Julie Bindel, please stop

I have a pretty much hate-hate relationship with feminist-identified-feminist Julie Bindel, who I’ve previously been cross with for transphobia and biphobia. Bindel belongs to a certain faction of feminism which, as Roz Kaveney identifies, behaves like a cult, with some fascistic overtones.

Upon seeing this tweet from Bindel, therefore, I experienced that emotion with no name, which is shock without surprise. It was something simultaneously jaw-droppingly horrid, and completely in keeping with her track record:

Those women that proclaim “I’m not a feminist” should be paid less than men, have no maternity benefits, no access to refuges, and no vote.

That’s right. Unless we all renounce patriarchy and come into the light of feminism, we should apparently be immediately immiserated and disenfranchised. While in this 140-characters-or-fewer, Bindel doesn’t spell out a road map for how this goal would be achieved, there’s not a pleasant way of systematically immiserating and disenfranchising people.

Bindel has helped survivors of domestic violence before. Taking her point to its logical conclusion, will she ask each and every one of them whether they are a feminist, and if they say no–and remember, a lot of women do not identify as feminist–would she turn around to them and send them back to their abusive partners? Because this is what she is saying.

There is also the problem of women that Bindel has decided are not feminists: the trans women, the sex workers, the bi women and so forth. Are these women to be systematically immiserated and disenfranchised because Bindel doesn’t agree with them? This is what she is arguing.

It’s hardly a surprise when some women don’t want to assume the feminist identity if we have people like Bindel spouting such rhetoric, advocating not just for continuing oppression of women, but to increase it punitively.

The thing is, Bindel’s strain of feminism is so dated and fails to include vast swathes of women and women’s experience, that the only way to recruit more people into this mode of being is through threats of systemic violence. If you can’t get them to join you, beat them.

I long for a day when Bindel becomes a thoroughly irrelevant voice howling into the void, but that is not yet. The mainstream media consider her a voice of feminism, and for as long as she is marked as a representative of us, this circus will go on. Feminism must not be about replication of oppressive structures, but about their complete destruction.

By that token, Bindel is probably not a feminist. But that doesn’t mean she should be oppressed.

ETA: Bindel has clarified her remark with a further tweet, pointing out it meant exactly the thing I thought it meant. It totally isn’t fair enough.

ETA2: Julie Bindel has replied, using the “it’s just banter” defence. Her Twitter bio may say she’s not a fun feminist, but apparently I’m just humourless:

@stavvers in what way is saying you hate me polite? Not only have you had irony/humour bypass you appear to be getting a bit obsessed w me!

I’m not entirely sure when Julie Bindel started writing for lad mags, but if that makes her happy then good for her.

 


33 responses to “Julie Bindel, please stop

  • jemima101

    you type too fast🙂

  • sadie

    I actually read the Bindel tweet as grimly humourous as in pointing out the disconnect for a lot of women between reality and ideology, but I also know how her reputation adds an extra dimension of scrutiny to everything. I do not agree with everything she says and I think this was highly ill advised since a) there’s no sarcasm font online, b) 140 characters leaves too much room for supposition and c) she should have a titter of bloody wit since she knows most people think she has no sense of humour.

    BUT about half the people I’ve seen jumping up and down screaming blue murder about this on Twitter today were the same people who tore Rosie Kelly limb from limb for the piece she wrote on The Guardian the other week for not being the ‘right kind of feminist’ in their eyes so I suggest a lot of people check their glasshouses right about now.

    This in fighting and hypocrisy has to stop. Not everyone has the same views within feminism. Not everyone came into it at the same rate or along the same path and it’s pointless demanding they do and then shouting ‘intersectionality’ at the same time. Of course we should call out poor behaviour like transphobia, racism etc etc, but right now a lot of self declared feminists seem to spend more time holding other women to a very very high standard than welcoming, teaching, sharing and educating and that weakens feminism as much the patriarchal BS we are meant to be challenging.

    It’s easier to stick to the devil you know and have the patriarchy tell you you aren’t good enough rather than people you respect. (This isn’t aimed at you specifically btw.) It’s making me feel isolated from a movement I had to work hard to care about after it spent years rejecting me. Most people aren’t going to keep coming back for that.

