Using the Rainbow as a Cudgel

Having been a part of the so called Lib-fem movement for a while, it wasn’t until the start of 2019 that I began my journey down the rabbit hole of transgender activism.

I had been blissfully unaware of how it affects women’s sex-based rights, how it’s incredibly sexist as well as homophobic and how, if you pay closer attention, the demands often mirror those of MRAs (men’s rights activists).

At that time, I created art, some of which is so loaded with dogmatic nonsense that I now question how I could have ever swallowed that pill in the first place. I suppose working in the Soho Theatre at the time, and spending the better part of my 20s in London’s fetish scene, was a tricky place from which to gain perspective.

What triggered my interest, and started subsequent events, wasn’t some outside force, but rather the increasingly self-flagellating behaviour and excessive social media virtue-signalling of many of my contemporaries.

The trouble is, once you start noticing, you can’t stop noticing, so I did what i do best. I made art about it.

An incredibly troubling discovery for me to make, was the treatment particularly women received from self-proclaimed feminists. The vitriol spouted at them, the attacks on their livelihood, their families and the relentlessness with which people seek to shut those women up is truly staggering. It was one of the main reasons why I could no longer stand by at the side-lines and watch them being harassed in that way, when I agreed entirely with what they were saying.

So I decided to also write an essay alongside my embroidered piece, to convey my thoughts as best I could, hoping to avoid people misinterpreting my work and thoughts. That didn’t go so well.

With a sizeable instagram following and general presence as an artist, the sh**storm was enfolding fast and ruthlessly after publishing the piece last August.

The flood of hate-mail I received, the never ending attempts at emotional blackmail, the name calling and general vibe of a modern-day witch-hunt was palpable. It was nauseating.

At the time I still worked out of the cabaret dressing room of London’s Soho Theatre for two days a week as an independent tiny hair-salon. Something I had been doing for more than 8 years.

Needless to say, it’s become a place for the super-woke to go to worship, so it wasn’t long before “activists” started to contact the management to complain about the “horrendous transphobe” they were harbouring there, because trans-and “non-binary” people wouldn’t feel safe with me being there. The irony is incredible…

Some of these clowns even worked there, yet never had the guts to ever confront me personally, but rather left some passive aggressive nonsense on my social media channels.

Cowardice seems a common trait in those circles.

The pressure mounted and despite having held a friendly relationship with many who worked there for many many years, the bullies kept circling in, the threads of a social media campaigns against Soho Theatre kept growing, and my days working there were absolutely numbered.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s the best thing that could have happened to me in light of current events and because of how it’s allowed me to stay true to myself and my art, but it certainly is a shameful thing to have happened in a place that is supposedly liberal in all its’ endeavours.

There were staff-meetings and even a board meeting held about the Heretic that was me (it stills baffles me…) and then finally, after a long chat with the management, I offered to leave, and I did.

I kept this quiet for quite some time now, as I don’t harbour bad feelings towards Soho Theatre as a whole. I spent 8 great years there, and I will not let that memory be destroyed by these self-loathing individuals.

There were those who defended me throughout this, and those who are still so blinded by their righteousness that they can’t see the witch-hunt they participated in, and even those I wish nothing but happiness (they clearly lack it).

That’s not to say it wasn’t upsetting, it certainly was. It’s also not to say that at the time it wasn’t scary and intimidating, even threatening, since a large part of trans rights activism is actively and openly hostile to those that dare to question their ideology, but in the end, what all this chaos has ensured, is that I am now in a position to make art, be loud, ask uncomfortable questions, without having to worry about anybody contacting my place of work.

I am my place of work. And thanks to an incredible support-net of brilliant women, most of them actual feminists (the kind that look out for other women) as well as some wonderfully supportive men, many of whom reached out to me personally in incredibly heartfelt and supportive emails, and many of whom bought and continue to buy my work and commission me to create personalised pieces, my career as an artists is flourishing better than ever.

– Jess de Wahls


4 thoughts on “Using the Rainbow as a Cudgel

  1. I don’t know what the password is to access your blog, and no instructions of how to create a password are given on the page/site.

    If you don’t want people to access your work, fine!

    But please stop with the emails, then. This is the 9th you’ve sent in a very short space of time, and as I type the 10th just came in.

    It’s really annoying to subscribe to follow someone’s blog then to be told,” No you can’t read it cuz you need a magic word, but we’re not gonna tell how to get that magic word” and then to keep getting email alerts of new blog posts that say “Respond to this post by replying above this line.”



    1. Thanks for the feedback. I forgot that notifications would go out. This is a project still at edit stage. It will go public shortly.


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