So, the plot thickens around the cancellation of the RadFem2013 conference. The booking agency who handled the booking say the following:
The booking with Off to Work, based at London Irish Centre, was going ahead with the Radfem2013 organising committee, who are professionally organising a successful event for the Radical Feminist Community. The organisers were completely transparent about their conference and we have no criticisms to make of them and we have no opinion at all about their political analysis.
Allegations that some media sources and bloggers are putting forward about the reason for the decision having anything to do with their political analysis, opinions, “hate speech” or the conference being in breach of legislation are completely false. Our partner, The London Irish Centre, is in agreement with us that these allegations are not the reason for this suspension. The reason, as outlined to the organisers, are specifically around the safety of staff, the overall ability of the centre to logistically manage the booking, and the level of disruption that a small group of protesters have caused. We support the conference going ahead and we are working with the organising collective to find a way forward to ensure that this happens.
This differs enormously from what the London Irish Centre said, which I quoted here. In short, the venue said that their booking subcontractors have relative freedom to book what they choose, but that if a booking goes against their policy, they will point it out to the bookers. Furthermore, they said that RadFem2013 violated their equality and diversity policy.
So it’s kind of hard to work out what’s actually going on here. There are two possible options:
(1) London Irish Centre are fibbing when they say it was an equality issue, perhaps to appear brave as they really pulled out due to MRA intimidation.
(2) The booking agency are fibbing, to keep clients happy, so they don’t look like the sort of agency who just book a hate rally without vetting their bookers in the slightest.
If the first is true, shame on London Irish Centre. Shame on them for ignoring the work of activists in pointing out that there are indeed equality concerns around RadFem2013 which are against the law. It’s worth noting that one of the organisers has outright said that trans women are excluded from the event. So yeah, shame on London Irish Centre for not listening to marginalised voices, but instead listening to MRAs.
And shame on the MRAs for attempting to intimidate. We all know they are lower than dirt, and their attempts to harass are repulsive and repugnant. They are vile.
In short, the first scenario is pretty fucking bleak, and what’s particularly unpleasant about it is that the people who are most affected by RadFem2013’s policies and the behaviour of its organisers are being completely erased. I suppose that’s not surprising, given many of RadFem2013’s supporters and organisers want to erase trans women, and the MRAs want to erase all women (which, of course, includes trans women), and the venue is kind of just going along with these horrible agendas.
The second option allows for a little more faith in humanity, and, in my view, is more likely to be the case. By this token, only the booking agency–and the small groups of nasties representing both RadFem2013 and the MRAs–are trying to save face. It’s a convenient fiction for all of these parties, and I’m surprised it took Off To Work so long to concoct, since the MRAs claiming credit and RadFem2013 giving them the favour of letting them keep this credit has been going on for over a week already.
As far as I’m aware, no matter how much both MRAs and RadFem2013 claim that everyone agrees with them, they’re wrong. A small number of bigots agree. A far larger number disagree with both RadFem2013 and the MRAs, and we attempt to fight for a feminism which includes all women, understanding that no woman is free until all women are free and struggling for a liberation for us all. But then there is the vast majority of the population who, sadly, do not care at all. That a spat over a booking of a building is essentially trivial. This is why I suspect that there is nothing fishy going on, but, rather, a booking agency trying to save face. To say anything otherwise requires crediting MRAs with far more influence than they have. They are growing increasingly irrelevant as feminism–inclusive feminism–is gaining strength.
Whatever is true about the booking of RadFem2013, it has brought out the worst in some very unpleasant people, and I’m dreading to see what happens next.