This blogpost is cross-posted from Sisterhood is Powerful and is written by Ruby Fruit who is one of the organisers of RadFem2013.
I don’t think it matters what you’re individual stance on radical feminism is, surely all women should be extremely worried that MREs are causing such extreme harassment that they can get a venue to cancel a feminist event. If the MREs are dictating policy, are any feminist events safe?
And, frankly, if you’re one of the “feminists” who thinks that the MRE harassment of radfems is a “good” thing, you need to reexamine your feminist principles because silencing women is not a feminist stance.
* MRE = Male rights extremists.
This post is intended to shed light on all that has happened, so far, to radfem2013. What has happened should be important to those on the radical left and all feminists everywhere – but thanks to alliances made between trans/queers with MRE‘s, it’s very difficult for us to be heard in the public domain without the distortions flooding our truths and drowning them out.
There is a reason why, whenever I go to refer to anti-RF blog posts, the sticky “L” on my keyboard leads me to write “bog”. That is far more apt. Bogs which are full of misleading lies, distortions, inaccurate interpretations of what radical feminism, as a movement, is, including a continual misapplication of the law in order to attempt to censor our beliefs. Bogs which pull you down more and more into the mud of obfuscation and red herrings so that the political significance and/or consequences of the MRE ‘s (Male Rights Extremists) actions are lost
DISPELLING MYTHS ABOUT RADFEM2013
I want to dispel some myths floating about right now in the social media about radfem2013 and very clearly lay them out as, it seems, that some trans/queer activists and their allies are missing both the facts and the wider implications about what has happened, so far, in relation to radfem2013.
Stavvers, a vocal anti-radical feminist blogger, did a bog post which was re-tweeted (so far) 59 times. I haven’t checked to see how many men that includes but I am sure we can assume that extremist right wing men are among them – despite her rather weak attempts to paint some distance between her political position and MREs. Her jubilant support of yet another venue folding under pressure in relation to a radfem conference booking hinges completely on her mistaken belief that radfem2013 has been rejected by London Irish Centre/the company with whom the booking is with -Off-To-Work – on the grounds of “hate speech”
I can categorically assure her that this is absolutely false. The real reason (detailed below) is due to MRE intimidation of the venue and its staff. I would also encourage her, and anyone else, to look at our conference website and see we are completely transparent with what we’re about. We wish to discuss male violence, and gender, within an international context. We want to provide a creative, supportive space for women. We support the rights of autonomous disadvantaged groups to meet. We claim a right to meet around specific issues relating to biology such as reproductive rights. None of this is unreasonable. It is far from the false accusation of “hate speech”. Our analysis of gender is not rooted in “hate”, it is rooted in the way in which gender has been structured under patriarchy to oppress women.
THE STAVVERS BOG AND ITS SMEARS
Stavvers starts her bog by tweeting “Please read and share why the #radfem2013 venue pulled out. There’s been a lot of myths spread”. The bitter irony of her last sentence not lost on me, I @rubyfruit2 attempted to explain to her that she was wrong. She merely repeated this rumour about hate speech and blocked me. That is how nonsensical the targeting of radical feminists has become. Someone in the know tries to explain rationally, and someone in complete ignorance shuts down any possibility of dialogue. You don’t have to agree with our politics, but the implications of stavvers’ words and behaviour, and that of her allies/friends, is that radical feminists are not allowed to critique gender, and the role it plays in oppressing women, without being targeted with hostility and hatred. In a dangerous reversal, she states: “To some women, the RadFem2013 conference organisers and speakers are a persistent and dangerous threat.” As one of the organisers, perhaps you’d like to tell me exactly how *I* am a threat to any other woman. That is a despicable statement and one straight out of a MRE handbook. I find this bog and its false claims based on a MRE smear campaign unacceptable and so should you, whoever you are.
MRE HARASSMENT OF VENUE
The real reason for the company’s concerns about the booking is confirmed by Off To Work, (the company which took the booking). In a facebook statement, it says the concerns are “about staff safety”. There were numerous incidents of intimidation, within less than a week, which targeted the centre, with the clear aim of putting so much pressure on the venue that it would capitulate and withdraw its commitment to honour the booking. It is no secret that the MREs claim responsibility for these acts. They say so on their website and boasted of their intentions to intimidate the venue until it caved in. In a post dated 15 April, MRA London stated, as a direct threat to the centre: “we will publically manacle you to their hateful ideology”(sic). Police reports made as a result of MRA intimidation are still under investigation. We’re not at liberty to reveal further details about the intimidation tactics which may make someone, who has inadvertently become caught up in this simply because they’re doing the wrong job at the wrong time, vulnerable. I have the utmost sympathy and compassion for the targeted staff and would, in all matters, wish to protect and support them.
Off to Work have put a statement on their Facebook page, which you can see here: https://www.facebook.com/offtowork/posts/10151561719698958 and there will be more to say at a later date either by the company or the organisers of radfem2013, but this statement makes clear that Off To Work confirms our version of events, rather than stavver’s:
“Our cancellation of the booking was a very difficult decision, but one that we have made to protect the safety of our venue staff……We wish Radfem a successful conference.”
