiative of the Conservative Cameron government

We hear someone identify as a “patriot”, and we suspect “racist”. If we see an English flag flying outside someone’s house, we suspect they harbour Ukip-sympathetic views. This judgement has been given an authoritative reinforcement too: a British Army leaflet leaked earlier this year was titled ‘Extreme Right Wing Indicators & Warnings’, and included people identifying as ‘patriots’ on the checklist for potential racists.

Billy Bragg wrote in The Progressive Patriot (2006): “Reluctant to make any concessions to reactionary nationalism, we have, by default, created a vacuum, leaving it [patriotism] to the likes of the BNP and the Daily Mail”. In 2006, the right had a complete monopoly on patriotism, and this has not changed. Yet, throughout our national stories, it has more often been the left that has invigorated the change that we now rejoice and revere.

In the case of Jeremy Corbyn, it is his characteristically immature misunderstanding of history that has led to his party, and ideology, being plunged into electoral oblivion. The right’s ownership of patriotism predates Corbyn’s leadership, and it is both the soft and hard left’s inability to connect the country’s past and present with its future, that has left the party in its current state.


The left-wing journalist Paul Mason views the idea that Brexit lost Corbyn the election as inaccurate. For him, Corbyn lost the working class in 2018, not 2019. The most damaging fiascos in this year were Corbyn’s handling of the Skripal poisonings, and Labour’s initial refusal to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism when drafting their code of conduct. Corbyn’s response to the Skripal poisonings (instinctively siding with Russia) was a vindication of the popular idea that Corbyn’s suspected antipathy towards Britain was tangible and influenced his policy. His refusal to sing the national anthem, his opposition to Trident, his meetings with the IRA — all of these were common knowledge at the 2017 general election, but the Skripal poisonings proved his discomfort with his country fully guided his national security response and his previous record was more than inconsequential left-wing quirks.

The IHRA debacle’s impact was twofold: it meant that the antisemitism crisis in the Labour Party exploded into the mainstream for over year, culminating in both the departure of nine Labour MPs earlier in 2019, and the Chief Rabbi’s intervention during the election campaign. It was deeply damaging for Labour in Jewish communities. But, at large, the antisemitism crisis was not necessarily a wider vote-loser in its own right, but supplemented other suspicions about Corbyn as menacing. For many who didn’t know where the antisemitism came from, it was ominous and perturbing. To those who understood where it came from, it was emblematic of Corbyn’s aversion to patriotism — aligning with Palestine, which was, in the minds of many, akin to aligning with Islam against the west. When election campaigns were interrupted by Islamist terrorism, Corbyn’s own links with militant groups appeared to some to be proof of sympathy with the enemy.

These two errors were completely avoidable. Had Corbyn condemned Russia like Theresa May did (which happened to be the finest hour of her premiership) and adopted the IHRA definition, his anti-monarchist views could have seemed like harmless quirks, and the antisemitism in the Labour Party kept in house. It is right and a relief that these two critical flaws of Corbyn were exposed — and yes, it is Corbyn himself, not Corbynism — otherwise his most dangerous instincts and tendencies could now be in Downing Street.


There is a deep irony at the heart of many on the left’s understanding of history. For many, there is no grey area between support and deplatforming, between reverence and eradication. Labour’s pledge for a formal inquiry into Britain’s colonial past is welcome, and a review of our empire is long overdue — Edward Said should be as recognisable a name as Edmund Burke. But this historical framework has slid into cancel culture, most emblematic in #RhodesMustFall movements. Removing statues, and thus removing figures from history, is to not revise and remember — it is to forget. The casual absorber of history may not be as familiar with Cecil Rhodes as with other tyrants, and tearing down statues is not going to improve that. Similarly, deplatforming and cancel culture suppresses the symptoms of an ill society, rather than addressing the causes.

Corbyn himself’s own view of history is riddled with irony. His hero, John Lilburne, was a strident patriot. Corbyn and McDonnell both revere Clement Attlee’s government (1945–1951), and the creation of the NHS, the nationalisation of 20% of the economy, and the establishment of the welfare state. Yet Attlee was the man who led the British development of the nuclear deterrent. Attlee had a clear vision of “collective security”, a concept Corbyn fundamentally misunderstands.

Attlee also exemplified a progressive, left-wing patriotism. His government advocated for the creation of a ‘New Jerusalem’ — a prosperous and egalitarian society. Are these not the two things Corbyn wants to reconcile most of all? Attlee had the benefit of a postwar climate — he was able to advocate for a patriotic unifying bond to replace the gloomy bonding activity that was World War II, building a new nation. But now there is a void that needs filling — a yearning for unity and common identity — that Labour must look to inhabit.

The Dutch writer Ian Buruma observes that in the comparatively peaceful twenty-first century, there is a “weird longing for the state of war, for the clarity it brings, and for the chance to divide one’s fellow citizens…neatly into friends and foes”. As society grows more secular, the unifying bonds that religious practise once maintained are replaced by various creeds. Often, it is nationalism that fills the gap. The Irish political scientist Benedict Anderson depicted the nation as a socially constructed “imagined community”, a home in the minds of people who perceive themselves as part of that group.

It is not hard to see how this idea of nationalism slides into racism. To borrow the terminology of the psychologist Henri Rajfel, our societies resemble an out-group which we do not feel comfortable identifying as part of, rather than an in-group. Those who do identify themselves in respect to a nation can stray away from the idea of loving their own country, to the more ugly idea of national, and often following that, racial superiority. Progressive patriotism is loving your country in its own right, not in comparison.


