You’re wearing that?


Helen Lewis has been following the NUS Women’s conference, including the brouhaha about the jazz hands item. She has some questions about some of the votes.

The conference also voted to renew the no-platform on radical feminist Julie Bindel, for (among other things) reiterating her belief that “bisexuality doesn’t exist as a sexual identity, thus erasing bisexual individuals’ identities and experiences” and having “criticised women who wear the niqab in her article for the Daily Mail . . . [by] refusing to believe that Muslim women have made their own decision to wear the niqab she denies Muslim women agency”.

Oh really? What about Muslim women who criticize women who wear the niqab? Are they too denying Muslim women agency? Or are they just disagreeing with what said women do with their agency? I’ve just written a review of Mona Eltahawy’s new book for Free Inquiry; she’s very critical of the niqab and even critical of wearing hijab, even though she wore one herself for nine years. She’s also critical of simplistic non-arguments that it’s a “choice.” I wonder if the NUS Women will no-platform Mona.

If “the NUS Women’s’ Officers and members of the NUS Women’s committee shall not offer a platform to any transphobic speaker, biphobic or Islamophobic speaker”, who decides what qualifies as Islamophobia? It’s true that criticism of Islam can function as a cover for racism, but equally, religious beliefs and practices must not be accepted unquestioningly in a free, secular society. Only this week, Maryam Namazie – who was raised in a Muslim family but is now an atheist and secularist – pulled out of a talk at an Irish university after it was suggested that a discussion on apostasy would “upset” Muslim students.

Precisely.

There were many eminently sensible motions debated, including ones on childcare provision, support for rape survivors and better access to affordable housing. But it was this motion which really caught my eye:

This is an astonishingly conservative motion to be passed by a society which is otherwise so much at pains to stress the variety and fluidity of gender – for example, the conference has also resolved to “refrain from the use of ‘sisters’ and any other binary terms throughout the campaign”.

It is indeed. It’s as if they take manufactured rules about who gets to wear what to be not manufactured at all but biological. I wear jeans – black ones when I’m being “professional” – and I don’t consider that to be cross-dressing.

Cross-dressing is always an exploration of queer identity – because it makes obvious the fact that gender is a performance. The motion suggests that as long as the cross-dressing is not done for “shock value”, it is OK. But the whole point of cross-dressing is shock value. It is jarring to see categories we assume to be stable so obviously undermined and that makes it attractive to experimental, iconoclastic people. It’s why performing artists from kd lang to Conchita Wurst have made gender non-conformity part of their artistic expression.

When I was at university, we had cross-dressing nights of the type now deemed repressive by the NUS. The atmosphere always seemed (at least to me), very queer-friendly; because even the manliest men were being shown quite how much of their gender role was a performance. I’m not claiming that it magically cured homophobia, but it did suggest that people were open to the idea that the unspoken gender conformity of “real life” was, objectively, really weird. If you can accept that there’s no real reason women wear skirts and men wear ties, that gets you closer to acknowledging there’s no real reason that women are expected to be carers and men are expected to be cabinet ministers.

There is one reason women are expected to wear skirts, and that’s ease of access. Remember that whole thing about taking upskirt photos on buses? And how it turned out that’s not illegal? Yeah. That’s why skirts. Do NUS Women really want to codify that? I can’t see why.

Comments

  1. Bluntnose says

    “There is one reason women are expected to wear skirts, and that’s ease of access. ”

    I think that is a bit silly. As much as anything else,skirts don’t afford ‘ease of access’ if they are, say, long and heavy. And the societies where they are longest and heaviest are rarely the most feminist. The questions shouldn’t be why women are allowed the choice to wear skirts, but why men aren’t.

    I also disagree with the idea that cross dressing is always for shock value. I know a number of men whose dream it would be to have their cross dressing pass unnoticed.

  2. Bluntnose says

    I once knew an officer in the Black Watch and he told me that there was a polished mirror on the floor of the officers’ mess by the door so that the underneath of every kilt could be checked on entry as to make sure the wearer was ‘in uniform’.

