That breastfeeding bloke is the last straw
The elites’ dystopian war on truth and reason has gone too far.
Surely the breastfeeding bloke will be the last straw? All last week, institutions of repute – ITV, the TUC, sections of the Labour Party – insisted that Mika Minio-Paluello is a mum. In truth, he’s a man. This former Labour special adviser and TUC staffer is a bloke who only says he’s a woman. Science, reason and every chromosome in his own body beg to differ. And yet ITV had him on the news saying the cost-of-living crisis is ‘tough if you’re a mum like me’. When actual women pushed back against this lunatic description of a man as a mother, they were scolded by the TUC and the rest. ‘Mika’s a mum!’, cried the elites in a frenzy of unreason.
A couple of days into this outbreak of establishment derangement, Mika himself posted a Twitter thread that included a photo of him breastfeeding a baby. He wasn’t really breastfeeding, of course. Because he’s a man. He does not lactate like a woman. He cannot produce the milk an infant needs. To some of us it looked like he was posing with a babe at his parched, useless fella’s nipple to try to validate his identity as a ‘transwoman’. What say you now, TUC? Stella Creasy? All you bourgeois radicals on the internet who raged like modern-day witchfinders against Rosie Duffield when she dared to say Mika isn’t a mother? Do you still say he’s a mum? Do you think he’s breastfeeding that child? Do you think it’s okay to try to make a newborn suckle on the moob of a biological male?
Here’s why this story – mad as it is – matters. Because it represents yet another provocation by the elites. Yet another front in their culture war on truth and reason. Yet another of their assaults on us and what we know to be true. These ideologues are goading us. They say we should call women who give birth ‘birthing parents’, but this bloke? He’s a mother and woe betide the crone who disagrees. Actual breastfeeding should be called ‘chestfeeding’, they suggest, but this man putting a desiccated teat in a newborn’s mouth? That’s breastfeeding. Seriously – for how much longer are we going to tolerate this gaslighting?
The tale of a breastfeeding bloke tells us so much about our era. None of it good. An elite that holds up an image of a man and says ‘This is a mum’, which sees a photo of a born male suckling an infant and says ‘This is breastfeeding’, is an elite drunk on power; one fully seized by the belief that it has the autocratic right to define reality itself. These people are doing a real-life version of 2 + 2 = 5. Just as that fraudulent equation in Orwell’s dystopia spoke to the Party’s despotic conviction that it had the authority to remake the world in its own ideological image, so the cry of ‘Mika’s a mum’ plays a similar role today. Make no mistake: they’re provoking us, and they know they are.
We’re often told that the culture war is a myth. Wokeness exists only in the fever dreams of old white men, insist the middle-class millennials of the 21st-century commentariat. ‘Gender ideology’ is a conspiracy theory put about by conservatives, they say, even as the actual Trades Union Congress says men can be mothers, and as schoolgirls are allegedly assaulted in gender-neutral bathrooms, and as growing numbers of young lesbians submit themselves to the bodily mortification of a double mastectomy in the deranged belief that their attraction to women means they must be men. For a war that’s supposedly an illusion, the culture war certainly feels real. Its victims – breastless young women with broken voices; women-only spaces; scientific truth – feel real, too.
Of course the culture war is happening. A new battlefront in their encroachment on reason opens every week. The provocations are ceaseless. Your children will be read stories by drag queens called Flow Job and they’ll damn you as a bigot if you demur. Your kids will be subjected to sex education telling them to open their minds to fisting and polyamory and God help the prudish mum or dad who says, ‘Please, no’. ‘Progress Pride’ flags hang in military formation on every street in town, another eyesore reminder of the elite’s embrace of gender ideology, and the blasphemous soul who desecrates any of these sacred banners can find himself being questioned by police. That feels pretty real.
Your children will be lectured about ‘white privilege’, whether you like it or not. They’ll be taught that Britain’s history is a litany of offences against humanity. Statues and street names that speak to our shameful past are ripped down. London mayor Sadiq Khan launched a moral crusade to ‘decolonise’ the capital by erasing the names of celebrated dead white men who we now judge as sinners. Every museum you and your family visit lectures you about ‘social justice’. And cancellation awaits those who query any of it, whether it’s working-class Muslim parents protesting at the schoolgates over the gender hysteria being fed to their kids or established authors who commit the thoughtcrime of siding with a witch like JK Rowling.
Then there’s their ultimate act of gaslighting. They will say it isn’t us who’s waging a culture war, it’s you; it’s those who question anything we say or do. So it’s not a culture war for them to unilaterally overturn millennia of human knowledge about sex and motherhood by broadcasting to the nation ‘This man is a mum’, but it is a culture war when gender-critical women say ‘No, he isn’t’. Their most brazen Orwellian gambit is to depict the critics of their identitarian hysteria as fruitcakes and loons, while applauding the man with his nipple in a kid’s mouth as a fab mum; to denounce the defenders of reason as the irrational ones, and the destroyers of reason as good, decent, ‘socially just’ activists.
This fabulist depiction of those who resist the culture war as the real culture warriors was perfectly summed up in the recent ‘cat children’ controversy. When two schoolgirls in East Sussex clandestinely recorded themselves having an argument with a teacher who was spouting nonsense about sex and gender, the chattering classes went crazy. Not about the teacher who was foisting a post-truth ideology on her charges, but about the girls. The girls raised the prospect of a kid identifying as a cat, to drive home their point that it’s mad to say one can change one’s sex on a whim. ‘No kids are identifying as cats’, chortled the right-on. Their favourite dispenser of received opinion, Stewart Lee, went so far as to slam the ‘combative children’ who were picking a fight with a ‘put-upon teacher’. When a 55-year-old member of the cultural elite is sneering at kids whose only offence was to defend scientific truth, you know that not only is the culture war real, but that it’s also getting batshit crazy.
That breastfeeding bloke matters because this story exposes the unreason, authoritarianism and outright denialism of an elite at war with the common sense of the public. As I argue in my new book, A Heretic’s Manifesto, what we are living through right now is not just the scourge of cancel culture, but ‘one of the gravest reversals of free thought and of Enlightenment itself of modern times’. Things have come to such a pretty pass that it’s now heresy to say men are not mothers. So keep saying it. Heresy is sorely needed in these strange and fevered times.
Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy
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