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The corruption of the feminist library Trans activists are excluding women from history

Learn your history (Barbara Alper/Getty Images)


April 11, 2022   5 mins

It was a feminist bookstore that led me to the Women’s Liberation Movement. I was a shy 17-year-old, in Leeds, in 1979. I nervously opened the door of the shabby shop front, which had posters of Audre Lorde and Kate Millett in the window. Inside, a noticeboard advertised rooms in squats and co-ops, and information about social and political gatherings. Feminist groups would often meet there after closing time: we planned the revolution in the back rooms, surrounded by dusty second-hand novels and placards from Reclaim the Night demonstrations.

It was the same in many towns and cities. During the early days of second-wave feminism, in the late Sixties and throughout the Seventies, women’s libraries cropped up, usually housed in the corner of an alternative bookstore. The first one in North America, Minneapolis’s Amazon Bookstore, opened in 1970 on the porch of a commune. At one time, there were over 150 feminist libraries on the continent, mostly run by volunteers, providing resources key to the movement. Today, partly because of a different kind of Amazon, they have almost all closed down.

One feminist library that has survived and thrived is London’s. Founded in 1975, for decades it has been a valuable resource for historians, social scientists, journalists and, most importantly, young feminists who wish to learn their history. Countless women have benefitted from it. I myself have spent days there, digging up details of old campaigns for articles and research projects.

But now, it is threatened — by people who call themselves feminists but are in fact the opposite. Four years ago, the library trustees — all older feminists who had been involved for many years — decided to expand the collective and actively recruit young women to join. Unfortunately, many of those who came forward were hostile to the type of feminism that prioritises women, which was soon displaced by trans activism.

An early sign that things were going wrong came in September 2019. The Feminist Library declined to offer a stall to FiLiA — a female-led, feminist organisation that hosts an annual international conference for women — at one of their events. FiLiA was told that the library’s new “Community Policy” would not allow FiLiA on their premises. It’s worth mentioning, here, that FiLiA has made it clear that women — and women-only spaces — come first in the feminist movement, and the organisation has been vocal in public and on its website about its rejection of extreme transgender ideology.

Then on the 28th January 2021, the Library published a statement on transphobia and accountability. Among a load of virtue-signalling waffle, the statement resolved “not to feature trans-exclusionary groups on our panels or other events at the Library or allow them to book the Library for their own events”. Despite the tradition of the library being women-only, this meant that those who believe in women-only spaces, and sex-based rights, were banned from accessing books and collections. Today, women have even been stopped from meeting on library premises if they don’t believe that “trans women are women”.

The library is now run by women hostile to feminists. Lola Olufemi, who was appointed Volunteer Coordinator at the end of 2019, was instrumental in de-platforming the historian Selina Todd at the 50th Anniversary of the first Women’s Liberation conference in February 2020 — an event that Todd helped organise. That same month, FiLiA attempted to open a dialogue with the Library, asking them for a meeting and voicing the concerns of their members. They felt the trustees should be ensuring the resource was available to those who need it; feminist librarians should not be excluding women.

“The biggest trick that patriarchy pulled is to put distance and barriers between women and to destroy the possibility of solidarity,” Lisa Marie Taylor, CEO of FiLiA, told me. “The new guard at the Feminist Library are doing this. They are blocking women from accessing our history and our language. They are literally stealing our words from us, and there’s no accountability. After 47 years, I’m sad to say that it is at existential risk.”

The library has responded to some of the many letters of complaint they have received from feminists, but very curtly. There has been no meaningful engagement with criticism. They have also issued a statement, saying that they are going to “review” their collections. What does this mean for the books, the textiles, the historic items in their care? Will anything that doesn’t conform to the ideas of trans activists be put under lock and key in the Restricted Section? Or worse, thrown away?

