Is the UK Denying the Human Rights of Radical Feminists?

Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.

There’s an interesting document produced by the Human Rights Review here all about Article 11, which discusses how the UK may not be meeting its legal obligations to allow peaceful freedom of association, particularly with regards to protests.

According to this document:

Article 11 imposes two different types of obligations on the state:

• a negative obligation, which means that public authorities must not prevent, hinder or restrict peaceful assembly except to the extent allowed by Article 11(2), and must not arbitrarily interfere with the right to freedom of association

• a positive obligation, so that in certain circumstances public authorities are under a duty to take reasonable steps to protect those who want to exercise their right to peaceful assembly. The state must also take reasonable and appropriate measures to secure the right to freedom of association under domestic law.

The document also says,

Article 11 protects the right to peaceful assembly. This means that, unless there is clear evidence that the organisers or participants will use, advocate or incite imminent violence, public authorities have a positive duty to take reasonable steps to protect peaceful assemblies.

The right to peaceful assembly is not taken away even if violent counter demonstrations are possible, or if extremists with violent intentions who are not part of the organising group join the protest. Similarly a protest does not fall outside the protection guaranteed by Article 11 merely because there is a risk of disorder that is beyond the control of the organisers.

*

Do radical feminists not have the right to hold our political beliefs and gather peacefully with other like-minded women? Where is the evidence that radical feminists promote violence against others, or that we are gathering with the intent to share violent rhetoric which will result in crimes being committed against others? Merely having hurt feelings over some of the things radical feminists think is not grounds for denying our human right to have a peaceful political gathering. The law actually has an obligation to protect our right to freedom of political association, and one has to ask what the consequences will be for women and girls all around the world if a powerful western nation like the UK declares that politically marginalised women who are survivors of multiple forms of violence and oppression DO NOT have the human right to gather peacefully with one another in order to build political networks and discuss strategies to end male violence against women. What a wonderful precedent to set.

Do You Understand What Being An Ally Is?

Okay, so I’m seeing  a lot of arguments going around that say because (some) transwomen have been active within the feminist movement and within feminist campaigns, this means that they are entitled to enter any and all women’s spaces, including the few (very few!) spaces reserved for women born women, or FAB women, or biological females.

This is a bullshit argument. Being a good ally to women does not entitle you to acceptance into private spaces of an oppressed class when that class doesn’t want you there. Women are a class oppressed on the basis of our biological sex, and this happens to us regardless of how we present or identify. We have the right to set up and maintain autonomous spaces for those of us who are oppressed along this axis.

Transwomen who argue that they have earned the right to enter women only spaces because of their feminist activism betray evidence of the common nice-guy syndrome. You know, that nice guy who gives his female friend a lift late one night so she gets home safely and then, at some later date, believes he has earned the right to have his dick sucked or whatever else, because he did her a favour. It betrays a sense of entitlement. It betrays an inability to understand that it is not your automatic right to have access to all and any spaces you desire.

White people being political allies to Black people does not give white people the right to enter spaces reserved for people of colour. Men being allies to women does not give men the right to enter women only spaces. Straight women being allies to lesbians does not give straight women the right to enter lesbian only spaces. Are you seeing the pattern here?

Biological women as a group do not have systematic societal power over transwomen as a group. We are not accorded special privileges that transwomen are not. Even stupid ‘cis privilege’ arguments like saying, no one will question your womanhood, is not the case for many non-conforming biological women (especially lesbians) who are frequently accused of not being real women. When biological women organise together on our own behalf, we are not hoarding power and resources that we intend to keep for ourselves to give us an unfair advantage over other groups in society. The fact that transwomen also experience discrimination and oppression does not mean that their situation is in every way the same as that of biological women. Recognising difference is not hatred. Asking for spaces in which to organise around issues specific to biological women is not oppressing anyone. Not going along with the views expressed by another group is not hatred.

Hatred is stalking and harassing those who disagree with your views. It is sending death threats and rape threats to your political opponents. It is disregarding, again and again, the voices of those who are asking for their own spaces. It is shutting down events whose politics you disagree with.

It is the trans* and their allies who are doing this, not those of us trying to maintain the integrity of our own political spaces.

Behaving Like A Man

For thousands of years any time a woman did something a man thought inappropriate she was accused of wanting to be a man, of being too mannish, of being unwomanly. We are still fighting this same battle today, ironically backed up by liberal progressive pseudo-science that agrees there are ways of really behaving like a man or a woman.

When we examine the history of this struggle, we find it written about in curious ways. There will be innocuous sentences like, ‘in the past it was thought inappropriate for women to work outside the home, but gradually greater numbers of women became accepted into the workforce’. This is not an actual quote, you understand, but a stand-in for thousands that I’ve read just like it. Not only does it obscure the agent (just WHO thought it was inappropriate for women to work outside the home) but it also obscures the struggle women had to undertake to gain their rights. It almost sounds as if women just accidentally started wandering out of the home and into the workforce and men were like, by jove, those ladies can work after all, we’d better give them some jobs and re-think our perceptions.