This “progressive patriotism” seems a blue-sky elusive concept. But it can exist, just in the same way that nations exist. Nations are not imagined communities as Anderson writes — they have material realities. Shared landmarks, shared food, shared cultural tastes, shared weather — as we know all too well from our small talk.

The best exemplifications of progressive patriotism are in sport. Eric Hobsbawm wrote that “the imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of 11 named people”. Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman, wrote a vital article in the summer of 2018 about England’s football team as the embodiment of a progressive idea of nation. He compares 1984, when a subset of England fans refused to accept England’s 2–0 win at the Maracanã because a goal had been scored by a black man (John Barnes), with the cultural (and sporting) success of the current England football team. When the 2018 World Cup came around, we saw a multiracial team, fully integrated with each other, happy to wrap themselves in the England flag — the picture of a history of immigration to England.

While that is England, Britain broadcasted its own progressive patriotism to the world at the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. There are flaws with this fundamentally Whiggish view of history — while our history is not necessarily one of inexorable progress, the idea of progression and story is our “bridge between the future and the past” as Orwell put it, and helps us to celebrate the positive things that have bonded us as a nation.

At the Olympics Opening Ceremony, these were Britain’s industrial revolution, the NHS, and our literary and cultural heritage. It featured Paul McCartney, the Arctic Monkeys and Tinie Tempah. The ceremony celebrated the women’s suffrage movement, the Windrush generation and featured mixed-race families and grime artists. It was, as Forbes put it, a “love song to Britain”.

The reaction of the Conservative MP Adrian Burley was that the Opening Ceremony was “leftie multicultural crap”. But Burley inadvertently made a telling historical judgement — the association with a “love song to Britain” — patriotism — with “leftie[s]” — the left.

The things that we revere have been largely invigorated by the left throughout our history. The creation of the NHS, women’s suffrage, the legalisation of homosexuality — these are celebrated today by the right, but were enacted and pressured by the left. The Conservatives are proud of introducing same-sex marriage in 2012, but conveniently forget to mention that more Conservative MPs voted against it than for it. It was passed with Labour votes.

Inevitably, to embrace this kind of patriotism we need to accept a few myths — the Olympics Opening Ceremony did so when it championed the Industrial Revolution as an act occurring from within England’s “green and pleasant lands”, and not reliant on the colonial expansion like it was. Tom Holland, reviewing Margaret Macmillan’s The Uses and Abuses of History, highlighted the advantage of slight fabrications:

“Without the mythologisation of Magna Carta, the history of liberty in the English-speaking world…would have turned out very much for the worse; without Churchill’s romantic evocation of Britain’s island story in 1940, Hitler may never have been defeated”.

The culture war over Churchill’s legacy fought by the left is an example of their current disassociation with progressive patriotism. We need to acknowledge Churchill’s racially abhorrent views and remember and condemn them, not remove them and him from history. That Britain defeated Nazism in 1945 is an unequivocal good, possibly the most in history, and removing the spearhead of that from our memory can lead to a strange sense of relativism. This leads to what the philosopher John Gray observed — that “sections of the left relativise the Holocaust, treating it as only one among many crimes against humanity”. This relativism sparks a fierce conservative backlash, which tramples all over the middle ground, polarises our politics and drowns out the grey area of remembrance of Churchill’s triumphs with acknowledgement of his deep flaws.

This historical cancel culture is an acutely modern idea. Yet the left’s aversion to nationhood is not. Orwell identified the left’s disassociation with patriotism in England Your England (1941), an essay written during the Blitz. His observation at the time that “the English intelligentsia are Europeanised” rings true amidst the Brexit debate — many liberals prefer to identify as “European”, or more often, “Londoners”, and feel an aversion to identifying as “English” or “British”.

What has changed since when Orwell was writing in the 1940s is the expansion of disassociation from patriotism from the intellectual elite to the modern left at large. Colonial guilt — which is justified and vital — has mutated into a deeper cultural embarrassment and self-hatred, of everything Britain stands for.

It has led to a strange self-alienation amongst many, rendering themselves void of a place for identity. Worse, it feeds the worst impulses and backlashes of the nationalists, as the left attempt to proselytise this abandonment of nation for all (most of whom are comfortable identifying with nationhood). The middle way we need is through acknowledgment both of past glories and mistakes — for example, reconciling our colonial guilt with our positive history of immigration since the Second World War is how we make certain concessions to myths without mistreating history.


At the 2019 election, Labour did not lose due to a wholesale rejection of their economic policies (which remain popular). Labour fundamentally abandoned patriotism, and nation as identity. As did the Liberal Democrats. Labour’s catchphrase “for the many, not the few” was ironic when choosing to advocate negating the decision of the “many”. The “Liberal Democrats” is an ironic name for a party who back overturning democracy — an act more at home in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary than the British centre ground. Able to monopolise Farage’s grievances in respect to nationhood, Johnson was able to emerge as the only mainstream patriotic figure at this election, and is reaping the rewards.

The Leave vote was an inherently patriotic act. Unfortunately, some who voted Leave did so according to the comparative nationalist view of nation — a misplaced view of superiority. But many voted Leave in a more affirmative sense — as a vote of confidence in our nations and the institutions that govern us.

The Brexit vote was a vote of confidence for our parliament, our judiciary, our civil service, and an expression that we are happy to be governed by them. Standing up for these great institutions, slightly Whiggish though it may be, is an example of progressive patriotism in the political sense — it is not refined to culture and sport. The subsequent demonisation of each of those institutions has been ugly and has enhanced distrust of our own country, provoking Leavers and Remainers for different reasons.

