Ride for Murdered Women: A Female Peloton

Jean Hatchet explains why she is cycling to honour women murdered by men they knew and to raise money for the nia project because nia save women’s lives.You can make a donation here.

On March 9th 2017 I began to ride my bike for women murdered as a result of male intimate partner or family violence. I have so far ridden for 257 women and I can see no point in the distant future where I will be able to stop. I have ridden 6330 miles. The bodies of dead women continue to mount up behind me, waiting for me to ride in their honour.  The names I don’t yet know. The faces I have not yet seen.   

Some days it is overwhelming to recognise this. Some woman may be murdered today, even as I write this. Or tomorrow. We will be unable to stop it. Behind closed doors throughout this land men are threatening to kill women who love them and some of them will.  

The first woman I rode for was Katrina O Hara who had reported her ex-boyfriend to the police on a number of occasions in the 56 days before he murdered her. The police had confiscated her phone and instead took her murderer’s view that she was the attacker. This was after he had repeatedly slammed her into a concrete floor. She continued to report to no avail. He then stabbed her twice in the chest until she was dead after waiting for her outside her shop. She had no phone to call for help. 

Injustice litters the stories of the women. Police failures. Opportunities missed to save them. Lack of resources to rescue them. This must change.  

On the 7th September 2019 at 1pm at Hampstead Heath women are invited to join me in riding my bike in their honour. We will ride our bikes for all the women murdered since I began the project. I am forever indebted to Karen Ingala Smith and Claire Moore who both compile lists of the women murdered. They will both be riding alongside me.  

Women will join regional rides being organised. So far we have Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff.  

Women will also ride from exercise bikes in their own homes. Women will ride from around the world. Women will ride alone at the same time. Women will use wheelchairs, trikes or even push a bike if they cannot ride one. All will carry a murdered woman’s name with them. All will carry the weight of her death in their hearts. All will be women.  

It is absolutely vital that this mass bike ride will be women-only. It is essential to the project that we acknowledge the sexed nature of this crime. It is vital that statistical integrity is attached to the figures. Men murder women because they are women.  

In objection to the fact that I have said that only women will ride, today I had a man offer to strangle me. He negotiated his price openly with another man on the internet. The first man had stated he would pay for someone to shove my bike down my throat.  

My crime? To say that a ride for murdered women would be attended only by other women. Women have to be allowed to self-organise. There are times when this is the right thing to do.  

It is sad that the argument over trans rights will inevitably take over from the original intention of my rides. The rides, and this one off mass ride, are part of a project intended to honour women who died at the hands of men they knew. I want their names to be loud. I want their stories to be remembered. I want to make their lives and brutal murders mean something.  

So we will ride.  

It will be the Female Peloton.  

WPUK & Toilets

There has been much speculation about the expectations we have for the use of toilets at our meetings.

Below is the explanation we gave to Norwich Quakers when they asked us to clarify our position:

“There is no specific law relating to the provision of single sex toilets for adults.

However, provisions in the Equality Act 2010 allow for the application of single sex exemptions if it is “a proportionate response to a legitimate aim”.

Our position on the use of toilets is to ensure that everyone should have access to facilities that they feel safe and comfortable in.

This paragraph from the Quaker Life Central Committee (QLCC) draft discussion paper is in line with this position:

“We note that shared spaces such as toilets, changing and sleeping areas can cause anxieties and concerns for people. We believe that no-one should have to use shared spaces which do not feel comfortable to them. In a context of systemic male violence, particularly towards women, we are especially minded to examine the potential adverse impact of any policy on women and girls and to make efforts to remedy this. All Quaker premises and events ought to provide facilities which everyone feels safe and comfortable using. The usage of these facilities must be clearly defined and communicated and must offer choice for the individual.”

We ask attendees to use the toilets relating to their sex.

There are many reasons why women in particular expect to access single sex provision and, as a women’s rights group, we feel it is important to demonstrate the right women have to establish clear boundaries.

However, this became a particular priority after representations made to us by female survivors of sexual and domestic violence attending our events who were distressed at sharing toilets with people they experienced as male. As statistics show that 1/5 UK women have suffered sexual violence, this is a matter of real concern to us.

We therefore make sure that the venues we book offer either single occupancy unisex toilets as well as those designated male and female such as is available at the Norwich Quaker’s House.”

Also read:

Why ‘gender-neutral’ toilets don’t work for women

Mixed-sex toilets in schools

 

 

 

Support Julie Bindel

We are disappointed that The Guardian has made an editorial decision to ignore the views of women by not publishing our response to their mendacious account of the attack on Julie Bindel when leaving a meeting in Edinburgh. This attack is symbolic of all the verbal, physical, online and workplace violence faced by women who speak out on issues that affect them.
This was the letter we sent:

“The Guardian’s reporting of an attack on leading feminist Julie Bindel after a packed event in Edinburgh on Wednesday night is a travesty. We and many other women are outraged at the trivialisation of misogynistic violence.

The attack, which took place as Julie left and was witnessed by several people, was reported as though it was a minor detail in a story about members of an LGBT+ university group resigning in protest at the meeting.

The minimalizing of violence against women, and the implication that it is provoked by our behaviour, is dangerously commonplace in UK society. We are sickened to see The Guardian dancing to the same tune.

Journalism requires the reporting of facts as well as a narrative arc. By failing to properly report this act of violence against Julie Bindel, the Guardian has shown it is unworthy of its female readership and is part of the oppression we face.”

The list of names below is made up of the original signatories as well as people who subsequently added their names to show their support.

There are 1,009 names listed below.

We would like to thank everyone who has come out in support of Julie and all women who are fighting for their rights.

We will send this letter and list of signatories to the Editor of the Guardian to make sure they understand how strongly people feel about this article and to lobby them to take the concerns of women more seriously.

Thank you all very much

Woman’s Place UK

List of Signatories

Kiri Tunks, Co-founder WPUK

Judith Green, Co-founder WPUK

Ruth Serwotka, Co-founder WPUK

Karen Ingala Smith, CEO nia

Lisa-Marie Taylor CEO FiLiA

Helen Steel

Joan McAlpine MSP

Professor Rosa Freedman

Dr Gale Macleod

Professor Sarah Pedersen

Dr Shereen Benjamin

Claire Heuchan

Philipa Harvey, TUC Women’s Committee (pc)

