Fighting A Battle To #LetWomenSpeak
My experience #StandingForWomen in Philadelphia
Doors opened at nine. I walked into the visitors center a few minutes later, after checking the speakers’ square to see it was empty and the barrier was already in place around three sides as promised.
Sunday was my first trip to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell since 1976, the year of the Bicentennial. At one point, passing homeless people sleeping on a bench, I recognized the place where I had watched Revolutionary War reenactors load and fire a blank from a cannon. A man seemed high on a heroin-and-Jamaica ginger cocktail, staggered exaggeratedly to a curb and rested his head against it.
No enemy surveillance was visible.
After doing touristy things I walked to get hot coffee, for it was blistering cold, and rested in the parking garage to warm up. So I was fresh and ready when I found the event organizers arriving, introduced myself, met everyone. This being an event organized by moms, there were snacks and drinks. Me being an old soldier, I was there to fight for their freedom to speak. It was the least I could do in return for their thoughtfulness. Small things like that build a sense of unit solidarity fast.
Good mothers have much in common with good sergeants, you know. Leadership skill develops naturally in people who have to lead small, rebellious children around as a full time job.
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It is dangerous for women to speak up in defense of their own existence in America these days.
Truly the most misogynistic moment of my lifetime, 2022 has seen a British woman named Kellie-Jay Keen cross the Atlantic on a mission to let women speak because Americans have forgotten how.
Her cause is anathema to a powerful cult of gender. One zealot of that cult (a man with pronouns, naturally) forced the cancellation of an event in Tacoma, Washington with terroristic threats. Crowds have gathered to spit on attendees, assault them, and cry foul when they receive pepper spray in response. Tour costs have soared due to the need for added security.
Kellie-Jay is doing dangerous activism. Having covered civil disobedience and nonviolent protest movements before, I recognize her as a natural leader. I have come to Philadelphia and the birthplace of American liberty to observe her at work, and in order to make sure I can see how she works, I have already drawn a mental line across the frontage of the free speech zone, a line that I intend to defend.
Antifa goons are hardly frightening to me. Kellie-Jay is a force of nature, though, and she terrifies overgrown manbabies almost as much as their pick-me girlfriends, so I expect that whole zoo to arrive in force soon. I keep a lookout.
The scouts are easy to spot. The disorganized man with dirty trouser cuffs, scruffy gray beard, and tie: the freedom lawyer. I know his type because I have encountered it many times, even worked alongside it, interviewed it.
He walks past me, hardly invisible, misses my stare, and leaves in what I presume to be the direction of the assembly area for the rainbow regiment, likely to advise them on our setup and our numbers.
First comes the girl. Dressed in plain colors, blue hoodie with green sneakers, but the Covid mask is a giveaway. No one else is wearing them anymore, not even in the urban centers of the country. Antifa social media accounts advised everyone to conceal their identity because anonymous rage is the most daring and inventive kind. No doubt she feels very creative. Maybe she is the lawyer’s assistant.
She sees us, sits down on the sidewalk bench, texts her friends. As obvious as the day is long. Amateurs, all of them. I take a photo of her taking photos. Hilarious. Moscow Rules apply in Philadelphia today and I seem to be the only one who really gets that.
As all of this takes place, part of my brain is laboring away at a controversy in gender critical politics about the role of feminism in the outbreak of the gender cult.
Feminism is the historical ground zero where Gender Identity became a political and social idea. It has been the battleground where women disagree over Gender Identity ever since.
This reality is reflected in the very term “TERF,” the epithet-acronym for “trans exclusionary radical feminist,” which suggests in its very construction that a trans inclusionary faction of radical feminism was at the root of the controversy to begin with.
Now, you can argue that this is blaming feminism for the problem, but I prefer to see it as an acknowledgement that feminism is the battleground where this fight began.
Furthermore, a man has always been the cause of the problem. Surely this is shocking to the reader.
Right now, criticism and rumormongering abound from gender critical feminists towards any male who comes to any kind of prominence as a critic of Gender Identity. Matt Walsh is a famous example. Another, less famous but more interesting case is Chris Elston, an activist I recently accompanied on the campus of Vanderbilt University.
Elston is a critic of liberal feminism for enabling transgender ideology. Radical feminists have objected vociferously to his tweets. I was there to see for myself, and I can say that he is absolutely right, that young liberal feminist women are the vanguard of the culture war. Which ought to be true, since it is always true. Young women have been the glue that held together every revolutionary or religious movement in history.
Young men provide the muscle, but if you watch, for example, videos of street protests in Teheran, you will see that women in the crowd are the ones directing male violence against other men. A man slaps a woman for not wearing a hijab, so she calls over a strapping young fellow who, thanks to a distraction by another male, is able to flatten the perpetrator before he gets away; women move in to manage the violence, preferring that the victim receive a memorable ass-kicking and be allowed to live in a new world rather than suffer serious injury or death. Watch the video of the cleric being assailed on the subway and note how women are the force of social change. Remember, too, that the women of Iran led the revolution in 1979. They wore red berets and combat boots at the American embassy. Without women, Khomeini would never have been the leader of Iran, such are the ironies of history.
