The Cowardice of Social Conformity

“Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied.”

What follows is an email correspondence between a Hands Across the Aisle member and her brother, regarding next February’s Women’s Liberation Front Seattle public library event, “Fighting the New Misogyny: A Feminist Critique of Gender Identity.” We wanted to share this as a near-perfect example of the bad fruit produced by the totalitarianism of gender identity ideology, in particular the self-restriction of speech and the valuing of social conformity over family relationships and the common good.

Though the names have been changed throughout to protect the identities of those involved, we expect that our readers may well have family and friends who have given the same feeble reply when called upon to join the fight for the rights of women and reasonable medical regulations to protect the vulnerable and especially children.

Take care you’re not the one who denies the voice of courage when it calls out to you.


Hi Craig!

I hope you are well. I’m traveling to Seattle at the end of next month for this event and
was wondering if you would like to literally brave the crowds and join me?

I’d be happy to get tickets for both you and Evelyn if you want to come. All three speakers are friends of mine and all are smart and charismatic.

If you’re not interested in risking your life entering a space being protested by huge men in skirts wielding bats wrapped in barbed wire, I totally understand. But if you are feeling up for adventure, I’d love it if you would join me. (We could even go shopping for balaclavas together before the event!) Either way, I’m hoping to get some time with you and Evelyn and Sam while I’m out there.

Much love,

Susan


Dear Susan,

I am about to sound like the biggest coward in the world.

I can’t go to this with you. I don’t think I have the guts to run through the gauntlet. But more importantly, if my son knew I was going to an event like that, he’d be appalled. Disgusted. And if he didn’t know, I’d be afraid he would find out. He would turn his back on me. He and I have had some difficult times about this stuff, but things are good now. I think he might have softened just a bit, but mostly we don’t discuss it. He knows I’m a good person, and I think he’s willing to just leave it at that. I am terrified of jeopardizing that. He’s not an ideologue, really. He’s just a typical teenager who lives in Seattle (and on the internet!), and that means he takes certain things as gospel. Believing (or just assuming or accepting) these things is part of what it means to be a “good person” these days. Transwomen are women. Duh, of course they are. Anyone who challenges that, or even asks for nuance or tries to understand what it really means, is the enemy of goodness and truth. To question is to hate.

At least once a week, I promise myself that I will stop reading radfem blogs, etc. It’s too upsetting to me, seeing how insane the world has become. And seeing how misogyny has been so effectively repackaged as fairness. And seeing how impossible it has become to explain anything, to speak rationally. I know, I know. This is not a good look. I have the luxury of ignoring this stuff (if I can actually bring myself to look away). I think if I was a woman I would be frozen in despair. Or burning in anger. Or both.

So I have to beg off. And I have to make what might be an offensive request: When we see you, can we just avoid the topic altogether? If we talk about it—even if only you talk about it—I will somehow end up in the middle, forced to state my loyalties. I’m even afraid of your nephew knowing why you’re in Seattle. If he knows about the WOLF thing, I’m sure he “knows” it’s “hateful.”

Like a true coward, I’m afraid of everything about this. It’s radioactive. I can’t be associated with it in any way. Is this disrespectful to you? Maybe, yeah. Is it disrespectful to my son? Yes, it might be. But I have visions of losing him, of being shut out forever, and I can’t have that. It might be ridiculous of me, but there it is.

Love,

Craig


Dear Craig,

When Sam and the rest of his misogynist child army have me sent to the camps, I’ll need an editor for my prison diaries. Maybe you could do it anonymously.

I went through this with my daughter Zoe. She totally jumped on this ideological train when she went to college. Eleven of her female friends from Hampshire have now had hysterectomies and mastectomies and are taking testosterone. She froze me out for a while, then eventually converted to radical feminism because on some level she was listening to what I said and I wouldn’t stop saying it and she knew I was not a bad person. Seriously, if my son were supporting this it would be just as devastating to me as if he had joined Operation Rescue or a white nationalist group. I would feel like a complete failure as a parent for not instilling critical thinking skills and for raising a misogynist.

Everyone likes to think they would have been brave in previous totalitarian times, that they wouldn’t have let their kids just join the state sponsored youth movements of the day. But throughout history the vast majority of people are cowards. Part of the evil of totalitarianism is that it makes us fear our children, our friends, our co-workers.

Part of the evil of misogyny is that it makes nice liberal men think it’s ok for their kids to join anti-woman movements when of course they’d never be OK (they think, but they’ve never lived in the South in the late 1800s through 1960s) with their kid joining the Klan. That’s different. Those men were terrorizing actual people, not just women, right? Those men had the corporations and police backing them to maintain a system that kept one group of people subjugated to another group. Those men had rapists and murderers among them. You wouldn’t want to risk losing your son’s respect and love over women, but it would be different if he were joining a movement that terrorized groups that included men. Or so people think. But in reality, hardly anyone ever speaks up in these situations, and they let their boys become weaponized tools of whatever totalitarian force is rising.

I’m hoping you will at least call and email the Seattle Public Library and voice your support for the right of women to assemble and talk to each other. We all know the Equal Rights Amendment never passed, so it remains unclear if the First Amendment actually applies to women. But I hope you still believe women have a right to free speech and assembly. Hopefully Sam and his friends aren’t tapping your phone or reading your email, but this seems like a safe action, even for self-declared cowards. Sam never needs to know.

In the future, if Evelyn or another woman you love is raped and forced to endure a rape exam by a 6 foot tall man in a dress with a visible erection who is now a sexual assault nurse examiner and then compelled by the courts to honor the rapist’s preferred pronouns, at least your son will still love and respect you.

Sincerely,

Susan