Simply not having it

Julie Bindel gives us the back story:

It was late August 2019 when a message popped up in my Twitter inbox from J.K. Rowling. I had noticed that she had begun to follow me on Twitter a few months earlier, along with a number of feminists, and I was delighted to hear from her.

“I’ve just seen that you’re in contact with Magdelen Berns,” she wrote. Berns was a young lesbian who, after being silenced at her university, made YouTube videos tackling the absurdity of transgender ideology. She was popular, hilarious and informative. I say was; Berns, in her 30s, was dying of a brain tumour. I planned to visit her at a hospice in Edinburgh and had put a call out on Twitter to any women who wished to send her a message.

I knew that she would be delighted to hear from Rowling. A few weeks beforehand, during an excitable telephone conversation, she had already told me that “JK is following me!” Berns was thrilled to have her work recognised by one of the most famous and successful women on the planet, and I was thrilled to carry her message.

Julie and JKR stayed in contact, bonded by feminism and their “simply not having it” attitude.

Then, three months later, Maya Forstater lost her job for stating that sex is real. Rowling was furious, and her tweet to that effect has become the stuff of legend. #IStandWithMaya, she said, and all hell broke loose.

For some reason I’ve thought of JKR all this time as acting on her own. Of course she was in contact with Julie and others; why wouldn’t she be?

Under fire from extreme trans rights activists, a core group of us formed a bond. It was, however, not formed in defiance of them, but around the beating heart of our movement; for women, for girls, for our rights and our protections, and against misogyny and male violence, whatever form that eternal chimera is currently taking.

Here’s the rub. The kind of threats and abuse sent to Rowling, to me and to others are designed to make us feel isolated, afraid, alone. Patriarchy is all about dividing women and ensuring we don’t share our experiences. Why? Because when women talk, we realise our experiences are quite similar when it comes to male violence and abuse. We realise that all the gaslighting, all the lies told to us, have a common thread. We realise that the guilt, blame and shame of what happened should not belong to us, but to the perpetrators.

And we realize we can team up and fight back.

So the lunch happened, therefore the reaction to the lunch happened.

I’d had enough experience of these things to know, beforehand, that there would be some sort of reaction, but I was genuinely surprised by the scale of it. Several national newspapers, radio programmes and talkshows covered it as some fascinating event rather than just ladies who luncheon. I was not surprised, however, by the sheer warmth of many feminists, and even a few men, who lit up social media with their good wishes for us. Nor was I surprised by the fact that there was a backlash from the blue-fringed brigade; the anger and pure spite was palpable, and once word got out that we witches had got together and had some fun, the pile on began.

First, were the handmaidens. One woman, a well-known author with pronouns in her biography, suggested that we were “patting ourselves on the back for solving feminism because of the mutual dislike of trans people”.

Anyone know who that is? I missed it.

Then the boys joined in. Craig Murray, who describes himself as a historian and human rights activist, seemed to think that our event was disrespectful to a man accused of the rape and sexual assault of two women. “While [Suzanne] Moore was knocking back expensive wine in a shit venue with fellow “victim” J. K. Rowling, Assange was entering his fourth year locked in a tiny cell amongst convicted terrorists.” One wonders whether it is only feminists who should refrain from eating until Assange is free?

I missed that one, too. What an extraordinary thing to say. Has Craig Murray been refusing food and frivolity throughout Assange’s incarceration? I seriously doubt it.

To sum up: They’re Just Jealous.

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