The Heineken ‘Worlds Apart’ Ad: Corporate Social Justice Done Right

Finally, a corporate attempt at social awareness advertising that does not devolve into sanctimonious progressive preaching

It generally doesn’t end well when big corporations decide to prove their right-on, progressive credentials with a slick new TV advertisement.

Only four months ago, Pepsi found itself on the receiving end of a heap of bad PR when their insipid commercial, featuring celebrity with no discernible talent Kylie Jenner, was deemed to be trivialising the Black Lives Matter movement (the gravest sin that it is presently possible to commit).

The Pepsi ad was certainly stupid, but not because it made light of a movement which is by no means as pure of character as it likes to pretend. No, the problem with the Pepsi ad was that it tried to cast the soft drink manufacturer in a positive light by clinging on to the coattails of various protest movements, and casting its brown sugary liquid as the balm that could ease tensions between Generic Oppressed Communities and the police. It was glib and superficial and insulting to everyone who was portrayed in it.

And unfortunately that’s how it is with most ads that try to paint the responsible corporation in a positive light by embracing the latest progressive fad or injunction from the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics. They politicise that which should not be politicised, needlessly sow division over politically contentious issues, waste shareholder money to burnish the reputations of certain executives and generally fail to serve the corporation’s customers. In Britain, Channel 4’s cynical and self-serving “Gay Mountain” ad, timed to coincide with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is another awful example of tawdry corporate behaviour.

That’s not to say that all such ads are bad – by all means, corporations should wade into social territory when the product and the issue actually have some connection with each other and there is a worthy goal in mind. The #LikeAGirl ad campaign by Always, for example, is actually quite moving and packs a real impact. This Barbie ad isn’t half bad either.

Other social justice ads fall into the grey zone, not terrible but not particularly praiseworthy either – or else just plain confusing. Procter & Gamble’s recent ad “The Talk“, highlighting the fact that African American parents have had to teach their children resilience techniques and shore up their self-esteem in ways that white parents generally have not, makes a valid and moving historical point. But it is never quite clear why Procter & Gamble is the one to be making the ad, other than that they cynically calculated that they can burnish their corporate credentials by conspicuously attaching their brand to the worthy cause of anti-racism.

But best of all recent ads where a large corporation dips its toe into the roiling waters of social issues is this one by Heineken, entitled “Worlds Apart“. What makes it so good? The fact that it does not seek to preach any specific value or social outcome besides the importance of tolerance and mutual respect which is too often missing in public discourse. Rather than shoving a particular social cause down the throats of consumers, the ad dares to suggest that more than one opinion (the progressive one) may have value, and that issues should be discussed rather than dissent shut down.

The ad is shot like a reality show, putting various pairs of strangers with diametrically opposed opinions on various issues – feminism, transgenderism, climate change and so on – in a room together, having them perform various icebreaking tasks including assembling furniture, describing both themselves and their partner using five adjectives and then just talking together about their life experiences. It sounds corny, but it actually works quite well – watch the video at the top of this article.

The final task given to the various pairs of strangers is to assemble a construction out of wooden blocks – which turns out to be a bar (see what they did there?) Having cooperated and bonded with each other while completing various tasks, they each then have to watch a video in which the other person talks to the camera about their opinions of various relevant hot-button issues. It then becomes clear that the feminist was paired with the anti-feminist, the climate change sceptic with the environmentalist, the transgender woman with the man who scorned the idea of transgenderism. Having discovered this truth about their partner, they are then offered a choice – either they can leave and never see each other again, or they can discuss their differences over a beer at the bar they just constructed together.

This really is quite effective. You see the shock on each person’s face as they realise this uncomfortable truth about the stranger with whom they have been working and bonding during the various tasks. You see hints of confusion and almost betrayal on some of their faces as they weigh the competing facts – that they got on well with the person, know them through their brief interactions to be decent, yet that they stand on opposite sides of major social wedge issues. Spoiler alert: they all end up deciding to stay and discuss their differences over a nice cool Heineken.

This is a good ad. Firstly in terms of product promotion, it positions Heineken beer as something over which sane, rational people can discuss their differences like adults. In real life, people do discuss their problems and bond over beer. Unlike the Procter & Gamble ad, there is a valid reason for Heineken to be making this commercial. And what’s more, despite only being a commercial the various interactions feel ten times more real than President Obama’s very real and much-publicised “beer summit” in the wake of the Henry Louis Gates arrest controversy.

