In part two of JULIE BURCHILL’S denunciation of woke and its celeb disciples she asks: What would the Suffragettes make of M&S selling hijabs for four-year-old girls – and throwing open it’s female changing rooms for trans women?
In their gated compounds, wrapped up snug in their luxury beliefs, it’s the easiest thing in the world for celebrities to disdain ordinary people.
It’s so hard for them on the front line of fame – having monetised their very being and living a life of which most people can only dream.
The dafter ones use war metaphors: Gwyneth Paltrow claimed that reading nasty things about herself and her friends was ‘almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanising thing’.
The rest of us ‘civilians’, as Liz Hurley memorably described non-celebrities, don’t understand.
Showbiz people are always keen on saving the planet – but private jets don’t count because everybody knows that only dirty commercial flights cause pollution. Rather like food not really having calories if you eat it standing up.
In 2016, Leonardo DiCaprio flew 8,000 miles from France to New York and back – in a private jet – so he could accept an award for raising awareness of climate change.
In their gated compounds, wrapped up snug in their luxury beliefs, it’s the easiest thing in the world for celebrities to disdain ordinary people. Gwyneth Paltrow (pictured) claimed that reading nasty things about herself and her friends was ‘almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanising thing’
Now the transgender crusade has struck a chord in Hollywood.
For example, Harry Potter actress Emma Watson snarking at J. K. Rowling, who had been accused of transphobia after questioning the phrase ‘people who menstruate’.
Quoth Watson: ‘Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are. I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.’
Yet were it not for J. K. Rowling and the stratospherically successful Harry Potter franchise, Watson, a muppet who when single had described herself as ‘self-partnered’, might not have two pennies to rub together.
America has Hollywood; the UK has the BBC. Both share the Woke wangle of frantic virtue-signalling to cover up the slithering vipers’ nests beneath.
In recent years the BBC has attempted to become Woke judge and jury of the nation. But how hypocritically such high-mindedness sits with the fact that Jimmy Savile’s paedophilia was both an open secret and a running joke there.
It’s so hard for them on the front line of fame – having monetised their very being and living a life of which most people can only dream. The rest of us ‘civilians’, as Liz Hurley (pictured) memorably described non-celebrities, don’t understand
It wasn’t until a few brave survivors came forward to testify against him that the Corporation – which, remember, is funded by us – seemed inclined to do anything about it.
Then BBC bosses were revealed as actively engaged in helping their highest-paid ‘talent’ pay as little tax as possible. To lose one moral/ethical compass could be an accident. To lose both looks like total bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, Hollywood and the BBC both fetishise diversity of colour while quashing diversity of views, as Woke always does.
It was announced last year that the BBC was to spend £100 million on ‘diversity’ while, at the same time, sending hired heavies to menace low-income women into paying the licence fee.
For the BBC, the transgender debate was a glorious dawn, and it fell over itself to be predictably namby-pamby about asking its staff to declare preferred pronouns in email signatures, be they ‘she/her’, ‘he/him’ or ‘they/them’.
Showbiz people are always keen on saving the planet – but private jets don’t count because everybody knows that only dirty commercial flights cause pollution. Rather like food not really having calories if you eat it standing up. In 2016, Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured) flew 8,000 miles from France to New York and back – in a private jet – so he could accept an award for raising awareness of climate change
In 2018, just weeks after the huge gap between the pay of men and women working for the Corporation was exposed, rather than put their hand in their (our) pocket and pay women the same as men, the BBC played a virtue-signalling blinder by appointing a Global Gender and Identity Correspondent, who tweeted excitedly: ‘Thrilled to start as the BBC’s first global Gender and Identity Correspondent, reporting on issues concerning women, sexuality, race, etc.’ Love that ‘etc’!
Indeed, during 2020’s plague summer, the BBC caught Woke fever worst of all. It turned on itself in a racism-routing fit of zealotry, removing episodes of such excellent comedy shows as Fawlty Towers and Little Britain.
The same desperation to be down wiv da cancel-culture kids can also be seen on the retail front, especially in the ‘journey’ (a classic Woke word) of poor old Marks & Spencer.
Like the BBC, M&S saw itself as occupying a National Treasure position which blurred somehow with sainthood and whose integrity could never be questioned.
Turning one’s back on one’s loyal customers and chasing the Woke Wonga is another symptom of the malaise they share.
Woke is something of a mid-life crisis for commercial enterprises. They know that despite pursuing the youth market, it doesn’t have any money. But oh, it makes retailers feel young again!
