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Irish women - literary wokeness

(78 Posts)
notyourhandmaid Sat 03-Oct-20 11:45:55

“I think transwomen are women, transmen are men, and trans rights are human rights,” she says. “I find it deeply distressing that this targets a group who we all know have a higher incidence of violence and suicide. I really don’t understand why people [who call themselves feminists] have an issue with them. It’s like Flavia Dzodan says: my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bulls**t.” - Sinead Gleeson in today's Irish Times (

Not a surprise to see this but a tad depressing that someone who writes about the female body and anthologises women's short stories goes into slogan-mode here.

"When I try to draw Ahern on the challenges of writing a woman of colour, especially these days when writers are under scrutiny like never before, often employing “sensitivity readers” to avoid causing offence, she is cautious. I go on to mention JK Rowling and John Boyne as writers who have been criticised in recent times for aspects of their work, but she does not want to offer a view except to say that kind of attention is not something she “goes after”."
- Roisin Ingle on Cecelia Ahern, also today (

OP’s posts: |
XXSex Sat 03-Oct-20 12:38:42

Thanks for raising this. The Irish times Is woke woke woke

XXSex Sat 03-Oct-20 12:39:24

I wonder what roisin ingles views are?

MadamBatty Sat 03-Oct-20 13:14:11

It’s the Irish Times, it’s turned into an absolute rag with opinion pieces presented as news.

DonkeySkin Sat 03-Oct-20 13:45:09

I think it is worth unpacking Gleeson's arguments, because she exemplifies such a common viewpoint among left-ish feminist women.

First: The declaration transwomen are women, transmen are men, trans rights are human rights, followed by: I find it deeply distressing that this targets a group who we all know have a higher incidence of violence and suicide.

The second sentence is supposed to provide justification for the prior claim. But why? Even if it were true that trans-identified people suffer disproportionate levels of violence (they don't) and higher rates of suicide (unclear), it wouldn't make their claims to be the opposite sex any more true.

So what's going on here? What is the argument that is really being made behind the slogan-chanting? I think it is a moral argument that we should all behave as if people can be the opposite sex, because of the deep distress they feel when reminded of their actual sex.

Same for the trans rights are human rights bit. There is no human right to be treated as a sex which you are not. We are back to the argument that it is unspeakably cruel - a human rights breach, even - to remind people of their sex if they claim transgender status. But why is this cruel, while forcing other people to lie about reality not cruel? Again, it comes back to mental health. People who don't claim trans status are presumed to have more robust mental health than those who do, and, as such, it is incumbent on the former group to acquiesce to the claims of the latter, even if it costs them. Whatever the costs to the non-trans group - truth, comfort, resources, safety, it doesn't really matter, because the presumed cost to the trans group - suicide - is so high, it will always trump anyone else's claim.

I really don’t understand why people [who call themselves feminists] have an issue with them.

This is pretty straightforward. As well as the 'suicide-risk-trumps-all-other-possible-harms' claim, Gleeson is here gesturing towards a belief that castrated males couldn't possibly be a threat to women. It doesn't matter if the males in question have been literally castrated, the act of a man adorning himself with artefacts of femininity is enough to symbolically castrate him in many people's eyes. Many people seem to experience a sort of brain short-circuit when you put things associated with women (dresses, make-up, feminine pronouns, the word 'woman') together with men - they act as if the man has been stripped of his masculinity by a kind of voodoo, and thus they are unable to conceive of him as a threat. This is one reason why it is so important to use correct pronouns and clear language (i.e., not 'transwomen') when speaking about this issue.

It’s like Flavia Dzodan says: my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bulls**t.

Again, fairly straightforward. Gleeson is working from an assumption that trans-identified people share a basic condition with women, and therefore we are united in the struggle against 'gender norms' and 'patriarchy'. Superficially, it seems logical. Men are derided and sometimes even subjected to violence for violating sex stereotypes; thus, men who want to be women must be in a common struggle with women, and there is no contradiction between their wants and our needs.

