Friday 5 December 2008

noise annoys

Julie Bindel speaks to the nation....

While I (and no doubt you) would just as soon hear nothing more about Julie Bindel, she's still out there and she's still sounding off. About transsexuals. And, as has so often the case in her writing on this subject, it's been characterised by ignorance and untruth. She's been twisting things around a bit. Well, OK, a lot.

So, as long as she's spreading disinformation, I suppose that I have a moral imperative to refute her.

OK, so she gets columns in the Guardian, I have my blog, but we do what we can do, I guess.

Now, where were we? -When I last mentioned her, a protest was being organised outside Stonewall's champagne bash at the V&A, where Julie Bindel had been nominated for the award of "journalist of the year". This protest was because of the views espoused by Bindel about transsexuals, which I have already described in earlier posts and so shan't go through again. It was pointed out to Ben Summerskill, Chief Stuffed Shirt at Stonewall, that Bindel's views on transsexuals were not a million miles away from the opinions held by Iris Robinson, the DUP type who was awarded Stonewall's 'bigot of the year' title for opining that homosexuality could and should be cured by psychiatry... Ben's response was something along the lines of "We've already sent the invitations out, and anyway we're all right Jack so get lost".

So the protest took place. About 150 people, all told, and a cheerful and well-conducted bunch of people they were too. Here are some of them...

IMG_2255, originally uploaded by onequeerone.

...and there was a counter demo. As you can see, Julie has many friends...

IMG_2087, originally uploaded by onequeerone.

...though they seemed a bit lost, especially when the actual reasons for the anti-Stonewall demo had been gently explained to them, and they sort of shuffled off early...

Julie didn't get the award, of course; that went to Miriam Stoppard...

Anyhow, next thing you know, Julie's written a piece for the Guardian's Comment Is Free. It's quite a remarkable piece of writing, even by her standards. She seems to lump transsexuals in with people-who-screw-cats as odd folk who want to join in the Stonewall "equality for nice middle class gays" party. Wrong in so many ways, Julie!

Julie Bindel:
"I for one do not wish to be lumped in with an ever-increasing list of folk defined by "odd" sexual habits or characteristics..."

..."I vont to be left alone", says Julie. Sadly, that is not a courtesy she extends to trans folk. She was at it again last week, in a magazine called G3 (you will find her piece on P 98). I'd never heard of the magazine before. It's a glossy lesbian job. Not quite an intellectual heavyweight, if you see what I mean. Julie gives her side of the business which began with the 2004 Guardian piece yet again, and says how some nasty trans folk have said bad things about her. The magazine's editorial agreed with Julie. After all, she's a Stonewall Journalist Of The Year nominee, and the biggest lesbian on the block. How can she be wrong? What's journalistic integrity anyway?

It is true that some people have said harsh things about Bindel, of course. Maybe even more people than there are fingers on one hand .....without wanting to go too far into the tit for tat stuff here, though, I would point out that there are any number of loose screws or cannons out there in cyberspace. Here is one person giving us their opinion about the Bindel business...

trans communities/forums/chats far and wide are literally losing their minds (or whats left of their minds after being drugged) over Julie's nomination. This has even cropped up in multiple so-called "trans-feminism" communities, due in part because the disordered men occupying these communities obviously remain male despite the cosmetics, and in part because they remain faithful to their conditioned patriarchal male privileges that nary a one has ever given up...

and then someone called mAndrea is the first to comment on this blog on the f word for the Transgender Day Of Remembrance, when we remember trans people who have been murdered.

Normally, we consider people who use their emotions in place of reason to be utter fucking morons.

The basic premise of transgender ideology is that girl and boy brains exist, and are different from each other. Girl brains luv pink, and are rilly soft and gentle. Boy brains luv blue, and are rilly hard and aggressive.

The basic premise of feminist ideology is that no such difference exists. Oops, we have a discreptancy!

Since some women are quite the aggressive fuck, they must be a boy. Therefore, they are transgendered. Amazingly enough, wanting a penis is not required for women to be an aggressive fuck, so something is quite illogical regarding your theory.

