Friday, 17 October 2008

the emperor's new sock puppet

Peggy (an artist's impression)

Back to the Bindel story. Now, a few years ago, in the aftermath of her Gender Benders Beware piece in the Guardian, there was a lively discussion going on about it on Technodyke, an internet forum which does what it says on the tin. Or did; it no longer exists in quite the same form, alas. Anyway, a newbie, Peggy by name, weighed in in support of Julie Bindel, and said nice things about her and snarky things about the trans women on Technodyke. Only it turned out that it wasn't Peggy but Julie, using an assumed identity. Peggy/Julie was thrown off Technodyke by the site owner, who deprecated her narrow-minded divisiveness. Life went on.

Apparently this practice of using an assumed online identity to promote one's own cause or, heck, create mayhem or whatever, is called sockpuppeting. This word makes me happy, and here in the Schloss we adopted it for a while as a gentle term of abuse.

OK, here's what's been happening over the last few days.

Stonewall and the Gender Trust have had a little chat, which went something along the lines of:

Gender Trust: We are unhappy that you have nominated a transphobic woman for your journalist of the year award

Stonewall: We understand that you are unhappy, but there aren't that many journalists on the national papers who identify as lesbian, and she hasn't written anything particularly transphobic in this last year, has she?

Gender Trust: Oh all right then, let's do lunch sometime. What're you drinking?

This didn't go down too well with the hoi polloi. There have been resignations from the GT. Other people, including myself, would have resigned if they hadn't already resigned for.... other reasons.

Plenty of seething grassroots activity going on . There is going to be a protest outside the V&A on the night of the Stonewall beanfeast. Julie has told Sarah, one of the more articulate objectors, that she has shown her stuff to a libel lawyer. It's nice to be appreciated, Sarah...

...and a Facebook group has formed to muster support for Julie, proposing a counter-demonstration in favour of her. It will be interesting to see how many of this group owe their origin to the hosiery section at Marks and Spencer.

If you would like to sign the petition deploring Stonewall's invitation to Julie Bindel, then here it is

...there is change in the air, I feel. This may be only a small pond, but it's the one I'm swimming in. Bear with me.