M&S had been on the rocks for a while, alienating its core of regular shoppers with store floors resembling TK Maxx after an earthquake. So it was shocking, though not surprising, when in 2018 it started selling hijabs.
Now the transgender crusade has struck a chord in Hollywood. For example, Harry Potter actress Emma Watson (pictured) snarking at J. K. Rowling, who had been accused of transphobia after questioning the phrase ‘people who menstruate
Not any old hijabs, but hijabs for tots from the age of four, encouraging pre-school girls not to reveal their ears lest some man be driven mad with lust.
The next gaffe by M&S was counter-intuitive – but no matter. It was the next station of the Woke cross which must be knelt before: making the private spaces of women open to trans women.
‘As a business, we strive to be inclusive,’ it informed shoppers, ‘and therefore we allow customers the choice of which fitting room they feel comfortable to use, in respect of how they identify themselves.’
The suffragettes didn’t see this coming when they were throwing themselves under horses to fight for women’s rights, did they?
The one good thing about Wokeism is that just when you think they have a chance of changing our strange and beautiful world into their own monotonous and malevolent image, they start squabbling among themselves.
M&S must have thought the cool kids would be queuing up to try its LGBT sandwich – lettuce, guacamole, bacon and tomato in rainbow-coloured packaging – especially as the profits would go towards a charity helping LGBT youth.
Nevertheless, many found it hard to swallow, with one person complaining: ‘I felt so enraged I left the shop. Basically equating us to a sandwich? Can’t imagine them doing this with other marginalised groups.’
Yet were it not for J. K. Rowling (pictured) and the stratospherically successful Harry Potter franchise, Watson, a muppet who when single had described herself as ‘self-partnered’, might not have two pennies to rub together
There’s more. In the summer of 2020, an M&S shopper spotted a brassiere which seemed insufficiently sensitive to the death of George Floyd, the black man killed by a US police officer.
The shopper noted that while light-coloured bras bore such tempting titles as ‘Fudge’ and ‘Cinnamon’, the darker one was called ‘Tobacco’.
‘I saw it about two weeks after George Floyd’s death – it was particularly raw to see at that time. Why not call it ‘cocoa’, ‘caramel’ or ‘chocolate’ – sweet dessert items?’ she said.
‘To see that ‘tobacco’ is for their skin tone will make young girls feel unwanted by society. Tobacco is referred to in society as bad, unhealthy, and highly likely to kill.’
Predictably, M&S snivelled: ‘We have more to do and more to learn. We liaise with our store colleagues on a regular basis to determine which colours we need to offer our customer and we are also working with our BAME [Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic] colleague network to receive their input too.
‘As part of this, we are reviewing our ranges, supported by our BAME network, to ensure we have lingerie items that are flattering and suitable for all customers.
‘We are changing the name of the bra colour and are sorry for not moving faster.’
That is the difference between insurrectionary pre-Woke women and insipid Woke women in a nutshell: we burned our bras to show we didn’t need establishment approval.
This lot are in a state because their bras have the ‘wrong’ name. Last year, too, McDonald’s was accused of cultural appropriation for its new Jerk Chicken Sandwich. No doubt feeding one to a child will soon constitute abuse, but of course where there is real child abuse – such as fattening up 12-year-old children – there is Woke silence.
We are all Alice now, Alice in Wokeland, down the rabbit hole with no direction home.
The same desperation to be down wiv da cancel-culture kids can also be seen on the retail front, especially in the ‘journey’ (a classic Woke word) of poor old Marks & Spencer. M&S had been on the rocks for a while, alienating its core of regular shoppers with store floors resembling TK Maxx after an earthquake. So it was shocking, though not surprising, when in 2018 it started selling hijabs (stock photo)
And then there’s the fashion industry, hammered by the Covid pandemic. So what did they do? Fearful of going broke, fashion went Woke.
The environmental impact of the clothing industry is calamitous.
Knowing this, and not wanting to lose a generation in thrall to Greta Thunberg, fashion had already attempted to cover its back – for creating much personal debt and ceaseless landfill fodder – with a lot of flim-flam about sustainability. Even before Covid, people were catching on to this: there is a reason clothes retailers were already suffering.
Meanwhile, fashion journalists were virtue-signalling like it was going out of style. Journalists signed up to ‘diversity and inclusion objectives and training’ while some newspapers were forced to appoint ‘diversity specialists’ at the same time as agreeing to ‘a process for internal and external content review to track sentiment and coverage’.
It’s a similarly depressing story at Vogue, the doyen of all fashion magazines, where the answer to everything is now diversity. (I am fully expecting diversity to be offered as a cure for cancer soon, such is its apparent omnipotence.)
