Stick ’em Up?

A mysterious activist, known only as #stickerwoman, is causing consternation in towns and cities up and down the country armed with these:

It’s a pink, flaccid member carrying the slogan women don’t have penises.

The shadowy crusader has been attaching her cardboard schlongs to objects and buildings up and down the country. She struck in Liverpool — causing Labour Party councillor Paul Kenyon to reach for his smelling salts. He tweeted:

Whatever this campaign is, it’s the most horrific thing I’ve seen in a long time.

If that’s true, Liverpool must have softened up since I was last there.

Mayor Joe Anderson is so worried, he confirmed in a tweet on 19th August that he has called the coppers in to identify the culprit. Up and down the country #stickerwoman has been up to her tricks, leaving behind her a trail of two-dimensional todgers.

(I will now stop making penis jokes.)

Obviously #stickerwoman has hit a nerve. But what of the claim that the campaign is transphobic or a potential hate crime?

Let’s look at the arguments.

The first problem — and, apologies, this is something I am writing about repeatedly at the moment — is Stonewall’s definition of transphobia:

The fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are trans, including the denial/refusal to accept their gender identity.

The first part of this definition is uncontroversial. The second part is not. Stonewall defines gender identity as:

A person’s innate sense of their own gender, whether male, female or something else … which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.

The concept of gender identity boils down to the idea that we are what we say we are. There’s no problem with that on a personal basis — we are all free to see ourselves in any way we choose. But today’s transgender ideology insists that gender identity is the sole determinant of whether one is a man or woman — i.e. by claiming a female gender identity one becomes a woman, in all contexts and circumstances, immediately.

As far as Stonewall is concerned, anyone who is unwilling— or unable — to accept that any man can become a woman by declaring that he feels like one, is transphobic. A bigot.

This is why #stickerwoman did this to Stonewall’s central London office:

When activists intervene in public space there is often a degree of offence caused. Peter Tatchell’s work with Outrage! in the 1990s frequently caused offence. Today he is seen as a national treasure alongside Dame Judi, but that wasn’t the case when he did this in 1998:

As Peter Tatchell wrote in the Dutch Amnesty International Magazine in February 1999:

[the protest] was denounced by some people as sacrilegious and blasphemous. I would suggest, however, that our minor disruption of the Easter Service pales into insignificance when compared to Dr Carey’s support for discrimination against queers.

Tatchell makes a crucial point here. A basic test of any potentially offensive activist intervention is proportionality. Tatchell has this to say:

Our Easter protest was necessary because Dr Carey is unwilling to listen to the concerns of the homosexual community. In the eight years since he became Archbishop, he has refused to meet gay organisations. He won’t meet even fellow Anglicans who belong to the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. When Dr Carey slams the door on dialogue, confronting him is the only option.

This parallels the situation women are in today.

The space for reasonable discussion has been strategically closed down by a coalition of LGBT groups following Stonewall’s lead. First Stonewall adopts a definition of transphobia which is designed to demonise anyone who questions the catechisms trans women are women / trans men are men. The LGBT media demonises women who won’t acquiesce to this ideology. LGBT organisations nationwide adopt the Stonewall definition and transmit it locally and regionally. All of this then licenses misogynistic trans activists to enforce the demonisation of women by monstering them on social media, targeting the funders and trustees of women’s organisations, and seeking to prevent women gathering to discuss these issues.

The result is a culture of fear in which women are effectively silenced. What else are they supposed to do? Every avenue is blocked. The only remaining option is guerrilla activism.

And what great activism it is:

It is precisely focused on the issue, perfectly encapsulating the absurdity of its target. It is agenda-setting — people are talking about it. While the campaign is fuelled by anger, the stickers themselves are playful in tone. Witty, even.

That’s not to say that they don’t offend or cause some people pain. They do. I have had several conversations online with people who have been hurt by them, who have found it painful to see them — just as some Christians were hurt by Tatchell’s Easter Sermon protest. I acknowledge this.

But this campaign is necessary. It is proportional and well-executed. By any reasonable definition of transphobia it is emphatically not transphobic.

There is no hate in these stickers.

Go, #stickerwoman.