Hating feminists as virtue-signaling

After the Vancouver Women’s Library was attacked by “queer” anti-feminists, even more anti-feminists started jumping on the bandwagon and writing social media commentary condemning the library. I read several comments by people calling for feminist books to be banned who did not seem likely to have ever actually read the books in question. I believe the reason why these people are calling for feminist books to be banned without ever having read them is because they are virtue-signaling.

There is a distinct culture that has formed out of the toxic soup of neoliberal “queer” culture and anti-feminism that has taken over what is supposed to be the political left. (I do not believe these people are actually on the left, but they are considered to be the left, unfortunately.) For the purposes of this blog post, I will call them radiqueers, short for radical queers. One of the things radiqueers delight in doing is hating feminists. They claim to be feminists themselves, but their views align perfectly with patriarchy, and they fail to recognize this because they refuse to listen to actual feminists or apply any critical thinking to their political positions. Because shutting down feminists is one of the goals of radiqueer culture, anytime they tweet or comment about wanting feminists shut down it serves as a way for them to show their group membership and virtue-signal to their fellow group members. It is not an intellectual disagreement with the information that feminists present, it is a performance to demonstrate their group membership. It’s a bit like making sure to sit with the cool kids in the cafeteria instead of the geeks.

Here I will show you what I mean by discussing one of the books that the radiqueers want removed from the Vancouver Women’s Library, Female Sexual Slavery by Kathleen Barry, a book which I have actually taken the time to read, unlike the radiqueers.

Kathleen Barry did extensive research into the sex trade in order to write this book. She interviewed survivors of prostitution and checked the facts of their stories as well as she could by also interviewing lawyers, reporters, police, district attorneys, and anti-slavery organizations. (p. 7) She traveled and visited brothels, and she researched historical abolitionist movements. From her research she was able to form a definition of female sexual slavery, name the methods used by pimps and recruiters, and name the reasons why the problem of female sexual slavery has not been sufficiently exposed or fought against.

Here is her definition of female sexual slavery:

“Female sexual slavery is present in all situations where women or girls cannot change the immediate conditions of their existence; where regardless of how they got into those conditions they cannot get out; and where they are subject to sexual violence and exploitation. (p 40)”

She explains further:

“Female sexual slavery is not an illusive condition; the word “slavery” is not merely rhetorical. This is not some condition in which a woman’s or child’s need for love allows her to fall into psychological patterns that make it possible for her to accept abuse with love or to feel joy in pain. Slavery is an objective social condition of sexual exploitation and violence. The experiences of sexual slavery documented in this book reveal that it is not a practice that is limited to international traffic but it is pervasive throughout patriarchal societies.”

Barry found that when she spoke to police and described situations where women were being sexually exploited and were unable to leave, the police still didn’t see the problem. They believed so firmly in prostitution as acceptable and inevitable that it didn’t occur to them that it was a human rights violation. They seemed to think there was a class of women whose role was to be prostitutes and that it wasn’t a problem. This problem persists today; people still think that the sexual exploitation of women and girls isn’t a problem, and radiqueers are perpetuating this belief by rebranding sexual exploitation as women’s choice and agency. They are working to hide the reality of male violence, just as misogynists have always done.

The definition of sexual slavery Barry wrote can allow people to see the objective conditions of slavery even if the victim has become convinced that she chose her situation or if the people controlling her are insisting that she chose her situation. Some women and girls brought into the sex trade were initially willing because they thought they were going to be in control of the situation, make money, and have a glamorous life. Instead, they found themselves controlled by a pimp, unable to choose their clients or to choose what sex acts they perform, and, due to both the violence of their pimps and the stigma against women in the sex trade, they find themselves unable to escape and begin another life. If a woman is being subject to sexual exploitation and she cannot change the conditions of her existence, she is objectively enslaved. This situation occurs in human trafficking, street-based prostitution, and forced marriages, all around the world. Historically, many wives have been in situations of sexual slavery, because divorce was illegal, marital rape was allowed, and wives were completely dependent upon their husbands and unable to say ‘no’ to sex.