This is actually the assumption that most women start from when first encountering this issue. It is only when you look more closely at what the men who 'identify as women' are actually saying and doing and advocating for, that the 'common struggle against patriarchy' notion falls apart. IMO this also demonstrates that overbroad concepts like 'patriarchy' are worse than useless for feminist analysis, because they function as a sort of dustbin into which anything anyone doesn't like about the current culture can be chucked. Women's specific issues and needs are completely obliterated by these kinds of vague, sweeping concepts.

TweeBree Sat 03-Oct-20 13:50:18

Intersectional doesn't mean including men. If we are forced to be any more intersectional we'll be including animals and fauna.

notyourhandmaid Sat 03-Oct-20 13:50:23

@DonkeySkin that analysis is very useful - will draw on that in the future. Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
notyourhandmaid Sat 03-Oct-20 13:57:30


I wonder what roisin ingles views are?

Her interview with John Boyne over the summer -

"“Well, I think I’ve always been quite a feminist writer,” Boyne says when I bring this up. “And it’s something I’ve worked quite hard in my books to do. I’ve always supported women writers and minorities in general, I think.”
“We’ll get back to that,” I say, almost choking on a mouthful of salad."

It gets worse.

OP’s posts: |
swingsandroundabouts1 Sat 03-Oct-20 14:31:37

There is an article in today's Irish Independent about "no platforming".
T CD historical society had invited Richard Dawkins for a debate. However his invitation was rescinded due to his views on Islam and sexual assaults. The society's statement was they were not "moving ahead with his address as we value our members comfort above all else"
Which appears to miss the point of having a debate.
An interesting quote from Brian O 'Shea "" they have totally rejected the idea of free speech and embraced their own beliefs that they seem to be the morally correct and unquestionably virtuous ones. "
" Progressives have wormed their way to the top of Irish society and have demonstrated their absolute intolerance for dissent"
The article briefly touches on the trans issue by mentioning Jordan Peters on, equally loved and loathed for his "22 rules of life" bestseller and refusal to recognise the weird cis.
On the other hand Ivana Bacik appears to be defending what is happening. No wonder Labour are losing voters., 🙄

swingsandroundabouts1 Sat 03-Oct-20 14:38:53

The same paper also has a column about the Green party. Green party activists have been told not to use "big words" when engaging with rural voters as they might not understand what they mean ( no, I'm not joking).
It appears big word like sustainable and biodiversity are beyond the intelligence of rural voters. Instead use words like flowers, the Robin, the Sparrow and cattle.
However, I get the feeling that "simple" words like woman might not be recommended. wink

notyourhandmaid Sat 03-Oct-20 14:39:57

found link for the above piece if anyone needs:

OP’s posts: |
MarDhea Sat 03-Oct-20 14:43:05

I'm unsurprised by Trinners at all here - the student socs are woke central and have been for some time.

Not sure Ivana Bacik is actually supporting them, though. I read her words as taking a nuanced position, where she doesn't support no-platforming unless it's for something demonstrably false like Holocaust denial, but she also doesn't think free speech is an absolute right under Irish law. A very lawyery response grin I reckon she has splinters in her arse from such persistent fence sitting.

Itsinthetreesitscoming Sat 03-Oct-20 14:47:04

Excellent post Donkey skin, wish those people who unthinkingly spout the mantra TWAW would engage in some critical thinking.

swingsandroundabouts1 Sat 03-Oct-20 15:05:46

Yes, I think Ivana was more sitting on the fence than defending. But seriously, it is hardly controversial to say that a debating society that doesn't want to feel uncomfortable is kind of missing the point. So sitting on the fence on this is not a good look.

Abhannmor Sat 03-Oct-20 16:03:22

Thanks Donkey Skin for that very clearly argued and helpful post.