Models within the magazine stopped being skeletal white girls and the cover stars followed suit: Beyoncé, Oprah, Rihanna and Judi Dench. Now a far larger demographic of women can be objectified – rejoice!
Woke-speak, especially on matters of race, robs people of their individuality and reduces them to ticks and ciphers. Do the Woke read books? Do they have an intellectual hinterland? Unlikely, considering their raw terror at any view different from theirs.
But for some reason they believe they have the right to change a language – to abolish perfectly good words such as ‘woman’ and replace it with such monstrosities as ‘Terf’ (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) and ‘Cis’ (a person whose gender identity is the same as their sex assigned at birth).
If the Woke want to stick their fingers in the ears and sing ‘La la la’, that’s their lookout. What is not an option is for them to put muzzles on the rest of us, to make some words unsayable and to change the meaning of others.
In the past decade or so many words have changed their meaning. ‘Brave’, for instance, once meant rescuing orphans from burning buildings, but now means talking about one’s troubles in public. How is it brave to have a miscarriage? It’s sad and awful – but brave? If miscarrying is brave, what are firefighters?
The word ‘diversity’ once meant a pleasingly wide range of viewpoints, but now means a selection of variously hued people all parroting the same liberal establishment platitudes. ‘Community’ once meant a cheery group of neighbours getting together for street parties, but now means a posse of peevish wallflowers going for gold in the Victimhood Olympics.
It’s bad enough that these half-witted Wokers have access to computers, but when one considers that many of them work in publishing, it’s like finding out that Johnny Depp runs a women’s refuge.
I remember publishing in its heyday: the drunken bonhomie, the three-hour lunches. The idea of anyone who worked in publishing being offended by their writers was risible.
But now the Wokers appear to have got their hands on this last bastion of rollicking and roistering, with junior members of Penguin Random House recently ‘confronting’ senior staff over the planned publication of the next book by Jordan Peterson, the outspoken Canadian professor of psychology.
When I say ‘confronting’, I mean ‘crying’, the go-to move of Cry Bullies International, as Peterson himself had pointed out in a previous book: ‘Anger-crying is often an act of dominance and should be dealt with as such.’
A thought: might it not be easier for those easily offended by differing ideas and viewpoints not to seek employment in arenas which deal with differing ideas and viewpoints, such as publishing?
Flower stalls are, I believe, lovely places to ply one’s trade; soft furnishings, too, with emphasis on scatter cushions – no sharp corners! But publishing?
Did the long and splendid story that began with the invention of the printing press around 1436 really have to end up here? With publishing employees – who would seemingly be happier burning books than editing them – crying because they didn’t like the words?
We really are in the midst of the Woke Trials now, being whirled into a dizzying danse macabre in which we have no idea where we’ll end up. And, amid the stupidity of these witch-hunts, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
I never foresaw that I would be living through such an age of barbarism and hysteria.
The one consolation among all this nasty nonsense is that Woke may have peaked. When I started this book at the beginning of 2020, I was looking at an alien landscape in which even such comforting cultural artefacts as knitting, of all things, had been contaminated by Wokeness.
But after a year of global lunacy, signs that an epidemic of common sense was just around the corner began to break through.
In December, Cambridge University – a breeding ground-zero of Wokeness like other universities – updated its Statement on Freedom of Speech so that speakers may be barred only if they are likely to use ‘unlawful speech’ or cause other legal problems.
In the same month the Scottish Parliament backed an amendment by Labour MSP Johann Lamont which meant that rape victims would be allowed to choose the sex of those examining them after an attack.
In such traumatic circumstances, many women feel safer with female medics touching them. For once, the actual injuries of women took precedence over the hurt feelings of men.
These are the most interesting of times – either a blessing or a curse, depending on whether one is of the tough or the tendertribe.
So where do we go from here?
In the end, the Woke are like Daleks – what comes after all the EXTERMINATE business? They turn on each other.
The end of Woke could conceivably see a glorious bout of infighting to the death, as the ever-growing number of allegedly oppressed minorities splinter in all directions and engage in one last big hissy-fitting Woke War of All Against All.
The human spirit (yes, that old thing) could rally at the eleventh hour and we might awake from our sleepwalking. And then we’ll think ‘It was all a horrible dream!’ as we gaze around dazedly at each other, strangers and good companions, wondering what on earth had happened.
© Julie Burchill, 2021 l Abridged extract from Welcome To The Woke Trials, by Julie Burchill, published by Academica Press at £24.95.
To order a copy for £22.46, with free UK delivery, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937 before November 14.