Julie Bindel is largely famous among feminists with decent politics for her continued commitment to transphobia. Perhaps she has a bigotry bingo card to fill in, but it also transpires that she expresses some fairly staggering levels of biphobia.
In an article in the Huffington Post, Bindel presents a somewhat intellectually incoherent argument which veers from “bisexual women don’t exist” to “bisexual women shouldn’t exist”.
First, Bindel’s “evidence” that bisexual women don’t exist: almost 20 years ago, some lesbian and bisexual women were interviewed, and some self-identified bisexual women doubted bisexual women existed. “Some” is a useful quantity in the hack counting system, denoting a figure larger than one and smaller than “many” to inflate a small numerical fluke into a soupçon of pseudoscience for a column. This is aside from the fact that the notion of a bisexual woman doubting the existence of bisexual women is paradoxical enough to make Bertrand Russell stop worrying about who shaves the barber.
Perhaps even Bindel realised that this assertion was a bucket of distended haemorrhoids, because she then goes on to say this: “if bisexual women had an ounce of sexual politics, they would stop sleeping with men.” See, apparently, queer women who fuck men are “living under the tyrrany of sexism” and for “liberation” we need to “choose” to be lesbians.
I fail to see anything remotely liberatory about having some hack with bad politics dictating who I can fuck. It comes in an ugly pincer manoeuvre: on one side, the conservative hets think that my gulps from the furry cup are somehow corrupting their children. On the other are the radfems, who think I’m being oppressed by the cock.
And both lots can fuck off. Removing the autonomy to choose who one can and cannot fuck is not feminism and it never can be.
To respond to Bindel’s rubbish, the brilliant Deborah Grayson has decided to match the 400 women–some of whom doubt the existence of bisexuals–with 400 women who believe bisexual women exist. Because it would be a piece of piss to find that, Deborah’s made it a little harder: they need to be called Sarah. So if you’re a Sarah and outraged by what Bindel’s been saying, join up. If you know any Sarahs who might have an opinion on the matter, invite them.
It is fortunate that the argument Bindel puts forward has little currency. It’s time to kill it completely.
27 thoughts on “Julie Bindel, I can fuck who I like. You can go and fuck yourself.”
About 20 years ago I stopped calling myself a feminist because rad fem lesbians told me that by sleeping with men I was a traitor and confused. Strangely they saw nothing untoward in well educated rich middle aged middle class women trying to get into the knickers of an 18 year old in the big city for the first time.
How could they be oppressing me,we were sisters? Proving radfems are of the far right, their argument that sexuality is a choice is the same as groups who try to “cure” homosexuality.
As for Bindel, well ignoring her is probably the best idea,like the tantrumming toddler she really is, giving her attention just feeds the bad behaviour.
This is aside from the fact that the notion of a bisexual woman doubting the existence of bisexual women is paradoxical enough to make Bertrand Russell stop wondering who shaves the barber.
I have met people, who had voluntarily gone to a bisexual meet-up, who said they were attracted to members of both genders, yet still said things like “But I’m not certain that bisexuality is a thing, or if it ought to be a thing, or if my attractions make me bisexual, and I’m not out anywhere else.”
Thing is, I thought that was a BAD thing. I thought that was fear and self-doubt and internalised biphobia, the product of being bi in a society that tells you at every turn that your experiences aren’t valid, that you don’t/shouldn’t exist. For Bindel to throw bi people’s enforced self-doubts in their faces is every bit as grotesque as homophobes who say “gay people go through a lot of emotional turmoil; this proves that being gay is emotionally unhealthy and should be stamped out by whatever means necessary.”
On the other are the radfems, who think I’m being oppressed by the cock.
Oh, I think it’s worse. Thinking you’re oppressed would suggest at least some mild degree of sympathy; I think it’s plain she thinks we’re traitors, collaborators, oppressors by association.
It’s very true that a substantial portion of them go far beyond the “poor oppressed bi girls” and directly into “you’re a big blacklegged scab”.
Also, agree completely about internalised biphobia. I’ve never met women who have said that, but I have met a few men. Basically, biphobia wants SMASHING.
Now you mention it, I think it was mainly men who said that… don’t think it was exclusively so, but there were drinks at the time so I’m not sure. In any case, as a bisexual woman who used to doubt the existence of bisexual women, I’m not going to add another layer to the paradoxical geometry by being a bisexual woman who used to doubt the existence of bisexual women and now doubts the existence of bisexual women who doubt the existence of bisexual women!
I wish she’d give a toss about how much happier I’ve felt since I STOPPED doubting. But I think happiness comes under “hedonism and pleasure-seeking” and is therefore to be shunned; we’re supposed to be miserable for the Cause.
This. Its like sexual Maoism or something.
I wonder, in my broad ignorance in these things, whether some of these doubts you describe are intrinsic to the issues of sexuality as a sense of identity. I have a few gay friends, and for them being gay appears to be a definite part of their sense of self (not to mention how they interact in social terms). By contrast, few of the hets I know feel that their sexuality is a defining part of their identity (I realise there’s probably something quite telling here about mainstream social norms). So while in terms of pure personal sexual activity, bisexuality might sit (broadly) in the middle of a het/homo spectrum, that isn’t necessarily going to be the case in terms of whether you feel that your sexuality is a defining part of who you are (which seems to me to be a more intrinsically binary thing).
In short – I could understand that some people who are bi might not get their head around the whole ‘my sexual identity is a bisexual’ thing, if they view themselves just as a person who happens to like fucking people of both sexes – they want the sex without the politics (and why not?)
I despise Bindel more and more every day. Is it any wonder that feminists have the stereotype man-hating image when there are people like her churning out this nonsense?
Many people apparently stopped reading the Seven Demands of the Women’s Liberation Movement before reaching the end of the first line (“The women’s liberation movement asserts a woman’s right to define her own sexuality…”)
Bindel’s views are a throwback to an age when gender and sexuality had to be forced to conform to a binary construct. She can’t shift her view on gender to match the modern view so she has to try and force people in to the roles she is comfortable with.
For her, liberation doesn’t seem to mean not stereotyping people, it just means using her stereotypes instead.
Her whole article reeks of insecurity and confusion and it just makes me sad.
Just imagine the amount of time she must spend desperately trying to sort people and their actions in to the male/female, hetero/homo model that she is clinging to without seeing how ludicrous it is.
I started a reply to this, but it went on for a bit long, so I made it a blog instead: http://redrumdiaries.posterous.com/julie-bindel-and-biphobic-existentialism
“Julie Bindel is largely famous among feminists with decent politics for her continued commitment to transphobia. Perhaps she has a bigotry bingo card to fill in, but it also transpires that she expresses some fairly staggering levels of biphobia.”
All too often you see bi and trans* phobia together, especially amongst cis gay people (S’onewall, I’m looking at you here). I think a lot of this comes from the face that bi and trans people don’t fit neatly into the boxes that people are used to, you’re either straight or gay, male or female, one box or the other, everyone else is just “deluded”.
To be honest I’m starting to think of exclusive (political) lesbianism – and given the flexibility of female sexuality, that may be *all* lesbianism – as intrinsically linked to the second wave feminist project of totalising all oppressions down into male vs female, a project which would presumably be later followed by a revolution and “full feminism”.
Given how rapey this kind of political lesbianism can be, I think under patriarchy there likely is a strong argument that by reducing women’s autonomy it is *bad* for women. Perhaps we’ll see an end to the identity of “lesbian” within a generation or two (still leaving describing relationships, experiences, and so on, as “lesbian”). This would explain the existential anger of those who, like Bindel, remain proponents of political lesbianism.
Remember the recent ‘cotton ceiling’ controversy, in which various trans people complained about the way that the culture, not least among progressives and sex radicals, configures the trans body as in some way automatically abject and not a contender for sexual attention. Various radfems distorted this as a rapey demand by trans women that lesbians make themselves sexually available and claimed that trans people were being implicitly coercive, and guilt tripping people into sex.
That wasn’t true.
What we see here is Bindel essentially demancing that bi women make themselves full time available for lesbian sex. What’s that if not coercive?
Roz, I was thinking the exact same thing! I was going to ask if she was one of the offenders. If the “cotton ceiling” was about trans people feeling entitled to get into lesbians’ knickers, how is she not demanding access to ours?!
