- Artless does #LetWomenSpeak (Brighton) - September 23, 2022
- Stand Down Caroline Nokes - December 23, 2021
- The ‘(hopefully) soon to be former’ Dr Helen Webberley, founder of website GenderGP - September 22, 2021
Cover image by the incredibly talented: Art4Women
Last Sunday, I attended my first Speakers Corner… in TRA Central, in Brighton! I had a great time meeting so many GC friends in person (who had travelled from all over the country) and even gave a speech.
In some ways, Brighton may be an odd choice of Speakers Corner for me to attend, given there have been many ‘Speakers’ held in London where I live, and would be easier for me to attend. However, initially I was… dare I admit it… scared of attending ‘Speakers’, wanted to avoid confrontation and incels, and just contribute to the GC cause in other ways. Although my partner, my friends and family are supportive of what I do, they worry about me and my safety, and I’m generally a lover, not a fighter, so physical events just seemed better to avoid.
I changed my mind about going to Brighton when I saw the shocking scenes of rampant misogyny in Bristol, where masked men in black balaclavas were allowed to get upfront in Women’s faces and scream abuse + obscenities in Women’s faces, by Bristol’s finest. There and then, I vowed to attend the next Speakers Corner, both to support Posie @StandingforXX, and to show that women would not be intimidated into silence for advocating their ostensibly legally protected sex based rights and freedom of expression, in accordance with our ECHR Convention Rights, and the 2010 Equality Act.
About 10 days before the event, a delightful incel posted this: It galvanised me to purchase my train ticket. I had used my usually very enthusiastic WRN group as my personal representative sample for an indication of purported numbers attending, and hadn’t received much of a response, so assumed many people were understandably wary of going, keen to avoid conflict, and there wouldn’t be many GC numbers there. Then the night before, the delightful N (one of my oldest GC friends) decided to come up to Brighton. I was ecstatic. I’d have company going up! Apprehensive, but grimly determined, we set out on the 11:30 out of London to the “Belly of the Beast” to #LetWomenSpeak. On the train, I mentioned to N I might give a speech, but as I hadn’t prepared anything and we were busy nattering away enroute, I thought I wouldn’t get an opportunity to talk, honestly.
Just as we were pulling up, a WRN member who’d also decided to attend, sent a WhatsApp video showing a crowd of #PoundShopNinjas, masked and clad in Black, menacingly circling the area GC’s were supposed to gather to speak. My heart sank. “Was this going to be a repeat of Bristol?” I wondered. Sussex Police didn’t seem to have responded to any of our pleas on Twitter, despite the well publicised threats from TRA’s on Twitter. Ah well, as the saying goes, in for a Penny, in for a Pound. N and I were here, we might as well make the most of it.
The minute the train pulled up at Brighton, we bumped into Exulansic, and met a small crowd of GC’s who must have also been on our train. N was over the moon (she’s a massive fan of Exulansic). As all manner of adult human females in suffragette colours and AHF t-shirts hesitantly gathered together, nervous “hello’s” quickly gave way to huge grins when we bumped into “Tervern Royalty” as one GC’ put it: Maya Forstater and Helen Joyce. There wasn’t much time to fangirl though. We quickly did that woman thing of realising we all needed to use the loo before making our way to stand in probably hostile territory for the next 2 hours. Unlike TRA’s, we had no intention of pissing ourselves & then chucking urine. I’m pleased to report that we were able to find a pub where female only spaces were respected, and then amiably make our way to the park, helping each other & bonding. Just walking down together, I felt my spirits lift.
On arrival at the park, amidst the cacophony of noise by the TRA’s and the Police line, I bumped into Alan Henness and Rover, “old GC friends” although I’d never met Alan in person. We marvelled at the size of the GC crowd (to me, we seemed like we had 200/ 300GC’s & vastly outnumbered the TRA’s, RESULT 😊🤩🙌🏾) hugged like old friends and chatted briefly, until I heard Parrot say, “Helen Joyce is speaking!” We determinedly made our way deeper into the crowd to fangirl some more.
The atmosphere was intense, the crowd was buzzing, but there was some high tension in the air. Just before Parrot and I made our way to the front, a TRA had thrown a smokebomb at Maya Forstater! Someone asked if I was going to give a speech, I said yes, they smiled and moved way, and said, “Better stand in front then, so Posie sees you and calls you to speak”. There was absolutely no jostling for position & I loved the solidarity of that moment, honestly. Suddenly, I felt a tug on my arm and saw another smiling face, my friend K had made it from Surrey! I was stoked 🤗😁! I made a few bulletin points about what I wanted to say on my dying phone (if permitted to speak), as K watched over my belongings. There were so many great speakers! Women of all ages, class & backgrounds took the Mic and spoke movingly and poignantly about the corrosive impact of gender ideology on their lives, as women, as lesbians, as mothers. We cheered each other on against the unrelenting tide of verbal abuse from the nearby TRA’s, who tried their best to drown us out with chants of “Shame” and calling us “fascists”. I made a brief speech, and was pleased with the reception, but I was honestly more buzzed about seeing so many GC friends from all over the country, in real life.