London’s is not the only feminist library threatened by trans activists. In February 2017, the Vancouver Women’s Library opened its doors. The city has a vibrant feminist movement, which mainly focuses on campaigns to end male violence. At its opening event, women gathered to celebrate. They were met by very aggressive protesters who tried to block them from entering the building.

The crowd included several men identifying as trans women or “sex workers”, shouting things like, “Take SWERF and TERF books off the shelf”. Red wine was thrown over the feminist posters on the walls. The protesters began lighting cigarettes in the non-smoking building and accused women of “violence” for the crime of running a feminist library. Books were damaged, items were stolen, and the fire alarm pulled. The volunteers had to pay $500 to the owner of the building. Despite all the hostility, those who wrecked the Vancouver Women’s Library claimed to be progressives. They were, in fact, misogynists.

The row that broke out at Glasgow Women’s Library in 2020 was less dramatic. Trans rights activists held a training day, led by two men, at the publicly-funded venue. They then published a statement saying that they only accept bookings from organisations and individuals that “align with our values”. Those values, of course, allow men to invade women’s spaces: the Library subsequently refused access to a women’s group for the crime of thinking that men can’t become women.

Claire Heuchan, a feminist writer and Chair of the Labrys Lit lesbian book group, volunteered with the Glasgow library for five years. Her love for the institution was evident when we spoke. “Libraries foster campaigns outside of the library and it is a connection to past campaigns too, so women don’t need to reinvent the wheel in their activism. Reading women’s stories and theories freed me from the pale, male stale curriculum I learned about in school, and led me to celebrate women’s voices. And it was for free.”

But it would appear that a number of feminists that used to be regulars at the library no longer feel welcome. As Linda (I’ve changed her name) told me: “The library used to be a sanctuary, but I don’t feel comfortable going now since all the spaces advertised as women only are mixed-sex and many former friends have ostracised me for supporting single sex spaces for women.”

Fortunately, there are a number of women resisting this hijacking of feminist values. Bec Wonders is a currently a feminist researcher at the Glasgow School of Art and co-founder of Vancouver Women’s Library. She is horrified at the way that women are being excluded from our own movement. “It is so anti-intellectual, and blatantly insulting to the ability of women to think for ourselves. It goes against the aim of empowering women to make up our own minds.”

Like me, Bec sees feminist libraries as not just a passive place where knowledge is stored and catalogued, but also a space where plans are made. Bec has lost all hope for the Feminist Library in London. She suggested that women should be storing things at home: emails, online conversations, pamphlets, publications — all the things that women in 50 years’ time will want to see. “We all need to be archivists,” she says.

What a tragedy, though, that we can no longer trust a collective to store these resources. Any movement whose goal is the destruction of women’s spaces, including feminist libraries, is not feminism; it undermines everything feminism has built. Gail Chester, who is one of the library’s founders and remains a trustee, appears to have been ostracised by the new guard for being committed to women-only spaces and the literature produced by early pioneers of the movement. She is the only person involved in the library willing to provide a comment for this article.

“As a founder of the feminist library,” says Chester, “what I want is an anti-sectarian library that is accessible to everybody, where debate and dialogue are welcome, and where no feminist publications are censored.” It doesn’t seem much to ask.


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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Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago

I’m getting a little tired of the same article being repeated.
Liberalism seeks to liberate people — from everything. If it stops liberating, it dies. It has liberated people from class, race, religion, sex, and now it has moved on to biology. It isn’t that there was “good liberalism” until the 90’s, which morphed into “bad wokeness”; it was baked into the cake at the Enlightenment. Nietzsche told us this would happen 150 years ago. Deenen and Legutko and Cass have all documented it’s arrival extensively. We all seen the outcome repeatedly today. No one should be surprised by it anymore.
Enough of the “look at the latest crazy stuff being done by the radical Left; aren’t they ridiculous?” Yes! They are! And they keep winning. Stop pointing out their absurdities and start giving me strategies for how to defeat them.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
2 years ago

Unfortunately we won’t get any help from Julie. She’s firmly on that side, and is only here (and at The Spectator) because all the places she used to publish in have moved even more leftward.

