We’re publishing a guest post today by longtime contributor Dr. Sinéad Murphy, an Associate Researcher in Philosophy at Newcastle University, about having a lecture cancelled because the title was thought to be too provocative: “Our Age of Vanishing Gender”. She was told her talk – due to be given at a student conference hosted by the Newcastle Philosophy Department – couldn’t go ahead due to concerns for students’ ‘mental health’. Here is an extract:
I thought of ending my presentation to the students with some recent examples of the demonisaton of gender, with the Conservative Woman’s report on September 25th 2021 in which Isabel Logan described how a teacher at her daughter’s all-girls school apologised to the class for having addressed them as “Girls”, with British Airways’ recently reported decision to stop using the phrase, “Ladies and Gentlemen”, with the Scottish Government’s publishing of its Covid vaccination statistics for “pregnant people”, and with Californian governor Gavin Newsom having last month signed a new law compelling large toy stores to provide gender-neutral toy sections.
As part of a conference entitled “Thinking Differently”, I judged that it might be worth ending by asking whether these apparently progressive moves against the alleged straitjacket of gender might not rather represent a further and final erosion of our greatest hope for aptitude and autonomy: our gendered bodies.
As it happens, however, I am no longer to give a presentation to students of Philosophy on November 17th this year. Having been asked to submit a title for my talk by the member of staff overseeing the event and having submitted the title “Our Age of Vanishing Gender”, I was informed a couple of days later that the students who were designing the poster for the event had resigned from their participation in it on account of my presentation’s title and that the event had been cancelled out of concern for students’ “mental health”.
Thinking differently? Only so long as we are thinking the same.
As with all Dr. Murphy’s pieces, this one is worth reading in full.