If we didn’t trust the European bureaucrats who supposedly governed us, but do not then in turn have faith in our own institutions either, who do we trust? The Brexit vote has so far enhanced social dislocation, not addressed it.


The left must emerge as the progressive patriotic voice in Britain. It was the left who enacted legislation to bring the Windrush generation to the United Kingdom, the left who first endorsed women’s suffrage, and the left who legalised homosexuality. Our most successful black, female, and LGBT sportspeople, musicians, actors and public figures are not successful in an “imagined community” — nation exists, and their success is the consequence of history, of progressive legislation of past governments, and a progressive idea of our nation.

Forward-looking, innovative and progressive patriotism must not be confined to sporting events. It is the left who were the invigorators of it, yet it is the left who are currently exacerbating the backsliding of it. The left must acknowledge responsibility and pick the mantle back up.


A Response to the Editor of "Christianity Today"

The magazine's amoral view says more about its editor than about Trump.

The editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, wrote an editorial calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

In my view, this editorial only serves to confirm one of the sadder realizations of my life: that religious conviction guarantees neither moral clarity nor common sense.

The gist of the editorial — and of most religious and conservative opposition to President Trump — is that any good the president has done is dwarfed by his character defects.

This is an amoral view that says more about Galli than it does about the president. He and the people who share his opinion are making the following statement: No matter how much good this president does, it is less important than his character flaws.

Why is this wrong?

First, because it devalues policies that benefit millions of people.

And second, because it is a simplistic view of character.

I do not know how to assess a person's character — including my own — outside of how one's actions affect others. Since I agree with almost all of President Trump's actions as president and believe they have positively affected millions of people, I have to conclude that as president, Trump thus far has been a man of particularly good character.

Of course, if you think his policies have harmed millions of people, you will assess his character negatively. But that is not what never-Trump conservatives or Christians such as the Christianity Today editor-in-chief argue. They argue that his policies have indeed helped America (and even the world), but this fact is far less significant than his character.

In the words of Galli: "(I)t's time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence."

This rhetorical sleight of hand reflects poorly on Galli's intellectual and moral honesty.

Galli and every other Christian and conservative opponent of the president believe their concerns are moral, and that the president's Christian and other conservative supporters are political.

This is simply wrong.

I and every other supporter of the president I know support him for moral reasons, not to win a "political poker game." Galli's view is purely self-serving; he's saying, "We Christian and other conservative opponents of the president think in moral terms, while Christian and other conservative supporters of the president think in political terms."

So, permit me to inform Galli and all the other people who consider themselves conservative and/or Christian that our support for the president is entirely moral.

— To us, putting pressure on the Iranian regime — one of the most evil and dangerous regimes on Earth — by getting out of the Iran nuclear deal made by former President Barack Obama is a moral issue. Even New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, who loathes Trump, has written how important the president's rejection of the Obama-Iran agreement has been.

— To us, enabling millions of black Americans to find work — resulting in the lowest black unemployment rate ever recorded — is a moral issue.

— To us, more Americans than ever being employed and almost 4 million Americans freed from reliance on food stamps is a moral issue.

— To us, appointing more conservative judges than any president in history — over the same period of time — is a moral issue. That whether the courts, including the Supreme Court, are dominated by the left or by conservatives is dismissed by Galli as "political poker" makes one question not only Galli's moral thinking but also his moral theology.

— To us, moving the American embassy to Israel's capital city, Jerusalem — something promised by almost every presidential candidate — is a moral issue, not to mention profoundly courageous. And courage is a moral virtue.

— To us, increasing the U.S. military budget — after the severe cuts of the previous eight years — is a moral issue. As conservatives see it, the American military is the world's greatest guarantor of world peace.

Yet, none of these things matter to Galli and other misguided Christians and conservatives. What matters more to them is Trump's occasional crude language and intemperate tweets, what he said about women in a private conversation and his having committed adultery.

Regarding adultery, that sin is for spouses and God to judge. There is no connection between marital sexual fidelity and moral leadership. I wish there were. And as regards the "Access Hollywood" tape, every religious person, indeed every thinking person, should understand that there is no connection between what people say privately and their ability to be a moral leader. That's why I wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal 20 years ago defending Hillary Clinton when she was charged with having privately expressed anti-Semitic sentiments.

That the editor of Christianity Today thinks the president's personal flaws, whatever they might be, are more important than all the good he has done for conservatives, for Christians, for Jews, for blacks and for America tells us a lot ... about Galli and the decline of Christian moral thought.


A Feminist Bothered by ‘Everything’

By Rachelle Peterson

Meghan Daum is a liberal feminist who, in her forties, finds herself out-lefted by the new left. The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars recounts her inability to fathom Fourth Wave Feminists who declare themselves afraid to attend college or seek “lean-in” type jobs (oh the rape culture!) and her schism with Social Justice Warriors whose “self-proclaimed utopian vision” sometimes sounds to Daum “a lot like authoritarianism.”

Daum grew up picketing for the Equal Rights Amendment and chokes at the thought of “heartbeat bills” limiting abortion. But she cringed at the crude, profanity-laden Women’s March and thought some of the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, even if true (and she believed they were), didn’t amount to “a big deal.” She finds Betsy DeVos a “troubling, even repugnant, specimen” but cheered when DeVos rescinded the Obama Administration’s Title IX guidance that gutted due process. To her, the definition of a feminist means being tough. To today’s feminists, it means being “fair.” Worse still, Fourth Wave Feminism might just be “narcissism repackaged as revolution.”

