#RadFem2012: Exposure doesn’t make the media your friends

Monday, 4th June 2012 at 13:52 UTC 3 comments

Its possible that far too much has already been said on the issue of the RadFem conference to possibly contribute anything more. Too many things have been taken and twisted beyond recognition and too few have said anything that really adds to what is becoming a very entrenched shouting match (though here lies a brilliant exception). But I think the analysis of this situation has lacked one critical perspective: the role of the media.

First of all, let me say that I’m very much in favour of getting oppressed groups together, away from the presence of others, to discuss their feelings. As a male who often speaks too much in group contexts, I’m all too aware of the usefulness of removing myself from the debate. I have no problem with men being excluded from a women’s conference, nor straights being excluded from an LGBT/Queer gathering, nor Neuro-typical people being excluded from an Autists meeting. These are all useful categories, because they represent a group of people meeting to discuss shared oppression dealt to them.

My issue with the RadFem conference is pretty much entirely around the exclusion of transwomen. In fact, more specifically, its around the open invitation to transphobes to come share in oppression of others, namely transwomen and other trans and genderqueer folk. Forget discussions of intersectionality – this is an issue of when the oppressed become the oppressors of those even further below them.

So why do RadFems feel the strength to gather in this particular way? Why do they even matter within today’s political narrative, particularly given how a-typical they are of all the many great feminists active in Britain today? Or perhaps more importantly, why are these people often the ones who get the exposure where others don’t?

I think the media loves this particular form of feminism. I’m not saying that transphobic radical feminism is the media’s new way of thinking, but rather, it fits with the media narrative very nicely. RadFem’s are everything the media wants from feminism, namely a very clear-cut case of a pantomime-esque “Wicked Witch”.

Dear RadFems, the media are not your friends -  they’re using you to hurt the wider feminist cause. Its like the media choosing to show a small riot over a large protest march because they feel they feel it better makes their point about protesters being violent nutcases. The media’s refusal to accept that Feminists have a genuine claim on justice, and are able to state it in an intellectually rigorous and genuinely loving way is what makes them choose you as the poster child of a much wider movement of which you are but a very insignificant part.

When people tell me feminists are man-haters, I tell them they’re wrong. I do this because I know just how few feminists are actually man-haters. In following this argument, I’ve ready some truly hurtful things. The Transphobia hurt most, as I cannot stand to see the disadvantaged abused (patronising though that may be). But some of the man-hating has been frankly jaw dropping. Its a terrible representation of modern Feminism and does nothing to promote either equality or liberation. In fact, it feels like a manifesto to replace Patriarchy with hate. I know this isn’t what what most Feminists want. Its sad that this is the message many people get, and that the RadFems are so happy to be represented in this way.

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Entry filed under: Activism, Free Space, Human Rights, Media, Transgender, Women.

Olympic Weapons of Mass Distraction Moving on, Moving out

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Greg  |  Tuesday, 5th June 2012 at 19:10 UTC

    You were doing so well until paragraph 3.

    Let’s be clear: you’re using “phobic” to mean “someone who disagrees with me”. That’s not what it means: it’s a suffix to denote an irrational fear or hatred. What you’re doing is dismissing the possibility that any of these ‘phobes’ who disagree with you might actually have a rational basis for what they say – you’re using language to slur people so you don’t have to engage with them. So, here are my questions:

    1) Why is Graham unwilling to deal with opposing arguments by dismissing everyone else as irrational?
    2) Graham is prepared to insult people as “phobic” in order to maintain this state of affairs. What does this say about him?

    Reply
  • 2. poetjust  |  Friday, 15th June 2012 at 17:46 UTC

    Sorry to rain on your parade Greg… But you’re wrong on many levels…(again)

    Let’s be clear: you’re using “phobic” to mean “someone who disagrees with me”. That’s not what it means: it’s a suffix to denote an irrational fear or hatred. What you’re doing is dismissing the possibility that any of these ‘phobes’ who disagree with you might actually have a rational basis for what they say – you’re using language to slur people so you don’t have to engage with them. So, here are my questions:

    Actually what you are arguing here is there is a rational basis for hatred. As you proclaim yourself regularly around here to be a Christian, you’re contradicting the fundamental tenets of your own faith. Having read the stuff put out against transwomen by RadFem it actually has no logical basis, or a rational one.

    1) Why is Graham unwilling to deal with opposing arguments by dismissing everyone else as irrational?

    Because actually having read the arguments that is a natural conclusion to draw.

    2) Graham is prepared to insult people as “phobic” in order to maintain this state of affairs. What does this say about him?

    It implies you believe being called phobic – irrational and uncontrollable fear – is an insult, which implies you feel it is acceptable to insult people over things they can’t control. Which says more about you than it does about Graham.

    Reply
  • 3. Some People are Bisexual, get over it! « Graham's Grumbles  |  Monday, 18th June 2012 at 7:23 UTC

    […] of anti-woman feminism has rolled in, supplied by Julie Bindel. Ironically, I deleted her name from my last blog post before publishing. The paragraph that starts “Dear RadFems” entirely applies to her. Julie’s […]

    Reply

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