radfem2012

The thing about arguing with Radfems is that ..

… you have to realize that most of them don’t actually consider trans women oppressed.  They think we are men, and benefit from male privilege.

They think that we are the oppressor of cis women.

Arguing that marginalized and/or oppressed groups should have their own safe spaces will only cause them to go “But what about FEMALES, we are oppressed, why do we have to let these MEN in?” or something along those lines.

It’s a core disconnect with reality that drives their worldview.  Everything wrong with how they treat us stems from this fallacy.

Radical feminism is a revolutionary politics for the liberation of all women from male domination. Radical feminists neither seek ‘equality’ with men within a fundamentally oppressive system, nor simply to extend women’s range of choices whilst leaving that oppressive system intact. Radical feminists are engaged in the struggle to end all forms of male violence, and for the liberation of all women from patriarchal oppression. In short, we are engaged in a struggle for total social transformation. In Catherine Mackinnon’s phrase, radical feminism is ‘feminism unmodified’.
Radfem 2012 and the Trans issue

RT on twitter: “I submit that the point of radfem "safe spaces” is in fact to make clear how unsafe they want trans women to feel, everywhere.“

A message to Radscums attending Radfem2012:
http://transactivist.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/message/

and a statement by the LGBT community as a whole:

http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/news/article/lgbt/Statement-on-RadFem2012/

#radfem2012

Three pieces on the RadFem transphobic debate that has recently blown up in the UK:

Radical feminists are acting like a cult- criticising the conference & Sheila Jeffreys

Let us be free to debate transgenderism without being accused of ‘hate speech’ - Jeffreys’ response, which manages to miss the point entirely

My message to those who would attend Radfem 2012 - a moving piece from an activist that demonstrates what is at stake.

#Radfem2013; A beginning of an explanation?

For many people the activities of feminism are pretty clear cut – an attempt to improve the treatment and rights of women across the world, both in the developed world and the developing. The focus of feminism varies from the everyday sexism women face, to the harsh reality of young girls forced into marriage, or the issues affecting men caused by a patriarchal society.

Unfortunately for many of those involved in these movements feminism is not as clear cut as this. Issues of trans* identifying individuals is a particular point of conflict with some parts of the community. Mainly, those who identify as radical feminists.

Radical feminists originate from second wave feminism and are an incredibly vocal group for calling out problems with the treatment of women. Within this group exists the TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists), who  can be equally vocal in their calls for trans*women to not enter their spaces. There are a variety of factors for this demand, and this article is not the place to discuss the philosophy behind it, but it is a great source of tension within the feminist community, since many now advocate for the rights of all those identifying as a woman as opposed to those born as one.

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Which brings us to the debate that rages over RadFem2013. A simple search of the twitter hashtag #radfem2013 brings up a chorus of tweets from those both for it and against it. Before we try to look into exactly what has happened here, it is important to look at the three main groups in this:

Radical Feminist: The organisers of RadFem2013. They advocate women’s rights across the world, but have also made themselves enemies of both trans*activists and Mens Rights groups. TERFs are well known for transphobic posts and are largely excluded from third wave feminism because of this. They are also known for posting some more disturbing posts with a hint of misandry.

Trans*activist: For the purposes of this post I will be using the terms trans*activist and third wave feminism interchangeably, since on this occasion at least, there is a lot of overlap between the two groups. These individuals often stand up for both cis women’s and trans*people’s rights. This group is the most likely to contain social justice warriors, and are known for calling out both TERFs and MRAs for different reasons.

MRAs: Mens Rights Activists (MRA) are a group who believe that feminism doesn’t address the current sexism within society that affects men, or that feminism is a destructive force in society. The group is large and varied, though are largely considered unneeded or problematic by those trying to address sexism in society due to their narrow focus and on occasion equating feminism with radical feminism. Whilst there is nothing specific in their philosophy that is transphobic, they frequently clash with both groups due to their stance on feminism.

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A few days ago there was a flurry of posts on twitter about radfem2013 and the possibility of it being cancelled, or the venue moved at least, due to the London Irish Centre receiving too many complaints about the convention. Initially, the organisers of Radfem2013 were contacted over twitter. Whilst they agreed to an interview, they stopped responding after the second email with questions, and so the exchange had to be cut short. But, as promised to the person who answered, here are the questions and replies, unedited.

Me:

If I could start with asking what has happened in the past with regard to these conferences and MRA harassment? You mention in your post about this being the second year this has happened.