A skilled, incisive writer (she spent eleven years as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and now writes a biweekly column for Medium), Daum deftly unmasks the hypocrisies of the new left. Isn’t it sexist to decry toxic masculinity while denying toxic femininity? (Daum has a page-long list of examples.) If a woman can regret a sexual experience and retroactively categorize it as rape, shouldn’t a man be permitted to raise concerns about preying feminists who believe men should gratefully accept any sexual encounter a woman deigns to bestow? (Daum has stories of men not forced, but coaxed, into sex by their female dates, in a manner not altogether unlike some of the “rape” stories women tell.) Isn’t it only fair to acknowledge the many ways women wield incredible power over men—including by threatening to ruin them with #MeToo-type accusations?

In a chapter devoted to the college campus, Daum questions the vaunted statistic that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted while in college. She also wonders how much of the activism on campus is mere performance theater.

But here’s where her account begins to falter. Daum’s major critique of campus activists and the new leftists, in general, is their lack of nuance. They fit every incident into a prepared storyline of oppression. They see every event as a black-and-white matter of morality. They perceive nuance as “a dog whistle for centrist and right-leaning scolds whose privilege blinded them to the severity of the crisis before them.”

All true. But Daum treats the new left as simply too extreme in its zeal for good principles—she talks about the “excesses of feminism”—and never considers that it might actually be wrong about some premises. Partly this is because Daum herself is a leftist who shares some intellectual roots with today’s activists.

Mostly Daum professes to be simply uninterested in questions of existential truth or actual right and wrong. “It wasn’t just ‘truth’ I was after. It was that pesky nuance thing,” she explains. She wants greater personal freedom, including the freedom to hold complicated or contradictory opinions (she clings to “our basic human right to be conflicted”). She also wants the freedom to draw the lines where she thinks they should be drawn—namely, at “real” chauvinism—without bothering to explain why today’s leftists shouldn’t enjoy the same line-drawing privileges. She dislikes the new left’s purist approach not so much because she thinks it’s flat-out wrong, but because its lines are just a little too crisp. She wants murkiness. She declares that “in the end, to be human is to be confused.”

This “let life be messy” dogma buys Daum a lot of wiggle room. She can breathlessly praise the Intellectual Dark Web—Jordan Peterson and Bret Weinstein are particular favorites—for their willingness to “dispense” with the “anticipatory self-inoculations from criticism” (by prefacing a talk on sexual assault, for example, by endlessly repeating that that rape is real and terrible). But when George Will wrote a column characterizing victimhood as a “coveted status that confers privileges,” he was “essentially correct and yet incredibly stupid” for failing to offer those same obligatory concessions. (In The Problem with Everything, Daum herself burns many pages on the requisite liberal catechisms.)

She can concede that young feminists, leveraging their “thin skin as their most powerful weapon,” are performing a “brilliant move of jujitsu.” And yet sixty pages later, she declares these same fragile women “put those men on pedestals they might not have been on to begin with,” thereby “doing a jujitsu move against [themselves].” Daum’s love of contradiction and complication sits ill at ease with her complaint that the new left, too, can be self-contradictory.

If clarity versus murkiness is the main divide between Third and Fourth Wave Feminists (and along with them, leftists and new leftists), Daum attributes that divide almost entirely to technology and natural generational shifts: “The world has changed so much between my time and theirs that someone just ten years younger might as well belong to a different geological epoch.” She allows she might be particularly sensitive because just as the new left gained ascendancy, her marriage fell apart. But for the most part, she blames “aging and feeling obsolete,” being an “oldster,” becoming an “official” member of “Team Older Feminist.” She attends her 25-year college reunion and comes away mourning, “Oh, the irrelevance! The obsolescence! The creak of aging out before you even get old.”

This is either a brilliant rhetorical move or a fatal flaw. Does Daum intentionally veil her criticisms in her own personal story, knowing that young leftists credit “lived experiences” with far more weight than they do outright arguments? Does she call for moral murkiness because she calculates that articulating a counter-position is too aggressive for activists who plug their ears at naysayers?

Or is she really admitting that her older leftism—superior though she believes it—lacks the moral standing to mount a serious offense to today’s left? That once her generation embraced moral relativism and discarded “truth” as meaningless, they practically invited the next to see themselves as the personal arbiters of right and wrong?

Or perhaps it’s both. Daum tells the story of interviewing potential apartment-mates while a graduate student in New York.  One, a thirty-something man, suggested he buy the food if the female roommates do the cooking. Daum found it hilarious. Such a chauvinist did not merit outrage. He was outdated, “a human-shaped dust bunny being swept, before our very eyes, into the trash bin of history.”

The implication is that today’s fragile feminists have inadvertently rescued the chauvinist from those trash bins, rehabilitating him into an ever-present, even necessary, character to serve as the foil for their feminist narrative. Score one for older feminism. And yet, one can’t shake the sense that Daum fears she is now the one headed for the trash bins of history. She, along with the rest of her generation, leaned heavily on “outdated” and “old-fashioned” as synonyms for “bad.” Now she’s vulnerable to those same charges. That leaves her just one more problem in the vast web of the problem with everything.


Activists hijack worthy groups like the AMA, RSPCA

By MAURICE NEWMAN, writing from Australia

It is understandable that, across the world, trusted organisations have become havens for left-wing activists. After all, the reputation of venerable institutions precedes them, making them ideal Trojan horses in the battle for ideas.

Take the Australian Medical Association. It is presumed to be the voice of the nation’s medical profession. Perhaps it is. But gone is the heyday of the 1960s when 95 per cent of medical practitioners were members. Today, a mere 20,215 doctors, or about 19 per cent of registered practitioners, belong. So it’s far from clear the AMA represents the views of most practising doctors.