But more than that, the ad is good because it doesn’t force a set outcome. It doesn’t end with the transgenderism sceptic acknowledging the error of his ways, confessing his sin and being absolved, or the anti-feminist checking his male privilege. Rather, knowing that their partner is more than the sum of his or her political opinions, the various couples are able to forge bonds of mutual respect and friendship. Like adults used to do in the days before social media turbo-charged identity politics.

So why does Heineken succeed where so many other corporations have failed? Again, it’s those three reasons:

  1. A clear link between the issues at stake (in this case various hot-button social issues) and the product (people often discuss their differences over a beer)
  2. Not forcing a preset outcome, and acknowledging that people can be good despite coming down on different sides of an issue
  3. Not alienating any of their customers by charging in with a preachy, absolutist message

If corporations are going to continue to dip their toes into social issues then we need more ads like this. Right now it feels like society is fraying, sometimes even in danger of coming apart at the seams, fuelled by a toxic blend of identity politics zealots, genuine bigots, people who simply dislike being preached to and those who profit from creating friction between them.

Too many people in positions of authority – politicians, media personalities, self-appointed community leaders – fail to encourage understanding and respectful disagreement, preferring to foment mutual intolerance. Only today I was publicly and ostentatiously defriended by a respected acquaintance, someone who suddenly decided that my relatively mainstream and inoffensive conservatarian opinions were beyond the pale and injurious to their mental safety. It isn’t the first time that this has happened. This is what identity politics and leftist intolerance hath wrought.

Retreating into our respective bubbles will not help knit society back together and weave the strands of a common identity and shared purpose around which we can – and must – all unite. The Heineken “Worlds Apart” ad acknowledges this fact and pitches its product as part of the solution.

It shouldn’t take a beer company to say what so many political and community leaders have so conspicuously failed to say themselves, but that’s just what Heineken have done with this ad. And this puts it head and shoulders above the rest.

 

Heineken - Worlds Apart ad

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 55 – Lena Dunham And Toxic Left Wing Call-Out Culture

Lena Dunham - social justice call out culture

The Regressive Left applauds when an overwhelmingly privileged “woke” celebrity shames and reports two off-duty service employees after taking offence at their private conversation

Lena Dunham, creator and star of the execrable television series Girls – and now seemingly a full-time social justice warrior – has form when it comes to policing both the internet and the real world for any instances of conservative thoughtcrime or failure to subscribe to the new progressive orthodoxy on various social justice issues.

To summarise: Lena Dunham was walking through the arrivals hall at JFK airport in New York when she allegedly overheard two off-duty American Airlines flight attendants having a private conversation about their views on the issue of transgenderism. During the course of this conversation, the flight attendants apparently agreed with one another that transgenderism is “gross” and that they would “never accept a trans child”.

(Note: Lena Dunham also has form when it comes to telling outright falsehoods, making her account of this supposed conversation immediately questionable).

And so naturally Lena Dunham did what any self-respecting, censorious young social justice warrior with a huge social media presence is honour-bound to do – she tweeted her shock at having heard opinions expressed which contradicted her own, shamed the unknown flight attendants and demanded that American Airlines re-educate their employees to ensure that such spontaneous acts of independent thought never again occur during the course of a private conversation between off-duty employees.

Specifically, Dunham wrote in a direct message to the airline:

“I heard two female attendants walking talking about how trans kids are a trend they’d never accept a trans child and transness is gross. I think it reflects badly on uniformed employees of your company to have that kind of dialogue going on. What if a trans teen was walking behind them? Awareness starts at home but jobs can set standards of practice. Thanks for your consideration!”

First off, this is as blatant an invasion of privacy as one can imagine. While a reasonable person might expect the possibility of being overheard while having a conversation in a public place, there is no reasonable expectation that a sanctimonious “woke” celebrity would rebroadcast their conversation – which again, took place while off duty if it even happened at all – to millions of followers on social media, contact their employer to trigger an investigation and quite possibly precipitate disciplinary action including the loss of their jobs.

Assuming that Lena Dunham isn’t simply lying again, there are multiple ways that she could have handled the situation better, rather than resorting to social media shaming combined with self-aggrandisement and virtue-signalling. The simplest option would have been for Dunham herself to intervene directly and voice her disagreement with the two flight attendants. This was a public place with very little risk of a physical altercation or any of the other reasons which might discourage direct action, so there was no good reason for Dunham not to take up the issue directly with the people allegedly involved, if she was sufficiently offended.

If Dunham lacked the courage to tackle this alleged intolerance in person (which would be a bit rich given that she co-founded Lenny, a website and newsletter almost exclusively dedicated to stridently advancing social justice issues), she could also have taken the matter up with American Airlines management staff while still at JFK airport rather than airily tweeting her allegations from the comfort of home, hours later. And if she was time-pressed and unable to do so, she could still have raised the matter privately with AA and written a more considered take on the situation once the investigation had run its course rather than tweeting about it in real time.

But of course none of these options would have been remotely satisfactory for Lena Dunham, because (more than) half the point of being a social justice warrior is the thrill of wielding power over others by policing language and behaviour, and enforcing your own worldview and etiquette onto other people. Directly confronting the people with whom she had a conflict or raising the issue privately would not have given Dunham the opportunity to flaunt her right-on credentials or display her conspicuous compassion; far better to raise the issue on social media, ostensibly so that it might serve as a “teachable moment” for other corporations and service workers (but really just to maintain her SJW credentials).

Robert Tracinski of The Federalist gets to the heart of the matter:

Saying “I overheard a conversation” but giving no specifics might prompt American Airlines to send out a general notice to its employees to watch what they say while in the terminal—which is a little unsettling in itself. But giving specific information only has one purpose: to help the airline locate, identify, and punish these specific employees for holding politically incorrect views.

It’s the hashtag #acrossfromthewinebar that sent chills down my spine. Dunham is acting like an informant working for a totalitarian police state—but boastfully, in public, on social media. With a hashtag.

Undoubtedly, someone will point out that this isn’t really totalitarianism because these are all voluntary actions by private citizens and organizations, not the government. Dunham isn’t a paid stooge of the police, but a citizen acting on her own initiative. American Airlines isn’t doing this because the government told them to, but because they’re terrified of bad press. (Which they are still going to get, but from the other side.)

Yet somehow this makes it all worse, because it implies we are being trained to internalize the ethos of the police state—and to enact it voluntarily, on our own initiative, without having to be coerced. We’re building a self-enforcing police state.

Equally concerning is the fact that Lena Dunham and her SJW colleagues feel it is in any way appropriate for corporations to take it upon themselves to “train” their employees in matters outside the skills required to successfully perform the job, particularly hot-button social issues. Whereas a decade ago one could reliably find leftists railing against the power of corporations and the supposedly unfair, coercive power balance between employer and employee, now those very same leftists are screeching that big corporations are not doing enough to indoctrinate their employees with the new social justice dogma.

Of course, vesting corporations with such power is in fact highly dangerous and quite likely unconstitutional, particularly when lawsuits start to emerge where employees allege that their employer has pressured them to violate their own conscience when it comes to matters outside the workplace. Already we see this coercive behaviour taking place in some large organisations, most recently the UK’s National Trust charity and the latest scandal to envelope Google.

Conor Friedersdorf also makes this point very eloquently in The Atlantic:

I suppose it was theoretically conceivable that Dunham’s public complaint about insensitivity by low-level staffers would prompt the multinational airline to put the offending employees—or all employees—through training in “awareness” or “love and inclusivity.” But I am doubtful that it would be a good thing, on the whole, if corporations began punishing workers for what they say off-duty, or aggressively regulating or engineering not just how employees treat colleagues and customers, but their every belief. Corporations are institutions driven by profit, not moral rectitude; many often do what is good for shareholders and bad for employees or the public. Trusting them as a reliable mechanism for positive social change is short-sighted.

Not that I presume that even earnest, right-thinking corporate altruism would necessarily bear fruit. Think of your attitudes toward trans people. Would your employer be able to fundamentally change your views, whatever they are, with  compulsory education? I suspect the very people with animus of a sort that does harm would be least likely to be swayed and most likely to double down on their beliefs.