    I am pretty sure that Scotsmen don’t generally wear skirts for ease of access, though. Although, now that you’ve put the thought into my head …

  3. brucegee1962 says

    I recently ran a Dr. Who larp for my daughters’ junior high friends. I told them that they needed to tell me in advance whom they wished to play, and that they could all be any Doctor or companion. I expected (correctly) that several girls would want to play various Doctors, because who doesn’t want to be a regenerating time traveler, right? I was a bit more surprised that two of the guys wanted to be River Song and Rose. But hey, why not? So maybe the next generation is going to be a lot more lax about this sort of stuff than our generation was.

    Oh, and yes, lessons were learned. Namely, the guy who played River Song learned how amazingly uncomfortable it was to wear heels. A valuable lesson, I think.

  4. ZugTheMegasaurus says

    I’m starting to get the impression that this trend of lumping everything “upsetting” to Muslims to Islamophobia is, itself, Islamophobic. I remember instances from college where a Christian student would try arguing a point simply because it cast Christians in a negative light. The response was generally some variation of, “Tough shit, that’s reality and this is what you signed up for.”

    So I wonder, why do people think Muslim students can’t deal with the same thing? Are they less capable of critical thinking or examining their beliefs? I’m starting to think the answer from these people is yes. It seems like they’re afraid that the students are going to go all extremist and blow up the school. And that would be a super-Islamophobic motivation.

  5. quixote says

    A fashion historian (whose name I of course can’t remember) wrote something that struck me: Medieval hose and the kind of tight knee breeches Western men wore didn’t really hide their genitals but did protect them (in the sense of preventing direct access). Western women’s skirts were designed to completely hide hips and legs, but not to protect genitals. I think her pithy phrase was that one was protected but not forbidden, whereas the other was forbidden but not protected.

    So Ophelia’s interpretation has at least some professionals on its side.

    As for the excessive preciousness of NUSW’s interpretation of Islamophobia, I doubt it has anything to do with Muslims. It looks like they’re trying to distance themselves as far as possible from any Western right wing position, defining their views as just the opposite of whatever They think. I don’t think NUSW really sees Muslims at all. If they did, they’d notice there are plenty who’d rather not have that kind of “help.”

  6. PatrickG says

    Hrmm. As with quixote, I can’t remember the source, but I do remember a fashion expert discussing the origin of skirts, with two particular aims:
    1) To conceal the lady-sexy from wandering male eyes. Of course, this would be the heavy drape skirts, not the more form-fitting skirts of later years.
    2) To make active movement cumbersome (long skirts are heavy!), thereby keeping women at sedate tasks.

    Of course, I’m not arguing that either of those reasons are good, but let’s not restrict ourselves to just one chauvinist/misogynistic origin of the skirt.

    Also, of course, as the linked article questions, where exactly does this leave men from cultures where the skirt is hardly a female-restricted clothing option? What happens when a Scottish woman shows up in a kilt? :)

  7. PatrickG says

    Curses, copypasta. The Scottish woman/kilt thing is obviously meant to follow the last sentence.

  8. Acolyte of Sagan says

    quixote, PatrickG, #6&7;
    That sounds very much like Dr. Lucy Worsley, a historian whose current job is Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. She has spoken about the history of clothing in a few of the programmes she made for BBC4 and the ‘protected but not forbidden’ quote sounds right up her street.

  9. PatrickG says

    @ Ophelia Benson: Like what? You can’t prove I did anything stupid! (By which I mean: Thanks!)

    @ Acolyte of Sagan: Most likely, though I can’t find the piece I’m thinking of through casual searching. A lot of what I’m turning up is similar, however. Also thanks!

  10. theobromine says

    I know there are people (regardless of gender) who find skirts/dresses to be more comfortable than slacks/trousers/pants. Personally I have always found them restrictive and inhibiting of free movement. (Perhaps it’s just my lack of experience since I only wear such things once every few years, but I find that I spend a lot of time selfconsciously worrying about how I am sitting or standing, and heaven forfend I try to reach up or twist around or bend over.) I cringe every time I see a little girl at a playground wearing a dress or skirt – how is she supposed to climb trees and swing on the swings and hang upsidedown from the monkeybars without getting tangled up, or being taunted about her underwear showing? (Oh, she isn’t supposed to do those things – it’s not ladylike.)

    And here’s an interesting fact about fancy dress: As the occasion gets more formal, the women are expected to be covered less, and the men are required to be covered more.

  11. brucegee1962 says

    The whole business of speculating on the origins of the skirt vs. pants strikes me as smacking a little bit like evo-psych, in that it,

    a) takes modern, Western customs and assumes they are universal for all cultures and historical periods (it seems to me that men basically wore skirts in lots of ancient cultures, simply because they were easier to make), and

    b) it involves lots of speculation without any possible way of ascertaining whether those speculations are correct.

    Isn’t this really an awful lot like the “girls prefer pink because they picked berries” type of thinking?

    Here’s my off-the-cuff theory: Pants developed from hose, and hose developed because Renaissance men who were desperate to attract mates wanted to show off their leg muscles to prove they were evolutionarily fit to run after potential children. This also explains galliards.

  12. PatrickG says

    @ brucegee1962:

    I will grant that there is a degree of “just so” when evaluating the origin of this particular piece of clothing.

    However, unlike evo psych (which posits pink berries on the Archetypical Savannah), we do have an enormous amount of information on the public perception of skirts over the last few hundred years. The proposition that skirts are a tool of control of female sexual display is heavily substantiated by newspaper articles, opinion columns, advertising campaigns, books, and the like going back for centuries at this point. Heck, I think we even have Founding Fathers pontificating via letter about appropriate dress codes for women (and yes, I’m US-centric).

    I’m not an expert, but even as a “hey, I heard this once” amateur, the evo-psych analogy is simply lazy.

  13. xyz says

    …way to ignore the fact that Julie Bindel is also being heavily criticized for her transphobia. We’re supposed to be defending TERFs for their criticisms of the niqab now? Strange days.

  14. sonofrojblake says

    What about Muslim women who criticize women who wear the niqab?

    Yeah, and what about black people who use the N-word? That means I should totally be able to use it too, right? Or, no, hang on, privilege is a thing, isn’t it? So hard to keep all this shit straight in your head isn’t it?

    There are so many, many reasons for no-platforming the odious Bindel.

  15. veil_of_ignorance says

    Yeah, and what about black people who use the N-word? That means I should totally be able to use it too, right? Or, no, hang on, privilege is a thing, isn’t it? So hard to keep all this shit straight in your head isn’t it?

    You could certainly argue that Bindel abuses her privilege when she criticizes the niqab. However, the NUS is doing exactly the same: the NUS is criticizing Bindel not simply because she has a position on the niqab but because of the content of her position. A Bindel who would use the typical culturally relativistic lingo – which seems to be very en vogue among many white feminists – to cast the niqab in the light of female empowerment or identity or whatever would not find herself criticized like that. In consequence, the NUS is not simply promoting neutrality of white feminists regarding the niqab, they are instead using their political power to give leverage to a certain set of opinions regarding the niqab while suppressing another set of opinions.

    Note bene: White feminists who criticize other white feminists when they take position on gender equality issues in the Global South do not promote neutrality, they themselves give power to certain positions. And unfortunately, culturally relativist white feminists oftentimes promote positions which are not only based on racial essentialism, culturalism and social conservativsm but which also attack the ethical and sociological fundament of feminism as a whole.

  16. John Horstman says

    Er, Bindel’s an asshole TERF; I’m not sure this hill is worth dying on, though I’m also rather fed up with neoliberal I-choose-my-choice feminisms that ignore systems and seem to propose that a woman can never act in support of patriarchy. It is possible to criticize the choices people make when exercising their agency without denying them that agency (e.g. criticism is not censorship), but that depends on the specifics of the criticism in question, and I’m not familiar with Bindel’s speaking or writing about niqab, so I can’t really make a judgment call on regarding that. Her TERF bullshit suggests that she’s disposed toward imperiously policing other people’s behaviors, though, so it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that her critique of niqab is nuanced and compassionate.