    • stavvers

      The “grimly humorous” justification vanishes with her second tweet. She thinks that.

      As for “in-fighting”, I think it’s very important that we call one another out on our bullshit, and the “stop infighting” plea is typically a silencing tactic used by those who don’t want to have to stop for a second and think about how they’re contributing to exactly the patriarchal system we are trying to oppose.

      Until we actually get the shit in our backyard cleared up, we can’t make any effective gains.

    • Cath

      Thank you! You have just articulated the tone of debate at the moment in so many Feminist forums right now. It feels like lobbing stones at each other across the barricades, for example I agree that Julie Bindel’s recent Twitter post was ill thought out, unhelpful and unwise, but the manner and tone of the attack for me was equally so.While absolutely I agree that some of the debates ongoing right now are necessary and ultimately might need to a better movement as a whole, the vast majority of content I am currently reading is extremely hostile, does not appear to be made from a place of any kind of respect or intention to listen, negotiate and collaborate, but from a place of political point-scoring which is extremely alienating for the majority of folk observing from the safety zone! @Stavvers, you say we need to get the shit in our backyard cleared up to make gains, but right now, we can’t move either way for fear of ambush! No cleaning being done, simply a lot of sound and fury with little to no outcome bar alienation and a great deal of terminology one-upmanship.

      • stavvers

        I have no intention of listening to someone saying that women who don’t conform to someone’s expectations should be punished through immiseration and disenfranchisment, no.

        I’m glad you have the luxury of thinking that calling this shit out is more alienating than actually doing it. For a lot of women, that’s not the case.

      • stavvers

        P.S. I note you haven’t replied to Sadie’s second comment😉

  • sadie

    PS: just seen Bindel’s ‘clarifying’ tweet and would like to rescind the grimly humourous feeling I had. That’s just twattery….

  • spudman101

    “To add to my last tweet – I am specifically meaning the women hostile to feminism and/or argue it’s irrelevant or unnecessary. Fair enough?”

    Surely Bindel’s aim here has aligned her squarely with the people who are hostile to feminism? With the people who have spent years trying to make feminism a dirty word and make feminists something to be ridiculed so that people don’t want to be associated with feminism.

    I thought the underlying point of all the years of propaganda is so that women’s rights can be taken away without them complaining for fear of being labelled a feminist?

  • oddbodd13

    “It’s hardly a surprise when some women don’t want to assume the feminist identity if we have people like Bindel spouting such rhetoric” Perfectly true. And it doesn’t help that she’s not only bi- and transphobic, but also heterophobic, and from what I can tell, anyone-who-isn’t-the-stereotyped-milli-tant-out-of-viz-feminist-like-me-phobic.

    • boostick

      Heterosexuals aren’t an oppressed class though. That’s the difference. It’s like complaining that a trans person is cisphobic, or that a WOC is “racist against whites”.

      For lots of LGB people there’s a lot to hate about straights. Same goes for trans people, with regards to cis people. Murder, corrective rape, denial of rights and civil liberties, violence, erasure, silencing, etc.

      • oddbodd13

        She seems, though, to be of the opinion that heterosexuals are all bad people. That’s as bad as homophobia. It’s one thing to decry, for instance, corrective rape, but another to assume that hetero people are all bad because some of them perpetrate corrective rape. The fact is, if any group of people is oppressed based solely on their demographic, it doesn’t matter if that group is USUALLY the oppressed group. – it’s still oppression.

        • herbsandhags

          Really? You think Julie Bindel is so thick and her worldview so simplistic, that she thinks all heterosexuals are “bad people”?

          I think you have to credit her with a bit more intelligence than that tbh. I’ve no idea what she thinks of heterosexuals, but I would put money on her world-view being more nuanced and complex than just that we heterosexuals are “bad people”.

        • boostick

          Jesus Christ Monkeyballs…

          Just no. Disliking people =/= oppressing them.

          Definition of oppression
          noun

          1. prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority:

          2. the state of being subject to oppressive treatment:

          LGB people have no systemic, institutional power over straight people. We cannot forbid opposite- sex marriage, make it an offence to “promote” heterosexuality, ban straight people from being parents, send them to reparative therapy.

