Let Women Speak (or Sing)

I’m writing this because I’m sick and tired of main stream media failures to report at all, or if they do, to report accurately on what is in front of their eyes if only they would bother to look. So, here goes:

Kelly-Jay Keen-Minshull, a women’s rights campaigner, conducted a Let Women Speak event in Auckland, New Zealand, that was overrun by a mob. One of the mob threw tomato soup over her head (hence the head photo). The mob soon after overran the rotunda where women attending the event were set to speak. Without, so far as I am aware, benefit of any assistance from the police, event marshalls had to usher Keen-Minshull through the mob to safety.

There is also footage of a member of the mob punching a woman, who I would say is in her 70’s, in the face. Here she is:

In a massive self-own, an Australian cartoonist offered the below cartoon as a “commentary” on the event. One woman’s clever caption for the cartoon was “Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ if Eve had dared to say that only women give birth.”

If you would like to read more about the Auckland Let Women Speak event, I commend a moving account by a young mother, who wrote

“. . . when I heard KJK was coming here I was excited. I like KJK because she isn’t a feminist, or ‘gender critical’, or any other label in particular. She is a mum who is just fiercely pro-woman. Just like me. And just like me, she is angry about what is happening. . . .

“The protesters on the rotunda were overwhelmingly men. Not men in dresses as you might expect at such an event (although there were some) – just ordinary looking men. They shoved women, they screamed in our faces, they leered at us, and they tried to forcibly topple over a section of steel gate onto the women sheltering from them on the other side of it. . . .

“One thing you can be sure of after today is that we won’t have to invite someone like KJK here from the UK again. I am angry after today – and so are many many women and men. If there is one thing being pregnant in the middle of a feral mob does – is it makes you fucking angry and it makes your husband even angrier. . . . We will use that anger politically and publicly to shame you until you do your bloody jobs and represent us.”

The complete eyewitness account may be found here.

Keen-Minshull is 5’1″, a mother of three boys and a girl. She had planned to pursue a career as a singer, but when her first child was born, she realized “mother” was the career she wanted most. She is always dressed to the nines for her events, her outfits often blazened with “Woman” in diamante. Here she is at a Let Women Speak event in Glasgow.

After the Auckland event, Keen-Minshull wrote:

“I have travelled a fair few places and witnessed the bravery of women. I am inspired by them. Unlike me they don’t all like public speaking, it’s takes every ounce of courage they can summon. With nervous voices they hold their speeches in their shaking hands and tell their stories. Some break your heart, some will make you angry, some will resonate like no other. Some are gifts of articulate righteousness that pull you right into a powerful place. Each woman brings something both unique to her and yet a shared experience we can all understand. All will inspire you to fight for what you believe in. Since the beginning of time women have had to fight to be heard, we are afraid but our rage is more powerful than our fears. After the rainbows we are bringing a fucking storm.” [cite]

Sex Matters, a UK organization, put out a statement in support, signed by several women’s organizations, an excerpt of which is below:

“Sex Matters condemns the violence and stands in support of Kellie-Jay Keen and the women attending the event. We have joined together with other groups in the UK in writing to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, calling on him to engage with the government of New Zealand to demand to know why Kellie-Jay Keen was unable to speak in public and had to leave the country, and to ask what action it will now take to protect the rights of women and girls to speak freely without fear of violence.”

And just today, at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, London, women gathered to speak. Kettled by shouting protesters intent on drowning them out, they did this:



Since I wrote this post, many have written me directly to learn more about what happened at this event. In response to that, below, first, is an interview with Keen-Minshull.

Here is Andrew Doyle’s commentary on the event, along with his interview with journalists Ella Whelan and Helen Joyce, the latter of whom is currently with Sex Matters and author of “TRANS: When Ideology Meets Reality” (which I commend highly, along with Kathleen Stock’s “Material Girls,” to get a foundation in the subject matter, as well as Lisa Selin Davis’s superb, wide-ranging and thoughtful commentary and resources on her Substack Broadview).

Below is particularly clear footage showing what happened at the Auckland Let Women Speak event, focused on the effort to get Keen-Minshull out safely. It’s absolutely harrowing and essential to watch.

Two new articles have appeared in recent days, one by Julie Bindel and one by Helen Joyce. Excerpts from both as well as links to the complete articles are below. Also included is a “definitive” statement from New Zealand’s current Prime Minister.

An article by Julie Bindel

Julie Bindel is a journalist who has been “active in the global campaign to end violence towards women and children since 1979 and has written extensively on rape, domestic violence, sexually motivated murder, prostitution and trafficking, child sexual exploitation, stalking, and the rise of religious fundamentalism and its harm to women and girls.” [cite]

Bindel wrote an article entitled: “As Posie Parker and I have learnt, extreme trans activists prefer intimidation to reason.” [cite] An excerpt is below:

“Since the disgraceful scenes in Auckland I have heard the argument that “reason” has left the “trans debate”. I take issue with this turn of phrase: firstly, there was never a ‘debate’ – Stonewall and supporters made sure of that with its agenda of no debate. Secondly, there was never any reason there to begin with. The deranged ambush of Keen in New Zealand is a logical conclusion of allowing trans activists to ride roughshod over the rights of women and girls. 