Radfem2013:

I can’t comment too much about what happened last year because I wasn’t on the organizing committee and just watched it unfold as an observer. Last year, Men’s Rights Activists and Transgender Activists heard that a conference was happening in London and that Sheila Jeffreys, a professor of Political Science in Melbourne, was to be one of the keynote speakers. They began a letter writing campaign to Conway Hall, the venue that had agreed to host the conference, describing Jeffreys as a “bigot” and a “transphobe” and asking for her to be no-platformed. Conway Hall caved to the pressure and the conference had to be held elsewhere in secret.

Me:

What are the tactics being employed? Could you expand on what you have published in your statement, such as how or where women are being harassed online?

Radfem2013:

Women are being harassed online constantly. This happens on Twitter, on Facebook, on Reddit, on Tumblr. Basically anywhere there is a feminist presence, there are men trying to shut us up. These men use sexual harassment as one of their primary tactics. Women I know have had sexually abusive messages sent to them about their very young children, and have been threatened with death and rape. I myself used to receive rape threats at least once a week when I blogged on Tumblr. Men’s Rights Activists also use ‘doxxing’ as a form of intimidation. That is when they collect information about particular individual women and publish their home addresses, telephone numbers, children’s names, places of employment etc. in order to silence them.

Me:

Have similar tactics been performed this year? You mention harassment, but it seemed like this year the intimidation was more physical (for instance the theft).

Radfem2013:

We do not know who was responsible for the theft. We just know it wasn’t us. Yes, this year the intimidation does seem to be more physical than last. The online harassment has been consistent throughout and doesn’t just come up around the times of the conferences.

Me:

Which websites do MRAs use to “doxx” these women? Are they the same ones being used to doxx the staff at the london irish centre?

Radfem2013:

I am not going to link you to these sites because I want to protect the safety of the women who are being doxxed.

Me:

Has there been any harassment specifically directed at women for being part of radfem2013? Could you elaborate or link me to any examples of this? I have obviously the current twitter posts going on, but are there any specific posts you’d like attention drawn to?

Radfem2013:

I have heard reports of women losing friends over their decision to attend RadFem2013. All of the organizers have been targeted for harassment usually on Twitter so check the hashtag for that.

Me:

You mentioned that MRAs and transgender activists were responsible for trying to shut down radfem2012, but you seemed to focus more on the MRAs in regard to online harassment. Does it only tend to be MRAs who cause problems for women online?

Radfem2013:

It is not just MRA’s, no. Trans activists and their female allies regularly try to shut down radical feminist discussions.

This is unfortunately the end of my discussion with the organisers of Radfem2013. They did not reply to my follow-up questions in regard to the event, which were:

I understand you don’t want to link me to the site, but could you give me some more details about where the dox are put up. For instance is it a site like red watch or are they posted into forums? You don’t have to give any specific details of where they are, but obviously doxxing is a serious issue and a tactic employed by many groups on the internet, I just want to get a better understanding of how MRAs targeting your group do it.

How do trans activists and their female allies attempt to shut down discussions online? Is it with similar tactics to the MRAs or are there different methods?

Aside from the issues you are campaigning against, in regard to the atrocious way women in the world are treated, have you experienced any physical harassment for your radical feminist views or about attending radfem2012/2013? I don’t mean to trivialise your cause here, I just would like to focus specifically on harassment directed at you for radical feminist beliefs.

Why do you feel that both MRAs and trans activists target your movement? Normally these groups are opposed on other matters, to my knowledge.

Despite having to be held in secret last year, would you say radfem2012 was a success? Do you feel holding these events in secret is something that will have to continue for the foreseeable future?

There was no explanation as to why they stopped responding, but the rest of this article has been pieced together from various sources on the internet, and it does paint a somewhat different picture.

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Let’s begin with the official statement from the radfems about the controversy surrounding the London Irish Centre’s second thoughts about holding the event. It can be found here or here. Here is a screenshot of the page.

Update currently on the Radfem2013 website

One paragraph is of particular importance:

Unsurprisingly, and for the second year in a row, men’s rights activists have bullied venue staff hosting Radfem 2013, into submitting to their terror tactics. Despite the fact that the organisers of this year’s Rad Fem 2013 were completely transparent about our intentions for the conference and the potential consequences of the London Irish Centre’s acceptance of our booking (i.e. harassment from men who don’t like us), the venue has been bullied by a bunch of men’s rights activists and the venue are considering cancelling our booking. Men’s rights advocates have harassed feminists online, bullied venue staff at the London Irish Centre (this year’s host of Radfem 2013), including putting the names of staff on websites and blogs. Staff were also shaken up by the theft of a laptop and mobile phone from staff. This is now under criminal investigation and we have no idea who was responsible, but what we do know is that it is us who are being punished. [emphasis mine]

Here the organisers make specific accusations as to why the centre are having second thoughts about holding the event. It is down to harassment of staff by men’s rights activists. This is also said in the email correspondence with the radfem organisers. The most important of these points is the idea of doxxing.

