Margarette Driscoll writes in The Telegraph:
When Kathleen Stock pressed “send” on a blog about the gender recognition act last summer she knew she was pressing a detonator. The government was consulting on whether legally changing sex should be a matter of feeling – self-identification – rather than surgery and emotions were already running high. Angry accusations of transphobia were hurled at those, like Stock, who questioned or opposed the idea that men who felt like women could simply declare themselves female and claim all the consequent privileges: access to women-only changing rooms, or being allowed to appear on women-only shortlists or sports teams. A high-profile professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex wading in was bound to raise temperature.
The fight soon came her way: students brandishing a placard reading “Transphobia now in STOCK at Sussex”, a condemnation from the students’ union refusing to tolerate “hate” on campus, attempts to have her fired and a stream of abuse online. What she did not expect was to uncover along the way a deep-rooted seam of fear and intimidation spread through universities nationwide that is, she says, now stifling academic debate.
As soon as she published her own opinion – questioning the validity of self-identification – she began being contacted by colleagues who told her they agreed but dared not say so publicly for fear of ruining their careers. Most were women, some with children and most on short contracts they could not afford to lose.
Ironically the biggest threat to academic freedom today for lecturers is their own students!
Stock’s most recent correspondent has been ‘let go’ from a women’s studies department for wanting to teach menstruation: “You can’t talk about the female body in some gender studies departments anymore because that’s called having “vaginal privilege”. It’s just ridiculous.”
Oh dear. Vaginal privilege.