Statement Regarding RadFem 2012
In consultation with the organisers of RadFem 2012 and our legal advisors, Conway Hall has decided not to allow the booking in July 2012 to proceed. This is because it does not conform to our Terms and Conditions for hiring rooms at Conway Hall. In addition, we are not satisfied it conforms with the Equality Act (2010), or reflects our ethos regarding issues of discrimination.
In relation to the protected characteristic of sex—
(a) a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a man or to a woman;
(b) a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons of the same sex.
Of course 11(a) is rubbish with the inclusion of ‘man’ and an obvious concession to MRAs who cry ‘reverse sexism!’ as if women actually have any real power over men in this society. Section 11(b) refers to ‘persons who share the same sex’ (this is separate from ‘gender’, ie transgender protections).
Back to Conway Hall:
We had sought assurances that the organisers would allow access to all, in order to enable the event to proceed at the venue. We also expressed concern that particular speakers would need to be made aware that whilst welcoming progressive thinking and debate, Conway Hall seeks to uphold inclusivity in respect of both legal obligations and as a principle.
“Access to all” – this statement could also be taken as ‘including men’ as well as ‘transgender’ – and Conway Hall will not allow an event to take place unless everyone and anyone can attend. If they allowed a Jewish event at the venue, then I gather that the Jewish group must allow their event to be open to Muslims, Christians and Athiests, lest the event be cancelled? Conway Hall would not have pulled this stunt on any of those groups. It also means that Conway Hall have made made a de facto decision regarding the Equality Act, that no ‘protected category’ is allowed to meet without others – either other protectected categories or not. This means that Transgender groups cannot meet alone either, without the presence of say, Radfems. The Radfems look forward to the mandatory invitation to the next Transgender event. See how that works both ways? Protest us, we will protest you – except that Radfems acknowledge Transgender groups’ rights to meet alone, without Radfems. Conway Hall have set a precedent, either that, or grounds for the first challenge of the Equality Act, as well as compensation or legal action against Conway Hall, particularly over any losses that may arise or are incurred for the organisers of the conference because of the nature of the late change.
Besides which, Article 11 of the Human Rights Act says that we can have peaceful public or private meetings. Unless Conway Hall has decided that women are not human, or are not accorded full human rights?
Then comes the part about ‘particular speakers’, and by that they meant Professor Sheila Jeffreys of the University of Melbourne, who wrote in the Guardian on Wednesday that Conway Hall had informed the organisers that she was banned from the venue on the grounds that she “fostered hatred” and “actively discriminates”. Those stated grounds actually open up Conway Hall to legal action from Professor Jeffreys, they would need to be able to prove those grounds in a court of law. ‘Fosters hatred’ is a dubious accusation, there is no actual proof except personal rhetoric from Transgender activists and their supporters – and given that many Transgender activists wish that Radfems would “die in a fire”, it seems easier to prove that Transgender activists actually foster hatred towards Radfems – we have the actual proof. The charge of ‘actively discriminates’ is also bogus, given that the Equality Act allows for “Positive Action” for groups with ‘protected characteristics’ to further their cause. I will cover the Equality Act in more detail in a subsequent post.
Returning to Conway Hall’s announcement:
That said, we recognise the breadth of debate to be had amongst the feminist and transgender communities and it is our sincere hope that there will be constructive and positive dialogue on these matters going forward.
Well apparently according to Conway Hall and Transgender activists, we are not even allowed to get together for a ‘pre-meeting’ in preparation for this ‘debate’. However, Radfems have had dialogue with Transgender activists over many years online – including one Radfem who actually lives with a transwoman wrote a ‘building bridges’ type post a number of years ago. The result was that Transgender activists accused her of ‘hate speech’ and a number of other blatantly false accusations – it became clear to all Radfems at that time that reasonable dialogue was not an option with Transgender activists, we were given the ‘option’ of 100% compliance with the Transgender agenda, or STFU. That sounded a lot like the ‘range of options’ that we get from patriarchy and MRAs (Male Rights Activists), so pardon me for my skepticism for ‘positive dialogue’. The Radfem post in question was taken down due to the massive hate campaign against the Radfem for daring to build bridges. We have tried reasonable dialogue. It failed. And since that time, Transgender activists have become even more extreme and open in their hatred towards Radical Feminists – the expression “die in a fire” towards Radfems is now so commonplace, they lazily reduce it to “DIAF”.
