Boycott Femifest

Cross-posted from the Brighton Feminist Collective blog.

FemiFest is a radical feminist conference happening next weekend in London. As in previous years (with RadFem 2012 and RadFem 2013), the event has made it clear this it is only open to cis women, stating “we welcome all women who were raised and socialized as girls to join us”. The conference is organised by RadFem UK, a relatively new organisation that takes pride in its radical feminism, a concept perhaps once used for those who believe in an overhaul of society in order to address patriarchy, but which now has been claimed by a brand of feminism that perpetuates hate speech against trans identities, advocates for laws and beliefs that are seriously detrimental to the safety and well-being of sex workers and has a history of racism. This specific group is targeting young feminists, and organising events that give a platform to these views. They are also intimidating the venue for this event with legal challenges in order to be able to host it.

We, as a Collective, categorically do not support FemiFest, or this form of feminism. We wish to make this statement publically as, all too often, these events occur, and these views are expressed, without opposition from the feminist community.

This has to change.

The Brighton Feminist Collective is trans inclusive, sex positive and pro-sex workers’ rights. This event, and RadFem UK as a whole, is far from following this ethos. The announced speakers include Janice Raymond, Germane Greer and Julie Bindel, public figures who are widely known for their violent transphobia and their anti-sex worker beliefs. One or two examples for each speaker should be sufficient to illustrate this: Janice Raymond authored The Transsexual Empire (widely considered to be hate speech) and influenced US law on trans healthcare and actively campaigns against sex work; Germane Greer referred to trans women as ‘rapists’; Julie Bindel considers the medical treatment of trans children to be ‘child abuse’ and is a vocal anti-sex work campaigner.

Rachel Moran is also announced as a speaker – a self-identified survivor of prostitution, she is an advocate for the further stigmatisation of sex work through criminalisation of clients and her support of groups such as Abolish Prostitution Now!. Her experiences, of course, are to be respected and heard, but her commitment to endangering the lives and well-being of sex workers is unacceptable. Femi Otitoju will also be speaking – Co-chair of Women’s Aid, she also ran a session at last year’s RadFem event alongside Sheila Jeffreys and Cathy Brennan, known transphobes who actively seek out the identities of trans women to out them online and in their own communities.

These women are being given a platform for hate speech. Indeed, they are being celebrated for it.

We are pro-sex workers’ rights and anti-shaming, and as such we cannot support a group or an event that calls for the abolition of the sex industry and for legal changes that will further endanger the lives of sex workers. We are trans inclusive, and as such we cannot support a group or an event that is bullying, dismissive and violent towards the trans community. The targeting of trans women and sex workers by these speakers plays a large part in their so-called radical feminism, and it must be challenged.

The Brighton Feminist Collective is made up of individual members and therefore does not adhere to a particular brand of feminism, but we do strongly agree that transphobia, anti-sex worker sentiment and other forms of hateful bigotry have absolutely no place in the feminist movement.

We therefore call on all feminists to boycott and publicly call out the behaviour and views of the speakers at this event, and to address the many wide-ranging issues of the organisation itself. We encourage groups and individuals to co-sign this statement in order to show a united front*, celebrating a feminism that embraces all identities, that centres and magnifies the voices of those most affected by oppression, bigotry and bullying, against a growing movement of hate that bears our name.

*drop a message in our ask box or email brightonfeministcollective@gmail.com if you’d like to add your name to this post.

Signatories: Brighton Feminist Collective

We wholeheartedly agree with this statement and praise the work being done by Brighton Feminist Collective to raise awareness of the dangerous aims of this conference.

Last year LaDIYfest Sheffield fundraised for the charity National Ugly Mugs, which helps to protect sex workers’s safety, and we condemn forms of feminism which are anti-sex worker or transphobic in the strongest possible terms.

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