Yet it remains influential in public health in a left-wing kind of way, and increasingly fancies ­itself more generally. But, then, health — like the environment — can be weaponised to bring pressure on legislators on a range of social and economic issues, and the AMA’s leadership knows this.

For example, it was a long-time campaigner for marriage equality, citing mental and physical health issues as reasons to vote for change. Yet, despite its advocacy and the publicity pushing for a Yes vote, last year, the first full year after legal recognition, when a surge in same sex-marriages would have been expected, only 6538 couples tied the knot. That’s only 5.5 per cent of all Australian marriages.

While the $100m spent on promotion, and the plebiscite itself, may have been well-intended, there is the matter of opportunity cost. With $100m, the AMA could have concentrated its time and resources arguing for less fashionable, all-embracing health priorities. ­Indeed, University of Sydney psychologists found that the increased exposure to negative messaging during the campaign added significantly to levels of ­depression, anxiety and other “psychological distress” for the gay, lesbian and bisexual community.

The AMA’s high-profile position on the Urgent Medical Treatment Bill, championed by then independent member for Wentworth and former AMA president Kerryn Phelps, seems to be ­another case of questionable judgment driven by politics. AMA president Tony Bartone argued: “There is compelling evidence that the asylum-seekers on Nauru, especially the children, are suffering from serious physical and mental health conditions, and they should be brought to Australia for appropriate quality care.” AMA federal executive member Paul Bauert compared offshore detainees to those ­interned under the Holocaust. Given the number of medical professionals on Nauru and the ­reality it is an open centre, that claim is obscene. Indeed, 40 of 300 refugees resettled in the US ­applied to return.

Twelve months after enactment, the medivac legislation was repealed. But not before 135 offshore detainees were transferred to the mainland for medical treatment. Only 13 were ­admitted to hospital. Five refused treatment altogether. One, ­despite allegedly being ­involved in 50 violent incidents, was admitted after botching a DIY penis ­enlargement.

It now seems clear the AMA’s primary motivation was political. By dramatising the health issues of offshore detainees, it sought to undermine Australia’s border ­security policies that had twice been endorsed by the electorate. Passing the bill may have been a momentary triumph for left-wing activism but, in so doing, the AMA nailed its true colours ­firmly to the mast.

On climate change, too, the AMA’s motives seem ideological. While Bartone says he relies on “empirical evidence”, he treads a well-worn alarmist path despite there being ample evidence to show some of his assertions are mistaken. He dwells on “significant linear associations between exposure to higher temperatures and greater mortality”, ignoring an international study published in The Lancet that finds cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather. Of course, to embrace The Lancet’s findings also would mean acknowledging that climate change policies were causing many needless deaths for the frail and elderly through increasingly unaffordable energy costs. How does this reconcile with the Hippocratic oath’s “First, do no harm”?

Just as the AMA exploits health for political purposes, so the RSPCA weapon­ises animals. Along with the Greens, Animals Australia and the Animal Justice Party, it has supported the abolition of horse racing, zoos, farming, fishing and the eating of meat.

In 2011 it campaigned with ­Animals Australia for the Gillard government to ban live cattle ­exports to Indonesia. In 2014 it co-sponsored a full-page advertisement in The Age supporting a Greens candidate for the Victorian elections. In 2017 it collaborated with Animals Australia and the ABC in a sensationalised documentary that resulted in NSW temporarily banning greyhound racing. Yet, when there are mass cattle deaths on ­indigenous properties in Western Australia because of “catastrophic failures” of cattle management, the RSPCA is strangely silent. WA farmers claim different standards apply when animal neglect occurs on indigenous-owned pastoral leases.

The RSPCA also was slow to declare its position on vegan ­activists breaking into farms and abattoirs. This follows its sister ­organisation calling for animal-rights protesters to shut down Britain’s top meat market. British animal rights activists claim veganism is the best way to save the planet. In Australia, the RSPCA also supports the “scientific consensus that climate change is caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, ­including electricity generation, agriculture (including livestock farming), industry, waste and land use”. It seems Australia’s RSPCA is preparing to follow its British counterpart’s lead.

By posing as wolves in sheep’s clothing, left-wing activists have been most effective in influencing political outcomes. And the AMA and RSPCA are just two of the many respected organisations captured. No longer should we ­assume trusted names are true to label.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here.


Sunday, December 29, 2019

Mummified Inuits living in Greenland 500 years ago suffered from clogged-up arteries despite feasting on a diet of fish rich in omega-3

Another blow to the great fish-oil myth

Scans of mummified Inuits from 16th-century Greenland revealed that the ancient hunters suffered from clogged-up arteries despite a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Atherosclerosis — the build-up of plaques of fat, cholesterol and calcium in one's arteries — is a leading cause of death today in the world's wealthier countries.

While often seen as a product of modern lifestyles, evidence of the condition has been found in human remains dating back as far as around 4,000 BC.

However, none of these examples enjoyed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which has been suggested can help protect against plaque build-up.

Researchers turned to four incredibly well-preserved Inuits, who would have eaten a marine-based, omega 3-rich diet, to see if the fatty acid improved arterial health.

The findings suggest that diets rich in omega-3 may not guarantee against plaque buildup — however, the researchers caution that it is unclear what other factors were at play.

Cardiologist L. Samuel Wann of Ascension Healthcare in Milwaukee and colleagues studied four Inuit mummies taken from the collections of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Cambridge.

Preserved largely by the cold, the mummified individuals were found on the island of Uunartaq, off of the coast of Greenland, in 1929.

Based on their clothing and surrounding grave goods, archaeologists have concluded that the mummies were buried in the 1500s.

