US lawyer sacked for using the word woman
Gearóid Ó Loingsigh
28 February 2023
Ann Menasche is a US civil rights lawyer who worked for 20 years at the not-for-profit Corporation known as Disability Rights California (DRC). That was until she uttered the dreaded word that shall not be mentioned anymore: Woman.
Her background is as an activist, a lesbian, a feminist who has consistently fought for and defended women’s rights. On the surface of it, you would think an organisation that defended people’s rights would be happy to have an experienced lawyer and long-time activist on their staff. They were, until she uttered the word woman. DRC is one of many not-for-profit NGOs that have been taken over by cliques that seem intent on supressing women’s rights. In the run up to the overturning of Roe v Wade by the US Supreme Court, the director at DRC sent out an email asking for staff to comment on the leaked opinion of one of the judges in the case and it sent out its own public statement. Ann, like many feminists was angry at what had happened. She replied thanking the director at DRC for defending Roe v Wade. She used the word woman and females a few times in her thanks. Then the pile on began. Other staff took issue with her use of the word and complemented the DRC for so called “inclusive” language. Ann replied by pointing out that “Of course, but the one thing all persons directly affected by abortion restrictions have in common is they are all female. Only females can get pregnant, only females need abortions.” We are all familiar by now with the type of discussion that ensued. Claims that men non-binaries etc can become pregnant.
It did not entirely come out of the blue as Ann explains the DRC had hired an outside company to “train” them in the most extreme form of gender identity ideology with staff being told that sex did not exist, with the sexual binary being a direct result of white colonialism. It sounds laughable, but that actual expression was used in the training. She was accused of being transphobic as she defended that as a lesbian she was attracted to people of the same SEX. Staff were even told that they could not use the term or He or She in correspondence. However, she was very careful about how she phrased things and really did not expect to be sacked over her carefully worded comments.
The pile on was not limited to the discussion that the director of DRC initiated by inviting ALL staff to comment on the issue of Roe v Wade. She recalls how one member of staff started snooping on her and following what she was doing outside of work. It was all public information, her participation in events etc. But it is harassment and points to the atmosphere of fear that has arisen not just in the USA but around the world, where people are intimidated out of their jobs or cowed into silence. Ann is conscious of the fact that she did not become destitute after being sacked, but as she says, other workers don’t have that “luxury” and would have been destitute. It all reminds her of the McCarthyite period in US history when the US House Ctte. on Unamerican Activities hounded people throughout the country, causing many to lose their jobs or remain silent. She points out that back then, like now the ACLU played an important role with leading members informing the FBI on the activities of “communists”. Nowadays the ACLU role is much more transparent and it is not limited to the actions of some of its directors, but is its stated policy. The comparison is apt, back then people were demonised and hounded out of their jobs for supposedly being communists. Now they are being described as hateful. The ACLU is one of the organisations that you would expect to defend workers’ rights and freedom of speech. Not anymore.
When Ann applied for unemployment payments, the DRC became more explicit about the reasons behind her dismissal. They stated that she had “misgendered” people and it was indeed her feminism that was at issue. A member of staff had engaged in snooping on her and documenting all her outside feminist activities, which the company then relied on to justify her sacking.
This of course has implications for women throughout the country and other workers including men. What you get up to in your free time is your own business. Your employer has no right to know what you do, what your hobbies are, who your friends are etc. Again, it goes back to the McCarthyite period with its emphasis on totalitarian control of thought processes and behaviour. Not only are staff “trained” 1984 style how to think that sex does not exist, the company as part of its processes, along with many other companies in the US have what are called Employee Resource Groups under the eye of the employer, with different groups for the employees. There is an LGBTQ group, a Black group, a Latino group (possibly spelt Latinx in the new jargon) and people are divided. They don’t contribute to systemic change, keep people isolated and are basically an alternative to unions. This is part of the problem with these issues, they are not only distractions but are also divisive. The proof is in the pudding, where in Ann’s case another employee requested that she be sacked.
Part of the problem in the US for workers and feminists is as Ann sees it “the power the Democratic Party has over sections of the left and progressives. It is the corporate party that is pushing this ideology and there is not enough of an independent left to resist it. They are not thinking for themselves and they are too connected to the Democrats. Even far left groups are not thinking for themselves. It is the power of the Democrats in derailing movements and promoting this sexist ideology.” She points out how the Biden Administration has blocked the Equal Rights Amendment to the US constitution. The ERA provides for non-discrimination on the grounds of sex, which is something the Biden Administration does not want and were it to be enacted it would be a blow to the corporate gender ideology driven by the Democrats, Big Pharma and others.
Despite the obstacles and the opposition of “progressives” Ann is taking them to court. Hers is not the first case in the US, but as far as she knows she thinks that she is the first to take a test case. She puts this down to people being afraid to say anything and as she says she wants to change that. She says that “I believe in evolution, that sex is binary, in abortion rights for women and that shouldn’t be considered a horrible thing to say”. The reactionary nature of Gender Ideology is that it does convert ideas into horrible things, but only those ideas the employer disagrees with. No one is likely to be sacked for thinking capitalism is wonderful. Ann’s case is about women’s rights, but it is also about workers’ rights and freedom of speech. Hers is a test case, somewhat like the case taken by Maya Forstater in Britain. Her campaign deserves the support of all socialists and feminists.
The campaign to defend her can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org