The Hypocrisy of “Gender Critical” Feminists in the SNP

[Image Description: trans flag bearing words “trans rights are human rights”]

On the front page of today’s edition of The National there is a banner proclaiming the return to politics of former First Minister Alex Salmond, who was more recently in the news for being on trial accused of a number of sexual offences. While the court found Mr Salmond not guilty on most counts, and not proven on one, throughout the course of the investigation, he admitted to behaviour directed towards women which, while not criminal, is decidedly creepy.

The article itself describes a post-pandemic recovery plan which seems fairly generic and inoffensive, though I only skimmed the article. The headline is of far more interest than the content. That a newspaper saw fit to celebrate the supposed return to politics of a man who engaged in creepy behaviour towards women (again, you can be creepy without being criminal) is troubling. His ideas for a post-pandemic recovery are far from unique; so logically one can assume that the National chose to feature his name so prominently as they knew it would sell papers.

Salmond is a bully, who spent his political career intimidating those around him, particularly young women. He should not be welcome in Scottish politics, or in the SNP, especially among those who claim to stand up for women’s rights. Yet, funnily enough, those in the ‘gender critical’ wing of the party seem to be lauding his return to politics. Articles celebrating the election of candidates from the transphobic so-called “SNP Good Guys” slate also praise Salmond.

Men who think they can behave in a creepy manner towards women, and a society which decides this is acceptable so long as a court finds them not guilty, are symptomatic of a society where women are unsafe. And yet, the ‘gender critical’ feminists would have you believe that the greatest threat to women is trans people. It is almost as though these people do not actually care about women’s rights, but rather are choosing to demonise trans people out of hatred or for political reasons.

Let me be very clear. Trans rights are human rights, trans women are women, trans men are men, nonbinary people are nonbinary. None of these statements should be up for debate. Denying trans people the right to exist as their gender and to use the spaces they feel most comfortable in is discrimination, plain and simple. Throwing trans people under the bus in the name of “women’s rights” is horrible and disingenuous: giving trans people rights does not take rights away from women.

Their rhetoric in its own right is disgusting and transphobic. But it is also hugely hypocritical, particularly for those in the SNP. If the alleged defenders of women’s rights are willing to ally themselves to men like Salmond, then can they really call themselves defenders of women’s rights? No, they can’t. The Women’s Pledge wing of the SNP does not protect women, or the working class. It provides a platform for transphobes and fundamentalists who care about nothing beyond independence as an end in itself.

I support independence as a means to creating a fairer, more equal society. It is not an end in itself – in fact, I’m a proponent of open borders long-term – but rather a way to create a society in which things like the Tory war on disabled people can’t happen. A society where things are better for everyone regardless of their gender, gender identity, disability, race, religion or any other protected characteristic. And if our goal is not to create a better society, then what are we doing?

We Must Support Clara Ponsatí from Political Persecution

A European Arrest Warrant was issued on Friday for Clara Ponsati, a Professor at the University of St Andrews. As a student at this institution, I am horrified that one of our professors is being persecuted for her political affiliations.

Professor Ponsati and other Catalan ministers face charges in Spain including rebellion and sedition for their role in holding an independence referendum in Catalonia in October 2017, and subsequently declaring independence. These charges are politically motivated and are an attack on freedom and democracy by the Spanish government.

Clara Ponsati was Education Minister in the Catalan government at the time of the referendum when they declared independence from Spain. Following this, she and five other ministers, including Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, fled Spain for Belgium. Many others who stayed behind were imprisoned.

It is shocking and disheartening that there are political prisoners in an EU country in the present day. If the UK extradites Prof. Ponsati, and Germany extradites President Puigdemont, they will be denying the Catalan people the right to express themselves and determine their own fate. The right to hold a referendum is one we have taken for granted in Scotland – in Catalonia, people are being prosecuted for this same action.

The Catalan government was elected with a mandate to hold a referendum on independence. These democratically elected ministers, acting on this mandate, are now facing up to 30 years imprisonment for acting on their political beliefs while representing the people of Catalonia.

The treatment of supporters of Catalan independence by Spain has been horrific and not what is expected from a democratic country. From police brutality on the streets, to the arrest of members of the democratically elected Catalan government, the treatment of the Catalan people has been completely unacceptable.