Last edited 2 years ago by Derek Smith
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

Quite a perceptive comment, actually. One version I saw had liberalism start as the rebellion of the younger sons, who wanted a fair share in the power and privilege of the eldest sons and the patriarchs. And were extremely put out when they found that the lower classes and the women actually wanted *them* to give up some of *their* privileges. The question is: where do we stop? Do you want to go back to the 1990’s? the 1950’s? the 1850’s? If we are tired of the permanent and endless liberating, what stable structure do we want to replace it with? I, too, long for better strategies. But I also think we could do with some clear strategic goals.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Interesting comments.
There’s no going backwards, we can only go forward. It seems to me there are only two ways to go :
The authoritarian way – involving mass propaganda, punishment of dissent and censorship, as used during the Reformation in the 16th century, and in Russia and China during the 20th. This is already being used here in a softly softly manner but in the wrong direction it seems.
The reasonable way – share knowledge as much as possible, which is already happening, thank goodness for the internet on that front, eg, groups on Reddit and Youtube teaching and learning Latin and Greek, new alternative colleges, even UnHerd. Argue calmly and persistently whenever necessary. Use the law as it stands if faced with injustice. Campaign to change bad law, eg, the Equality Act 2010. Never use devious methods.
The Enlightenment was not all bad by any means; classical humanism, classic liberalism, reason, logic, true Art, will either overcome the extremes we are faced with or they won’t. I think they will.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

One can but hope. But I think reason, logic and shared knowledge will not be enough to get us out from under one dilemma. For a shared culture you need some kind of shared norms. That requires some kind of (social) enforcement mechanisms. Even if you can be reasonably tolerant about the enforcement, those who happen to fit well with those norms will prosper, and those who find it hard to fit in will lose out. Do we decide we live in a mainly heterosexual society, with some minorities, or do we teach our children that everybody is in principle non-binary and they have to sort out their own individual roles one by one? Can you make cartoons of The Prophet, can you use a word beginning with N in non-insulting contexts, or are both taboo for all, as they are for specific groups? Do we celebrate Galton, Pearson and Fischer as the pioneers and founders of statistis, or do we bury their memory and strew the grave with salt because they were evil eugenicists? Do we remember Sir Thomas Picton as a war hero, or curse him as an evil oppressor? Whichever choice we make we leave somebody marginalised. And if we refuse to choose the only alternative is to split up in separate societies.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I think you’ve added a necessary refinement to my comment, in other words if what I have said is correct, THEN we need to address the questions you have asked and get down to the goals, as it were. But perhaps the goals need to remain a bit loose otherwise we will be drawn down too authoritarian a route, with the attendant danger of rebellion. All of us together create the future one way or the other, either with war or consensus, usually both if I’m honest.
From a female point of view my worry about the situation as it stands is that it is so hostile with both sides trying to eliminate each other. I strongly doubt whether that can achieve a good result. That is why my strategies are as they are. There may well be other strategies that I’ve not thought of.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

From a female point of view my worry about the situation as it stands is that it is so hostile with both sides trying to eliminate each other. I strongly doubt whether that can achieve a good result.

From a male point of view I very much agree with that.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

I would agree, Claire, that one must be careful when elevating anything else above “individual rights”. The risk of authoritarianism is very real.

The liberalism ship has sailed though. We already have an illiberal regime vying for control (and largely in control) of our institutions today. Wokeness elevates “group identity outcomes” above “individual autonomy”; as such it not liberal anymore at all.

