Once upon a time, we were allowed to feel ambivalent about people. We were allowed to say, “I like what they did here, but that bit over there doesn’t thrill me so much.” Those days are gone. Today the rule is that if someone—a scientist, a writer, a broadcaster, a politician—does one thing we don’t like, they’re dead to us.
At least on the left.
A few months ago, the blog site Everyday Feminism contacted me because they wanted to reprint my wildly popular essay, “What If We Admitted to Children that Sex is Primarily about Pleasure?”
I wrote back with some terms. They had to credit Pacific Standard for making the essay go viral. They had to mention my two most recent books. And they had to pay me a little something.
I should have known this was going to be a bad experience when the editor contacting me told me that “we may also make changes to the content, particularly changing the wording to be inclusive.” Really—I was going to be policed for inclusivity, huh? In response to this, I required that they get my permission before changing anything. . . .
So they republished the piece a day or so ago. And then suddenly—flash!—it disappeared. “404 page not found.”
I thought to myself, “I’ll bet someone told them I’m supposedly an enemy of transgender rights, and so they pulled it.”
Today by email, from Josette Sousa, Program Coordinator for Everyday Feminism, when I wrote to ask “wtf”:
What happened was that we decided to pull the article from circulation shortly after it went up. When we asked permission from it we weren’t aware of some of the articles you’ve published on trans issues and after a reader brought it to our attention and we looked into them. We then realized that while we very much valued the information in the article on teaching children that sex is about pleasure, the views expressed in several of your other articles directly conflicts with the work we’re trying to do in Everyday Feminism. For that reason, we decided to pull the article.”
So supposedly something I’ve written about trans issues is so terribly offensive, Everyday Feminism doesn’t dare publish a piece by me on talking to your kids about sex!
Censorship atomic bomb style.
And what are the “viewed expressed in several of [my] other articles that directly conflicts with the work [they’re] trying to do”? Of course they don’t say. Because I think they’d have an awfully hard time pointing to any such thing.
A number of my fellow feminists have pointed out that today, women like me can be subject to silencing simply on the basis that they have supposedly said something that is anti-trans rights, even if they have not. Anyone so labeled also gets labeled a “TERF”: trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
But it does no good. Because as soon as you assert anything that someone with the trans identity card claims is anti-trans, you are stripped of your rights to be a sex-positive feminist talking about sex ed at a feminist website. At least in the case of “Everyday Feminism.”
This “zero tolerance” approach on the left is like some kind of Monty Python satire of activism. It would be funny if it did not lead to the right pointing out how the left isn’t actually thinking, it’s just playing a game of identity politics go fish. Who has the most oppression cards? They win!
I’m still on the left. I’m still pushing for trans rights. Try and stop me.