Where are all the feminists? We’re right here, being erased by you

Approximately 700 protesters gathered outside the Toronto Public Library in 2019 to protest my talk.

Back when feminists began trying to warn about the dangers of gender identity ideology, few would listen. Not only that, but these women were actively silenced: blacklisted by the media, ostracized by the left, and no-platformed at universities. Those of us who did speak out were vilified and harassed. Our events were cancelled, venues pulled out, and we were met with protesters at every attempt to organize, meet, or discuss gender identity ideology and the threat to women and girls in particular. Our articles were pulled, as were our book deals.

We have covered this fight here at Feminist Current for many years now, when no one else would.

In 2016, I wrote about a conference that had taken place at Conway Hall in London. “Thinking Differently: Feminists Questioning Gender Politics” featured feminist speakers such as Sheila Jeffreys, Lierre Keith, Julie Bindel, Stephanie Davies-Arai, Mary Lou Singleton, Jackie Mearns, the late Magdalen Berns, and organizer, Julia Long. I believe it was the first event of its kind. All of these women were vilified and punished viciously for speaking out against gender identity ideology. Most were ignored not only by the left and mainstream media, but by the right as well. Even feminists refused to stand by these tainted women, yet they continued to speak out, to fight, and to organize. They lost income, jobs, friends, spots on panels, speaking invitations, and more.

Many of these women had been speaking out about their concerns and about the sexism behind gender identity ideology for years, misrepresented or simply erased by history, the media, and political activists.

Janice Raymond wrote a book about transgenderism back in 1979, for goodness sake’s. Julie Bindel warned about the insanity of allowing males access to women’s shelters in 2004. I interviewed both Sheila Jeffreys (who had also been writing about this issue for many years prior) and Lee Lakeman about transgenderism and women-only space in 2012.  I was locked out of my feminist collective and radio show as a result, as the other women in the collective elected to censor these interviews and I fought to air them. I started Feminist Current after this incident, so there would be a place to speak about these issues, and so I would have a place to publish the unpublishable, speak to cancelled feminists, and operate independently, free from censorship. In 2016, I fought to publish an article in mainstream Canadian media, warning about the dangers of Bill C-16, Canada’s proposed gender identity legislation, when no one else would or could. I testified against the bill at the Senate before it passed in 2017.

Imagine if people had listened.

Since then, many more feminists began to band together and fight back. They were fired from their jobs, ousted from unions and political parties, threatened, and even subjected to violence.

Thanks to the tireless and courageous work of these women, this issue is finally being talked about in the public sphere, rather than only at events organized by feminists themselves, in private online groups or meetings, or on our relatively small platforms. We had a few allies along the way, who attempted to amplify our message, for which I am grateful.

While the left remains steadfast in its commitment to virtue signalling delusion, the right have begun to fight back, and in many cases feminists have worked alongside right wing politicians to push for legislative changes that would protect women and children from the harms of gender identity ideology.

This is, in my opinion, a good thing. We need all the help we can get, and I do not divide people into “good” and “bad,” based on where they are placed on the political spectrum. Indeed, the right wing media have been among the only media to cover our fight and to offer feminists large platforms to express their views.

But the sole reason this issue ever became covered in the media, initially, was because feminists forced the conversation. It was because we fought to organize and host events ourselves, which were protested, then covered in the media as a result of the protests (albeit usually in an extremely biased way). Canada’s national public broadcaster, the CBC, refused to attend an event I spoke at in Vancouver in 2019, despite the CBC being located across the street from the venue (the Vancouver Public Library) and having hosted a radio panel discuss the event and my views, which I was not invited to participate in.

We did not give up. We kept organizing, and fighting, and pushing this conversation into the public realm. It is because we wrote article and letters and petitions and books that this conversation is now happening in a public way. It is because we engaged in activism, and showed up in public places, at our own risk, to make our voices heard. It is because we spoke about this on social media, and were banned on account of doing so. Feminists refused to shut up, despite extreme punishment, and paved the way for others to speak up as well. And now what are we hearing?

“Where are all the feminists?”

It’s no wonder we’re mad.

To be clear, I am grateful to the men who have spoken up on this issue, and have supported women in this fight. Some have suffered consequences for having done so. I want any and everyone to speak up about gender identity nonsense, because it is the right thing to do. While it is an issue impacting women and girls particularly, it is also an issue that impacts us all. What I don’t appreciate is right wing men suddenly discovering this is a thing that is happening, and speaking up as though they are the only ones who noticed and the only ones brave enough to speak the truth, then have the gall to claim women have contributed nothing in this fight.

Women spoke up when this was not an acceptable or popular thing to do. When we had no support, financial or institutional backing, political power, or access to large platforms. Once it became acceptable to speak critically about gender identity, men who had nothing to lose did so. Which is fine. Better to come around some time rather than never. But they fail to acknowledge or recognize how many years feminists struggled simply to be able to speak about this. And when we did try to get their attention, so we could speak about this, they for the most part ignored us. Many of the men speaking out now are being celebrated for having done so, growing their platforms and incomes rather than the opposite. And now they are talking amongst themselves, excluding the very women who paved the way.

It does seem rather unfair, doesn’t it? Even rather… sexist?

There is a long history of men taking women’s words and work and passing it off as their own, or being credited for that work, and frustratingly this seems to be happening again in the fight against gender identity ideology.

This might feel like a petty thing to point out if men weren’t responding with sarcasm, mockery, and defensiveness.

I do not wish to create division in this fight — everyone has the right to speak about these issues, and should. And I am happy to speak with and to anyone about this. But I also can’t stand to see history repeating itself — this time, ironically, with regard to the women’s rights movement.

Consider why it is that someone like Jordan Peterson became famous for speaking out against Bill C-16 on the grounds of compelled speech, and made millions, whereas women like me, who spoke out in defense of women’s rights, were ignored; punished financially, politically, and socially; then disappeared — even now, in their own fight.

Just because you weren’t paying attention, or because your politics demand you dismiss all feminist work does not mean it wasn’t happening and that it didn’t make a difference. And imagine how maddening it would feel to be ignored, censored, and erased, then watch as men with political and financial power, large platforms, and nothing to lose take all the credit.

Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.