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My fight with the Rebel Dykes Eroticising violence against women will never be progressive

A still from Rebel Dykes. Credit: Del LaGrace Volcano


December 29, 2021   6 mins

The stereotypical image of lesbians back in the Eighties was that of a woman in North Face pullover, ill-fitting jeans, with short, neatly cut hair and velcro trainers. That’s why the Rebel Dykes stood out. They would walk the streets head to toe in black leather, resplendent with clanking chains, handcuffs clipped to their belts, huge bunches of keys like prison officers swaying with each step. They wore heavy biker boots, tattoos, nose rings, lip piercings, shaved, bleached hair and peaked leather-studded caps pulled down over mirrored sunglasses, whatever the weather.

They were from a particular subculture within the lesbian movement, known for flaunting their predilections for sadomasochism, pornography, and public sex. They were outrageous by most people’s standards — including my own. These women argued that the practice of S&M was rebellious and liberatory; that it allowed women to break free of the expectation to be sexually submissive.

Memories of it all came flooding back as I watched Rebel Dykes, a film about that particular tribe. It follows a group of close friends who met at Greenham Common peace camp and became part of that significantly rebellious lesbian subculture. There are clips of the women having public sex shows at BDSM nightclubs; marching in full regalia on anti-Thatcher rallies, and joining forces with gay men to demand action around AIDS.

Of course, my tribe of lesbians was at odds with the rebel dykes. We campaigned against male violence and abuse of women, and, like the US feminist Robin Morgan, believed that “pornography is the theory; rape is the practice”. We railed against acts of sexual sadism and fought hard to dispel the misogynistic myth that women enjoy being abused and degraded during sex. In my view, the S&M that the Rebel Dykes celebrated was simply a re-enforcement of the way violent men treat women.

For their part, they painted us as dull and sexless, dismissing us as joyless prudes. Roz Kaveney, a transwoman involved in the ‘kink’ scene back then, would mock my tribe, saying that lesbians like me thought that “holding hands in 20 different positions” was hot sex. That’s another thing that struck me about the film: the parallels between now and then. Lesbians and women who are critical of porn and S&M and sexual exploitation today are treated in exactly the same way as we were back then: portrayed as anti-sex prudes.

The talking heads in the film have great fun re-visiting their youth, spinning tales of drunkenness, sex with multiple partners, and direct action. They talk about Greenham Common women’s peace camp, where a group of them broke into the squaddies’ bar and stole all the booze. But the film mainly focuses on the squatting culture in London, and the so-called “lesbian sex wars” that raged through the UK in the early to late Eighties. Those wars were fought over the turf of porn, kink, S&M, and public sex.

In April 1985 I went along to the very first extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the newly founded Lesbian and Gay Centre in London. The centre should have been a haven for the entire community, with its café, bar, bookshop, creche, meeting rooms, media resource, offices for rent to lesbian and gay projects and enterprises, and a regular disco. It could not have been more perfect, on paper. But its management committee was involved in a huge dilemma. Who could use the centre, and for what, and which views would be acceptable to be aired in the premises? At that stage, the management committee was an all-white group of men and women, and they were keen to make it more accessible to a diverse crowd.

The main item on the agenda at the EGM was the S&M issue. Although the Management Committee had initially allowed groups advocating for and practicing S&M to meet at the centre, they had reversed that decision following complaints from the Lesbians Against Sadomasochism (LASM). These women objected to the sight of leather, chains and Nazi regalia in a space that was supposed to be protective of persecuted minorities. The packed meeting was extremely tense, and nothing was resolved.

The film includes fascinating, grainy footage of the event. One clip shows Linda Bellos, a black, Jewish, working-class lesbian opposing S&M ideology, while a young S&M dyke in the audience, also black and working-class, was being nudged by white women to speak up “as a black lesbian”. The attempt by both sides to use identity politics as a way to claim more credibility and ‘right to speak’ was counter-productive, as each time a Jewish woman, for example, said how offended she was at symbols of Nazi Germany (such as the peaked leather cap) being used in S&M role-play, one from the other side would claim she was ‘subverting’ its meaning.

In a subsequent meeting, the extremely polarised issue of dress codes came up. A group called the Sexual Fringe, which represented the S&M contingent, wanted an “anything goes” policy whereas the hard-core feminists wanted to ban leather jackets (something I was opposed to, on the grounds that leather jackets per se were not in any way offensive). The main topic of conversation was whether certain items of clothing and accessories could be seen as racist, fascist or antisemitic. There were some sadists who liked to lead women (who identified as masochists) around on all fours on a leash. There were others who liked to wear chains, swastikas, whips and handcuffs. This was an unusual meeting in that certain things were resolved, for once. It was agreed that the swastika should be banned, and it was also agreed, albeit grudgingly, that leading a woman around on a chain on all fours should also be banned.

