Bonus: How to mimick molesters, misdiagnose violence and endanger vulnerable trans people
Jameela Jamil populating her twitter feed with her undying support for the slogans of ‘transwomen are women’ and ‘transmen are men’ and non binary people are ‘valid’, the slogans popular in trans-activism (not to be confused with actual struggles for basic human rights) is nothing new; it’s almost a weekly occurrence. Ever since J.K Rowling mentioned her hesitation and concerns about current trans-activism, the media storm engulfing the author has included no less than 37 borderline libelous articles by Pink News, and denouncements from the younger actors from the Harry Potter franchise, Jameela Jamil jumping on the bandwagon is to be expected. But how she did is an exhibition of her craven support to the most indisputable vicious forms of misogyny in existence.
She previously did a great job of proving that she cannot be outdone in sounding like every abusive rapist ever when she tweeted this:
Really, what does that phrasing remind you of? So very similar to the line millions of women have heard through history while being raped or bought for sex. It’s been used as a taunt by rapists, by pimps, by every single man (and occasionally woman) who has reduced a woman to an object. “Close Mouth. Open Legs”. Ring a bell? It should. We’ve all heard it, almost the exact same phrasing. It’s extremely telling that of all the comebacks Jameela Jamil came up with, she decided to mimic almost to the letter the exact phrases used by molesters the world over. One wonders why. Of course, women can and do disagree and tell each other to shut up, and that is not always misogynistic. Among the huge variety of possible reactions, it’s indicative of Jamil’s deepset hatred towards women, evidenced in what a staggering, concise phrase she chose. “Close Mouth. Open ____” Shocked reactions to her choice show that this impression of her push-back isn’t in the minority.
Her latest offering is straight from, I imagine, the website called ReturnOfTheKings or a 4chan thread about how to justify being abusive.
How blatantly misogynistic. What an amazing, crystal clear articulation of that horrifying habit in our culture that feminism has been fighting: victim blaming. In other words, to say ‘You deserved it’ ‘What did you expect’ or ‘If only you didn’t do that thing that angered people, who are of course justified’. It’s almost, in a bizarrely chilling way, fascinating. This woman, this character on Twitter claiming to be feminist(?!) clearly and in no uncertain terms acted out the most unbelievably horrific example of misogyny — to blame the woman for bringing it on herself. To be clear, there are subversive and more subtle forms of victim blaming. There are statements that, to the lay person and to people unaccustomed to the phenomenon will not seem obvious victim blaming.
But oh no. No such subtleties for Ms. Jameela Jamil who baldly and in no uncertain terms thought it a fabulous idea to say well of course, bad things are inexcusable but women need to understand that really, they’re doing something wrong. I’m paraphrasing here of course but since her tweets are quoted and linked above, I think the average reader will agree that this is what it amounts to.
This is classic whitewash from most of the deeply misogynistic people in existence. “It is inexcusable to rape obviously but women should understand that men have urges and should not dress provocatively.” “It is inexcusable to beat women clearly but women need to not push men to the edge”. “It is inexcusable to murder and make violent threats but women should do their part in not making men angry”. This is, quite simply, the most obvious, blatant and direct form of victim blaming possible. Jameela Jamil could not have epitomized classic victim blaming more perfectly if she had been coached. Or maybe she has been. At this point who’s to tell? Because really, an occasional actress whose current public persona appears to be either coming out as queer after being accused of appropriation or dis-inviting people, deciding to not just sound like, but practically embody the heights of victim blaming behaviour suggests something deeply troubling
Unsurprisingly, she hasn’t retracted or backtracked, which leads one to believe that she truly, genuinely, saw herself writing a tweet that embodied vicious victim blaming, didn’t think twice about it and therefore thinks she has a point. Therein really is the larger problem, the abject, mind blowing ridiculousness of blaming women, feminists, the much demonized ‘TERFS’ for practically killing trans people.