The only question is what the rest of us will elevate to fight that. I propose some form of “the common good”, but I’m open to others. But whatever it is must be what R.R. Reno calls a “strong god”, which individual autonomy is not. That’s why it collapsed in the face of postmodernism.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brian Villanueva
Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

Eric Kaufman has an interesting short on this over in The Post today.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Women are not trying to get rid of transgendered people. If you think that, you are part of the problem. What we want is to retain our safe spaces and rights that we fought long and hard for, as did our mothers, grannies abd in some cases, great grannies, without biological men telling us we are wrong and they have actually changed sex.
I have been friends with 2 transsexual ( deliberate use of that word) for more than 50 years. My mother worked with them and introduced them to our family. Both are biological men who present as women, although Ray as gone back to being Roy in his old age, because as a gay man in the Bible Belt in the 60s he was pushed to become “trans” and wants to at least try to be true to himself for a short time.
My point is that even these two transsexual people have been ostricized by what should be their community simply because they tell the truth, transwomen are not women, they are biological men who present as women and no amount of surgery or hormones will ever make them women. Both have supported me in my fight for women’s equality as well as equality and human rights for minorities, which are important to me as a socialist.
It is time to pin your colours to a mast, abd I know which mast I am picking in terms of equality, human rights and inclusion.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

You have seriously misunderstood my comment which is more general than particular, ie, I was referring to “the Left” Brian Villaneuva refers to in his original comment. A bit of an obsolete term really, but fairly understandable for most, it includes the woke, neo-marxists, feminists, LGBTQ activists, CRT etc.
As I’ve said before I support people like Kathleen Stock and Maya Forstater out of concern for free speech, academic freedom and common sense not because they are women, I supported Harry Miller and Nigel Biggar just as much.
I object to trans ideology on the basis that their demands are undermining free speech and our Common Law by insisting a lie is a truth, which is untenable in a free society.
As for being part of “the problem”, we all are. There has never been a time when humans have not grappled with each other over one thing or another since The Fall. We can at least try and do it in a way that is reasonable and civil. Even while guns and missiles roar somewhere else.
Just sticking my colours to the mast (phallic as that symbol may be).

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Yes! This is the heart of why “maximal individual autonomy” produces societal disintegration. Shared norms = culture, which no society can exist without. Liberalism is an anti-culture.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I don’t want to go back to a particular point in time. I want to change the underlying philosophy.

Liberalism promotes “individual autonomy” as its highest good. It is the philosophy of the sovereign individual. Mill’s “my rights end at your nose” metaphor devolves into:
1) an inability to maintain any societal standards, since all must be ceded to the primacy of individual autonomy, and
2) a massive state that must police how rights and noses intersect. (Now that “words are violence”, this is especially important.)

The solution isn’t to “go back to a better time”. Liberalism displaced Medieval Christianity; you’re not going back to that — Sohab Amari’s delusions aside. The only way to fight a bad philosophy is with a rival (and hopefully better) philosophy. You must elevate something else to primacy over “individual autonomy”. I believe that should be “the common good”, as understood by such diverse philosophers as Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Abu al-Ghazali, Victor Frankl, and Alistair Macintyre. Obviously elevating something else above “individual rights” carries risks of devolving into an authoritarian, quasi-theocratic state, but where exactly do you think liberalism is taking us now?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

By 1914 Liberalism had come to mean people undertaking dirty and dangerous work to enable affluent effete people keeping their comfortable life divorced from brutal realities. Asquith was a perfect example of a Liberal incapable of defending this country from an aggressor, in this case the Prussian Junkers.
Imagine if Liberals were forced to police inner city areas and protect them from organised crime or that that matter, chaotic and disorganised crime.
Rather than national service perhaps we ought to have Police Service where those in the top 10 % income bracket of a country are forced to police inner city areas for say two years . How many would remain Liberals?

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Asquith was obsessed by the voluptuous body of the young Venetia Stanley. Today we would describe him as a pervert, or even a wannabe Jimmy Savil.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Charles, I was thinking more of liberalism’s social components than its economic ones, but you’re correct that they go hand in hand. The same philosophy that says “my body, my choice” also says “my money, my choice”. We call one of them progressive and the other libertarian, but they both derive from Enlightenment liberalism.

Like most Americans, my post-1776 British history is rusty. I know very little about PM Asquith. Arnaud calls him a pervert below, and while I can’t evaluate the veracity of that claim, I will say that the claim itself is fundamentally illiberal. Perversion is impossible unless there is shared agreement on the definition of acceptable sexual behavior. Making the charge implies a standard for “good” beyond liberalism’s “maximal individual autonomy”. Arnaud is making my own case for me even though I don’t think he wants to.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brian Villanueva
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

What I am saying is that Liberals / Socialists can afford to live away from the poverty and violence their policies create. I paraphrase G Orwell.
A landowner who grows up on the estate actually lives with people from all backgrounds from neighbouring landowners to poachers and bare knuckle boxers and often play for the village cricket team.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

The idea of a feudal lord having closer contact to deplorables than many of our modern elites is an interesting concept. He at least saw the serfs when he went anywhere. Courtesy of Zoom, Doordash, and Amazon, the lords of our castles (gated communities) need never leave their keeps.
If I were a better writer or artist, I could do something with that. Alas, I am not.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago

Brian, Asquith’s perversion came at precisely the time of the greatest crisis ever faced by the British Empire, the crisis of August 1914. In the event he failed miserably, and thus was the progenitor of our ultimate, catastrophic decline.
However returning to your original point, Ancient Rome was obsessed by the idea of ‘liberty’ but managed to produce a system of privileges and obligations that was unsurpassed until the modern era. The ‘Enlightenment’ and the previous, so called Renaissance were just rather feeble attempts to recapture the glory of Rome. Didn’t Rousseau put it rather well when he said “Why was I not born a Roman”?

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

I don’t think so. Rome, Greece, Han China, the Franks, Persians, the Anglo-Saxons… these all had clear cultural beliefs of what “good” meant, and believed that a king’s role was to promote goodness and virtue, however they defined it.

The Church extends that concept after Rome’s fall; between them and the Ottomans, most of the world then lives under theological, confessional states at the time of the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment is a distinct break with that. It replaces govt dedicated to “promote what society deems good” with “promote what each person deems good”. While small to start with (because of 1700 years of shared Christian inertia, which the Enlighteners called “natural law”) the difference is has grown into a chasm after the succeeding 300 years.

There’s a great book you would probably argue with but enjoy (I did both). The Unintended Reformation. starts a little weak and eggheadish, but the last half is all about how the ideas of the Reformation and Enlightenment have carried forward to today.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I actually think some form of National Service for all young people might part of the answer. I still think I learned a lot about the real world working in factories and as a labourer with people I wouldn’t normally have met. National Service would o that a well.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Gunner Myrtle

I think a non military type with plenty of fitness training, including long marches, assault courses, climbing and out door sports needs to be examined.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  Gunner Myrtle

A mandatory national service program can work to promote a shared cultural standard, but it can’t establish that standard. Right now, any national service program would likely promote wokeness (look at what’s happening with the military.)

Israel and Switzerland likely have the two most successful mandatory service programs in the world (in their cases, largely military). They undoubtedly promote culture cohesion, but only because both countries have a strong historical culture they are already attached to.

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
2 years ago
Reply to  Gunner Myrtle

The basic concept I’ll admit i have a fondness for. I would just say it should be non- military. The military needs to stay a professional organization of volunteers. But I think there are a lot of possibilities for something like this in the civilian world. I kind of think of some of the programs from the great depression, or even Germany’s alternative to military conscription. Could have the basic effect without the cost and loss of military effectiveness of conscription (which Putin has done us a solid recently by reminding us of its negative real world consequences).

