Friday, July 19

The day women were silenced: a father’s perspective

I’d never heard of Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker before last week. I still haven’t seen any of her videos online or read any of her opinions. All I knew of her was that she’d held some rallies in Australia that were “controversial”, and that she was pro-women’s rights, or as the mainstream media labelled her, “anti-trans”. 

I decided to go to the ‘Let Women Speak’ event in Auckland after seeing it advertised on Twitter. I knew that some the queer community would be there to protest, as that too had been advertised on Twitter. I was not a supporter of Parker, but neither was I a supporter of the protesters. I was going as a husband and father of three young girls, who is concerned about their rights as women and their future. I wanted to hear what Parker had to say, hear some of the discourse from other speakers, and make up my own mind. However, I was not prepared for what I’d experience.

To put it succinctly, what I saw on Saturday was disgusting. 

By the time I’d gotten to the park, Parker and a few supporters were trapped in the rotunda, surrounded by an angry, baying crowd chanting “Go home Posie. Go home” and yelling obscenities. I made my way to the front of the crowd looking for anyone from the Let Women Speak group. But it was apparent that the event had fallen apart. The rotunda was soon overrun by protesters, and security had to escort Parker out of the park. 

After she’d left in a police car, I wandered around in shock at what I was witnessing. As someone who grew up in a loving, stable environment, this was the first time that I’d been exposed to such vitriol. I was raised to show respect to my elders and to show respect to women, but during this protest, I saw neither. 

What I did see was protesters screaming and shouting in an elderly lady’s face, chants of “Go home Nazi” ringing around the park, until she had no choice but to leave. I saw others who were shoved and pushed as they tried to leave. I came across a man in his 60s just as he was surrounded by a group of protesters, who then snatched his phone off him and tried to take his sign. I stepped in and did my best to defuse the situation. He got his phone back, and we made our way out of the crowd so he could find his wife. 

Not long after that, a mother on crutches and her daughter were then surrounded and hounded out of the park all the way to their car, profanities screamed at them and in their faces the entire time, until the police asked them to leave “for their own safety.” 

A man who was trying to stand up for those two women was yelled at and told to take off his taonga hanging around his neck, and that because he was “on their side, he was not tangata whenua”. The crowd was now deciding who was “Māori enough” and who wasn’t! 

Other videos and pictures surfaced online, showing people getting assaulted worse than what I saw first-hand, yet that entire time, the police stood by and did almost nothing. Even worse, the trans community and their allies have since defended or downplayed those videos. 

“Rules. Without them we live with the animals.” 

The mob mentality and pack behaviour I saw on Saturday were just like animals but worse, because, unlike animals, we are supposed to be able to think rationally. But there was no empathy or kindness at this protest.

I get that there were some who did not want to hear Parker speak, but the ends do not justify the means; in civil society, violence, the threat of violence, and intimidation are unacceptable. 

We can debate the treatment of the trans or queer community, but again, just because someone treats you a certain way doesn’t give you the mandate to respond in the same fashion or in this case, worse. “Well they did it first!” has never been an acceptable answer to a parent, let alone by society. Words like “Nazi” and “genocide” are thrown around so much that they have started to lose their meaning. 

The mainstream media also have a lot to answer for. Their coverage leading up to the event was entirely one-sided, and coverage of the event afterwards was even more so. 

Instead of shining any light on legitimate concerns many women have about their spaces and safety, the media continually gave columns and airtime to trans community protesters, which left everyone with a lopsided view of what happened. 

The protest in Albert Park was anything but peaceful, and the mainstream media’s coverage only served to condone the violence that took place.

The system creates “two different classes of people” …“that is what it is, yup, yup.”

Ultimately, this is bigger than the trans vs women movement. We are seeing more division being stoked racially, just as we saw division driven purposefully between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

We see division based on which religion you might be or what political party you vote for. Everything is offensive and if you even dare to question “the message”, you’re labelled a word that ends in ‘-ist’ or ‘-phobic’. 

Many women still have legitimate questions about their right to have spaces free from males and trans women, or questions about being able to play and compete in sports against only biological women. But all of these questions have gone unanswered, drowned out by chants of hate, disguised as love.

Many have said that “words are violence”, but violence is violence. If we can’t have conversations and debates about hard topics in a civilised manner, then I have fears for the future that my daughters are going to inherit, and if their voices will even be allowed to be heard.