Patricia Casey: 'How Titania 'woke' me to the social justice warrior crusade'
Titania McGrath came into my life two months ago. I remember it well. Titania was tweeting comments about ridding the Earth of the patriarchy, male vaginas, fat shaming, cultural and gender appropriation, internalised homophobia and so on.
Then I had a flashbulb moment and actively decided to immerse myself in her stratospheric world of new ideas. And I began to laugh, and to cry with laughter in public areas like department stores and restaurants. But I didn't care. By now I was addicted, hooked, devoted.
Thankfully, she tweets many times each day, each more outrageous and hilarious. She is also promoting her new book 'Woke: A Guide to Social Justice'. Within a few days of publication, it was among the 100 most sought-after books on Amazon. And her followers since then jumped from 150,000 to 228,000. It has received accolades from luminaries like Douglas Murray and Shappi Khorsandi - people on opposite poles of the right-left divide.
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So who is this powerful woman, Titania McGrath? On her Twitter account she describes herself as an "Activist, healer, radical intersectionalist poet. Selfless and brave". She is an utterly woke and outraged social justice warrior. She is a radical feminist who is aggressively establishing a new future for women of colour, free from patriarchal or white tyranny, claiming, "I've been busy dismantling whiteness all day. I'm exhausted". She's busily trying to reverse the Brexit juggernaut by tweeting, "Let's get this petition up to 17.5 million signatures. They can't possibly argue with that".
Her opinions are ineffable. Some examples: "Universities exist to protect young people from micro-aggressions, not to introduce them to new 'ideas'" or "You can choose to be white or you can choose to be human, but you can't have it both ways. The only ones who deny this are the fascists who seek to divide us." There's also: "If men had never existed, it's difficult to see how the human race would be any worse off", and, "Selflessly I have written the guide to social justice. Those who fail to buy a copy will be guilty of hate crime."
She has a friend, Godfrey Elfwick, self-described as a trans-black gender queer Muslim atheist, (aka Titania McGrath), who was banned by Twitter in July 2018 but now writes as a social justice warrior for 'Spectator USA'. He also wrote in a recent edition of 'Esquire' that he was born white in the wrong skin and "from an early age, xe knew xe was special. At the tender age of 24 months xe was already making protect banners in support of marginalised people while Xir's older brother plays with his toys" (sic).
She and Godfrey are utterly hilarious. Many think their tweets are from real people. They treat them with deference. Others use expletive-filled vehemence to castigate Titania for her hateful opinions, while some play along, becoming part of the aroused world she inhabits. Some just don't know what to make of her.
Titania came out a few weeks ago as the product of the fertile imagination of Andrew Doyle, a comedian and columnist with the online magazine 'Spiked'. He has a doctorate in early Renaissance poetry from Oxford. He says he created the characters to challenge identity politics. He describes the social justice movement as full of people who are "arrogant, narcissistic and certain of themselves", with Titania embodying all these characteristics.
According to Doyle, Titania is named after the queen of the fairies in Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' because he regards the hyper-inclusive woke culture as an "utter fantasy world".
He describes their views on racial boundaries, gender fluidity and such like as "incoherent and the stuff of fantasy". It is Doyle's view that he is speaking to a majority who want this culture to be mocked and ridiculed.
Satire, to mock opponents, has a long history and dates back to the 18th century when Isaac Bickerstaff published an almanac in 1708 in which he foretold the death of a social commentator, John Partridge. Partridge had criticised the Anglican Church and in so doing offended many. A pamphlet announced the death of Partridge. They crossed to and fro, Bickerstaff declaring Partridge was dead, and others from Partridge's camp saying he was alive. The public believed Bickerstaff. On April 1, it emerged Bickerstaff was none other than Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. Partridge was alive. Swift's career evidently did not suffer as a result.
What separates satire from other forms of humour such as mockery is its absurdity, as Titania's outlandish musings confirm. Take this one: "If Mahatma Gandhi had been on Twitter they'd have dismissed him as a 'satirical character' too and he would never have invented India." Meanwhile, having been outed, Titania's fight for all "right-on" causes is as energetic as ever. On March 18 she bravely strode to her keyboard and wrote: "Heterosexual sex is repugnant unless it involves a female penis and a man's vagina."
She elaborated on the social significance of St Patrick in a novel way, tweeting: "St Patrick chasing the snakes out of Ireland is a powerful feminist metaphor. Shame he was white male scum." And so say I!
Patricia Casey is consultant psychiatrist in the Mater Hospital, Dublin, and professor emeritus of Psychiatry at UCD.