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
2 years ago

We have a concept of the common good trumping individual rights. It’s lately being called diversity, equity, and inclusion. In the past it was just caked socialism. It’s been kind of a disaster for most, to be honest. Individual rights are to protect against this group morality, because in that concept everyone is just a bit guilty of somehow offending the group or the common good. By focusing on individual rights, you protect each person, which protects the group. There’s a reason most of the great crimes against humanity happened in states with little or no concept of individual rights, and its because the common good concept in many ways justifies these acts, makes the victims somehow responsible for offending the larger group.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
2 years ago

You’re a bit vague here; are you saying that everything that has happened in society since the Enlightenment has been a mistake? That’s a pretty radical position.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

See my comment above. The Enlightenment brought about many amazing things, both in terms of individual rights, and the resulting economic and technological boom the releasing of those rights created. (19th century dentistry anyone?)
However, a society built on nothing but “maximal individual autonomy” is not stable. It insists on destroying all shared culture and bonds in the name of individual liberation. A functional society must have some sense of “the common good”, and not be afraid to implement what is seen as “good”, in some cases with the force of law. The “woke” realize this; theirs’ is an illiberal society which elevates “group identity outcomes” as its new highest good.
So, the short answer to your question is: technologically and economically, no; philosophically, yes. Whether that’s a tenable combination in the real world is what I’m looking for help with.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brian Villanueva
ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago

It ought to be mandatory for anyone seeking public office to have obtained a good degree* in “Greats” at one of our more prestigious Universities.
PPE is a waste of time, ideal for ‘bluffers’ who lack depth, and have a short attention span.

(*2/1 and above.)

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

How about passing out from Sandhurst or Dartmouth, followed by exemplary military service? Or, indeed, staring one’s own business and building it up?

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Al M

Yes entirely agree with both those ideas.
In fact we have to look no further than Ancient Rome for the supreme example of to how to select people for government in either a Senatorial or Equestrian career.

Last edited 2 years ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago

I want to thank everyone who responded to this thread. This is the most enlightening (no pun intended) conversation I’ve had on this subject for a while. I am not a particularly skilled writer, so usually just getting people to understand my point is hard. All of you got it, and even those who don’t fully agree really engaged.

Unherd is a great place not only because of good writers, but because of good readers too. Thanks.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago

What is your point? Like Julie, I discovered feminism for myself through women only bookshops and women’sibrqries and was encouraged by my grannies, their sisters and my parents ( yes, both mum and dad) to support other women fighting for women’s rights. I too am sickened by this desparate need by younger women to be seen as “hip and happening” by including so many biological men presenting as women. When sense prevails, they should be embarrassed by their “innocence” and how they bowed to patriarchy not commonsense. Instead of being yet another man to browbeat Julie, how about you actually apply brain to the issues and just maybe offer support to the women round you (if you know any) who are fighting to keep women only spaces safe for a those women who need them.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

“Reading women’s stories and theories freed me from the pale, male stale curriculum I learned about in school”
I want to support Bindel and her colleagues, but when they evince the Unholy Trinity of racism, sexism, and ageism, I’m not so keen.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

A bit ironic that Bindel complains about a ‘stale curriculum’ as she stands in the way of a new generation of feminists.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

She is expressing her personal experiences. The many critical and dismissive comments by men here are really just proving her point. What would be helpful to many feminists is if more men could try to understand their experiences instead of putting them down. Otherwise we are stuck in Catch 22 and this isn’t a healing place to be.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

There is no excuse for “pale, male, and stale”. It is racist, sexist, and ageist, and I am effing well going to say so. When Julie Bindel learns to cut out the bigotry, I will be right behind her in her confrontation with trans extremism. Until then, not so much.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

And what would be helpful to us men is if feminists stop putting us down with critical and dismissive comments. Otherwise, we’ll just return insult for insult. Or do you actually think that blaming the behavior of *women* on some likely fanciful patriarchy isn’t an attack on males? Tolerance is a two-way street, Helen.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Krehbiel

Exactly.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago

Whenever I see the phrase ‘align with our values’ nowadays, I shudder. It means a monolithic set of values that’s inherently exclusionary. Exclusion in the name of inclusion. That’s the ‘liberal’ 21st century for you.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 years ago

“The protestors…claimed to be progressives. They were, in fact, misogynists.” Surely not.