Deliriumoftheendless Sat 03-Oct-20 16:04:50

When you see the end result of this ideology somehow putting rapists in women’s prisons, erections in women’s shelters and women who have had miscarriages/stillbirths/gynae cancers etc forced out of support groups especially coupled with men’s access to women for sex/porn on demand I have to say “if your feminism doesn’t include vulnerable women then your feminism is bullshit.”

Abhannmor Sat 03-Oct-20 16:08:46

Very cute response from Cecelia Ahern. I can't think where she gets it from....

swingsandroundabouts1 Sat 03-Oct-20 16:11:37

Unlike Ivana Bacik. Ian O'Doherty doesn't hold back. The decision by the students is "cowardly feeble minded, pathetic and utterly spineless".
And "when these overly coddled,overly indulged weaklings finally get to enter the real world they're going to be in for a shock when people call them out on their nonsense"
Very true but will they ever develop the critical thinking skills to realise that maybe.just maybe, they were wrong?

swingsandroundabouts1 Sat 03-Oct-20 16:13:01


Very cute response from Cecelia Ahern. I can't think where she gets it from....

Lol. I was thinking the same thing.

Helmetbymidnight Sat 03-Oct-20 16:27:51

really interesting analysis, donkeyskin.

EarlofEggMcMuffin Sat 03-Oct-20 17:57:16

Oh deary deary.
For a writer to say that "transwomen are women, transmen are men" is distressing to me as a biological female.
But my distress appears to be of no consideration to the wokerati.

Trans people are human, and thus have the same human rights as every one else. There is no category of human rights from which you are excluded by virtue of being trans. And, if you are, I will absolutely stand beside you in the fight for them.

However, as sex is immutable, you cannot acquire the rights or protections of a different sex.
For instance, it is unconscionable that a person of the male sex is imprisoned with females.
And whilst I can change gender in Ireland, I cannot be ordained as a priest...why? Sex is immutable.

As for the assertion that “I find it deeply distressing that this targets a group who we all know have a higher incidence of violence and suicide" I would like to see actual peer-reviewed statistics that support this. I've looked and failed to find them, thus far.

purplepizzabunny Sat 03-Oct-20 18:03:25

Brilliant analysis Donkeyskin. I'm not remotely surprised TBH, a lot of Irish writers seem to be in absolute thrall to A***e Martin from the stuff I've seen on twitter. I wish we had one brave author willing to stand up in Ireland. The Hist? Hmm. In a way, I do feel Amanda Craig's handling of Kiran Milward Hargrave was excellent, and given I'm sure the auditor of the Hist is only early to mid twenties, I don't advocate a pile on. That said, it's an awful decision. I do remember the 1980s Irving incident that Bacik referenced, and I did have sympathy , as at that time Irving was completely discredited. It must be a tough decision making process for the committee to decide on who to ask to speak. I don't know who is involved in the final decisions to offer an invitation, but I do think there should some collegiality among former and incoming presidents - namely that even if someone doesn't agree with a decision their predecessor made, it should be honoured unless there are very good reasons why it's not appropriate. I wouldn't advocate inviting Nigel Farage now, purely because he's a total has been, not because of his views. Dawkins - from reading his wikipedia pages, yes , personally some of his views towards women are questionable, to say the least and I don't agree with him. But lets be honest - there are probably a lot out there who do. Witness the awful abuse the complainant received in high profile Belfast rape trial of 2018 ? So let him in and debate the hell out of him with both barrels. One former member of the Hist wrote on the twitter thread that they invited the First Secretary of the South African embassy coming over to give his views on a debate - and he said while no one was comfortable, the debate was much better for his presence.

Malahaha Sat 03-Oct-20 19:55:16

I'm an author and I hope to stand up sometime around mid-June next year. Fingers crossed.

Malahaha Sat 03-Oct-20 19:55:47

(not a well known one by any means, though!)

peanut2017 Sat 03-Oct-20 22:25:24

Very disappointed to see this. Really liked her book. Why is everyone in Ireland in the media asleep to this? Why is being pc more important then defending women's rights

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