MRE HARASSMENT OF RADFEMS
We too are targets for the MREs. Despite being a responsible and considerate organiser who has fought against social injustices all my life, I don’t doubt that I am already a target-in-waiting for the MREs. Threats have turned to us as organisers and to our attendees. There comes a time in our lives when it is right to openly speak truths. For me, that time has come. I will not stay silent when a group of thugs attempt to bully and harass their way into disrupting a peaceful, lawful conference to talk about the rights of women. They are bullying women who are already survivors of multiple abuse and who are living with trauma. That the irony of this is lost on those so blinkered by hatred towards radical feminists (and yet consider themselves champions of “intersectional” social injustices) resonates with me
There are examples all across the net of how feminists and radical feminists are targeted by this male extremist group. They offered a reward of one thousand dollars to find out the real name of a woman and, once they got it, they “doxxed” her. They showed a video of another woman and harassed her with death threats and other nasty tactics so badly that she disappeared. There is story after story on their website about how these thugs consider themselves “victims” of a feminist conspiracy of power and how (radical) feminists are out to destroy the male class through “mass genocide“. The reality and truths of women’s lives is twisted to paint men as victims and feminism as a dominant force in society
MALESTREAM PRESS DISTORTIONS
In her bog post, Stavvers relies on a quote in an article in The Sunday Times to make her argument about why radical feminists are not the innocent victims of an MRE intimidation campaign. We are currently investigating with Off To Work and London Irish centre how such a false and misleading quote came into the public domain because no one is claiming responsibility for it. So far, we’ve drawn a blank as to how it happened and have launched a series of formal press complaints about the article. It should be clear from the Off To Work statement that concerns about “hate speech” did not lead to their decision. The following statement; “We have made this difficult decision based entirely on our available infrastructure and the wellbeing of our staff […] without pressure from any group concerned with the subject matter of the conference”. In other words, accusations of “hate speech”, breaches of equality and diversity policies, or legislation, were not part of the decision-making process. I draw you back to this: The venue has made the decision “to protect the safety of our venue staff“. There is also a failure to protect a vulnerable group who have made a booking transparently and in good faith. The way the Sunday Times article is written with a first paragraph stating that there were complaints that some involved with radfem2013 “advocate violence against men”, when there’s absolutely no evidence of any such thing, suggests that MREs are working behind the scenes somewhere and it was a put up job to shit-stir, using a malestream media, to create problems for the venue and organisers and mask the truth about bully boy tactics.
COLLABORATION BETWEEN TRANS/QUEER/ALLIES AND MRES
As I watch the tweets and the bog posts mushrooming, both this year, and last, I observe collaboration between those who are uncritical about gender and MREs and similarities in approach between the 2. Here are some of them:
* Presenting the political views of radfems in an inaccurate, unfair and ludicrous light
* Once they have established the false presentation of what radical feminism is, arguing with that false presentation as if it’s fact
* Singling out individual women who call themselves radical feminist and claiming that they represent radical feminism or all radical feminist views (In fact, the movement is diverse and many claim to be radical feminist but, of course, as a movement for social change, we’d wish to discuss those differences internally)
* Shutting down debate, or opposing presentations of radical feminism, by calling an individual names (e.g. “bigot” in the case of queer allies and “man-hater” in the case of MREs)
* Using a range of intimidation tactics to prevent us from meeting such as writing emotive but untrue emails to anyone who‘ll listen, doxxing, claiming they know that what we do is unlawful or contravenes policies etc
In an incredible reversal relating to just who is aligning themselves with MRES, stavvers’ bog states: I hope RadFem2013 giving MRAs the credit for something they didn’t do isn’t the beginning of an alliance forming. Allying with those who seek to intimidate you. Yes, that makes sense.
WIDER POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS
In my view, cancelling the booking is the wrong way of “protecting venue staff”. There are numerous ways staff could be protected but cancelling a booking for a group of women who’ve done nothing wrong sends out a very dangerous message. It says bully boy tactics get you somewhere. It has long term implications for feminism, radical feminism, and the ability of “neutral” venues to freely provide a platform for events about social injustice without fear for their own safety. Did your mum give you the same advice mine gave me when I was at risk of attack from school bullies? She said “Fight back, if you shrink away, they will do it all the more until they get what they want”. And so I did and they backed off. Businesses have a responsibility to cater for, and protect, vulnerable groups and, despite the unacceptable pressure brought to bear, that is a reasonable expectation, particularly, as everything was thoroughly discussed beforehand.
That a venue is being bullied out of offering a booking, that radfems are in fear their real life details will be revealed and “doxxed” leading to death threats, should be of grave concern for those for whom radical change matters. Instead, stavvers and friends/allies focus on myths, lies, and distortions about radical feminism, even equating radical feminism, (concerned with the well-being of females), with MREs themselves. It would be hard to find two sets of agendas more opposed – but stavver’s attempt to align the politics is an example of how queers/allies have colluded with the MREs to mask the real threat in this story. And the real threat is that women coming together to politically organise, and anyone who supports them, have, and are, bombarded with terrorist tactics until something caves.
I know it’s such a cliché but I can’t get out of my head “First they came for the radical feminists but I was not a radical feminist…” Then they came for the socialist feminists and so on across the different strands of feminism until “And then they came for the non-political non-gender conforming people and there was no one left to speak for me”. You don’t have to like all radical feminists or the politics of radical feminism but what has happened, so far, with radfem2013 sets a dangerous precedent for all women, all feminists and all those involved in the struggle for radical social change. There’s a lot of myths flying about. Stavvers, do the radical left a favour and withdraw yours.