With apologies to Oscar Wilde, one must have a heart of stone to read the revolution devouring its children at the London Feminist Library without laughing.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tom Watson
Carol Hayden
Carol Hayden
2 years ago

Thank you Julie. It is important to document the specifics of this ongoing campaign to silence women.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
2 years ago
Reply to  Carol Hayden

What, Like the ‘patriarchy’ for example ?
She can always blame them men, even when it appears to be women !

.but yes Julie, keep up the good work, I may not agree with you, I might think your view is often biased, blinkered, or even a case of the kettle calling the pot ‘black’ but I still appreciate your input.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
2 years ago

Once again, Julie complains about underhand, brutish, dastardly, people using tactics and the playbook that ‘she’ and her fellow travellers have contrived and used, for several decades. How very dare they !!! The irony, it seems to me, is that the people now assaulting the feminist activist ramparts (god forbid) are none other than the modern day equivalent of the fifth columnists from 1940 (‘very’ special forces in disguise, even if they have moved on from dressing as Nuns) It seems that they, feminist activists, failed to listen to that age old adage “If it looks like a dukie, sounds like a dukie and walks like a dukie, then it’s most probably a dukie”. You really would have thought, even for the perpetually dim, that amongst all those crew cuts, bova boots and dungarees that someone, dressed like a plastic Dolly Parton, would have raised some sort of questions ?
Julie, I appreciate we are all products of our time, but some of your tropes, like “Pale, male and stale” just sound like old fashioned bigotry, that if one was of a less charitable nature, might have had some modern day ‘isums’ attached. You can dress it up in whatever flowery euphemistic language you like, but it doesn’t disguise the underlying ‘hate’ ( I hate to use the term ‘hate’, it is so over used, but didn’t have my thesaurus to hand and couldn’t readily think of an alternative to ‘bigotry’, but there you have it, we can’t all be clever and educated).
“Gail Chester, who is one of the library’s founders and remains a trustee, appears to have been ostracised by the new guard for being committed to women-only spaces”
“As a founder of the feminist library,” says Chester, “what I want is an anti-sectarian library that is accessible to everybody”
One, or the other, surely ?
ï»żMaybe it was just ‘ too much’ of the ‘other’ and ‘too much’ intellectual theorising debate that was the beginning of the undoing of feminist activism ?

Last edited 2 years ago by Tom Lewis
Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago

“The biggest trick that patriarchy pulled is to put distance and barriers between women and to destroy the possibility of solidarity, …” As the article shows so well, patriarchy didn’t have to do anything. Sisters are doing it for themselves.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

The whole scenario – women banned from feminist libraries – is just hilarious, though sad for those affected. Python politics.
I preferred the ministry of funny walks – much less controversial.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Yes, it’s a massive laugh, isn’t it – if you are a man…

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
2 years ago

The thing to do is to go into these libraries and ask for a book such as the forthcoming ‘Gender Critical Feminism’ by Holly Lawford Smith (Oxford University Press) and if they say they haven’t got it to ask why.
For me it was astonishing to read the book’s blurb (below) which summarised exactly what women inside and outside academia were arguing in the 1980s and 90s. Talk about reinventing the wheel! Unsurprisingly there have been calls to boycott OUP which, as Kathleen Stock remarks (on Twitter), has provided great publicity.
“The expectation used to be that men would be masculine and women would be feminine, and this was assumed to come naturally to them in virtue of their biology. That orthodoxy persists today in many parts of society. On this view, sex is gender and gender is sex.
A new view of gender has emerged in recent years, a view on which gender is an ‘identity’, a way that people feel about themselves in terms of masculinity or femininity, regardless of their sex. On this view, sex is dismissed as unimportant, and gender is made paramount.
In the rush to celebrate this new view of gender, we have lost sight of a more powerful challenge to the traditional orthodoxy, namely the feminist sex/gender distinction according to which sex is biological and gender is social. On this view, gender is something done to people on the basis of sex. Women are socialised to conform to norms of femininity (and sanctioned for failure), and masculinity and femininity exist in a hierarchy in which femininity is devalued. This view helps us to understand injustice against women, and what we can do about it.
Holly Lawford-Smith introduces and defends gender-critical feminism, a theory and movement that reclaims the sex/gender distinction, insists upon the reality and importance of sex, and continues to understand gender as a way that men and women are made to be, rather than a way they really are.”

