A handy guide to answering that question
I've been subscribing to your column for several months, Kara, and I thank you very much for this article. I also thank you for finally allowing comments, because I believe there needs to be room to have in-depth discussions about this. And I am especially grateful for you opening up comments for this particular article, because this is a topic that's extremely worthy of a discussion--in fact I would argue that a serious discussion about "where have all the feminists been?" needs to happen before the gender identity movement can be tackled head-on.
Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I am indeed a man (as if that wasn't already obvious). I do not consider myself to be a particularly right-leaning man--I was born and raised in a strong Democrat household, the son of two public school teachers who both got an opportunity to go to college thanks to welfare--and I consider myself to be essentially in the same space, in terms of political view, as I was then. By today's standards I would probably be considered "right-leaning" by others, but I consider myself more of an independent than anything. I have never been registered to any political party and have voted for both Rs and Ds since 2000, the first year I was eligible to vote. I am a church-goer and come from a small town in southern Illinois. My friends are almost all members of the working-class; outside of my writing career (fiction writer, nothing political), I am a part-time janitor. I don't particularly consider myself a feminist--in fact I'm not even sure what that word is supposed to mean. I don't know what others would say about me. I'd like to think the women who know me would say good things about me, but you'd have to ask them,. So those are my credentials.
Here is my first reaction:
I'm sorry, but as much as I agree with and appreciate what you said here, the fact of the matter is that this issue IS being pushed by the left, it has ALWAYS been pushed by the left, and feminists have ALWAYS voted for the left--and to this day I see no indication that that is going to change. By voting for the political movement that has for fifty years been in favor of enabling, enforcing, and now enshrining this ideology into law (admittedly, though, most actual people voting for the left, including myself on the multiple occasions when I have done so, have not realized it), you have been complicit in this from the beginning. There is NO getting around this. Feminists have been directly responsible for the gender identity movement because of their refusal not to vote left. The left is where this is coming from, so every time a feminist votes left, she is enabling the gender identity movement to continue, whether she realizes it or not, or whether she thinks there's a higher priority at stake (chiefly abortion) or not.
Even as a recent example, here in the US we had a chance, nationally, to make a statement about this issue just a few months ago, but we chose not to take it. It appears as though feminists prioritized abortion instead. It seems likely that "gender identity" will become a defining issue in the 2024 election, but I see no reason to expect that feminists at large are not going to vote for the Democratic candidate again. I'm sorry, but until you* stop voting for the same politicians who are going along with this movement (which I don't believe you're going to do), your complaints about being ignored are simply invalid. You are, and have been, directly contributing to the problem. This movement wouldn't have gotten as far as it has without your direct help.
*I'm using the plural "you" in this sentence, and in the following paragraphs. I'm not singling out Kara in particular (although I do include her in that plural "you"), but to all left-leaning, "progressive" women to whom this applies (and there are a lot of them).
The left is where moral relativism comes from, it's where the "my truth" movement (which basically posits that anyone's strongly held beliefs or opinions are basically "truth" to that person, regardless of whether or not these opinions and beliefs are actually true) comes from, and it's where the desire to remake society comes from. Gender identity is coming basically exclusively from the political left. There may be a touch of right-wing capitalism thrown in for good measure, but that's a fairly minor component compared to the ideological capture of left-leaning institutions--and if the left had never sought to push gender identity onto society, there would be no big-business for right-wing capitalists to capitalize on. Yet despite this, feminists continue to self-identity with, and vote for, the left. Why? Why do you do this? Is abortion really that important? Weirdly enough, abortion rights might not even matter that much in the future, as we raise a generation of sterile young people who will never reproduce. Is that really the battle worth fighting right now?
Another way in which you are directly implicated in the rise of gender ideology is your decades-long demonization of the right. I've been watching some of these "Let Women Speak" videos on Youtube, and I'm struck by how the women hosts respond to being called "hateful" and "bigoted" by the TRAs. I do sympathize with them, but at the same time I can't help wondering how many times these same women have called men, particularly right-leaning men, "hateful" and "bigoted"; I'm willing to bet that it has happened, and probably more than a few times. Now they know what it feels like. It's not a nice feeling, is it?