    And, yeah, WTF is with the “cross-dressing” item? WTF is with any person or organization that is supposedly “feminist” engaging in any sort of gender-policing?

  17. says

    How is this a hill I’m dying on? I took issue with the part about “agency”; I don’t consider that a hill and I don’t see myself as dying on it. I ignored “the fact that Julie Bindel is also being heavily criticized for her transphobia” because I don’t know enough about Bindel to discuss it.

    As for “We’re supposed to be defending TERFs for their criticisms of the niqab now? Strange days.” – No, “we’re” not “supposed” to be doing anything. I said what I think, that’s all.

  18. AMM says

    brucegee1962 @13

    Here’s my theory for the origin of hose (which BTW was more like leggings or legwarmers than modern “hose”):

    The invention of the stirrup (which was introduced into Europe sometime around the 7th century AD) is what made riding horses astride practical, especially in war (you’ll notice that the Romans didn’t ride horses much.) And riding astride in a robe or skirt is impractical, hence the rise of clothing that covered individual legs — but only for men, since women weren’t supposed to ride astride.

    BTW, hose was common long before the rennaissance.

  19. johnthedrunkard says

    Hose Schmoze!

    The question is the appalling ease with which supposedly ‘progressive’ groups cringe before theocratic fascists.

    Invoking ‘privilege,’ racializing misogyny so it’s immune from criticism, ascribing agency where it has been crushed (‘why, all my darkies are happy picking cotton!’) Shouldn’t we all know better by now?

  20. Dunc says

    Ophelia: Vicious transphobia is probably what Bindel’s best known for.

    AMM: It’s well documented that trouser-like garments were common in Britain when the Romans arrived. Also, the Romans totally had cavalry.

  21. freemage says

    Ophelia: I think Dunc and the others are pointing out the difficulties that arise when defending an odious person on grounds largely unrelated to their odiousness. The no-platform statement includes multiple counts; by focusing only on one, and then rebutting that, you suggest that you’re saying that she should not have been no-platformed at all–when, frankly, even if she’d never spoken about the niquab or any other form of Islamic misogyny, she would be considered beyond the pale for her other views.

    Consider if a conference had no-platformed Richard Dawkins in a statement that cited as the reason his “ongoing comments against feminism, his presumptive and arrogant attempts to ‘rank’ the seriousness of different forms of child abuse, and his aggressive and divisive comments about religion.” Sure, that last one would be a lousy reason to send Dawkins to the corner, but the other two are far more legitimate reasons–and a blog post about this hypothetical scenario that only addressed the last point, without even discussing the other two, would read very much like a suggestion that the entire decision was illegitimate.

  22. says

    So it’s an established fact that Julie Bindel is An Odious Person, is it? And an established fact that She Would Be Considered Beyond The Pale?

    I don’t know these facts, as I mentioned.

    At any rate if that is the argument, then that’s where we differ. I can easily imagine myself disputing a claim that Dawkins should be no-platformed because of his aggressive and divisive comments about religion while ignoring the other reasons. In fact I’m pretty sure I have more than once disputed bad reasons for being annoyed with Dawkins.

  23. dmcclean says

    The conference also voted to renew the no-platform on radical feminist Julie Bindel, for (among other things) reiterating her belief that “bisexuality doesn’t exist as a sexual identity, thus erasing bisexual individuals’ identities and experiences” and having “criticised women who wear the niqab in her article for the Daily Mail . . . [by] refusing to believe that Muslim women have made their own decision to wear the niqab she denies Muslim women agency”.

    OP’s response:

    Oh really? What about Muslim women who criticize women who wear the niqab? Are they too denying Muslim women agency? Or are they just disagreeing with what said women do with their agency?

    This is rhetorical sleight of hand or a misstep in reading.

    The passage the OP quotes says that the denial of agency claim is based on “refusing to believe that Muslim women have made their own decision”, but the OP’s response assumes that the denial of agency claim is based on the criticism. This is strange because AFAICS, criticism in itself can never deny agency, whereas refusal to believe can.

    That “it’s a choice” is indeed “a simplistic non-argument”. And there’s a strong case to be made that as a result “refusing to believe that Muslim women have made their own decision to wear the niqab” doesn’t deny agency. But the response as written doesn’t make sense.

  24. says

    No. Given the way that quote was presented – with unknown content left out – it looks to me as if the SU is interpreting Bindel’s criticism of women who wear the niqab as refusing to believe that Muslim women have made their own decision to wear the niqab.

  25. xyz says

    To be honest, in 2015 it’s a very good policy to google anyone calling themselves a radical feminist as far too many of them are TERFs. I think there’s legitimate discussion to be had over the role of white feminists in criticizing traditions linked with Islam. But vicious transphobia. No… hell no. That’s not ok. Funny how hair splitting and relativism are suddenly a-ok when it comes to protecting trans women.

  26. says

    Oh no no no no no no. I’m not having that. I’m not having radical feminism turned into a demon-thing. Feminism needs to be radical to get anywhere at all, and it’s total bullshit to pretend that it’s all hostile to trans people. Fuck right off with that.

  27. says

    And now I’m getting stupid comments claiming that I’m “defending Bindel” – just like that – not, disputing one thing someone wrote about her, but just plain defending her, as in endorsing everything she’s ever said. Bullshit. I disagree with one thing that someone said. I don’t know enough about her to “defend” her tout court.

  28. quixote says

    Count me as another one who doesn’t know much about Bindel. So I looked her up on Wikipedia, figuring that would give at least some indication of what vicious things she’d done in her capacity as a transphobic.

    In my book that means she’s physically hurt them, stalked them, doxxed them, prevented them from getting work, etc., etc., etc. through the whole current bag of crap.

    At least judging by Wikipedia, she has done none of these things. Her crime is insisting that transwomen are not the same as the-kind-of-women-with-two-X-chromosomes-whatever-you-want-to-call-them. In this, she does have biology on her side but not queer theory. So it does seem like a legitimate difference of opinion and one that she does have free speech rights to express.

    Wikipedia also quotes her as saying: “surgery is an attempt to keep gender stereotypes intact”,[61] and that “the idea that certain distinct behaviours are appropriate for males and females underlies feminist criticism of the phenomenon of ‘transgenderism’.”

    Again, legitimate differences of opinion are possible on the validity of gender stereotypes.

    It sounds to me, as someone who comes to this unencumbered by much previous knowledge, that Bindel is being told to shut up because as a radical feminist she wants to focus on females (biological sex, not gender). Whatever you think of worrying about women’s rights, that isn’t actually vicious, nor is it a reason to shut someone up. Although it has fairly consistently been the reaction to female voices. Not here, though, I would hope.

  29. quixote says

    And, no, I’m not defending everything Bindel ever said any more than Ophelia is, because I have no idea what she’s said. The “vicious transphobic” phrase was what made me curious enough to look her up.

  30. says

    I did do some looking earlier today, and I did find that a particular issue is a piece she wrote in 2004, so I read that – and it is quite mean. But I also read that she had apologized for it, and withdrawn every word of it. So, I could see still having major reservations about her, I could see still personally resenting her or being suspicious of her…but I can’t see all this over the top policing and othering and demonization. I’m wondering if some people are conflating her with Julie Burchill, who I gather is a great deal more obnoxious on the subject.

  31. says

    Here’s that article – Gender benders, beware.

    And here’s where I saw that she’d apologized.

    It looked like the usual round of accusations and counter-accusations would soon be in full swing as Julie Bindel vs The Trans Community (whatever that is!) bout 362 kicked off…but then something unprecedented happened. Julie Bindel apologised.

    “I apologise unreservedly for both the tone and content of my 2004 article.”