Two things that usually don’t get discussed much are the routinely repeated fears and accusations of women becoming ‘masculinised’, and the assertion that women will end up with too many rights. Go back a hundred years, two hundred, when women had fewer rights than they do today, and you will still find men making exactly the same arguments as any contemporary MRA. Saying that women have too many rights already, and that the progress needs to stop. Look at just about any contemporary culture in our shitty patriarchal world now. No matter how few rights women have, there will still be men saying that they have too many, and that more rights will lead to the loss of ‘womanhood’ that is apparently so important. (Again, one asks, to whom).

But we are still not really at the heart of the problem. If we imagine another nice innocuous sentence from our generic watered-down feminist text book, our author might say something like, ‘gradually perceptions of womanhood changed to be able to incorporate new roles of working outside the home’.

This is seen as a good thing, only it’s not. Perceptions of what is and isn’t appropriate for one’s ‘gender’ (by which I mean sex) is only part of the problem, and redistributing ‘gender roles’ or genderfucking the binary or any of that other stuff doesn’t really get to the root of the issue.

The root of the issue is this. Women are not punished in this world for acting ‘like men’. We are punished for acting like human beings. In our world, only men are human. They take that label for themselves, they accord themselves social and economic and legal privileges because of it, and they declare women other and different and make damn sure that we wear our inferiority in whatever way they tell us to. Through our clothing and our hairstyles and our submissive and ingratiating behaviours.

Any time a woman gives herself the right to be fully clothed, to have access to forums and spaces in which to express her ideas and opinions, to work in fields which men declare unsuitable, to be comfortable and free of bodily restriction, she is (knowingly or not) refusing to accept her inferior sex-caste status.  We are declaring our right to be human. Not our right to be men, our right to be human. Got it?

The association of man with human is so pervasive, yet invisible, that women refusing to accept inferior status is equated with wanting to be men, rather than with wanting to be human, which is surely more accurate. And it is difficult to get away from, on a linguistic or conceptional level.  A while ago I was reading through a draft of a story I’d written, and I was absolutely horrified to find that I’d described a lesbian character as, ‘moving with the freedom of a man’.

WTF, I thought to myself. Why would I want to equate a powerful lesbian with being a man, or like a man. She wasn’t like a man at all, and she wasn’t meant to be. She was a woman who refused to behave in the submissive ways expected of her by men. So I changed the description, and it’s something I keep an eye out for in my work now. None of this being-like-men crap for me. None of this differentiating those special and unique women who want to be like-men, i.e. treated as human, as opposed to all those other women who are a-okay with being slaves.

Nope. Women are human. All of us. And all of us deserve to be treated with human dignity.

Steve Biddulph, Conservative

Just for anyone unaware – Steve Biddulph is an extremely conservative, heterosexist good old fashioned family values men in the workplace women in the kitchen type. I would not advise him as an authority for raising either boys or girls. I read two of his earlier books, including Raising Boys, and it’s pretty much what one would expect – if men and women would just adhere to their proper spheres, and teach their children to do the same, then all the ills of the world would be solved. Specifically, there is a lot of focus on encouraging boys to express their ‘natural’ aggression – but in positive, manly ways like sports – and always with a male parent, since us timid wimmins is not up to the task of raising boys and do it wrong. He says outright that if boys are not taught to channel their aggression in ‘positive’ ways (whatever that means) then they will do it in ‘negative’ ways – ie they will abuse women. So, men abusing women is women’s fault for feminising boys too much. Thanks, Steve!

I agree that the sexualisation of girls is a huge problem, but I am absolutely sure, without even having seen this new book, that Biddulph’s solution is a return to the male headed nuclear family and Christian values, or some secular variation thereof. Keep our girls sweet and innocent as the good lord intended etc. Really, this quote from him tells you everything you need to know: “A girl who knows her own soul may be a gentle girl but with an iron in her that is not easily manipulated by careless boys or false friends. She will be loyal, tough, and protective of those around her. And of herself.” I’m sorry, did I hit my head and wake up in 1800? Gentle girls who guard their virtue with an iron will and love and care for all the (deserving) world around them. And no doubt marry Mr Darcy in due course, having figured out dastardly Wickam’s ways. And if they fail in this task then they are wanton and immoral and weak and it has nothing to do with a predatory male culture that victimises girls, oh no. A predatory male culture that thrives equally well in religious conservative female-sexuality-is-evil-and-must-be-suppressed-and-only-used-for-childbearing environments or bohemian libertarian porn-saturated women-belong-to-all-men environments. Like, those are the options as far as Biddulph is concerned, and he just happens to like no. 1 more than no. 2.

And I don’t get the impression Mr Biddulph is too keen on hairy dykes, but then he’s not that thrilled about gay boys either. As I recall, his advice to fathers of gay sons was something like – and I am paraphrasing here but this was the implication – oh well, you got a defective sissy boy instead of a strapping football-loving woman-fucking MAN, but try to love him anyway and make the best of it because that is what we magnanimous men do.

Seriously. This guy is toxic. Stay away from him and his creepy books.