Feminism in London (FiL), one of the largest feminist conferences in the UK, has seen two major speakers pull out because of “ideological totalitarianism” and “sectarian” “warring feminist factions,” who fell out over an attempt to “no-platform” certain speakers who were “unsafe” because everyone did not agree with them on everything.
It all started when male-to-female transgendered feminist campaigner, and proponent of so-called ‘safe spaces,’ Jane Fae was uninvited or “no-platformed” form the feminist conference, which is due to start of the 24th of this month.
“It would have been grotesque for me to have been on a platform talking about the need for safe spaces, whilst the question of me being unsafe was on the agenda,” said Fae on BBC Radio 4.
She claimed that the problem was endemic to the Left generally: “This is not just about feminism. This is a sort of absolutism in politics today, and it happens within feminism, it happens in the trans community, it happens in the Greens, with the Cobynistas; which is, you have to toe a party line.”
The disagreement seems to stem from the fact the women have differing views various topics, but primarily the sex trade. Intersectional, new-wave feminists (who support and even celebrate the sex trade) have long claimed that old-order feminists who think that prostitution is violence against women are bigoted and “whorephobic.”
In protest to the efforts to “no-platform” their fellow panelist, feminist campaigners Caroline Criado Perez and Julie Bindel then pulled out of the conference.
Perez said she was “concerned about the ideological totalitarianism,” the “purity politics” and the “dogma” of modern-day feminism on Radio 4. “If you ever step outside of that dogma then you are tainted, you are impure, and you cannot be aloud to speak,” she said.
Adding: “Even if you’re not talking about things that don’t toe the party line, then your very presence can cause trauma in people… I just think this is really, really dangerous,” she said.
Going on to speak of the “warring feminist faction” and the “ridiculous” situation, where the different “factions… can not speak to each other.” She also lambasted the recent “no platforming” of Maryam Namazie – a secular campaigner and founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims – at the University of Warwick.
Julie Bindel, a journalist for The Guardian and the first person to report on the Rotherham rape scandal, is no stranger to no-platforming. The words “Julie Bindel is Vile” were enshrined in the NUS manifesto for several years, and she has been banned for speaking on pretty much every university campus in the country for nearly a decade.
“I have no choice but to withdraw my contribution to the Feminism in London conference this year. It is particularly difficult for me to do so because FiL is one of the few feminist conferences that dare include me on their programme (in case of disruption from anti-feminists claiming I am transphobic, biphobic, Islamophobic and whorephobic),” she wrote on her blog.
Explaining that she disagreed with Fae and Perez on several key issues, she said, “I cannot possibly reconcile my position on the no-platforming of feminists for holding contrary views on topics they are not even planning on speaking about, and stand aside whilst Jane Fae is handed out similar treatment,”
“…It is not OK, in my view, to justify such treatment of those with whom we disagree,” she said.
Adding: “The accusation made by those who have pressurised the organisers to accept Jane’s withdrawal – that Jane’s very presence will ‘trigger’ feelings of trauma in some delegates, or that her simply being at the event, will make the space ‘unsafe’ – is ridiculous.”
“… I cannot take part in an event in which a speaker has had to withdraw because of views unrelated to the topic on which she was invited to speak.”
The culture of offence taking and viewing debate as “trauma” is evidenced on the conference’s website. In their Frequently Asked Questions section, it is asked: “I am worried I will be triggered by the content of the workshops?” The answer: “We have quiet rooms set aside and listeners in the ‘Green Rooms’ area.”
Ian Dunt described the episode as “a terrible combination of managerial impotence, financial caution and political timidity,” on Politics.co.uk.