Generally, though, neither side saw eye to eye. When the fetish club Chain Reaction was opened by the S&Mers in London in 1987, home to everything from mud wrestling to exhibitionist sex shows, and strippers. LASM picketed the club. We handed out leaflets explaining why, as far as we were concerned, eroticising pain and humiliation was the very antithesis of women’s liberation. Our leaflets read: “there can be no defence of a practice which is racist, anti-Semitic and woman hating. How is this different from what men do to women?” But the party went on inside. Nothing was resolved.

At another meeting, in 1988, Joan Nestle, a “sex positive” lesbian heavily into butch/femme role play spoke. There was a massive debate between the feminists and the pro-S&Mers during that meeting, and I could see why so many were captivated by Nestle. Funny, charismatic and honest, she appealed to so many of the working-class women in the audience who felt judged by the hard-core feminists. More than once in the film, references are made to how middle class the anti-S&M feminists were in contrast to the Rebel Dykes, but this gives an inaccurate impression. I was one of many working class protesters against S&M, and the sexual libertarian movement that inspired much of the Rebel Dyke standpoint was rooted in French post-structuralism — hardly a topic for down The Dog and Duck.

The Rebel Dykes loved being provocative and bad taste riffs were common, verging on harassment. For example, when Lisa Power, a Stonewall founder who is interviewed in the film, started the lesbian sex-toy business, Thrilling Bits, she named “our smallest and most inoffensive vibrator ‘the Sheila’” after anti-porn feminist Sheila Jeffreys, which was a pretty ugly move. The black dildo in the Thrilling Bits collection was named “the Whitney”, (after Whitney Houston) but interestingly this was not mentioned in the film.

The arguments over S&M, public sex and anti-Semitism raged in America, too. I visited San Francisco in 1985, having been told that a new magazine, aimed at lesbians, had been launched into this crucible. It was called On Our Backs. The title itself was poking fun at the feminist magazine, Off Our Backs (meaning “women, there is no need to be on our backs for the patriarchy”). On Our Backs took a pro kink, pro porn stance, and featured S&M content.

I requested an interview with the editors of On Our Backs, and turned up looking like something out of Bunty magazine. In my pale blue linen trousers and white cotton blouse and Birkenstock sandals, I exuded an air of innocence that sharply contrasted with the image of the leather-clad editors. Looking me up and down, one of the women told me that she had considered asking me to pose for the magazine, but had now decided against it. I was not offended, merely relieved.

During the conversation I asked the women if they had a line in the sand that they would not cross in terms of pornographic and sadomasochistic content. One of them gave me an example: “We had a story submitted by a woman to fantasised setting fire to her I lover, and it was very graphic, but we couldn’t decide between us whether or not it was too extreme to run it, so it is still sitting in our in-tray.” If it was not already obvious to me that there could be no peaceful coexistence between feminism and S&M practitioners, that moment crystallised it.

The film, rather than draw any conclusions about the Rebel Dyke scene is a nostalgic trip down a particular memory lane. A number of the interviewees, including Roz Kaveny and Lisa Power, are still actively campaigning to discredit feminists — in particular those of us who critique pornography, kink, and extreme trans ideology.

That’s what struck me particularly forcefully: that not much has changed. Today, feminists who oppose porn and prostitution as forms of violence against women are seen as anti-sex and ‘whorephobic’; the Queer movement is enthusiastically embracing kink as an identity as part of the alphabet soup of LGBTQQIA+. But the Rebel Dykes did not have the institutional support that the feminist hating Queer Isis of today does.

For all the S&M lesbians saw themselves (and clearly still do, going by the views expressed by the talking heads in the film) as edgy, progressive and sex-positive, they were anything but. Buying in to the misogynistic myths that women love to be hurt and humiliated during sex — that pain is erotic; that pleasure can be derived from the steel-capped boot on the neck — is nothing short of capitulating to patriarchy. I will continue to fight for the liberation of women from sexual violation, because for me, the true rebels are those who refuse to see masochism as anything to celebrate.


Julie Bindel is an investigative journalist, author, and feminist campaigner. Her latest book is Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation. She also writes on Substack.

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Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

What a ghastly rabble of self-obsessed whackjobs. It’s suffocating just reading about them: entire lives wasted on hating people for not being holy enough.
It’s so good to be white and heterosexual. Perhaps we need these wackoes to remind us of the fact.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Perfect summary

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Indeed. Saves anyone else the trouble of having to put one together.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

A slightly bizarre comment. Do you consider white heterosexual men to be somehow immune from being ‘whackjobs’?