And in response to this incident, or a rising tide of working-class people being reported to corporate employers for expressing beliefs that a lurking celebrity or journalist calls out, I can imagine the imposition of new, onerous, generally applied restrictions on where uniformed flight attendants can socialize with one another in airports, or whether uniformed retail employees are allowed a quick cell-phone conversation inside the mall while on break. Asking myself who that new regime would most harm, the answer is marginalized people; pondering who would find it easiest to navigate, the answer is creative professionals like Lena Dunham and me; we attended colleges that prepared us to navigate the elite’s social norms, and we don’t wear uniforms in public that identify our corporate bosses to eavesdropping strangers.

Ultimately this speaks to the paternalistic role that the progressive Left envisage for government and anyone else in positions of authority. First, these key institutions are to be fully captured by the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics, and then they are to be leveraged to enforce the same uniform dogma relating to sexuality, gender theory and everything else.

Rod Dreher has also sounded the alarm about this phenomenon:

I know a man who is a senior manager at a major corporation. He is also a Christian. Every year during Pride Month, for the past few years, the human resources department at the firm has been after employees to declare themselves “allies” of the LGBT cause. This man has never done so, because he would consider it a violation of his conscience. He is scrupulously fair in his dealings with his employees, both gay and straight, and would also consider it a violation of his conscience to discriminate in the workplace against his gay employees. He is afraid that the day will come when his refusal to declare himself on the LGBT issue will be viewed negatively within the corporation, and it will damage or end his career there.

This is not paranoia. McCarthyism did not end with McCarthy.

The very real danger is that within a relatively short space of time, it may become impossible for people to avoid withholding their most deeply held personal and religious beliefs from their employer, precisely because people like Lena Dunham insist that corporations act as a co-equal auxiliary parent, together with the state, to both educate their employees in the ways of progressive dogma and then to secure their active participation in advancing the agenda.

If you think that this is ridiculous conservative scaremongering, just take a quick peek inside the mind of someone who occupies a senior position in the entrepreneurial-tech world:

Fortunately, Joshua McKenty’s vision of a “directory of known misogynists and racists, used to avoid hiring or contracting” would likely fall foul of the US constitution. But you can be sure that McKenty’s fellow ideologues will push in that direction as far as the law will possibly allow, given half the chance. And what of those of us who do not live in the United States under the protection of the US Constitution? What is to stop multinational firms with offices in Britain, where there is no written constitution, from demanding positive affirmation of progressive social policies from their employees?

And so what starts as just another Twitter-based hissy fit from Lena Dunham is in fact only the tip of the iceberg. It certainly doesn’t help when “woke” celebrities abuse their vast social media platforms to shame working and middle class service workers who dare to express outdated or unfashionable opinions, but that is not the real threat.

The real danger comes when corporations and private citizens no longer have to be bullied by the likes of Lena Dunham into acting as enforcers of the social justice movement, because they choose to do so willingly.

 

Safe Space Notice - 2

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Ian McEwan On Identity Politics

Ian McEwan

Only this immensely privileged generation of students can afford the luxury of being Social Justice Warriors

In the course of an interesting interview with the Guardian’s Decca Aitkenhead promoting his new novel “Nutshell”, author Ian McEwan digresses on the subject of identity politics.

From the feature article:

“Where I get a little critical of it is where selfhood becomes all of your politics, in a world in which we are more troubled than at any point I can remember in my adult life.”

Do identity politics look like decadent narcissism to him? “It feels like that, coming to the university aspect of it. These children have grown up in an era of peace and plenty, and nothing much to worry about, so into that space comes this sort of resurgence that the campus politics is all about you, not about income inequality, nuclear weapons, climate change, all the other things you think students might address, the fate of your fellow humans, migrants drowning at sea. All of those things that might concern the young are lost to a wish for authority to bless them,” he says, “rather than to challenge authority.”

My emphasis in bold.

Doesn’t that just perfectly sum up the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics? A generation of students raised at a time of great material abundance, peace and prosperity arrive at university to find most of the great injustices of the past already slain by previous generations of campaigners. Bereft of purpose but still feeling the strong student urge to embrace a cause, they crank up their sensitivity settings to perceive any slight or inequity, however small or unintentional, to be evidence of the systematic oppression of one or more classes of prescribed victim groups.

McEwan’s last sentence is particularly profound – the idea that today’s young people no longer rail against authority in the way that student activists of old did, but rather make tear-stained appeals to authority figures to intercede on their behalf. This is the victimhood culture, clearly distinct from an honour culture (which would encourage the individual to stand up to minor sleights or “microaggressions” and confront the issue themselves) or a dignity culture (which would only sanction involving authorities in case of grave injury).

In contrast with honour cultures and dignity cultures, victimhood culture encourages the individual to exaggerate their own vulnerability and the “harm” which other have inflicted in them through careless words or gestures, and to seek redress from external authority figures not as a last resort but as the first and default option.

Sadly, our generation is primed for this culture. We millennials have often been raised from birth to believe that we are unique, precious and perfect snowflakes worthy of praise and validation from dawn til dusk, that sticks and stones may break our bones but mere words can kill us stone dead, and that there is no greater goal in life than self-actualisation – living life according to our every passing whim, based on an “identity” we create for ourselves which is declared by Social Justice Warriors to be above any questioning, reproach or criticism.

In fact, I’m certain I made the very same point as Ian McEwan on this blog not long ago:

This is an attempted coup by an utterly coddled and spoiled generation of students who know almost nothing of hardship, deprivation or prejudice compared to their predecessors even just a few decades ago.

These tinpot student dictators arrive on campus at the age of eighteen to find most of the really hard battles already won for them – ironically, by genuinely brave radicals like Germaine Greer and Peter Tatchell. But these students must find some outlet for their youthful “idealism”, and so they latch on to the growing Politics of Identity, assimilating its intricacies and genuinely persuading themselves of its core message – that what matters is not the content of one’s character, but rather one’s arbitrary lived experience as a member of a defined and segregated subgroup.

And so rather than simply accepting that they have it rather good, even compared to their parents and grandparents, these student snowflakes go on the march. They find ever-smaller slights or “microaggressions” and protest them ever-more loudly and hysterically in an attempt to assert power over university administrations – many of which meekly submit without so much as putting up a fight.

Throw in the fact that their social hierarchy is based on a purist adherence to the Politics of Identity – with members gaining social currency for flaunting their own tolerant nature or identifying and persecuting anyone whose behaviour happens to violate one of the many invisible lines restricting our speech and behaviour – and you have a potent and deadly combination.

I have always been a fan of Ian McEwan‘s novels. Saturday was edgy, evocative and incredibly well researched, Solar was inventive and at times hilarious, On Chesil Beach made a four-hour flight from Cyprus to London so exquisitely awkward that I wanted to blow the emergency exit and jump out of the aircraft while The Children Act remains shamefully unread on my bookshelf, part of an ever-growing backlog.

But I also admire McEwan’s forthrightness and willingness to speak his mind rather than toe the establishment line on all social matters. McEwan recently caused a ripple of scandalised headlines when he questioned whether people should be free to choose their gender identity:

In a speech to the Royal Institution, the Booker prize-winning writer asked whether factors such as biology and social norms limited our ability to adopt a different gender.

“The self, like a consumer desirable, may be plucked from the shelves of a personal identity supermarket, a ready-to-wear little black number,” McEwan said. “For example, some men in full possession of a penis are now identifying as women and demanding entry to women-only colleges, and the right to change in women’s dressing rooms.”

In a Q&A after his speech, one woman asked McEwan, 67, to clarify what she called his offensive remarks, the Times reported. “Call me old-fashioned, but I tend to think of people with penises as men,” he said. “But I know they enter a difficult world when they become transsexuals and they tell us they are women, they become women, but it’s interesting when you hear the conflict between feminists now and people in this group.

“It’s quite a bitter conflict. Spaces are put aside, women are wanting to put spaces aside like colleges or changing rooms, and find from another side a radical discussion coming their way saying men who want to feel like it can come in there too. I think it’s really difficult. And I think there is sweeping through American [university] campuses a kind of strange sense of victimhood and a sense of purposeful identities that we can’t actually all of us agree with. Of course sex and race are different, but they also have a biological basis. It makes a difference whether you have an X or Y chromosome.”

Cue the kind of response one has come to expect when anybody dares to give voice to such thoughtcrime.

His new novel, Nutshell, is narrated from the perspective of a foetus still in the womb, and is likely to raise all kinds of hackles from staunch free right campaigners and militant free choice protesters alike.

But on the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics, McEwan hits the nail on the head. How different the university campus must seem to him now than it was when he was a student. One wonders whether McEwan would even be allowed to set foot on the campus of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, where he received his Masters in creative writing – the university has received a “red” rating in Spiked’s annual university free speech rankings.

