On Saturday, in Trafalgar Square, a man called for violence against women. Specifically, it seems, intellectually curious women, those unruly harridans who refuse to bow down to certain beliefs. Punch them ‘in the fucking face’, he bellowed into a mic. The heaving mob around him cheered. An electric current of hate seemed to flow through their ranks. Some punched the air, others laughed, taking delight in their leader’s invitation to hit ‘bad’ women.
It had the vibe of a witch-hunt. This is what medieval mob gatherings must have felt like, when pious, pitchfork-wielding men headed out to apprehend ‘demonic’ women. Only this 2023 mob were not wearing witchfinders’ hats or waving the Bible about. No, they sported multicoloured threads, had pink and orange hair and were all wrapped up in rainbow flags. For that rallying cry for violence against a group of women was made at Trans Pride.
The speaker was Sarah Jane Baker. He is a man who identifies as a woman. He is an ex-con too – he spent 30 years in jail for kidnap, torture and attempted murder. And yet here he was taking to the stage at Trans Pride – a gathering passionately backed by London mayor Sadiq Khan – where he made the case for slapping women who don’t support trans rights. He said he had intended to be ‘really fluffy’ at this event, but he changed his mind.
‘Nah’, he said, ‘if you see a TERF punch them in the fucking face’. And there it was, in plain sight, in supposedly progressive London: a man gleefully calling for the assault of women.
Let’s be clear about what a TERF is. Ostensibly it’s an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, but to many it seems to mean witch.