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Rod Liddle

How Moore, Burchill and Featherstone all had a lovely bitch fight

19 January 2013

9:00 AM

19 January 2013

9:00 AM


‘Women are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape — that of a Brazilian transsexual.’
Suzanne Moore

One of these days, not too far away, the entire bourgeois bien-pensant left will self-immolate entirely leaving behind nothing but a thin skein of smoke smelling slightly of goji berries. Please let that day come quickly. In the meantime let us simply enjoy ourselves watching them tear each other to pieces, mired in their competing victimhoods, seething with acquired sensitivity, with inchoate rage and fury, inventing more and more hate crimes with which they might punish people who are not themselves.

That quote above comes from the very talented feminist writer Suzanne Moore. It is a sentence from a piece she wrote for the New Statesman. You would not believe the trouble it has caused. The Twittersphere immediately started roaring like a pre-menstrual velociraptor, there were demands for an apology and a rebuttal, there was a somewhat robust defence of the original sentence and then, as a consequence, a government minister called for the editor of an august — well, not quite august, more like late June — national newspaper to resign. The debate is still howling around. It may be — in terms of national importance — nothing more than 5,000 bald women and bald quasi-women arguing over a comb. But it gives you an insight into the metro left’s bizarre psychosis. Oh, and it’s fun, it’s fun. It’s certainly that.

That anodyne sentence above, which is presumably meant to express the pressure women feel to conform to a particular body-type, was taken amiss by Britain’s vibrant community of transsexuals. They eviscerated Moore for doing what I just did and referring to them as transsexuals rather than transsexual people, but also stuck the boot in by suggesting that the writer was mocking their gender, was perhaps bullying them. Undoubtedly, they asserted online and later in print, this was evidence of deviance — not sexual deviance, but deviation from political correct orthodoxy; Moore was revealing an inner hatred of transsexual people. And she was cissexist. Now there’s a term. Have you heard it before? I hadn’t. It is a wonderful day when we can stumble across a new hate crime of which we might all one day be accused: cissexism is the suspicion that transsexual people’s ‘identified gender’ is somehow less genuine than that of people born to the gender in which they remain. Are you guilty of cissexism? You bastard.

The fugue of hatred poured down upon Moore, but to her credit she disdained what we might call an apology. Instead, she tweeted: ‘People can just fuck off really. Cut their dicks off and be more feminist than me. Good for them.’ You see, there is a scintilla of mistrust between traditional feminists like Moore and these arriviste liberationists — arriviste in a physical sense, at least. As you might imagine, this tweet did not placate Ms Moore’s tormentors. It made things worse. The trannies went ballistic; they threw their toys out of the pram. And that was before they read the piece written by Moore’s friend and ideological soulmate, Julie Burchill. One very witty commentator online put it thus: ‘Julie Burchill poured oil on troubled waters. Then she put some seabirds in the oil. Then she set fire to the oil.’ Describing the transsexuals as ‘screaming mimis’ and ‘bedwetters in bad wigs’, Julie concluded her defence of Suzanne Moore with the following wonderful sentence: ‘To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women — above natural-born women, who don’t know the meaning of suffering, apparently — is a bit like the old definition of chutzpah: the boy who killed his parents and then asked the jury for clemency on the grounds he was an orphan.’ She wrote that in the Observer — easily the best piece the paper has carried in a decade.

At which point the government got involved. No, it really did. Its most idiotic minister, the Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone — again utilising that conduit for the shriekingly self-obsessed and vapid, Twitter — described Burchill’s article as ‘bigoted vomit’ and suggested that both she and the editor of the Observer, a man called John Mulholland, should be sacked immediately. Should government ministers do that sort of thing, demand the sacking of newspaper editors? Even if they are incalculably stupid ministers with a track record of saying incalculably stupid things? She is the minister for International Development these days, Featherstone, so it is not even part of her brief. Although I suppose it is part of her brief as a non-cissexist heterosexual woman, in a very real sense.

How did Mr Mulholland respond? Did this titan of the press, this staunch and stoic defender of freedom of speech stand by his columnist? Um, not exactly. He instead apologised for having run Julie Burchill’s article and within the hour the piece had been expunged from the joint Guardian-Observer website, no trace of it remaining. But in making his apology Mulholland did say that the Observer supported freedom of speech and did so terribly bravely sometimes. Just, er, not this time.

All of this is unrelievedly hilarious; the metro-left is filled with loathing — self-loathing and a loathing it disperses to anyone who might even mildly offend its sensibilities. But we have learned something, at least, from this spat. We have learned two new concepts: first, ‘cissexism’ of course — but also ‘bigoted vomit’.

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