Certainly McEwan, one of UEA’s most distinguished alumni, would never be welcome at the Students’ Union with its blanked restriction on “imagery or language which reinforces a gender binary”. Having expressed his own personal views on the subject of transgender issues, McEwan’s presence would clearly create an oppressive and highly unsafe space for the delicate flowers now following in his footsteps.

What’s really concerning is this: Ian McEwan is now something of a grandee in Britain’s cultural scene, yet even he was ultimately forced to apologise for airing his own personal views on transgenderism, effectively reversing his earlier statement under duress and confessing “biology is not always destiny” and that a person’s decision to change their gender must be “celebrated”.

If one of Britain’s most successful and respected authors cannot hold a contrary or agnostic position on hot-button social justice issues where conformity without exception is demanded and expected, what hope is there for new, up-and-coming artists or academics to question the new orthodoxy or admit to holding an unpopular opinion? Who will be rash enough to dynamite their own career before it has gotten off the ground  by admitting their heresy or reflecting it in their work?

And what future for the rich and vibrant British artistic and cultural scene when the Social Justice Warriors finally get their way and browbeat everybody in the land into thinking, saying and “celebrating” the same things?

 

Ian McEwan - Transgender comments

Bottom Image: Guardian

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We Are All Cats Now

No, you are not a cat simply because you “identify” as one. And we should all be wary of where the rise of the Politics of Identity is leading us

When future aliens discover the ruins of human civilisation and wonder what set our demise in motion, they will likely identify the period through which we are now living – the time where we finally became so arrogant that we believed we could bend objective reality to our will, physically becoming something simply because we mentally “identified” as that particular object or state of being. They will say that we sowed the seeds of our destruction when we abandoned reason and put our faith in verbal alchemy.

A story is going viral today (see video above) which would be hilarious if it wasn’t so terrifying. It involves Nano, a twenty year-old woman from Norway who identifies as a cat, having come to this “realisation” when she was sixteen and apparently indulged in her belief by friends, family and psychologists alike.

The Telegraph reports, totally deadpan:

The young woman shows off her cat characteristics by wearing fake ears and an artificial tail. She communicates by meowing.

“I realised I was a cat when I was 16 when doctors and psychologists found out what was “the thing” with me. Under my birth there was a genetic defect,” she explains in the video.

[..] The cat woman wears a pair of pink fluffy paws with which to groom herself, and feels especially like doing so when she is in contact with water.

When asked if she was born as the wrong species, she said: “Yes, born in the wrong species.”

But terrifying it is, because stories like this are no longer so far-fetched, and Nano’s claims are not so unreasonable – at least not according to the insistent logic of modern day identity culture, which makes each one of us the little tin-pot god of our own reality, able to pick up and discard identities as core as gender or even species, in some cases on a whim.

And this is not the first such case. Just last month in Canada, a 52 year old formerly married father of seven revealed to the world that he no longer identified as a man, but rather as a six year old girl called Stefonknee.

The Daily Mail reported at the time:

Stefonknee (pronounced ‘Stef-on-knee’) Wolscht, 52, of Toronto, says she realized she was transgender – rather that simply a cross-dresser – at age 46, and split from her wife, Maria, after she told her husband to ‘stop being trans or leave’.

Now, Stefonknee lives with friends who she calls her ‘adoptive mommy and daddy’ as a six-year-old girl, dressing in children’s clothing and spending her time playing and coloring with her adoptive parents’ grandchildren.

Stefonknee says her ‘adoptive’ family, which consists of an older couple and their children and young grandchildren, are completely accepting of her identifying as a little girl.

She says she’s living as a six-year-old girl because it’s something she could never do when was in grade school.

‘I can’t deny I was married. I can’t deny I have children,’ she says in the video. ‘But I’ve moved forward now and I’ve gone back to being a child. I don’t want to be an adult right now.’

She’s moved forward, so that’s fine, then. Good for Stefonknee. Never mind her abandoned wife or seven young children who are doubtless hurt, confused and humiliated by what their father is doing. Stefonknee just doesn’t have time for all of that adult stuff right now, so she is going to put on a gingham dress and regress to a pre-pubescent age, until she gets tired of that and wants to try something different.