She describes the role of pimps and procurers and the methods they use to bring women and girls into the sex trade and then keep them there. To summarize:

  • Befriending or love: Procurers find teenage girls who are naïve and seeking love and attention from men and they act as a boyfriend toward these girls. They particularly use this method on girls who are runaways or who are bored and looking for excitement. They make the girl feel like she is in a romantic relationship even though it is really just a business strategy for him.
  • Actions of gangs, syndicates, and organized crime: these organizations will often procure girls and women into prostitution as a part of their gang activities.
  • Recruiting women under false pretenses by offering them a job such as dancing or modelling, or by offering them marriage, and turning them to prostitution when they arrive.
  • Purchasing women and girls from other male “owners”
  • Outright kidnapping

“Together, pimping and procuring are perhaps the most ruthless displays of male power and sexual dominance. As practices they go far beyond the merchandising of women’s bodies for the market that demands them. Pimping and procuring are the crystallization of misogyny; they rank among the most complete expressions of male hatred for femaleness. Procuring is a strategy, a tactic for acquiring women and turning them into prostitution; pimping keeps them there.” Barry, p.73.

She described the abolitionist work of Josephine Butler, who campaigned against human trafficking in the late nineteenth century. She also described the backlash against Butler’s work:

“Mob violence began to accompany her speeches. During one campaign against a liberal who would not support repeal of the Acts, mobs of men and young boys scuffling and throwing rocks forced her to hide in a hotel attic. The next day she was forced by the management to leave the hotel. Wearing a disguise, she sought refuge at another hotel, but the mob located her there also. Despite the threats, she insisted on addressing the women’s rally as she had planned. A number of bodyguards, brought up from London by her supporters, enabled her to address the meeting, but afterwards she had to run through streets and alleys to escape the mob. She eventually made it safely to the home of a supporter where she was taken in and looked after.” (p17–18)

This book is excellent from start to finish due to its clarity in exposing male violence against women and its thoroughness in exposing how male violence operates. Wikipedia says that this book “prompted international awareness of human sex trafficking.” Radiqueers want this valuable and groundbreaking book on female oppression banned from a women’s library, on the grounds that it makes a group of people they call “sex workers” unsafe.

The term “sex workers” is misleading in a couple of ways. Firstly, “sex workers” can include anyone in the sex trade, including both exploited persons and their exploiters. Therefore the term hides the power relations between pimp and prostitute by branding both of them with the same name. The term “sex workers” is also designed to hide the coercion involved in the sex trade. Although most women in the sex trade are there due to a lack of better options and want to get out, the term “sex worker” seeks to rebrand exploited women as empowered women who are there because that is their true desire. When radiqueers claim that “sex workers” are harmed by books written about human trafficking, they are being misleading. It is certainly not harmful to exploited persons to describe the terms of their exploitation. It is, however, harmful to the men who are doing the exploiting.

I’m tempted to say that radiqueers are calling for this book to be banned because they don’t want people to know the definition of sexual slavery for the purposes of naming it when it happens, or that they don’t want people to know the methods that procurers use to bring women into the sex trade, or that they don’t want people to know the history of the abolitionist movement. But I can’t even give them that much credit. They haven’t even read the book. They don’t know or care what it says. They aren’t interested in countering the points being made in the book, by, for example, offering different procurement methods that they have found in their own research, or in offering a different definition of sexual slavery, or in adding to the historical documentation of the abolitionist movement. No, they aren’t interested in countering the points made in the book or even in explaining what points they disagree with. They only want it banned on the grounds that it names prostitution as violence against women, and they prefer to think that prostitution is a woman’s choice. Anything that challenges the idea that women “choose” their own exploitation is labelled “unsafe.” They would have a difficult time explaining how naming male violence against women is “unsafe” for women. In truth, it’s only “unsafe” for male abusers, because it threatens their ability to continue their abuse.

Ironically, the radiqueers who imagine themselves to be “feminists” are doing exactly what the mobs of men did to Josephine Butler. They are doing the 21st century equivalent to throwing rocks at her for daring to name male violence against women. Throwing rocks and threatening her in order to attempt to silence her. If radiqueers were actually concerned about women, they would have absolutely no problem with books that expose the problem of human trafficking, and they wouldn’t be threatening women for providing this information.

