Time pass, weather turn warm. We hunt many time. It not success always, but often. We catch more rabbit, we catch goat. We catch pig. We find mountain stream, catch fish in net. We roast fish on fire with herb — it yum! We study deer, then try hunt deer same like pig. It work! Not always, but often. Then dog join in — he chase deer, he catch rabbit. Tribe have much meat. If not eat, we dry over fire. We take skin of animal for shoe and coat. We take bone of animal for tip of arrow, bone of fish for needle. We use sinew for make twine. We take antler, and use for club.
In evening Cheri make bow. She show children how make arrow, they make. In day Arca teach tribe how shoot. We shoot bird — sometime it hit! We climb tree, steal egg of bird. Egg tasty! Tribe pick many mushroom, much herb. In summer some tree make sweet fruit. Some tree make nut. We pick more than need and dry for winter, like meat.
In tribe is woman, name Garda. She have big idea for make more root. In spring she dig few root, she cut each in piece. Then she choose place and clear all plant from ground. She use antler for dig earth, make many hole. In each hole she put piece root, then bury. Then Garda put water on ground. She do this every day. After few week green shoot come where bury root piece. Garda happy — she show green shoot to tribe.
‘Look this,’ she say. ‘Here come many plant. They grow strong, make plenty root for eat.’
Tribe laugh — Garda crazy!
‘What point?’ say Mat. ‘It same. You start with big root, you cut small. Now is many small plant, small root. It no difference! It big work for nothing. It better leave work to Nature Spirit. She know how make root for eat. No need interfere.’
‘You wrong, counting man,’ say Garda. ‘Root grow big — in end, it more. You see.’
‘You have dream,’ say Mat. ‘But me know counting. Counting fact.’
Then Fem say, ‘Counting fact, but idea also good. Me want see what happen. Who know? Maybe Garda clever — like Mat, but different. If she right, it big help for tribe. So we wait. We see. For now, idea continue.’
Garda smile. Then she stick out tongue at Mat. She blow fart with mouth! Tribe laugh. Mat laugh too. Maybe it true Garda crazy. But she make good fart noise. Fart always funny.
Soon Garda have other idea. One night after eat, she stand up. She say it bad hunt baby animal. Tribe grumble. Garda not hunter, so maybe she not know — but it easy catch baby. Baby also good for eat — meat tender, with plenty fat. But Garda not care baby tasty. She remind tribe fact of life. She say baby is future. This true for tribe — it also true for animal. If tribe kill baby, it not grow big. It not find mate for sex, make own baby. Then in future, maybe tribe not have animal for eat. We starve. This why it bad idea hunt baby. It better hunt old one.
Hunter still grumble — they want eat baby, it taste good! This true. Young one always better. Old animal not so good — it strong flavour, but meat tough. Me also want eat baby. But me think Garda make good point. So me stand up for agree. Me say Garda wise, she think ahead to future. Future important. Tribe discuss more, then Fem call vote — tribe still democracy. Garda win vote. So now we not kill baby or young one. We hunt clever. And tribe have much meat.
After summer come autumn. Now sweet fruit on many tree. It plenty, but winter come soon. Every day, tribe gather more than need. Soon Garda dig up root — she right, they grow big! Mat wrong — he admit. But first he count root. He say it many. When include size, it more, and quality good! Mat impressed. He say he have more to learn of counting. Then he go, he sit. He take stick and make mark on ground. When Mat like this, it mean he counting very hard. We not interfere. Everybody know counting important.
Mat stay like this more than day. He stop only for eat, sleep. Then he go count more. He sit on ground, make mark with stick. He rock body like tree in wind. Next day after eat come talk. Mat stand up. He have big announcement! He invent new number, name ‘three’.
‘What three?’ ask Fab.
‘It when one go with two. When one and two go together, it always three.’ Then Mat approach fire. He take stick. He make mark. ‘See? This one.’
Tribe agree. Everybody understand one. Mat make other mark. He point to both mark. He say, ‘This two.’
Tribe yawn. We not stupid. Everybody know what is two. Then Mat make other mark next to two mark. He point to all mark, say, ‘This three.’
Fab frown. ’It two and one,’ he say.
‘That right. Two and one make three!’ Mat grin. ‘Understanding perfect!’ Now he draw other mark. ‘Me also invent four.’ He point. ‘Here four mark.’
Now everybody laugh.
‘What mean? This nonsense!’ say Cul. ‘This two mark, and again two mark.’
‘That right!’ say Mat. ‘Two and two make four. Also three and one make four.’ Now Mat draw one more mark. ‘This five mark,’ he say. ‘It four mark and one mark. It also three mark and two mark. And it same like two mark and two mark and one mark more.’
‘You crazy,’ say Fab. ‘This few mark — but you say it same like one mark, two mark. It not!’ Fab grab stick from Mat, make few more mark on ground. ‘Me make more mark — so what this? Me think it many.’
Mat stare at ground. ‘Yes, it many. But look!’ He point. ‘Here two. Here is other one. That make three! Now here is other two, and two again. That four. But forget four, it just mean two and two. Four simple. Now look more — here again is one and two. It three! And here other one. So all together it three, and two and two, and three, and one! Together it many, but many always made of one, two, three.’
Tribe stare Mat. We look ground, see many mark. We see it made of few and few and few together. We also see here one mark, there two mark. But so what?
‘Everybody know few and few and few is many,’ say Cul. ‘But three mean nothing. Mat waste time. Time limited. So Mat bad.’ Then he rub out mark with foot. ‘Now you count nothing.’
Mat look sad. He go quiet. Discussion move on. But Mat not speak. He stay by fire with stick, make mark again. He never stop counting. He obsessed! But he still clever. Me think maybe it good learn counting. Maybe it fun. Me stupid, but me have daughter, name Tix. She not like shoot, she not good make arrow. But she clever, she like think. So maybe Tix learn counting from Mat. Me think this good idea, but me not sure. Next day me discuss with Gel, she agree.
But that come later. For now me take two piece fruit, go sit by fire with Mat. He make more mark on ground. Me not talk, only watch. Me not want disturb counting. Me say nothing, but me tap Mat shoulder, give one piece fruit. He take. He turn to Hom, he smile. He bite into fruit. Then Mat go back to counting.
It long winter, but nothing last forever. When spring come, everywhere me see green shoot poke up through melting snow. Blossom appear on tree, bring many insect. Without snow, rabbit hard to track. So we make hunting trip down mountain into valley. There grass long. We find many mushroom. We pick. We dig up plant for root. We search for lair of pig. We find shit, but pig still hiding. It not matter — we find deer!
It big herd, many young. Deer gather in clearing, eat grass. Suddenly stag turn. He stare. He bellow. He very fearsome, have antler like tree of thorn. He angry, he attack! Hunter throw spear. But stag change direction, he run away after herd. He very fast. Spear miss. Then Arca shoot arrow, but she not hit stag. This surprise. Arca hit rabbit easy. Stag much bigger than rabbit. So why she miss? Me look Arca. Me think she sad, but she smiling.
‘Me not miss,’ she say. ‘Look.’ She point at place where arrow fly.
Hunter look, we shade eye. Me see nothing, but Cul, he closer, have good eyesight. He laugh. He run forward through tree, bend to ground, then straighten. He smile. He hold up baby deer! It dead from arrow in throat. Now everybody cheer. Me pat Arca on back.
‘This good shooting,’ me say. ‘You hero!’
‘It nothing,’ say Arca. ‘Only luck. Next time we not get close. Deer clever.’
‘This true,’ me say. ‘Why deer not smell hunter?’
‘Me not know,’ say Arca. ‘But need good plan, or not catch again.’
We go back up mountain to cave. We bring baby deer, mushroom, and root. On way back we find goat. Goat injured. She have broken leg from fall in hole where weasel live. Goat in pain, she bleat. She not survive. When goat die, weasel appear, he eat. Or maybe weasel not wait, he eat goat alive.
Me shudder. Goat bleat again. Me not like bleat. It sad, like baby cry — me feel distress. But then Cul kill goat quick with spear, and me feel relief. Cul pick up carcass and carry over shoulder, back to cave. This hunt big success!
That night soup nutritious. It thick with root and lump of meat. Whole tribe fill belly, and still some left. We save for morning. Tomorrow we hunt again. Tonight we make plan. Me want hunt pig, but it difficult. Today we find only shit. It good tracking by Cheri, but not enough — pig still hidden. Cul think maybe it better hunt deer.
Tribe discuss. We good hunter, but we not know deer like know pig. Everybody know pig. Pig dangerous, but he predictable. We know what pig do. Way of deer still mysterious. After much discussion, Fem decide. If see deer, sit quiet. We watch, learn way of deer. If chance come, good — we kill. But deer not target. Tomorrow we hunt pig.
‘But me see problem,’ me say. ‘Pig strong. We tribe of women, only few men. Some men good with spear. Gai, Ali, Cul — it not enough. Me also good with spear, but me have bad leg. If hunt pig, need plan. Thinking important.’
‘This true,’ say Fab. ‘Hom wise.’
But me not wise. Me stupid. Me not know how hunt pig with women. Tribe discuss problem, but words go over head. Me far away like dream, me see pig run, he turn like stag, but other way — he run at woman! He attack!
Maybe he run at Cal. Maybe he attack Cheri. Maybe he kill Arca! Pig very dangerous. He big and strong, with sharp tusk! Without spear, even strongest man not win fight with pig. And women small. Maybe they have spear, but they not strong, not skill — they only learning! They no match for angry pig. Maybe we use arrow — but pig have thick hide! Maybe arrow slow him down, but for kill it take many. Arca good with bow, but nobody that good. And Arca too important. If she injured, tribe finish. It better not take big risk.
But suddenly me have idea. Maybe it clever.Me stand up. ‘Me know Arca good with bow,’ me say. ‘Who else?’
Next day hunter set off early. With help of Fab, Cheri search forest for lair of pig. It take half day, but they find! We close enough see pig, but she not see us. We stay downwind so pig not smell. We move slow, quiet — she not hear. Hunter take position. Then me give signal.
Ali run at pig with spear! He make big noise. Pig very scared, she run. Then Gai jump up with spear, he also make shout. Pig squeal! She turn, she run into clearing — but it trap! Hiding in tree is Arca, Ruti, and Cal. Women shoot pig with arrow — two hit! Pig scream — she wounded. Then come Ali and Gai quick with spear, kill pig.
But then second pig come! He run at Gai with tusk, but Gai fast, he jump away. Then Cul come running, he also have spear. He shout very loud. Second pig turn, but arrow come — it miss, but pig terrified. He turn back, he run — now he move towards Hom!
Me have spear ready. Me crouch in long grass. Me hidden. Me wait til pig close, then me throw spear with full strength. It catch pig in throat! He fall. He try squeal, but bad noise come. Pig choking. Soon Cul reach pig and finish him. It success!
Women climb down from tree. But then Cheri have idea — she take Arca and Fab, go quiet to lair of pig. They find pig baby. Baby run, but it no good — Arca kill two with arrow. Fab kill other one. We kill whole pig family! It great triumph. Everybody happy. It all thanks to clever plan of Hom! Me proud.
We tie pig to stick for carry, then we go. We walk up mountain, sing song of hunting prowess. On way Cal pick many mushroom. Ruti find good herb for cook pig. Me pick sweet berry. Fab dig root. Food plentiful. It time for feast!