Perhaps insanity is the answer.

It makes interesting, if distasteful reading. But let's not get too distracted by this guff. It would be stupid to extrapolate from this and think that these semi-literate, possibly semi-sane voices are representative voices of feminism. Wouldn't it? If Julie, on the other hand, wants to demonise the trans 'community' because of a few individuals' intemperate expressions of anger.... well, she would, wouldn't she? The important thing is that the anti-Stonewall demo was discussed, organised and executed in an open and intelligent way, despite the occasional trolling of the Facebook site by Bindel and others.

And so we come to yesterday. A debate was hosted at Manchester Metropolitan University between Bindel and Susan Stryker. It was described as "A Feminist Perspective on the Transsexual Debate". Way to go. The dynamics of that title are quite telling, aren't they? Who decided that transsexuality was up for debate? Is there a 'lesbian debate'? -a.... oh, fill in the blanks yourelf. Is not Bindel's arrogation to herself of the right to 'debate' the very existence of a group of people indicative of an assumption of privilege on her part? -anyway; I watched the webcast. It made interesting viewing. Susan Stryker is very intelligent. Susan began with a slightly magisterial expression of surprise that Julie should still be bogged down in this stagnant backwater, when there is so much more useful and constructive stuff to be getting on with. Julie declared her wish to abolish gender; Susan described gender as "a medium we swim in". Julie stated that her own feminism began and ended with fighting violence against women, and she had seen no evidence that transsexual women had worked towards the ending of violence against women. She was directly given examples from the personal experience of Susan and several other women present.

Hmm, anyway. The general gist of the event was that Bindel accepted that on all the points raised, she was less informed than other people present at the debate. And those better-informed people refuted all her points. Giving chapter and verse. Maybe I'll expand on this later, but for the moment we'll leave it at that. Bindel continued to maintain that there is a substantial and presently-organising caucus of what she termed "survivors" of the "sex-change industry". This is news to me, but then, what would I know?

This is what I do know. That I, and many others, have been thoroughly angered by Bindel's interference in trans matters. She has either not researched properly or she has ignored the facts, because the existence and experience of transsexuality is incompatible with her ideological theory of gender. Her opinions are published in a national paper. There is the risk that she can influence policy which directly affects us. She has been trying to mess with my life, and she has been dishonest in the attempted furtherance of her ideology.

It would be really good if Bindel would finally just shut up about transsexuality. Her case against it just doesn't hold up. She's been sucking the air out of the room for too long. Go and do something useful instead, Julie. Please.


  1. Well, you know I agree with every word. Quite honestly, I don't really know what to say any more about this bloody woman. She hides behind the untouchability of her status of Well Known (ish) Radical Lesbian Writer...but, frankly it's simpler than that. Whatever her gender (a concept she refutes in that Marxist throw back way), whatever her sexuality, it all boils down to stunning arrogance and self aggrandisement. How many more times must we put up with her periodic 'admissions' that she doesn't know what she is talking about (this is far from the first time she has conceded that her interlocutors know much more about the issue than she...and then read or listen to more of her ill informed and vile pronouncements?

    This is the bit I that I haven't been able to fathom. She will seem to accept she doesn't know what she is talking about when confronted by this fact...and then write garbage anyway. I have heard it said that up in debate she will say all sorts of obtuse things, which are later to be revealed to be not her real views.

    But wait...there is an explanation (er yes...wasn't there that little clue in the 2004 article, the sticking by its substance, and in the latest Comment is Free thing [I so can't be bothered to read the G3 piece]?) What does one call someone who expresses intractable prejudice towards another person or group in the face of information and evidence that clearly refutes their view? Who holds prejudicial and discriminatory opinions, and won't change them, even when the facts tell another story?

    A bigot.

    She hides behind the intellectual platform she has established for herself and the pseudo-reputation she has built. And she is an intelligent, articulate woman.

    But she is still a bigot.

