Dem a cut, cut, cut agains’ dem one another;
Dem a cut, cut, cut agains’ dem one another.
Don’t dem teach to love one another ?
Don’t dem teach to love one another ?
oh!See de ‘ypocrite, dem a-galang deh!
See de ‘ypocrite, dem a-galang deh!
– Hypocrite, Bunny Wailer
Last week on my Graunwatch blog I wrote about the forthcoming radical feminist conference (#radfem2012 on twitter) and the furore over its transphobia. I took an unpopular view in that whilst I agreed with everyone condemning its ‘no trans women allowed’ policy, I also pointed out that feminism AS A WHOLE is full of exclusionary practices, especially towards men.
The Guardian, after publishing an article by (trans) feminist Roz Kaveney (who blocks me on twitter by the way), gave Sheila Jeffreys the right of reply. She was tabled to speak at the conference but has now been told she can’t, due to her transphobia. An example of said transphobia can be seen in her Guardian piece. It reads:
‘Criticism of the practice of transgenderism is being censored as a result of a campaign of vilification by transgender activists of anyone who does not accept the new orthodoxy on this issue. A recent Comment is free piece by the transgender activist Roz Kaveney, headlined “Radical feminists are acting like a cult”, criticises a forthcoming radical feminist conference, at which I was to be a speaker, on the grounds that I and “my supporters” may be guilty of “hate speech” for our political criticism of this practice.
Though Kaveney’s comments about me are comparatively mild in tone, the campaign by transgender activists in general is anything but. This particular campaign persuaded Conway Hall, the conference venue, to ban me from speaking on the grounds that I “foster hatred” and “actively discriminate”. On being asked to account for this, Conway Hall appeared to compare me to “David Irving the holocaust denier”. The proffered evidence consists of quotes from me arguing that transgender surgery should be considered a human rights violation – hardly evidence of hate speech.’
I find it very depressing that after a venue in London has said Jeffreys’ views are not welcome on its premises, the Guardian newspaper has given her and her vile opinions a platform! In the name of what? Fairness? This is a paper that spouts a very narrow white middle class feminism day in day out, with very little chance for non-feminists to write about gender issues. Let alone trans women, black women, disabled women etc etc. But Jeffreys gets a column. Nice.
This hypocrisy is not limited to the Guardian. I think it is a characteristic of feminism in general. For example feminist blogger stavvers criticised Jeffreys desire to ‘debate’ trans issues whilst trans women are not allowed at the conference. However bloggers and activists such as stavvers are happy to ‘debate’ whilst excluding people, including women – e.g. me – from their feminist safe spaces. My 101 Wankers post is a list of all the feminists and their ‘allies’ who ban me and block me online. Stavvers is on the list.
So is Julie Bindel. Bindel, also a known transphobe, has a regular column in the Guardian, and when she was criticised for one of her diatribes recently, Chris Ashford of Law and Sexuality blog wrote a piece saying he was worried she was being ‘silenced’! Hers is a very loud silence then.
I think there are some very real and complex issues here to do with freedom of speech. I personally find the increasing mobilisation of the term ‘hate speech’ worrying. A woman was jailed for five months this week for hate speech, a racist rant on a tube. I have been accused of ‘hate speech’ and I know a few people who would be glad to see me locked up.
But when it comes to Sheila Jeffreys I think Conway Hall made the right decision. They are accomodating the radical feminists in their venue. They are allowed to refuse to host a speech that would be hateful, and one that would question the right of a group of people to exist on this earth.
However, ‘moderate’ feminists need to be very careful before they start throwing stones. Of course it is ironic that Jeffreys claims trans people could not withstand criticism, when she is part of a movement that demands to know the sex/gender identity of people before it even lets them in a building, let alone has a ‘debate’! But feminism’s overall approach to ‘freedom of speech’ is dire. And feminists’ need to sit in closed groups that do not include people who disagree with feminist dogma, suggests a weakness in their arguments.
Comment Is Free, the online discussion section of the Guardian, that so fairly and openly allowed Jeffreys a right of reply, now blocks me on twitter. They are not going to give me a chance to write for them now, are they?
I guess some women are just too dangerous to be allowed a viewpoint!