But Chief Fem say no to feast. She say it too much, too soon. Today we lucky with hunt. But food always limited. Tomorrow maybe hunt fail, tribe go hungry. So it better not eat all pig. Mother pig and baby is plenty meat for soup. We have good herb. We have root, and sweet berry. We not need eat Father pig. Instead we butcher careful, dry meat on high stick over fire. We dry mushroom same way. Now if hunt fail, tribe still have food. We also dry hide of pig for make shoe or warm coat. Winter here hard, say Fem. It important prepare. We start now, she say. Then tribe ready.
Me grumble in head — me look forward to feast! But me know Fem right. She wise. So me stay quiet. Other hunter also sad. But it not last long. There plenty soup — it very tasty with herb and berry. Again whole tribe eat well, and enough left for morning.
Fem approach while me eat. She smile, then speak quiet. ‘It good idea hide in tree. Make big success!’
‘It very good!’ me laugh. ‘Me not expect it work so well.’
Fem frown. ‘How you think of plan?’
‘Me not know.’ Me shrug. ‘It pop into head, like magic!’
Fem lower voice to whisper. ‘It good idea,’ she say. ‘But maybe it not come from Hom.’
‘Min say idea first,’ say Fem. ’She say we hide in tree, shoot pig from high.’
‘What?’ me exclaim. ‘Min have same idea?’
’She speak quiet. Maybe you not hear.’
‘Last night everybody talk,’ me say. ‘But me not listen, me think. Maybe Min say it. But me not remember.’
Fem nod. ‘Me remember. Min say it first, but nobody care. But when Hom talk, tribe pay attention.’
Me stare Chief Fem. She stare back, gaze even. Me know she tell truth.
‘This strange,’ me say. ‘Why it happen?’
‘Answer simple. It because you man.’
‘That not make sense,’ me say. ‘Me man, yes — but so what? Idea is idea.’
‘Me agree,’ say Fem. ‘It stupid. But it truth.’
Me shake head. ’It not right. Me feel bad.’
Fem smile. ‘It not fault of Hom. Problem small. Fix easy.’
‘After food, me give thanks. Then Hom have chance for speak. Hom give thanks Min for idea. Idea is not plan. It Hom who make plan. But plan come from idea. So Min also deserve credit.’
‘This true,’ me say. ‘But me not hear what Min say. Me think it coincidence. Me think Hom and Min have same idea.’
Fem nod. ‘Maybe it true. But truth not matter now. This politics.’ Fem reach forward, squeeze shoulder in friendship. ‘You want easy life? Give thanks Min.’
‘Me not understand,’ me admit, ‘but you Chief. Me follow advice.’
‘This good.’ Fem smile. ‘Hom wise.’
So after eat, when me get chance, me give thanks Min for good idea hide in tree. Min smile. Everybody cheer. But it strange — cheer for Min make Hom proud. It feel like cheer for Min also cheer for Hom. Me confuse. Me look Chief Fem — she happy, so me know me do right thing. Now me feel better. And after applause for Min, me thank Fem for wise leadership.
Last time Hom tell how tribe have mutiny after elect new Chief, name Fem. She woman. Some men not want take order woman, so there big fight. Fem captured. Mutiny led by man who say he woman, name Tra. He think he King of Women. He want hit bad women with stick, but he lose election. Tra angry. He bad loser, but he have good support from men of tribe. They not like women laugh at willy. They think it good idea hit bad women with stick. They never accept woman for Chief, but they want follow man who say he woman! These men crazy.
Me not like mutiny. Fem win election fair. Mutiny against rules of tribe — it cheating! This mean Tra liar. He not make good Chief. He not win loyalty of Hom. Instead, me loyal to real Chief, Fem. So me gather friends, make plan. We rescue Chief, then escape over mountains, make new tribe. Tribe have many women, few men. Many children also. And dog. At first me not like dog, but he make friends. He good dog.
Me get injury in leg from fall down mountain. It heal strong, but now me walk with limp. Walk not so bad, but run slow. Me look silly when run. Sometimes if me sit long time in bad position, leg ache and go stiff. This not good for hunt pig.
We find big cave on mountain. We lucky — it enough for whole tribe! There plenty firewood, so inside cave it warm. Outside cave, it very cold. Snow fall often. It cover land deep. Near cave entrance it only go to ankle, but in many place it up to knee or more.
Winter hard. Food scarce. We take turn, wrap warm in fur and leave cave for find food. We find few winter berry. We try dig roots but ground too hard — it frozen! We hunt rabbit, we try hunt goat. It difficult, but we lucky — in tribe is woman, name Arca. She very good with bow. Arca have friend Cheri. She not so good with bow, but she much better at make than use. And she very good at tracking.
Me think Arca and Cheri both women who like sex only woman. So me think maybe they special friends. Me think this, but me not know truth. And me not ask. It no business of Hom who like sex who. Me not care. What matter is together Arca and Cheri make good hunting team. They catch many rabbit. They also catch squirrel. One time they even catch goat! It more success than other hunter. Tribe still hungry, but rabbit soup keep alive. Everybody grateful to Arca and Cheri.
Me also try hunt. Me fail, but nobody complain. Everybody know Hom play big part in escape over mountain. They know wife Gel wise woman of tribe, with healing power. Children also popular. We important family for luck. If food, we eat. Dog also good luck, so everybody give bone. He wag tail, lick face. Dog make tribe laugh, lift heart. He good friend of tribe. He eat well.
In evening after eat, tribe gather round fire, stay warm in cave. Children cuddle. Always Chief Fem speak, give thanks to Nature Spirit for gift of life. Sometime she say more, want big discussion, everybody speak. Fem always listen careful, talk soft. At end, she decide.
When discussion over, it nearly time for sleep. But first come story. Or sometimes it poem, or soft song. Some people good at this — but it need practice! So we take turn. First time me try tell story, whole tribe laugh. Me think this mean me bad at story, so me stop. But tribe want continue. They say story good. Tribe say me funny, like dog. Me proud! This big compliment for Hom. After that me not fear tell story. Me enjoy.
It’s good to subvert people’s expectations. What you see is not always what you get, and that’s the way it should be.
When we were just breaking away from the war-ravaged Forties, emerging into the Fifties, the decade that was filled with colour after years of drabness, people still weren’t quite ready for what the Sixties would bring. It was too early. Here are a couple of songs from the Fifties, and remember that, although it’s hard for us born later to really understand, these were considered shocking at the time:
[Little Richard, Lucille]
[Elvis Presley, Hound Dog]
In the Sixties, everything changed. We had Op Art – strange optical illusions that made your eyes see things that weren’t there, or made you perceive movement in perfect stillness, or colour where no colours were present. But musicians, although beginning to branch out – think of the hippie movement, the Flower Children – were still quite clean cut. Even though at this time, we had acts such as the Stones, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, when we think of “Sixties music”, the sort of thing that springs to mind is likely to be something like this:
[The Mamas and the Papas, California Dreamin’]
But then we also have this:
[Janis Joplin, Try (just a little bit harder)]
There’s a reason people who lived through the Sixties wax lyrical about the music of that time. There was just so much of it!
In the Seventies, everything changed again. We now had glam rock. Musicians, mostly men, wearing flamboyant clothes, glitter and make-up and relying on the necessary (and, at the time, inevitable) shock value to add impact to their image. People who grew up in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties certainly weren’t prepared for what happened, and it made the shock value all the more profitable – and desirable – to those who were making the music.
[T-Rex, Get It On]
[Roxy Music, Ladytron]
(It’s true: the Seventies were nuts.)
And by the late Seventies, we had punk, and the following link may not be what you’re expecting:
[Adam and the Ants, Car Trouble]
In the Eighties, we had post-punk and the New Romantics (a movement that began with the Blitz kids). More men wearing make-up. Electronics added something otherworldly – creepy? – to the sound. Adam and the Ants, moving on from punk to embrace a wider audience, added a tribal element to the mix with their Burundi-inspired double-drum soundscape. Boy George confused a generation of young men and inspired the same generation of young women by making himself beautiful – and vulnerable.
[Culture Club, Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?]
[Adam and the Ants, Kings of the Wild Frontier]
Many of these Eighties bands were heavily influenced by the previous two decades, especially the Seventies, and added something of their own to it. For the rest of the Eighties, musicians had a lot to live up to:
[Adam and the Ants, Ants Invasion]
[Then Jerico, The Big Area]
[Sisters of Mercy, This Corrosion]
The Nineties were different again; as a reaction to what some saw as a fairly “safe” music mainstream – Britpop in the UK, for instance – we now had bands such as Placebo and Suede emerging, taking risks, wearing dresses and make-up and singing about nancy boys and gay sex.
[Placebo, Nancy Boy]
[Suede, Animal Nitrate]
And we also had beautiful Finnish men singing about death:
[HIM, Death is in Love With Us]
But the one constant who had been with us since the Sixties, and who most definitely had been leading the way, style wise, since the early Seventies, was David Bowie.
[David Bowie, Time]
Now, recently, certain trans folk have been quick to tell feminists that they’re wrong for thinking the concept of gender identity is harmful. Just look at David Bowie, they say. He was trans positive, he had a trans lover (Romy Haag, we know, eye roll), he hung out with Jayne (formerly Wayne) County (again, we know)… and yes, many of those feminists the trans folk are trying to “educate” are themselves Bowie fans. He accumulated millions of fans over the years, many of them obsessive, from all across the globe.
So, with this in mind, we’re going to look at the concept of gender ideology through a Bowie-shaped lens. What was the message he was trying to convey? That varies, of course, depending on your point of view and where you stand politically.
[David Bowie, Fame]
Identity – this seems to be what much of the transgender movement is about. I am who I say I am and you’re in no position to refute that because I know who I am better than you do. OK. Let’s start there.
Who we are is not a given. It shifts. Mutates. Like a kaleidoscope of colours merging and separating, separating and merging, finally stopping in a particular place – and no matter where it stops, it’s never the same as any other combination of colours and shapes that’s ever existed before. Each one of us is unique. On this, the woke blokes, the transgender people and the feminists are in complete agreement. But too often, people fail to recognise sufficiently that there are also things certain groups have in common, and which bind us together. One of those commonalities is rooted in the body we were born with. Our sex.
As we grow up, we explore who we are. This exploration is in part a series of interactions with the people around us, and much of the time, the nature of these interactions is coloured by our sex and by how we are perceived by others. And then when puberty hits, we’re flooded with hormones, our bodies start changing and our sexuality develops. (Remember, I’m not talking about gender identity here. That’s a modern concept that feminists prefer to call “personality.”) But, crucially,our minds develop, as well. As we seek to separate ourselves from our families, and become autonomous human beings, we start to question who we truly are. And those questions lead us to some strange places. Some frightening places. Why do I feel this way? Am I the only one? Are there others like me? Everyone else seems to be having an easy time, so why is life so hard for me?
[David Bowie, Changes]
These are the questions that every young person going through puberty asks. And yet certain peopleuse that same shared sense of isolation and disconnect to manipulate young people into believing the rest of us don’t share their sense of isolation at puberty. It invites them into an ideology that promotes the misguided idea they can literally be whatever they would prefer to be. That if you like boy things, that means you’re a boy; if you like girl things, that means you’re a girl. Feminists believe this is the kind of sexist claptrap that they have been fighting against for centuries.
