Women in Vancouver have created a women’s library to promote writing by women authors and “continue the legacy of women-run bookstores.” The library is run by women volunteers. Despite the fact that they announce themselves as queer-positive right on their website, with a “queer space” sign and a notice that the library is for “all self-identified women and girls,” a group of “radical queers” have launched an attack against the library.
Guerrilla Feminist Collective reports the following intimidation tactics used at the library:
“Last night we had to push through physical intimidation and lots of verbal nonsense to enter the new Vancouver Women’s Library.
Anti-feminist protesters actually showed up for once! They were welcomed inside (snowing, cold, everyone was welcome), but asked to leave when they tried to tear down feminist posters in the space and continued their physical intimidation inside. Police had to be called for fear of destruction of the space and the safety of library patrons inside. The protesters held signs and shouted at people entering the space. They poured wine over the books. They smoked inside when asked not to. They pulled the fire alarm. Some of them tried to bar then pushed women entering the space. As far as we saw, men were left alone to come and go as they pleased.
Women were shamed and blamed for calling the police, for fearing for theirs and others’ safety. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. All battered women will be familiar with these tactics. When we pointed out how we were physically barred then pushed from entering the space, and how threatening that felt, protesters wanted to know how we’d gender the person, rather than discuss the ethics of violence at hand.
Despite clearly stated goals (creation of women’s space for women’s work and dialogue), inclusion (all women), transparency of funding (self & UBC women’s centre), hard work (unpaid), and initiative (frankly brilliant caring GOODNESS of heart, seeking to create A WOMEN’S LIBRARY) the organizers were demonized, targeted, lied about, and all but burnt at the stake.
Ridiculous demands were made, such as the stepping down of founding member Emily (for having volunteered at and supporting a shelter for women fleeing male violence), creation of a board of directors (must everything be Mc-incorporated?), and the removal of certain books (fascism 101).”
The group Gays Against Gentrification (GAG) released a list of demands for the library on Facebook. I’m not sure if the people who showed up at the library are the same people who wrote this list of demands, but they certainly are using similar intimidation tactics.
The group GAG uses the slurs “TERF” and “SWERF” to intimidate and silence women who speak out about the harms of gender and the sex trade. The function of these words is to shut down conversations about women’s oppression. They can be applied to absolutely anyone who disagrees with the queer/liberal party line. Even women with direct experience in the sex trade can be called “SWERF,” despite the fact that it makes no sense that a woman could be “excluding” herself from her own analysis of the harms of the sex industry that she experienced.
GAG erroneously accuses feminists of denying health care and jobs to trans women and of trying to control the bodies of “sex workers” and enacting violence upon them. It is difficult to believe that anyone could be so far removed from reality that they actually think that feminists are the ones harming women in the sex trade rather than the johns and pimps who are actually inflicting the violence. Those people who seek to make male violence invisible and blame women instead for what men do to us can only be called MRAs.
GAG made a list of demands that includes, among other things, that the library must elect a board of directors that GAG members approve of, remove any books from the library that GAG does not approve of, and fire one of the organizers of the library who is specified by name. It’s just astounding that this group feels so entitled to women’s labor that they feel they can dictate to women how to run their own library. This is a vile display of misogyny and anti-feminism.
Their wording gets so over-the-top at times it almost looks like a parody:
“TERFs and SWERFs are complicit in violence against sex workers and trans women and it is imperative that we do not let this violence go unnoticed. The same ideology and praxis of hate is present and replicated in right-wing/alt-right/neo-nazi organizing. TERFs and SWERFs organize for the same violent policies and work in partnership with right-wing hate groups to replicate settler-colonial white-supremacist constructions of cisheteropatrarchy that outright reject, erase, and deny IBPOC sovereignty, body sovereignty, and all peoples that do not fit under euro-centric nativism.”
It would seem that GAG believes that women who lend out books written by women are literal Nazis who are enacting white supremacy and patriarchy. It’s very clear that the goal of “radical queers” is to shut down feminism by harassing women and making feminist analysis of women’s oppression impossible to share. “Radical queers” are therefore obviously an anti-feminist hate group. The idea that feminists have the material power in society to inflict violence on large groups of people is completely laughable. There is not a single radical feminist in a position of power in government or the private sector, and there are very few left in the academy. In addition, physical violence is not a tactic that any feminist groups are advocating for. If recent history tells us anything about feminist organizing, we like to knit cute hats and even in crowds of thousands of women there is no violence reported at all.
GAG provided a list of the feminist books they believe should be banned from the women’s library. Here is the list: