QotD: All Labour officials on local committee resign in support of colleague who was ‘bullied by transgender activist for months’
Every member of a local Labour Party executive committee has quit in support of a colleague who was allegedly bullied by a transgender rights campaigner.
The unnamed male activist is said to have harassed women’s officer Anne Ruzylo for months after they disagreed over ‘gender identity’ issues.
Miss Ruzylo, 52, claims the fellow party member carried out a smear campaign against her.
A leaked letter revealed the committee all resigned over what they believe to be Labour’s failure to deal with ‘disciplinary complaints’ regarding the reported abuse.
The six executive committee members in Bexhill and Battle, East Sussex, wrote that the alleged bullying had ‘seriously damaged’ their ability to function, and they had been forced to spend their time ‘being siphoned away into internal disciplinary matters’ instead of ‘fighting the Tories’.
‘We have been deeply disappointed by a lack of meaningful, timely and decisive action from regional and national party structures to support the executive committee in addressing these disciplinary issues,’ the letter added.
The unidentified activist, who is not transgender but is a passionate supporter of those who are, allegedly tried to prevent Miss Ruzylo, from Bexhill-on-Sea, from voicing her concerns at meetings. He supports Government plans to reform the legal definition of man and woman, but Miss Ruzylo believes critics’ fears of appearing politically incorrect could prevent proper scrutiny of the legislation.
Former prison officer Miss Ruzylo, who is a lesbian, told The Times she felt ‘violated’, adding that the way she had been silenced was ‘disgusting’.
She added: ‘Debate is not hate. If we can’t talk about gender laws and get shut down on that, what’s next? We’re going back to the days of McCarthyism. It is disgraceful.’
The local Labour Party has now been left without an executive committee and will have to call an early AGM to elect new members. Bexhill and Battle is a Conservative constituency.
A Labour South-East spokesman insisted the party took all complaints ‘extremely seriously’ and had ‘robust procedures’.
QotD: “Feminist reading really can help beat anorexia. It worked for me”
According to a new study, feminist theory can help treat anorexia. That comes as no surprise to me, based on my own experience of trying to vanish, one skipped meal at a time. Researchers at the University of East Anglia trialled a 10-week programme with seven inpatients at a centre in Norwich. They used Disney films, social media, news articles and adverts to talk about the social expectations and constructs of gender, how we view women’s bodies and how we define femininity. They spoke about the way we portray appetite, hunger and anger, as well as the ways we objectify women’s bodies.
Researchers published a paper in the journal Eating Disorders that suggested patients improved because they felt less to blame for their own condition. This makes complete sense. When I was 15 years old, I spent six weeks in an eating disorders clinic in Sydney. Staring at those pallid pistachio-coloured walls on my own in a cell-like room, I felt as though I may never recover. My emaciated companions and I were under the care of a former prison warden turned eating disorders nurse, who made sure we stuck to our strict daily routine of three meals, three snacks, two therapy sessions, no taking the stairs. I wasn’t alone in that fear of eternal sickness; recovery is elusive for many sufferers, and perhaps the cruellest part of the process is that anorexia convinces you that you don’t even want to get better.
Then, one day, we were allowed to go on a group outing. We filed in, rather miserably, to an enormous top-floor book shop. We were directed to the self-help section, but I took a sneaky detour to gender studies. There, among the Naomi Wolfs and the Germaine Greers, I felt strangely safe for once. I cherished books, I always have, and I remember stroking the spines tenderly, wishing for some sort of guidance. We were told we should get one book that day. I chose Hunger Strike by Susie Orbach.
Originally published in 1986 (just a year before I was born; a serendipity that appealed to me), it is a seminal feminist text about “the anorectic’s struggle as a metaphor for our age”. In it, Orbach argues that anorexia is both a deeply private struggle, and a very public one. Women’s bodies, she wrote, are still considered public property and so long as that stands, our desire to diminish them is a feminist issue.
“Law to change to make sex between coaches and 16- and 17-year-olds illegal”
Changes to the law are set to make it illegal for sport coaches to have sex with 16- and 17-year-old children in their care in the wake of abuse and athlete welfare scandals across sport.
The sports minister, Tracey Crouch, informed parliament that the Ministry of Justice had agreed changes to the law which would bring the sport industry into line with other sectors. It is illegal for teachers to sleep with pupils under the age of 18 and for care workers to have sex with 16- and 17-year-olds but at present the same strictures do not apply in sport.
Anne Tiivas, the head of the NSPCC’s child protection in sport unit, said: “We know that some sports coaches spend years grooming young people and then, as soon as their 16th birthday comes around, they target them for sex. Ever since the football abuse scandal broke we have been strongly urging government to close this loophole that leaves children in sports and other out-of-school clubs vulnerable to adults who want to prey on them.”
It is almost exactly a year since Andy Woodward’s interview with the Guardian, which led to hundreds of his fellow victims coming forward and the uncovering of football’s sex abuse scandal. There have also been allegations of inappropriate relationships between coaches and athletes in canoeing and archery.
Speaking at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport parliamentary questions session, Crouch said: “A year ago, Andy Woodward reported historic allegations of sexual abuse in football. It was very brave of him to do so. I’m pleased to announce that I have secured ministerial agreement to change the law on positions of trust to include sports coaches.”