Professor Alice Sullivan

Dr Holly Smith

Professor Sophie Scott

Professor Kathleen Stock

Professor Selina Todd

Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans

Dr Laetitia Pichevin

Professor Debbie Epstein

Professor Lesley Gourlay

Raquel Rosario Sanchez

Holly Lawford-Smith

Ali Ceesay

Kim Thomas

Dr Jane Clare Jones

Abigail Burnyeat

Kay Green

Therese O’Meara

Jayne Egerton

Charlotte Delaney

Ruth Conlock

Cathy Devine

Rebecca Lush

Pilgrim Tucker

Jeni Harvey

Dr Louise Moody

Dr Emma Hilton

Angela Wild, Get the L Out

Maya Forstater

Cllr Sarah Field

Bea Campbell

Anna Morvern

Anita Rothon

Diane Jones

Dan Fisher, Editor in Chief, Uncommon Ground Media

Dr Victoria Whitworth

Kate Styles

Janet Fraser

Lorna Miller

Mark Hewitt

Valerie Stevens

Kate Scottow

Kirsty McKenzie

K J Stevens

Andi Lavery

Jean Bartrum

Emma Dolan

Andrea Davies

Grace Rungsee

Julie Scott

Sue Riley

Vanessa McCulloch

Geraldine Curtis

Sabrina Kaltner

Alexandra Ireland

Helen Saxby

Jenifer Lavery

Kruti Walsh

Emma Chesworth

Tish Naughton

Sibyl Ruth

Jo Colwell

Colin Chalmers

M Ranners

Michelle Reilly

Kate Makowiecka

Sarah Honeychurch

M O

Emily Bland

Jill Gardner

Louise Somerville

Carrie Ann Reeve

Magdalena Zawojska-Smith

Magi Gibson

Chris McMurray

Carrie Ann Reeve

Anne Wilkinson

Jenny Ross

Bridget Palmer

Alison Simmons

Louise Pennington

Caroline McCready

Steph Booth

Francis Davidson

Jenny Bell

Paula Dauncey

Pippa Banham

Clare Sumner

Charlotte Mortimer

Deborah Cameron

Lynne Clark

Sandra Smith

Julie Armstrong

Anne Robinson

Sharon Clifford

Laura Hall

Bronwen Salter-Murison

Stacey Lyon

Kerry Daynes

Jacqueline Roberts

Maria Ezuanyamike

Lee Nurse

Emma Brooks

Maria Chapman

Linda Taylor

Cath Janes

Margaret Ann Merrick

Catherine Smith

Dr Madeleine Jowett

Catherine Bjarnason

Neil Anderson

Jeanette McCrimmon

Sarah McGrail

Daniel McBrearty

Amber Chapman

Penelope Kirwan

Jo Campbell

Marjory Smith

Lorraine Nutt

Trina Budge

Carolyn Bednarski

Marion Calder

Susan Smith

Barbara Buck

Kim Harding

Michaela-Clare Addison

Alison Breen

Sue Walsgrove

Dr Luisa Cescutti-Butler

Liz Lucas

Ann Sinnott

Hazel Tarragon

Norma Hurley

Melissa Kramer

Ceri Dyke

Sandra Easton-Lawrence

Milly Robbins

Dr Amanda Schierz

Lynn McGrath

Alison McQueen

Susan Flindt

Jane Tucker

Tania Elissa

Claudia Raven

Sue Henderson

Doreen Milne

Jacqui Spink

Anne Greagsby

Eleanor Byrne

Margaret Nelson

Tinnekke Bebout

Frances Gillard

Shirley Wishart

Sandra Salmon

Barbara Hughes

Sam Keene

Lesley Semmens

Sue White

Rob Harkavy

Jerry Ozaniec

Fiona English

Dawn Laker

Cathy Wintersgill

Hilary McCollum

Elizabeth Pickett

Bridget Lawless

Jo Hill

Jess Smith

Tracey Smith

J Gourley

Caroline Spry

Allison Downing

Marion Talbot

Barry Slater

Ken Stringer

Tania Ziegler

Alice Dawnay

Emily Weir

Celia Coulson

Mitch Taylor

Lorraine Simpson

Shelley Charlesworth

Annie Bishop

Leanne Bentley

Maria MacLachlan

Caroline Goode

Emma Hamilton

Val Garwood

Claire Wilson

Lavinia Mulholland

Dr Maya Bowen

Gaynor Harding

Patricia Spencer

Sheffield Women of Steel Resisters

C F Disleny

Alan Heness

Shelley Williams

Erika Luukas

Bronwen Davies

Lola Muñoz

Jody Drinkall

Katherine Aiken

Marjorie Caw

Annie Thomas

Miriam Yagud

Karen Broady

Catherine Muller

Lynn Alderson

Alice Bondi

Kate Jerrold

S J Atherton

Gwenan Richards

Lucy Masoud

Christine Radcliffe

Amber Ravenscroft

Diana Peek

Noele Pace

Sue Kay

Helena Coates

Natasha Samuel

Anne James

Kate Howard

Sarah Bowden

Ginny Eldridge

Lorrie Hartshorn

Alison Jenner

Corinne Judkins-Nugteren

Joy Saunders

Delyth Rennie

Laura Capnerhurst

Barbara Spence

Amy Eileen Hamm

Helen Gibson

Rachel Moles

Caroline Ezzat

Tonje Gjevjon

Elizabeth Lower

John Lish

Cathryn Atkinson

Philippa Hammond

Merri Ann Langhorst

Glynis Millward

Sasha Wilkins

Helen Joyce

Ruth Alinek

Jennifer Smith

Alex Pringle

Rachel Hardy

Jacky Girling

Cathi Wheatley

Carol Fraser

Fiona Macaskill

Claire Williams

Linda Van Bergen

Judith Jackson

Janice Vaughan

Anna Prats

Hugo Patton

Elizabeth Aitken

Sharon Jenkins

Sarah Johnson

Sue Taylor

Laura Tennant

Elizabeth Donnelly

Ophelia Benson

Anna Childs

Sue Welsh

Gita Sahgal

Bibi Shaw

Cathryn Evans

Roy Wilkes

Dr John Armstrong

Judy Mackenzie

Bea Jaspert

Trezza Azzopardi

Lynne Sheridan

Professor Kathleen Richardson

Cllr Caroline McAllister

Professor Michele Moore

Helan Shuker-McMahon

Victoria L

Sally Grover

Dr Jenny Wilkes

Gill Smith

Sherri Ingrey

Joanna Bornat

Ruth Todd

Deborah Holland

Susan Moffat

Anne-Marie Hickling

Fiona Baker

Dr Sarah Rutherford

Dr P J Hewson

Justine Abbott

Andrea S

Karen Kennedy

Bridget Leichner

Jeni England
Ann Allen
Tracey Fitzgerald
Arthur Heeley
Helen Milburn
Dawne Brown
Richard Scorer
Lauren McGovern
Andy Pearce
Sabine Ingeborg
Lily Brown
Raquel
Rachel Corry
Stephen Madill
Lorna Shiels
Stella de Felice
Heather Graham
Jane Ayres
Julia Aparisi
Emma Austin-Grace
Karen Raynor
Claire Nicholson
Sarah Aird-Mash
Mair Owen
Julia Lamb Tod
Nina Cranmer
Inge Kleine
Jill Nesbitt
Jo B
J K Cooper
Dr Jo Meyertons
Deborah Barker
Sarah Bailey
Keith Southwell
Natasha Perry
John Heeley
S Morrison
Nicola Radford
Jacky Hoyoake
Alison Macnair
S J Gray
Juliet Harris
Helen Mary Jones
Rebecca Vaughan
Malcolm Schonfield
Tony Guillan
Nicola O’Brien
Vicki Wharton
Katharine Harris
Clarissa Payne
Moira Luccock
Imogen G
Anne Bevan
Olive Sneddon
Nicola Carr
Carol Jones
Kate Williams
Rebecca Stanton
Amanda Perl
Paul Madill
Emma Payne
Dr Amanda MacLean
Claudia Clare
Rose Reeve
Susan Millership
Celia Kerr
Lesley S Jackson
Amanda Lutchford
S L Bondarchuk
Tessa Sheridan
Victoria Hood
Alison Wren
Edmonton Small Press Association
Debora Singer
Cllr Mark Dobson
Caitriona McGilvray
Fiona Robertson
Jocelyn Gaskell
Sibyl Grundberg
Fiona Davis
Helen Watts
Kerry Gregory
Cathy Barnett
Rosalind Sampson
Dr Susan Tollerfield
Jayne Gosnall
Rachel Rooney
Tina Brotherton
Amaryllis Elphick
Meghan Murphy
Dr Katherine Baxter
Gerald Madill
Christy Lawrance
Rosemary Dun
Julie Matthews
Joanne Lawrence
Jeremy Stangroom
Rachel Edney
Carol Leyland
Bernadette Halpin
Alexandra Sinclair
MaryFaith Autumn
Janey Hutton
Jean Scales
Jessica Shepherd
Anne-Marie Mackin
Andreia Nobre, QG Feminista
Frances Wright
Clare Crestani
Linden Ash
Sandy Thomson
Guffi Chohdri
Patricia Hardman
Emma Barraclough
Paula Bolton
Mo Quinn
Jessica Ahlberg
Ian McNee, Wolverhampton SW Labour Party EC (pc)
Susan Carlyon
Andrea Smith
Bev Jackson
Jenni White
Jade Milne
Lizzie M
Anne Butler
Wendy Ross
Maggie Mellon
Julie Layden
Krista Moore

