8 June 2023

Oxfam’s vile ‘TERF’ video typifies the charity’s disrespect for women


When Oxfam aid workers sexually abused girls in refugee camps in Haiti, do you think they asked which gender the girls identified as? Did the Oxfam aid workers, or the prostitutes whom they partied with, wear pronoun badges at the rented house known as ‘the whorehouse’, the site of a ‘full on Caligula orgy’?

This revolting recent history throws into even sharper relief the charity’s Pride video, for which it may yet face a Charity Commission investigation.

For those fortunate enough not to have seen it, the clip features a startling scene of a woman wearing a TERF badge and two men towering over little rainbow-coloured figures, accompanied by text saying that LGBT people are ‘preyed on by hate groups online and offline’. To make matters worse, the ‘TERF’ pictured bears a distinct resemblance to JK Rowling – something for which Oxfam has since apologised.

The charity claims that this was nothing but an unintended coincidence, although if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you. But either way, it doesn’t really matter. Because the ‘TERF’ in their video isn’t just one woman, but an everywoman. Her face is hard, her jowls sag, her hair is unkempt. She wears ‘TERF’ like a badge of shame. These are not incidental details, but a very deliberate combination of sexism and ageism – a warning that women who kick up a fuss, especially those over a certain age, should expect to be shamed and demonised. This is a video which purports to be about supporting one ‘hated’ community, while actively encouraging hatred of another.

This is even more galling when you read Oxfam’s website, which says the charity wants to ‘amplify the power of all women’, to ‘celebrate the power of women everywhere’ and that it supports women ‘speaking out against harmful laws and policies, and standing up for their rights’. The latter claim is particularly staggering when you look at the charity’s record on anything to do with sex and gender.

This is an organisation where an employee can be accused of ‘transphobia’ and hounded out of a job, simply for sticking up for – you guessed it – JK Rowling. An organisation which removed its ‘Wonder Women Bingo’ after unspecified complaints from ‘trans and non-binary colleagues’ (perhaps because one of the women featured was, yes, JK Rowling). An organisation whose ‘inclusive language guide’ urges staff to avoid the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’, in order to ‘avoid assuming the adoption of gendered roles by transgender parents’.

The TERF video is not some mistake or aberration, it emerged from the same wellspring of sanctimonious absurdity that characterises Oxfam’s every move in this area.

What makes it all so strange is that Oxfam’s own aid workers seemed so keenly aware of sex differences when they were busily organising orgies and sexually abusing women in Haiti. The female employee who ultimately blew the whistle in Haiti claimed the men had a ‘culture of entitlement’ and the abhorrent behaviour was ‘part of the culture’. By not swiftly investigating the allegations at the time, Oxfam put its reputation and donor relations above the safety of vulnerable girls who had lost their homes. 

Taken together, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that disrespect for women and their sex-based rights runs through the heart of a once great charity that has badly lost its way. The privileged fools who work there need to put the pronoun badges down, stop wasting money on insulting and sexist videos and go back to helping women in poverty – assuming they can still remember what a woman is..

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Laura Dodsworth is a writer, photographer and author of 'A State of Fear: How the UK government weaponised fear during the Covid-19 pandemic'

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.