For those of you unaware of this practise, it is when a persons personal details are collected, i.e. name, address, email address, user names, pictures, etc. It is a corruption of the word documentation, being shortened to dox. Doxxing, or “dropping dox” is when these dox are posted on an online space, either a public one or a private one. Whilst many people fear their dox ending up on a highly public site like 4chan, a common place for details to be posted, this is not as dangerous as more private or specialised sites such as red watch. As you saw from the follow up questions an attempt to establish if there was a site with such details of women, but there was no reply. The important distinction between the places is the audience. Putting someones information on 4chan will expose those details to a lot of people. And a lot of people may use those details to harass, upset and troll you. But the audience of 4chan is not coming to 4chan to look for details of feminists to harass, it is there to be amused. Trolling is part of this, but they move on when the thread fades to oblivion normally. The worry is that a site specifically made to host peoples dox will be visited by an audience only looking to specifically find dox of people they wish to harass or worse. If anyone has information about such a site, could they please send an email with it since this post will need to be amended.

Back to radfem2013. Why is the point about Men’s Right’s activists important? Well, in part because of this statement by the London Irish Centre themselves:

David Barlow, the charity’s director, said the centre decided against hosting the RadFem conference after receiving 29 complaints about the event. as well as a protest outside its building last week by MRA London, a men’s activist group.

Barlow said: “Quite a few of the complaints were from the transgender community and then a men’s group came along the other day to hand out leaflets about why the event should not be held here.

“We did some research into RadFem and discovered certain language was used and some statements were made about transgender people that would go against our equalities and diversity policy.

Statement from the London Irish Centre in the Sunday Times.

The statement by the radfems about the harassment of staff at the centre appears on the 20th April, supposedly after the MRA protest mentioned in the quote. But there is no mention of this in the response. Is this the harassment they mentioned? It may be, but even when questioning the radfems about MRA involvement in this they did not mention that MRAs had actually turned up at the centre to protest the convention, which would have been something to mention. Also the centre themselves do not mention anywhere in the article about being threatened or harassed, only that they received 29 complaints, mostly about the transphobia of the group and the protest.

A second rather damning point is a post by one of the conference organisers on storify. This site can be used to collect together tweets to be read in order and essentially present a story. There are no links or screen caps to post because the person involved has asked to be kept out of this as much as possible, but if forced posts with names blacked out can be provided. Essentially a trans*woman, angry that one of the leading radical feminists (a TERF) (Cathy Brennan) would not remove a picture of her from her website outing her as a trans*person, contacted the Irish Centre. This was some time ago. And the Irish Centre got back to her about it. She has only recently released these posts, though this was on the same day as the official statement, which 3 days later is still up laying the blame squarely on MRAs.

The Irish Centre said that they would look into the issue themselves and that they shared concerns about the group due to the screen shots she submitted with the initial email to the centre. These emails contained transphobic comments, and she also raised the point that the registration process specifically prohibited trans*women from coming to the venue.

So the situation we are left with is this:

  • Weeks prior a trans*woman emails the London Irish Centre about the potential transphobic nature of the conference
  • London Irish Centre responds that they will ere on the side of caution should they look into it more and find this to be the case, and cancel the event.
  • She encourages others to email the centre about the issue
  • Weeks later we hear that the event may be cancelled and that the London Irish Centre is having second thoughts, but not quite sure why
  • MRAs reveal they mounted an impromptu protest the day before the official statement is released (19th April to my knowledge)
  • Official statement is released (20th April). This statement does not mention trans activists at all in relation to getting them banned. Claims that staff are being harassed online and staffs names and details published. Also alludes to a recent theft at the centre which is impacting their decision. No firm details offered for either of these claims.
  • On this day, one of those involved in the conference also creates the storify account, showing they knew this trans*woman had emailed the centre and even had a picture of the response from the centre
  • MRAs release press statement claiming responsibility for the cancellation also, due to their protest.
  • No mention of protest or physical intimidation of staff by this picket
  • 21st April, my brief interview with the Radfem2013 organisers. No mention of protest or the trans*woman who sent the email.
  • Irish Centre interview to Sunday Times journalist released with afore mentioned quote. No mention of threatening behaviour, and main concern seems to have been transphobia.
  • 23rd April, official statement still the same.
  • Make of this what you will

I will update this post as and when new information comes to light.

