I held my nose and subscribed to a magazine which I hate last year: The Spectator. I feel it is healthy to be challenged. I realised it was time to cancel after a stereotypical cartoon of hook-nosed Arabs appeared on my door mat, and today I finally got round to logging on to the website.
I was stopped in my tracks by a piece arguing against those people who are easily offended. Julie Burchill has written about that word I keep seeing in tweets but never bother to look up: intersectionality. It’s supposed to be about the rights of those groups who are discriminated against in more than one way – Black women for example. Ms Burchill argues that by hiding behind the ideology of intersectionality, minority groups are becoming unnecessarily divisive, and so the solidarity of socialism is being lost.
This is where I agree. Not only can groups become unnecessarily divisive, but the “you don’t understand because you’re different” argument can actually have quite a nasty, personal side to it. Did Paris Lees really need to talk about Julie Bindel’s genitalia ? No, argues Ms Burchill. But then, calling the trans community “a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs” is possibly not the best way to start a constructive debate either.
She writes: “When I asked a supporter of this lunacy whether she thought that every subject of interest to women should have every type of woman weighing in with her written opinion, she answered that yes, she did. Seriously? I don’t think my heart can stand the excitement of a weekly Staggers the size of a telephone directory.”
This is where I disagree. We, and I use the pronoun deliberately, have fought long for the right of our voice to be heard, and that means all of our voices. The nature of the internet is that millions can interject their thoughts instantly, and yes, after a few hours of debate with hundreds of angry objectors, it can get rather tiring. But you are allowed to switch off your gadgets and sleep at some point. It’s only when you, say, hang up your phone during say a planned recorded debate that you lose points.
We should all be allowed to speak. Perhaps we need to work on listening.