"There is a stubbornness in me that does not tolerate being intimidated by the will of others.
My courage rises at every attempt to frighten me".
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1813
An earthquake is shaking Anglo-Saxon universities. Provoking it gender critical professors who denounce, at the risk of their careers, the loss of academic freedom and the intimidating climate in discussing sex, gender and gender identity.
"The gender identity movement is erasing people's freedom of speech and the academic freedom of anyone who disagrees, openly opposes or appeals to the right to debate". This is supported by Donna Hughes, professor of Gender Studies at the University of Rhode Island, USA, who wrote an incendiary essay for the feminist website 4W, Fourth Wave.
In the essay, Hughes comes down hard. He writes: 'Believing that you can change your gender is a transsexual fantasy"and that " young people are driven to hormonal and surgical horrors removing sex". Not only that. Hughes denounces the fact that many people have started to pay the misgendering - the wrong gender attribution - with the loss of one's social account or even one's job. It then goes so far as to compare people whose gender identity is different from the sex registered at birth to the followers of Qanon and criticises the left, which has plunged headlong into a world of lies. Boom!
His comments were immediately condemned by the director of the university's Gender and Sexuality Center, Annie Russel, who called them 'unacceptable'. The University has distanced itself in a statement stating that they do not support statements expounding anti-transgender views. This was followed by a online smear campaign.
Hughes is not the only one who disagrees with the orthodoxy of her institution. In the UK Kathleen Stock, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sussexrecently awarded an OBE for her work. campaign for academic freedom - and in particular that of examining the requests of pressure groups such as Stonewall - received in January a open letter signed by 600 people 'appalled' by his honour. Reason? His nefarious rhetoric. The email accusing Stock of transphobic scaremongeringof wanting to restrict people's access to life-saving medical treatment and of encouraging the harassment of gender non-conforming people. "It was incredibly stressful to see blatant lies presented as facts. But the letter also shows what a monstrous mess we are in when we talk about sex and gender"Stock retorts. He continues: 'I abhor discrimination against the trans world but I also believe in the freedom to examine the consequences of change, including the costs to women, gay rights and the health of children who want to change gender. As a lesbian with teenage children these topics are very close to me. And even more so as an academic and philosopher whose job it is to make sure that the investigating the truth. We must be free to discuss these things in public. Yet when I tried to do so I received complaints, disciplinary enquiries, protests from students, and constant defamation from colleagues.".
Stock has been isolated. "I have stopped attending philosophy conferences because I can no longer stand theostracism and dirty looks.. I walk through my department at the University of Sussex with a sense of dread. Two years ago the campus security manager shocked me by showing me the emergency phone system and had a peephole installed in the door. Later, when I was at a graduation I was joined by security who showed me the quickest way to leave the stage during an emergency.I was no longer shocked - the experience had become normal.".
Removed from TwitterStock has released amuch discussed interview with Charlie Hebdo where accused the liberal feminism of middle-class university students of surrendering to the militant trans movement and moving away from the working class.
For those who work in the university, the message is clear: either you conform to the dominant narrative or you come to a bad end. It is no coincidence that other academics such as Selina Todd, Oxford history, has a ssecurity service for its conferences e Alice Sullivanprofessor of sociology at University College London was removed - no platforming - from an event on census data collection guidelines. Is this a new witch-hunt? Silence is violence.
To rebel against this culture GCAcademia Network, a site where gender-critical lecturers and students denounce anonymously the intimidating climate, bullying, threats and basically the death of academic debate, was born. Chilling testimonies that once again measure the suffocating climate and loss of freedom in universities. One lecturer: "They encourage us to state and use pronouns and to confessing whether we are cis or trans. Teaching Women and Gender Studies has become a nightmare that no one wants to talk about anymore.. Queer Theory dominates everywhere". A student studying English Literature: "I recently had a paper corrected where have replaced every time I have written 'female' or 'sex' with 'gender' and 'gender identity'. Some phrasesthey don't even make sense anymore. I thought the point of doing university was to support freedom of expression and to promote discussion and debate. I feel like leaving".
Another student from the University of Edinburgh: "We are asked to use terminology approved by Stonewall and to talk about sex assigned at birth. and the true gender of people". University feminist groups are not safe either. "I am a Fine Art student at a university in the UK. I joined the Feminist Society thinking of finding a space where we can discuss feminism freely. The first session on Zoom was opened by a man using the pronouns She/Her. He spoke in place of women as if he were a woman. even though he had obviously never experienced sexism in his life because he was clearly a sexist. a man with female pronouns. I was shocked but if I had intervened I would have been accused of transphobia and racism".
Nina Wess 30 March 2021
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