          Straight people are not equated with paedophiles, if a straight celebrity dies suddenly it is not sneered about and put down as a result of their “lifestyle choices”.

          Straight people are not oppressed anywhere in the world, by anyone, so just stop it, please. Words have meanings, you don’t get to cry “Halp! I’m being oppressed!” because the nasty queers are saying mean things about your people.

          This stuff is Social Justice 101. What next, anti-choicers are oppressed? White people are oppressed if POC call them “cracker” or “honky”? CAB people are oppressed by PWD who claim that they’re all selfish, inconsiderate tossers?

          When the following applies to heterosexuals, then we’ll talk. Until then, nope, you’re not being oppressed, just being upset that someone’s daring to shove your privilege in your face.

          “Institutional Oppression occurs when established laws, customs, and practices systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups. If oppressive consequences accrue to institutional laws, customs, or practices, the institution is oppressive whether or not the individuals maintaining those practices have oppressive intentions.

          • stavvers

            Nobody said that was “oppression”. Bindel confines her oppressive tendencies to bisexuals and trans people, for the most part.

            • boostick

              It’s right there, oddbodd claims that straight people can be oppressed through whatever “heterophobia” is, because I objected to her claim that just as bad as being transphobic and biphobic, Bindel is also a heterophobe.

              She seems, though, to be of the opinion that heterosexuals are all bad people. That’s as bad as homophobia. It’s one thing to decry, for instance, corrective rape, but another to assume that hetero people are all bad because some of them perpetrate corrective rape. The fact is, if any group of people is oppressed based solely on their demographic, it doesn’t matter if that group is USUALLY the oppressed group. – it’s still oppression.

              That’s what I’m objecting to.

              Trust me, I loathe Bindel’s attitude to who’s “allowed” to identify as queer, and her repellent gender
              essentialism.

              She belongs to that awful cadre who deal in such pathetic. toxic terms as ‘Gold Star Lesbians’, and believe that queer women can only express their sexuality in antiquated, damaging tropes.

              As for the foul transmisogyny, it’s inexcusable. But she’s still not oppressing straights.

  • herbsandhags

    Do you really believe that Julie Bindel actually believes what she’s saying in that tweet? I don’t. I think she’s making the point to those women who are afraid of the F word – look, you can side with patriarchy if you want, but look what feminism brought you, don’t deny you wouldn’t be without those things and have a bit of respect for the movement that won you those rights. I don’t take that tweet literally and I don’t think I’m supposed to.

    • jemima101

      Then you are clearly a good feminist, who Bindel approves of, she has said before many times that only some women matter, and defines woman as someone born with a vagina.

      In many ways that is irrelevant, becasue she is after Greer the most famous feminist in the country, Twitter is a public space, she should be aware of that and act accordingly.

    • redpesto

      Not calling yourself a feminist does not equal ‘siding with the patriarchy’ It’s not an either/or – though perhaps for some people it’s just easier to think that it is.

      @jemina101: my take is that she is aware, and is ‘acting accordingly’ by her own lights. It’s people like stavvers who are ‘obsessed’ for challenging her.

  • I disgust me (@umlolidunno)

    100% agree with herbsandhags. This is very obviously the kind of retort that is meant to make those who renounce feminism think about how much of their lives are made possible by past feminist gains. I don’t think anyone here believes that Bindel wants anyone’s rights revoked. Come on now.

    • stavvers

      I could buy that for the original tweet. For the followup, not so much, and for the “it’s just banter” defence, she totally replicated patriarchy.

      • I disgust me (@umlolidunno)

        I wouldn’t address people who took it literally with any seriousness, either. I don’t buy this for a second and I don’t really think you do. “It’s just banter” is a way of alluding to non-literal meaning, rather than “silencing” anyone.

        I get that you don’t like Bindel, but this really makes it seem like you’re looking for stuff to hammer her with. This is a non-event.

        • stavvers

          You sound so much like every ladmag apologist I can’t even begin to construct a serious reply.

