Uh-oh – them wokeys are on the rampage again. I know this because JK Rowling is trending on social media. Seldom a good sign in our age of Salem cyber-hysteria.
So, too, is Dame Kelly Holmes. Yikes. Two women quite rightly feted as national heroes: strong, articulate, thoughtful role models using their respective achievements as a springboard to support others.
I’m sure you are wondering what can possibly have outraged the keyboard warriors. Well, are you sitting comfortably? The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, which had named one of its houses after Rowling on the grounds she is splendid, talented and inspirational. Or rather, she was.
The author’s perfectly bog-standard, man-on-Clapham-omnibus views on sex (not even sexy-sex, just gender-sex), have seen her conferred with pariah status and branded a transphobe who was “literally killing trans people with her hate”. I’m not sure even Lord Voldemort can do that.
Her crime – I think, because it changes daily – is that she is a Terf, which is a trans-exclusionary radical feminist. I know, but stay with me. We haven’t got to the “best”, which is to say the most crazily surreal, bit.
This all started in 2019 when Rowling took to Twitter in support of tax expert Maya Forstater, who had been fired over “offensive” tweets questioning Government plans to allow people to self-identify as another gender.
Rowling expressed her exasperation by mocking bizarre “diversity” terms that undermine female identity such as “people who menstruate” and voiced her grave concern about the erosion of their rights to same-sex facilities and services.
“Small but important point: I’ve never said there are only two genders,” Rowling tweeted (confusingly, I have to say). “There are innumerable gender identities. Using the words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ interchangeably obscures the central issue of this debate.
“The question is whether sex or gender identity should form the basis of decisions on safeguarding, provision of services, sporting categories and other areas where women and girls currently have legal rights and protections.”
Yes, my head hurts, too. But in believing that sex is real and that men cannot become women, the 54-year-old has been cancelled.
No, I don’t know who decides. I would hazard a guess the whole cancellation thing isn’t so much run according to flinty, dead-eyed Soviet centralism, more along the lines of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, where random members of the intelligensia found themselves subject to the arbitrary spittle-flecked rage of jumped-up local cadres.
But I could be wrong. Most of us are, these days, to be honest.
Anyway, back to Boswells School, where Rowling’s name was summarily removed from the house and replaced by – ta-dah! – squeaky-clean Olympian Holmes.
But now it only turns out that she too has fallen foul of the angry-about-everything mob because, it was latterly discovered, she had the temerity to state her own perfectly bog-standard, man-on-Clapham omnibus views, this time on trans athletes.
A few years ago, the double gold-medallist warned about growing anger over transgender athletes competing in sporting events on the grounds that those born male had a physiological advantage.
“Nothing to do with being transphobic and nothing to do with hatred or stopping people leading their lives as they wish,” she tweeted. “But in sport, it’s a different matter for obvious reasons.”
Obvious to her. Obvious to you and me. Obvious to the most famous trans woman on the planet, Caitlin Jenner, for pity’s sake, who says that allowing trans girls to participate in female sports “just isn’t fair”.
Then again, Caitlin has been cancelled, too. I’m not making this up.
What irks me most is how it always seems to be high-profile women getting it in the neck from angry activists. I fully endorse the rights of trans people to live their lives free of discrimination. But the shouty, truculent campaigners demanding to be treated as women often aren’t very nice to those self-same women, which makes me wonder why they want to join a club they clearly despise.
The opinions of Rowing and Dame Kelly on biological sex and how to negotiate the new gender landscape strike me as perfectly reasonable. Humdrum, even. The majority of the population agrees, albeit quietly in case our radicalised children denounce us to the witchfinder generals.
Oops, did I say “witch”? I meant of course “which”. At least, I think so. I’m a bit out of touch when it comes to pronouns because, mercifully, I work for an organisation that does not performatively insist that I make my he/she/they/them public on every email.
Most of my friends are not so fortunate. They are routinely bullied into stating their pronouns by craven HR departments keen to impress Stonewall.
“Is it a big deal to type ‘she/her’?” asks a friend, rhetorically (and, it must be noted, very anonymously). “No, it isn’t. Or it wouldn’t be, if it weren’t for the suspicion that those who put down they/them feel just a little superior about it.
“I’ve never said this aloud, but I feel a genuine sense of unease that women like me, who have worked bloody hard to make it in a man’s world, are the ones being expected to shuffle over and make room for this new minority, while male colleagues aren’t expected to compromise.”
Seditious talk. Although it was technically a whisper. I hope some day she feels empowered enough to say it aloud.
And as for Dame Kelly’s feelings on Boswells-gate? I half-hope she tells ’em to stuff it. There would be something rather noble about thumbing her nose at the naysayers. But staying put is nicely bloody-minded, too, so I’m calling it a win-win against them wokeys. Go ahead and cancel me.