I’d like to also make 2 points. Firstly, whatever you think the organisers of radfem2013 are doing here, it is not unique. Many other groups on the internet have members who will do this and have done in the past.

Secondly I believe in freedom of speech and think that this talk needs to be brought out into the open where a rational discourse can be had and if there is hate speech present, people can be exposed to it and realise how wrong it is.

Radfem2012

So fucking sick of this shit. Let’s just make this clear right off the bat.

  • women have a perfect right to organise their own spaces. Spaces that exclude men to whatever degree they like.
  • As someone who is transmasculine I should only have (and only want) access to those spaces on the same terms as are laid out for other masculine identified people.
  • I am not seeking to oppress women I was raised as a female, I’ve been sexually assaulted as a female I’ve seen, experienced and been a victim of partriarchy. That’s not something I want pity for it just is. I want a world where my sister doesn’t get harrassed on the street. Where my best friend doesn’t get men talking over her. Where women don’t get threatened with rape when they say things men don’t like (guys for the record that shit is fucked up beyond any measure I could use you don’t threaten people with sexual violence. Ever. Oh and women wishing rape on other women is just as fucked up). That goes for women who say things I don’t like just as much as it goes for women who say things I do.

Right so now that’s dealt with.

I said I was raised as female what I mean by this is that I spent 18 years of my life doing a really bad impression of a girl/woman. I was surrounded by strong, inspiring women of varying degrees of feminism (from my Mother who raised me to reject gender roles to her friends who wouldn’t own male animals or even came out with things I regarded as deeply bi/transphobic before I even understood what those concepts were). I didn’t come to realise I was male because I liked DIY/F1/Rugby/blue because I wasn’t raised to understand those as being male activities it was just stuff that people did and I was free to enjoy it or not as I chose. I came to realise I was male because just as my hobbies did not define my gender nor did my body being called she and her felt wrong on a deeply emotional level that I couldn’t even begin to explain.

That’s how I know I’m male not because the outside world tells me I am but because everything in me screams it. That’s why it seems so wrong for Radfem2012 to exclude transwomen because they ARE women. Because excluding transwomen makes about as much sense to me as excluding women who were raised catholic. You’re being excluded for something you had no say in, no control over and didn’t even want. I simply cannot understand why someone would place so much value on what is, to me, a lump of elements bound together and so little value on the human mind and, for want of a better word, soul.

Have transwomen benefitted from male privilege? Of course at some point they will have but there are transwomen out there who have been identifying as women longer than I’ve been alive they have more right to the title woman than I will ever have and yet you would foist it onto me and deny it them despite the fact they fight the same fight, they are victims of the same weapons as you are. They experience rape and reproductive control(a different method but the same principle). They experience violence and verbal assault for no other reason than their identity just as you do.

Trans people are not confused, we are not buying into patriarchy, we are not trying to infiltrate women’s spaces. We are just people, trying to live our lives the best we can. Some of us are radical, many of us are feminist (or allies) we want to share your fight or stand alongside you in solidarity for the liberation of women and the destruction of the patriarchy. When you deny us tell us we aren’t wanted it hurts but we’ll manage we’re used to the irrational hatred of others.

It’s when you advocate the removal of our medical treatment (which for many of us is the only thing keeping us this side of the grave). When you post our details online and make us fear for our lives (and whether you intend it or not that’s what it does). It’s when you call us rapists when so many of us have been victims of rape. That’s when you go too far. That’s when we feel the need to fight back. We don’t fight back because you are women we fight back because when you do this you stand alongside a partriarchy that you claim to oppose. A patriarchy that wants to keep nice white, non disabled, non (obviously) trans, rich men right at the top and will use absolutely any means at it’s disposal to do so. By ignoring trans women as far as I can see you’re making it easier for the patriarchy to oppress all of us who aren’t them. If you’re forcing trans women down aren’t you just making it one less group for the patriarchy to have to bother forcing down?

You know what I don’t much care what you do so you don’t accept transwomen fuck it who cares there are plenty of other feminists out there who do. But I’m pretty damn certain at this point your doing the work of the patriarchy for it and whether you agree or not (and I don’t give a flying fuck either way this isn’t an argument it’s a statement and I’ve no intention of entering into dialogue with anyone on the subject) shouldn’t you at least be giving that some critical thought? That perhaps you have become so devoted to preserving women’s spaces for people with female brains AND functioning ‘female’ reproductive systems that you’ve started to stand side by side with your own oppressors on the subject even if it’s for different reasons.

