When I was asked by a local activist to come to Nottingham and give a talk on male violence towards women and how to end it, I jumped at the chance. The talk would be at the Aspley Library, a much-needed resource in a predominantly working-class area of the city.
The library is under threat of closure, which, the organisers tell me, is the reason she decided to host a series of events in the building. It would bring people to the library and encourage those in the area to use it more.
I knew that there would be some kind of protest from trans activists, mainly because there usually is when feminists dare to speak about men’s violence towards women in public.
I chose to travel up the night before my talk as a train strike was planned for the Saturday. Halfway through my journey I was contacted by the event organiser who told me that a decision had been made by the leader of Nottinghamshire City Council to cancel my talk, and to ban me from the library. Am I exaggerating? No! When the organiser said that we would have the talk in the library itself, rather than the private room within it, she was told that we were in fact not allowed to come into the library itself.
We decided to hold the event in the library car park in order to not let down those that had booked tickets. The event sold out as soon as it was advertised, and I knew that there were a number of young, working-class women that were very keen to hear from a long-standing feminist activist about how they themselves can get involved in campaigning to end rape and domestic abuse.
As I spoke to the enthusiastic crowd about how to carry on campaigning as feminists in the face of the worst misogynistic backlash I have ever encountered, Nottingham City Council released a statement in which they attempted to justify my being banned from a public venue.
“This is due to the speaker’s views on transgender rights being at odds with aspects of the councils Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.”
“Nottingham is an inclusive City and as a council support our LGBT community and have committed to supporting trans rights as human rights through Stonewall.”
During our event, a group of trans-activists, draped in the familiar trans flag of pink, blue and white played Beyoncé loudly and laughed and shouted throughout the speeches about sexual assault and other atrocities. It was the usual tactic — trying to shut women up.
But the most distressing thing of all was the fact that this library, that the organisers were fighting so hard to keep open, had shunned the very people that should be welcomed in with open arms. It is nothing short of a disgrace that misogynists bullied the organisers into taking a stand against a lesbian activist during so-called Pride month.