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Incivility…and worse June 4, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Feminism, LGBT Rights.

Well here’s a display of incivility, misogyny and anti-lesbianism, as related by Julie Bindel. What’s amazing to me are two aspects of this, firstly that a Radio 5 ‘satirical’ panel debate thought that it was appropriate to discuss – even, perhaps particularly, in a ‘humorous’ way – the proposition “Give me 20 minutes with her and I’m pretty sure I could turn around Clare Balding”, and then some of the incidents Bindel recounted of male antagonism to her as a lesbian.

I like Balding’s response in the following, even if it is descending into a ‘fight fire with fire’ dynamic:

Last year she reopened a feud with the Sunday Times television critic AA Gill, who described her as “a dyke on a bike” in his column in 2010. Balding described Gill as a “great twat” and claimed he hates clever women as she spoke in defence of Mary Beard, the on-screen historian who Gill suggested was too ugly for cameras.

Bindel argues that:

Lesbianism is a significant threat to men [just to be clear she modifies all other instances of the term ‘men’ to ‘a lot of’ or ‘men of the sexist variety’, so no she doesn’t mean all men – wbs]. After all, we are rejecting them sexually and, more importantly, making it clear we do not need to be desired by or betrothed to a man in order to have an identity. Clare Balding needs to be put in her place, according to the sexists, because she has no right to be a successful professional, a well-loved public figure and an out-and-proud lezzer.

This concept of threat is very important and deeply disturbing because of the potential for it to take very dangerous forms. I think she’s also exactly right when she argues that this is essentially a part and parcel with other forms of misogyny.

But you know, I think her conclusion is where it’s at.

What they need is a bloody good lesson in keeping their opinions to themselves.


1. Logan - June 4, 2013

Amazing to think that BBC5 could have imagine that such a discussion would have been regarded as acceptable, even in a “satirical programme”.

However it, is a great pity that the writer of this article was Julie Bindel.

Given that Bindel has herself been very willing to defend those who have made the most bigoted comments imaginable about transgendered people, I cannot be the only person who read the article and wondered what sort of article she would have written if a transsexual instead of a lesbian had been the target of the “humour.”


WorldbyStorm - June 4, 2013

There’s definitely that. Bindel has a very essentialist view of gender. In a way I’d hope that her experience as an out lesbian would inflect that view and perhaps change it.


2. Tomboktu - June 4, 2013

It’s not as if jokes about sexual orientation are necessarily incivil. Sani Toksvig and her panelists manage it with humour when she is on The News Quiz.


3. Logan - June 4, 2013

I dont have any problem with light-hearted ribbing…Graham Norton often makes fun of himself and his sexual orientation on his show, and if comments are made in that way it is fine.

But the whole “turn her straight ” topic..it makes her whole sexuality seem like a pathology….it has a much more vicious undertone than cracks about how her hairstyle might be a bit too butch, or whatever.


4. Logan - June 4, 2013

Regarding the comment from WBS that ” I’d hope that her experience as an out lesbian would inflect that view and perhaps change it.”,I think this is unlikely at this stage – that is the whole point of the problem with her ideology. It is a particular view of sexuality that is bound up with gender identity that some lesbians (particularly a British-based group of self-styled “radical lesbians”) have that is informed by their own experience of their sexuality.
It is a hugely problematic view that they have developed over thirty years or more, partly from many hostile experience/reactions they have had to experience, and it is particularly unfortunate that they seem to view some issues (such as transgender) through a very rigid prism.

But to be honest, it is more about the way their views are expressed than anything else. My own views ion transgenderism would be not be welcomed by many on the T end of the LGBTTQ spectrum, but I would always be respectful to those who hold a different view.

I often feel with Bindel (a bit like the more outrageous Julie, Birchill) that some of the offensive ways she expresses herself are just to gain more notoriety for herself as a “star columnist” than anything else.


Wendy Lyon - June 5, 2013

There’s nothing particularly British about it. Janice Raymond, from Massachusetts, wrote the transphobic bible in 1979. Australia’s Sheila Jeffreys is probably the leading feminist academic transphobe. And the person currently most synonymous with what’s been designated Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism on social media is a charming woman named Cathy “Bug” Brennan, a banking lawyer from my own home state of Maryland.

As critical as I often am of Irish feminism, it’s to its credit that this particular strain is virtually unknown here.


WorldbyStorm - June 5, 2013

And it’s not that long since we were discussing Mary Daly here who took a position across her life that could only be described as transphobic.


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