Back to the future?

@The_Mighty_S on worrying present-day parallels with a dark period in Scottish history

I was 11 when my Auntie Pat phoned our house to tell me she was sending me a women’s Lib T-shirt and would I wear it?

Of course I’d wear it!

It was the 1970s and everyone was wearing those bright yellow tops with the fist and the woman’s biological sign emblazoned upon it.

Women made placards demanding equal pay and better maternity benefits and attended city marches with babies in boxy chromed prams, and the general public were dodging bonfires of bras at every street corner, such was women’s demand for change.

Compare our fight during the 1970s to the fight of Scottish women to stay alive in the 1600s, though.  It wasn’t called The Burning Times for nothing.

Burn the witch

Naturally, it was a man who started it all in Scotland. James VI had a thing about witches. He imagined them everywhere, persistently plotting to kill him and his family.

Any project that failed was probably because a witch somewhere cast a spell to wreck its success. Even bad weather, according to him, was the work of a witch. As king, he had to prove that his “godliness” would be the weapon against such evil. He followed up any gossip about a possible witch sighting, and he supervised many horrific torture sessions where poor women were forced to admit evil deeds and reveal the names of any accomplices.

I say women because of the approximately 2,500 Scots recorded murdered as witches between 1590 and 1662, 85 percent of them were women.

Witch hunting became quite the useful tool for men in local society, too. If you were a man who was out of work and Mary up the close was obviously doing well out of her beer brewing business she had going, it was quite easy to make the odd accusation in public and watch the witch-hunting machine spring into action. Then you could step in and take over Mary’s business.

Male Protestant ministers accused Catholic women of conspiring with the devil, and male Catholic town councils accused Protestant women of sleeping with him. Nothing shut down a wife’s quarrel with a neighbour faster than the talk of witchcraft. Anyone standing up for an accused woman would themselves be accused of witchcraft. 

All of the accused were murdered.

The endless fight for women’s rights

Thankfully, by the late 18th century, new scientific ideas in Europe proved accusations of witchcraft to be false, and verbal confessions were no longer accepted if the accused had been tortured. It had been an arduous, horrific period for Scottish women.

While women in the 17th century were dodging accusations and death by being burned alive, women in the 20th century were fighting for more rights. The right to own property. For female public toilets. The right to vote. The right to equal pay.

And now, in the 21st century, women are fighting to KEEP their rights.

This time it’s a men’s rights movement that seeks to redefine what a woman is so they can legally become one. They insist the need to change their gender is a harmless pursuit. Why should we care what people want to wear? It doesn’t hurt to refer to someone with their preferred pronouns, does it? What happened to being kind? What happened to the sisterhood, famous for accommodating the vulnerable in society? 

If there are no women, there can be no women’s rights. If there are no women’s rights, biological men and women will have to start at the beginning with a “cis” rights movement. And, all the while, transwomen are able to slide into those posts that women have worked so hard to obtain – in business, in the third sector and in politics.

Tactics of silence and coercion

We have leaders eager to show their “godliness” by denouncing anyone who doesn’t agree with transgender ideology. We have political parties keeping gender policies hidden away from public scrutiny. New crime bills designed without support for women in law. We have our media refusing to report the consequences of such policies.

Unlike the 17th century, science is now to be denied.

In the 21st century, women are being silenced by society and coerced into accepting men as women. Just as women have no idea which man in society will not assault us in a public space, so we have no idea which transwomen will not assault us in a safe space. Any transwoman convicted of a crime can spend their jail time in the women’s unit. Oh, we can shout about the Equality Act of 2010, but no one will hear us.

The peer pressure to conform is often overwhelming. 

A missed pronoun could see us denounced as transphobic. Stating that the word “woman” means they are a female human is now a sign of one’s transphobia – and the witchfinder will tell the authorities and you will be suspended or fired from your post or de-platformed as a bigot or have your social media account suspended.

Just as it was in the 1500s, women are silenced. Cancelled from society.  Not to keep the nation free from the devil – but to stop feelings being hurt.

Different century – same sh*t. 

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