She starts off in her first tweet, with the vague denunciation of the storm of rape and death threats launched at Rowling. Then, she followed up with this nugget: “It is also important that women who receive this abuse over their GC views, know their rhetoric is what contributes to the ostracization, actual rape and actual murder of trans women, not just threats. It all needs to stop.” Ah. Women should know their place, and the huge and growing group of women expressing views akin to Rowling just need to learn that they’re practically killing trans people. Because if not for Jameela Jamil, this huge group of women wouldn’t know? Okay then. But let’s look at that word salad a little closer. That ‘gender-critical’ rhetoric is what contributes to the actual rape and actual murder (double actual for emphasis in case you mixed it up with literal violence) of transwomen (trans-identifying men)?
You mean it’s not the men who’ve raped, mutilated and murdered transwomen, just like they do to women who are causing this horrendous violence, but women with opinions? How does that even follow? She actually thought this makes sense, and this is unsurprising; it is the clarion call of trans-activism, the insistent demand that any hesitation about their demands is a highway to their actual rape and actual murder. Here’s the problem with this self flagellating rubbish — its obviously nonsensical. Men don’t kill transwomen or women because of what feminists say or do. This should be obvious.
Not to be outdone with one tweet spouting pure unadulterated rubbish, Jamil digs in.
The entire problem with this debate is this notion that somehow, questioning trans-activism’s demands is a highway to their actual murder and actual rape, and hence any amount of demonic, vile abuse directed at the women who do this, is justified. To those, however, who actually work with murder, or rape, or really, violence as a part of daily life, it is painfully and abundantly clear that policy debates do not, repeat, do not lead to murder and violence. Rape is a very specific, very intimate form of violence. While this piece is not the space to explore rape itself, the average reader should surely be able to understand that a feminist saying ‘transwomen are not women, women are adult human females’ does not realistically or feasibly lead to men going berserk and raping and murdering trans people. Every sentence in this ridiculous dramatic declaration isn’t just an exaggeration. It is wholly and completely false. Just like with homophobia towards gay men and lesbians, men attack and brutalize anyone, whether men or women, who deviate from the accepted norms. Hence the incredibly tragic violence towards effeminate men, the rape of gay men and trans men, and the corrective rape of lesbians. One single pattern holds – an explosion of fury, rage, and sexualized violence towards men and women who ‘deviate’ from gender norms. Does anyone believe that feminists rejecting transwomen from being classed as ‘women’ has anything to do with this? There is no intellectual framework in which this makes sense.
Male violence is extensively and systematically studied. The least likely contributing factor is feminists pointing out that one cannot change sex and hence sexed categories and sex-based rights cannot be randomly expanded and thrown open. Really, does it sound logical to anyone that men brutalize, rape and murder trans people because, women, feminists oppose access for them into single sex spaces? The argument of whether women therefore should bend over and relax their boundaries is a different one, of women’s obligations to erode their own boundaries to safeguard another group. But that’s a completely different question from whether gender critical feminists are, really contributing to, and hence responsible for men brutalizing trans people? Is causation irrelevant?
Jameela, patron saint of not understanding the painfully simple concepts of causation, contribution, influence or of how we assess, predict and track these three different social mechanisms (all those pesky things that people interested in society’s well being tend to focus on) instead prefers to make these expansive declarations of supreme knowledge and say it is feminism, and feminists who endanger trans people. Even if not, Jameela Jamil and her ilk have also decided that women as a class have to be the guardians and protectors of everyone from all evil. Hence the mind numbing ‘feminism is for everyone’ ‘if your feminism isn’t intersectional it isn’t feminism’ slogans. Probe a little and it comes out that feminism is now a movement that must solve all problems, and women, the group that must shoulder all burdens. This is not a new concept at all; women have always been expected to sacrifice for others deemed more worthy. Perhaps this is because Jameela Jamil is an actress, her every word is punctuated by dramatic hyperbole, condemning women for turfing transwomen into this ‘sea of violence’. This claim, particularly in developed countries has also been debunked several times, showing that transwomen are in fact less likely that women to experience grievous violence. So, pardon the impatience, but what ‘sea of violence’?