The Democratic party has been able to take your support for granted for so long that it has no interest in listening to you, because they are absolutely confident that you will return to the fold and "vote blue no matter who" when it counts. And so far, they've been right. Meanwhile, you've spent so long demonizing the Republican party that they don't know what to do with you, and don't know how to communicate with you. Sure, I understand why feminists on the left are annoyed by the likes of Matt Walsh trying to "muscle in" on their territory. I'm not a hardcore traditionalist (although I probably am more of a traditional than a leftist feminist would be), so guys like Matt Walsh tend to bug me in general. But "TERFs" continue to identify with and vote for the left. Matt Walsh naturally sees you as enemies because he has, in fact, been your enemy. Somehow or another, this bridge is going to have to be crossed.
(I would have plenty to say to the Matt Walsh-types, too, but this isn't Matt Walsh's substack, and I doubt the sorts of readers who subscribe to Kara's subscribe are big Matt Walsh fans, so I don't think this is the place for that).
At this point, I don't think it's very likely that you're ever going to reform the Democratic party from within, at least not until after the party has suffered heavy losses and become convinced this is a losing issue. They are not at that point yet, and won't be for at least a few more years. To get their attention, you're going to have to lead an exodus of women from the Democratic party. Maybe you don't identify as Republicans--that's okay. I don't, either. I think the "team spirit" political party system we have is stupid, exhausting, and ultimately counter-effective for actually getting anything done. But as long as you continue to identify as a Democrat, and vote for Democrats, you are not going to change the Democrats. Period. End of story. It is not going to happen, especially now that Trump and DeSantis are speaking out against GAC ("gender-affirming care"). This WILL cause the Democrats to reflexively, instinctively, automatically defend GAC and continue to insist on it, guaranteed. That IS going to happen. We have seen this pattern play out enough over the last decade to be absolutely confident of this. If Trump (and now DeSantis) takes a stance on something, the left will feel duty-bound to take the exact opposite stance, just to prove him wrong. There is no way the Democratic party will back down from GAC for at least the next two years.
If you want to get the attention of the Democratic party, and their allies in the mainstream media, then you have to leave it, and get other women to leave it, too. THAT will get their attention. These "work to reform from within" efforts are not working, and they are not going to start working anytime soon.
Kara herself may not read these comments, but any other commenters, feel free to respond, and do so in-depth. I think we need to have these conversations and hash these issues out with each other if we're going to be able to resist the avalanche of gender identity ideologies that are trying to sweep over our society.
As a 62-yr-old, self-described old school, conservative (classic liberal) feminist, thank you for the work you do as we fight forces that want to drag us back about 500 years. I believe most young women today have no comprehension of the daily conditions for women just 50-60 years ago. I remember the fight for Title IX and female sports, hysteria and hate spewed over the thought that girls and women would have athletic outlets. As a young teen I was in awe of the female dental tech talking about jogging and inspiring me. I was slow as a rock but I enjoyed the feeling of freedom and didn't care about the stares. We've come a long way. Almost every natural inclination and ability I have is in traditionally hands-on male fields of endeavor and I've had to fight every inch of the way. I've had support and mentoring from some men along the way and I've also had to deal with those who felt entitled to try and block me from living my life as I see fit. I can remember growing up and constantly being asked why I hated being a girl. This included men and women who would likely have been considered conservative at the time. It seems now they've all transferred over to the left. I don't receive hatred from conservatives that those on the left spew towards women these days. I've used labels but we need to stop obsessing over labels and find our common ground. There's two enemies in this fight; misogynistic men and what I call the trans-handmaidens. These handmaidens have always had males on a pedestal, and they are carrying out a scorched earth war against the women who don't go along with the program. These women (Sturgeon) are always about centering the needs of the worst men, but I have my own scorched earth tactics and I'm not backing down. I'm heartened by you, JK Rowling and every other man and woman standing up to stand these Orwellian mobs down.
Kara: first off, thank you so much for opening your Substack up to comments, and I hope all here will adhere to Kara’s guidelines to maintain constructive discussions. Second (really this is likely first), I am very, very grateful for your courageous advocacy.
I’d like to add, to Kara’s excellent list of those who have been speaking up so courageously, Lisa Selin Davis (who also has a Substack, and whose focus, as the mother of two affected girls, is what’s happening with young people). I have learned an enormous amount from her, including how to most effectively use my own small voice.
