Misogyny to the left of me, chauvinism to the right…Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.
“You have heard what he’s said about women, right?” tweets the bearded man with what I imagine is a condescending smirk. The ‘he’ man-beard is referring to is Jordan Peterson. The polarising and controversial Canadian Clinical Psychologist is in New Zealand on his speaking tour to promote his new book. I think it is a book about telling kids to tidy their rooms, but according to some Peterson “threatens everything of value in our society”.
Men like man-beard and those at Auckland Peace Action (do not get me started on the hypocrisy of their name) are determined that no one should listen to or read the words of Peterson or else they be…well, I’m actually not sure what they think will happen if people are exposed to ideas and opinions they disagree with. In fact, judging by this horrendously cringeworthy interview with Sean Plunket, APA struggle themselves to name what is that they fear Peterson will inflict on our small island nation.
What they fear is not that Peterson’s opinions will cause mass violence or that swarms of locusts will fill the streets of Auckland. They fear that people will listen to him and be persuaded. They recognise that rightly or wrongly their positions on many things are at odds with Peterson’s. They are aware of the precarious knife-edge their legitimacy sits on and that a sound argument presented well could easily sway the minds of their fellow New Zealanders.
Women on the left are notoriously loyal. We — yes, for now I will say we — can be relied upon for our votes, our labour, and our activism. We toe the party line and are excellent foot soldiers…mostly for movements that leave us behind. However, somewhere along the way we have been socialised and socialised ourselves to put every other cause above our own. One only need look at the state of feminism to see the results of this. Feminism is virtually meaningless because it is required to tick every other box on the planet before it can address its true purpose of the liberation of women and girls. It is the only movement in the world not allowed to centre itself in its activism, to accurately name its oppressors, and to accurately name itself.
Women on the left have done the grunt work for the men on podiums since forever. The nitty gritty boring jobs go to the ladies and the lads orate and narrate the process. The cries for equality and fairness have echoed around women for every cause but our own. Sure, the blokes on the left have learned the lines and are excellent at self-indulgent rants online about bodily autonomy and violence against women, but in practice they are as useless as tits on a bull.
Why then, are women so staunchly loyal to the men on the left? The men who will happily exploit their labour, but never bring themselves to fight for meaningful change for women? Fear. Manipulated by the fear of ostracism and conditioned to see the political landscape as ‘us vs them’ or ‘good vs bad’, women see the rest of politics as the oppressive ‘right’. Once tainted by conservative politics a person, publication, TV programme or whatever is off limits and “dangerous”. Women know that if they associate with someone or something that has been labeled transgressive they will be showing themselves to be a ‘bad’ liberal.
Having been taught that our primary role in life is to nurture and care for others, the masterstroke in leftist manipulation has been the proliferation of new oppressions that women are somehow responsible for preventing. Women fear being found to be inadequate allies or carers to those deemed more marginalised than them and so they will cast their own interests aside to preference the needs of others.
We, women, are held responsible for the minute actions of every human being we come into contact with. We are told not to speak to people who might otherwise help us if they have ever so much as thought a thought not sanctioned by progressive politics. If we seek resources outside of the boundaries decided by the gatekeepers of the left they will quickly point out the alleged racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, or bigotry of the person or group we’re associating with. The disapproval is loud and explicit and can come in the form of mass attacks. At their most manipulative, those on the left will warn a potential dissenter that a particular person or group are “misogynists” or have advocated against women’s rights. It is their trump card. How could any self-respecting woman on the left associate with a man who is so anti-feminist? If only some of the men on the left owned a mirror.
Women on the left are caged. We hold our opinions up as proof of our freedom. ‘Look!’ we cry, ‘we have radical opinions about society! We are strong women!” We forget that every opinion we hold is sanctioned because if we held an unsanctioned opinion we would be cast out. We are not allowed to question orthodoxies or challenge hierarchies of oppression. We are caged in an invisible prison of ideology and validation.
I never felt more endangered than when I became free. The cage was safe if I toed the line. People agreed with me readily when I repeated catch cries and talking points. I didn’t need to think ideas through beyond accepting that they were what had been agreed upon. But, once I dared to expose myself as a ‘bad’ liberal/feminist/leftist/woman I realised that I was free to say whatever I wanted because I was already exposed. Sure the death threats and rape threats and violent rhetoric were not very nice, but I felt like for the first time in a long time I wasn’t answerable to anyone. I could form an opinion myself, argue its merits, and be unafraid of losing anything…because I had already lost it all.
In the beginning I had to literally train myself to listen to diverse viewpoints again. I forced myself to read, listen, and watch people I would have rejected previously. I got better at remaining calm when listening to someone I disagree with and not seeing offence in every sentence. I listened to podcasts by people I had hated without knowing much about them at all. I was able to critically examine their opinions and my own and accept that while I still vehemently disagreed with them on many issues, we could agree on some stuff too.
I can also still agree with many of the ideas and concepts on the left, however, the tribalism and identity politics that has completely co-opted the left has made reasonable discourse difficult. Many on the left cannot accept the dialectic that you can both agree and disagree on separate issues simultaneously. To them one is only acceptable if they have proven themselves to agree with all of the groupthink prescribed opinions. To fall short on just one will see you denounced in the strongest of terms. It is an all or nothing situation.
I disagree with a great deal of what Jordan Peterson says. I also find much of what he has to say interesting whether I agree with it or not and I do agree with some of what Jordan Peterson says. I am capable of managing this. Most of us are capable of managing the diverse opinions of the people we encounter without resorting to hyperbolic press releases declaring the end of the world.
Men have exploited the resources of everything and anything they have ever come across. They have been void of the very scruples demanded of women. When men cross political lines to work with others it is diplomacy or business and it is celebrated as mature and noble. They are not caged as women are by the ideology of the left.
This week the incredible Julia Beck made an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight which was inevitably an assault to many of her politics and core beliefs. However, Julia has been cast out by the left. They punished her for speaking the truth and ostracised her from where she should have been safe. Her name was blacklisted like so many other women, where was she to go? How was she to fight back? By saying “you can’t hang out with anyone except us” the left has complete control, but only if we let them.
The left is no less misogynistic than the right and neither serves the interests of women. Why is it any worse to align ourselves with someone who denies us the right to abortion and full reproductive autonomy than someone who quite literally advocates for our erasure as a sex class and as a consequence advocates for the destruction of human rights laws that protect us? Likewise, Tucker Carlson and co may be homophobic in the old Christian bible-basher sense, but every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the left is busy calling lesbians transphobic for declining to have sex with transwomen. I don’t care if your homophobia is cloaked in religious bigotry or a rainbow flag, you are not a friend to me.
Women will not be told who we can and cannot talk to. No man-beard on this planet controls who we work with. Make no mistake we know men outside of the left are not allies; they are resources and don’t you dare judge us for exploiting them. True allies do not make women choose between bodily autonomy and the right to define ourselves. The only man we will call an ally is one who will not prevent us from defining ourselves and our boundaries, who will pay more than lip service to women’s activist causes, who will stand against our colonisation, not raise a fist against us, and who will aid us as we break the chains of patriarchal power.