UK

Graham Linehan wades into ‘mums in politics’ Mumsnet webchat to grill MPs on Eddie Izzard

Lily Wakefield February 2, 2022
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Graham Linehan

Graham Linehan. (Getty/ Rob Monk/Edge Magazine)

Graham Linehan hijacked a Mumsnet webchat on mothers in politics to talk about Eddie Izzard in the name of “safeguarding” women, and bizarrely, Mumsnet was fine with it.

On Tuesday (1 February), Mumsnet hosted a webchat with Caroline Nokes, the Tory MP for Romsey and Southampton North and chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, and Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, to discuss being a woman and a mother in politics.

Anyone familiar with Mumsnet will be unsurprised to hear that users’ questions almost immediately turned to the unrelated topic of trans rights.

 

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Nokes and Creasy were pelted with questions on the definition of the word “woman”, whether they affirm trans women and whether they support Gender Recognition Act reform, with one Mumsnet user asking: “Why is my safety and dignity not deemed important? Why is women’s lived experience cast aside?”

Mumsnet guidelines for the webchat require users to be “civil and polite”, and state: “If one topic or question threatens to overwhelm the webchat, MNHQ will usually ask for people to stop repeating the same question or point.”

Nokes attempted to halt the chaos, responding: “I think it is really important to focus on this being a chat about how we get more women involved in public life.

“I want that to be all women, natal women, trans women, and those who self-identify and do not yet (or perhaps ever) have a GRC.

“There are lots of questions about the abuse faced by women online and in the media, and if we all simply argue about the definition of a woman we are playing right into the hands of men who want us to do that.”

Speaking of men desperate to “argue about the definition of a woman”, a few minutes later, even after a Mumsnet moderator said they would “delete any further questions re trans debate”, a question from Linehan appeared.

Lineman, a disgraced comedian blocked from Twitter for “hateful conduct”, who has compared gender-affirming healthcare to Nazis experimenting on children in concentration camps during the Holocaust, posted: “Hi Caroline and Stella. My name is Graham Linehan.

“I have been visited by police three times, banned from Twitter, lost much of my livelihood, because I think the question ‘what is a woman?’ is actually a very good one.

“Here is my single question, which I believe can be answered by a simple yes or no. Is Eddie Izzard a woman?”

Linehan said in a statement to PinkNews that he had joined the webchat “to point out the absurdity of talking about women in politics when you don’t even know what a woman is”, but Creasy was quick to put him in his place.

She responded that she and Linehan had previously campaigned together, and added: “[I] am bemused to hear from you and your view that a discussion about mums in politics needs to be framed by a question about Eddie Izzard.

“My understanding is that Eddie doesn’t identify as either, though not sure why that bothers you or is relevant to this, as pretty sure Eddie isn’t a mum… My feminism is inclusive of all those who are targeted by the patriarchy because thats my target, as I believe it holds all women – those born them and those who become them – back.”

 

Asked by PinkNews why Linehan, an anti-trans activist who is neither a mum nor in politics, was allowed to participate in the webchat, Justine Roberts, CEO and founder of Mumsnet, said: “Approximately 15 per cent of our users are men – mostly dads – and they are of course allowed to participate.”

 

Presumably confused about the nature of Linehan’s lobbying, she said: “Many trans activists have and do post on Mumsnet – approximately 11 per cent of our eight million monthly users are LGBT+.”

Questioned on how they had implemented the rule aiming to prevent one topic from dominating the conversation, she added: “The chat covered topics ranging from managing caring responsibilities while being involved in politics, the widespread criticism of female politicians’ personal appearance, violent threats against women on social media, maternity leave in parliament, better paternity provision for fathers, the end of all women shortlists, getting more women to stand as councillors, why Labour hasn’t had a female leader, how to get involved in politics, whether social media platforms do more to stop misogyny, whether Boris Johnson is responsible for lack of trust in politics and improving the quality of maternity care.

“The topic of sex-based rights was also brought up multiple times – it’s important to some of our users.”

 

More: Caroline Nokes, eddie izzard, graham linehan, Mumsnet, stella creasy, transphobia

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