In response to Sheila Jeffreys’ online Guardian article in their ‘Comment is free’ section, dated 29th May 2012, we would like it to be known that Conway Hall has in the past made clear that speakers / attendees at events for other hirers will not be permitted where we have felt that these individuals have expressed and may express (on our premises) views which conflict with our ethos, principles, and culture; the reference to David Irving was simply one of the examples given.
An attempted backtracking by Conway Hall in the comparison of David Irving, Holocaust Denier, and Professor Jeffreys. The reference to Irving (a right wing, Nazi supporter, male supremacist and racist) probably gives Jeffreys grounds for a slander suit against Conway Hall. Professor Jeffreys is a professor in Political Sciences who speaks/writes on a wide range of (radical-) feminist topics, not just transgenderism.
But are Conway Hall’s hands completely clean and ‘ethical’? In the 1970s Conway Hall were more than happy for far-right extreme-racist group the National Front to use its hall. In 1974 there was clash in Red Lion Square between the National Front and various opposing groups including Maxists and Socialists. Radical feminism has much in common with Socialism (and the class analysis of Maxism), but with a female focus. So it seems that Conway Hall has no problem with far-right extreme-racist groups (who were also anti-Abortion), but does have a problem with more equitable groups like Socialists or Radical Feminists. If Conway Hall’s political sympathies were more well known, then perhaps the organisers probably would not have even considered the venue. We do not consider far-right, racist, male-supremacist groups to be ethical, in fact they are the exact opposite of what Radical Feminism is about.
There was good reason why we wanted Radfem2012 to be female-only – and it was not due to ‘hatred of Transgenders’. Radical Feminism covers the lived experiences of (born-) females and their experiences of male violence and sexual assault. One key area is giving a voice to the survivors of prostitution to share their experiences. Other survivors of rape and domestic violence also frequently share their experiences. Women’s health, maternity, childbirth and child rearing, and abortion are also frequent topics of discussion. The Equality Act does allow for females to talk about these female-only issues without having transwomen present (more about the EA in a subsequent post), so it is Conway Hall here in the wrong, contravening our right as females to talk about these issues without transwomen or men present.
Another complaint by Transgender activists and their supporters was that Transgendered persons must be present if Transgenderism is discussed so that their point of view is taken into account. Firstly, Transgenderism was barely a feature on the proposed agenda:
Indicative conference topics include:
- What is radical feminism?
- ‘Women together for liberation’: building an anti-racist, anti-capitalist movement for all women
- Prostitution: hearing the voices of exited women
- Lesbian feminism
- ‘Memory-bearing women’: sharing knowledge across feminist generations
- Ending male violence against women
- Radical feminist critiques of gender and queer theory
- Workshops for girls (early-mid teens)
- Feminism and anti-militarism
- Single mothers challenging patriarchy
- Mobilising our rage: strategies and organising
A lot of those topics are of no interest to transwomen, and have their roots in the unique reproductive vulnerabilities of being born female. The ‘critique of gender and queer theory’ would be inclusive of gender role analysis, harking back to Second Wave Feminist views of how narrowly defined gender roles are the method by which sexism and discrimination is enacted upon females. It also appears to be a theory-based proposal, a discussion of ideas and viewpoints – according to Conway Hall and Transgender activists, we are not allowed to discuss such theories without Transgender activists being present – I gather they think they are allowed to discuss such theories without Radfems being present? That is a double-standard.