    My view is that engagement with her is worthless. There is no reasoning with bigots - even those who pretend not to be (most don't, of course..."I'm not a racist...but" etc etc)

    As for this whole 'transsexual debate' you say Dru, what debate?

    You happier now than you used to be?

    Me too.

    Case closed.

  2. I might have said this before. I imagine contempories of my mother-in-law saying to each other, if she's writing for the Guardian she most know what she's talking about.

    A lot of people think of lesbians as man hating 'macho'(!) types with short hair and a loud mouth, she doesn't help matters very much, does she?

    I'd rather read your blog

  3. Thanks for the comments, Jo and Anji. What more to say? OK, tomorrow we sort out world peace too :-)

  4. Even from so far away, there are things that rankle in this world. Having been introduced to this one by Jo, I've followed with interest.

    For some reason a Dorothy Parker quote came to mind:

    "You can't teach an old dogma new tricks. "

    but while looking to make sure it really was her (I'm getting old and misattribute things sometimes) I ran across another I hadn't read before:

    "Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no such demand upon those who wrote them."

    Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832)

    Of course this fiasco could also be summed up nicely by Ms. Parker's:

    "This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

    I took the liberty of changing her word "novel" for "book", knowing that were Dorothy Parker still around she would have skewered Ms. Bindel unmercifully!

    Though I should probably stop, I ran across another that I could see her using for just this occasion:

    "I really can't come to your party Mrs. Parker, I can't bear fools."
    That's strange; your mother could."

    There are those who know; those who think they know; and so very few who know they don't!


  5. "It's All About Julie" was not a big box office smash.

    But, there's the irony. Whilst telling us she wants to be left alone one minute, she's then indulging in her usual me me me the next.

    She tells us ad nauseum that she's apologised for her 2004 article(like everything is ok then!), whilst continuing to stick her very uninformed oar in since then - at least another two articles, and then telling us in 2007 that "Sex Change Surgery is Unnecessary Mutilation", and then wanting to offer "A Feminist Perspective on the Transsexual Debate", although actually, it's Bindel's perspective not representative of all Feminism.

    'That' Guardian article not only of course manages to attack us in the trans community, but also queer women, bi women, in fact anything other than a particular subset of 'political lesbian feminism'. This is best summed up by an excellent blog I read very recently from Penny Red:

    And then of course, there's this growing 'regrettors movement' that she often talks about. Except, no one even in the trans community seems to have even heard about it. Yes, of course, we know there are regrettors out there, but it's a fact that they are a small minority. Do we think Bindel is really concerned with these individuals welfare? Of course not, she just uses them as a political football.

  6. Merci, Rognon!

    And thatnk you, Alan; you can't have too many bon mots, in my opinion... :-)

    That was a good link, Steph, thank you. About the 'regrettors', I am sure that Julie actually termed them 'survivors', which is the first time I've heard that term used in this context, and ups the emotional ante quite a bit, since by inference it labels happily transitioned trans people as somehow 'lost'. I shall watch this one with interest.

  7. I found your post to be interesting - but I do disagree with your premise that Bindel shouldn't discuss this subject, or that, to summarize, it's a "closed matter".

    Julie Bindel is, in my opinion, simply arguing against what she sees as the redefinition of "womanhood". What does it mean, to be a "woman"? She has one view, the transsexual community has a different view. I'm not sure if she hates transsexuals, though - I think she simply abhors the way that they are redefining what being a woman is.

    Bindel's argument can be summed up as (and I'll be frank) "Here are men, assuming that surgery entitles them to the title of 'woman'". To her, or at least what I get from her writing, is that she views this as yet another example of men imposing their desires and wills upon women. I can't help but wonder how many women agree with her.

    I am, I acknowledge, ignoring the same thing Bindel ignores: the internal pressures that lead to gender-reassignment surgery. I think that is (an important?) part of the debate, but it isn't the entire discussion. As Bindel manages to convey.

    (Not to be flip, nor insulting to Alan, Bindel's more extreme views are fine by me: after all, reasonable women never changed history! And I rather enjoy that she can express such extreme views. After all, if she couldn't express herself - could transsexuals? I'll simply note that, yes, I am aware that my love of free expression leads me, sometimes eagerly, into conflict with majority and/or accepted opinion.)

    She might be right, she might be wrong - but she is ably keeping a discussion alive that, sincerely, needs to be continued. How do "we" define what being a "woman" is, when it can be so readily changed? I'm not sure there's a satisfactory conclusion to the question, but the discussion of what womanhood is isn't over, yet. Not by a long shot!

    Thank you for allowing me the space to disagree.
    Carolyn Ann

    PS Not to toot my own horn too loudly, you missed my defense of Julie Bindel.

  8. Thaks, Carolyn Ann. I'm sorry to be brief in my reply; as always, I'm in a hurry.

    I don't agree with the idea of silencing someone just because they disagree with me. But I think that Bindel has brought nothing new to the table, and that she has not moved on from her initial take on transsexuals; she has only moderated her language a little, though not that much, as this bit in the Guardian suggests

    "I also asked her whether she feared the transsexuals at all, and she said no, and I said, not even if they made death threats? And she said, "What are they gonna do, hit me with their wigs?" ", yeah. 'Death threats?' I get the sense that there is a group of pally journalists feeding each other going on here. Power without responsibility. This piece appeared the day after the Stryker debate.

    If she chooses either not to be informed, or to write honestly, then I think she shouldn't write at all. And you can only 'debate' something for so long before you start to expect that the debatee should know their subject matter. Continuing to give Bindel a platform gives her a bogus legitimacy.

    It would be nice to think that something came out of the Friday debate. Time will tell.

    I don't really share your take on trans women marching into women's space and asserting their right to be there, either. That's not how I've seen it work, either in my life or others. The Kimberley Nixon case was misreported by Bindel.

    Anyway, as I say, a brief response. Thanks for dropping in.

  9. Just because you can say something ('s a free (ish) country) doesn't mean what you say has worth.

    Iris Robinson, the Northern Irish politician who was awarded 'Bigot of the Year' by Stonewall has made a 'contribution' to the debate about the nature of homosexuality, I dare say.

    Her view on it?

    “There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children” (said in the Northern Ireland Assembly June 30 2008)...

    This may be seen as "keeping the discussion alive".

    Even if you believe that the debate is ongoing (and it isn't about homosexuality), does Robinson have a contribution to make, in a decent society, with these views?

    Did Hitler have a 'contribution' to make about relationships with Jewish people?

    I'm exaggerating to make a point.

    Bindel is, of course, not quite as extreme, but the same principle holds. And some of the things she has said, and keeps saying, betray that the root of her position here is NOT a desire to explore the notion of womanhood, but to deny trans people the validity of their feelings. To tell us that what we feel is wrong, that the solutions we seek are misguided. Despite the fact that her opinions have been discredited and disproved and are rejected by almost anyone working professionally in the field.

    Her writing and remarks have caused many people, myself included, great pain in the past - when I was struggling with accepting myself. Her famous 2004 article (the substance of which, do not be mistaken,she still stands by, merely apologising for intemperate language) almost pushed me over the edge.

    She has a platform, and she is using it. She has almost no knowledge of the issue she pontificates on. Her attitudes are based on dogma and principles she has force fitted into this question.

    So does she have the 'right' to spout nonsense?


    Does she have the right to the privileged and revered role she is given (seminar platforms, widely read articles, a sense that she 'should be listened' to)?

    No absolutely not. She hasn't earned it. And worse, she causes great distress with her dismissiveness and bigotry, without moving understanding forward at all.

  10. Hitler? Wow, he was quickly introduced!

    Clearly I've hit an emotional nerve; that wasn't my intention. My apologies, Josephine - I was not aware that this was such an emotionally painful topic for you.

    Now that the Holocaust has been introduced, however, I think I'll depart the discussion. I have never found it useful, or enjoyable, to debate anything when I have the horror of the Holocaust as a backdrop.