Finally, I want to encourage everyone here to speak up as you can, in ways that are comfortable for you, even in the smallest of ways. As the old mantra goes, “many hands make light work.” I have been amazed and surprised to discover how much little steps, with one person at a time, can add up to making a much bigger difference. If each of us just keeps chipping away in our own little corners of the world, collectively, we will get there, and we will win.
Thank you for your work Kara, and thank you for opening up comments.
My question: when did it become "radical" to demand basic rights for women?
This leads me to ask also if feminists describing themselves as "radical" is a politically useful meme. My gut instinct is that it is not.
To all here: in this post, Kara has listed a number of wonderful things she and others, both as individuals and through organizations, have done to counter the scourge of gender ideology. One of the hopes I have from Kara opening up comments is for us all to be able to share what strategies any of us has used, in no matter how small a way, to join in this fight. It can be overwhelming, as the problem is so widespread and multi-faceted. I’ll put out a couple things I have tried, falteringly, but every now and then with a little success:
1) if I spot a concrete local issue, eg, right now there is a bill in my state assembly that would allow men to self-ID into women’s prisons, I write to the local official(s) to state my view. In this case, I got only acknowledgement of receipt from a staff person (v automated), but I have made a mental note to build on that as the occasion arises.
2) at least once each day that I spot something problematic (or good on the issue) in a news or opinion article, I write a comment to address it, and, if possible and appropriate, I write directly to the author of the article. It’s good to be aware that even online comments can make a difference: in some cases, the writer of the article actually reads them; in other cases, mere quantity can count. So, as one example, a young writer in a magazine to which I subscribe wrote a piece explaining why boycotting can be a good tool to bring about change. I know this to be true from working way back when for ACTWU v JP Stevens, but unfortunately, she chose a very bad example, which was boycotting the Harry Potter video games because, she claimed, Rowling is a transphobe filled with hate. I wrote to the editor in chief and explained (as politely as I could) that the problem here was Rowling isn’t in the least a transphobe, and recommended that the writer, and all of his staff, read Rowling’s own words on the subject. He did respond, and he wasn’t dismissive. It’s a small thing, but it’s a start, I do hope.
So, I don’t want to go on, but I hope some here might chime in with what you’ve tried, and how it went.
Thank you for this piece. It bears repeating, and this says what needs to be said.
Leftist radical feminist for 40 years here. I’ve lost friends over this and I have learned to be careful about talking about this so I don’t find my car or house or person being attacked in ways more harmful than just having my feelings hurt by people who drink the trans kool-aid.
WE ARE HERE.
We have been collecting news stories, creating databases, organizing, and we have been DOING THIS MOSTLY IN SECRET BECAUSE PEOPLE SILENCED US.
I had every single account (Twitter, Facebook, Medium, and many others) shut down because I hav e been an out and proud TERF for a decade, and know others who have been the radical feminists who educated me about this before I understood what was happening.
Now that the push back is being credited to the conservatives, a lot of us are cringing, not only at the “where are the feminists” but because it’s being flung about by people who historically despise us as much as the men who mock us by pretending to be us.
Where are we? We are there screaming and no one hears us. So, for the conservatives who spent a lifetime trying to push women back into the kitchen to do their husbands bidding, don’t ask me that or you will never hear the end of it.
Just because the world has no desire to hear us doesn’t mean we were not there risking our safety and well-being to defend our rights.
I guess our voices are too shrill and y’all just can’t hear us. Brand new day, same old drag.
I needed this review. Thanks.
For those who may not be familiar with the writings of Jo Bartosch, I recommend her work. This piece, “It’s not ‘far right’ to question Drag Queen Story Hour: Parents’ legitimate safeguarding concerns are being dismissed as fascistic,” is typical of her sharp-witted, rye commentary.
Here’s a quote: “In truth, the growth of drag events for children is an indictment of the mainstream. What possible good did Tate Britain think it was doing by hosting a Drag Queen Story Hour? And why are so many libraries and schools so keen to put on these trans-activist events for children? This has left an open, child-safeguarding-shaped hole for more extreme groups to step through.”
While Bartosch is writing in the UK about events there, I am sure many of us have seen this and things akin to it happen wherever we live. One little thing I do when I see cultural institutions of which I am a member kowtow to gender ideology/self ID is to write to them, or if sent a member survey, take on any questions that show gender ideology at work. (In a recent example, I objected to the Morgan Library putting on an Eddie Izzard “one woman show.”
I would be interested to hear from anyone here what, if anything, you try to do when encountering things like this.