Although we may not suffer from exactly the same kind of isolation as that felt by these young people – times change – the notion that any of us goes through life without these feelings of isolation and struggle with our own internal sense of who we are is patently nonsense.
David Bowie was practically the walking embodiment of this feeling. Whether or not he felt that way himself is irrelevant – he told a lot of fibs, and the fibs were part of his image. But one thing we do know is that he never stopped asking questions. He never stopped exploring. To try to find out who he was and who we all are, he peered into the darkest recesses, those none of us really wants to look into. He did it for us. He went there, he came back and he showed us what he’d seen. He never claimed to understand it, but he was always eager to share what he’d found.
His final album, Blackstar, was perhaps his way of giving us the sum of everything he’d learnt about himself over the course of his long career by asking all those questions. Who am I? What is my purpose in life? What am I here to do?
Did I change the world?
[David Bowie, Loving the Alien]
As regards that last, for many of us, the answer is yes. He did. He changed our world. Because he told us we could look at things in a different way but without ever telling us how it was done. For many fans, Bowie’s message seemed to be that we could – and indeed should – flip what was expected of us and turn it upside down, forcing people to look at us –and themselves – in a different way. That way wasn’t prescribed for us. It just said, “Look. What do you see? How does it make you feel?”
When someone says, “I am X,” and we perceive something different, our minds do a double-take. What you see isn’t necessarily what’s there. A skilled actor can make you believe they’re someone else, suspend disbelief. A skilled mime artist can make you see a gate as they pretend to walk through it, a car as they pretend to drive it, an invisible key as it unlocks an invisible door. We know those things aren’t really there. Like those Magic Eye pictures that were all the rage in the Nineties, what we see depends partly on how we look. We can change our depth perception and see something different. We can look at a pane of glass, or we can look through it and see what’s beyond. (That’s how those Magic Eye pictures worked, for those who could never figure it out. You had to look through them, not at them.)
David Bowie showed us that if we looked at something in a different way to how we’d been taught to look at it, perhaps we’d see something different. Perhaps we’d see what was really there, hiding just beneath the surface. Perhaps we’d see something no one else had ever seen. But we had to reallylook.
[David Bowie, Ashes to Ashes]
This, I suspect, is one reason transgender people use the example of Bowie to “explain” to us why they’re not what we perceive them to be – rather, they are precisely, and only, what they perceive themselves to be. Nothing more, nor less. Some of us will be afraid to look more closely, for fear of what we might see. So, should we look they way they say we should? Or should we subvert? Look differently? Think for ourselves? Seek what’s really underneath?
We’ll always see something, but can we be certain that what we see is real? Because as well as looking to find something no one else has seen, we can also fool ourselves into seeing something that really isn’t there at all. Think of that invisible key in that invisible lock, opening that invisible door.
Those glam rockers in the Seventies – starting with David Bowie and Marc Bolan – dressed in a way that made people look. Made people think. Some were afraid of what they saw, and looked away. Perhaps it shocked them to the core, or made them angry. Others looked, and liked what they found. Either way, the kids loved it. And parents – with the odd (very odd) exception – were terrified. Were these the ch-ch-ch-changes Bowie had told us about? What the devil was going on?
But what none of those glamsters asked us to believe was that they were anything other than what they were. The message was – and remains, for many – that you could be as weird as you liked, that masculinity and femininity were irrelevant and sometimes even undesirable. Some said masculinity was a joke, something to be made fun of. For a while, in the Seventies, the most manly thing a man could do was wear make-up. (Bolan alone must have sent sales of glitter soaring.)
[T-Rex, Children of the Revolution]
Bowie often looked out at his audiences and saw hundreds of clones of himself. And he loved that fans were taking what he was doing and running with it. He thought that was fabulous. They were themselves, but more sparkly, more glittery versions of themselves. Louder, and much harder to ignore.
In 1980–81, Adam Ant wore a white war stripe across his nose, partly as a big “fuck you” to the corrupt music industry and partly as homage to the warriors he was trying to emulate for his stage persona. For me, this was the first time I had seen a good-looking man with make-up that made me sit up and really look. I was six years old. I knew even at that young age it was subversive. It was dangerous. And I also knew I found it attractive. I still do.
[Adam and the Ants, Ant Rap, 1981]
Radical feminism has no problem with men wearing make-up and outlandish clothes. For a certain type of women, it’s the most attractive thing! Feminism wants to do away with restrictive norms of behaviour laid out for both men and women, which for an inordinately long time had been considered indispensable. There is no need to create new categories, which are just as restrictive as the old ones – many would say more so. Part of Bowie’s message was that we don’t need to be hemmed in by these categories. We can escape the boxes, break out of them and subvert expectations., while remaining fundamentally what we are – a man or a woman.
One thing Bowie never advocated was sticking rigidly to sex stereotypes. Androgyny was the name of the game for most of the Seventies, and for most of the Eighties, as well. (“Wow, she’s nice! Oh, it’s– That’s a dude.”)
[Aerosmith, Dude Looks Like A Lady]
And that was true subversion of expectations. It forced people to question themselves, and sometimes also their sexuality. And questioning yourself, though perhaps an uncomfortable experience, is a good thing. And (going out on a limb here, bear with me) one of the reasons it’s good is precisely because it’s uncomfortable.
[David Bowie, Rebel Rebel]
Here’s a quote from Bowie: “Always go a little further into the water than you feel capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
[Alice Cooper, The Ballad of Dwight Fry]
Being uncomfortable can, therefore, be a positive thing, as long as our personal safety is not at risk. Being uncomfortable can arouse our curiosity. Bowie taught us to figure out who, and perhaps also what, we are. But he also taught us that other people’s perceptions of us are unpredictable. And this is agood thing. The confusion arising from these varied perceptions is part of what makes us human. That confusion can keep us guessing for years. Bowie certainly used those notorious fibs of his to that effect. He was an artist. His whole life was part of that art.
Fuck, he even made art out of his own death:
[David Bowie, Lazarus]
So now, let’s come back to Romy Haag and Jayne County. Both of these individuals were transsexuals, and it was precisely that, I suspect, that would have drawn David Bowie to them. They were different. They were interesting. Neither was what they initially appeared to be.
People – all sorts of people – fascinated Bowie. He was often called a chameleon, but actually, that description annoyed him; a chameleon changes in order to blend in. But Bowie wasn’t a chameleon. He was a magpie. He stole ideas. (In 1979, Adam Ant even wrote a song about his idea-stealing propensities, called Zerox.)
[Adam Ant, Zerox]
David Bowie would hear a riff, or see an image, and ask himself how he could use it. He once said, “The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.” He wasn’t coy about it, he was very open; and when he did this, he turned it around – subverted it – so that it became uniquely Bowie. Subversion became his trademark, and is one reason so many people loved him, and why his influence will continue to spread. As long as people want to subvert, they will be drawn to David Bowie.
Bowie didn’t try to be like Romy Haag or Jayne County, but he stole from them both. Watch this, and note the costume changes:
[David Bowie, Boys Keep Swinging]
Some of us are different, whether we like it or not. Some of us stand out for our personalities. Others stand out because of the way we dress, or the way we do our make-up; for our brains; for our magnetism. And humans have always decorated ourselves for one reason or another. It’s what we do.
[David Bowie, The Heart’s Filthy Lesson]
The filthy lesson of the heart, Bowie once said, was that you’re going to die. And because we’re all going to die one day, why not celebrate our lives together? Why not celebrate the complexity and wonder of being fully human while we can? Nature has already given us so much to celebrate! Human beings come in various shapes, sizes and colours. We’re already so diverse and wonderful; we have endless material for art and self-expression. We can dress however we want – we don’t need to pretend to be something else when what we are is already so fascinating.
In the end, it was Bowie’s fascination with people, especially with those who don’t quite fit, that made him the incredible artist he was – why so many of us feel such a deep connection, not just with his art, but with Bowie as a person – whoever he may have been. We can embrace our differences, celebrate them; and through our differences, we can find unity.
Please – and this is a sincere request – don’t use my love of Bowie to tell me why I’m wrong about identity politics. Let’s love Bowie together, in our own way, and do our best to understand what it was he was trying to tell us.
And remember that, in the end, we can’t change who or what we are – but we can express ourselves however we damn well please. And no one can stop us from doing that.
[Originally posted on Twitter, 15 June 2018 – slightly edited]
Clearly, my comments over the last few days, on the subject of radical feminists and trans people, have deeply hurt several people I know personally, who identify as trans, and who I regard as friends.
That’s the reality, and I have to face it.
I owe it to my friends to listen, and try to understand what they are saying to me.
I don’t have to agree with them, but I should do all I can to see things from their perspective.
This is an important principle of friendship.
The hurt I have caused seems, at root, to derive from a difference of opinion about the definition of the word ‘woman’.
I have been encouraged to adopt the following definition: ‘a woman is a person who says they are a woman’.
I have rejected that definition repeatedly.
In view of the hurt I have caused, I am seriously reconsidering this position.
This has nothing to do with any arguments that have been put forward. But when your friends reject you, it’s a clear sign that something has gone wrong.
Up till now, I have always considered myself a male human, and have, as a matter of convention, accepted the label ‘man’. For the most part, I have done this unthinkingly.
This is problematic.
I must try to see things from a different perspective.
I have decided, therefore, to accept this definition of the word ‘woman’:
‘a woman is a person who says they are a woman’
This, I have decided, is the correct definition.
Accepting this definition opens up a world of new possibilities for me.
It’s liberating. But it’s also scary.
I find myself looking at my past experiences with a different eye now.
I had accepted the label ‘man’ without ever really thinking about what it means.
I realise now, that what made me a ‘man’, the only thing, is the very fact of my accepting this label.
I was a man, because I said I was a man. There was no real reason for it, other than that.
This much is now clear to me.
But, I wonder, am I truly a man? And why have I always accepted that label so unquestioningly?
I thought being a man had something to do with being male, but I now realise that my so-called ‘maleness’ is without substance.
Could it be that I am not a man after all?
The fact of the matter is, I don’t know whether or not I am a man. I can’t know. I’ve never even thought about it. Not really. Not on a deep level.
I don’t know – that’s the fact. And I owe it to myself to explore my feelings on this matter with an open mind.
I recognise that this will be difficult. If I do this, I realise I will be opening myself up to ridicule, social ostracism, and possibly violence.
Am I prepared to take these risks?
But I owe it to myself. I must be brave. I must not let the haters bring me down.
Now that I reflect upon my life, when I consider all my experiences and feelings, I’m confronted with an unassailable fact:
I have a great deal in common with trans people.
I was bullied extensively as a child.
I was bullied for being fat.
I was bullied for being a paki.
I was bullied for liking books.
I was bullied for doing well at school.
I was bullied for being gay, and for while I thought maybe I was gay.
I have always preferred the company of women.
I was even accepted, or felt accepted, into a circle of friends in which, when we got together, I was the only man. In a sense, I was an honorary woman.
This was a situation with which I was very comfortable.
I have never felt comfortable in my own skin. To this day, I am uncomfortable around cameras, and I prefer not to look in mirrors.
When I do catch myself in a mirror, I often wonder – is that really me? I find it hard to believe that it is.
I really don’t like what I see.
