A mother’s journey to Edinburgh: #Women (& my son) Won’t Wheesht

Links to the speeches made at Parliament House

Joining the Northern RadFem Network during lockdown meant that we could not meet face to face, everything was over social media or zoom meetings. Although we all have similar feminist outlooks and ideas, all of the women involved have arrived at feminist activism in different ways. As a student in the late 80’s and early 90’s I was involved in feminist groups but later fell away from activism, maintaining my feminist roots by championing women from the background in my employment in the retail industry and later on within the Sure Start Agenda of New Labour.

My journey back to activism arose from the attacks on social media of JK Rowling and verbal attacks upon myself on Facebook by TRA’s when I posed seemingly innocent questions in my  attempt to understand why it was so difficult to say the word woman in relation to menstruation; I soon became to understand that although we are told to educate ourselves the mantra of “acceptance without exception” simply means women have no right to question the ideology.  We just have to submit and accept that what we are being told is the only truth, even if we know it is incorrect, even if we know that the reality of our biological sex matters in life, policy and law.  Without the means to talk about ourselves in a meaningful way stops women from being able to stand up for our rights and freedoms.

As I was isolated alone at home due to lockdown, I began an extensive deep dive into gender ideology which led to me joining several feminist groups which align to my new knowledge, thoughts and feelings. I found Magdalen Burns on YouTube who just told it like it is, I found Kellie-J Keen and remembered her ‘Woman-Adult human female’ billboard. I remembered being irate at the telly at the time (settee activism) but I hadn’t the time or the conviction to take it any further at that time because “surely it’s not that bad?” I thought. Now I know better, IT IS THAT BAD, and it’s a lot worse than I could have imagined 3 years ago.

When I was invited to join Northern Radfem Network, I jumped in two feet first, nervous and worried about joining an activist group in my 50’s and because I live a fair distance from the other members of the group all of our interactions were over social media and zoo.   Luckily another RadFem woman I know joined the group and we have supported each other in small feminist actions such as leafleting and stickering on International Women’s Day 2021 and attending the Manchester Feminist Network, Northern RadFem Network, Yes Matters UK and Make More Noise march in Manchester in July 2021 highlighting violence against women and girls.

When the Marion Miller court case (https://lilymaynard.com/the-curious-case-of-marion-millar/) was first announced I really wanted to attend the event being held to support her but it landed on a day I was in work. After the case was postponed many from NRFN went along to the “shopping trip “event and I so wished that I could be there alongside them to support women’s and sex-based rights. I watched everything on YouTube and was filled with positivity that I am not alone in my worries for future generations of women and girls.

The date of the postponed court date came through and again, I was working. I was gutted that I wouldn’t be able to attend… but For Women Scot advertised a rally at Edinburgh Parliament for the Thursday to oppose the introduction of the gender recognition act that would introduce self-identification of gender not natal sex.  – “yay I can go! “I thought.

Then the anxiety kicked in, I didn’t really know anyone, would I be welcome? How do I get there? I live so far away from the rest of the group. Do I get the train? It was to expensive, should I drive? To be honest I thought it was to far to drive alone, where would I park? aarrgghh. Too many questions sent my anxiety through the roof, so I shelved the idea.

Until… My son asked if men were welcome, and suggested he come with me (my saviour), he’s early 20s gender nonconforming and believes in sex-based rights. We have a few differing opinions in regard to using gendered pronouns, but we agree to disagree.

Anyway, with a few days to go before the event I booked an apartment for 3nights, booked a parking spot online and of we went on a short city break.

Arriving on the Wednesday evening, we found the infamous “Doctors” bar by accident and went in for a drink. After the bruhaha the week prior I had imagined it was going to be some horrible and aggressive bar where we were made to feel unwelcome and would feel scared or out of place.

Not at all, it was a run-of-the-mill pub with lads watching football. I was left wondering why the group of women who had been there the previous week were supposed to have known it was not ok to talk about sex-based rights or hand out fliers. (Article from the Scotsman detailing the bruhaha at Doctors bar https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/inquiry-launched-into-row-over-transphobia-in-edinburgh-pub-3355594 )

After a good night’s sleep I got myself ready for the event by making up some suffragette ribbons and bows for myself and the NRFN ladies with my new personalised ribbons with the captions “#WomenWon’tWheesht” “Northern RadFem Network “ and “Woman =Adult Human Female”.

Off we went to event, a quick coffee stop along the way, we could see more women and a few men with women centred banners, badges, t-shirts and signs along the way which alleviated any trepidation I had. Even though we did see a few people with trans flags, and I worried about how “the other side “would behave at the rally.

We arrived shortly before the speeches began, quickly found the NRFN ladies and were welcomed, hugs all round and I handed out my bows and ribbons. All of my anxieties just fell away, and I felt like I was with my tribe, with people who understood how I felt, I didn’t need to explain myself over and over again. I listened to the speeches, I met wonderful women and I felt like I was actually making my mark in history.

We were heckled by “the other side” but the women (& some men) were not wheeshting. Other than one person trying to rush through the enthralled crowd listening to the speakers the rally went of beautifully.  There were a few altercations with TRA’s as I found out via social media, but I was not present at the time. (https://grahamlinehan.substack.com/p/sure-let-this-guy-into-womens-spaces)

After the speeches my son and I sang along with Mr. Menno “If a person has a penis he’s a man, singing ay ay yippee yippee ay” (minute 46 on the speeches video listed at the top of the article) beside the Scottish Parliament Building, the atmosphere was positive and uplifting. Lovely women from Scotland invited us along to the “after party “at The Three Sisters. We met up with Belstaffie and a member of NRFN having a coffee at Nero, while discussing the event a number of transactivists entered the coffee shop so we made a quick exit to ensure that we did not become embroiled in an altercation that would spoil the positivity of the event.

Belstaffie gave us a lift in her car to the after party.  I felt proud to walk in beside her with all the work she does to protect women and girls, most notably working to dismantle the managed approach to prostitution in Holbeck, Leeds and behind the scenes.

Belstaffie’s Article about the managed approach in Leeds.  https://uncommongroundmedia.com/holbeck-managed-approach-drowning-not-swimming/

Mr. Menno was there at a table in the bar chatting away, “there’s Mr. Menno!! “I whispered to my son, fangirling. Graham Linehan was sat 2 tables away “there’s Glinner” my son whispered, we had listened to ‘The mess we’re in’ on Graham Linehan’s You tube channel on the way to Scotland and he was surprised to see that the writer of Father Ted was actually here in the flesh. Maybe, also thinking that his mother isn’t mad, isn’t on her own with her ideas about women’s rights That he isn’t on his own as a young man having gender critical beliefs about his rights as a man, men joining the cause is key for maintaining sex-based rights for all. Until men are able to see and understand how their own rights will be infringed by gender self-ID they will continue to view this issue as a fringe conspiracy theory. Some of the reports and research that I have viewed on YouTube and read are unbelievable and when you try to explain the issues and worries to the ‘woman  (or man) on the street’, friends and family you have to self-censor a lot of the information because it is so outlandish, for example, breastfeeding and menstruation fetishes.

We had a lovely afternoon, a few gins and we listened to all the stories the people around us told. From women who were banned from different social media or clubs for their GC views, to those who had uplifting stories of female solidarity. We were all there to support the women of Scotland in their fight against self-id, and to show our support to Marion Miller who was at the after party. Looking amazing; after all she has been through in 2021, she is an inspiration to us all. If Marion can keep going then we must to. Xx

Written by Menopausasaurus Rex

Mr Menno article about the Edinburgh protest and Marion Miller in Lesbian and Gay News.