    This statement was provided to Square Peg Media, who passed it on to Natacha Kennedy during her correspondence with the company prior to the awards ceremony. It refers to the Guardian article “Gender Benders Beware“, arguably Bindel’s most infamous and direct attack upon trans people.

    The fact that I picked this up through Kennedy’s Facebook wall initially suggested that the statement was merely intended to appease the award organisers. However, a nearly identical statement from Bindel could also be found in a news article published yesterday. This was clearly intended as a public apology.

    When DIVA contacted Bindel for a statement she said: “I apologise unreservedly for both the tone and content of my 2004 articles.”

    The apology is significant because it’s a genuinely new development. Bindel previously apologised for the “tone” of “Gender Benders Beware” on a number of occasions following outrage from trans advocates. These seemed like weasel words: after all, the mocking tone of the article was undeniably offensive, but it was the content – which suggested that trans people should not be taken seriously and that trans women should be denied access to rape crisis services – that was truly dangerous. In contrast, Bindel clearly and explicitly puts a distance between herself and the article in her new statement(s).

  32. Silentbob says

    (off topic)

    @ 22 Dunc

    Not to mention that Alexander the Great, in the 4th century BC, conquered the ‘known world’ riding a horse with no trousers. (Um… on either of them, I mean.)

    (/off topic)

  33. sonofrojblake says

    it’s an established fact that Julie Bindel is An Odious Person, is it? And an established fact that She Would Be Considered Beyond The Pale?

    It’s established enough that a half dozen people you might simplistically describe as On Your Side all decided to mention it.

    I don’t know these facts, as I mentioned.

    The usual response at FtB I’ve observed when a (faux?-)naive commenter pulls this kind of defence is “then go and fucking educate yourself and don’t expect us to do it for you and come back when you have a clue”.

    it’s total bullshit to pretend that [feminism is] all hostile to trans people

    What’s bullshit is pretending anyone said that about “all feminism”. It’s been said, with justification, about Bindel and others in the minority who fit the label “TERF”.

    @quixote:

    it does seem like a legitimate difference of opinion and one that she does have free speech rights to express

    Nobody (I think) is saying she doesn’t have a free speech right to express whatever she thinks. She’s not being silenced – for goodness’ sake the woman has a column in a national newspaper. It’s also not insignificant that the people loudly disagreeing with her (not silencing her, indeed arguably increasing her reach) are other women. This is very much not a case of Teh Evul Patriarchy doing the poor little woman down.

  34. brucegorton says

    If an Islamist terrorist was to blow up a school – and get charged with robbery, would it be just and good to deny him a legal defence on the robbery charge because he blew up that school? Would you consider it defending Islamists blowing up schools, if one was to argue that he should be entitled to that legal defence on the robbery charge?

    You see this is the big thing to consider here, someone being a shitty person does not make every criticism of them apt. We never hit that point where anything goes because the target is a bad person.

    Bindel’s past transphobia is irrelevant to the point on the Niqab, which is what Ophelia Benson was talking about. Bindel isn’t the only feminist critical of the Niqab, and thus it isn’t really about her per se.

    It is about all those other critics, most of whom wouldn’t qualify as TERFs. What matters isn’t the identity of the accused, but the validity of the accusation.

  35. sonofrojblake says

    someone being a shitty person does not make every criticism of them apt

    Sure, that explains the entirely neutral reaction one might get at the mention of the name of, say, Michael Shermer on FtB.

    What matters isn’t the identity of the accused, but the validity of the accusation.

    And what is “the accusation”, in this context? Even in the original post there is not one specific accusation. Even in the original post, the context is, quote:

    the no-platform on radical feminist Julie Bindel, for (among other things) reiterating her belief that “bisexuality doesn’t exist as a sexual identity, thus erasing bisexual individuals’ identities and experiences” and [“the accusation” about the veils]”.

    It’s the decision to zero in, past the “among other things”, past the erasure of bisexuality as an identity, to defend this person on this very very specific and singular point (and then to double down with claims of ignorance of who this person even is or what their history is in terms of expressing their ideas, even while sitting at a computer which could answer the question of their background in seconds) that seems questionable. It’s NOT about other critics.

