CONTENT NOTE: transphobic, whorephobic violence
Sticking my head above the parapet here for a quick comment on the “Free Speech for Whorephobes” letter published in the Guardian today.
The letter has been signed by a bunch of academics, columnists and campaigners who believed Kate Smurthwaite’s version of how come she lost a booking. A version which invented a protest, out of thin air and a single tweet from someone at the other end of the country!
Nevertheless, I wanted to pick up a particular point. Well, two, I suppose.
Firstly, the letter says:
“No platforming” used to be a tactic used against self-proclaimed fascists and Holocaust-deniers.
If your views are being treated the same way as fascists and Holocaust-deniers’, then perhaps you ought to take a good, long, hard look at the ways in which those views resemble the views of fascists and Holocaust-deniers. Perhaps you ought to take a clearer look at the consequences for others that your views and suggested policies towards certain types of people might have. Perhaps you ought to consider how your “arguments critical of the sex industry and of some demands made by trans activists” are in fact nothing more than good, old-fashioned, Patriarchal hegemony at work.
Secondly, the letter says:
The feminists who hold these views have never advocated or engaged in violence against any group of people.
This is what is known technically as a “terminological inexactitude”. More colloquially, we call it a lie.
Oh, sure, you’ll never hear the words “kill prostituted women” (that’s the term these people like to use for sex workers, regardless of how sex workers themselves like to be called) or “murder the mutilated male” (again, their language for trans woman) from them. But you do hear them celebrate driving sex workers’ rights activists and trans people to attempt suicide. You do hear them, or their followers, say things like, “people like you should kill yourselves” to those people. You certainly see them use every means of emotional and social violence to silence and dehumanise the women (cis and trans) who dare to challenge their privileged position in the hierarchy.
And they advocate policies that are designed to make trans women and sex workers easier to kill, both by dehumanising the marginalised groups and by making circumstances easier for abusers and murderers to target trans women and sex workers.
They literally want other people (and typically, men – anyone spot the problem there?) to do their dirty work (their brutal, bloody, work) for them. Or, their followers. I have been told by more than one trans woman instances of physical violence being enacted against them by feminist-identified women.
Like the anti-abortion campaigners in the US who cry, “abortion is murder!” but then throw up their hands in horror when one of their followers goes out and murders an abortion doctor, claiming, “We never advocated that!” the signatories of the letter, by putting their names to the text of the letter, are creating the conditions that encourage violence against marginalised women. Trans women and sex workers are women.