Megan Baglow

Katerina Cruz
Janet Pontin
Mary Gordon
Angela Clark
Kimberly Everett
Emma Bateman
Object!
Elice Davies
Ruth Dineen
Peter Simonsson
Jo Cohen
Dr Catherine Scott
Vanesa Randerson
Barbara Muldoon
Katie Bloor
Marianne Madill
Dianne Vine
Laura Protheroe
Donna Critchley
Paula Orbea
Christine Fireheart
Paula Coster
Joy Vann
Mikaela Henderson
Debra Wright
Lara Yates
Elizabeth Gardner
Cynthia Piña
Paula Fraga Arias
Toni Morris
Imogen Saiz
Naveen Hussain
Katharine Knight
Jenny Walsh
Liz LeMasson
Shauna Devlin
Heather Harvey
Carmen Freixa Zurita
Sharon Fraser
Sue Matthews
Richard Lavazanian
Alison Garraway
Laura Davies
Marion Morris
Catherine Dobson
Elsa Antón
Julie Ann Richards
Sheila Cochrane
Yolanda Martos Wensell
Chris Holt
Andrew O’Neill
Lyndsay Hopkins
Victoria Gilbert
Debra Helme
Sue Gill
Audrey Ludwig
Jennifer Milligan
Marta Garcia de la Vega
Tracy Clifford
Graham Samson
Gail Slavin
Noelia Garcia Madrid
Dr Adam James Smith
Helen
Catherine Wright
Helen Russell
Katherine Brierly
Carlotta Sassoon
Isabelle Tracy
Heather Thornton
Ann Moran
Jeanette Hartley
Sally Jackson
Claudia Pavia Kaplan
Jill Harris
Siobhan Owen
Pippa Davies
Siobhan Owen
Liz Henze
Sarah Davies
Margaret Chowdhury
Bec Fawcett-Howitt
Sonia Gibson
Rita Rake
Catherine Mason
Kate Lee
Heather Pymar
Lin Harwood
Julie Layden
Abigail Rowland
Chloe Bryan
Ailsa Holland
Julie Furlong
Sara Stewart
Leeds Resisters
Dr Deirdre O’Neill
Annie McDowall
Annie Wright
Radha Burgess
Teresa Hobday
Jean Hatchet
Helen Self
Mary Hinsley
Victoria Gill
Lisa Sparrock
Carina Moravec
Andrea Jackson
Amanda Evans
Fenella Maddison
Dr Laura Green
Caroline Horne
Pippa Booth

Dr Chloe Houston

Michael Hession, Esq

Susan Matthews

Anya Palmer

Stephanie Davies-Arai

Jane Wainwright

Wendy Lee

Ann McTaggart

Ann Hutchinson

Michelle Thomson

Caroline Tait

Jacqueline Mcsharry

Jane Wainwright

Iris Walker

Geraldine Homewood

Andrew Hitchcock

Alison Hargreaves

Melissa Midgen

Louise Paine

Ann

Kerry O’Boyle

Amy Anderson

Caroline Hurley

Emma

Nicole Diamond

Christine Hankinson

Graham Linehan

Lisa Randall

Hazel Pegg

Nellie Munro

Joanne Priest

Diane Martin CBE

Eleanor Saville

Mujeres por la Abolición

Polly Clark

Angela Marshall

Angela Neale

Stella O Malley

Rachel Broady

Sarah Tanburn

Kristina J Harrison

Rachel Meyrick

Jesse Smith

Dawn Gibbs

Tricia Reilly

Lucy Lord

Jo Honey

Rose George

Sally Jones

Lesley Smith

Hilary Adams

Annabel de la Nougerede

Judith Jones

Elena Caton

Jennifer Eaton

Julie Goldsmith

Bev Tatham

Jo Waugh

Beth K.

G Daugherty

B Longstaff

Denise Sumpter

Leila Hilal

Karen Böhr

Angie Smith

Mark Ditchburn

Tessa McInnes

Peter Sage

Terri Jay Moore

Emma Thomas

Susie Colcutt

Chris Owen

Lorien Helm

Cerian Williams

Holls Jaybee

Catherine Baird

Claire Jones

Dr E M

Julie-Ann Walkden

Sarah Gellner

Claire Calverley

Keren Howard

Liz Aspden

AnneMarie Picchiottino

Mark Pulleyn

Claire Graham

Elaine Fraser

Deborah Herman

Janet Newsham

Anna Hutchinson

Sadhana Stone

Thomas Fernee

Liz Gower

Elizabeth Gordon

Sue McGill

Louise Branch

Peter Madill

Lynne Anderson

Ann-Marie Stacey

Gail Heath

Michael Lebednik

Ellie Smith

Kerrie Wilson

Debbie Dowler

Celia Sweeney

David McGiffen

Alison White

Alexandra Geddis

Sarah Campbell

Paige J Bramley

Jessica Goldfinch

Lauren Vargues

Monica Kurnatowska

David Jones

Kellie Ziemba

Vic Davies

Jessica Cruz

Elizabeth Griffiths

Jackie Macadam

C O’Brien

Annie Gwillym Walker

Dr Gillian Spraggs

Kate Anderson

Catherine Daniel

Kate Hill

Martin Dufresne

Margo van der Voort

Dr Lesley Kay

Nassim Nobari

Tracey Webber

Marlene Mason

Siaron Phillips

Sarah Galloway

Ronan Stenson

Valentina Furlong

Kelly de Jong

Sue Smith

Neli Busch

Michelle McGurn

Tina Lord

Elizabeth Carola

Beverley Landricombe

Tasia Aranguez

Cheryl McKenzie

Dee Sheehan

Jan Oliver

Sally Wainwright

Jenny Strom

Karel Dander

Sarah Mccann

Keith Morton

Owen Van Spall

Dr Angela Dixon

Christina Hernandez De Dios

Debbie Taylor-Osborne

Debbie Hayton

Amber Davis

Linda Oubridge

Emina Srebric

Issy Dickinson

Jeanna Hoch

Melinda Liszewski

Stacey O’Brien

Richard Collumbell

Nicola Benge

Susan Jack

Debra Bolderson

Dr Valerie Martin-Radcliffe

Dr Pamela Thompson

Anni Tracy

Y M Parsons

Susie Cottee

Ingrid Lyberg

Steph Benn

Karen Chisholm

Dr Laura Read

Andrew Noble

Amy

Sarah James

Emma Johnson

Lisa Proctor

Ani O’Brien

Rosalyn Harkin

Kate B

Natalie Carley, Q4 Collective

Tara Hubbard

Lynda Clarkson

Carol Easton

Katie Donnellan

Sandra Adams

Doreen Copeland

Claudia Figueira

David Thomas

Shane Cormican

Susan Sinclair

Joanna Bowers

Lorraine Payne

Hannah W

Tessa Singh

Kay Diffley

Audrey Meroe

Emma Palmer

Richard Keatley

Dr Eva Poen

Pat Williamson

Trish Lavelle

Lorna Fitzpatrick

Isabel Dugher

Tanya Carter

Onjali Qatara Rauf

Michelle Quinlan

Eve Coy

Bev McGregor

Eleanor Hill, Lleisiau Merched Cymru (Women’s Voices Wales)

