Titania McGrath is the alter ego of the schoolteacher Andrew Doyle. A perpetually enraged ‘activist, healer and radical intersectional poet’, her job was to lampoon the imbecilities of the achingly ‘woke’ middle class left, and expose the manifest contradictions in what they were spouting. Her forum for this was, of course, that vast lagoon of hastily jabbered nonsense, Twitter — and it was very effective. So effective that for a while Twitter users could not be sure that it was a joke at all — an understandable confusion, given the real-life existence of people such as the journalists Laurie Penny and Suzanne Moore, for example, or the French academic Myriam François-Cerrah.
McGrath’s success was in posting tweets which just might have come from any one of these, or a thousand others: ‘Jesus Christ. My iPhone just autocorrected “womxn” to “woman”.@ AppleSupport please sort out this transphobic bullshit NOW.’ And this beauty: ‘When women are valued more than men, then and only then will we have achieved true equality.’ There was also the furious, awful, mystifying, poetry, of which ‘I Victim’ is my particular favourite: ‘My cadaver lies uneaten at the gates of your treachery./ Pandora’s box heaving over with poisoned bile./ You have dined upon my succulent gusset./ Like a ragewanking hobgoblin,belching power./ Or a Chinese assassin with fat hands.’
This hilarious stuff has been collated into a short book, in which Titania takes us through the various shibboleths of woke-dom, from feminism and transgenderism, cultural appropriation and fat shaming to racism. The best of her online poems are scattered in between. She’s at her sharpest when taking a quote from a real-life idiot of the left and just tweaking it a little. So, she lights upon a genuine website called ‘Decolonising yoga’ in which an Indian woman, resident in the USA, admits to ‘crying on her yoga mat’ because of the extent to which the discipline has been appropriated by imperialist whitey. McGrath comments: ‘For a white person to participate in yoga is effectively to re-enact the British army’s massacre of 1,000 Indian civilians at Amritsar in 1919.’
When Ann Millington, chief executive of Kent Fire and Rescue, demanded that the children’s programme Fireman Sam be renamed Firefighter Sam in order to encourage diversity, McGrath was on it in a flash:
The only reason women don’t go into firefighting is because they’ve had no stop-motion animation role models. Frankly, if some ‘fireman’ tried to save me from a burning building, I’d tell him to go fuck himself.
And then there is the magnificent Professor Rochelle Gutierrez from the University of Illinois who insists that ‘mathematics operates as Whiteness’. McGrath heartily concurs and adds only: ‘Besides, Pythagoras fingered kids.’ On the #MeToo movement she is quite unequivocal: ‘I believe all women. All of them. Under all circumstances.’
This inane and relentless agenda deserves skewering. A couple of months ago a professor from Portland, Peter Boghossian, was disciplined by his university for getting lots of wholly spoof social science papers published in reputable journals, including one about feminism which was simply an entire chapter of Mein Kampf with a few key words changed. McGrath is kind of the British equivalent of Boghossian, and those tweets were both funny and telling. The book will most likely make you laugh, but I think I still preferred McGrath when she was online, stripped of context and background — and a genuine puzzle to the lefties who read her observations. But one supposes that the façade could only last for so long — and it is hard to blame Doyle for cashing in on his considerable wit and ingenuity.