I was sad to miss Jo Bartosch, and GRARG’s own @don, but was happy to see H from Staffordshire, B from Oxford, H from Hampshire, J from Nottinghamshire & even a few local Sussex GC’s. One of my GC friends even came up from Scotland! I kept marvelling at the crowd. I knew so many had made great sacrifices with childcare arrangements, financial arrangements, etc. to be there. Many had been just as apprehensive as I was, but came to show support for Posie and show we wouldn’t be intimidated into silence. My usually wise cracking, acerbic self, almost welled up.
All too soon, the Speeches were over & it was pub time. I managed to find my friend H, take a few pictures as snapshot memories of an incredible day. As we walked in small groups for safety reasons, I finally discovered the name of the pub we were meant to be going to, which wasn’t shared in advance for… you guessed right… safety reasons. Another reminder of all the restrictions Gender Critical people face in order to exercise our Article 9, 10, 11 ECHR rights, unlike any other Protected Characteristic.
So many of us came to the pub, we ended up taking over two pubs and sitting/ standing/ milling outside. The weather held on a truly glorious Tervern day. As the sun set & the wine flowed, I was delighted to bump into another of my Tervern Sheroes, Lightening Rex, the GC lady who held unto her flag in the face of TRA attacks in Manchester. The tightly gripped tension dissipated and the true Artless came out to play, have a laugh and just soak in the atmosphere of a fantastic and safe day, thanks to Posie Parker and her amazing stewarding team, which included the lovely Aja 💜🤍💚.
Message to the Head Girls!
To witness the sheer bravery and courage and kindness of the Tervern on Sunday and have “professional feminists” (who were playing armchair supporters and did not attend, even though some of them live locally), try to undermine that solidarity with false accusations of White Nationalist associations, is incredibly disappointing.
I’ve never met a White Nationalist in my life, and I don’t need anyone’s permission to speak at an open mic event. As for Sophie C, I’d never heard of her either, and had to ask who she was. Honestly, I have better things to do with my time than dunk on a 19 year old girl, irrespective of her political allegiances and who she casts her votes for.
There are some in this movement who want to “nurture a feminist movement that is left-wing, anti-racist, and trade unionist in values.” That’s great, but there’s a ton of women who don’t meet that criteria, yet are equally at risk of having their sex-based rights removed. Sophie C doesn’t become a male because she has right wing views. To me, GC Feminism is a movement where we fight for ALL women, not just the ones “professional feminists” deem suitable.
We are not in the playground. I had a BLAST in Brighton 💥. I’m not apologising or explaining a single thing, especially to women who support the actions of a “feminist” who hashtags #FuckPosie. One of the TRA chants on Sunday was that PP is a fascist. At this point, you’d be hard pressed to push a wedge of cardboard between some of the actions of ”professional feminists” and TRA’s. A woman who the “professional feminists” continue to rally round and collaborate with, has just written a thread downplaying the impact of White, privileged girls’ throwing biodegradable products in a Woman of Colours’ dreadlocks, which requires specialist care.
Attempting to silence women who don’t share your politics is really low, especially considering how many women have been silenced for refusing to believe Genderwoo. At some point, professional feminists will have to understand the difference between material reality & contested ideology, and how the concept of freedom of speech is there to protect everyone, particularly those we don’t agree with. It either works for all or for none, because if it doesn’t the actual fascists will come for you as well, one day.
Many left wing movements have often fallen apart because they actually prefer to lose if the cost of winning is to compromise on ideological purity. Well, I’m sorry to inform my feminist “sisters”, this isn’t a left wing movement, it’s a women’s movement. And it is a Womens movement that wants to win, because the alternative is unthinkable. Thank you for the intellectual muscle you’ve provided, but away from your safe seats, academic positions or similar sinecures which mean your political defeats rarely carry any personal consequences or hardship for you, women are being raped in female prisons by biological male inmates, and gay children are being sterilised. Brighton, where we held our last Speakers Corner, has no single sex service left for female survivors of male violence. And that is *despite* all the disavowals, disassociations and attempted ostracism of Posie Parker.
Women see this control freakery and attempt to control the narrative of this broad grassroots women’s movement for exactly what it is, and we aren’t going to let you sacrifice this movement on the altar of petty jealousies, using other women not involved in your beefs with Posie, as collateral damage. We understand that Posie could genuflect on broken glass, self flagellate with a nail studded whip, and it still wouldn’t be enough for some of these self appointed high priestesses of “feminists”. And so, my advice to my feminist sisters is to focus your energies on your “feminist causes” and leave the grown a** adult human females who choose of their own volition to follow Posie, buy her merchandise and attend her events, alone.