    No matter how Bindel phrases her point, the point she raises is an important one. It is, however, impossible to have an enjoyable debate when arguments are compared - unfairly - to the author of Mein Kampf.

    I shall bow out. Thank you, again, Dru, for providing me the space to debate, even for a moment.

    Carolyn Ann

  11. Thanks again, Carolyn Ann. Did you fail to pick up any Holocaust resonances when Bindel introduced the term "survivors" to describe regrettors?

  12. No, I can't say I did. Surely such an interpretation is facetious?

    I checked back to see if Josephine had seen fit to either apologize, or explain herself.

    If you desire, I shall refrain from darkening your virtual doorstep, again. It would, I'm quite sure, be my loss. In the meantime, I shall do Josephine the courtesy of removing her blog from my blogroll. I care not for her oblique accusations and careless interpretation.

    Carolyn Ann

  13. I have, if you care to read it, made an observation or two about the Holocaust references. Suffice to say, if you decide not to: How the hell can anyone compare the unthinkable violence of the Concentration Camps and the roving firing squads with a discussion about what Julie Bindel opines? Such comparisons are beyond offensive; they are, at best, unflattering to the one making the comparison.

    I disdain the homophobic reference; it's not worth rebutting.

    Carolyn Ann

  14. Thanks, Carolyn Ann; I have read what you have written. Why should you think that interpretation facetious? I don't see Nazis behind every bush, but it was the connection which I made immediately Bindel used the term. Just to see if I was being over-sensitive, I Googled "survivors" and found that the Holocaust is right up there towards the top of the list; indeed, if the BBC wasn't re-hashing the TV series of the same name, it would have been in pole position.

    What the Nazis did isn't and wasn't unthinkable, you know. It was merely an extreme example of what people can do when they reduce a section of humanity to a caricature and attack them, because if they're not real people you can do what you like to them and say what you like about them.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. 'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

  17. My apologies, in my haste I didn't think through what I had said.

    "Unthinkable" is, quite simply, a common phrase. I use it in the obvious context.

    I must decline to continue this conversation, having neither the time nor the inclination to further justify my points. I hope you understand!

    Carolyn Ann

  18. Of course, we can none of us force other people to think the same way as us... if you fail to find anything a bit off in Bindel's introduction of the emotive term 'survivors' in the context of transsexualism, then so it goes. I have described my immediate response to it and how, according to my extensive thirty seconds of research on Google, that response is well within the normal range.

  19. Carolyn Ann, having just looked at your blog, your male privilege is rather showing.

  20. I figured I'd see if anyone has commented further. They have. (I do love a good conversation! And now we have moved on from the whole fascism thing, I feel I can participate, again!)

    I make no pretense, no excuse and certainly no apology for my words. Nor do I for myself! If you don't like my words - don't read it, or tell me you don't. Directly would be nice; I've got a thick skin, I can cope with criticism.

    We disagree, and that's fine. I'm of the opinion that if we all agreed, the world would be a tremendously boring place. I also consider disagreement to be essential to the developing of opinions. (I mist say, however, that if we all disagreed with each other, the world might be Ayn Rand's dream, but it certainly wouldn't be quite as it is! Don't you agree? [sic...])

    That little piece you (liberally) quote from was heartfelt. You might not like it, but that's not exactly my concern; if I wrote for my readers, I'd be a damn sight more popular and damned sight less honest. I write for myself, and that's that. I definitely make no excuses, nor request any pardon for what I write! They are honest words, whether you like them or not.

    But to more measured, if you cannot perceive the meaning within that post, it is perhaps because you perceive it to have a different intention to what it actually has? isn't it interesting how intention and experience get intermingled? We all do have differing experiences, don't we?

    I'm in two minds whether to continue reading this, or not. Your blog is interesting, Ms Marland. It would certainly be to my loss if I were to not read your work. But, alas, I am used to such; if you desire - I shall refrain from adding my opinion, disagreement or agreement, and even observations, to your blog. Indeed, I shall cease acknowledging its, and your, existence if you so desire!