(Although seemingly even if we comply, we’ll still only be doing it to be fashionable).
I shared this article on facebook a few hours ago and so far only gay men have liked, shared and left positive comments on this. Funny, eh?
Shame you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
There’s a fundamental misunderstanding about the radical feminist/revolutionary feminist analysis of the hetero-patriarchy as a social construction. It’s not about what individual women do or don’t do sexually. It’s about a system of oppression which is designed to entrap and control individual women for the benefit of men, that includes the system of domestic slavery via marriage/family living arrangements and the way in which we’re conditioned to internalise our own oppression by accepting abusive men in our spaces and lives. For example, women carry out the vast majority of unpaid caring roles and the source of that pressure is a hetero-patriarchal way of structuring society. Heterosexuality as an institution is the main tool for this system.
This analysis is wrongly interpreted as (political) lesbians telling other women who they should have sex with. That’s identity politics and not about structural oppression.
You’ve not read the Bindel article, have you?
It’s not a baby in that bathwater. It’s a slug.
haha! I read it but I clearly read it with different eyes.
“Heterosexuality as an institution is the main tool for this system.”
Did the third wave never happen to some people. Glad to know the heterosexual woman in a LDC is oppressing poor li’l old me.
I don’t believe in waves..but, anyway, did the “third wave” dismantle the hetero-patriarchy? Abortion rights under threat yet again, sexual violence continues to go unrecognised and unpunished, street harassment of women for being women continues, attacks by the state particularly impact on working class women and poverty among women increases…
Nah, not looking like it from where I am.
I don’t know what “LDC” is and I think my post made clear this analysis is *not* about heterosexual women oppressing other women, far from it. It’s about the oppressive impact heterosexuality has, under patriarchy, on women.
I am here to try and have a dialogue, to try and explain the misunderstandings surrounding radfem politics but if you don’t think that’s useful then I’ll spend my time more constructively/
@Rubyfruit.LDC Less developed country, Your points make no sense, unsurprisingly, Heterosexuality applies to men and women and unless along with the extreme Christian right you believe sexuality is a choice is irrelevant to this argument. If you do believe that I suggest you do find something more constructive to so, such as going and telling LGBT people they choose to be the way they are. I am sure you will be well received.
If I am oppressed by heterosexuality I am oppressed by all forms of it. A working class woman oppresses a rich middle class lesbian in your world.
People are oppressed by those in power, power is determined by wealth first, gender, sexuality and race are factors which affect all. Thus Oprah Winfrey has more power than I do and I have more power than a woman struggling to feed her children in Bangladesh. Who we fuck is irrelevant to the fact our relative wealth is what matters.
As for having a discussion, no you are preaching in a rather patronizing manner as if you are the only person concerned with these issues. Radfemplaining anyone?
@Jemima I am a lesbian and I’ve had such a discussion with LGBT people, some of whom, believe sexuality is a choice, or, at the very least, that it doesn’t matter either way because same sex attraction shouldn’t be discriminated against in any way.
No, my world is not about different women oppressing others, that’s a misinterpretation of what I have said, so no wonder it’s making no sense.
Wealth is, of course, very important but women, as a class, don’t have it. The woman in Bangladesh has less than the man and, in addition, he has other privileges which his gender and entitlement affords him (for example) at the expense of the woman
Explaining an ideology because it’s been misunderstood is what I have done, having read other posts to this blog. Call that “preaching in a patronising manner” if you want or, you know, it could be an attempt to better explain the argument in an effort to communicate radfem politics with non-radfem people. Clearly you’re not going to agree with it given that you think material wealth is what is most important. And it is, very important, but sexual violence, reproductive rights etc all oppress women, as a social class, irrespective of wealth (though often hits poorest women hardest).
Anyway, I’ll leave you to it and finish what I’m doing.
It’s very true that a substantial portion of them go far beyond the “poor oppressed bi girls” and directly into “you’re a big blacklegged scab”.
Very nice post.Now days lots of people have becoming democratic. Can any one tell me deference between democracy and politics.
Reblogged this on Archie Holmstrom Posts.