The independence of the Spanish judiciary on this matter cannot be assured, and if extradited, Prof. Ponsati and the others face inhumane treatment in violation of their human rights. Due to this, the UK judiciary are within legal grounds to reject the extradition request. I sincerely hope this happens.

It is for these reasons that other students at the University of St Andrews and I are organising a demo in support of Professor Ponsati on Monday 2nd April. If you would like to get involved, please like our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/StASupportClaraPonsati/ to stay updated on ways to support our professor!

This article was originally published on the blog of SNP Students.

Gendered Marketing is Damaging Children

Gendered marketing is restrictive and damaging to both children and adults. For children, those who do not conform to the likes and dislikes assigned to their gender are often bullied and ostracised by their peers. The stereotypes marketing assigns to genders linger throughout and affect the lives of people from birth to death. Gendered marketing limits both men and women, and excludes non-binary people entirely.

Limiting what toys children can play with because of their gender is harmful. Play is an important part of learning for young children, it teaches them how to interact with others, share and learn about the world. Some toys such as construction toys help children develop spatial skills, and role-playing toys help develop social skills. Since the former is mainly marketed to boys and the latter to girls, it is unsurprising that girls tend to have better social skills while boys have improved spatial awareness.

The marketing of toys in this manner also reinforces negative gender stereotypes. Action toys such as cars and toy guns are marketed at “boisterous boys” and dolls and fashion toys at “girly girls”. These stereotypes can be seen most plainly in dress-up costumes. Boys are encouraged to dress as doctors, scientists, firemen, etc. Girls, on the other hand are given the choice of fairy, princess, supermodel and similar. Children can often pick up ideas about what future career they can do on the basis of this.

Appearance centred toys are marketed towards very young girls, putting far too large an emphasis on their outward appearance, while boys are taught that caring toys are not for them and they shouldn’t feel emotion. These stereotypes can lead to mental health problems later in life, such as eating disorders in women who are unhappy with their appearance, and built up negative emotions in men who feel they cannot show them.

Transgender people are also hugely and adversely impacted by this, being forced into playing with something associated with the assigned-at-birth gender they do not identify with and often feel very dysphoric about. This is especially true of non-binary people who are never mentioned on any of the toy labels.

Often people will ask why it matters if something is labelled as ‘girls’ or ‘boys’ – can’t people just buy it anyway? This attitude ignores the huge societal pressure on children to conform and like toys made for their gender – as soon as a child can read, they will think certain things are not for them. Many parents will also not buy an item for their child labelled as being for a different gender.

Other parents simply don’t notice that science kits are all in the boys’ section, and don’t see the problem. The marketing at one gender also clearly suggests that boys and girls are “supposed” to like certain things, and if they like the other, they are somehow abnormal. The marketing of these toys creates social rules that are very hard to break and can often lead to bullying if someone does.

Clothing is another area which is very divided, for both children and adults. Young girls are given tight-fitting flowery, sparkly and always pink outfits, which are often difficult to play in. Boys, on the other hand, are given loose fitting clothes in red or blue. Slogans on girls’ clothing are often along the lines of “little princess”, “pretty in pink” or “future supermodel” while boys’ slogans are “troublemaker” or “future scientist”.

For adults, women’s clothing is often thin and poor quality, needing replaced very quickly. There is also a distinct lack of pockets – often shops will put on fake pockets to give the illusion of a pocket but lacking the usefulness of a real one because it will disrupt the figure. Men’s clothes are designed far more practically. This all feeds in to the attitude that men work and women look pretty. Non-binary people again have no section in the clothes shops and are again excluded.

There are no benefits to gendered marketing – as well as hurting individuals, it also disadvantages businesses by restricting their market. The argument against gendered marketing should not be reserved for the left, both capitalists and socialists should be condemning the practice.

Much of the gender inequality found among adults has its roots in childhood and what is marketed at children. By forcing children into boxes against their will, society is setting the stage for inequality to continue into adulthood and their entire lives. If we truly want a more equal society, tackling gender stereotypes and gendered marketing is a good place to start.

This article was originally published on the Young Scots for Independence blog, at Stephanie Melnick: Gendered Marketing is Damaging Children — Young Scots for Independence