Anne Robertson

Charlotte Wagner

Debbie Fisk

Anny Anderson

Jenny Dee

Nina Gadson

Gina McCaughan

Daressa Mullen

Diane Holyoak

Janet Lallysmith

Fionne Orlander

Michael Conroy, @MenAtWorkOrg

Clara Cassidy

Adam Burns

Simone Watson

Carol Angharad

Francesca Cambridge Mallen, Let Clothes be Clothes

Bernadette O’Malley

Daisy Jones

Rowena Russell

Helen O’Brien

Lena Munday

Josephine Liptrott

Betty Curtis, Get the Q Out

Gail Cameron

Heather Findlay

Claire Malone

Ian F Saunders

Dee Adams

P Michaelson

Rebecca Liebman

Rachel Miller

Barry Larkin

Christina Perez

Aida Rey Pazos

Sophia Dean

Gloria Valera

Laura Corballis

Martyn Everett

Hope Lye

Gail Sawyer

Vicky Frankland

Catherine Block

Keith Pirie

Tim Carter

Kate Lewis

Heather Leask

Lesley Hart

Lesley Masheder

Linda Killen

Yvonne Roberts

Jane Llewellyn

Helen Miller

Michelle Russell

Elaine McKay

Ruth Lavery

Rocio Reguera Candal

Isla Alexander

Brenda Ellis

Francis Nelson

Prof Perdita Stevens

Miranda Newsom

Yvonne Dziennik

Jois Rocha

Samantha Haycock

Maria Rey

Angela Arias

Jay Edge

Sara Moore

Donna Buckley

Carole Shepherd

Diana Toynbee

Kayleigh Parker

Lesley Whitefield

Vanessa Howard

Charlie Hadley

Lindsey Walker

Rebecca Whitby

Elizabeth Coulter

Roger Dubar

David Lyons

Elise Breugelmans, Feminist Women of Coventry

Andi Main

Lara Thompson

Kath Anderson

Norma Moore

Allison Bailey, Barrister

Cath Jones

Roseanne Cameron

Sarah L Nield

Suzanne Kimm

Kirsten Murray

Hugh Meechan

Jennifer Rubio

Clare Lennon

Amy Stratton

Stephanie Cole

Bev Blackhall

Thaddaeus Eckard

Patricia Garside

Lisa Ware

Sarah Digby

Kit Marsters

Caroline Barnard

Hayley Phillips

L Whittaker

Sonia Poulton

Rebecca Truscott

Sarah Decent

Emma Whiteley

Tracie Kanssen

M Carmen Viñes

Vicki Thornton

Alison Clarke

Sarah Tiley

Kirsty Johnston

Jo Todd, CEO Respect

Niamh McCabe

Lia Mariani

Philippa Lindsay

Monika Neall

Margaret Glover

Nathan Jay

Wendy Knight

Anna-Louise Adams

Karen Harris

Marian McCormack

Juliette Fioretta

Audra M Rourk

Verna Kilburn

Susie Hawkes

Andrea Clarke

Jenny Archer

Cathryn Spengeler

Gill Rimmer

Victoria Stacey

Leah Marriott

Ruth Thornett

Jane Robertson

Claire Robinson

Judith Berridge

Deborah Morgan

Lindsey Walker

Dr Sophie Allen

Frances Lumsden

Carol Cunningham

Emma Heyes

Audrey Gillies

Stasia Richardson

Dr Eleanor Scott

Judith Sim

Teresa Hewitt

Kate Williams

Elizabeth Pilling

Linda Wylie

Susan Carlyon

Tony Whiting

Amanda de Lussey

Tasneem Ahmed

Kate Grimes

Kate Carter

Jessica Fenn-Samuelsen

Gabriella Brady

Marta Bautista

Mick Martell

Lauren Leeman

Bonnie Poole

Kate Tyler

Sylvia Dobie

Keith Dobie

Daniel Baseley

Jackie Bourke

Claire Lewis

Donnica Colman

Dee Golder

Jo Hayes

Shoshana Handel

Siobhan Scullion

Jennie Dunn

Steve Rogers

Isla Arundel

Cordelia Mayfield

Prof Wendy Wheeler

Hazel Boyd

Heather Finlay

Tom Kennedy

Lindsay Wall

Anne Wilson

Rebecca Smith

Lisa Linton

Helen Macpherson

Susan Green

B Kirkland

Lowri Brueton

Kath Glover

Robyn Self

Chinzia Ogilvie

Rachel Masey

Sarah Pearson

Joolz Denby

Sharon Gascoigne

Helen Rayfield

Dr Morag Kerr

Rosemary Cadwallender

Madeleine Oliver

Paula Cole

Kirstie C

Anne Todd

Katherine A

Jules Woodcock

Valerie J Benham

Paul Connolly

Celia Wangler

Jennifer Tiffen

Feminist Women of Coventry

Marilyn Higham

Fiona Barry

Bonny Landsborough

Sarah Donachie

Oibhe Madden

Ruth Sinclair

Victoria Tebbs

Joy Mary Ledgerwood

Judy Mazonowicz

Alex Kenny

Debra Preston Helle

Deborah Ryan

Jane Schofield

Ruth Tweedale

Le Panayi

Jenny Dromey

M Teresa

Vicky Miller

Lauren Hamstead

Yvonne Manly

Cristina Mateos

Laura Wingham

Dr Diane Brewster

Lucy Early

Jim Gibney

Ellen Pasternak

Sian Henry

Alex Jordan

Victoria Diaz Auñon

 

We hope we picked up everyone’s names.

If you emailed us and your name is not here, please let us know and we will check our inbox.

We are not collecting any more signatures.

Thank you for your support and solidarity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Woman’s Place is speaking out: Bristol

If you are thinking of organising a meeting in your area we’ve produced this toolkit which pulls together what we’ve learned from our experiences. Some of the feminists who organised a WPUK meeting in Bristol in February 2018 discuss how they did it.

This was only the third meeting that we had help organise at a time when very few meetings of this nature were happening. We think the climate has changed significantly since then and that it is easier now for women to organise local meetings themselves. This testimony shows how far we have come.

___________________________________________

When we had the meeting, beforehand it felt ‘tentative and dangerous’ and having to persuade people to come. Now ‘everyone’ has heard of it and it’s amazing the number of women who’ve come round and are very angry – lots of them are in in so many of online groups – and they mention they were at that first meeting or heard about it.

Elaine Hutton says “I think that’s what I’m personally ‘proud of’ that we raised awareness. There was such solidarity and relief that the meeting came off. And good co-operation between WPUK organisers and local women from different groups.”

Speakers from Transgender Trend, Lesbian Rights Alliance, Critical Sisters and Woman’s Place UK represented different stands of the fightback against the erasure women’s and lesbians’ rights and the attack on children’s and young women’s healthy bodies.

There was a simultaneous sense of being tired and stressed out from managing security – worried something might have slipped past our notice – and a huge high from witnessing the event go ahead on the night, knowing we had contributed to making that happen.

A highlight was the sense of having provided a forum for women to voice questions and concerns that had been held back and silenced for months, even years. Hearing the Q&A and the huge amount of “What can we do?” questions and personal experience stories from women from all walks of life, many active in the Women´s sector and Left parties – all who had found it difficult, if not impossible, to raise questions concerning the issues surrounding the potential clashes between women´s sex-based rights and the proposed Self-ID GRA Reform.

If you’re thinking about putting on a meeting, we’d say:

  • Find yourself a close knit team of 3-5 dedicated women you trust and go for it!
  • It’s best to have a range of skills so you can allocate different tasks to those best suited to them.
  • Do not underestimate the time and effort that goes into organising WPUK events. There is a tendency, even among women, to take for granted our own unpaid labour – so it can be tempting to think the events are easy to pull off. They are not, they happen thanks to the effort and toil of the organisers – be ready to dedicate both hours and mental headspace to it.
  • And remember to pat yourselves frequently on the back when the event goes ahead!

We’re so proud that between a small number of organisers we were able to contrive and pull off the third ever WPUK event in an extremely toxic and misogynistic environment that had made out any attempts to discuss the issues were bigotry and hate speech. This is the best aspect of WPUK meetings: that each one reaches women who before had felt isolated in their concerns – each inhabiting a separate island with no one tangible to discuss their concerns with. The events provide a physical space and a real opportunity for women to build bridges between each other.

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Watch the films of the speakers at the Bristol meeting:

Jo Bartosch

 

Lynne Harne

 

Stephanie Davis-Arai

 

Judith Green

Stand up, speak out: Julie Bindel

Julie Bindel is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and researcher active in the global campaign to end violence towards women and children since 1979. She is talking here at the 22nd meeting of Woman’s Place UK.

Watch the film of Julie speaking at #WPUKLondon

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I want to first give a big shout out to Woman’s Place, one of the most principled feminist organisations anywhere.

And my next point is about the female penis. Last year I was in Australia doing a book tour. So there were feminists were at the book tour and those Australian feminists say it as it is.

We were complaining about the liberal press and in particular one feature in one particular liberal broadsheet. They were reporting on the case of Karen White, the sex offender, child abuser, natal man who suggested to the prison service that he was in fact a transwoman and ended up assaulting, sexually assaulting, women in prison. These are the most vulnerable, assaulted women on the planet. One line stood out for me: “Her erect penis was visible above her tights.” And this Australian full-on lesbian turned to me and said, “The only time that her penis should be used in a sentence is when a woman has castrated her rapist and she’s holding it up.”

