Is the Cult of Personality Compatible with Activism?

When it comes to social groups with a message to spread it is easy to spot those who are only out for themselves. For one, you’re likely to know exactly what they look like because there’s a shit ton of pictures of them and they’re usually quick to accept any offer of a photo op irrespective of who it’s with. Two; they will have little to no history of activity in activism or leanings toward improving social consciousness in whatever area it is they’ve wandered into. And three; It’s usually the result of an apparently radical shift in thinking which mostly occurs during a life crisis. This can be anything from job loss to divorce, kids getting older, or a partner cheating. Could be anything, but it’s always something which affects the person’s status or psyche in some way. The younger ones may have a different agenda but they’re not necessarily innocent or naive with their intentions.

My first encounter with these types of people came from the new age crowd (everything from aliens to witchcraft and including astrology, tarot, and fuck knows how many branches of so-called spiritual belief). Those arenas are notorious for their ability to attract those in the midst of a breakdown or challenging transition. They go from dejected divorcee to divine devotee in sixty days or less. You only need to listen to a handful of people describe the timeline of events leading up to their ‘awakenings’ to see the patterns emerge.

I’m saddened to see that it appears the activists may be similar in pattern. I include the environmental types who have no fucking idea where their clothes and furnishings come from and think nothing of jumping on a plane. The same environmental activists who often have enough resources at their disposal they can take time off work without fear of being sacked nor demoted. And, whilst we’re at it – fair play to those ordinary folk who dragged the protesters off the roof of a train.

A common word of the imposter which should maybe sound the initial alarm of an authenticity breech is truth . Those of us long on the path inevitably realise there is so little of it that it’s more of a search for a needle in a haystack than something to be found in abundance. Better then to search for something else instead, like meaning, justice, or maybe those cheesy filled football things they only ever seem to sell at Christmas. Truth is only ever valuable in a court of law and even that’s questionable if we’re on the unfavourable side of a miscarriage of justice. Truth doesn’t mean much and finding it rarely brings something precious. That’s not to say I don’t value honesty, far from it. But, the idea there is always truth to find and being one who spouts it isn’t usually something to be proud of. Far from it. And it’s only ever those who’ve been in possession of the wrong kind of truth who will know what I’m inferring here.

People get fixated on the portrayal of mythical hero and hold ringleaders aloft with cries of Oh, you’re so brave because you speak the truth. The constant backslapping and mythologising of mortals is a source of irritation for me because I know, deep down, they’re doing fuck all for humanity as a whole. I do see there are people out there who are desperate for change but their voices are constantly drowned out by the bullshit and bravado of the fake messiahs of whatever movement they’re prominent in. Resentment is a perfectly natural response to that which enslaves us, keeps us prisoner, or blocks our progress. We tend to want to fight against restrictions and oppressors. It makes sense that we get involved in battles which somehow represent or mimic our personal daemons. I don’t doubt that many women who currently fight against transgender ideology are doing so because they feel trapped by the stereotypes they feel they’re stuck with. Women are more than a bit of lippy and a dress. We’re more than our body parts too.

It seems unfortunate that by taking a stand against something we lose time to stand for something. It becomes too easy to forget why we took up the sword in the first place. I only got involved because of a wider interest in issues around identity formation, social hierarchies and the effects of stigma on character development. Others got involved because they’re long-standing advocates of child safeguarding. Some were in the awful position of being directly affected on the home front because of their partner or child having an identity crisis. Some got involved for different reasons that weren’t necessarily straightforward. And yeah, some do get involved because they’re just fucking hateful and want to legitimise their ideas which tend to come pre-loaded with spite.

What I do know for sure is that it isn’t only feminists involved in the ‘gender criticism’ battle. Many of the women are neither feminist nor even gender critical. So much of the dialogue on social media lacks badly-needed nuance. Nobody seems to have the time to put in the analysis. Fuck, I don’t have time to do anything myself. Nobody gets paid for it is the problem and the ones who are making money off it are usually doing so to justify their involvement. I dunno what else to say. Well, I actually do but don’t have the time to get into right now.

From what I’ve seen, the cult of personality is bad for activism. The characters are too often divisive and mostly lack the subtle attention to detail needed to inform the public of the wider dynamics in play. Despite claims from some supporters that these ‘leaders’ are ‘getting the message out’, there is little to suggest they’re doing anything of the sort. Most of the public appearances speaking against trans identified males using female spaces are taking place within echo chambers already subtly hostile to groups such as LGB, single parents, or black people. We have near total institutional capture and no amount of preaching to the choir is going to help change that. The current fear of those of us who are moderate is that the government in power isn’t going to do enough to reverse the damage which could ultimately result in the far right making gains politically.

Feminism is not responsible for the antagonism that arises from arguments linked to retaining women’s rights. Many of the women aren’t even feminists. Of those who do self-describe as feminists, you have god only knows how many different branches and some are incredibly hostile to other types. The radicals are opposed to and highly critical of much of what passes as Liberal feminism. And with good fucking reason. The problem here is that there is NO real leader of feminism and that ain’t always a good thing. The idea of a ‘collective’ is all well and good but that leaves the door open for those with less honour to dominate the spotlight. When those people are challenged as not being real feminists they usually concede and say they aren’t actually feminists but only because feminism is such a hotbed for shittery and throws women under the bus for having an opinion…it’s such a mess.

The term gender critical is pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Most gender critics are nowhere near able to provide a critique; they’re just flinging it as a term to try add some legitimacy to the battle against sex-based stereotyping. They don’t want to lay claim to the term feminist because they’re either male or they’re a woman who doesn’t like liberal feminism.

Here in the UK we could probably do with a new radical feminist organisation if feminism is going to regain any legitimacy as a political force. Women need to be able to unite under one umbrella and the new groups set up to counter the trans lobby are simply not adequate and they’re mostly not concerned with any other issue. The focus needs to be on women, not men… centre the women on and below the poverty line irrespective of skin colour or sexuality. Highlight the issues specific to women, but most especially the women who are low on resources. I’m veering off the track here but the point is, if we had stable groups to protect women’s rights, there’d be less space on the stage for those who aim to divide, and not unite.

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