There is just so much good writing about gender ideology, if only you know where to look. I think one of the confounding things with many friends who balk when I try to discuss this with them is that they look to public and media figures they trust on other issues as guides to this one. It’s a very hard thing to let go of that and truly think for yourself; you really have to fight against your own priors, and I don’t underestimate how hard that can be. I have been there myself, and there still remain lines I just won’t cross.
Lisa Selin Davis noted this today, when reflecting on an interview she recently did: “We need to stop discounting information just because of where it appears. When it comes to what's happening in gender clinics, to what's happening to families who haven't been given full information, who've been told science is settled when it's not—we need to put politics aside.”
This occasioned recalling a good friend who balked at reading something by Davis herself, as it appeared in the New York Post, but did so because he trusted my judgment about Davis. He was amazed at how rational the piece was, then went on his own search to discover other things Davis has written, no matter where they had appeared. He has never turned back, and I am beyond grateful to have him as an ally. With other friends, unfortunately, I have as yet had no luck. One friend has particularly high regard for Jon Stewart, who is calamitously wrong on these issues. When I gently tried to point out how, she clammed up, and the subject has been off limits since (though I try to keep our lines of communication friendly while looking for another opening).
I’d be interested to hear how others have dealt with this kind of thing, as I am sure so many of you have.
Yes yes, Susan, I know what you mean about the "breakthrough moment." I also find that many women simply do not realize the totality of the problem, as they are busy living their lives, working, etc. For those of us who are really involved and informed, there is that realization. I do think the Title IX change possibility, if understood, is a huge wake up call. People have not been paying attention, and perhaps now they are. I find some of the Youtube info very helpful - there are several women who are speaking out about this and the long-term danger of transition.
I think, too, that since we live in the West, we are, of course, very open to civil and human rights, as we should be. This ideology has hijacked citizens' desire to be open to all lifestyles, etc. And of course most of us want people to live as their authentic selves. This also leaves open to these types of delusional ideologies, and many people are reluctant to speak up for fear of being accused of being some sort of "phobe."
As time goes on, this will eventually settle. Sadly, there will be so much human destruction in its path, with many, many young people irreparably harmed. We must persevere, and we will!
Thanks for mentioning "Extraordinary Popular Delusions." I was not familiar with that!
Margot: Love what you have written, and so agree--including with that horrible sense of being bottled up with frustration, and how freeing it actually can be to find ways to speak out. And a big yes to gatherings, where that is possible to do. The Glasgow “Let Women Speak” event was truly powerful. BTW, for any who have not seen it, here is a lovely video someone made of it: https://youtu.be/bJ8ygetXvhM
Sorry - it wasn’t Hannity where I saw Kara first, but Tucker Carlson!
Thank you, Kara, for all that you are doing to combat this nonsensical, yet insidious, gender ideology. I have been following you since your first appearance on Hannity. I think it matters little which side of the political aisle one is on when it comes to all of this. Though I must confess that I do favor some of what Duane has said, we must pull ourselves together and stand up for what is not only right, but logical and real in every sense.
I have read a good deal about the history of this ridiculous ideology and have been following (quite obsessively), all news gender-related, including Riley Gaines’ fight for womens’ sports to Nicola Sturgeon’s merciful resignation!
I have always stood for womens’ rights but have not necessarily defined myself as a feminist so much as a “rugged individualist.” Now is the time, though, for strong women to step up and redefine ourselves. We must appeal to the young generation. We must bring back the legacy and truths of our mothers and grandmothers who, regardless of political persuasion, understood the meaning of womanhood. And I am very optimistic that this is happening.
I am disheartened, though, that this terrible conflict is so defined by politics - not at all surprised of course. We have come to be so wed to our left or right leaning persuasions that’s nothing else matters. This is why it’s such a HUGE big deal that Jamie Reed has blown the whistle on what’s happening in the Missouri gender clinic. I am sure that such things are happened everywhere that these clinics exist. The sad legacy, what I refer to as the “Lupron legacy” will surely leave a terrible blight on our time, one in which countless children, and adults too, will have been permanently harmed.
Finally, I want to say “spread the word!” All of us - men and women - will make good things happen and halt the march of gender ideology if we stay strong! And, I’m grateful for having discovered WoLF through Kara, an organization that I have recently started to contribute to.
Great updates from Kara to this piece!