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Feminism in 2020 focused heavily on women’s fight for sex-based rights. Here at Feminist Current, we did our best to cover the gender debate with evidence and humour. There were other issues and debates too: from the Karen meme to pole-dancing to lesbian cults, here are our most-read posts of 2020:

1) The Karen/Becky meme has officially gone too far

Meghan Murphy writes that “the male-centred progressive left has successfully made woman-hating trendy” in its celebrated adoption of the “Karen” and “Becky” memes. No longer a joke, these memes became about much more than calling out annoying, racist, or entitled behaviour, instead operating as an excuse for misogyny.

2) The world plays dumb with JK Rowling

One of the biggest stories of the year was author JK Rowling’s decision to speak out about the impact of gender identity ideology on women and girls. In June, Meghan Murphy wrote about the response to Rowling saying that “sex is real,” prior to her seminal essay on “sex and gender issues,” published a day later, saying:

“It has felt like we are all living a kind of bizarro world for some time now, wherein women who dare speak the truth are banished, and virtually burned at the stake. And while I’m no more interested in what celebrities say than intellectuals or the non-famous, I wonder if the response to Rowling will wake people up, and lead more to stand up and announce that the emperor has no clothes, and that those who say so are not evil or hateful, but sane. I wonder if this experience will lead Rowling to stand with the women fighting this fight in public or render her silent in an attempt to avoid further flogging. It should be all too clear that there is no winning with this crowd — no level of politeness, kowtowing, or rationalizing can ward off the virulence and misogyny levelled at women who push back against gender identity ideology. You either go full tilt or you surrender to twisting yourself into knots trying to adopt ever changing, evermore nonsensical demands, contorting your language in ways that should feel sacrilegious to a writer. The way forward seems obvious to me.”

3) Protecting men at the women’s shelter

A rape crisis advocate and women’s shelter worker forced to remain anonymous to protect the women living in the shelter comes out about the way in which men are now accommodated in spaces meant to protect vulnerable women, thanks to trans activism:

“At the women’s shelter where I work, a policy decision has been made, though the policy is unspoken, and I doubt that my supervisors or coworkers would admit to its existence if pressed. Nevertheless, in order to conform to the caprices of the trending ideology, to be squeaky-clean on-message good progressives, to be caring and sensitive politically savvy good feminists, it is now shelter policy that we prioritize protecting men’s delusions, even if that means we can no longer protect women. Women are well accustomed to making sacrifices for the sake of men’s comfort and feelings. Everywhere, all the time, men come first. How foolish we would have to be, then, to expect it might be any different at a women’s shelter. As women in a men’s world, we should know this much, if nothing else: there is safety nowhere. Not for us.”

4) TERF$: The female-obsessed cult that took me to the pub and also fed me dinner

After Pink News published a “tell all” about a lesbian who claims to have escaped a gender critical cult, Meghan Murphy responded with her own harrowing tale:

“At the pub and the talks and also the dinners and sometimes at coffee shops, I was love-bombed. Many of these women became my friends. They told me my voice was important. They invited me to meetings and more panels and speaking events. More pubs, even. The plan was to ensure we protected women and girls, but also had a nice time. It was terrifying. No women ever offered to find me a wife, but, in their defence, I am atrociously heterosexual.”

5) J.Lo’s pole dancing during the Super Bowl is not benign

After J Lo’s February Super Bowl performance, a heated debate broke out online about whether or not her pole-dancing act was empowering or harmful. Laura McNally writes:

“The ugly realities of pole dancing are hand waved away, not just by men, but, increasingly, by women. This is understandable in some ways. Many of us want to defend our right to be sexual beings — to not feel ashamed or repressed about how we dance, have sex, or make money. The problem is that, instead of defending women’s right to understand and express our actual sexualities, women are defending the commoditization of our sexuality — a ‘sexuality’ that has little to do with female pleasure, and everything to do with performing for the male gaze. Far from defending women’s sexuality, arguments in favour of pole dancing do the opposite.”

To another year of poking at harmful ideologies and nonsense arguments in 2021!