Transgender activists feel they are entitled to have extremely dubious transwoman-only workshops such as the “Cotton Ceiling“, a workshop designed to overcome the “barriers” of lesbians resisting having sex with transwomen – this was not transwomen seeking all sexual partners (ie hetersexual men, but specifically lesbians). That is specific, and very much a rape-culture workshop, and an aim which we find to be abhorrent.
Radical Feminists are a relatively small group, worldwide there are maybe a thousand, perhaps even a couple of thousand, but we now see the vast numbers that oppose our female-centred views:
- Transgender activists
- Transgender-supporting Liberal Feminists
- The male-dominated letters of the LGBT (except Lesbians, who make up many of our number)
- Male Rights Activists (MRAs), an extremely rightwing male-supremacist group frequently threatening violence towards feminists
- Mainstream groups such as Ethical Societies and Humanists (ie Conway Hall)
So it seems that Liberal Feminists (such as Laura Woodhouse, with a personal agenda against Radical Feminists) are happy to join forces with Transgender activists and MRAs in order to quash Radical Feminist female-centric views. These groups also actively oppose female-only sexual violence workshops, which are inline with the Equality Act. Look at one of the most hateful US-based MRAs gloat with the same name-calling and glee as Liberal Feminists do:
On GenderTrender’s thread, many of the hateful comments are being censored (with a replacement YouTube), but a few snippets are visible to give you the idea. The sexism and hatred directed at Radical Feminists is extreme – being called “cunts” and “gashes“, with the wish that we would “all get uterine cancer”.
The catalyst for the unleashing of this vile sexism and hatred towards us was Conway Hall’s supposed ‘equality’ and ‘inclusiveness’ position, initially trying to compare Professor Jeffreys to a Holocaust Denier, and indirectly trying to compare Radical Feminists with a ‘hate group’. That is somewhat libelous.
This is all part of the extreme backlash against feminism, particularly the gains made by the Second Wave Feminists for women’s rights, anti-discrimination laws, and victim support services. In the 1990s, pornography and sexual objectification in the media became mainstream as one form of the backlash. Now ten to twenty years later, the mainstream view is that Transgender rights trump sex-protection rights for females, an issue we are apparently not even allowed to discuss by ourselves.
Radical Feminism is the continuation of Second Wave Feminism. For us to be labelled ‘discriminatory’ or a ‘hate group’ is a sign that the mainstream disapproves of the Second Wave Feminism gains for women.
Out of the Second Wave school of thought came the critique of prostitution as a form of sexual slavery – indeed sex trafficking remains a constant problem in legalised, semi-legalised and illegal areas of prostitution. Radical Feminists have an abolitionist position on prostitution and pornography because of the inherent subjugation of females as a class, even those not directly involved in these ‘industries’. It is an unpopular view with the mainstream, much like the slavery abolitionists of the 18th and 19th centuries, the progressive roots on which Conway Hall was founded. Women were also a part of slavery abolition, but they have been footnoted or erased from mainstream history.
At least we know where you stand on women’s rights Conway Hall, you are against them, unless opposing views are present to monitor or disrupt the discussions.
How very ‘progressive’ of you. Not.
ETA: Even a small number of transwomen can see that born-females have the right to congregate by themselves. These transwomen are silenced by Transgender activists.
ETA: A great article on why women-only spaces are critical to feminism. Although it does not specify Transgender, there are many parallels with males in feminist spaces, particularly with Trans-activists that wish to reframe the feminist agenda to be primarily about Transgender, and not about the born-female experiences and reality. ETA – I have removed the link for the time being – the site was hacked, and it is not advised that you visit it, in case of possible infections of trojans.
ETA: Related post on why female-only spaces are effectively outlawed, with Transgender activists, their supporters, including MRAs, acting like a lynch mob. And Conway Hall are supporting that viewpoint as well – no female spaces without some sort of male supervision.
This thread will be moderated.