I usually try to avoid using gendered pronouns when talking about trans people, particularly on twitter. Sometimes I tie myself in knots to avoid using ‘he’ or ‘she’, or I use cop-outs like ‘they’. I realise this is a bit silly, but I’m followed by a fair few people on twitter who are agnostic on the trans debate, and I want to avoid alienating them from the get-go. In some cases I’ll use preferred pronouns as a show of respect, particularly to my trans friends, both online and offline. I see it as a fairly minor issue, and I don’t want to get too bogged down in the details. But I can’t bear to call Frank Maloney ‘she’. I just can’t.
For those of you who haven’t come across Frank Maloney before, I’ll quickly summarise – he is where the trans ideology has led us. This is a man who spent 60 years enjoying and profiting from some of the most toxic forms of male privilege imaginable. He spent 30 years managing heavyweight boxing, famously managing Lennox Lewis to the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship of the World . In 2004 he was the UKIP candidate for the London mayoral election, where he came out with charming statements like:
“I don’t want to campaign around gays…I don’t think they do a lot for society…what I have a problem with is them openly flaunting their sexuality… I’m anti same-sex marriages and I’m anti same-sex families… I don’t think it’s right for children to be brought up that way.”
Maloney is also a long-time Millwall fan, a football club historically associated with hooliganism and far-right politics. And yet (hey whaddya know!) Maloney’s former colleagues and fellow fans have publicly embraced his new identity.
This article in the famously misogynist Daily Star is a perfect example…
“Kellie” (member of the most oppressed group in society, remember?) is welcomed back to Millwall “with open arms”, while the headline is graced by photos of half-naked women. A newspaper that makes vast profits from the dehumanisation of women is quite happy to embrace this ‘woman’ simulacrum. Millwall fans, famous for their association with violent masculinity, are also right on board. In fact we’re told that:
“to make her feel really at home fans chanted: ‘Kellie Maloney is one of our own.’”
For all of the endless claims that trans women have it harder than literally anyone else ever (especially “cis” women), Maloney seems to be having a remarkably jolly time. Ever since he revealed himself to be transitioning, the media has been awash with coverage of his “brave” decision, “courageously” undertaken. Media outlets that usually interrogate every wrinkle or scrap of cellulite on a woman’s body are clamouring to tell us that “she looks amazing” and that “the star is beaming from ear to ear as she shows off her new figure”.
Compare this with coverage of celebrities like Madonna (5 years younger than Maloney), who is regularly admonished for being too old/thin/wrinkled/saggy/fat/sexual, or whatever sin is deemed unforgivable over at Femail. It seems that Maloney’s male privilege has granted him immunity from this treatment.
So far, so unsurprising. The British media have treated Frank Maloney’s transition in much the same way as the global media have treated Bruce Jenner’s: gushing, saccharine, totally oblivious to the double-standard in their coverage of women. Gender critical feminists have grown used to this bullshit. Personally, I rarely find it shocking anymore.
But I was shocked by this week’s coverage of Maloney’s new memoir, in which he confesses to having tried to strangle his ex-wife Tracey. He only stopped when his frightened daughters rushed into the room, and Maloney comments “If they hadn’t come into the room at that point I dread to think what might have happened”. This was combined with a long period of verbal abuse. He explains this as a result of his “inner turmoil and pent-up feelings” over his gender identity.
The Mirror tells us that the incident was “terrifying” and “chilling” for Frank. Yes, you read that right – Frank was the one who was terrified, Frank was the one who suffered, Frank deserves our sympathy. In an interview on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour this morning, Jane Garvey tentatively raised this issue with Maloney (and this is word for word):
“you of course had to tell your wife that this was going to happen, and that you were having these feelings, and you say in the book that you had really quite a difficult confrontation at one point didn’t you? And things got a bit violent”
“Things” got violent. Not Maloney, he didn’t get violent. “Things” were to blame – it was out of his hands, such a shame, so unfortunate.
And yet even with this absurd wording, Maloney brushed off the question and moved swiftly on to talking about his own bad experiences – how hard things had been for him, how much he’d struggled, and so on, and so on. Despite Garvey’s excellent record in broadcasting on feminist issues, this was not challenged. Because Maloney is a woman now, right? And we must all gather together to support “her” as much as we possibly can. Even when he was strangling his wife, he was always a woman.
My own experiences with an abuser have taught me that Maloney’s attempts to justify his behaviour are very typical of the abusive man. Nothing is ever his fault. He never means for these things to happen. Someone else is always to blame, and usually that person is you. Everything can be excused by the fact that you don’t respect him, or you’re more successful than him, or you don’t love him enough, or you don’t understand him, or you made him react that way. You are liable for every misfortunate and failure, and oh man will you suffer for it. During those rare moments of repentance, the calm between storms, he wallows in self-hatred. But even this involves blame: it’s so easy for you, you don’t have to deal with unhappiness like I do, you don’t feel like I do. No ones feelings could ever be as real as his.
And our society tells him that he’s right. His feelings are always, always the most important consideration. During any feminist discussion of male violence you can guarantee that a man will pop up, like clockwork, to tell us that his feelings are hurt by the discussion. Whether the issue is prostitution, rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, parenting, surrogacy, lesbianism, fashion, porn, BDSM, or really anything else, feminists will always be reminded that we shouldn’t make the men too upset. Don’t be too harsh now, ladies. Don’t leave them out, don’t make them sad. For such a noble and rational group of people, men seem to be awfully emotional when it comes to discussing feminism.
And, of course, the feelings of the autogynephile are the most important of all.