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Goodness they were a group of very unattractive women.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Shaw
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

“I was one of many working class protesters against S&M, and the sexual libertarian movement that inspired much of the Rebel d**e standpoint was rooted in French post-structuralism — hardly a topic for down The Dog and Duck.”
(I think after ‘standpoint’ you need ‘which’ – not to nitpick but I first thought you were saying your protest against Rebel D**es – was based in your post-structuralism thinking)
But the dreaded Post-modernism/post-structuralism gibberish, does not all which is degenerate come from that anti-morality existentialism?
As your issues as a normal person and Lesbian were to the Rebel D**es – so societies normal people are with the – (weirdly simultaneously held) – ultra-permissive, and yet, ultra-fas* ist Woke, who share their philosophical basis.
This is the character which the ‘Post’ Philosophies bring. They declare themselves non-judgemental, yet are more judgemental than a 1600s Calvinist. The thing is they have turned ‘Morality’ on its head. They demand the right to every degeneracy, and to fight against any traditional Morality.
As much as I enjoy having a good rant against the philosophies of Derrida. Foucault, and their ilk, I will resist

. BUT

“Our leaflets read: “there can be no defence of a practice which is racist, anti-Semitic and woman hating. How is this different from what men do to women?””
I am a very, I guess, macho man. Always had to prove how hard I was by living hard – I work construction where the men I work around are what you would call Neanderthals – But I do not get what it is that we men do to women which your flyer referenced to above. I do not think the hard men I know have ever hit a woman, or oppressed them, they all have women in their lives. They work, get paid, go home, watch TV, go to bed with their wife, get up and go to work again. Weekends they mow the grass and what ever – it is not centered around oppressing anyone.

P.S. – ‘Awaiting for approval’ – so am re-posting it redacted with the only thing I can figure got your censer bot to block it.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Good post,I agree with you.
‘that pain is erotic; that pleasure can be derived from the steel-capped boot on the neck — is nothing short of capitulating to patriarchy’.
I have never understood the term patriarchy.Only a brute would treat women in such a disrepectful way.Am I given to understand that ALL men represesent the patriarchy.If correct,don’t include me.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

There are certain cultures that do treat women very badly.
They are ones feminists would defend to the death.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago

Goodness, what a lot of trope – People’s Front of Judea and No True Feminist.

andy young
andy young
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

SPLITTERS!!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I found this interesting in that obviously all groupings have sub groupings and some of the sub groupings will be distasteful to others. There is no way that lesbians could be a homogenous group, yet it appears that is the expectation of some.
After fighting for acceptance (which created a sisterhood), it must have been hard to then get down to the business of realizing that the sisterhood was splintered, dealing with this and finding ones tribe within this.
I think it unnecessary and divisive to link men to the dominance, violence and kinkiness some lesbians enjoyed – just accept that some lesbians prefer that.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

In my experience, and JB is a good example, people who are outside social norms in any way are very keen to establish new norms, but around themselves.
Once it becomes OK to be a lesbian, the next thing that happens is a struggle to establish a normative form of lesbianism from which in their turn aberrant lesbians can be excluded.
The old habits die hard, and each smithereen of newly-acceptable lesbianism continues – from sheer force of habit – to blame this atomisation and mutual animosity on the patriarchy, etc. But the fact is they reflexively do to themselves what they hate others for doing to them.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

It’s a bit more than that. See my other comment

Michael O'Donnell
Michael O'Donnell
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

I’ve just been looking for your other comment, but lost the will to live going though everyone else’s while trying to find it. I’m afraid that I’ll have to live without the benefit of your profundity.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Yawn. Yawn. Lesbians are no different to any other group on the planet and that’s okay. You seem to have it in for Julie and for lesbians. Maybe because you do not understand that some women do not actually want to have sex with men and that upsets your sensibility.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Perhaps not the planet, but here in the U.K. most people are remarkably tolerant.
JB is a complete outlier for a modern Brit. Sexual minorities (some) and youth cults, music fans as well as real cults and religions seem to be infected by the same idea – if you are not like me, I don’t like you. But if you convert, and make being like me “normal” I don’t like that either.
Your last sentence is pure fantasy. No man thinks like that.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Brilliant comment.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“After fighting for acceptance (which created a sisterhood), it must have been hard to then get down to the business of realizing that the sisterhood was splintered, dealing with this and finding ones tribe within this.”

Has it occurred to these perennially infuriated activists that perhaps it was their indignation at the world which people found off-putting about them, and not their sexuality?

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago

Gawd how do you comment on the vaccuousness of the human condition – so many human preoccupations are just so plain silly they dont deserve the effort to make a comment ! Damn I just did..

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

Arguing over dress codes. Do these boots make me look progressive? And you expect to be taken seriously.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

“Does this swastika make my bum look big?” :o)

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Comment of the week

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Ha, brilliant 🙂

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

My first belly-laugh of the week. Cheers, Sharon.

Peter McLaughlin
Peter McLaughlin
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Perfect

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

I thought of something like that, but I was too sweet to say it. Trust a girl!

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago

What a trying life you’ve led, Julie. Have there been joyous moments or has it all been struggle?

John Murray
John Murray
2 years ago

It sounds like the Rebel Dykes were just doing a distaff version of gay male leather culture.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 years ago
Reply to  John Murray

Well, exactly! I was around in feminism at that time and my women friends thought they were all creepy a f.

joey brite
joey brite
2 years ago
Reply to  John Murray

I can agree that your assessment of this is right on point. We had few role models and gay men were leading in all the imagery being promoted. It took a long time for lesbians to begin creating our own and we did have a good start – but then the push to ingest testosterone came along. By the late 1980’s into the mid-nineties, several lesbians had begun taking unregulated testosterone and it absolutely changed – and eventually would kill – our culture all along the west coast. Buck Angel came along smack at the start of the ‘T’ (Trojan Horse) infiltrating our larger LGB community and more of the social contagion under the guise of ‘inclusion’ came along like a Kamikaze invasion. Add to this a fair number of late-in-life AGPs who began destroying the idea of ‘sex’ and conflating it all with ‘gender’. A ton of lesbians became apologists (as is Bindle towards AGPs), and handmaidens sprung up it seemed daily promoting and defending more gender non-conforming lesbians to go under the knife and ingest the wrong sex hormone. This just became another gay conversion tactic and pretending to be straight seemed like the safest thing for the cowards to do. And here were are, decades later with so many wondering, ‘How did we get here?’ Our culture basically wiped out and we made it so very easy for the big money to take over everything (Pritzker, Rothblatt, Gill, Stryker & so many other billionaires. The gay and lesbian communities were sitting ducks. Lesbians only had a ‘heyday’ for around 13 years.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  joey brite

I’ve noticed the same thing too regarding lesbians.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  joey brite

but then the push to ingest testosterone came along

I didn’t know about this. Certainly adds another dimension to the trans/lesbian debate. Could it be that some lesbians at least are harbouring a secret desire to be men – and hence the manhating born of resentment which has found its way into feminism.
It has always been very noticeable that some lesbians are drawn to adopt male dress and behaviour – while at the same time expressing a dislike of men.

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago

These Rebel D*kes have the air of the ‘teenage Goth’ about them. Attention seekers, going through a phase, and trying way too hard to show they don’t give a sh*t!

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

Why is UnHerd the personal sandbox of Julie Bindel? Is this a movie review or pages from JB’s diary from 30 years ago? Boring!

Why is she allowed to bore UnHerd readers with personal stories from decades ago when she hectored this group because of the way it treated that subgroup? Utter tosh, and poorly written.

Julie, please use your minimal talent to write a book that no one will read! Stay off these pages; go back to The Guardian.

The one opportunity JB had to provide something fun or interesting–clearly not her thing–was in describing a woman on all fours on a leash–instantly reminiscent of that classic album SMELL THE GLOVE! A clever reference to that classic story line/scene might have provided a brief, shining moment of brightness in this bleak piece.

As one of the rockers put it in SPINAL TAP–What’s wrong with being sexy?

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Yeah it does feel like an ongoing series that, for some reason, we’re being treated to
‘Reminiscences of a Lesbian’

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I suppose she’s just a part of Unherd’s balancing act and she does generate a reaction which is also a part of Unherd’s reason for existence. I must admit to not understanding a large amount of the propaganda and bleating coming from a increasing section of the Western population and I’m not all that bothered about trying to understand it. Apart from the obvious aversion and disgust to male-dominated violence to both sexes (and there are only two) the rest seems to be unimportant in human existence. Although I believe that IT technology application is the driving force and catalyst, I’ve no idea where it all came from but it’s not going anywhere meaningful.

joey brite
joey brite
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Do check out the work of investigative journalist Jennifer Bilek who has been tracking the money behind this all since around 2013: http://the11thhourblog.com

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Personal soapbox, surely?

George Glashan
George Glashan
2 years ago
Reply to  Al M

its on ongoing list of all the groups JB is better than:
1 men
2 other women
3 other feminists
and now 4 other lesbians

yp54797wxn
yp54797wxn
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

The cool thing is you don’t have to read anything you don’t want to. Neat idea, isn’t it?

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  yp54797wxn

Cheers, mate. Thanks for that! I had no idea. I will file it away for future reference.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

UnHerd hates trannies and Bindel provides it with progressive cover for attack.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I enjoy different viewpoints – but we have heard enough from her for awhile. At the end of the day she is just a church lady – a moral scold.

alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Gunner Myrtle

Yes if she were only black she’d be a shoe in for next Archbishop of Canterbury .

Mathilda Eklund
Mathilda Eklund
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Yea. If women could just shut up if they don’t personally are to your liking..

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

Ah, Mathilda, probably a Swede, back again to hector the bad men who find JB boring! Quel dommage that UnHerd is not the feminist utopia you inhabit! Excuse me, Mathilda, but no one has told “women” to shut up. This particular woman is boring, and her writing is horrible, and what little she has to say she has said already. UnHerd should not be a form of therapy for this obviously disturbed woman.

Fredrick Urbanelli
Fredrick Urbanelli
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Yes. She’s a gas bag, jabbering away endlessly about how her position is the one and only one that is correct. Sound and fury, signifying nothing

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I think it was a c0ck up. Freddy was at lunch one day in a noisy restaurant, drink having been taken, and he gets a call on his mobile.
He’s talking to someone’s agent, but owing to background noise, a bad line, and being a bit “over-refreshed”, he misheard and thought he was agreeing to buy 20 articles a year, at 50 quid per, from Julie Burchill.
I’m going to try this myself. I’m going to ring the Fredster one lunchtime, round about the third bottle, and ask if he’d like 20 articles a year from “Martin Aimless”.
“God, yes! I loved The Rachel Papers!”
I’ll then send him 20 articles about visiting the toilet, or something.
It’s a way to get published, I guess.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Redman
Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Don’t read her stuff then!,,Easily sorted!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

But it is interesting to hear all my suspicions of these groups and their fracturing confirmed. It’s a world that is completely unknown to me so it’s handy to know they’re just as daft as all the other righteous activists.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

You do not have to read her stuff,. Some of us actually appreciate the fact that she takes the time and makes the effort to write about issues we are interested in.

Simon Hannaford
Simon Hannaford
2 years ago

One thing this article demonstrates: if you gaze at your navel for long enough it turns into downward spiralling drain.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
2 years ago

This is a rather niche topic I feel.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago

“During the conversation I asked the women if they had a line in the sand that they would not cross …” That line should be a line called ‘consent’. It’s noticeable that neither side seemed to recognise it.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

Subcultures are really weird.

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
2 years ago

Well, I for one, am glad Julie explained to me that Extraordinary General Meeting can be shortened to EGM. Everyday a school day.

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
2 years ago

That’s it, give yourself a pat on the back gal!

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago
Reply to  Benjamin Jones

Thanks, but I was thinking more along the lines of a Whitney

Last edited 2 years ago by Julie Blinde
alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Benjamin Jones

You thought she was the writer of the article too ? Or was I uniquely stupid ?

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
2 years ago

Didn’t these people have jobs to go to?

Josie Bowen
Josie Bowen
2 years ago
Reply to  Katy Hibbert

I wondered that too. I imagined the one with the jeans to be a schoolteacher.

Deborah B
Deborah B
2 years ago

Clearly I am behind the curve. Since when did it become compulsory for a person who prefers to love another particular kind of person to join a group? Can’t they just get on with the loving bit or do they have to sign on the dotted line, pay a subscription and go to meetings? Weird.
What vexes me about the antics in the article is that these humans are clearly still grubbing around at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If they got their minds out of their panties for a moment they might realise there is more to life than sex.

alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Deborah B

Yeah yeah we believe you (especially with the Louise Brooks hairstyle )
Surely the bottom of the hierarchy of needs is the most fun-da-mental

And they want to do everything in a group even sex ,or perhaps they were just aping male gay leather scene .
You must have loads of followers eager to join you ‘behind the curve’ but you probably have a ‘one at a time’ sense of old style decorum .

Last edited 2 years ago by alan Osband
michellefranklin8
michellefranklin8
2 years ago

Damn, I really didn’t expect this level of vitriol in the comments. Triggered! Expecting a faithful dose of cancel culture/crazy wokeness then being forced to endure another human from the skinny ends of the distribution curve. As if you’re aren’t forced to enough with the woke crowd!

There’s plenty of articles to supply that fix – I like those too, but I’m thankful this website isn’t a negative image of woke culture, matching it’s every curve in perfect opposition. I hope this website doesn’t cave to the reactionaries and keeps it’s high-openness/curious/xenophilic readers happy by continuing to show fascinating realities of subgroups of people we wouldn’t otherwise hear about.
Hope for more in this area. Those wanting a straight diet of anti- progressive memes have plenty of places to go for this in conservative media.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I agree


Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
2 years ago

The author writes what she knows and knows about what she writes, but impartial, dispassionate ? I think not, and that colours my perception of her articles. In short, unfortunately, I don’t trust her.

Andy Martin
Andy Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

Why should she?
It would be impossible for Julie Bindle to be impartial or dispassionate on issues that have personally affected her so much.

Andy Martin
Andy Martin
2 years ago

Very good comment Michelle, I was going to post something similar but you expressed it far better than I could.
I shall add that I always find Julie’s articles informative and worth reading

Last edited 2 years ago by Andy Martin
John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“pornography is the theory; rape is the practice”

This would be a “theory” almost never put into practice, then. Almost no porn users are rapists. The link is spurious to the point of being risible.

“Buying in to the misogynistic myths that women love to be hurt and humiliated during sex — that pain is erotic; that pleasure can be derived from the steel-capped boot on the neck — is nothing short of capitulating to patriarchy.”

Why is it that everything on the Left becomes a tribal competition? Why are these weird people so completely incapable of admitting to the existence of context, complexity and nuance? On this specific issue, why is it not possible to admit that some women get off on this sort of thing, but that it is also possible for women to be abused against their will due to emotional ensnarement or merely just unfortunate misunderstanding? Everyone goes through a process of self-discovery as they mature, and inevitably try things for the first time only to discover that it is not for them: is every instance of this type proof that the woman in question has been abused?

Feminism in my view does perform the useful role of concealing the puritanical instinct in some women, yes. Not all of them or even many of them, just some. Other feminists are completely on target when they observe that certain sexual practices are indeed exploitative, for instance the manner in which the porn industry gets almost all its female actors on board as soon as they are legal which is, not coincidentally, also just when they are naive enough not to understand the full implications for their future lives.

The problem with these issues is that there’s a some-do-some-don’t layer of uncertainty that is inseparable from these complex issues and which renders valueless the typically left-wing approach of ideological categorisation that is all too evident in the prose that constitutes the article above.
The author, specifically, refuses to even admit that no matter how much certain sexual practices may suggest suppression of female freedom and agency, their confiscation on ideological grounds achieves the same thing. Either side of that decision results in women being denied their agency, but in the middle does sit a reality where women who would make such choices freely are free to actually make them.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

The only solace to be drawn from this catatonically boring, internecine bilge is that shockingly UnHerd has not commissioned an article from a “feminist writer” intended solely to demonize men – contrary to its usual practice nowadays.
I shall enjoy this brief respite from the normally relentless barrage.

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 years ago

…I have no desire to ban any version of male, female or alternative sexuality, provided it involves mutually agreed activities between consenting and properly informed adults. But I do rather think that there is some merit in behaving in such a way as to “not frighten the horses”…keeping our more recondite desires strictly behind closed doors…and not demanding the right to discuss them graphically and at length in public…
…which is not just in bad taste, but also really…really…boring..!

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Errr – is JB publishing these pieces to prevent someone else coming along and pointing out that she has a long history of bigotry and dogmatism against people who don’t agree with her? Getting her rationalisation in first.

joey brite
joey brite
2 years ago

As an American lesbian who was engaged in both sides of the debate of what Ms. Bindle described of the lesbian community back in the ’80s, San Francisco lesbian culture DID have similar in-fighting as the lesbians experienced in the U.K. However, the few who did partake in more extreme physical sexual acts were only a handful, and they were not long-lived. One of the lesbians at the forefront of the continual effort to push more violent activities (can we say, ‘bloodletting’?!) in public and private was also a celebrated author (not going to name her), and she had a small group of sycophants who would basically do her bidding. When this author (today calling herself by the made-up identity of ‘bisexual transman’) managed to pull off an orchestrated home invasion involving imprisoning, sexually abusing, and terrorizing with using a branding iron of a Swastika on the back of the unwilling lesbian who was also Jewish, the word got out and the whole S&M scene went very quiet. No charges were ever pressed and that author and her cronies only suffered ostracization for a minor period of time. But that incident occurred about 2 years into the cultural revolution that created a lesbian S&M organization called Samois, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samois and helped to drive a nail into the coffin of the dying S&M scene.
The author has not (thankfully) been active for a few years now, but the very real memory of how vicious the divide became and the absolutely horrific rhetoric that abounded was all designed to shut down any real conversation of how we as lesbians could confront the concept of ‘the male gaze’ that affected all of us. Some of us were involved in exploring a kind of lesbian erotica – re-inventing or re-discovering what a female gaze could look like. There were a small number of us all up-and-down the west coast of California who teamed up to create still imagery and films to promote more healthy ways of viewing and participating/celebrating sex between women. I myself created a poster and small postcard of an image of two women engaged in what I deemed to be a simple kiss. The image showed one woman wearing a leather wristband and vest laying atop another woman on a carpet and holding one wrist down against the floor of the woman laying underneath. There were two women’s bookstores back then – one in San Francisco, the other in Oakland across the bay. Although both bookstores accepted it as part of their merchandise, complaints arose at one of them and they pulled the merch down and branded it as ‘Promoting Sado-Masochism’ and therefore ‘anti-feminist’. The other bookstore sold the image aplenty, ordered more from me, and heralded it as one of their top sellers after their books. When I tried to hold a discussion about these opposing experiences, the discussion was shut down by so-called ‘feminists’ who were now opposed to anything I did altogether. Even one of the self-defense classes I was teaching was picketed by two of those who organized against the discussion.
All of this I write to say that not much has changed in the women’s community with lesbians being the most marginalized within it. We eat each other alive and allow straight women to run over us with the bus of ignorance in their righteous endeavor to be the ‘leaders’ of a movement that even Bindle seems to never have understood fully. Until we all embrace the concept of FREE SPEECH, we will continue to play the blame game and allow those who hate us to giggle with delight in our tiny mental bubble of self-repression.

Last edited 2 years ago by joey brite
Andy Martin
Andy Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  joey brite

Very informative and expands a great deal on Julie’s article.
Thanks Joey!

mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago

Around 1977 the NME ran a comic strip where the Child Molesters Against the Nazis were subject to a counter-protest by the Disturbed and Violent Persons Against Practically Everyone. The article above is no more serious but much less amusing.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

“
they painted us as dull and sexless, dismissing us as joyless prudes”
Well, since you mention it


David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

‘… investigative journalist …’ How funny.

Mathilda Eklund
Mathilda Eklund
2 years ago

As a difference to most here I quite enjoy some obscure lesbian history! Thank you!

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

If you want some obscure historical lesbianism there’s always The Story of O.
The femina zi rage when it was revealed that it really was written by an actual XX woman!
The real question, given what goes on in it, is why it wasn’t called The Story of A, but that’s another topic.

alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I always wanted to be Sir Stephen in the way some men want to be Cary Grant .

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Mathilda, think you have just blown your cover. Clearly you are really a man 🙂

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

>In my view, the S&M that the Rebel Dykes celebrated was simply a re-enforcement of the way violent men treat women.
The real issue here was that feminist theory had adopted the idea that S&M was (or was symbolic of) patriarchal oppression and violence against women. The discovery that women were into it too – and lesbian women especially – was a bit of a fly in the ointment.
According to the theory, lesbian sex should have been free of all such power dynamics.
What followed were the usual twistings and turnings aimed at keeping the theory intact in spite of contradictory evidence.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
2 years ago

I once had a girlfriend (Italian) who would regularly try and bait me into hitting or hurting her, for the sexual thrill. Unfortunately for her, and fortunately for me, I’m British (Yeh, I know, it was thirty years ago, things might have changed a bit since then) Some women, unfortunately do seem to like being hit, as inconvenient a truth as that might be.
“the management committee was an all-white group”
I’m not sure why this is deemed relevant, excepting that the opposing groups tried to use identity politics to “claim more credibility and ‘right to speak’” which seems to be exactly the same tactic the author is herself using, having dis’d it in others.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tom Lewis
J P
J P
2 years ago

What a load of self-absorbed tripe. Most of us are entirely comfortable with lesbian, homosexual, trans, wear what you want, be who you want and are. Forcing a pointless argument about nothing is really irritating. People can do what they want sexually behind closed doors. If you want to keep on marginalising groups, keep writing this sort of rubbish.

Last edited 2 years ago by J P
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  J P

The image from Spartacus always comes to mind. “Persecute me”. And if no one can actually be bothered to do any persecuting then it has to be invented. Because the alternative is far worse for attention seekers of all stripes. Tolerant indifference.

Christina Dalcher
Christina Dalcher
2 years ago

The operative word in this piece is “tribe.” That pretty much says it all.

M Harries
M Harries
2 years ago

“ Buying in to the misogynistic myths that women love to be hurt and humiliated during sex”

> is it not the case that some men like to be humiliated during sex? Why are you denying women equal right to have such proclivities? Erm
 try it, you’ll like it?
😉

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

I had to delete my post, and re-post it above – as the ‘awaiting for approval’ ghost in the machine had blocked my post for using the word D**e, even though I had cut and pasted it…… so used the handy ** to avoid offending anyone’s decency

Last edited 2 years ago by Galeti Tavas
stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yes, it’s OK for the columnists to use a variety of offensive (to some) words and terms but not for us subscribers. What’s the thinking on this Freddie?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

At a guess, the comment software is a bought-in add-on, and the custom version of it, that doesn’t censor the real surname of Cressida Copper, or the real first name of that bloke who was in Mary Poppins, costs more.

Andy Martin
Andy Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Assuming you are reading this, if the following get through then we may get some insight into how the ghost evaluates words in subscriber posts.
Tonight we join Mike Hunt in conversation with Peter Knight on the topic of whether or no it is possible to have a silent ‘p’ in psalm as one can in bath
Tonight we join Roger Boyes in his courageous expose in probing the Vienna Boy’s choir scandal.
we interview the brave young girl who while facing a drunken pervert who was trying to block her passage on a narrow cliff top walk, managed to toss him off.
according to the bloke who plays the French horn, playing the flight of the bumble bee is a doddle – once you’ve got your fingers round the hard parts, you can get the stickiest passages licked.
actually, I thought Julie’s article was interesting and I’ve always admired her for her stances on violence against women.
Also she can’t go back to the Guardian because she spoke out and mentioned the religion / ethnicity involved in the M——m
rape grooming gangs.
Later edit:
It seems the ghost is oblivious to, or permits smutty double entendres.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andy Martin
Mike Smith
Mike Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Andy Martin

You passed the test.
I was watching a video about underground train stations on YouTube last night and YouTube auto beeped out the C**k in C**kfosters tube station’s name. Amusingly Puritan!

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

I’m worried about what happens when this censorship starts to infect satnavs.
It will become literally impossible to drive from Pen istone to Scun thorpe.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

According to Google Maps, it takes 2.40 hours to drive from the Austrian village Fu cking to Mount W ank in Bavaria.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I can assure you that, many a squaddie, on skiing R&R in Bavaria, has stopped by the village sign post to be photographed acting out the villages namesake.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

In respect of Scunthorpe, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Andy Martin

More tea vicar?

