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Big Swinging Ovaries: an example of what to do when a mob comes for you

The great offence that has taken hold recently was against another one of Dave Chappelle’s Netflix specials where he told a joke which concluded with him announcing that he is a TERF.


For those that have been living under a rock for the last few years, that stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. These are feminists that believe that certain rights that women fought for, such as female-only spaces, should be reserved for biological females, rather than open to anyone that merely identifies as such.


Many of the people, mostly women, that have been subject to an attempted cancellation for being a TERF have been an example of exactly what to do when the mob comes for you.


The most high profile instance was J.K. Rowling. She refused to bow to the mob after being accused of being transphobic. Instead of going away, she doubled down on her eminently reasonable position that the gender ideology that much of the trans activism (as distinct from individuals) is based on is not an uncomplicated good. Many harms and unintended consequences flow from erasing the sex from language and culture.


Another lady that stood up against the mob is a textile artist from the UK, Jess de Wahls - whose work famously includes the Big Swinging Ovaries which I hinted at in the title of this piece.


Much like Rowling before her, she released a statement explaining why she holds the views she does, rather than apologising for them.


What Wahls and Rowling have in common is a history of being silenced. Rowling speaks of the attempts to ban her books in her statement and Wahls tells the story of growing up on the east side of the Berlin Wall:


The idea of ’wrong think’ is something that has, worryingly, returned to many aspects of the political spectrum and public discourse. And its increasing prevalence scares the shit out of me, frankly.

It is telling that the people that stand up against the mob are the ones with the experience to know where bowing down to those that wish to silence might lead.


Both of these women survived the mob. Rowling is too big to cancel and Jess De Wahls received an apology from the Royal Academy of Arts and had her work reinstated in the gift shop.


More importantly, both of these women provided cover for others to speak out. J.K. Rowling in particular was vocal in support of Maya Forstater, she writes about this being the issue that kicked off the campaign against her:


For people who don’t know: last December I tweeted my support for Maya Forstater, a tax specialist who’d lost her job for what was deemed ‘transphobic’ tweets. She took her case to an employment tribunal, asking the judge to rule on whether a philosophical belief that sex is determined by biology is protected in law. Judge Tayler ruled that it wasn’t.

There are many more cancellation attempts against TERFs, just this week philosophy professor Kathleen Stock resigned after calls were made for her to be fired for her ‘transphobic’ views. At least on the topic of gender ideology, there are examples of women that have weathered the crowd. This hopefully will give her confidence that she too will land on her feet and in an organisation less keen to have her shut up.


Certainly, providing a counterweight to the cancel culture mobs of today is one of the reasons I started All Minus One. These women should be a lesson to all that by not capitulating you can help less powerful people survive a cancellation attempt.

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