        • Jessica Burde

          I have never heard of Bindel before reading this post. I don’t know shit about feminist big-names, philosophy, politics or any of that shit. I am someone who until recently did not actively identify as feminist because while I fully supported equal rights for all people and saw the ways women are still discriminated against every day, I was so turned off by the feminazi’s I felt like I had no place in feminism.

          I opened this post curious about who Bindel was and what she was saying that was so awful. I clicked on the link to her tweet before reading anything else. And my jaw hit the floor.

          Frankly, if she meant it humorously, she is an internet-idiot who doesn’t understand they way humor works (and has to work) in online spaces without tone of voice or body language to indicate sarcasm and snark.

          Ultimately – it doesn’t matter how she meant it, because as someone who she would have been addressing as little as 6 months ago – the people she is ‘humorously’ trying to convince to she her side of things, are going to be the people most disgusted and put off by this. Which means more women who see feminism as a bastion of self-centered dictatorial prigs who say ‘my way or the highway, bitches.’

          If she meant it seriously, which I think she did based on the second tweet but I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt, then that is even worse. Because then she is setting herself up as a replacement to the patriarchy – claiming the right to say who does and doesn’t deserve equal rights, rather than fighting for equal rights for everyone.

          Now, here is my response to this line of thinking, as someone new to feminism. (Please note – I am not saying you or anyone else is thinking this way. I am saying this is my response to the attitude displayed in Bindel’s tweets) It’s fully possible I am misunderstanding what the purpose of this movement is. If feminism is about dictating who and does not have equal rights and setting up a replacement to the patriarchy, please tell me now. Because I came to this party hoping to find people who were working for equal rights for everyone. If I’m in the wrong place, I won’t let the door hit me on the way out.

  • jemima101

    I just always find the its just banter defense so amusing, that Jb has used it sums up what I have been saying for so long, some people are patriarchal, or perhaps we should say Kyrarchical and demonstrate it constantly.

  • linkshund (@linkshund)

    What this reminds me of is when I saw her in an Oxford Union debate about recognising prostitution as a legitimate industry. She was one of a panel of four against the motion, including no sex workers. The panel for consisted of a feminist academic, this scumturd, a gigolo/porn actor and Sarah Walker from the English Collective of Prostitutes, who spoke in that order.

    Bindel did a pretty amazing performance, absolutely shredded the bunny-ranch pimpdude. Pointed out, rightly, the comfortable privilege of the gigolo guy who generally ok otherwise. The only time she acknowledged the woman from the ECP was to interrupt and talk over her (something that’s not done in the Oxford Union and something she hadn’t even done to the actual real-life brothel owner). Her side won the debate, quite substantially, and her reaction on twitter was that she’d “blown the pimp out of the water”. Didn’t even mention Walker. Someone pressed her on it, and she dismissed the ECP as a bunch of trotskyists, and “not English, not a collective, and not prostitutes”.

    Julie Bindel’s obviously against prostitution and thinks it’s bad and anti-feminist, and I’m not going to be the middle-class white bro who corrects her on that. But this kind of shows how she sees and treats women who do and say things that don’t fit her definition of feminism. She’s not going to stand outside women’s refuges and abortion clinics with a written exam on Simone de Beauvoir, but this really does make you wonder how much solidarity she’s going to extend to The Wrong Kind of Women and just how lols and banterous her tweets actually were.

  • redpesto

    I’ve come to this article via It’s just a Hobby. Thank you for writing this. Contrary to what some commenters might think, Bindel meant every word, because ‘that’s how she rolls’. It’s all of a piece with both her strand of feminism (and she’s not the only one) and with both her media profile and print articles. And she’s been doing this kind of thing for decades, despite being ‘called out’ by feminists and non-feminists alike. (btw, you’ve gotta love Bindel’s accusation that stavvers is ‘obsessed’ with her, as if it’s stavvers who’s the problem.) These days the Guardian is either using her as ‘representative’ (which must say something about its editorial policy re. gender issues) or as ‘clickbait’ for online readers.