During their lives, the group would have lived in huts made from stone, whale bone and seal skin and would have hunted from kayaks with spears, bows and arrows.

Their prey would have included fish, birds, marine mammals and caribou — with this marine-based diet likely to have been rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Based on their skeletal and dental features, the experts determined that the mummies included two men and two women between the ages of 18–30.

The researchers used a CT scanner to take detailed images of the mummies' insides, which were then analysed by Dr Wann and his team of four other cardiologists and two radiologists with experience interpreting scans of mummified remains.

Three of the mummies were found to have so-called 'calcified atheroma' — an accumulation of plaques of fatty material in the arteries which appeared as high-density regions in the CT scans.

The buildups were seen to be similar to those in living humans with atherosclerosis — although in the mummy's case, it was unclear if this condition led to their demise.

'This [study] presents evidence for the presence of calcified plaques in the mummified remains of 3 young Inuit individuals living 500 years ago,' the researchers wrote in their paper.

This, they added, suggests 'the presence of atherosclerosis despite [the mummies'] vigorous lifestyle and marine-based diet.'

However, the researchers cautioned that the complex nature of atherosclerosis makes it difficult to determining the exact impact of particular factors, such as the preventative effect of an omega-3-rich diet.

Other factors — like environmental smoke produced by the use of indoor fires — could have helped produce atherosclerosis in this ancient Inuit population.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.


UK: Woke class hatred

The loathing of ordinary people is now plain for all to see.

This is a hard article to write, for legal rather than emotional reasons. You see, the main hook for this – an allegation from former Labour MP Caroline Flint that shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told an MP in a Labour Leave seat she was ‘glad my constituents aren’t as stupid as yours’ – has now become the subject of a legal battle. (Thornberry strongly rejects the allegation and is suing Flint, who she has accused of ‘making up shit’ about her.) I leave readers to make up their own minds.

Luckily, as we’re talking about Labourites’ and Remainers’ brewing disdain for the masses, you don’t have to look far for other examples of it. Not least from Emily Thornberry herself. In 2014, after all, she had to resign from the front bench after tweeting a picture of a house in Rochester and Strood, draped in St George’s flags with a white van outside. It was widely interpreted as sneering. More recently, she was videoed bursting out laughing as Dawn Butler MP declared ‘I think if anyone doesn’t hate Brexit, even if you voted for it, there’s something wrong with you’.

Following last week’s remarkable election result, in which scores of working-class, Leave-backing Labour seats went Tory for the first time ever, anti-working-class bile was spewing from various prominent Labour supporters in the media. Labour activist and journalist Paul Mason wrote in the New Statesman that ‘at no point did Labour “desert” the working class. But a section of it deserted us last night, and I am not going to flinch from stating that in the places it did so there is now a toxic narrative of nativism and xenophobia’.

We would expect nothing less from Paul. As we would from pop star and Labour supporter Lily Allen, who has said Boris Johnson won the election due to ‘this country’s deep rooted racism and misogyny’. She has now quit Twitter because she says it ‘gives a voice to the far right’. In a similar vein, Scottish actor John Hannah – the one from Four Weddings and a Funeral – has said ‘we’re a country of racists and Brexit/EU scepticism is the cover’.

Now, Leave voters have been accused of racism and stupidity time and again since 2016. But up to now, Remainers would at least pretend, some of the time, that they were talking about middle-class Leavers in the Tory shires. But the defection of working-class Leavers to the Tories has brought to the surface the clear class-hatred element of all this. Months of left-Remainers spuriously suggesting that working-class people didn’t really back Brexit, or did so somewhat reticently, has now been blown out of the water. And Labourites’ and Remainers’ loathing of ordinary people is now on full show.

Most troubling in all this is the way in which anti-working-class bigotry is now laundered through apparent anti-racism. Despite the clear decline in racism in recent decades, the cultural and political elites have carved out a narrative that it is worse than ever before, particularly among Those People who drive white vans, support Brexit and dislike Jeremy Corbyn. In doing so, alleged left-wingers have made class hatred respectable and anti-racist politics look cut-off and vaguely ridiculous. Which is bad news for both class politics and anti-racist politics.

That the left needs to learn lessons from this historic defeat is obvious. What I’m wondering is if they are even capable of doing so. Many Labourites and liberals don’t only misunderstand working-class people — they genuinely despise them. It’s less that they don’t know how to win over the people of Blyth Valley or Wrexham, and more that they kind of don’t want to. That is at least part of the reason why Labour prioritised the votes of middle-class Remainers over working-class Leavers, and why so many of its prominent supporters have doubled down on the prole-bashing in the wake of the result.


RSPCA calls for South Australian rodeo to be cancelled

Nonsense.  Rodeos have never been for powder puffs.  Many RSPCA branches have been infiltrated by animal rights warriors and this looks like another instance of that

Heatwaves are a hallmark of an Australian summer. But they're getting hotter, becoming more frequent, and lasting longer.
The RSPCA wants one of the biggest night rodeos in South Australia to be postponed due to heat but organisers say it’s going ahead.

The leading animal welfare organisation is shocked Carrieton Rodeo won’t reschedule its Saturday night event as the day’s top temperature soars to 40C before dipping to 36C for a 6.30pm start.

“In the forecast conditions, it’s likely some animals will suffer heat stress but it will be difficult to verify how many have suffered or to what extent,” RSPCA’s Rebekah Eyers said.

“To demonstrate that animal welfare is a priority, we had hoped Australian Professional Rodeo Association and event organisers would follow the lead of other organisations using animals for entertainment, and cancel or reschedule the event.”