What would actually make women safer is knowing the information provided in Kathleen Barry’s book. Women and girls should know the strategies used by procurers for the sex trade so that we can identify them when we see them. We should all be aware that when a man starts flattering a young woman and saying he has a modelling job or a dancing job for her, that is a red flag. Law enforcement professionals need to understand the conditions of female sexual slavery in order to identify women who need their help. Far from being “unsafe” for women, the information in this banned book is crucial for keeping women safe.

The radiqueers who want to ban a list of feminist books from a women’s library are doing the work of anti-feminism, whether they’re aware of it or not, and they are engaged in the practice of woman-hating, whether they are aware of it or not. They are being intellectually dishonest because they are attempting to suppress information that is clearly helpful to women on the grounds that they imagine it to be “unsafe” for women. Although I cannot prove that no radiqueers have read any of these banned books, I think it’s a reasonable assumption to make, based on their politics and their behavior, and I find it reprehensible and cowardly for people to regard a book as unsafe without having read it. If any radiqueers have read any of these books, feel free to tell me I’m wrong about that, and let’s discuss the book! But I’m not going to hold my breath.

I hope that I will get time throughout the year to quote from more of the banned books on their list, in order to discuss what information radiqueers want banned and why. There is a general theme though: any time feminists describe male violence against women in the form of sexual exploitation or gender identity nonsense, radiqueers get all up in arms. That’s because their politics are generally about promoting the sex trade and promoting people’s choice to choose genders, both of which are harmful to women as a class. They are men’s rights activists cloaked in rainbow disguise.

Despite this group of anti-feminists throwing rocks at us, we will persevere, just like we always have.

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Vancouver Women’s Library vandalized

Meghan Murphy tweeted these photos of the vandalism of the Vancouver Women’s Library today. Hey, radical queers, if you’re trying to prove that you’re an anti-feminist hate group, it’s working!

vandalism-1

vandalism-2

Queer fascists attempt to ban feminist books from a women’s library

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:

-Admission Accomplished – Jill Johnston
-Against Sadomasochism – Robin R. Linden, Darlene R. Pagano, Diana E. Russell, Susan Leigh Star
-Amazon Odyssey: Collection of Writings – Ti-Grace Atkinson
-Buddhism after Patriarchy – Rita M. Gross
-The Female Man – Joana Russ
-Female Sexual Slavery – Kathleen Barry
-Feminism Unmodified – Catharine A. Mackinnon
-First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening Susan Murcott
-Gyn/Ecology – Mary Daly
-The Idea of Prostitution – Sheila Jeffreys
-The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade – Sheila Jeffreys
-Intercourse – Andrea Dworkin
-The Lesbian Heresy – Sheila Jeffreys
-Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women – Geraldine Brooks
-Not a Choice, Not a Job: Exposing the Myths about Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade – Janice Raymond
-Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography-Of Women Born – Adrienne Rich
-Pornography: Men Possessing Women – Andrea Dworkin
-Radical Acceptance – Tara Brach
-The Sexual Liberals and the Attack on Feminism – Janice Raymond
-Women As Wombs: Reproductive Technologies and the Battle over Women’s Freedom – Janice Raymond
This is simply a list of writing by radical feminists who expose the harms of gender and the sex industry. I have read two books from this list: Female Sexual Slavery and Pornography: Men Possessing Women. These are excellent books that I highly recommend. The only people these books could possibly be considered “hateful” towards are the men who abuse women.
It’s really surreal to me that anti-feminists are cloaking themselves in the language of social justice and calling themselves “queer.” Feminism should be a necessary part of anyone’s social justice program, and queer used to mean homosexual but is now a set of extremely anti-feminist politics that is quite hostile toward lesbians. Strange world we’re living in.
I would suggest that my readers put at least one of these books in their 2017 reading list. These are obviously very powerful books that make anti-feminists boiling mad, so they must be good! And of course, if you are in a position to support the Vancouver Women’s Library in any way, please do. Solidarity, sisters!

Does queer have anything to do with homosexual anymore?

This is a collection of thoughts regarding the “queer” community and how it’s changed from the gay community to the “people with cool identities” community.

This Tweet from Julie Bindel and a conversation with a friend yesterday got me thinking about some things.