American women have been radicalized, too. Later, when I check my email on the plane, Ed West has written a perfect essay on this very point.
A couple of quotes stand out, emphasis mine:
As the psychologist Cory Clark notes, women are consistently less supportive of free speech than men, and consistently more supportive of censorship. Compared to men, they’re more likely to say: that hate speech is violence; that it’s acceptable to shout down a speaker; that controversial scientific findings should be censored; that people need to be more careful about the language they use; and that it should be illegal to say offensive things about minorities.’ […]
Women also tend to be less pro-free speech and more in favour of censorship, more left-wing, ‘more inclined toward activism, and less inclined toward dispassionate inquiry’ and ‘disproportionately represented in disciplines like Race and Gender Studies.’
The current tide of illiberalism is riding on a wave of angry women. They call it “kindness,” but they are focused on shutting up other women, generally older women.
As I said, women are not to blame for all this. Women are the battleground.
Most of the goon squad today is male. Males — “cis” and “trans” — take turns using the microphone. However, women are present, some “gender nonconforming,” others too damn conforming. One of them is clearly trying to draw male interest from within the free speech zone. I take her picture, not because she is pretty, but because it is freezing cold. What does she gain from this sacrifice of self?
Once I spot them coming, I reckon we have three to five minutes before the main body arrives. I warn the organizers and go to continuous threat scan.
More police and park rangers are present now. Good.
Not enough friendlies are present to link arms across the open front of the Free Speech Zone. Not good.
There are a couple of other men with me inside the zone, both bigger than me. This is good because I know how it will go with the males in the crowd, even the ones wearing lipstick.
The enemy comes from exactly where I expected, idiot flags a-flying, but slower than I allowed for, because they are of course just a mob. That’s the thing about Antifa. As much as their victims speak of the terrifying unity and coordination displayed by the gangs they encounter, I know them to be fundamentally disorganized. Anarchists do not organize from the top down, but horizontally, in ad hoc formations. “Leaderless organizing.”
This is supposed to be a fun outing, you see. They are going to scream at the terrible TERFs and make a lot of noise to keep their ideological enemies from being heard.
In front of witnesses.
Tourists. Normies. Civilians who will see only women talking about damaged children and human rights while this glitter mob raves like a pack of rabid hounds.
At least a thousand bystanders in the cradle of the US Constitution are going to watch angry children trying to shout down mothers and daughters speaking sense.
The gender gendarmes think that they win when they do this, but they are not. They always think they are winning when they act out, but they are not.
Kellie-Jay is a genius at bringing these people out to show themselves. It is like behavioral software. All she has to do is be herself — an irrepressible British mum horrified by the effects of gender ideology on vulnerable children — and they squeal like stuck pigs.
They call her a racist, a bigot, a murderer, a villain, a fascist right winger. They lie freely, or repeat lies freely, about her, or her words, or whatever else, to justify their hatred of her.
They hate her words so much, the mob calls them “hate speech.” To drown them out, they use sirens and bang pots and bring a PA of their own.
Faceless males in black using violent tactics became a thing in radical politics with the anti-globalization riots of 1999. A dozen years later, the Occupy movement developed a “black bloc” of anarchist thugs. Pacifist writer Chris Hedges criticized their tactics as “hypermasculinity,” but also anckowledged this was the “primary appeal” of all the cosplay.
It taps into the lust that lurks within us to destroy, not only things but human beings. It offers the godlike power that comes with mob violence. Marching as a uniformed mass, all dressed in black to become part of an anonymous bloc, faces covered, temporarily overcomes alienation, feelings of inadequacy, powerlessness and loneliness. It imparts to those in the mob a sense of comradeship. It permits an inchoate rage to be unleashed on any target. Pity, compassion and tenderness are banished for the intoxication of power. It is the same sickness that fuels the swarms of police who pepper-spray and beat peaceful demonstrators. It is the sickness of soldiers in war. It turns human beings into beasts.
In an early sign of how things would go, Hedges was instantly accused of “gender essentialism,” a thoughtcrime that few Americans outside of radical political spaces would have even recognized at the time. Ferguson and BLM further incubated this former “black bloc” activity.
Its final form emerged with the election of Donald Trump, when punching Nazis suddenly gained mainstream acceptability, and conveniently, anyone could be labeled a Nazi using a meaningless neologism.
Kellie-Jay’s motto is that she knows she will win this fight “because I never lose.” We are not going to lose this fight today. I know this because I am here, and because I would rather die than let this hate-filled, spittle-flecked bunch of goobers win the day.
