Two years ago, in February of 2020, the Washington Post published a piece called “Conservatives find unlikely ally in fighting transgender rights: Radical feminists.” The essence of the article was to describe groups like the Women’s Liberation Front, or WoLF, full of people with decades-long track records as leftists or feminists, as not merely in temporary agreement with conservatives on trans issues, but actual converts to the entire conservative cause.
The piece described WoLF as “fringe activists” who “argue that advancements in transgender rights will come at the expense of women’s rights” and have been “shunned” by modern progressives, who call them “a discriminatory, right-wing group disguised as feminist.”
The piece was one of countless examples in which leftist or independent critics of mainstream fixations — from Russiagate to the campaign of Joe Biden to war in Ukraine — are reclassified as right-wingers and Trump supporters. The far left, libertarians, Greens, and other assorted malcontents used to be just ignored by popular media, but now they don’t even enjoy that privilege. The new instinct has a clear and effective purpose, to create the illusion that there is no intramural debate on one side of the aisle, that disagreers are actually enemies in disguise.
Kara Dansky, a former WoLF board member and the author of The Abolition of Sex, may be the most outspoken feminist in America when it comes to criticizing popular current beliefs about gender identity. A former ACLU public defender, she’s focused heavily on the presence of biological men in women’s jails, and for her troubles has been essentially booted out of mainstream progressive politics.
As I noted in a review of Matt Walsh’s What is a Woman?, I originally sat on this interview in an effort to avoid dealing with blowback from trans activists. I apologized to Dansky this week and also asked her thoughts about the film, which are included below.
Dansky is an intense, sharp interview, and also a fluid and purposeful author. Ages ago, as a dumb young jock, I picked up Andrea Dworkin’s 1974 Woman Hating as a joke, and found myself engrossed and reading to the end. Dansky’s book, The Abolition of Sex, isn’t written in the same kind of fulminating, entertainingly rageful prose, but it is a persuasive exercise in no-bullshit argumentation. I recommend it even to people who are inclined to disagree with her. In these passages she talks about the corruption of language:
The entire English language is being manipulated and twisted in order to obscure the reality of sex. In June 2021, the Biden administration replaced the word “mothers” with the words “birthing people” in a section of a budget proposal regarding infant mortality. In a guide on “Safer Sex for Trans Bodies,” the Human Rights Campaign urges readers to refer to a vagina as a “front hole” and to a penis as a “strapless…”
That our language has changed so dramatically as to make the natural, material reality of sex nearly invisible, with so little public debate, is astounding… If we cannot talk about sex, we cannot talk about sexism. If we cannot talk about sexism, we cannot fight back against it.
I asked Dansky about these and other questions in an interview earlier this year. At the time, she had just done an interview with Tucker Carlson, so I asked her about blowback:
Matt Taibbi: You wrote for The Federalist and you just went on Tucker, and it’s clear that you’re uncomfortable about this to a degree. If you had a choice, would you be using these outlets?
Kara Dansky: It’s really interesting, because my choice would be to go on more mainstream, left-leaning outlets. Absolutely. I would love to have a conversation with The New York Times, with The Washington Post, with MSNBC, CNN. I would love to do that. They are not, seemingly, willing to even have a conversation about this, so I go on conservative media because conservative media will have me.
It turns out that there is actually an advantage to doing that, which is that even though it’s my party, the Democratic Party, that is driving the rush to abolish sex in law and society, my view is that Republicans are not doing enough to stand up to it. By going on conservative media, even though that is not my preference, it’s actually an opportunity to inform conservatives about how important it is and how dire the consequences are for women and girls of abolishing sex in law, because I think a lot of conservatives think that this is just a crazy lefty issue, and they don’t really appreciate how important it is.