Monday, June 5

Women deserve the right to speak

At Let Women Speak, the Police utterly failed to protect women.

On Saturday 25th March, a group of women were assaulted and mobbed at the Let Women Speak rally in Auckland, New Zealand. You can see video footage of the event here, here, here and here.

Let Women Speak was planned as an opportunity for ordinary women to have their say on women’s rights. It would also have raised awareness of youth gender transition, which is widespread in New Zealand but increasingly controversial among medical professionals. The rally was led by British women’s rights campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, aka Posie Parker.

Caitlin, one of the women who attended this event, describes her experience this way:

As time went on, it became apparent that the police were not there and were not going to turn up. I think the protesters sensed that as well, because they started to get more and more feral and entered onto the rotunda…

The protesters on the rotunda were overwhelmingly men… They shoved women, they screamed in our faces, they leered at us, and they tried to forcibly topple over a section of steel gate onto the women sheltering from them on the other side of it.

As we were completely surrounded, we could not escape. At one point I contemplated climbing out over the seats to exit the rotunda, but the rotunda is surrounded by rocks. I wasn’t confident that I wouldn’t get accidentally or purposefully shoved and fall onto the rocks and get trampled. At this stage I had grave concerns for my personal safety and the safety of my 11 week old baby. I kept thinking if they surge, if I fall, if I get trapped under that fence section, if I get punched – I could lose this baby. I kept asking myself – where are the police? How can I get out? What can I do?

I texted my husband who wanted to come and get me – but how? There is no way at that stage he would have been able to get to me and besides, there was no way he’d get there in time. I asked him to call 111. It took him 8 minutes to get through to them and the police told him there were police already there and more on the way. This was patently false. There were no police as far as the eye could see, there were none on the way and I saw none when I finally did manage to get out. And the protesters knew it – you could tell. They knew they could act with impunity. You could tell they knew that they had the blessing of the media, the Government and now seemingly, the Police. At one point someone pointed their flag at one of the ladies up there with us. She grabbed it and it broke. He then used the shard to try to jab her in the stomach. I had to dodge out of the way to avoid getting accidentally stabbed with it. I’ve never been so scared.

Caitlin

I’ve met Caitlin personally. From everything I know of her, she is not “anti-trans” – she supports women’s and children’s rights. Like other women I have met, she is concerned about fairness, truth, and the safety of women and children. She deserves the right to speak, and she and her unborn child deserve to be kept safe.

The police in Auckland failed utterly in their duty to keep New Zealanders safe. They must have known that violence against women would occur without a police presence. And yet, according to observers on the ground, they failed to attend until far too late. We’re lucky no-one was killed. 

The New Zealand Police has a shameful history of mistreatment of women, but until this weekend many had hoped that its culture had improved. The events at Let Women Speak cast this into doubt. We need a full investigation into why the police decided to leave women vulnerable and undefended, and those responsible need to be held to account.

The New Zealand media are equally blameworthy. As this GB News segment clearly shows, they misled the public into believing that Posie Parker was something that she is not. Our mainstream media are rapidly losing the trust of many New Zealanders, with potentially disastrous consequences.

Reasonable people have criticised Posie Parker as overly confrontational and sometimes reckless. But her tactics are nothing compared to those of her opponents. And to smear her as a Nazi seems ludicrous.

For years, the media has stoked fear and resentment by misrepresenting what women’s rights campaigners believe. Astonishingly, state-subsidised online magazine The Spinoff has described the violent protest in Auckland as “joyful, life-affirming and full of love”. Media who endorse this narrative are complicit in Saturday’s violence against women.

A 2021 display at Wellington City Libraries. The slang expression “throw hands” is a call for violence.

The first excuse of a domestic abuser is ‘she deserved it’. She was disrespectful, she was rude, she was hurtful. Some in the media have applied the same twisted logic to the events at Let Women Speak. They have insinuated that the protesters’ violence was justified by their hurt feelings and fears. But it is never acceptable for men to use violence and intimidation to control women’s speech. Nor is it acceptable for anyone to use violence and intimidation to control anyone’s speech.

I don’t believe that the violence and hatred we saw from the protesters in Auckland represents what most transgender people would want. I like and respect the transgender people that I know personally, and I know that they care about the rights and safety of women. But the gender activism movement is becoming increasingly extreme.

Protester signs at Let Women Speak, as Tweeted by Ani O’Brien.

I believe that transgender people deserve the same rights, freedoms, dignity, and safety as everyone else. For those who have chosen to transition socially and/or medically, I wish you your best life. All I ask is that trans activists respect the rights, freedoms, dignity, and safety of others.

You cannot condone what happened in Auckland and say that you oppose violence against women. If you are a New Zealander who cares about free speech, democracy, and women’s safety in our country, please consider signing this Free Speech Union open letter to the Minister of Police. We deserve much better from our police, our politicians, and our media.

Everyone who writes and speaks on this topic knows that they are taking a risk. But we do it anyway. We will not be silenced. It is too important.

Laura López is the mother of two girls and holds a graduate degree in psychology. She writes Arguments With Friends on Substack.

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