Club president Daniel Williams said the 67th annual rodeo was “absolutely going ahead” with up to 3000 people to attend and pump money into the drought-stricken town.

“It is an absolutely beautiful day. We have a water sprayer on hand if necessary and have the option of delaying if the heat is extreme,” Mr Williams told AAP. “They (the horses) are kept in excellent conditions, treated like royalty, get to run around.

“The RSPCA is an activist group that no one actually cares about these days ... their stated objective is to shut down rodeos.” The temperature in the far north South Australian town is due to hit 36C when the rodeo kicks-off, before quickly cooling down, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

“36C is quite reasonable for that time of day, but it will cool down pretty quickly so by midnight a temperature of 24C is expected,” a spokeswoman said. “Once the sun goes down it’ll be OK and they will get help from the sea breeze.”

There is no legally enforceable top temperature to prevent the animals from performing in rodeos across the state, and rodeos are legal events.

Even if the temperature drops, the RSPCA still has concerns about the transport and handling of animals to and from the event, risk of heat stress and other physical stress.


Why do women feel horrible about feminism?

How did this movement that has achieved so much for women become so absurd and so vicious?


I am woman. Wax my balls.

Oh, I’m sorry to start so horribly, but horrible is how so many women feel about 21st-century feminism. How did this movement that has achieved so much for women become so vicious, and absurd?

What is a woman? Is your feminism sufficiently intersectional? How woke is your answer?

OK, fair enough, feminists have never agreed on anything. The women’s movement — remember that phrase? — has always had its cliques. You can’t be a feminist if you get married, if you wear heels, if you like porn … the list goes on, and that has always been fine ­because we were thinking and talking and, anyway, we had right on our side, and we knew it, and therefore made progress but now, as we come roaring into the 20s?

We’re eating our own. In the process, we’ve cancelled ourselves.

Let’s go back: during the past decade Australian women have celebrated several significant milestones. In June 2010, for ­example, Julia Gillard became the nation’s first female prime minister. No, you don’t have to like her. You don’t even have to admire her. You do have to acknowledge the achievement.

The gains kept coming. In 2011 the federal parliament introduced paid parental leave. In 2016 Linda Burney became the first indigenous woman to be elected into the House of Representatives. In 2017 Susan Kiefel became the first ­female chief justice of the High Court of Australia.

This year we learned that Australia’s highest paid chief executive would be a woman (Mac­quarie Group’s Shemara Wikramanayake) and so would Australia’s best performing chief executive based on shareholder returns (well done to Fortescue Metals’ ­Elizabeth Gaines).

At the time of writing, half of Australia’s 76 senators are women. Not all are white. Not all are straight, either.

There have been gains for women internationally, too.

In Iran we have seen the blossoming of the White Wednesday movement that sees women ­removing their hijabs and defying men to arrest them.

This past decade Saudi women gained permission to drive; women the world over are becoming more educated; they are more likely to own land; less likely to die in childbirth; more likely to be able to read; less likely to be ­circumcised.

This month Time magazine named a 16-year-old girl as its Person of the Year. Again, you don’t have to like her. You may think her misguided. But Greta Thunberg is captain of a movement that seeks to change the whole world. She did not, as many expected, receive the Nobel Peace Prize, but Malala Yousafzai did in 2014 for standing up for girls’ education; and Nadia Murad did last year for her campaign against sexual violence.

Some of these achievements come down to the attributes of the individual women and girls, to their courage and ability; to their showmanship, too, yet this decade won’t be remembered for any of that.

It will be remembered for the Reckoning. For the movement known as #MeToo. For the ­grassroots campaign to end workplace harassment that for one brief and shining moment held women ­together in a third wave of feminism.

Look back and try to find that movement now. You can’t. It’s gone, a victim of the woke wars or else this decade’s obsession with identity politics.

Divide and conquer? We’ve done that to ourselves.

Some history: we used to be a bit embarrassed, as women, by what happened to us in the workplace. The touching, the bottom-pinching, the put-downs. We endured being demeaned and ­assaulted. We ignored it or suppressed our feelings about it, even laughed along with it.

We thought it was personal. It was — has always been — political, and then came the Reckoning. #MeToo.

American writer, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit described the movement as “an attempt to ­address something old, and very deep and very destructive”. Jia ­Tolentino, in The New Yorker, went further: it was “jagged, brutal, contentious” recognition of the extent to which men have tended to abuse their power at work.

It began, lest we forget, with the election of Donald Trump. He took office in January 2017.

A women’s march was organised for Washington, DC, to protest the vulgarity of his remarks about women (“Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything”).

More than a half-million women, and some men, took to the streets to call out Trump’s misogyny. There were sister marches in Oslo, Berlin, Toronto and Sydney. Pink pussy hats were knitted and worn.

And then something else happened.

A door opened, and emboldened women began to run through it with their own stories of being abused by powerful men; and ­especially of being crushed, while their abusers continued to ascend, and soon we had #MeToo.

There was a hint as to the size of the problem in that hashtag: most women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and, oh, the ways in which they are over it. American writer-at-large for New York magazine Rebecca Traister put it this way: “I’m so tired. Tired of getting grabbed or pinched or demeaned, tired of having had to laugh. I’m tired of feeling paralysed, unable to confront friends and colleagues about what they just said or did.”

The movement gathered momentum and big names soon came tumbling down. Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, once a fixture on the red carpet, now wears an ankle bracelet. Bill Cosby was arrested and ­imprisoned. Roger Ailes was fired from Fox News, and Matt Lauer from the Today show. Kevin Spacey was replaced as US president in House of Cards by his on-screen wife, Robin Wright. US gymnastics team coach Larry Nasser went to jail, and on it goes.

