Stepford students

Julie Bindel in the Sunday Times:

I have been “no platformed” on and off by the various factions of the National Union of Students (NUS) since 2009. My crime? In 2004 I wrote a column in a national newspaper about the case of Kimberley Nixon, a male-to-female transsexual who had sued Vancouver Rape Relief, a feminist support service, after it declined to take her on as a counsellor for rape victims. In the article I made facetious comments about Nixon, and immediately came under fire for my alleged “transphobia”.

I have since apologised for the tone of my article. But no matter, the piece from 2004 has followed me around ever since, with a small cabal picketing and disrupting my presentations on rape, trafficking and prostitution, child sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Because that’s what most needs to happen – powerful feminist voices need to be silenced because we perceive them as wrong on one particular issue. We have so many powerful feminist voices that we can afford to silence them that readily and that persistently.

In 2008 I was shortlisted for a journalist of the year award by Stonewall, the gay rights charity. I was harassed by a baying mob of trans people and their supporters on my arrival at the event. In 2009, the NUS lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender committee voted to “no-platform” me, an honour usually reserved for fascists and former dictators. The motion, which listed a number of phobias I am accused of possessing, such as Islamophobia (I believe the full-face veil to be a symbol of oppression) and transphobia, ended with the statement: “Julie Bindle [sic] is vile.”

It’s all or nothing. (It’s yes or no.) If you don’t recite all the correct platitudes in the right order with the approved spellings, you become an enemy of the people and Vile.

I have been physically attacked while on stage talking about sexual violence towards women; and was forced to withdraw from a debate at Manchester University two years ago after death and rape threats. I am called a bigot, a fascist, regularly compared (unfavourably) to Hitler, and am told I am responsible for the deaths of hundreds of trans women.

A few months ago I might have thought that last item was hyperbole, but now I know very well it’s not, because I’ve seen the same claim made about me.

This latest Stepford Student saga can look, to the uninitiated, as if feminists are banning other feminists from debating contentious issues. But increasingly women’s officers in universities have little to do with feminism.

As a result of the witch-hunt against me I have received emails from students, transgender folk and others who feel silenced and disgusted at the McCarthyite tactics being increasingly used in place of rational debate.

Last year I was invited to Essex University to debate with a former pornography producer. This man had given awards to pornographers responsible for some sick material based on men’s rape fantasies. But I was the one picketed and shouted at by a group of students, demanding I be removed from the premises for my “dangerous transphobia”, while the porn producer was left alone.

This arrangement has got to change.

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