RadFem2013 cancellation: the plot thickens

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.

4 thoughts on “RadFem2013 cancellation: the plot thickens”

  1. Obviously I see parallels with the STUC booking withdrawal for SWOU, and of course some major differences. It seems to me that many of these organisations are trying to make money by holding events, but without sufficent oversight by the main organization.
    The most likely scenario, to me, is that the event organisors, who are profit motivated, still hope to host the conference, and so are pushing the its nothing to do with hate speech line.
    It will i think be worth keeping an eye open for other venues agreeing to host it, so that people can quickly point out how equalities law is breached.

  2. Yes, the salient question to be asked is if it really is intimidation, as opposed to just wanting to exit a commercially embarrassing situation, is why has no-one gone to the Police?

    Intimidation and the threat of violence is illegal plain and simple and if there has been any such then it should be investigated by the Police. In fact you’d expect if there were any substance to the intimidation line it would be in all parties interest to pursue that. You’d certainly expect the radfem2013 to do so it it were possible and be shouting from the rooftops about it. Off to Work probably wouldn’t want publicity, but it’s difficult to see why they wouldn’t involve the Police too – it’s not in their long term interests to gain a reputation as being easy to intimidate – and then radfem2013 would shout about that.

    The complete absence of anything other than words rather does imply that your second scenario is the correct one.

    1. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t put it past the MRAs to intimidate. I’m just not convinced this is the actual reason.

      1. Yes, sorry, I’m absolutely sure you’re correct on that. You just have to glance at what they say to see their a thoroughly nasty bunch well capable of it, and I didn’t mean to imply they wouldn’t. But if they are guilty of anything remotely criminal in this case then the police should be involved.

        It’s really difficult to argue in this case between two bunches of nasties without inadvertently seeming to support one or the other, but if the MRAs have been criminally intimidating then you’d have thought involving the police to stop that behavior and send a warning that it won’t be tolerated would be a priority. Making a fuss on twitter won’t help any woman who has to deal with these men whereas Police involvement might.

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