For the second year running, the RadFem conference has lost its venue. It’s been difficult finding out the long and short of it, as the conference organisers are claiming that men’s rights activists (MRAs) are responsible, and the MRAs are also claiming victory, and there’s little from the London Irish Centre itself. The RadFem2013 line is that they were subjected to harassment from MRAs, while the MRAs claim that they spearheaded a campaign. I’m not going to link to any statements from either, as both are, in my view, hate groups.
Unfortunately, the only statement I could find from the venue itself was unhelpfully in the Times, hidden behind a paywall, which means that both RadFem2013 and the MRAs can continue to push their own narratives. Luckily, I can get behind that paywall, so here’s what the venue had to say (ETA: Screenshot of the Times article part 1 and part 2, courtesy of @WeekWoman):
“Quite a few of the complaints were from the transgender community and then a men’s group came along the other day to hand out leaflets about why the event should not be held here.
“While our commercial bookings subcontractor [an events firm called Off to Work] has a certain amount of freedom to use the centre when we are not using it for cultural events, if it comes to the charity’s attention that an event goes against our policy, then we will point it out to them.
“We did some research into RadFem and discovered certain language was used and some statements were made about transgender people that would go against our equalities and diversity policy.
“We have discussed with our subcontractor Off to Work how to avoid such confusion in future and have strengthened our internal communications as a result.”
Well, that clears matters up nicely, and thank you, London Irish Centre, for clarifying what actually happens. A pity I couldn’t find this important information anywhere else except behind a fucking paywall.
So, it appears that for the second year running, the venue pulled out because of RadFem2013’s transphobic stance, where, once again, trans women will be excluded from attending. Speakers at the conference include academic transphobes like Sheila Jeffreys, and more dangerous transphobes like someone whose name I am actually scared to mention because she has a history of endangering trans and queer folk because the hate runs so strong in her. This is not an exaggeration. That person has a habit of doxxing anyone she suspects of being trans, calling employers, and sometimes even schools of trans and queer folk. If anything, London Irish Centre are understating matters when they say that the RadFem2013 conference goes against their equalities and diversities policy. To some women, the RadFem2013 conference organisers and speakers are a persistent and dangerous threat.
But does this make the MRAs the good guys here? Fuck no. Their beef with RadFem2013 went as far as “waaah we hate feminism”. They merely opportunistically used the trans exclusionary nature of the conference as an excuse to push their own agenda. They’ve made their own problem clear in their correspondence with London Irish Centre–at least, the information they’ve provided online. And much of it is tedious concerns about misandry, and the Waahmbulance Service must be pretty stretched about this.
Of course, that MRAs might be driven to picket feminist events is a cause for concern. This is something that trans activists and feminist allies never did, mostly because we’d all planned to do something nice that day, something that didn’t involve sitting indoors listening to bigotry (last year, I sat in the sun and ate ice lollies and read a good book). We shouldn’t not object to MRAs showing up and picketing a feminist event just because this particular feminist event was direly oppressive. Now they think it works, they might just do it again, and that’s the last thing we fucking need.
From their own words, it looks like the MRAs consider trans women to be their allies for exactly the reason RadFem2013 organisers think trans women their enemies: both sides fall prey to the fictitious narrative that trans women are really men. In another life, these two bands of bigots could be friends, and were they to put their resources together they would become even more terrifying. I hope RadFem2013 giving MRAs the credit for something they didn’t do isn’t the beginning of an alliance forming.
In amid the hubbub of claims of responsibility, though, once again the work of trans activists is erased. It was trans activists, after all, who did the bulk of the dialogue with London Irish Centre, for it is trans activists who would be harmed by this conference going ahead. No platform for fascists, the activists said, and eventually, the venue listened. It was not the MRAs with all their spite and noise who won this. It is people who have been–or fear they will be–affected by the hate spouted by RadFem2013.
The narratives presented by both RadFem2013 and MRAs serve only to obfuscate the truth: that feminism is moving on from bigotry and gaining strength by the day, and the bigots are running scared as they feel their dominance slipping away from them.
UnCommon Sense: TERFs, MRAs and lies about trans people.
UPDATE: The booking agency have also given the MRAs credit. Read more here.
Note: Comment thread is, of course, moderated as best I can. I might have had a few slips, but I’m going to be careful right now. Stay on topic, and if you’re from either of the hate groups discussed in this post, your comment isn’t getting through, because no platform for hate. This is my space, not your personal place for airing grievances.