Think about it maybe.

Radfem 2012 - Radscum! There, i said it.

Shitstorm on twitter.
I oppose radfem as I oppose any form of oppression and cissexist bigotry. Transphobia is transmisogyny.

I oppose radfem not because I oppose women’s rights. I’m in the fight against misogyny and patriarchy just as well.
I oppose radfem because radfem opposes me, as a trans, and causes me harm by perpetuating transphobia, cissexist bigotry, and denying my liberation.

- follow me on twitter:
Chi_28.twitter.com

youtube

The power was out in my flat all night so all I could manage was this Blair Witch style direct upload from my phone, with a flash shining RIGHT IN MY EYES.

I’ll put a proper video up tomorrow but in the meantime please read this response post to the trans* exclusionary policies of groups like RadFem2012 because it is perfect. 

There's nothing radical about transphobia

“Personally, I don’t care what that something is. The fact that some people know they are male or female regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth is enough for me, because I respect other people’s lived experiences. I don’t want to sit around "critiquing” trans people’s identity because - aside from the fact that this basically boils down to a disgusting debate on whether people have the right to exist - as a cis person I’m in absolutely no position to understand. And, quite frankly, it’s none of my business.“

(Read)

Oh Happy Day!

Just been told that Conway Hall (the theoretical and currently listed hosts of Radfem2012) Have informed Sheila Jeffreys that she isn’t welcome in their building. Thank you Conway Hall!

This has of course raised a huge amount of fuss and palaver with trans people being accused of silencing her. (WE didn’t. YOUR failing to be aware of the anti-discrimination policies of the venue YOU booked is not OUR fault- equally she is perfectly free to say what she likes she just can’t do it in a place that explicitly says it will not tolerate discrimination against trans people.)

I’m not going to shed a tear that her jolly holiday has been marred. She is a hateful woman and I have no sympathy for her on this. She advocates the removal of treatment bar talking cures from trans people (a measure that would lead to us experiencing a far higher suicide rate than we currently do). She tells us we have mutilated our bodies and shames and ridicules us(yes possibly technically true but to tell people they should live in the body they were born with even if this drives them to suicide is disgusting, it’s my body not yours and you have no right to seek to control it or the way I feel about it). She calls us rapists. She tells trans men that we are buying into patriarchy (yeah because cis guys fucking love us that’s why they never rape us or beat us up or kill us. Being trans men doesn’t free us from oppression any more than being male and black or disabled does it just frees us from some oppression unless we are open about being trans or are read).

To be clear. If Jeffreys was calling for a world in which people should not be compelled to have surgery to be accepted as the people they are I would be 100% behind her (I’d still have chest surgery but that’s because I don’t and never have considered my breasts to be part of my body I have absolutely no connection to them as a part of me- to the extent that I frequently bang them into things because I forget they’re there but that choice is mine to make and should not be something I am forced to do to be accepted as me). But she isn’t she is calling for nothing less than our eradication by passive means (she’s not going to kill us but she’s going to do everything in her power to prevent us existing as a group and that will cause the deaths of many of us). That is hate. it is ugly and unnecessary, it is vile and cruel. We will not tolerate it and nor should we have to.

We are people just as much as she is a person and we have just as much right to live our lives without fear, just as much right to be happy, just as much right to be equal. If you would seek to deny us that happiness, that equality then you are siding with kyriarchy* and patriarchy.

*Kyriarchy- From the Greek meaning ‘Lord’ a development of patriarchy which recognises the intersectionality of oppression more here.

I don't have the space on twitter to say what I really feel so here goes...

Because of people fighting for what they believe in and what they know is right… For #equality… I can vote, I can walk down the street and hold hands with my partner, without fear of being ostracised, abused or arrested. I can drink in any bar I wish. I can now MARRY the woman I love. For women who support this #radfem2012 especially the gay women, I think what they are arguing is hypocritical, prejudice and down right preposterous!! I feel by allowing this discrimination is letting down and quite frankly shitting on all the progress that has been made by much better people than me that allow me to be free to be who I am, whether I am female, male, born male living as female or born female living as whatever the fuck I feel is right for me! we’re working towards completely eradicating homophobia, but femenists being outright transphobic makes me seeth!!
If we want equality, we need to lead by example!! Not this tit for tat ‘well men have done this for years so why can’t we!?’ attitude!! It’s pathetic!!
This radfem business has gone too far, we want and always have wanted equal rights for women, not more rights!! It’s insane… And my brain has now stopped functioning cos I’m tired, but just felt like I wanted to say my piece!!
Thank you and goodnight :)