In Australia, the avuncular Don Burke was exposed as having made the lives of many women miserable with his crudity, and then what happened?

No, not the backlash, not yet anyway. There were some misfires.

“I’m not at all concerned about innocent men losing their jobs over false sexual assault/harassment allegations,” Emily Linden, from Teen Vogue, said in a now-notorious tweet.

“Sorry. If some innocent men’s reputations have to take a hit in the process of undoing the patriarchy, that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay.”

That can’t be right. That must be wrong. No one deserves to be unfairly accused, any more than they deserve to be belittled or ­assaulted.

Next came the decision by the website Babe to publish a young woman’s account of an evening with popular American comedian Aziz Ansari. It was meant to be explosive, an example of the horrors young women bear as they play the dating game.

It read like bad sex. Or as Caitlin Flanagan put it in The Atlantic: “She couldn’t call a cab?”

Now another door was open, and this time it was the #MeToo critics who came streaming through.

One hundred French women, among them film star Catherine Deneuve, signed an open letter published in Le Monde, offering an alternative view of the movement.

“As women, we do not recognise ourselves in this feminism,” the letter said. “It goes beyond ­denouncing the abuse of power, toward a hatred of men and of sexuality.”

Feminism had a split-second in which to respond. Workplace harassment was the issue that had galvanised women; it had widespread support, including from men. ­Fathers do not wish to see their daughters groped behind the ­cooler in the restaurant kitchen. Husbands do not want their wives coming home in tears.

We’re all agreed! But no, ­because women decided to embark instead on an argument with and about themselves, ­attacking, belittling, suing, deriding and cancelling each other over who can speak, and what we are.

In the process? We have lost the crowd.

If you’ve been wondering about the intro to this essay, it refers to transgender activist Jessica Yaniv, who this year filed a case with a Canadian human rights tribunal, complaining that she couldn’t get her testicles waxed.

Yaniv is a transgender woman who hasn’t had surgery. She quite deliberately tried to make her ­appointments with women of colour, many of them modest, hijab-wearers, who had set themselves up in small business while choosing not to work outside the home.

Yaniv sought an order that would have forced them to address her hairy genitalia, in their spare bedrooms, against their will.

It sounds like performance art. I keep thinking it must be satire. Yaniv insists that she is serious.

She lost the battle on a technicality. The tribunal ruled that many wax artists simply weren’t trained to deal with a cock and balls and, therefore, Yaniv had to find a suitably qualified professional. She is not daunted, having since launched a human rights campaign against gynaecologists for refusing to accept her as a ­patient.

“Are they allowed to do that, ­legally?” she asked, on Twitter.

Comedian Ricky Gervais took Yaniv on, saying: “It’s disgusting that a qualified gynaecologist can refuse to check a lady’s c..k for ovarian cancer. What if her bollocks are pregnant? She could lose the baby. I’m outraged.”

I was going to dress up as something weird and creepy for my Halloween party, but I’m bucking the trend this year and I’m going as brave female activist Jessica Yaniv. This also means I don’t have to wax my big old hairy balls — Ricky Gervais

He can mock her. No one else dares. This is the debate we are now in. What is a woman? Who is a feminist?

In Britain this year, Maya Forstater lost her job as a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development for tweeting: “It is unfair and unsafe for trans women to compete in women’s sport.”

You may or may not agree, but woe betide those who are sceptical of the new gender ideology that now infects the movement. Just repeating: she lost her job.

JK Rowling — a writer, mother and philanthropist — stepped up to support Forstater, saying: “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and ­security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”

JK has now been “cancelled” — meaning her views on human rights and feminism and women and work will not be taken seri­ously by those who think they have the floor. She’s big enough to handle it, and she has her ­supporters.

“If we’re cancelling JK Rowling for saying biological sex is real, then WTF even is feminism?” one woman asked on Twitter.

And that’s quite right: we refuse now to acknowledge sex as a biological reality, we cancel same-sex attraction, and there goes lesbianism and all its grand literature, and philosophies.

Transgender women deserve respect and protection in law, no question, but do we honestly ­accept, as we all must now do in Victoria, that a woman is anyone who self-identifies as such?

That there is no special, indeed sacred, conversation to be had about the insecurity and leakage and glory and fear that comes with being born female?

That there are some things — pregnancy, birth and nursing — known only to adult human ­females?

There’s a satirist on Twitter, ­Titania McGrath, who takes this stuff on, and what’s amusing is how many people don’t get the joke.

“All men literally begin their lives inside the body of a woman without her consent.

“(Footpaths) were designed in order to enable men to invade the personal space of female strangers without their consent.”

The accelerated oscillation of my vertebra cervicalis signifies a ratification of my ideological concordance with this intersectional critique of white male hegemony and a simultaneous negation of the potentiality of its repudiation.

In other words, I’m nodding because I agree — Titania McGrath

Is this real? Is it satire? Who’s to say any more?

In real life, we’ve seen Germaine Greer ostracised for saying that her rape did not destroy her. She simply got on with things. Her own rape. You’d think she’d know. But that’s unacceptable, ­apparently.

The problem with the way women have rounded on each other is that it has made 21st-century feminism unpalatable, and we simply can’t afford that outcome.

There is still so much work to do.

Workplace harassment was never a problem on the scale of, say, forced female circumcision but it was something for Western women to get behind, as is the gendered workforce (female teachers and male principals; female nurses and male surgeons; female reporters and male editors); as is violence against women, especi­ally in their own homes.

Maybe we disagree now, as women, about the way forward, but do we really? Forward is the way forward. It has ­always been that way.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here