Power always has accomplices
This cycle will continue as long as people give Bindel a platform, give her power. Once that happens, she has already won because both ignoring or attacking from the trans community will enable her. Cancel the event, she gets to play the victim and she gains more support and more power. Let her speak and she gains an audience (one inclined to be on her side) – more power again. There is no winning here.
Two years ago, I made a commitment to myself I try (and sometimes fail) to keep. Recognising I was becoming increasingly traumatised by Bindel and her ilk, I started to ignore them as much as possible, and bring people together to do positive work. From that decision, a huge amount of supportive community organising has come about. But I’m by no means over the profound negative psychological impact that gender critical feminism has had on me, and it’s impossible to protect myself fully from it. Their tendrils are everywhere, influencing my cis friends, influencing policy, weighting the media discussion about us and generally making life miserable for trans people in multiple ways. I blogged about how much I had internalised their hateful doctrine here.
We are powerless and we are vulnerable; perhaps a natural state that should be embraced more by human beings, but never more true than if you are an outlier on the bell curve of humanity.
This cycle will continue as long as people give Bindel a platform, give her power. Once that happens, she has already won because both ignoring or attacking from the trans community will enable her.
As long as people give power to bullies, they will have power. And a platform is power. It’s not a right, to be elevated over others. It’s not an entitlement, although some seem to act like it is, a sense of entitlement that is once again the characteristic of an abuser. It’s not free speech to have a newspaper column or a speaking engagement. It’s power. And using it to subjugate a minority and advocate the removal of their rights is abuse of that power.
Like Trump and Yiannopoulos, Bindel finds in these frightening days an opportunity to become powerful and wealthy and be surrounded by enablers. That she is representing a notion of ‘working class’ at this latest event is the ultimate irony. Whatever her origins, Bindel is elite, dangerous and bad for the health of working class LGBTQ+ folk everywhere; particularly trans people, bi people, PoC and sex workers, but her ideas are calamitous to all of us as they render us powerless to say ‘stop’ when we are being abused, because ‘stop’ and ‘no’ are apparently censorship of her freedom to come at us relentlessly.
As long as people give power to bullies, they will have power. And a platform is power.
And, to be clear, I want to holler ‘Stop!’ and ‘No!’. I want to beg and plead – ‘just leave me and my friends alone and find another special interest, please Julie. Your behaviour is intolerable and real people are profoundly affected by it, people who matter every bit as much as you’.
But if I holler, just watch how many people will clap their hands over my mouth and tell me I ‘won’t help my cause’ that way. These silencers – they’re enablers too, telling me if I just acted the right way, the abuse would stop. That’s a lie, too.
I know that as long as hurting me gives her power and wealth, she will never stop, so ultimately, it’s her enablers who need to look at what they’ve created. Just as rape is enabled by rape culture, so this relentless abuse is enabled by our obsession with seeing gladiator-style opinion-fests based on ignorance and entitlement.
Whatever her origins, Bindel is elite, dangerous and bad for the health of working class LGBTQ+ folk everywhere.
There is no solution to abuse as long as people are creating a culture that enables it. In the face of this abuse, we must stay safe as best we can and look after the inevitable impact events like this have on the mental health of our community. My love goes to all my trans siblings who are in pain right now from this. My respect to you however you are dealing with it, whether you’re keeping your head down or struggling to make your voice heard. I know you are doing your best and this is not in any way your fault.
Meanwhile, we must do all we can to raise up the voices of people who empower and support others rather than clawing their own way to personal power and wealth through the propagation of hate and division.
Follow Sam on Twitter (@Sam_R_Hope)