Free Speech for ALL … except for Feminists

Julie Bindel has canceled her appearance at a University of Manchester Debating Union event on pornography and “empowerment”.  Bindel was invited to participate in the debate due to her long career of campaigning on women’s issues, feminism, lesbian and gay rights and against the sex industry. She has withdrawn after receiving rape and death threats; 3 of which she deemed serious enough to report to the police. 

In 2004, Bindel wrote an article for the Guardian using language that many deemed transphobic. Bindel apologised. Yet, Bindel has been forced off a panel by a campaign of harassment which included rape and death threats. 

Another feminist campaigner has been silenced by rape and death threats because people dislike what she has to say. And, somehow, this is Bindel’s fault. Bindel is being blamed for being the victim of rape and death threats.

The standfirst of the article in the Independent says it all:

The high-profile feminist writer and campaigner has dropped out of a student-run debate at the University of Manchester after allegedly receiving hate mail.

Bindel did not “allegedly” receive hate mail. Bindel was sent hate mail that included rape and death threats. She then handed it over to the police.

There is no “alleged” crime. A crime was committed and referred to the police for investigation. Whether or not this results in criminal prosecution is irrelevant to the fact that a crime was committed. I hope a criminal prosecution follows since the silencing of women by using threats of rape and death is becoming standard fare.

Rape and death threats are male violence. They are attempts to control and silence women. 

There are no excuses. No valid reasons.

Using rape and death threats to silence women just proves that free speech is only the preserve of men.

If your activism involves sending abusive or threatening messages to women you disagree with, you aren’t just doing activism wrong. 

You are doing humanity wrong.

2 thoughts on “Free Speech for ALL … except for Feminists”

  1. And this has to be set in context of what the harrassers are trying to gain, whether it is shutting a strong feminist out of a debate on the harm/”empowerment” of pornography, or kow-towing to the current “men’s rights’ activists’ hit list, or gaining for some men the privilege to be deemed “women” with full access to other women according to how they say they feel about gender. This has to be documented critically, over and above the current level of intimidation. Nothing less will begin to drain the abscess.

    1. We need for the CPS to prosecute the threats directed at Bindel, Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasy properly: not just “banning” people from social media but custodial sentences and long-term supervision once released. As it is, there is no real consequence for these crimes. The successful prosecution of one of these violent threats will allow us to contextualise the rest so that the media and MRAs actually understand what is happening rather than treating these as individual cases.

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