    Amused at the idea of defending someone by first comparing them to an Islamist terrorist.

  36. Thomathy, Such A 'Mo says

    quixote @ #31

    So I looked her up on Wikipedia, figuring that would give at least some indication of what vicious things she’d done in her capacity as a transphobic.

    In my book that means she’s physically hurt them, stalked them, doxxed them, prevented them from getting work, etc., etc., etc. through the whole current bag of crap.

    In your book? Because you’re the authority on what’s transphobic? No, just like a racist doesn’t need to have lynched anyone, a person can be transphobic without doing any of those things you mentioned.

    At least judging by Wikipedia, she has done none of these things.

    No, she’s just denying that transwomen are women.

    Her crime is insisting that transwomen are not the same as the-kind-of-women-with-two-X-chromosomes-whatever-you-want-to-call-them.

    Transwomen are women. The arrangment of a person’s chromosomes is not the only thing that makes a person a woman or a man. Trans* people. They exist. They prove otherwise.

    In this, she does have biology on her side but not queer theory.

    No, she doesn’t have biology on her side. It is transphobic to deny that transwomen are women. It is transphobic to point at the arangement of someone’s chromosomes and to say that they are not women because no xx.

    So it does seem like a legitimate difference of opinion and one that she does have free speech rights to express.

    It’s not a legitimate difference of opinion. It’s trans* erasure and it’s transphobic. Yeah, she has freeze peach. Who is denying her that?

    Wikipedia also quotes her as saying: “surgery is an attempt to keep gender stereotypes intact”,[61]

    Here she is dictating to other women what gender performance they may have and what arrangment of genitals the feel they should have and suggesting that transwomen are perpetuating gender stereotypes about women. Fuck that shit. That’s transphobic too.

    and that “the idea that certain distinct behaviours are appropriate for males and females underlies feminist criticism of the phenomenon of ‘transgenderism’.”

    This is not a feminist criticism of transgenderism. And what’s with the scare quotes? Also, who does she think she is to suggest that trans* people performing gender as they see fit is perpetuating distinct behaviours as approriate for males and females? Also, why the fuck can’t she keep consistent with the difference between ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘male’ and ‘female’. This is all transphobic. It’s also all terribly ignorant.

    Again, legitimate differences of opinion are possible on the validity of gender stereotypes.

    NO!

    It sounds to me, as someone who comes to this unencumbered by much previous knowledge, that Bindel is being told to shut up because as a radical feminist she wants to focus on females (biological sex, not gender).

    TRANSWOMEN ARE WOMEN.

    Whatever you think of worrying about women’s rights, that isn’t actually vicious, nor is it a reason to shut someone up.

    It’s fucking transphobic shit. And trans* people can decide if they want to forgive her. And it’s enough reason for some to want to keep her out of a space for women. Because women’s rights are transwomen’s rights. And maybe transwomen and their allies aren’t ready to allow someone both transphobic and ignorant into a space and grant her a platform when she’s said such awfully transphobic and ignorant things?

    Although it has fairly consistently been the reaction to female voices. Not here, though, I would hope.What? This doesn’t even make sense.

  37. Thomathy, Such A 'Mo says

    And Ophelia? ‘Over the top policing’? Please, if you can see why some people might still resent her and be suspicious of her, then you can imagine that some people aren’t ready to accept her into a space for women and give her a platform there. Forgiveness, I know you know how that works. Don’t be obtuse.

  38. brucegorton says

    and having “criticised women who wear the niqab in her article for the Daily Mail . . . [by] refusing to believe that Muslim women have made their own decision to wear the niqab she denies Muslim women agency”.

    That is the specific point Ophelia Benson is addressing here – how valid that specific criticism is.

    Further part of what I was responding to was xyz’s statement:

    …way to ignore the fact that Julie Bindel is also being heavily criticized for her transphobia. We’re supposed to be defending TERFs for their criticisms of the niqab now? Strange days.