    As for the the idea that if only (other) feminists stop infighting they could get on with the business of fighting the patriarchy (or whatever) ignores the fact that in Bindel’s strand of feminism (like that of Sheila Jeffreys), she and her allies get to be in charge of the revolution, and therefore they get to decide who gets to be part of it (or not). Her ‘defence’ of accusing stavvers of being ‘humourless’ – which normally gets feminists very angry when used against them by some men and women – is lame, and can’t be given a free pass because she’s female or because of her commitment to ‘the cause’, let alone in the name of feminist ‘banter.’

    And she won’t stop, because she thinks all her critics are wrong (the men because, well, they’re men, and other feminists because they’re the ‘wrong’ kind of feminists). Her critics have to demonstrate that her place within feminism (and the kind of feminism she represents) is at least extremely marginal, if not completely irrelevant to all but a tiny sect of wannabe revolutionaries obsessed with ideological purity. But that will take a lot of work.

  • Willie_Hmmm

    [rest of comment removed for being entirely a personal attack and irrelevant. Looks like someone didn’t read the comment policy]

    Please continue ignoring me.

  • Sassy

    Wow. This is going to make me wildly unpopular, but here goes. So feminism is, as I understand it at least, the belief that women are inherently equal to men, rather than just pretty barefoot sandwich dispensers who pop out babies. Equal to men. Nothing more, nothing less. So can someone please explain to me how, if you don’t identify yourself as a feminist (ie. believe that women are equal to men) you aren’t siding with the patriarchy? Because surely believing that women are inferior is pretty much the manifesto of the patriarchy.

    Now I understand that some women may not understand the basic concept of feminism (equality) and believe that it is some radical form of activism done only by men-hating lesbians. But surely in this case we cannot count them as not being feminists – they are simply not informed about what the word means and their beliefs do, in actuality, coincide with it. Fair enough. I had a somewhat dubious vision of the word until I had to learn about it in university, because that’s what society likes to tell us the stereotypical feminists are – raving, lunatic men-hating lesbians.

    But if you are a woman who does not believe she is equal to a man, who does not even believe in her own worth, why should you get equality? Why should someone else have to verify your worth for you if you can’t be bothered to fight for it? I can’t help but think of all the silly women at the moment posting pictures on Facebook in the aftermath of 50 Shades, with taglines akin to ‘I wish I could find my very own Christian Grey! LOL’. Or worse, ‘I wish my husband would turn into Christian Gray!’To these people I want to say ‘you want to find your very own rapist who will stalk, humiliate and degrade you, do you? You wish your loving husband would transform into a fictional sociopath who works through his oedipal issues by beating girls who look like his crack whore mother, do you? Good luck with that.’ Women like this – particularly those brought up in the western world where previous feminists have fought for us and won, where we actually have the opportunities and education that many women don’t – have no excuse. Maybe Ms Bindel was a tad harsh in her statements, but I understand her anger and frustration. It baffles me how any woman who knows that feminism is simply **equality** wouldn’t want it. Because if every woman in history had felt like that, we as a gender wouldn’t have half the freedom we do today. Equality is not an opinion for people to agree with or not; it’s like oxygen. You need it to survive, to develop, and if you don’t want it then you’re missing some vital part of your survival instinct.

  • Vinka Hodgeon

    @Sassy. Thank you for your voice of reason. I was feeling sad to read so much vitriolic outpourings especially from our human sisters. None of us are entirely free from patriarchal conditioning. I’ve said things about male-identified women that I deeply regret, but I blurted them out of frustration and disappointment. It is hard to deal with “Vichy France with tits” (K. Moran’s metaphor). Yet, many conflicts could be resolved with an improved communication, deeper reflection and better listening skills. We all make mistakes. The verbal punishment by Julie Bindel for women who collude with the oppressor is, although momentary, rather draconian. Yet, I believe she hadn’t meant it literally, despite her second tweet. Many women have internalised the anti-feminist propaganda orchestrated by the media. It’s the F- word; men are scared flaccid of it. Hence the relentless backlash. Many women aim to please men for meagre rewards. I wish we could change the term to, say, Equalism. It might be less threatening to men and some women. Notice I didn’t say …. all men. Have you read Sexual Politics by Kate Millet?

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