So I want to start a brief whistle-stop tour of my experience with the “trans Taliban”. It was in 2003, when I wrote my first article and the year before the Gender Recognition Act.

In 2003 I saw a small report in a tabloid newspaper about a teacher who had left her primary school as Miss, and was returning the following term as Mr, having gone through sex reassignment surgery. The press said she had had a sex-change and I realised I had not read anything in the British press about the misdiagnosis or the madness of transgenderism. I decided, having found absolutely nothing in the press about it to date, to write a feature on the diagnosis of transsexuality, and how misogynistic psychiatrists in the 1950s had come up with the notion of being “trapped in the wrong body”.

They were, as we know, anti-gay and anti-lesbian and totally reliant on sex stereotypes
In the piece I quoted a forensic psychiatrist called Fiona Mason, who I knew to be a feminist and who was expert on the effects of sexual violence on women and girls. She said:

‘I can’t imagine assessing anyone suffering from a serious disorder in under three hours. It can take three years to assess patients with complex problems. The trouble with some private clinics is that the patients are just given hormones after an hour-long appointment, which can have an irreversible effect on the body.”

I quoted the best known psychiatrist for diagnosing transsexuality, Russell Reid, who some years later would end up being forced to stop practising by the General Medical Council after it was discovered that he took approximately 45 minutes to diagnose someone as transsexual, before referring them for surgery and hormones. Many of his former patients regretted going through sex change surgery, including my friend Claudia, a great ally, who was one of his victims back in the 1980s.

And here I have to say that we cannot possibly ignore the fact that many natal males who live as the opposite sex – with hormones and surgery – are also victims of this hideous medical malpractice based on women’s oppression. Some suffer through this, and I hate hearing language used to demean people who’ve been through this – who are, to some degree, victims of patriarchy.

I wrote:

“In 2000 Reid was involved in controversy over the condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), where sufferers can experience a desperate urge to rid themselves of a limb. Reid was one of the psychiatrists who referred two patients with BDD to a surgeon for leg amputations. ‘When I first heard of people wanting amputations it seemed bizarre in the extreme,’ he said ‘but then I thought, “I see transsexuals and they want healthy parts of their body removed in order to adjust to their idealised body image”, and so I think that was the connection for me. I saw that people wanted to have their limbs off with equally as much degree of obsession and need.”

In the 2003 piece I also mentioned children. I wrote:

“Particularly disturbing is the apparent impunity with which children are diagnosed with ‘gender identity disorder’. Mermaids, a support group for children and teenagers with GID, has seen a dramatic increase in enquiries since it opened its doors in 1993. Children as young as 14 are receiving sex-change treatment, including being prescribed drugs to block the onset of puberty. Transsexualism is the only psychiatric or medical condition where the patients can, to all intents and purposes, diagnose themselves.”

The next year I left my job in academic research to do journalism full time and was asked to write a couple of columns for the Guardian weekend magazine. I had heard about the hellish legal case that Vancouver Rape Relief had been going through for 10 years that had recently concluded in their favour. A transsexual male called Kimberley Nixon had taken out a case against this absolutely superb organisation and on a “human rights” ticket, claiming to have been discriminated against because he wasn’t being invited to counsel rape victims because he had decided that he was a woman.

It was clearly a setup because the day after it was politely explained to him that he could not play this role, the human rights organisation in British Columbia issued proceedings against Vancouver Rape Relief.

So when I wrote this column I was angry and I went berserk about the diagnosis of transsexualism, male entitlement and the sex stereotypes that transsexuality promotes. It was shared worldwide amongst trans activists on personal blogs and list serves. It was before Facebook and Twitter. A forum, Gingerbeer, which described itself as an online social group for lesbians to chat and share information in the UK, had a policy of including transsexual males who identified as lesbians.

My article was a hot topic of discussion for at least a year. I could see, on visiting the site that the trans lobby had plans to come after the feminists. The Guardian received 200 letters of complaint about the column and the reader’s editor wrote his own weekly column on the issue saying that it was wrong to have published it. My editor, Katharine Viner, defended both me and her decision to publish it.

The gay press began to vilify me. I received hate mail and death threats on a weekly basis from all sorts of quarters. It was also the misogynistic gay male movement that ran the gay press. This harassment culminated in 2008 in a 200-strong demonstration against me outside the Victoria and Albert Museum where Stonewall was holding its annual awards ceremony. I had been nominated for journalist of the year, and quite frankly had it not been for the fact that I found out about the nomination via Pink News – or Penis News – in a “shock, horror – vile transphobe Bindel is up for an award” I would have not even attended the event, being no fan of Stonewall.

I happened to be escorted from the tube to the venue by Brian Padick, now a Lib Dem peer but a whistle-blowing police officer, past the 200-strong crowd calling for my blood, death, rape, whatever.

I didn’t win. But I had already found out from one of the judges who was appalled at what had happened that I was a clear winner, but that they did not dare give me the award in case the trans-activists stormed the museum. So instead it was given to a heterosexual agony aunt who had never been a journalist. A fair alternative, no?

That demonstration galvanised the transgender movement in the UK. From then on, everywhere I went to speak about violence against women and girls, there would be some kind of protest, picket, or attempt to disinvite me. Not me speaking about transgender issues – though I did try and on occasion succeeded in having a discussion with transpeople who wanted a reasonable conversation.

In 2009, I was given the honour of being the very first individual to be officially no platformed by the National Union of students alongside five fascist groups. The motion at the conference that decided my ban contained the sentence, “Julie Bindel is vile”. My name was misspelled – who says we are not paying for a decent education.

In 2010 I accepted an invitation to speak at an event called “Queer Question Time” at a notorious “queer” venue called the Vauxhall Tavern in London. There I was. Dozens of them turned up outside screaming and shouting that I was a Nazi, a bigot, a fascist, etc, etc. That I was Hitler (it’s always Hitler, never Pol Pot. None of your mid-range dictators ever get a look in).  And then they came into the venue itself, shouted and heckled all the way through my presentations, with one trans activist throwing an object at me on stage whilst screaming in my face. I thought – I’m just walking out. The videos can be found on YouTube.

As I walked out there was a queue of gay men saying they agreed with me and I was right to speak up.

It happened outside of the UK also, such as when Janice Raymond, heroic feminist and author of the 1979 classic The Transsexual Empire and myself spoke at a conference in Denmark in 2011 about the abuse of women and girls in the global sex trade. The pro-prostitution lobby, which is indivisible from the trans-Taliban, turned up at the event.

Outside of the venue they screamed and shouted about how bigoted, violent and dangerous we were, and proceeded to bang on the windows whilst a sex trade survivor was speaking about being pimped age 15.

You know if you took the words “actual” and “literal” out of their rhetoric there wouldn’t be much left.

In 2014 I did a debate at Essex University on pornography organised by academics, so the NUS was not involved.

It was with Jerry Barnett, producer of some of the most vile and racist pornography – including a parody of the taxi-drive rapist John Worboys.

I was screamed at as a fascist who was “causing actual, literal harm to transgender students” and biphobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, homophobic and not a real lesbian.

He got a free pass. That’s when I started to use the word Orwellian.

Probably their lowest point was when they attempted to get me disinvited from a talk I had been asked to do in 2017 at the Salford Working Class Library, the only venue of its kind in the country, on growing up a working-class lesbian in the north-east of England. They hounded and harassed the volunteers at the library, blocked their phone line, targeted all of their sponsors and supporters, tried very hard to get their funding pulled, and when they failed, turned up on the day to scream and shout. Leftist poster-boy Owen Jones was asked politely to give support to the library and denounce the bullies, but he declined. The brilliant Lucy Masoud has named him Talcum X. Faux working class, or rather: woking class.

The Working Class Library, because it is run by brave and principled people, did not for one second consider cancelling the event or replacing it with another speaker.