    The fact is it doesn’t matter if someone is an awful person – if a criticism isn’t valid it isn’t valid. Other issues with the person being criticised are irrelevant.

    The Republicans are pretty much awful, yet we do not accept 9/11 trutherism because, however awful the Republicans are, the ideas behind the 9/11 truther movement are bullshit.

    And that is not defending the Republicans on all those issues that make them awful, it is applying a singular standard.

  39. says

    Thomathy @ 40 – I was replying to that inane comment saying we should be default-suspicious of all self-described radical feminists – we, here, on this blog. I wasn’t talking about spaces for women in general.

  40. Thomathy, Such A 'Mo says

    Oh, yeah, well, we here shouldn’t be suspicious by default of all self-described radical feminists. Besides, TERFs are really easy to spot; suspicion would be naïve.

  41. HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr says

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/to-julie-burchill-suzanne-moore-and-all-feminists-the-absence-of-trans-people-in-the-media-is-as-important-as-the-absence-of-women-in-the-media-8450401.html
    She never did actually stop hating trans people, especially trans women. That one of the many reasons for her no-platforming is not one you agree with doesn’t mean it was a bad decision overall.

    And this isn’t the first time you’ve defended her and then started pleading ignorance when called on it, or the first time you’ve been given proof. Plus, you give the impression that you actually just agree with her as it is.

  42. says

    How would you know whom Bindel hates or doesn’t hate? How would anyone know that? We’re not privy to the inside of her head.

    You’re giving an incredibly bad, tendentious, incompetent reading here, apparently because you’re so determined to label me a TERF. I never said it was a bad decision overall. Never said that. Never said it.

    And what’s this “this isn’t the first time” shit? Who do you think you are? The blog police? The Julie Bindel police?

  43. says

    I don’t remember “defending” Bindel in the past. I just did a search here and found nothing. What exactly are you talking about? Do you have a little list? Do you have anything? Or are you just throwing shit, hoping it will stick?

  44. says

    I ignored “the fact that Julie Bindel is also being heavily criticized for her transphobia” because I don’t know enough about Bindel to discuss it.

    Sounds like the perfect opportunity to rectify your ignorance then. If you give a damn about trans people that is. Which I’m not entirely convinced of given some of your comments in the past.

  45. says

    I wasn’t looking for “the perfect opportunity” to rectify my ignorance about Bindel. I wasn’t looking to get into a whole big thing about Bindel. I wanted to dispute one item. That’s all. That’s not enough evidence for you to decide what I do or don’t care about. I don’t have infinite time, I do have a lot of things to do, I’m not all that interested in the exact quantity of transphobia contained in Julie Bindel. I don’t accept the principle that I’m not allowed to dispute the logic of one claim about Julie Bindel’s views on the hijab without first getting an encyclopedic knowledge of her views on trans issues.

  46. says

    Ah yes, I shouldn’t have bothered answering Tony.

    Yes. Tony, whatever the rightness or wrongness of your intent, you’re being an asshole. Feel free to piss off back to Pharyngula and complain that I brought that to your attention.

  47. sonofrojblake says

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/30/andrea-dworkin-the-feminist-knew-teach-young-women

    Among much else:

    Although Andrea could be high maintenance, insisting on special security measures when she spoke at conferences or other public venues (her life had been threatened more than once), there was no monstrous ego to deal with, and nothing of the spoilt, pampered middle-class feminist we Brits had come to dread in our north American sisters

    Vintage Bindel.

  48. Dunc says

    Sorry, haven’t been checking back.
    Ophelia, @23:

    Dunc: what is your point?

    I wasn’t particularly making a point as such, I was just pointing out that (at least in the circles I move in), Bindel’s transphobia is by far her best-known characteristic, with the implication that I’m mildly surprised that you’re unaware of it. I certainly wasn’t trying to make any kind of accusation, nor was I trying to imply that there’s something iffy about defending her in other contexts. I was just expressing surprise, much as you would if you encountered somebody discussing Angelina Jolie with the caveat that they’re not really aware of her acting career. Nothing sinister.

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