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago

I don’t know how you women can stand one another.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago

“The biggest trick that patriarchy pulled is to put distance and barriers between women and to destroy the possibility of solidarity,” Lisa Marie Taylor, CEO of FiLiA, told me. “The new guard at the Feminist Library are doing this”

Wouldn’t ya know it, it’s all the ‘patriarchy’s’ fault. Somehow for some reason I’m not surprised.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

One strong female character identitarians definitely cancelled: Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby.

Last edited 2 years ago by Terence Fitch
Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 years ago

Newsflash: The Patriarchy was overthrown long ago.

The days of the firstborn male receiving all that his father had with all subsequent sons forced into fighting and dying in some war like the crusades for a piece of his own, or submitting to the the world of the clergy to survive, is a story from days long gone.

These days, the most successful males do fight to make it to the top, but they are a tiny sliver of the population. Most men are trailing women in education and job prospects.

Men have been forced into a world of Homer Simpson tropes with the slight modification being that Marge is now a high-powered attorney who leaves Homer for a more successful and rare alpha-male who’s worthy of her successes (females generally mate with males at a peer or higher socioeconomic level as studies prove).

Men have generally given up.

Once the female and LGB battle against traditional male values was won, foundations like Stonewall still needed to make a living…so we should follow the money. The fighters are the trans-activists. Women will soon have a new trope show about them, similar The Simpsons, where the female lead role is an outdated second-wave feminist who won’t “get with the times.” She wants her girls to compete against biological girls – in other words she’s a total TERF and Karen. People will laugh at her and over time most women with their hard-fought gains (similar the males being left behind today) will have to reconcile that they’ve lost. Society will put the same chain around their neck that males are now wearing.

It’s a shame really. Why not put away the category battles and just judge the individual for who they are instead.

*sigh*

Too much to hope for.

Last edited 2 years ago by Cantab Man
Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
2 years ago

Woah there! Reading the comments it seems there are a lot of men with hurt feelings resorting to ad hominem attacks and straw manning! Would it be possible to try to understand Julie and what is happening for women with respect to the transgender stuff at the moment? As men you are hardly affected by trans men,are you? Think about that for a bit, please, before you use almost every comment to confirm what Julie is saying when she refers to the patriarchy. Thanks!

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Feminists get hurt feelings pretty constantly, pretty consistently. Who are any of you to deny men the same privilege?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

The phrase “pale, male, and stale” is blatantly racist, sexist, and ageist. No decent person tolerates such disgusting language.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

The article describes this conflict as women versus trans-women but most of the examples given are young feminist thinkers versus old feminists thinkers.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Shaw
Max Torealnes
Max Torealnes
1 year ago

What’s interesting in the piece is the ‘othering’ of the opposition. Only ever identified as “trans activists” when in fact they are cis women. A small number may be trans women but they are such a tiny ( yet obviously omnipotent ) demographic that it can only by cis women feminists that are being inclusive. So the conclusion must be that the majority of cis feminists disagree with Ms Bindel and her coterie. Why though does Julie go out of her way to acknowledge this.
If these libraries and book shops are actually all run by men then obviously I am wrong but I doubt that.