    I merely commented because I disagreed - and perceived you as someone capable of respecting such disagreement. If such is taken as a personal slight, then so be it; it was not intended as such. I shall not impinge upon your life any further. I have no intention of causing anxiety, confusion or even perplexity.

    I have made my decision: I shall not read your writings any further. Far be it from me to inflict myself upon another!

    Carolyn Ann

  21. I wrote a poem for you. It's not terribly good, but it is dedicated to you.

    Actually, it'a a little tongue-in-cheek. And considering our past conversation, I feel that I have to mention that it is *not* intended as a slight against you. It's a whimsical bit of flippery, is all.

    Or at least as close as I can manage.

    Carolyn Ann

  22. I read and responded to your poem. It was discourteous of you to delete my reply. You evidently have some workings-out to do. Good luck with your issues.

    Here is the poem and my deleted response

    At some point this evening
    I was accused of being a guy
    a chap
    a bloke
    and worst of all: a man

    I endured such accusation
    as only a man could
    how does one stand on being
    accused of what one is?

    A fellow I am
    and proud of it, too!

    I like lifting old ladies across a puddle
    and saving a kitten from up a tree
    I adore engines, it's in my DNA (don't you know?)
    and I love tinkering with anything at all
    I took apart Mom's vacuum cleaner
    (and failed to put it together, again)
    and I deplored the bully when he hit
    the girly boy (and I didn't like it at all
    when he hit me, instead!)

    I am a man
    and a man, I am
    but sometimes I wonder
    am I man
    or not?

    I love the swish of a skirt
    the feel of a stocking
    the wonder of a heel
    (and I proclaim them to be
    the invention of the devil!)
    Lipstick, I do avow, does
    wonders that wow! (:-) )
    A dab of eye shadow helps
    the show along
    and what we have is...

    I am a man, you know, I am

    Carolyn Ann

    (This whimsical frippery is for Dru.)


    Thank you, Carolyn Ann; I am of course deeply touched.

    Of course, you know, I certainly never accused you of being a man. "Accused" is a loaded word. As is "man" -its bestowment and denial by others is riddled with assumptions of privilege and entitlement and lord knows what. I've been at the sharp end of this sort of thing in my seafaring days, usually from people who would describe themselves as men. And I've known some whom I would gladly describe as men.

    I would go, and have gone, no further than describing you as male; which agrees with your Blogger profile. As to why you use a name normally considered female while railing against appropriation of other female terms by 'trannies' (sic), ...o well, this is safely in cyberspace.

    There are as yet no great upheavals; despite your prognostications in an earlier post, Europe remains un-outraged. Do you know the Muldoon poem about Yeats? -it's a goodie.

    And were Yeats living at this hour
    it should be in some ruined tower

    not malachited Ballylee
    where he paid out to those below

    the gilt-edged scroll from his pencil
    as though he were part-Rapunzel

    and partly Delphic oracle.
    As for his crass, rhetorical

    posturing, `Did that play of mine
    send out certain men (certain men?)

    the English shot ...?'
    the answer is `Certainly not'.

  23. I popped back because I saw your reply in my email, but not on the post! No trace of it, in fact.

    I didn't delete your reply - really, I didn't!

    I don't know what happened to it; when you left it (3:51AM, EST), I was in bed, snoring. I've just gotten up (10:04AM EST). Between then and now, I've not touched a computer!

    Now, that is perplexing! I do apologize for Blogger/Google screwing something up, but please be assured - I didn't, nor would I, delete your comment. I'll see if it's possible to submit a bug report. I'd be honored if you'd try and post it again. I only delete spam.

    (I choose to identify by "Carolyn" for reasons of my own. My name extends to many facets of my life.)

    Carolyn Ann

  24. A copy of a comment I made on my blog:

    Apparently it's all but impossible to submit a bug report. I'll keep an eye on this issue, and if it happens again, I'll find some way of reporting the bug!

    (The only bug reported on comments was if the post had more than 200 comments, some weren't showing. I doubt I'd ever get 200 comments!)

    Perhaps we can start again?
    Carolyn Ann