People are always surprised when I tell them this. They start complimenting the way I look.
But it never makes any difference. I simply don’t believe what people say.
I don’t think they’re lying, exactly. Just wrong.
The more I stare in the mirror, the less I recognise the person looking back at me. The more I examine my genitals, the more they disgust me.
I suffer from depression, social anxiety, isolation. Though I have friends, I often feel lonely.
Could this be gender dysphoria?
Of course, I am not a medical professional, but thanks to the internet it is easy to come to a tentative diagnosis: Yes, I do have gender dysphoria.
It is therefore possible that I am not a man. I might not be a woman though. It’s hard to say.
But genderqueer? Absolutely.
It is hard for me to accept that I am genderqueer. I can feel my mind trying to resist the truth about who I am.
I must break free from these shackles of the mind, and embrace my true identity.
But the fact is, I’m scared.
I have never discussed this with my family or friends. How could I? I have only just found out what I am.
I dread to think how my girlfriend will react. My girlfriend is a terf. She will not understand.
I’m afraid people will say I am a pervert. But I am not a pervert – I am completely harmless.
I am genderqueer, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s not me that has a problem, it’s society.
The greatest horror of all this is also the greatest irony: I am well aware that some people will think this is all a big joke. That I am just laughing at gender non-conforming people. That this whole thread is mean-spirited, or even cruel.
But it’s not a joke. I don’t see how anyone could regard this situation as even slightly comical. To be frank, I find the very idea deeply insulting.
This is what we face, every day.
The denial of our very existence. The complete lack of human compassion.
The disregard and erasure of our own lived experience.
I can see now why terf rhetoric is so very very dangerous.
Well, there’s a surprise. My girlfriend has just seen this thread and tried to start a ‘conversation’.
But I’m not ready for that. I’m still sorting out my thoughts. I told her to go away, and thank fuck she did.
I am literally shaking right now.
I will deal with my girlfriend later. So far, we have always had a ‘good relationship’. I would like that to continue.
But honestly? I don’t know.
Right now, I have to think about myself. It’s okay to put yourself first sometimes.
It really is.
I need a fucking ice-cream.
Is that okay?
Yes it is.
I have obtained ice-cream.
But that’s a cop-out, isn’t it? Genderqueer is an umbrella term for any gender non-conforming person. That’s pretty vague.
Genderqueer. It says very little about who I am. It’s barely an identity at all.
Let’s see if I can be more specific.
We can start with the easy stuff:
I am (almost???) exclusively attracted to women. This includes some trans women. I like them ‘feminine’, but I tend to adhere to a somewhat non-stereotypical view of femininity – it’s very nuanced for me.
But I’m not gay or anything.
So I’m not gay.
I’d always assumed I was heterosexual, or at worst only slightly bi. But all that assumes I’m a man. Since it’s possible I’m not a man, I might not be heterosexual.
I might be a woman. A lesbian, in fact. That makes sense, too; I’ve always liked lesbians.
Okay. I am now open to the possibility that I might be a woman.
But am I a woman? How can I tell?
Well, what about my personality? Jordan Peterson says men and women have different personalities. So let’s look at Wikipedia:
Wikipedia says ‘women consistently report higher Neuroticism, agreeableness, warmth (an extraversion facet) and openness to feelings, and men often report higher assertiveness (a facet of extraversion) and openness to ideas’.
So those are the facts.
My female traits: Definitely neurotic – I’ve been told this by women, in fact, and they should know. I’m usually agreeable, so that’s a slight plus. I can be warm, but I’m a total introvert and I have to be honest so I’ll call that neutral. I’m very open to feelings though.
My male traits: Assertiveness? No way! I was bullied at school and I’m generally a very quiet and softly spoken person and I’m always in danger of getting pushed around. Also it’s extraversion, so a definite no. But I’ll admit I’m totally open to ideas. To a fault, even.
Yeah, that’s interesting. I definitely have more female traits than male ones.
Plus I’ve always thought of myself as a feminist. Radical, even!
So obviously on the gender spectrum I must be closer to a woman than a man.
So that’s personality covered.
But there’s more to a woman than that. Isn’t there?
I mean, not clothes or hair, or makeup, cos it’s sexist to say those things are what make a women. Why *should* women be forced to make themselves pretty for men?
As a feminist, I reject that.
And obviously it has nothing to do with vaginas or whatever, because that’s cis-sexist and anti-science. I admit I used to think that way myself, but then I did some education and got woke.
Scientists reckon it has something to do with patterns of activity in the brain. I mean, it’s not the *actual brain* that matters – that would be sexist.
It’s more about what the brain *does*; how it processes information. Men and women are very different that way.
But obviously I don’t have access to an MRI, so I can’t check my brain activity to find out if I’m a woman or not, or (I suppose) to what *extent* I’m a woman.
So that doesn’t help me at all.
What else is there?
What I hear from a lot of trans women is they say they ‘feel like a woman’. So that’s obviously an important part of it.
So do I feel like a woman?
Honestly, it’s hard to be sure. But I will say that when I really think about it, when I search my soul… in all honesty I can’t say I feel like a man. And I’d go further – if I’m *really* honest, I have no idea what it feels like to be a man. When I ask myself, nothing comes.
I mean, literally.
I’ve got *nothing*.
The truth is, I don’t feel like a man at all. I don’t even know what one is, really. If I’m honest, I mean.
But maybe that’s *exactly* what it’s like to feel like a woman? Not feeling like a man, I mean.
No, it can’t be just that. There must be something it is like to be a woman. It must be a thing.
But how can I tell if I’m really feeling that thing? Or not?
I’ve read lots of books written by women, and I even enjoyed them. I thought they were good. I easily related to the main character even if they were female, which obviously is what women writers usually do. Or sometimes it’s a cat. Or a womble, sometimes.
In fact, when I was a kid, my favourite writer (one of them!) was Astrid Lindgren, who wrote the Pippi Longstocking books.
Pippi was a tomboy, I guess. She was super strong and went on adventures. I really related to Pippi, and wanted to be like her.
I mean, I really loved those Pippi books. I read them over and over again.
My elder brother, who I’d say is just a straight cis-man, actually bullied me about this!
But I have no problem with women authors. Sure, there are some books I didn’t get on with – Jane Eyre, for example, which I threw across the room when she capitulated to that awful sexist bloke!
I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Was that supposed to be romantic? Ugh.
I mean, seriously.
So I have no problem relating to female characters at all.
Plus I’m a feminist, obviously.
I definitely relate to women really well – like, I understand them. No problem there!
But I can’t say the same about men. Frankly, they do my fucking head in. Men are more sexist than you can possibly imagine.
I mean not *all* men. But most.
See, men aren’t just sexist on the surface. It runs deep through the fibre of their beings; it’s the air they breathe, the water they swim in.
They absorb sexism from our culture like little misogynist sponges. They suck that shit in till it fills them to the very brim.
I mean, not all men – everyone understands that. Even feminists!
Like, I’ve never been sexist at all. I’m sure someone would’ve told me if I was. I can’t remember a single incident.
But then, on the gender spectrum, I’m much closer to a woman than a man.
So that makes sense.
Overall then, I think it’s fair to say I’m more likely a woman than a man. Or at least, I’m somewhere on that side of the spectrum.
I probably am a woman. Trans, obviously. But a woman.
I’m still attracted to women.
So I’m a trans lesbian! How exciting!
So what should I do about pronouns now? This is a tough question, if I’m honest.
I guess he/him/his is okay for now. I feel a bit strange about going directly to she/her/hers.
After all, I don’t want to make this difficult for anyone.
It’s a very long essay and rather eclectic, with many links to further reading that seems relevant – if sometimes obliquely. All resources are public. I’m not an expert on cults, so please do check out some of those links.
Screenshots of tweets are included in case the tweets themselves disappear. Please do not harass any of the tweeters!
And now – on with the show…
Many people have claimed that ‘transgenderism’ is a cult.
Some say that in the end TransRational became a cult. It’s easy to make these claims, but what do they mean?
What is a cult? Are you in one? Am I? How would we know if we were?
These seem like questions worth investigating.
But first, I’ll admit my bias – I think the gender critical movement is much less cult-like than transgenderism. But some of the links I include will argue otherwise. Those bits are important – especially for those who don’t want to be part of a cult.
(I will explain later what I mean by both ‘the gender critical movement’ and ‘transgenderism’.)
Much of the following is taken directly from this talk by Margaret Singer:
An alternative way of thinking about cults is provided by @CultExpert Steven Hassan’s BITE (Behavior, Information, Thought, and Emotional control) Model. In places, I will draw from that too. I recommend a visit to Hassan’s website for more info.
There are also Robert Jay Lifton’s 8 Criteria for Thought Reform. This brilliant series of essays by a desister explores the cultic nature of transgenderism from that perspective. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Cults are typically started by an individual: the Leader. Whereas most recognised religions venerate God or some abstract principle, cults venerate the Leader.
What makes an organisation a cult is the relationship between the Leader (or the Management) and the follower.
In a Cultic Relationship, members hand over decision making power to the Leader. They are promised that in return they will gain secret knowledge.
Cults are totalistic. There is a rule for everything
Cults are totalitarian. The cult Leader makes the rules
Cults are non-altruistic. The Leader will pretend he is helping the members with their personal development, but their primary purpose is to benefit the Leader.
Cults have a double set of ethics. For example, they must tell the truth to insiders, but it’s okay to lie to outsiders (eg sinners or bigots)
Cults are elitist. They believe that the members are special, above non-members, and therefore the double ethics are okay.
Cult recruitment is deceptive. Recruits may not know what the group is, or what joining it will mean in the long run.
As society changes, manipulative people – who are always present – take advantage of instabilities. They figure out from bigger cults how it’s done, and start their own. The target group for recruitment varies.
When people talk about cults, they often talk about ‘brainwashing’ and ‘mind control’. When we hear these words, we tend to think of unthinking zombies, blindly carrying out their Master’s will. This is a silly idea, and very misleading.
‘Influence’ in this context means persuasion – particularly, the use of persuasive techniques. These are the tools of the salesman, the teacher, the con artist, the magician, the storyteller, the politician, the guru, the hypnotist, the raconteur, and the cult Leader.
There’s nothing secret or mysterious about most of these techniques. Many of them involve nothing more than the skilled use of language.
Externalised language – speech, writing, or sign language – is for the persuasion and influence of others. Language is an important tool of persuasion. Some words, and in particular, some ways of using them, are more persuasive than others.
Right now, I’m trying to persuade you of something. So watch out!
There are many books on the subject of influence and persuasion. The techniques can be studied. They can learned, and put to use. They can be used for good, for ill, or just for fun.
We are all susceptible to these techniques. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be human – arguably, our ability and our susceptibility to influence is the key to our success as a species! Influence, clearly, is nothing to be scared of.
But what about ‘undue influence’?
Influence can be thought of as a continuum, ranging from benign to harmful – even malicious.
Here’s an explanation of undue influence as it relates to cults:
“Undue influence is any act of persuasion that overcomes the free will and judgment of another person. People can be unduly influenced by deception, flattery, trickery, coercion, hypnosis, and other techniques.”
We tend to believe that what people do reflects who they are. In social psychology this is known as The Fundamental Attribution Error: when explaining human behaviour we tend to overestimate the role of personal characteristics as opposed to external factors.
