No-Platforming, Radical Feminism and Violence

There is yet another petition demanding that Julie Bindel be no-platformed. This time  it is students at Essex University demanding she be no-platformed from a panel on pornography during an event dedicated to critical thinking.

I’ve been at a number of feminist conferences this year where women have spoken about Bindel’s “hate speech” and “violent language” – the first was the New Turns Conference in February and ending with the FWSA Affective Sisterhood conference in September. Not one woman I spoke to about Bindel actually knew anything more than that she;s “transphobic”. None had read her work. They certainly weren’t familiar with her work on pornography, prostitution, and other vulnerable women. They hadn’t read of the news articles and opinion pieces nor any of her research. All of these people – female and male – had heard “somewhere” that Bindel was transphobic and violent.

I did snigger at this comment under the petition:

I’m not capable of discussing ideas with those who may hold different opinions. University is only for those who think the same way as me.

but it raises some interesting issues. University is not an institution where students should expect everyone to have the same opinion as them – it’s kind of the whole point of attending university. You will be exposed to alternate view points and you will think some of the people attending are racist or stupid or nincompoops or one of a billion other things. Demanding that someone be no-platformed when you have never bothered to do any research on the person or read anything they have written is anti-education.

Now, I have no idea if the tweet below is one that Bindel actually wrote or yet another myth created by people who aren’t familiar with Bindel’s work, but the statement below, taken from the petition, demonstrates the fallacious logic of much of the accusations:

Julie Bindel, in solidarity with the rest of her ignorant TERF bigots castigates transwomen purely because they were born with male genitals. Moreover, she falsely accuses all transwomen of being paedophiles, rapists and murderers, because – just like ALL genders – some are. Need proof? Text of a Tweet by Julie Bindel, 19 March 2013:

Some trans women are rapists and predators/child abusers that are in for killing/raping born women”

Bindell is no friend to transwomen, just as she is no friend to women. Her fanatical feminazi outporings actually damage feminism, which can only be detrimental to the rights of all women. (my bolds)

Ignoring the use of the term “feminazi” which in and of itself is a ridiculous and deeply offensive hyperbole, some and all do not meet the same thing. We do know that “some” transwomen are rapists. Dana McCallum pled guilty to two misdemeanours including domestic violence and false imprisonment. We know that Christopher Hambrook claimed to be transgender in order to access vulnerable women in shelters – he was allowed in these shelters because he had been taking hormones and despite his history of convictions of sexual violence.

We need to recognise that violence is perpetrated by some transwoman and that women aren’t lying when they disclose this abuse. We can’t pretend that it doesn’t happen or that their crimes should be forgiven as transwomen experience disproportionate abuse as the Sylvia Rivera Law Project did with Synthia China Blast. It is not transphobic to discuss whether or not McCallum’s rape was an example of sexual violence within lesbian relationships or if it is yet another example of male violence (for the record, I believe committing rape with a penis is male violence). We can’t pretend that some men claim to be transwomen to access women’s spaces to perpetrate sexual violence and can do this because the laws on gender recognition are open to abuse. Men who kill transwomen make that choice but the murder and sexual assault of some transwomen does not negate responsibility for the perpetration of violence of other members of the Trans community.

Julie Bindel has not been invited to speak at the University of Essex on the topic of transgenderism. She’s been invited to speak on a roundtable on pornography: a subject in which she is highly qualified to speak.  No-platforming someone who’s work you aren’t familiar with is censorship – it’s the kind of censorship that gets sniggered about in liberal circles when banned book week comes up. Yet, these same people think it’s okay to censor a woman for something that they don’t actually know what it is but only that it’s “vile” – a term that pro-pornography people claim has no actual definition. Unless it’s applied to radical feminists and not pornography.

 

UPDATE: Julie Bindel’s invitation to speak at Sheffield University next week has been withdrawn.

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