Which leads me to my key point. We saw this coming a long time ago. Those very few women you could count on one hand, with high profiles in the women’s movement, warned of this.

Some of you were not involved because you are too young or because of circumstances. But you are all here now. And that that, in and of itself, is a brave position.

I mean, I heard about Nina Power. This is someone who at the time went along with “transwomen are women” and signed a letter denouncing some of us.  Now she is being attacked for, I quote, “uncritically attended a Woman’s Place meeting”.

During the time I was being publicly and visibly harassed and abused, aside from my brilliant and close circle of friends, most people kept their heads down. I would get emails from feminist after feminist telling me they agreed with what I had said. They shared my position, but of course dared not say anything because they would come in for the same treatment as me.

I would then get the liberals telling me, an out lesbian since 1977, that they could not possibly support my position against transgender ideology, because the trans-rights movement, as they saw it, was exactly the same as the lesbian and gay liberation movement back in the 1970s. They refused to accept that this was a men’s rights movement, underpinned by the most pernicious misogyny, and supported by men who could scream “bigot, transphobe” and the likes at me and still be seen on the side of the progressives.

And then there were the free-speech warriors who told me that although they personally despised my transphobia, they defended my right to say it.

There were good people such as Mary Beard, until she saw the light. And then Peter Tatchell.

This deeply offended me. Caroline Lucas, the Green Party member of Parliament for Brighton Paviliongave an interview to Penis News in which she expressed dismay at my bigoted transphobic beliefs.

And then there were the women’s organisations.

Fawcett Society published its report on the organisation’s position on “gender” – meaning transgenderism – in order to look like good girls and cover their backs. They used me as an example of feminist transphobia that they disapproved of, quoting from a report in Penis News – not something I had actually said – that was as pernicious as it was inaccurate. I complained, and the reference was removed.

When I hear women and men say to me that they couldn’t possibly risk going through what we have been through, I tell them that the purpose of the abuse against those of us who have spoken out.

It is to act as a warning. I wouldn’t have chosen to be in that position. But I am.

Since when were we ever a women’s liberation movement that decided to keep shtum and let a few other women take the shit?

It’s not about me. It’s about 20-year old women at university or on the estates – facing being abused raped, their drinks spiked, denigrated. We all have a duty – moral, ethical and political to stand up.

Since when did we capitulate in case we were sacked or in case we were thought of as nasty women? Yes, some women have more to lose than others. If they lose their job, they are in trouble and might not be able to feed their kids. So we feed their kids, we do what women throughout history have done, during the time in the 1970s and 1980s when our refuges were run by volunteers who had to have a whip round to buy the food to feed the women escaping violent men.

But they can’t sack everyone. The most reasonable people – someone like Nina Power – are being called fascists. This is the unreality.

So we do what feminists have done in countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia where they have no rights.

I have just come back from Uganda, where there is a 14-year prison sentence for same-sex encounters. It is much worse for women where lesbians are punishment raped, rejected by their families, live on the streets, and often pimped into prostitution, for being lesbians. What do they do?

They don’t go around saying, “I’m too frightened to speak out”. Uganda has the most vibrant lesbian feminist movement I know in the in global south. If they lose jobs then have to go to other women and say feed me. If we have to do that, we do that.

We can’t sit at the comfort of a computer screen.

Speak up.

Stop doing that anonymous thing. Stop saying, “I can’t say this.”

Yes you can.

When I was on the way to the airport leaving Uganda I thought I’m going to have the conversation on the trans issue.

I spoke with one fantastic lesbian activist. And she said, “You know that meeting we had with 50 lesbians. meeting 50 lesbians?”

Yeah.

“Well do you know why I nipped out for 10 minutes?”

No.

“Well there were four transwomen demanding to come in and we were all telling our coming out stories and you were interviewing everyone. So I said to them: ‘I know you hate me. I know you’re going to kick up a fuss. But go away. There are loads of transgendered places for you to go. Loads of LGBT places for you to go. ’This is a women only space.’”

And she said she was raised with nine brothers and she just wasn’t having it.

So let’s just not have it.

Julie Bindel

20th May 2019

@bindelj

 

 

 

 

 

Sex, gender & development: Maya Forstater

Maya Forstater is an independent researcher, writer and advisor working on the business of sustainable development. She has worked with a large number of organisations, including the New Economics Foundation, UNICEF and the Center for Global Development. This is the text of her speech for #WPUKLondon on 20th May 2019

Her Crowd Justice fundraiser can be found at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/lost-job-speaking-out/

Watch the film of Maya speaking at #WPUKLondon

 

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Picture by Lily Maynard

My name is Maya Forstater. I lost my job working for an international development think tank for stating a gender critical viewpoint, and I am taking the organisation I worked for to employment tribunal.

A couple of Sundays ago I had the most momentous day, sitting on sofa in my pyjamas. I watched the crowdfunder that I had launched to support my legal case rise faster than I could have hoped. It raised over £60,000 in three days in mainly small donations including, I am sure, from many people in this room, as well as support from people such as Martina Navratilova, Sharron Davies and Tanni-Grey Thompson and people who know me in real life.

I am grateful for all of your support, which has allowed me to take the legal case forward, but I think, perhaps more importantly the strength of the response showed just how much support there is for making the law work for women on issue. The message that the success of the crowdfunder sent to me and to everyone watching it was “This matters”. “We are not going to shut up”. “And we are not alone.”

I am not going to talk about my case that tonight. What I am going to talk about is about how the issues about sex and gender relate to international development. This is based on a blogpost which I wrote (and drafts of which were part of what I was investigated for at work).

By International Development I mean government-to-government cooperation: aid, but also beyond aid: trade, diplomacy, human rights, advocacy for open government and democracy, migration and even international tax rules (which is what I worked on in my day job). It concerns the policies of the UK government and other rich countries, and also institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, and charities like Action Aid and Oxfam, and human rights orgs like Amnesty.

Increasingly all of these organisations are all thinking more and more about ‘gender’ in relation to international development. And by gender they mean sex

The Sustainable Development Goals have specific goals on gender – violence against women and girls, reproductive healthcare & economic.

By gender, they mean sex.

It is used as a polite synonym and also to encompass the expectations and constraints that societies impose on people because of their sex.

OXFAM just came out with a document calling for ‘feminist aid policies’ which highlights the reasons why ‘gender’ is recognised as such a critical issue in development:

  • At current rates of progress, it will take 202 years to close the ‘global economic gender gap’ (and by gender they mean sex).
  • More than half of the world’s women are legally restricted from working in certain sectors because of their gender (and by gender they mean sex).
  • It is estimated that 650 million women and girls worldwide were married before the age of 18, many of them facing violence and other severe violations of their rights.
  • At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation.
  • Thirty-five percent of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • Every day women do 16.4 billion hours of unpaid care work – at least twice as much, and in some settings ten times as much, as men.
  • Each year worldwide more than 200 million women want to avoid pregnancy but do not use modern contraception,
  • 25 million unsafe abortions take place.
  • Globally more than 130 million school-aged girls do not attend primary or secondary school.

None of this is to do with gender identity. These are things that happen to women and girls because of the way that society treats people because of their sex.

Organisations concerned with international development and human rights would struggle to articulate their goals, policies and research without a word to denote female people.

But as we know it is increasingly argued across Europe and North America, and by global elites that gender identity should overwrite sex as a legal and practical category.

Oxfam’s feminist aid document barely mentions the word ‘sex’, and I do not think this is accidental. Organisations working on gender and development are becoming coy about saying that by ‘women’ they mean, and have always meant, the female sex. They know it is controversial and few are willing to stand up for the biological definition of women, or even to hold open a space for clear, calm discussion.

Many influential funders such as George Soros’s Open Society Foundation foundation and international civil society organisations such as Amnesty International are calling for governments to allow people to change their legal sex at will, and to allow people to access single sex spaces of the opposite sex based on their gender identity. But none have promoted analysis or debate about how this would impact women and girls.

Others are just staying quiet – continuing to work on issues that affect women and girls and continuing to  say gender when they mean sex – and hoping that no one asks them to be clear.

When I raise this issue with colleagues in development, including those who work on gender issues, many say it isn’t a big deal. Debates on sex versus gender are toxic and controversial: what does it matter if they are not clear and explicit about the difference between ideas about gender identity and the reality of sex based oppression of women and girls? Where does it sit on the list of priorities of things that organisations should be concerned about, compared to big issues like climate change, humanitarian emergencies, corruption, economic development?

I think it matters.

Development at its heart is about organisations doing their job.

Countries become richer and people become better off  when there are more organisations, doing more complex jobs, better. And where people can influence the decisions which affect their lives. In other words; where organisations are accountable:

  • Schools teaching kids.
  • Universities building higher knowledge
  • Doctors and medics treating people
  • Governments and the firms they contract build infrastructure
  • Businesses investing providing products that people want and need, following rules
  • Governments collecting taxes, setting rules, delivering services.
  • Media reporting the truth

It requires ordinary people being able to hold these institutions to account.

If we can’t name things, and categorise them, and collect data. And speak the truth we can’t do this. And being able to name the difference between men and women is pretty fundamental.

If we can’t name basic truths it corrupts the heart of our organisations.

There are also specific reasons for international development organisations to find the courage and integrity to be clear about the difference between sex and gender identity.

Thinking about gender identity in international development and human rights organisations is often tied in with sexuality.

This reflects the fact that abuse and discrimination relating to transgender identity can be, in practice, an expression of homophobia. International development organisations are working to address the oppression and vulnerability of people based on what they call “SOGI” (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity).

Seventy-two states continue to criminalise same-sex sexual activity In some cultures gay men can be stereotyped as feminine, or as ‘failed men’; reduced to the status of women. In some cultures, men who have sex with men may get some acceptance if they adopt a feminine ‘third gender’ identity such as the hijras in South Asia.

But my understanding (and I’m not an expert) is that these identities are not akin to the idea coming out of elite Northern universities and debates in London and Washington which say that we must accept that “transwomen are women”.

When I talk to people working with these trans communities, in areas such as HIV and human rights, they say it makes sense to think about different groups, not to lump together the issues facing transsexual males with the issues facing women.

It is not at all clear that the way to address the very real problem of discrimination and violence against transgender people is to erasing the category of biological sex .

Human rights protections for people who are transgender do not depend on accepting the belief that men can become women. But rather to protect transgender status as a legal characteristic with its own protections from harassment and discrimination.

Secondly, this matters for international institutions in their work on gender (by which they mean sex), and in their own institutional cultures.

Development organisations are trying to shift from having headquarters in rich countries developing policy, and staff and partners in developing countries to implement it.

They are trying to turn that upside down – to support people to have power, control and agency.

These organisations already know they have hierarchy problems – white men at the top, diverse women at the bottom, and yet, in the name of equality and diversity, they are reinforcing this power dynamic by adopting the language and ideas of genderism.

This is not coming from the grassroots. It comes elite Northern Universities and it is being promoted as something which ordinary women must accept with “no debate”. I don’t think this is compatible with the idea of listening to women and respecting their agency. And I think it prevents us talking about and understanding structures of power.

It is polite to refer to people by the name and pronouns they request, and to treat everyone with dignity and respect. But inclusion does not demand that we forget about the power dynamics between men and women in society, or fail to notice when women are being told to be quiet and to be kind to protect the feelings, desires and status of male people.

Organisations, which say they are for participation and for giving power to ordinary citizens should pay attention to the upswell of grassroots, ordinary women standing up for the idea that sex matters, in the UK and around the world.

Human beings are a single species, and women and men exist around the world. The answer to these questions can not be the pragmatic one that some women are women because of their sex, and some are not. Development organisations think about women in developing countries are really talking about sex;  defined by biology, but at headquarters they define women as an identity based on womanly feelings.

Amnesty International for example recognise and promote the importance of single sex toilets in refugee camps. Yet at the same time it argues that allowing male people to self-identify into women’s spaces would pose no problem for women and girls in the UK.

So I argued in my blog  post: Human rights protections and public policies are needed both for women and girls, and for transgender people, whatever their sex. In order to do this we need to be able to talk clearly and openly.

I set out five principles to hold open a space for dialogue, debate and evidence on this in international development (adapting and borrowing from Women’s Place UK:

  1. Sex and gender identity are not the same. Be clear about what we mean.
  2. There should be open and evidence-based discussionon how potential policy changes will affect women’s rights, single-sex spaces, and safeguarding.
  3. Women and women’s organisations should be involved in policy debates. The human rights of transgender males should be protected, but it should not be assumed that the best or only way to do this is by undermining women’s privacy, dignity and safety.
  4. Data matters. Statistics on crime, employment, pay and health should continue to be categorised by sex. Information on gender identity may also be collected, but they shouldn’t be confused.
  5. People who express concern about impacts on women’s rights and women’s spaces should not be dismissed as hateful or bigots.

One of the things I said in the article was that you shouldn’t have to be brave to talk about this.

The more people who stand up and talk about it, the easier it is for the next people.

I only began to tweet and talk about it after reading and listening to so many people here.

And I thought because I worked at a think tank that does not take institutional positions and that supports academic freedom of speech I could talk about it.

But it turned out I was wrong. I don’t want this to be a cautionary tale, and I hope that what I am doing in taking the organisation I worked for to tribunal it will help to enable a whole lot of people to be a bit braver.

If I win my case will give some legal protection. But if more people speak up it becomes easier for others to speak up. If each of us speak up within our organisations, our professions and our communities we can turn this around.

___________________________________________

Post script: in the Q&A portion of the event a question was raised “Should women work ever work with the right?” This is the gist of what I said, and what I think (taking the liberty to polish it into what I wish I had said better).

The idea that sex exists is like the idea that gravity exists. It will be shared by people across the political spectrum. Women are adult human females, they exist across the political spectrum, and as feminists I think we should be concerned for all women. I try to follow the Mumsnet motto that we don’t throw any woman under the bus.

Women should talk to and work with whoever they feel like! I think that people need to make their own decisions about who they will work with and how. We all have different tactics and beliefs, and we don’t need to agree on everything to work together on some things.

This fight is going to take allsorts; we need to engage with people across the political spectrum, and with people who are not engaged in party politics. Many women feel politically homeless right now. We need the academics and the activists, we need the t-shirts, and the billboards. We need the carefully argued articles, we need the legal cases. We need people who can be talk seriously and carefully and we need the stunts and laughter. We need the women talking this through on Mumsnet, and in local groups, who are getting brave enough to speak up.

I think we can be clear about the difference between defending the definition of women based on sex, while rejecting the idea that gendered stereotypes are an inherent part of womanhood, and those conservative groups for whom ‘men are men’ and ‘women are women’ means upholding patriarchal ideals of masculinity and femininity. We can draw a bright line between wanting to give women more control and wanting to control women.

The principle that I am standing up for is the need for respectful, serious evidence-based democratic debate and disagreement on difficult issues– we need to hold open a middle ground for that.

Maya Forstater

20th May 2019

@MForstater

Thank you to Lily Maynard for the pictures

 

 

 

Women’s Right to Political Participation

Raquel Rosario Sánchez

In June 1873, US suffragist Susan B. Anthony said:

Friends and fellow citizens: I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but, instead, simply exercised my citizen’s rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any state to deny.

Standing before a federal court in New York, the suffragist was asked if she had anything to say in her defence. She took the opportunity to denounce what she called “the hateful oligarchy of sex” which made fathers, bothers, sons and husbands the rulers over mother, sisters, daughters and wives. Anthony argued that this sexual tyranny “which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord, and rebellion into every home of the nation.”

Susan B. Anthony was found guilty and fined 100 dollars, which she refused to pay. She died in 1906, over a decade before women gained the right to vote in the United States in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Barely two years earlier, many women in the United Kingdom had also obtained the right to vote. The Representation of the People Act 1918 granted the right to vote in Parliamentary elections to women over 30 years old and within a certain wealth bracket and the right to vote in local elections to women over 21 years old. Ten years later, through the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act of 1928, these rights were extended to all women over 21 in the U.K.