“The ultimate delusion, perpetuated by weak-willed politicians, is that there is no clash between self-ID and women’s rights, despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. Anyone that fails to see how having self-declared transwomen in refuges, changing rooms, hospital wards or prisons is complicit in the creeping normalisation of intimidation against those who dare to defend women’s single sex spaces and laws.”

An article by Helen Joyce

Helen Joyce, mentioned above, has now written a typically intelligent, incisive article on Auckland and its wider implications. She opens her piece as follows:

“I doubt any readers of this newsletter have not seen at least some pictures and footage from the Let Women Speak open-mic event that was cancelled in Auckland on March 25th. If not, you can see clips herehere and here—the latter two, be warned, giving different views of a 72-year-old woman being punched in the face. Her skull was apparently fractured in the attack. The two-minute video clip below shows just how large and menacing the crowd was, and how close they were to the women.”

She goes on to write, in part:

“We’ve been building up to this moment, and it could yet get worse. Several women who had hoped to speak in Auckland wrote afterwards about how menacing the protesters were, and the abject failures of policing that let them act with impunity. Both were, in my opinion, a direct consequence of the way Posie, like other women who speak publicly on the threat transactivism poses to women’s rights, has been consistently vilified and dehumanised. . . .

“When you suggest that people are outside civilised society, you position them as suitable targets for violence. And when the women thus described are as disparate as Posie, with her supposed “populism” and the far right occasionally turning up to make trouble her events, and Kathleen [Stock], Julie [Bindel] and other lesbians who insist that no matter who a man wants to sleep with, he can never be a lesbian—well, then you are positioning any woman who ever says no to a man as a proper target for violence.

“If you think people are so hateful that they do not deserve their job, must not be allowed to speak in a university, must not be quoted in the media or invited to speak on panels, should not get books or academic articles published and so on—then you don’t think they are full members of society. Arguably, you don’t even think they’re fully human. And we know where dehumanising people leads.”

The full article is here. I commend it to all.

Herewith, the Monty Python segment of the proceedings

A companion post, “The Way Forward,” is here.

6 thoughts on “Let Women Speak (or Sing)

  1. Curt Barnes

    (What is it about tomato soup that suits it as a weapon of protest? Soup was used against Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” to protest Big Oil, and now this.) I’m glad you spotlighted this struggle, Sue, one in which the anti-gay ultra Right are ready to muddy the waters with their generalized intolerance, so it’s not one but two forces of unreason against which Keen-Minshull tries to be heard.

    As much as this violent opposition was fueled by trans men compensating for the weaknesses of their arguments, I was more concerned about the “progressives” driven to shout down all discussion. Then the article below appeared and I could see a trend. I awoke to the reality of the Authoritarianism of the Left. Maybe this can help others see connections, and also connect it to the fact that many public intellectuals have refused for years to speak on college campuses for fear of being shouted down. https://compactmag.com/article/a-black-professor-trapped-in-anti-racist-hell

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Curt: Your ability to “connect the dots” is superb, and I’m really glad you spotted the Compact Magazine article as an example of that.

      FYI, I’ve also added a postscript to the post in response to folks writing me by email to ask for additional information to help put what happened at this event in some sort of context.

  2. hilarymb

    Hi Sue – thank you for posting this … why we cannot speak freely … without being corralled and why on earth society cannot have different opinions without needing to hurt others. I sincerely hope whoever hit that woman has been caught. Very interesting – thank you … cheers Hilary

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Thanks Hilary: Yes, it’s very disturbing to find ourselves in this mess, particularly when so many other vital issues need addressing. I hope the increased visibility from what happened here will help to bring folks to their senses.

  3. JosieHolford

    Even though I’ve been following this since long before Keen-Minshull arrived in New York City, which I witnessed first hand, the Auckland event was shocking. After all, #LetWomenSpeak is simply an open-mike event providing a rare place for all kinds of women’s voices – and especially working-class women’s voices – to be heard.

    For anyone who wants to become thoroughly educated about these issues, I recommend the painstaking journalism of @LisaSelinDavis https://lisaselindavis.substack.com/, who has researched these issues intensively over several years and is in close communication with people on every “side” of these issues, meaning she actually listens to, among so may others, trans & detrans people and parents, along with a whole panoply of experts.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Absolutely! Lisa Selin Davis has been a touchstone for both of us, I know, since we became aware of her. I had reason, once again, to note her to a friend who wrote to me privately in response to this post, highly concerned and wanting to know how we could get past this terrible period and find common ground. I wrote to him, in part (paraphrased below):

      Lisa Selin Davis is one person who is working really hard to get the heat down so honest conversations amongst those with valid concerns can occur. Keen-Minshull is key to getting enough people to wake up to the problems on the side of women and girls to lay the foundation for that, which I hope will enable us all to find the Holy Grail of common ground. In this regard, I love this observation Davis made on one critically important aspect of all this; it is a great example of her thoughtful, nuanced thinking:

      “We have to wrest kids’ gender medicine from politics. It’s up to both the right & left, but as a lefty myself, I feel it’s imperative that *we* do so because the right accurately represents the science. It’s what they’re doing with it that’s so harsh, making peace talks harder.”

      I cherish our friend’s response, in which he wrote, in part: “Damn. Yeah the Holy Grail of common ground, that’s what it is, what we’re searching for, damn! Thanx”

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