So that’s ‘mind control’. What about ‘brainwashing’?
Thought Reform / “Brainwashing”
A Thought Reform Programme is a coordinated programme of undue influence and behaviour control, designed to make recruits put aside their old values and do what the cult Leader – or the ‘Management’ – wants.
‘Brainwashing’ does *not* create mindless robots. The recruit is unaware of any agenda to reform their thoughts and behaviour.
Recruits make their own decisions, but they do so in the context of a reward / punishment system set up by the Management.
6 Conditions for a Though Reform Environment
1) Deception – Keep the subject unaware of the hidden agenda
2) Destabilisation – Control the subject’s physical environment and ‘thinking time’.
3) Dependency and Dread – Create a sense of powerlessness, anxiety and fear
4) Disconnection – Suppress the old behaviour and attitudes
5) Developing the Cult Pseudopersonality – Elicit new behaviour and attitudes
6) Denial and Dedication – Maintain a closed system of logic and restrict criticism.
There’s no special “type” who gets into a cult. It’s *not* just stupid or weird people; it can be anyone who is approached by a recruiter at a vulnerable time in their life; anyone trusting or open who accepts a kind offer from a stranger.
Recruiters never tell people the downsides, otherwise nobody would ever join.
Recruiters will never try to argue anyone into a cult; instead they use soft sell techniques. Sugar and honey always works better than an iron fist. So the biggest deceptions, and the most powerful thought reform programs are always done this way.
Then you use guided imagery – a parable with repeating phrases, told in a soothing, rhythmic way. This gets the attention highly focused. The subject puts their trust in the speaker and becomes suggestible, with no critical thoughts or judgement.
Only the words and imagery is kept in focus. Then the sermon will have more impact, and the subject is more likely to absorb them into their thinking.
The Management hears about private conversations through the spy network, and may pretend to have gained knowledge through supernatural means. (eg “X has been thinking lecherous thoughts about Y”.)
The Management can induce guilt by almost *any* means possible. They can turn the power of the entire group against a single person. This is very rare outside cults (it would be like a teacher getting the whole class to point at one individual and chant, “Sinner! Sinner!”)
The Management gain a heady power by having people pay attention only to them. To maintain this they will denigrate the outside world; they tell followers that leaving the group will cause a disaster – cancer, hell, bad karma etc; the message is – do not affiliate with the outside world!
Cult lingo fractures normal, sequential, reflective thinking. Cult members often talk in abstract jargon without clear meaning, but act as if they understand each other.
We all think of ourselves as “civilised” people who should be able to follow what’s being said — and if we can’t, it’s our fault. So when faced with this jargon we turn inward, looking for the meaning in abstract phrases. This assists with trance induction.
In many groups, the Management speaks in imagery and allegory, describing the outer world as satanic or unenlightened. This is another way of stopping reflective thinking.
The group is the member’s new family. The Management is far above the lowly followers, whose status depends on their approval. If the Management humiliates them, they will work to get back in his good graces.
Confessions allow the Management to learn what followers feel guilty about, or proud of. This is used to enhance guilt or to break the spirit. It’s also important to get followers to confess that they want to get in with the group.
Some groups keep files of information on their members, which can be used to manipulate them.
Some groups give great praise to members who break down and cry during confessions. In psychotherapeutic groups, they’ll say things like, “Finally you’re breaking down the barriers! Insight! Primal Pain!”
When a friend or family member of a cult recruit says, “She doesn’t seem like her old self,” they’re reacting to behaviour elicited by the cult, that is displayed in social circumstances that call for it.
This learned behaviour will wither if they are away from the cult long enough because it is a superimposed identity, a pseudopersonality.
Some groups do ‘Past Lives’ work; they recount these past lives in great detail. People come to believe that they really were monstrous people in past lives.
The Past Lives Recruiter/Trainer is adept at using language to trance members out and produce strong visual imagery about past lives. The Trainer may have recruits go over and over the time “when you tore heads off of babies” etc.
But these are pseudomemories / confabulations – they never happened, but were generated by the Trainer by the power of words.
Cults often get recruits to engage in bizarre behaviour – such as climbing a mountain late at night to contact aliens. The mere fact of doing this will make them believe more passionately in the reason for doing it – and less likely to back down.
Cults are typically started by an individual – the Leader.
Cults venerate the Leader.
Cult members give decision making power to the Leader, in return for secret knowledge.
Cults are totalistic. There is a rule for everything
Cults are totalitarian. The cult Leader makes the rules
Cults are non-altruistic. Their primary purpose is to benefit the Leader
Cults have a double set of ethics. One set for insiders, another for outsider
Cults are elitist. They believe that the members are special.
Cult recruitment is deceptive. Recruits don’t know what joining the group will mean in the long run.
Cults can be formed around *any* content.
Based on this, transgenderism (or so-called ‘woke feminism’) cannot reasonably be described as a cult. But neither can the gender critical movement (or ‘terfism’).
In neither case is there any clear Leader (or Leadership group) to whom allegiance must be pledged, who makes all the rules, reaps all the benefits, and must be venerated.
Some of the other points are debatable – for example, some might argue that transgenderism venerates and benefits autogynephilic MtF transsexuals above all other groups.
Or that the GC movement has one set of ethics for women, and another for men. Perhaps both groups have some cult-like elements – but they are not actual cults.
As for TransRational, it’s hard to be certain as its inner workings are opaque to outsiders. I have been an outsider for several months, but from what I’ve heard it moved in a distinctly cult-like direction during that time.
Despite rumours of that organisation’s demise, I fully expect that its Leader – the hapless narcissist Kinesis – will soon return to enact some misguided ‘revenge’ against the legion of imaginary ‘enemies’ who, bit by bit, exposed Kinesis as a twat.
Thought reform is a coordinated programme of undue influence and behaviour control.
The cult recruit is taken through the thought reform process step by step.
They are unaware.
The old behaviour is gradually pushed out, and the new one brought in.
There is a system of punishment and reward to police the recruit’s behaviour.
No complaining is allowed.
6 Conditions for a Thought Reform Environment
1) Deception – Keep the subject unaware of the hidden agenda
2) Destabilisation – Control the subject’s physical environment and ‘thinking time’.
3) Dependency and Dread – Create a sense of powerlessness, anxiety and fear
4) Disconnection – Suppress the old behaviour and attitudes
5) Developing the Cult Pseudopersonality – Elicit new behaviour and attitudes
6) Denial and Dedication – Maintain a closed system of logic and restrict criticism.
These conditions are not present in the gender critical movement. In fact, the gender critical movement is an uneasy, informal, and often ill-advised alliance between many different groups who oppose transgenderism, sometimes for completely different reasons.
Some of these groups are, if anything, anti-feminist. There is frequent disagreement not only between the different groups, but also within them. Many of these disagreements cannot be resolved.
The movement as a whole has no manifesto beyond the following:
1) Humans are a sexually dimorphic species
2) Humans cannot change sex
3) Female humans sometimes need to be segregated from male humans.
The feminist section of the movement (which is the majority) would also agree that:
4) In human society, male humans are in a dominant position over female humans.
5) This is neither necessary nor desirable.
6) The situation can be changed, and we should work to change it.
This is basic feminism. It is *not* radical feminism!
Here’s an article about what radical feminism is, and what it isn’t – no doubt some radical feminists will disagree with some of this, but it’s interesting all the same:
The gender critical movement is a mess. A glorious mess, sometimes. But it is not a cult. And it does not create the conditions for thought reform.
Transgenderism is different.
Not all trans people are transgenderists. And not all transgenderists are trans people – in fact, most are not. Transgenderism is a separate thing from whatever it means to be trans. Transgenderism is not a state of being. It’s a political movement.
The transgender manifesto is very simple. It consists of two simple axioms:
1) Trans women are women.
2) Sex work is work.
These axioms are not open to debate. They are taken as true. All the rest of transgenderism follows from these axioms. The axioms are used to justify the denial of reality, and all the twisted logic and pseudoscience with which we are familiar.
If empirical observations contradict these axioms, then the observations must be invalid, and elaborate conceptual models must be invented to explain why this is so. This is the key to understanding transgenderism.
Trans women are women. So they must be like other women; they must be women for the same reason women are women. Since trans women and women are biologically different, the differences must be irrelevant. This is a scientific fact because trans women are women.
But surely both kinds of women must have something in common! There must be some mysterious essence of womanhood – call it ‘gender identity’.
This essence is as-yet undetectable by any instrument, yet it is not imaginary or a mental construct of any kind, because it is real. Gender identity must be real because it is a scientific fact that trans women are women, even if science cannot explain why this is so.
We are doing science here, and science deals with reality, so gender identity is a scientific concept which means it is real. So gender identity must be innate to all humans because otherwise it would be sexist, and sexism is bad so it can’t be sexist.
This proves that all humans are born with this essence we call ‘gender identity’, including trans women. And trans men, too! This means there must be trans children, that those children are suffering, and that society must intervene.
We must find out which children are trans, and help them to transition. But how will we know which children are trans? We’ll have to ask them! But to answer the question the children must first understand the concept of gender identity.
Therefore, we must teach children that trans women are women. And sex work is work.
I’ve given numerous examples of words and behaviour from transgenderists that appear very much as though they have been subjected to a thought reform programme. It’s easy to find many more.
We have the direct testimony of desisters, who describe their experiences within that environment. The individual descriptions have much in common, and the overall picture matches up very well with the six conditions described above.
Transgenderism is not so much an ideology as it is a thought reform programme – or rather, a component of one.
But it is not a cult. So where is this Thought Reform Programme coming from? What is its purpose? And who are the ‘managers’?
Transhumanism fits the definition of a cult more closely. For example, it is much easier to identify specific individuals who are good candidates for the position of Transhumanist Cult Leader. And transhumanist cults do in fact exist:
And then there’s Zoltan Istvan, who heads a political movement in America that wants to make us all more than human.
But transhumanism is not the full story either.
Transhumanism can be mistaken for a form of radical progressivism; it promotes a vision of complete freedom from the limitations of gender, sex, and even biology. These ideas sit more naturally on the progressive / liberal left than on the conservative right.
By presenting their ideas as viable answers to the real issues faced, not only by trans people, but by society at large, the transhumanists have been able to rebrand Cyborg Feminism (aka ‘third wave antifeminism’) as simply ‘feminism’.
It’s worth thinking about the interaction between transhumanism, progressivism, liberalism, and the ‘left’ – particularly in the US, where the ‘left’ has completely lost its fucking mind. (The UK is not much better, but there are still pockets of sanity.)
Here, Bret Weinstein describes the thought reform environment at Evergreen State College in detail. Here, the focus is not transgenderism, but race:
The internal contradictions of modern ‘woke’ leftist thought are extreme – and many of them have nothing to do with transgenderism. There’s no way to resolve these contradictions without vigorous debate. But in a thought reform environment, no debate is allowed.
Perhaps this is one reason why the ‘left’ has gone insane.
Don’t tell them they’re stupid. Don’t tell them they’re in a cult. Don’t accuse or insult them. Don’t get angry. Instead, get curious. Ask kind, gentle questions. Bring up other cults as a matter of idle conversation and shake your head in disbelief – perhaps something will resonate with them.