But what is suffrage? What does it mean to have the right to vote?

Voting, as in the physical act of casting a ballot, is a useless exercise, unless it is contextualised within the broader electoral process and crucially, unless we understand it as the legitimate fruit of democratic political participation. Around the world and for longer than a century, women have fought not only for the right to tick a particular box during Election Day but for the right to have a say in political debates and the public sphere.

The Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1979, signed by the United Kingdom in July 1981 and ratified in April 1986, acknowledges that due to historic oppression (what Susan B. Anthony referred to as “the hateful oligarchy of sex”), women faced particular barriers to full enfranchisement in the political sphere.

Article 7, which refers to Political and Public Life, states:

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right:

(a) To vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies;

(b) To participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government;

(c) To participate in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country.

Are women allowed to participate in the political process in the U.K.? I would argue that they are not. Why? Let’s look at a very brief summary of the evidence.

In 2019, it appears that troublesome women who want to engage in politics, as trade unionist Kiri Tunks has pointed out, are not only slurred but often subjected to physical violence, rape threats, intimidation, demonisation, libel, political ostracism and vilification… even when their political demands are in line with current U.K. law. Grassroots campaigns like Woman’s Place UK, which has sold over 3,500 tickets for events featuring over 45 different speakers from academia, the labour movement, the women’s sector and the feminist movement, must contend with having every single one of their 21 meetings threatened with violence.

The inhospitable nature of the sex and gender debate is strategic. It is deliberately toxic to frighten women in order to prevent them from engaging in the conversation. The message is loud and clear: “keep quiet, or else”. But then again, Tunks ponders:

When, in history, have women won any rights without having to fight to make their voice heard? Without kicking up a fuss? Women are meant to know our place. Keep quiet. Stay in the shadows. Acquiesce. Do as we are told. Behave.

The current state of affairs sees women being attacked and verbally abused on their picket lines, subjected to political witch-hunts for the material they dare to like or tweet on social media, victims of orchestrated smear campaigns within their workplaces, accused of contributing to an unsubstantiated rise in trans suicide, forced to clean urine from their university office doors as retaliation for using their human rights expertise to engage in a public policy debate, confronted with bomb threats considered legitimate by the Police, expelled from social media, and when all else fails, invited by Women’s Officers in so-called progressive political parties to “suck big lady cock”.

When women have the absolute audacity to become Members of Parliament, they are at risk of having their alleged private conversations about public policy leaked to the media in an attempt to discredit and punish them for doing precisely the job they were elected to do. Needless to say, (or perhaps not?), the role of a Parliamentarian is to analyse, question and construct public policy. By attempting to shame women in Parliament for asking questions about social policy, transactivists reveal they want to force women back to a time when we were not involved in policy making and in the political process.

Lily Madigan

Transactivist Lily Madigan, former Labour Party Women’s Officer for Lewisham and current Labour Students National Women’s Officer, has stated clearly that although a Women’s Officer, Madigan has nothing but contempt for women peacefully exercising their rights under the law:

  It is important to remember that in a democratic society, political parties have a responsibility to prevent unbearably hostile climates like this being fomented within their ranks. It is the duty of all political parties to facilitate debate and to broker resolutions when conflict arises. But political parties in the U.K. have deserted women. Under anonymity, Etti’s Daughter writes for Medium that the vilification of women in politics is a rare non-partisan issue:

Labour, Greens and the Lib Dems have shown themselves to be structurally misogynistic. This has been demonstrated not just through their willing acceptance that there is no objective definition of what a woman is, but also the way they have treated women who have different views. Many of the male activists who women worked alongside for years have revealed a different side to themselvesone that does not condemn rape threats or sexist abuse, one that is happy to exclude women from political life because they have a different perspective.

Political participation is about engaging in the public sphere. As German philosopher Jurgen Habermas reminded us, the public sphere is the social domain where public opinion is formed and transformed. It is the free participation of the public in political discussions which grants legitimacy to the electoral process and, in turn, to democracy. Women’s global struggle for suffrage was a fight for women’s rights to occupy our rightful place in the democratic process.

Needless to say, political dissent is, in itself, a vital part of political input. We should all be wary of the claim that obtaining dogmatic acquiescence through the use and abuse of intimidation and threats is a sustainable way to engage in what aspires to be a fairer society. Dissent, disagreement and a challenging back and forth of diverging opinions that we may not necessarily agree with, not only helps us get a better understanding of any political issue at hand, but it also fortifies democracy by helping us arrive at a properly thought through decision-making process.

Respectful disagreement is, therefore, to be encouraged not stifled if we strive to be a society where everyone’s human rights are respected.

Women’s opinions are relentlessly policed because opinions are part of the public sphere and, under a patriarchal system, women are to remain sheltered within the private sphere. The bullying, the threats, the vilification and the gratuitous invitation extended to women that we should all just go f**k ourselves if we do not want to acquiesce to this horrid state of political affairs are everyday reminders that women may have won a Parliamentary Act…… or two, but that there are forces which are eager to confine us, voiceless and powerless, back into the home.

As I wrote last December for Spanish platform Tribuna Feminista:

What’s the point of voting? What’s the point of allowing a woman the right to go cast a ballot, if she herself, is more undefined as a human being than the electoral contest in which she is participating? A woman paralysed by fear, frightened that she may lose her job and her friendships if an activist decides to take pictures of her at the entrance of a political event which had to be organized clandestinely, and under the heavy presence of security, to discuss proposals to modify a law which affect women, but which her government didn’t want her to know about, is not free and she is not a citizen.

It is ludicrous to pretend that any country could archive a more egalitarian society if it is precisely its political sphere which has become the area of social life where the evermore degrading debasement of women is not only permitted but encouraged. We will never put an end to the sexism, objectification and discrimination faced by women without addressing the comfortable homes these oppressions have found inside all British political parties. To ignore the voices of women demanding they be treated with respect while engaging in the political process represents a slap in the face to the sex which often constitutes the majority of the membership of those political parties.

For some reason, multiple generations of women and girls have been led to believe that their rights to freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association have already been won.

Evidently not.

Could it be that women are allowed to have rights as long as we sit pretty and promise never to exercise them?

Sometimes I wonder if the empty platitudes spouted by politicians encouraging women to participate in politics represent either a cruel mockery or some sort of sadistic ritual… If the first, who is laughing at us? If the second, who gets off on abusing us?

As an immigrant in this country, I have spent the past year and a half reflecting on women’s right to political participation; how despondent the structural failure of the democratic process feels and how alone women seem to be in our struggle to be recognised both as human beings and as political subjects, in our own right. This ordeal has reminded me of some wise words from Aida Cartagena Portalatin, a poet and writer from the Dominican Republic, who once wrote: “I do not believe that I am here for nothing. This place needs a woman, and that woman is me. I will not return weeping. I will not reconcile myself with disturbing facts”.

One of my favourite poems by Cartagena Portalatin speaks to the power of women keeping their nerves under straining circumstances and standing strong amidst the unsurmountable. In A Woman Is Alone, she writes:

A woman is alone. Alone with her stature
With eyes wide open. With arms wide open
With her heart open like broad silence
She awaits in the desperate and exasperating night
without losing hope
She thinks she is in the Admiral’s ship
with the saddest light of creation
She has hoisted the ship’s sails and let herself drift through the Northern winds
with her figure accelerated before the eyes of love
A woman is alone. Holding her dreams within her dreams
The dreams she has yet to dream and the whole Antillean sky

 

Raquel Rosario Sanchez is a writer and researcher. She specialises in ending male violence against women and girls and is currently pursuing a PhD with the Centre for Gender and Violence Research at the University of Bristol.

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Welcome to Woman’s Place UK.

This is a campaign formed specifically to ensure women’s voices are heard in the debate around proposals to change the Gender Recognition Act (2004).

We have 5 fair and reasonable demands to ensure that this happens.

We have produced some resources to help you be part of the campaign.

We are organising public meetings all over the UK.

We are talking to as many people as we can.

We believe that respectful dialogue is vital if we are to achieve a progressive law which upholds the rights of everyone.