Bindel Tweet

I don’t know who specifically Bindel is referencing here, but I do know that lots of straight people are “coming out” as all sorts of different special identities that seem to have something to do with “queer.” For example, this Tweet from Laurie Penny:

Penny Tweet

Her Twitter profile also says “genderpunk,” whatever that means. So what Penny is saying here, in plain English, is that she is in the dating scene and open to possibilities and also that she wears cool outfits. I’m not sure why that requires a “coming out.” I’m sure that at least half of young people in Western countries would actually fit this description. It certainly doesn’t require the type of coming out I had. I had to have an awkward and tearful conversation with my parents where I explained to them that I didn’t just love my friend because we were friends, I loved her in a lesbian sort of way. And this awkward and horrible conversation occurred after years of my own denial and emotional work that I had to do to understand what my feelings for women meant about me. I’m doubtful that these Tumblr-style special snowflake identities require the sort of “coming out” that homosexuals go through.

Not long ago I was at a lesbian friend’s party and I met a dominatrix. She was very chatty and told us all about the BDSM scene around here and how it changed after it went mainstream. Now, I’m not a BDSMer, but this is an excellent anecdote. She used to have lots of work as a domme, but as the scene became more popular and more people wanted to join, there ended up being lots of people there who were neither sadists nor masochists but who just wanted to be a part of a cool scene. She described it like this: all these new people want to join the BDSM community, but all they do is show up at parties in cool outfits, and they don’t actually do the stuff.

This really clicked for me, because this is what’s happened with the queer community. We used to be the gay and lesbian community, and the reason we were a community is because all of us were getting bashed and called “queers” for acting on our same-sex attractions. (And sometimes, before we had even gotten an opportunity to act on them.) We formed a community and fought for our rights, and eventually we went mainstream. Now there’s tons of people who want to be queer and who make up all sorts of identities for themselves, so that they can claim to be a part of the queer community, even though they’re not actually homosexuals. Once again, people want to show up at the party wearing a cool outfit but they don’t actually do the stuff.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about what’s happened to Gay-Straight Alliances in schools. They used to exist for lesbian and gay students. Now they’ve turned into Gender Diversity clubs and they’re all about promoting and respecting people’s identities. I’m not sure if this does anything to serve gay and lesbian students, and I kind of doubt it. I think there are probably gay and lesbian students who need these clubs and who join them, but instead of being supported as homosexuals they’re being taught how to transition. I’m guessing if you took a look at a group of kids in one of these gender diversity clubs, you’d find a few straight kids who are there to wear cool outfits and base their identity on that, and a few kids who are lesbian and calling themselves “genderqueer” or “trans men” and a few kids who are gay and calling themselves “genderqueer” or “trans women.” I hope I’m wrong and I hope there is support for homosexuals in these groups, but based on all the crap I’ve been reading online it doesn’t sound like it.

Perhaps I’m starting to sound like an old curmudgeon who is lamenting that the good old days are gone. But I’m worried about these “genderqueer” kids who are taking artificial hormones and who are going to eventually realize that they were just a good old-fashioned homosexual the whole time and should have been just accepting that. Finding out you are gay has always been confusing, and I think it might be a more confusing process now than it was when I did it.

I feel completely alienated by the queer and GLBT community because it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with homosexuals anymore. I stared at a flyer yesterday for a gender diversity club and the symbol it had on it—a round circle with multiple gender symbols coming out of it—and I thought, this does not seem like the club I would need if I was a young lesbian coming out. For many years, whenever I saw a rainbow flag or the word Pride I knew that was for me, and it made me feel at home. I don’t feel at home looking at this trans symbol with lots of different genders on it. I’m not looking for an identity to try on.

I’m just a homosexual female living her life. I live with my female partner. We give each other love and affection. Every year I bring her home for Christmas with my family, and we are the only homosexuals standing out among a group of conventional heterosexuals. Every year we file our taxes as a common-law same sex couple. Everyone I meet at work and in my activities knows my partner is female. I am seen as homosexual because that’s the life I live. It has nothing to do with me choosing an identity. I’m getting kind of uncomfortable with these people who just want to show up at the party in a cool outfit but not actually do the stuff. I actually do the stuff.

It seems as if “oppressed person” has become the trendy thing to be. You know you are a bourgeois wanker when you actually think that taking on the identity of an oppressed person is a cool thing to do.