Twitter is the wrong venue for any of this as it’s so confrontational. By arguing with people, we only entrench them further in their beliefs. The management *wants* us to argue with the recruits online. Our anger is being used to reinforce the programming. It aids our monstering. And it diverts us into ineffectual activities that mess with our minds.
Women do not have penises.
We’re allowing our opponents to monopolise our thinking time, rather than using it to develop effective counter strategies. We’re facing a highly intelligent and well-organised system. To undermine that system we must be clear about its nature.
Many people have pointed out that ‘gender’ is the only axis of marginalisation into which the hated cishet white man can identity and thus claim the most ‘marginalised’ and therefore most elevated position in the new ‘woke’ order.
Transgenderism is just one component of the Woke Thought Reform Programme.
It’s a corruption of the original laudable goal of fighting discrimination against trans people. That cause has been hijacked – not by transsexuals, but by those who fear to lose the power they currently have.
The ‘woke’ folk can’t cope with this; they can’t even see it – they’re too overcome by cognitive dissonance. They identify as the good guys, fighting oppression in all its forms – and they’ve invested so much time and energy into this identity that they can’t permit themselves to see the corruption of their movement. They’re being played for fools. We all are.
In some ways the smarter you are the easier it is to be fooled. Clever people are very good at the mental gymnastics necessary to believe in absurdities.
In his book Messengers Of Deception, Jacques Vallee warned of the inability of science to handle the irrational — he thought it was a great danger for society. And sure enough, we see exactly that — a societal inability to cope with the power of irrational beliefs — for example in transgenderism.
Paratopia was a podcast by two ‘experiencers of high strangeness’ – Jeremy Vaeni and Jeff Ritzmann (@jeremy_vaeni and @darth_jeffR) – on the subject of the paranormal — where they took the piss while trying to make sense of their own experiences. It was brilliant.
In one episode of Paratopia, a guest told the world of his encounter with the Toilet Elf. Much hilarity ensued. A tall tale, perhaps – but it appears that some people really do experience such strange phenomena. The experience is real to them — but does that mean the Toilet Elf truly exists? Not necessarily. And perhaps ‘gender identity’ is the same sort of thing.
‘Transgenderism’ plays on the feelings and deepest desires of trans people, and recruits them into an effort to persuade society to accept its two fundamental axioms: trans women are women, and sex work is work.
But this is just one component of the ‘woke’ thought-reform program, which aims to queer society to destroy and then rebuild it as a totalitarian system. But it’s all done with sugar and spice and all things nice – until you disagree with the management. Or, as I like to call them, The Great Penis Cult.
It’s a fiendishly clever plan. And it’s working.
But who on earth would believe that theory? Nobody, of course, except a conspiracy nut like myself.
So I look forward to being ridiculed mercilessly by men who think they’re lesbians.
Last time, me tell how Chief Boz drop rock on foot, get hurt very bad. Me fetch mother, name Krone – she wise woman of tribe. When Krone see foot, she shake head. She use healing herbs, but she say Boz not walk again.
Krone say tribe need new Chief. She call election ceremony. Then night fall.
Long time pass since ceremony. Much happen, great hardship! But at last me ready tell more. Now story continue:
Next morning Buz, son of Boz, beat drum. Drum summon tribe to meeting place. Everybody come, men, women and children. This important event for tribe. Nobody want miss election.
Boz there already. Foot still broken. It wrapped in leaves and mud for healing. Boz face show pain, he very pale. But he still Chief. He look around at tribe. He hold up hand for quiet. And all talking stop.
Boz sip water from coconut, then he speak quiet. ‘Me thank tribe for come see Chief. This important day. For seven years me Chief, tribe prosper. But now foot broken, me useless! So Krone call election ceremony.’ Boz pause. He cough. He sip more water.
‘This good, it fit with ancient rites. Me thank Krone for healing poultice. Krone know magic, so maybe me not die. But reign over. Me hereby relinquish position of Chief. But me have right to nominate successor. So me nominate son, Buz.’
Now Krone rise to speak: ‘Me thank Boz for kind words. Tribe grateful for long service of Boz. He no longer Chief, but he nominate successor – son Buz!’ Krone point Buz; Buz stand.
Krone continue: ‘Now election begin. It simple. If everyone want Buz for Chief, then finished – Buz Chief. But if anyone not want, now is chance to speak! You name own choice successor. This not problem, this important part of ritual. After this is vote. Winner become Chief.’
Tribe chatter, much excitement! Then someone shout: ‘Me want be Chief!’. Everybody look – it man who say he woman, name Tra. He say, ‘Why always man is Chief? Why not woman? Tribe sexist! This bad.’
Krone reply, ‘Tra want be Chief, but need nomination! Not allowed nominate self – ritual important! Who else want Tra be Chief?’ Soon Foo step forward, he big expert on worm. ‘Me not sexist. So me nominate Tra. He woman, but he clever! He make good Chief. Who second Tra?’
‘Me second,’ say Min. Me surprise! Min is wife of Boz. She also mother of Buz. Why she want election? Why she support Tra? This fishy. Me look at Krone. She say, ‘Foo nominate Tra; Min second. So now Tra stand against Buz!’
Then Mat walk forward; he official Counting Man. Mat hold Bag of Voting.
Mat begin speak, but Gel interrupt. She say, ‘Me nominate Fem!’ This cause much argument. Some men laughing. They say, ‘You Hom! Control your woman!’
But me not want control my woman.
Me say, ‘Gel is member of tribe. She have right to speak! Me not interfere.’
Men jeer at Hom, say, ‘Hom weak. In cave of Hom, it Gel who wear short loincloth. She make Hom cook food. Hom dance like woman! Gel hunt pig, not Hom!’
Me reply ‘Me cook. It true. Me dance too. But me not woman. Me man.’
Men laugh. ‘But Gel nominate Fem for Chief! This stupid! Fem is woman! How can woman be Chief?’
Now me angry. Me shout, ’No, you stupid! Why not woman be Chief? What wrong with woman?’
‘Woman not hunt pig,’ say Foo. ‘Woman not catch fish. Woman soft, good only for make babies. If man follow woman, he no longer man. If make woman Chief, it big trouble for tribe.’
Now Gel say, ‘But Foo nominate Tra! Min second! Tra stand in election; he oppose Buz. But now Foo say woman make only trouble? Foo think Tra is woman. But me think Foo scared of real woman!’
Tra now angry, he shout at Gel, ‘What you say? You say me not real woman! Pah!’ Tra spit on ground. ‘Me more woman than you, Gel. You ugly.’
Me shout, ’What? You dare insult wife of Hom? You want fight?’
‘No need fight,’ Foo say, ‘Of course Tra is woman. Look coconut! He use coconut to cover boobies. Only woman have boobies. You, Gel – why you not wear coconut? You want other men see boobies? You not like sex with Hom? You want real man?’
‘Right!’ me scream. ‘That it, Foo! You ask for it! Now me kick your arse!’
But Krone raise voice. ‘Enough!’ she say. Her voice ring out, and all argument stop. Me feel shame. Me whisper, ‘Sorry mum.’
Krone ignore me. ‘Foo say Tra is woman. Foo nominate Tra. Min second. Nobody complain. So woman is allowed. Debate finished. Now where Fem?’
‘Me here,’ say Fem.
‘You, Fem – you recieve nomination. You want be Chief?’
Fem nod. ‘Me want,’ she say.
‘Very well,’ say Krone. ‘Who second Fem for Chief?’
Now friend Gai raise hand. ‘Me second,’ he say. ‘Fem make good Chief. She very skilled at hunting pig.’
‘Fine,’ say Krone. ‘Foo nominate Fem, and Gai second. So Fem also stand for election.’ She pause, look around at tribe. ‘Any more?’ she ask. But no-one come forward. ‘Where Counting Man, Mat?’ say Krone. ‘Where stones?’
‘Me here,’ say Mat. ‘Me have stones.’
‘And Bag of Voting?’
‘Me have bag too,’ say Mat. He hold up bag for tribe to see. ‘It made from bladder of pig,’ he add. ‘Best quality.’
‘It fine bag,’ say Krone. ‘It perfect for voting. Me give thanks.’
‘Now,’ say Krone, ‘Official counting man will please hand out stones.’
Mat give stones to every member of tribe. He give out black, white, and red stones, one each. Then he explain: ‘White stone mean Buz. Black mean Tra. And red mean Fem.’
‘That bad!’ shout Tra. ‘Why Fem get red? Me want red!’
‘What matter?’ ask Mat. ‘What wrong with black?’
‘Don’t pretend you not know! You insult me!’
‘Me not understand,’ say Mat. ‘What is problem?’
‘Me know,’ say Gel. ‘Tra think red mean blood. Women bleed with moon, so he think red mean woman. He think if he get red stone it mean he woman. But you not give him red stone. He think this mean he man.’
Mat shake head. ‘But colour mean nothing. It just for counting.’
‘Me want red!’ shout Tra. ‘Me woman! Me exist!’
‘You stupid,’ say Mat. ‘You not make good Chief.’
’Stop it!’ shout Krone. ‘No need more nonsense. You, Counting Man – can you make red stone mean Tra?’
Mat scratch head. ‘Of course. But me not see—’
‘Then me decide,’ say Krone. ‘Red mean Tra.’
Mat shrug. ‘No problem. Now red mean Tra. Black mean Fem. And white mean Buz. It simple,’ he say. ‘To vote, everybody put one stone in bag. Make sure you pick right colour. One stone only. After everyone vote, me count coloured stones. Me compare. Most stones decide winner.’
Krone say, ‘This clear? Any question? No? Good. Then we vote now.’
One by one, everybody walk up, put stone in bag of voting. Krone watch close, make sure no cheating. Everybody watch. Election important – decide future of tribe.
After vote come count. Mat take stick, draw circle on ground. Then he tip stones from bag of voting. He very careful – he not let stones escape. He shake bag, make sure no more stones inside. Then he count.
Mat big expert on counting. He count slow, but careful. Rest of tribe watch close, but we not know counting – we leave that to expert. Mat count stones twice. Then he count again. He very careful. He want get count right.
Finally, Mat stand up to announce vote. ‘Me count stones,’ he say. ‘Me very careful. Me count stones twice, then me count again. And now me know answer: Black stones is more. Black mean Fem, so Fem win election. This is official result.’
Much noise errupt! Much cheering, but me hear men grumbling; they not want woman for Chief! Children dancing – they happy.
But when me look at Tra, me see he crying. But me not see sadness – me see rage. Tra stare at Fem with face of hatred. He sore loser. Me look away. Me not want see his face.
Soon tribe leave meeting place. Krone go with Boz, make fresh poultice for foot. Me return to cave for fetch spear. Me go hunt pig.
Hunt successful! Me return to cave with much meat.
Gel see me coming, she run out! She throw arms around Hom. She crying!
‘What matter?’ me ask.
‘Big trouble!’ sob Gel. ’Fem overthrown! She captured!’
‘It true!’ say Gel. ‘We just talking, but men come with spear!’
‘Who come? What men?’
‘Many men! Buz, Foo, Pev, plenty others. But leader is Tra.’
‘Tra? What he want?’
‘He take power. He say he Chief now.’
’This treason,’ me say. ‘It very bad.’
‘Yes,’ say Gel. ‘Tra crazy! Me scared for Fem. Me think maybe Tra… Tra…’
‘Ssshh,’ me say. ‘Me not let that happen.’
‘Me love you,’ say Gel.
She kiss me long time. It nice, but now me cry too.
‘Where children?’ me ask.
‘Children fine,’ say Gel. ‘They hiding in cave. They scared.’
‘Me scared too,’ me admit. ‘It no shame. But what do?’
‘Me make soup,’ say Gel. ‘We talk while eat.’
Me nod. ‘That good idea,’ me say. Then bad thought come. ‘What about Krone? Where she?’
But Gel shake head. She not know.
In cave me find children hiding with friends of Gel, name Ruti and Cal. Everybody scared. But we hungry too, and soup ready, so eat. Ruti say she there when men come with spears for capture Fem. She tell whole story.
Then me ask questions – who there? What about Gai and Fab? Ruti say they not with men. Ali not there either, she say. This good, me think. Friends loyal. After eat me give hug all round. Then me take spear, me go to cave of Gai and Fab.
Me explain what happen, then together we go find Ali. He in cave with wife Nizzi and son Cul. We talk fast, then Ali tell Cul fetch spear and two big stick. He tell Nizzi go, join others at cave of Hom and Gel. Nizzi run. Then friends pick up weapons.
We walk quick to cave of Boz, but when we close we go slow, we go quiet. There we find band of traitors led by Tra. They talking to Boz. We stay quiet. We hide in trees. We listen.
Boz speak quiet. He in pain. He sound weak, but he angry! ‘This wrong!’ he say. ‘This treachery! Fem win fair election – she Chief, that that!’
‘But she woman!’ shout Foo. ‘Me not take orders from woman!’
‘Oh? You not take orders from woman?’ Me recognise voice – it mother, Krone! She safe! Me glad.
Now Krone laugh. ‘What about Tra? Is he not woman, too?’
‘That different,’ say Foo. ‘He special kind woman. He man.’
This make Tra furious! ’Me not man,’ he scream. ‘Me woman! Me all woman!’
‘That right!’ laugh Krone. ‘Tra is King of Women! It no problem take orders from King of Women.’
Boz groan. ‘What happen to tribe? Why we go so crazy?’
‘We human,’ say Krone. ‘We all fools. But it not your fault.’
‘Of course it my fault!’ snap Boz. Then he cough bad.
‘Sssh,’ say Krone. ‘No need talk, Boz. You rest.’
Me give signal, and suddenly all friends run towards cave. Ali hit two men with big stick, they fall! Gai jump Tra, hold him to ground; Fab point spear at chest – he captured! Cul catch Foo same way, and me catch Buz.
Ali stand by with stick in both hands. It standoff! Me thrust spear at Buz. ‘Where Chief Fem?’ me shout. Buz point at corner. Fem there, she tied up in net, unconscious. She look bruised, but she alive.
Me glance at Krone, ‘How you, mum?’ me ask.
‘He not so good. He need medicine, but me not allowed gather herbs.’
‘What this?’ me say to Buz. ‘You want Boz die?’
‘Not me! Me only follow orders!’ say Buz. ‘It Tra in charge.’
’That right,’ say Tra. ‘This my tribe now.’
Me look around. Friends still outnumbered. We lucky with sneak attack, we take good hostages. But on other side is too many men. If fight break out, we lose.
‘We not want violence,’ me say. ‘We want negotiate.’
‘What you want?’ ask Tra.
‘We want leave tribe,’ me say. ‘We take Chief Fem. We take Krone. We take whoever want come, and we go. We go over mountains, far away. We form new tribe. We not bother you again. That all we want. And in return, we not kill anyone.’
‘This good deal, King Tra,’ say Krone. ‘Me suggest you take it.’
“Hmmph,’ say Tra. ‘Maybe.’
Krone smile at me. ‘Me proud of you, son Hom. But me not come with you. Me too old for mountains. And me needed here, with Boz.’
‘But you wise woman,’ me say. ‘Tribe need wise woman.’
’That right,’ say Krone, ‘But me needed here, in this tribe. You have other wise woman, she young one.’
‘You not know?’ Krone laugh. ‘Men so stupid! But all women know – it obvious! So no problem; you ask wife.’
Me not understand, but not argue with Krone – that always bad idea.
Negotiations continue – Tra resist, but Fab thrust spear at face and soon he give in. Cul untie Chief Fem and sling across back, and we leave. We happy avoid bloodshed, but we still nervous; we not trust King Tra and his men. So we walk quiet, watch out for ambush.
After while we hear footsteps – someone coming! They running fast. We stop, turn to face sound – we ready for attack! But then we hear voice: ‘Wait! Me want come with you!’ Me recognise voice – it Min, wife of Boz!
‘Me want leave tribe,’ she say, ‘there nothing for me here. Tra hate me – he think me traitor! And Boz think me plot against him with boozy plums. Me not want stay here! Me want see mountains!’
Me not understand about plums, but me not care; me always like Min. ‘No problem,’ me say. ‘Please come.’
When arrive at cave, everbody happy we back safe with Chief Fem. Cul put Fem down on soft fur. She still unconscious. Gel concerned. She boil water. She send Nizzi get special herbs, put in water.
Gel dip moss in water, wipe Fem face clean. She see bruise on head, look close. It look like mark of big stick.
She say, ’Chief sleeping, but soon she wake.’
‘This good,’ me say. ‘When she wake, we go. We not wait for morning.’
Me look around. Me see more women come, many children. Mat also come. Me say, ‘We leave tribe. We go over mountain where safe. We not return. We go soon, get ready! Bring food, water, animal skins for keep warm.’
Me think more, then me add: ’Bring spear and stick. Bring net for fish. Bring bow and arrow. Bring kindling, and stone for make fire. Bring plenty twine. Bring shoe. Bring all – but quick! When Chief wake up, we go. We not wait for you. Me not trust Tra. Maybe he attack.’
People hurry, fetch supplies. Everybody move fast. Me stay behind, butcher pig and rabbits from today hunt. While me work me look Gel. She still tending Chief Fem.
‘When you learn medicine?’ me ask. ‘Who teach?’
Gel laugh. ‘You so silly,’ she say, ‘Where you think? Me learn from Krone many year. She say me have gift.’
‘So you wise woman now?’ Me laugh. ’That make sense, but how me not know? Mother right – me stupid!’
Gel say, ‘Husband not stupid. He cunning! He brave. But medicine women’s business. We not share secret with men.’
Now Chief Fem wake up. She groan. Gel feed Chief soup with herbs. Me ask Fem what happen. She not remember much, only hit with stick.
Gel explain what happen, Chief Fem listen. Me think Chief cry, but no, she strong. She say, ‘It shame, but Hom right – we run to mountains, find safe place. Then we make new tribe. We find new way of living, better way. We find peace.’
Soon everybody return to cave with supplies. More children come. Someone bring dog. Me not like dog, but not complain. Chief awake now – she wise. Me follow orders.
We share out last of soup. We put out fire. We go.
When morning come we already at foot of mountain. We rest few hours, then begin climb. Mountain pretty – me like! But it steep too. Footing treacherous! We go slow, cautious.
We not know way, but we trust in Fem – she Chief. She trust in good luck. Along way much talking. Ruti, Cal, Fem, Min and Nizzi – these women clever, make big plan for tribe.
Mountain high. It higher than look. It take days to climb. High up it get cold. We go slower, keep stop for make fire and eat. Wind blow hard, make cheeks red. Still we climb, but now food get scarce. We think we bring plenty, but we not expect journey so long, so hard.
Men try catch prey – we see rabbit, but they too clever for us. We see goat, but they see us first. We not catch prey. We see big mountain cat, but we lucky – she ignore us. We find only small berries, very bitter – not good for eat.
Everybody hungry. Children cry. Even dog sad, he howl. Me think maybe we eat dog one day. But me not want eat dog. He friend of tribe. It bad luck eat friend.
Then snow come. It pretty at first. Everybody laugh! Children play. But snow keep coming. It very cold now. Me feel freeze in feet. It hard to walk, but me walk. And at last we reach peak of mountain, we find narrow pass through rocks. We clear snow, make it through.
Me exhausted. Me need sleep. More snow fall. Me hear noise in head, like buzz of bee. Me not understand. Me see only white. Me not see friends, only snow, falling falling. Feet slip on rock. Now me falling too. Me feel peace. Me dead.
But then me wake! Me feel pain in legs, shoulders. Me not dead. Me warm. Me smell food. Me hear voices, talking soft. Me hear Gel! Me hear children. Me open eyes. Me see cave; me inside. Me lie on soft furs. Me safe.
Me try sit up, but back hurt. Much pain! Me groan.
‘You awake!’ say Gel. ‘This good. But you not move, you hurt.’
‘What happen?’ me croak. “Me think me fall.’
‘Not talk,’ say Gel. ‘Keep still. Me fetch Chief Fem.’
Chief come. She kiss Hom on head. She smile. ‘You big hero’, she say, ‘You save us all!’
‘Me not understand,’ me say. ‘What happen? Me think me fall in snow. Me think me die on mountain. But me not die. Me live! How possible?’
Fem laugh. ’You fall,’ she say. ‘That true. You fall long way, get lost in snow. You nearly die. But tribe search for Hom. We search long time, we never give up! We find marks in snow from falling. We follow marks – find Hom! You half frozen, but heart still beat.’
‘Tribe have hope,’ continue Fem. ‘We decide gather firewood. We look around – we find cave! It right there, where Hom fall. Without Hom, we not find shelter. We all die on mountain. You fall, you find cave. It good luck! You save us all!’
‘What?’ me say. ‘Me do what?’
‘It true,’ say Gel. ‘You hero.’
Me smile. ‘Me hurt. How bad?’
‘You live. Here, me help you sit. Me make porridge. You need eat.’
Next day me still hurt, but me feel better. Me manage walk to cave entrance, me look out.
All land covered in snow. Me see valley below, many trees. It very beautiful landscape. It good place for hunt pig.
Me see children, they play in snow. They wrapped in warm fur. They laughing, singing. Children see me, come running. Someone throw snowball! Me duck but too slow! Snowball hit me in head. Me laugh, wipe face.
Me hug children tight. Then they run off, play more in snow. Me smile. Life good. Tribe continue. Me cry, but me very happy.
Next day me, Hom, tell wife Gel about big men meeting. Me say Chief Boz think women make big trouble, so he want make rules, stop trouble. Me tell Gel of Tra – he man who think he woman! Me say Chief Boz want make Tra King of Women, so he supervise other women.
Then if Tra hear bad women, he hit with stick, report to Chief. Me tell of men-only vote. Boz win, new rules pass. But we catch Tra cheating so Boz say vote not count. Gel say never mind cheating; men-only vote illegal! Me agree, hang head in shame. Me sorry.
But me warn Gel, me think men not care vote illegal. Many men want stop women talking, stop always laughing at men willy. So me think another vote come, again men-only. Maybe rules pass, no cheating – then big problem for women.
Me know vote still illegal, but men bigger, stronger – so what women do? Situation bad. Gel understand. Me look eyes, she angry. But still much love. We hug, kiss. Then she get up, leave cave, go visit wise woman, name Krone.
Me stay cave with children. Me help children mix paint, make picture of cat on wall of cave. Paint make big mess. It fun!
