Letter to Julie Bindel

Hi Julie. You don’t know me, we actually have mutual friends, but I wanted to write you a public letter.. An apology. I used to read your work, I worked with grooming in Keighley when noone gave a shit and you were the only journalist who covered it. I used to look for your articles because I felt like I was working in hell, and the indifference that I know you saw ended my social work career. I know your background, I know you are a working class lesbian and I know your work has tirelessly address male violence and structural inequality even when it has harmed you to do so. I know that that has benefitted me and all women. I am writing to apologise for being a coward.

I read what you wrote about trans women and am not going to lie, I think you are dead wrong. I have friends I would love you to meet who am sure you would respect and like, and who really don’t like you and feel injured by what you wrote. But I think people have the right to be wrong, we have the right to opinions shaped by our perspective and experience, and I can see how your experience as a lesbian(a proper lezzer) and the experience of watching services women need undermined shaped that perspective. I don’t think many people fully understand what it is to walk the landscape of violence against woemen the way you have. I do.

For 14 years you have been targeted in a sustained and concerted campaign of bullying and harassment. Every place you have spoken, they have gone for. I spoke up slightly about your no platforming, but not very loud. I didn’t want to offend the women I know who are trans, and I knew how hostile young feminists were to your voice. I am sorry. I should have. I know that abuse of women is never feminism. Driving women from public spaces is never feminism. Blaming women for male violence is never feminism. Accusing people of causing suicide is always abusive.

The final straw came when the Salford Working Class Library was threatened and I realised what I had done. So today I loudly, as loud as I could through the medium of the shtty chatroom that is twitter, did so. I wanted this note here to say it should never have taken so long for me to do so. You have always stood up for the most marginalised women and you have never shied away from doing so, I pride myself on trying to follow that. I should have stood up sooner. Many of us should. You have dealt with this for 14 years and if it can at all be helped, you will from now on see the solidarity you have always shown to the most marginalised, the most vulnerable women. I apologise. This is me publicly stating that I will not treat the abuse, harassment and bullying which has threatened to end your career as feminism. You would never have done so had another woman been targeted that way.


8 thoughts on “Letter to Julie Bindel

  1. Hi there

    I just wanted to thank you for this letter, and to say I wholeheartedly support you change of heart on this issue. I too, until the last couple of years, was neither here nor there on this issue, and was very much of the ‘where’s the harm?’ position. I’d also like to thank you for the work you’ve done protecting women and particularly girls. I have several friends working in child protection, and they say the same as you, it’s dispiriting, heartbreaking work.

    If I may, there are a couple of areas where I respectfully disagree with you. The first, Julie Bindel actually has lots of trans friends herself and that is not what this argument is about, see here: http://www.feministcurrent.com/2015/06/10/the-no-platforming-of-radical-feminists-a-talk-by-julie-bindel/

    Secondly, where Julie Bindel has really come under fire, is for stating that BIOLOGY is the root of women and girl’s oppression. As I’m sure you know, 85% of transwomen don’t actually medically transition, so we are in a situation where the voiciferous trans lobby are claiming that they are ‘literally’ women, and women have penises – this is not a settled matter even within the trans community, with many trans people coming under fire for also disagreeing, indeed they are probably more villified than people like Julie. That “woman” is now just a ‘feeling’ or an identity is the heart of this ‘terf war’. Gender Self Indification has become law in the US and Canada, and now any man who says he’s a woman, no matter how he lives or presents, IS a woman. Thus erasing women as a biological sex class and all the sex discrimination LAW and legal protections women enjoy because of it. In Canada we now have the extraordinary situation of a ‘transwoman’ – ie someone with a penis – with a history of violent abuse against women, suing a domestic violence shelter for transphobia. You can of course see why Julie would take a stance on this?

    Surely no one who works to end violence against women and girls would say girls groomed into sexual exploitation were victims because they ‘identified’ as girls, but because they WERE girls. Just like we’d say when Boko Haram raid a village they kidnap GIRLS as sex slaves, not boys who identify as girls? Uncoupling biology from female reality, really makes it very difficult for anyone concerned with ending VAWG from even talking about it, let alone quantifying it. However, we really are at the point where women are harassed, threatened, and abused for pointing out that biology is a material reality. This is what Julie has done.

    Also, because this rather vicious lobby are declaring women can have penises (if you don’t believe me, check the American Midwifery guidelines, the word ‘woman’ is now gone, it’s says pregnant people so as not to exclude women with penises and men who have babies) then proper lezzers, as you say, are coming under pressure for transphobia for not wanting to have sexual relationships with women with penises. Naturally Julie would take a stand on the ‘cotton ceiling’ (the cotton in question being lesbian’s knickers) as of course sexual orientation is not a preference, and is very much rooted in physical bodies. I’d encourage you to look at the WCML library discussion to see naked homophobia against lesbians for their refusal to accept male bodies. Also see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkcCzIc0j2s

    Finally, one REALLY important thing to note in the whole seething debate about the transing of children is that four times as many girls are presenting at gender identity clinics than boys. Feminists like Julie want to know what’s that about. Indeed think a feminist analysis has much to add. You may have read recently the story of the vaginal rape of a transman taxi driver by a passenger. When the poor victim was interviewed by the police, they repeatedly kept saying, ‘I told him I was a man, I told him I was a man’. Obviously in situations where transmen are ‘read’ by others as female, they are still victim to sexual assault, there is no identifying out of it. Indeed transmen are sexually assaulted and raped at a higher rate than other females, I think a feminist critique of that would be wise, particularly given the particularly depraved portrayal of transmen in pornography, another huge platform of Julie’s.

    Obviously the feminist view is woman and girl is defined, and only defined, by biology. That’s the beginning and the end of it. After that it’s all just personality, preferences, likes and dislikes, girls can be ANYTHING – feminists have worked very hard to destroy those ideas that women are NATURALLY submissive, incapable, unintellectual, nurturing, should stay in the home, not sporty, and on and on. Feminism concerns itself with eradicating stereotypes that support female subjugation, they say that gender is a hierarchical social construct that oppresses women and sets up and enforces men’s access and continued exploitation and control of women’s bodies. Hence the battles lines between transactivists and feminists, as transactivists are now saying ‘biology is a social construct’ and woman is just a feeling or identity. Feminists feel this stance erases the language women need to talk about the reality of their oppression. To take another big concern of Julie’s – sex trafficking – 98% of all sex trafficked people are female. Why is that? That’s not due to ‘identity’, it’s their BODIES being sold, degraded and exploited. How do we talk about that, if woman no longer means woman?

    Nobody is denying that trans people exist, or should exist, or have a right to exist, they do, free from discrimination and harm. But that isn’t the actual argument.

    I’m sorry for such a long comment, and I hope you will take it in the spirit in which it was intended, in female solidarity. Best wishes.

    Liked by 8 people

      • Thanks very much for replying. And no pressure to respond at all. Thanks for hearing me. Many transwomen are equally appalled at how this debate has descended, I know some transwomen who are personal friends of Julie, and they really are struggling to be heard at all. It’s a complex issue, and as you rightly point out, one we won’t unravel if women aren’t even allowed to speak.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t seen the programme yet, but I’ve read a lot of the online chatter about it on both sides. My problem with the attitudes of women like Julie Bindel is that they think that they, a third party with no connection to the children involved, who are not medical professionals or experts in anything, should influence the medical treatment of children (or anyone else for that matter) based on ideology — and an ideology mostly founded on a personal hangup at that. They support it with a mixture of psuedo-science, pop psychology and their usual mishmash of bits of law taken from whichever jurisdictions suit them, and personal observations from their own childhoods (“I wanted to be a boy because boys have more fun!”, that sort of thing) which are particular and not general.

    I don’t support no-platforming Julie Bindel if the purpose is to talk about violence against women or (as in this case) gay history, as long as she keeps her views on trans women to herself. She’s not a racist or a fascist and has no history of using or encouraging violence, but is a leading propagandist against trans acceptance and her arguments and research (expressed in prominent and lengthy Guardian articles, not just the one from 2003 that is usually cited) could best be described as biased. Public expressions of bigotry are generally not forgotten or forgiven easily, whichever group they’re against.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chasing women from the public sphere is misogyny. NOt feminism. What she has been subjected to is misogyny. And we do not just apply blanket prescriptions to children and their medical treatment and she is entitled to her opinion without being the subject of 14 years of abuse. And misogyny is bigotry and you are correct, the backlash from this will hurt all women including trans women. Misogyny and abuse of women is not feminism, ever. For any reason.

      Liked by 1 person

    • And it is pseudo science to claim that children confused about gender at 3, 5, 7, 10, even their teens should be assumed to be trans. Its nonsense. It wont fly in the family courts which is where we make these decisions because we dont make these decisions by twitter or public mob.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with the OP, this is a useful critique https://fairplayforwomen.com/response-transgender-kidswho-knows-best

      I really do find it extraordinary Matthew, that you think you get to tell women what to say! I’m assuming that you are a heterosexual male, and that you as a non bigot date transwomen with penises? That you as a right on lefty dude are totally down with the idea that the penis is a female sexual organ, and you as a straight man are totally OK with this? If not, you are a HYPOCRITE.

      Julie Bindel has pointed out that lesbians don’t have dicks! She has been sent to hell for this! I’m staggered in this day and age that anyone needs to point this fact out! Julie has also pointed out what the SCIENCE points out, that 85% (actually closer to 90%) of transwomen don’t have dysphoria but autogynephilia, they don’t surgically transition, they still have a meat and two veg under that dress. And autogynephila is a sexual fetish whereby their misogyny is so sexualised, that they want to become the thing they HATE (ie women). This is a FACT. Denying this fact chucks women and girls, as well as genuine transsexual (to use the old fashioned word) transwomen under the bus.

      Surely you are not saying that when Boko Haram raid a village for sex slaves, they kidnap those who identify as girls, or girls with ‘lady penis’?????

      This is the lunatic point we are up to and I’d seriously encourage you to actually do some research before virtue signalling your ‘right on’ ness on this page, as currently your progressive politics cost you NOTHING and cost women and girls a great deal.

      Liked by 1 person

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