This is pure narcissism, plain and simple. He didn’t want to be an adult anymore, so he clicked his fingers and became a six year old girl instead? How are we to unpack this? Are we to accept his Wolscht’s statement that she is now female, since transgender acceptance is now (rightly, I believe) much more widely accepted and tolerated?

But if we do so – if we accept Wolscht’s statement that she is now female – do we not also then have to accept her insistence that she has also turned the clock back and become six years old again?

Stefonknee Wolscht - Identity Politics

The ludicrous thing here is that Wolscht’s own identity is floating, as she freely admits later in the article:

She says she previously lived as an eight-year-old girl, until the couple’s granddaughter asked her to be the younger sister instead.

‘A year ago I was eight and she was seven. And she said to me: “I want you to be the little sister, so I’ll be nine.” I said: “Well, I don’t mind going to six.” So I’ve been six ever since.’

So according to this jaw-dropping reasoning, our identity is not even fixed and core to ourselves (if unmoored from reality). Now, our identity is a commodity which can be haggled over and traded. And if winning the friendship of a young girl means that a formerly 52 year old man has to downgrade from being an 8 year old to a 6 year old girl, that’s absolutely fine, apparently. Who are we to judge in any of this?

Never mind the callousness of a father of seven doing such a thing to his own children, putting them through this ordeal in pursuit of an identity which he openly admits is free-floating and liable to change again in future anyway. That’s bad enough. But how are we all – individuals, employers (the six year old girl apparently has a job driving a slow plough in winter) or government agencies – supposed to relate to somebody who decides that they “identify” as a different age and gender?

If Stefonknee is really six years old she should be in school, and the local authority should by current laws be hounding her adoptive “parents” to ensure that she is receiving a proper education. But would the identity culture cheerleaders seriously propose sending what was once a 52-year-old man to primary school with young children? Surely, under today’s logic they have to?

Stefonknee has identified as a young girl, and therefore she must be treated like one in every way. Anything less – such as homeschooling – would be discrimination against 6-year-old girls who happen to have the bodies of 52-year-old men. The kind of women who are harmed by a performance of the Vagina Monologues.

Meanwhile, Stefonknee’s employer when she drives the snow plough in winter will need to be hauled before the court and prosecuted for infringing on child labour laws. The courts would probably take a very dim view indeed of any business hiring a young girl to operate heavy machinery, and since justice must be blind, Stefonknee’s carefree decision to become a little girl should put her employer’s livelihood and liberty in grave jeopardy.

It’s easy to laugh at these scenarios, but they are going to come up more and more frequently if – as will inevitably happen when stories like this gain traction – more people are tempted to follow in the dangerous footsteps of Wolscht, or the somewhat less threatening (but no less absurd) paw prints of Nano the Norwegian cat woman.

For what is to say that Nano and Wolscht are not the “new normal”? The people being hounded and “No Platformed” for their old-fashioned views on transgender issues are guilty only of holding thoughts which were incredibly mainstream just a couple of decades ago, yet in that short space of time they have been completely overtaken by received wisdom and the new orthodoxy of intolerant tolerance. What is to say that in thirty years’ time, those who question a person’s ability to discard their entire life and “become” a cat or a young child are considered as bigoted as today’s “transphobic” holdouts?

Nobody can say that this is unlikely to happen. The world has changed so much in just a few decades, and promises to change even more in the coming years. Social attitudes have changed enormously in this time – what is to say that the warm, fuzzy embrace of unquestioning tolerance and affirmation will not expand to embrace people like Nano and Wolscht by 2050?

In 2050, maybe the future version of Eddie Redmayne will be starring in a movie, not just playing a male-to-female transsexual person (how boring that will be by then) but turning in another Oscar-winning performance for his sensitive portrayal of the pioneering early 21st century woman who identified as a cat, or the brave Canadian man who threw away his family in pursuit of his new identity as a pre-pubescent girl.

But that’s fine. Since we seem intent on burying our heads in the sand and denying that there is anything wrong with our new Politics of Identity, by that time our Prime Minister will probably identify as a Beagle, the Home Secretary will be a barn owl except on Tuesdays, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be a goldfish who looks suspiciously like George Osborne’s grown-up kid wearing a wetsuit, Number 11 Downing Street having been converted into a walk-in aquarium in deference to their “mental safety”.

And Nona the Norwegian cat woman will be the very least of our problems.

 

Crazy Cat Lady - The Simpsons

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