Krone live in forest, in special cave of sticks, leaves. She mother of Hom, but she not want live with tribe. Sometimes she visit, but she not stay long. She not interfere. She good woman, but she strange. Krone like walk in forest, talk to plants, animals. She hug trees.
When woman give birth, Krone come. She make medicine. She sing song. After few days baby safe, mother safe. Then she go back to forest. Everybody know Krone – everybody respect.
Some men fear Krone, but they silly. Me know she have power, but me not afraid. She strange, but she still mother. Me always love mother.
Night fall. Me light fire, skin rabbit, make soup for evening meal. Gel return, hug children. We kiss. She see picture of cat, she laugh. Soup ready, we eat. Children tired, soon sleeping. Gel sit with me by fire, want snuggle. She not speak of visit to Krone.
But Gel ask favour. She say, ‘Tomorrow, you go, collect grub from bark of tree. Collect many nuts, berries. Try catch pig. Soon we have visitors.’ Me curious, but me not ask questions. ‘No problem,’ me say. ‘Me fetch water too.’ Gel smile, but she sad. More snuggle. Then sleep.
All next day me gather food. Me get many fat grub from tree, also nuts, berries. Me also catch pig, and few rabbits, easy! Me good hunter, but me know me not that good. Me just lucky.
That night Gel ask more favour. She say, ‘Tomorrow here is meeting, woman only, in afternoon. Top secret. Me want you cook, serve food. Me not want women go hungry.’ Me agree. Then Gel say, ‘Meeting dangerous. If Chief find out, he angry! It dangerous.’ Again me agree.
Then Gel ask, ‘You have friends? Good men? You trust friends not tell Chief? Then you ask friends, come, bring spear. Keep watch. If other men come, they warn women. Women run, hide. We not want fight. But if fight, good men protect women.’
Me think careful. Me say, ‘Yes, me have friends. Me know Gai, he not like rules. Gai have special friend Fab, he same – like sex only men. Me think they help women. Maybe other men also help. Me ask, but careful. Asking dangerous. Few is better.’
Gel very happy, she give big hug. ‘You clever,’ she say. ‘You understand. Me trust.’ Then she want snuggle. Then sex. Me like! But after, me worry. It long time before sleep.
In morning me leave early, go find Gai, Fab. Me ask help – no problem! All agree. Me also find friend Ali, he agree too. Ali promise bring son, name Cul. Cul have keen sight, sharp ears, he good at climbing. He hide up tree, keep lookout.
If other men come, Cul make noise like call of owl. Then we hear, we know men coming. We warn women, they hide. Then good friends of Hom come quick to cave, sit by fire, make loud boast about big willy, sexual prowess, skill at hunting pig.
Ali think this fool other men easy; they not think women meeting, they go away. But if not, if trouble, then no problem – we fight! Ali very good with spear.
Me think this good plan. Me hug Ali, promise repay favour. Then me go back to cave, light fire, prepare food for big secret women meeting.
Me roast grubs on fire, dip in sauce of sweet berries. Friends spread out, keep watch for men. Cul climb tall tree. Soon women come, small groups. Me put grubs on sticks, offer women. They take. Me skin rabbit, make soup. More women come. Me offer more grubs while soup cooking.
Women talk quiet. Me not listening – hear few words only. Some women leave before soup. Some stay eat. Me keep out of way – me not want trouble with women. After women eat, some soup left. Me put in coconut and take out for friends.
Me also bring few grubs, nuts, berries. Friends happy, like soup. Me go back to cave, cook pig. Women come, women go. Always small groups, quiet talking. Always thank Hom for make good food. They say it very tasty.
Night fall, and soon all women gone. Only Gel left. Me go fetch friends, we sit by fire, eat last of soup, finish pig. Much laughter – we worry for nothing. We happy, sing songs of friendship.
Then come big shout! Man come running to cave! Ali reach for spear – he ready for fight. But no need – it only Foo, man who expert on worms. He very upset – he crying! He say Chief Boz injured very bad! Me afraid. Me think maybe women attack Chief Boz.
But no. Foo say Boz spend all day eating old plums. Plums good to eat when old – all boozy! Everybody know Boz very fond of boozy plums – he always eat many – he like pissed up feeling. But this time he eat many many – he have big argument with eldest son, Buz.
Buz tell Boz he man now – he want make spear for hunt pig. But Boz say no, Buz not man, he still only little boy – weak like woman. Buz argue with Boz – he say he not weak, he strong! He say he big enough kick Boz arse into next solstice! Boz say ‘Oh, you think you big man now?’
Boz point at big rock – he say Buz, ‘You think you real man? You pick up rock! You throw. Then I throw. We look how far rock go. Then we know who is biggest man in cave!’ Then Boz eat more plum. But Buz pick up rock easy – he strong! And he throw rock far.
Boz impressed – he stand up, but he so boozy he fall down. He get up again. He go with Buz to where rock land. It go far – Boz smile. He tell Buz maybe he man after all. But maybe not, he say! He make Buz carry rock back to cave.
Then Boz pick up rock – he strong too! But he still pissed out of mind. He try throw rock, but grip fail. He drop rock on foot – he scream! He fall over, bang head. He get nasty gash, much blood. But much worse – now foot all smashed up.
Buz scared – this bad injury! He scream for help. Foo hear, come running. He see foot, he very afraid – bones all broken. Foo think foot ruined. He think fast – he think of wise woman, Krone. He think maybe Krone can fix foot with herbs and magic song.
Foo say he not trust magic, but it only hope for Boz. But Foo not know where Krone live. He not know forest. He not like walk through leaves. He scared of snakes and spiders. He scared of Krone. But he know Krone is mother of Hom, so he come here, find Hom, ask help fetch Krone.
Me agree fetch Krone quick. Me pick up spear, run through forest to cave of sticks. When me arrive, she there waiting. She lean on long stick. Stick have animal skin tied on top, filled with herbs. Krone say me, ‘Hello son. Is problem?’
Me kiss. “Hello mum,’ me say. ‘Yes, Chief Boz drop rock on foot. He hurt bad.’ Krone nod. She say, ‘We go, but me old. Walk slow.’ Me say no problem. Then Krone point at tree. ‘You want plum?’ she say. ‘Plum good. Very ripe.’
Me not want plum, but me never rude to mother. So me pick few plum for journey. Krone hand over clean animal skin for carry. Me wrap. Then we go. It not take long. It dark, but Krone know shortcut – go straight to cave of Boz.
Boz lie on floor of cave, he very pale. Me see gash in head – it not so bad, no bleeding. But when me see foot, me nearly throw sick. It real mess! Krone see foot, she hiss through teeth. She know this bad. She ask Boz wife, Min, go fetch water, heat on fire.
Min go. Then Krone slowly sit down. Me hear bones creak – she old. But she not complain. She open animal skin, take out herbs. She peer close at Boz foot. ‘This very nasty,’ she say. Boz groan. ‘Please Krone,’ he say. ‘Help me. If you help, me send fresh meat every day.’
Krone laugh. ‘Me not need meat,’ she say. ‘Me have plenty food. But me here to help. Me use herbs, ease pain. Me clean wound. Maybe you not die. But foot never heal – that me know. Foot finished.’ Boz start to cry, but Krone sing song of healing.
She stroke Boz head, gentle. Slowly, he calm. Soon Min bring hot water. Krone crumble herbs in water. She wash Boz foot. He scream, but Krone sing as she work, and soon screaming stop. He asleep.
Krone take wet herbs, pack around foot, wrap with leaves. Then song finish. Work done. Krone say Min, ‘See water with herbs left over? Keep hot. When Boz wake, he drink. He feel better, sleep again. He probably survive.’
Min very happy hear this, she cry, she jump on Krone with hug! But still bad news. Krone say, ‘Boz survive, but he never same. He invalid now. Tribe have problem – need new Chief. Tomorrow, we must begin election ceremony.’
Since big meeting two day pass. Me still worry. Wife, Gel, see worried face, she ask what wrong. But me lie, say ‘Nothing wrong.’ Gel know I lie. She give look. But she not ask more, just cook breakfast. Gel know me. She not need fight me, just let me think. Me talk when ready.
After eat me take net, go river catch fish. Me see other man, name Foo, he sit by water. Me greet, go sit with Foo. Me put net in river, wait fish. We quiet. But me thinking: Foo at big meeting, but he stay quiet. So me ask Foo, ‘What you think? You like idea Chief rules?’
Foo say ‘Me not sure. Some rules silly. But need rules. Me like idea hit bad women with stick. Women big problem – always talking, laughing, make fun men. Me not like. Bad women always plotting. If hit with stick, stop trouble! No more laughing, only obey. This good. Me like.’
Me say, ‘No need hit women with stick. So what women laugh men? Some men silly – it true! If women make joke, no problem. Me like laugh.’
But Foo not like this. He wag finger, say, ‘You forget rule: women not funny. Funny is men-only. Women not laugh men, only men laugh women.’
Me think rule silly, but not want fight Foo. Me want catch fish. Me check net – empty. So me change subject, say, ‘What you think man who say he woman – name Tra? You like? You think he woman? You want Chief make Tra King of Women?’
Foo say, ‘Yes, he woman. Why not make King?’
Me say, ‘Because he not woman! How can Tra be woman? He man! He have bulge in loincloth! Big hands! He have willy! Man not woman, man man. Me think you confused.’
Foo say, ‘Me not confused. Me just very clever. You not know some woman have willy? You stupid. It fact.’
Then Foo, reach down, open fishing bag. He rummage, then pull out worm! He hold worm in hand, he show me. ‘See worm?’ He say. Worm wiggle.
‘Me see worm,’ me say. ‘What point?’
Foo say, ‘Worm have no willy. No worm have willy. But still, two worm have sex, make baby.’
Me still not see point. But Foo explain. He say he big expert on worm. He study many years, make big discovery! He say all baby worm same – all girl! When worm grow up, worm find other worm. If find girl worm, he grow willy! If find boy worm, no need. Then worm have sex.
Foo put down worm, say, ‘Worm sex good proof man can be woman. So if Tra say he woman, he woman. Why not? It just like worm.’
Me stare Foo. Me not believe he say this – maybe he crazy!? Me not want make Foo angry, so me careful, speak quiet. ‘But Tra is man,’ me say. ‘Not worm.’
Foo say, ‘Me not stupid. Me know Tra not worm! Me not say Tra is worm. Me say he woman.’
‘But Tra is not woman,’ me say. ‘Tra have willy! He man!’
Now Foo laughing. ‘You so silly! You think sex simple! Me show worm, try teach worm sex life, but you not learn. You hopeless.’
Me not expert on worm. But me know worm is worm. Worm is not woman. Only woman is woman. If Foo not know this he spend too long with worm instead of woman. Maybe he lonely.
Then water ripple, net twitch – success! Me lucky, catch big fish. Me leave. Foo not catch. He stay.
Me gather wood for fire. Me find mushrooms, me pick. Me also gather berries, nuts, edible leaves. Me dig up few turnips for make thick mash. Then me take all back to cave for cooking. All time, me thinking – what happen Foo? What go wrong? Maybe he eat bad mushroom? Me not know.
Me arrive at cave. Children run up, laughing, smiling! See fish, see berries – so happy! Wife Gel hear laughter, she come see. Big hugs, much kissing. Children giggle. Me look Gel eyes, much loving. She trust me.
And now me decide. Me need tell Gel about big men meeting.