Andy Martin
Andy Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

In the Martin household the usual response to someone who breaks wind.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 years ago
Reply to  Andy Martin

And the Guardianistas are relentlessly pro-trans, the ideology and the actual people,who believe they’re ” in the wrong body”

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Happens to me when I comment on articles by Ms Ditum.
Even the slightest criticism provokes the same response.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

What would they do if there was mention of the drainage channels of The Netherlands and The Wash? They caught me out on the word “but” with 2 Ts. their Lexicon needs to be expanded and their Algorithms refined.

alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago

Even the blessed Julie Burchill’s book Sugar (or was it Sweetie) had lesbian spanking scenes. Are you saying they were unrealistic because women don’t like that kind of thing? Or just that women shouldn’t like that kind of thing ?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  alan Osband

The latter. Women need Julie Bindel to tell what they may and may not, and do and do not, enjoy.
In my not especially wide experience, wanting to be spanked is a fairly common female kink. I say this because I’ve probably had an average number of partners but about 10% of them were into this. It does nothing for me, so it’s not like I egged any of them on; they got there all by themselves.
There’s another practice Julie would disapprove of that all German-speaking women I have encountered unfailingly request. I imagine she’d refuse to believe me or would insist that both kinks were brought about by the malign influence of patriarchy.

alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Totally. And not to take pleasure in their enjoyment seems a bit of a waste of malign influence

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago
Reply to  alan Osband

Not really.
A lot of women are more masculine than men

alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

I was referring to John’s dutiful application to meeting the needs of the 10 per cent .

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Oh do tell, bitte

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Yes, I was also wondering about the identity of that practice that all German-speaking women desire. Jawohl, bitte tell us, Mein Herr Redman!

Last edited 2 years ago by Tom Krehbiel
alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Krehbiel

Check out Rojak having sex with the German maid Ruta in Norman Mailer’s American Dream .
Nothing very kinky , just normal a**l sex .At least that’s my best guess

alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Is this professional experience ?

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago
Reply to  alan Osband

No. Call it disappointment

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

You are perhaps joking, but many feminists did indeed believe that such practices were brought about by the patriarchy. That lesbian women were into them too was initially met with denial. Doubtless the real reason for this internecine spat.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I think it may be more than 10%. Others may be shy, even embarrassed about admitting their proclivities, especially to a man for whom “It does nothing”. And the same for men to whom Julie Blinde alludes.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

My black cat loved being spanked. My orange one liked it up to a point, but was a tad circumspect.

alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  alan Osband

Unlike John I wouldn’t spank a woman out of pure altruism . So very likely

alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  alan Osband

Impure altruism ?

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago
Reply to  alan Osband

Sounds good to me

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

the sexual libertarian movement that inspired much of the Rebel d**e standpoint was rooted in French post-structuralism — hardly a topic for down The Dog and Duck.
So they weren’t just into S&M then? Just misled by reading the wrong French Theorists.

stephen_ford59
stephen_ford59
2 years ago

If I was to say that what gay sex is disgusting, against nature, forbidden in the Bible and that people who do it should “cured” I would, rightly, be condemned.
Now substitute S&M for gay sex and some feminist tract about the Patriarchy and Toxic Masculinity for the Bible and you have pretty much what Julie Bindel is saying in this article.
I suggest that Ms Bindel is falling into the trap of thinking that if some form of sexuality is something that she finds icky and generally distasteful, it must be bad simply because that’s how it feels to her, and if it is bad it must therefore be banned and those indulging in it re-educated so as not to do it. It is exactly that kind of thinking that led to past oppression of gay people.
She also makes a crude feminist assumption that violence is an inherently male trait, S&M is an example of such violence and therefore, per se, S&M must be an example of so-called toxic masculinity. This, quite frankly, is as bigoted a view as those quoting the Bible as a reason for oppressing gay people.
Of course S&M on the face of it isn’t “nice”, but then many aspects of human sexuality aren’t “nice”. She needs to understand that some people of all genders and sexual orientation are turned on by some things that aren’t nice. Unfortunately, just as gay people are only turned on by people of their own gender and cannot change this, people who are turned on by “not nice” things cannot change this either.
A caveat is, of course, that we need to draw a limit against things that are non-consensual do lasting harm. But, provided that S&M practices are carried out within the principles of consent and non-harm, there should no objection to it.

Ian Cooper
Ian Cooper
2 years ago

Is there any other word than ‘decadence’ to name what Julie Bindel describes? Mary Whitehouse might have said, ‘I told you so.’

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

I think we need to hear from Nick Griffin

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

Probably

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago

Imagine philately with such attitudes and discord.

Michael O'Donnell
Michael O'Donnell
2 years ago

Factionalism is the curse of modern society

Annie Nonimouse
Annie Nonimouse
2 years ago

I had no idea this form of dress was considered to be a uniform. I loved my black leather biker jacket, the dog chains, black jeans, studded belts, and black boots, in the early 90’s. I had no idea I was making a statement about sexuality or my sexual proclivities. Just loved the look.
Thanks for your tireless work Julie. Perhaps one day ‘lesbian’ will no longer mean pornography to such a large part of the population.

Last edited 2 years ago by Annie Nonimouse