They do not. A three-man team tries backing into the Free Speech Zone with the mob behind them. They are trying to “kettle” us against the fence (a term borrowed from German tactical doctrine). Philly PD and park personnel move in as they promised. The goons have bicycles to form a fence, but so do law enforcement, who tell everyone in very polite terms that they are not part of the permitted event, so please leave, pretty please?
I see the flag corps is not listening. The “forlorn hope.” I take a picture which, unfortunately, does not capture the diminutive person inside a onesie bear(?) costume holding the end of the flag. They are masked by the lieutenant. I know his type, too. I have worked with it a few times in progressive spaces and interviewed it in others. He brought the little person to be “nonviolent” in his passive-aggressive counter-demo. And you know what, I respect that. It gives me a little hope for the first time today that the kids might be all right.
Too bad I will have to break his heart.
Great offensive linemen in the NFL know that if you should block someone and start falling on top of them, it pays to keep your hands visible to the referee, because holding is a foul. The police officer in the dapper brown coat is the referree. This is what he sees:
I am leaning like Lyndon Baines Johnson against the person who has backed into me. I am ignoring the instructions of the flag team to move back. I am smiling. My right arm is blocking the lieutenant’s arm, which he threw across my throat. For a time, I am putting my military voice on three-quarter power to tell them LET WOMEN SPEAK, LET WOMEN SPEAK. And then, very low, just loud enough to maybe be heard at all by that little person in the onesie now struggling to keep their face off the pavement, I am just starting to sing we shall overcome, we shall overcome
“Please let us take care of this,” the police officer in the dapper brown coat says. I relent instantly and pat his shoulder with thanks. “I trust you,” I tell him, and step away. Check flanks. Security scan. Kellie-Jay has not arrived yet. Where is she? Wait! Somehow, like magic, there she is at the microphone right as their attempt to kettle the women has ended, and the mob has half-expended their vocal chords.
Spirited in like a witch, she begins the festivities.
The black bloc dipshits are calling me a Proud Boy, which is just hysterically funny. One of them wants to play charades with me. I recognize the monkey-dance and respond with mockery. He seems amused, even poses while I take his photo. These kids. LOL, as they say.
In the UK, this aggressive black cosplay against women’s rights organizers has been derided as “the black pampers,” which is objectively funny. But I call them misogyninjas, and not because I think of this fellow as a ninja.
On the contrary, young man, that tacticool NVG mount on your helmet is a great way to get a broken nose. J/s
The moms are amazing. The lesbians are amazing. The athletes and detransitioners and victims of male violence are amazing. All of them speak their three minutes’ peace. Kellie-Jay doesn’t tell them what to say. She doesn’t censor them.
She just lets them speak and they are amazing, so amazing in the face of all that hysterical hate.
So I am trying to capture something of each woman’s message along with a photo in a tweet. It is my best way to amplify their voices above the din. Ideas are bulletproof.
Kellie-Jay emcees, and it is amazing to watch her. As each woman speaks, she listens to the mob, gathering intelligence, and when each woman finishes she uses it to devastating effect.
Challenged to “find a new hobby,” she retorts, and it goes out on Twitter.
Kellie-Jay began holding these events in Hyde Park in London, where free speech is a basic public principle since before America was even a thing. Confrontations there brought badly-needed attention to the plight of women in the UK who simply speak out on issues of “gender identity.” Her free speech events across the British Isles are open to any woman who wants to speak. She came across the Atlantic to help American women having the same problem.
Kellie-Jay does not call herself a feminist. I would counter that her motto, the definition of “woman” being “adult human female,” fits the definition of feminism as any ideology that recognizes women are full human beings. By now hundreds of women have spoken at her events and many or most of them were self-described feminists, also many avowed leftists, who become targets of abuse for describing their lived female humanity out loud. And as I said, feminism is not the cause of the problem, which is always a man, in the end. Feminism is a battleground where one group silences the other, and failing that, tries to shout them down, accusing them all the while of literal violence.
When the event is over on time, I walk everyone back across the street to the visitors center and make sure they have space as well as security. A quick word with Kellie-Jay, securing agreement for an interview when she is home and safe again, and then I go to my rented SUV, exit the parking garage, and drive past the visitors center, rolling down the window to find the lookout on the corner, right where I expect him.
I make eye contact. I smile. I drive, unhurried. As many times as they yelled at all of us to “go home,” I was in the home of America, which is my home, so I answered “this is my home.” It was my hope, as I left the black-clad enfant terrible behind me, that someone might waste their time following me to the airport.
Unhurried, my mind was already buzzing with observations about what I had seen and how I might use the education. Every contact with the enemy is an opportunity to learn. Every encounter with great warriors is an opportunity to grasp some of what makes them great.
They are terrfied of Kellie-Jay Keen because she is right. A middle class British mum, pantsuit-fabulous, five feet tall and cracking the whip of truth and letting women speak their minds about the new sacred caste. No wonder they hate her so much.
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