The assertion that the views of feminists, however dis-likeable one may find them, contributes to the actual murder and actual rape of trans people is unforgivably stupid. This is not to say that words, rhetoric, cannot in some cases contribute to harm. But this is not one of those instances, as should be clear to anyone who considers it for more than 15 seconds. Even taken to its extreme, current ‘TERF’y views would, at the maximum, lead to some impatience with the social changes demanded by trans-activism, and a rejection of some of the legal privileges and entitlements that are being campaigned for. This does not equate to advocating for, or contributing to murder and hate. To argue that is incredibly irresponsible and reckless. There’s unkind speech, there’s offense-inducing speech, humour, and views, and then there’s problematic speech and behaviour, which could conceivably contribute to dehumanising people (ex: the comments of Donald Trump on the campaign trail, en masse labelling Mexicans as rapists and murderers). Consider that even in that instance, Trump isn’t accused of literally killing them. He is credited with contributing to an atmosphere where prejudice and racism is emboldened. Even Trump’s behaviour is subjected to more detail, leave alone nuance, recognizing that his terrible comments embolden racists already existing but doesn’t set society on the highway to genocide.
Even proceeding on the untrue assumption that feminist views lead to less than pure love and acceptance for all things trans, it can, at the maximum be blamed for some wariness and caution, not even prejudice. Most speech doesn’t lead to violence, nor even make a tangible contribution to it. This is why hate speech jurisprudence focuses on incitement to hate, and incitement to violence. Speech does not necessarily cause a bad situation, nor does it even account for indirect effects, contributing to an environment etc. This incandescent rage towards certain positions on the basis that they literally lead to violence (there’s also of course the ‘words are literal violence’ issue, but that’s separate) is what is primarily driving this awful discourse. Not only is it unjustified, it is not backed up by social sciences that study or track violence, and is in fact leading to a far more fractured society. If the allegations were based in reality, the fracturing would be justified, but they’re not. My concern here is not on the basis of free speech or what this hyperbolic dramatism does to free speech. It is quite simply wrong to attribute violence towards speech that does not in fact have those effects. For one, it stifles speech that doesn’t need to be stifled, and secondly, it mis-attributes the causes of violence and hence what needs to be done to counter it.
In this case for example, cursory examinations of deaths of transwomen also reveal that they’re engaged in the most dangerous profession for women, namely, that of sex work. This has been repeatedly pointed out because from a violence prevention perspective, it’s relevant as to why it actually occurs. Was it transphobia? Or the male violence that women in the sex trade experience at vastly higher rates than other women? Yet celebrity hangers-on like Jameela Jamil do a profound disservice to the people she claims to protect. On the one hand, she happily misdirects attention, leading to wrong identification of the threats to trans people, on the other, she joins in on the common rhetoric that feminists who oppose the sex trade are also hateful, and calls for policies that keep transwomen trapped in sex work which put them at risk. In this respect, Jameela Jamil is even worse than Men’s Rights Activists, who, whenever they quote the relatively larger proportion of men dying in workplace accidents, demand that men not dominate dangerous occupations. It seems the celebrities now turning on Rowling don’t even bother to do that.
This is also despite the fact that the rhetoric of ‘transwomen are women’ actively endangers them because it forces the notion that a feminine appearance is necessarily a woman. Anyone who has actually cared to read about the murders of transwomen that can be attributed to transphobia will notice a specific burst of rage when men discover that really, a feminine person isn’t female (hence the grievous genital injuries in some cases — a fact that those who try to actively reduce the violence will notice — and also the reason why some violent males justify feeling ‘defrauded’ as a defense to crimes against trans people to the US). Before someone tries to twist this – no, their excuse is categorically not justified, and is horrendous. But it gives us a clue as to why the men become violent, and how therefore to stop it. Forcing the slogan only leads to a sustained societal impression that feminine = female, which endangers transwomen, women, and lesbians. But Jamil is on board with that.
If Jameela Jamil cared about trans people, she should be caring about accurately diagnosing the violence, and designing strategies that counter the basis for the violence. For her – none of that. A few pearl clutching false tweets, victim blaming of women with concerns about policy, misdirection about the true factors of violence towards trans people, and the cherry on the cake — unqualified support for keeping them in dangerous occupations that would increase their risk. For everyone else? An excuse to condemn, fire, demonize, smear, and send rape threats to women.
Lawyer, activist against sexual violence and exploitation. You can follow her on twitter @lblwcri.