While LaDIYfest Sheffield generally encourages and welcomes more feminist activity in our city, we write in opposition to the event being held at the Quaker Meeting House in Sheffield with Julie Bindel speaking this weekend about the ‘No Platforming’ of radical feminism. It is not an event we want in our city, in a similar vein to Julie’s attempts to arrange book tour events in Sheffield which were cancelled twice before due to protest, once by a local organisation as a result of our intervention, and once by the Sheffield Students Union for contravening their inclusion policies .
The talk this weekend purports to address the theme of ‘No Platforming’ which has prevented her from speaking in the past. This is due to the increasing unacceptability of some of her views. The fact is, Julie Bindel has not been and can never truly be no-platformed as long as she has the ability to go on speaking tours across the country and write about her transphobic, biphobic and whorephobic opinions in the national press (see links below). To suggest that she is marginalised and silenced for these opinions is not the case.
LaDIYfest Sheffield is a small collective of people of different genders, many of us are exhausted enough from facing the daily battle of existing as women, as sex workers or trans people or bisexuals to ‘silence’ a powerful media personality such as Julie Bindel. But yet, we should fight against people who either don’t believe in those existences or don’t believe such individuals should exist. Transphobia and whorephobia and biphobia go beyond opinions and move into the territory of hate speech which is dangerous and used to justify continued violence against us as those individuals, whether this is overt and physical or takes the subtler forms of institutional and social discrimination.
We were accused by Julie Bindel’s supporters of being childish, but protecting your space is not childish, we have grown up and realised that we don’t need to accept abuse done unto us. We were accused of dividing the feminist movement and letting down the side but we don’t believe in a movement that allows the marginalisation and murder of our siblings in struggle. Where people like Julie Bindel (and now all those who signed the recent letter) are concerned, no safer spaces policy can be strong enough to make their participation in our spaces safe and inclusive for all who need protection, support and solidarity.
Julie Bindel preaches a feminism that is not inclusive, it is harmful and hostile and by consenting to a platform in our city, or not raising awareness about our concerns, we would be complicit in that abuse. Sadly, no other speakers who hold opposing beliefs have been invited to speak alongside Julie Bindel at this event to hold an equal platform and enable a whole encompassing viewpoint to be appreciated by an interested audience – There is a total lack of contrast to allow a continually evolving educational space, which is why we won’t be attending to enter into a debate.
Simply, by not supporting this event, we are making a statement that we do not believe Julie Bindel’s voice needs any further amplification, what she says should not warrant any publicity or audience in our city. Her right to speak is NOT more important than protecting the marginalised communities she speaks against.
NB – We have not called for any protest or specific boycott, but we hope this post will be widely shared. Anyone who wishes to organise any action would have our support.
Julie Bindel – A Brief History of why people object:
– Claiming that bisexual women do not have the autonomy to exercise their own sexual preferences or politics
– Hugely dismissive about the validity of sex work as ‘real work’
– Critical of transgender people, feeling entitled to speak against their access to medical treatment, despite an apology for some of her earlier notorious comments, which led to her being excluded, 11 years ago, she continues to be a threat and danger to these communities, communities who need our support and solidarity as increasing numbers of trans identified individuals are reported as being killed each year for the very fact that they are trans.
– Critical of Muslims’ right to wear the veil
For more info about the wider significance: