Supposedly, I am a safety threat
In January this year I was asked to speak at an event organised by York Free Speech, part of York University. I love engaging with open-minded students and I was delighted to accept the offer. The topic was feminism, specifically a critique of what I call ‘feminism for men’, which is currently the only topic that gets an airing at most universities.
I sat and waited. I knew that it wouldn’t be long before certain trans lobby groups tried to get me de-platformed. Almost every time I am invited to speak at universities, there is a massive fight between those that want to hear a genuinely feminist perspective, and those who think that my mere presence will cause the death of transgender and ‘sex working’ people on campus.
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I didn’t have to wait long. A couple of weeks ago I received my first email from the University LGBTQ+ Network Committee accusing me of transphobia and telling me that I was likely to break the university’s code of conduct. ‘Our number one priority is the safety of the students,’ read the email, adding ‘as much as trans issues are something which can be discussed by everyone, we do not want this to infringe on the safety and well-being of students’.
I have no idea why they were emailing me as I had not intended to speak about the trans issue at all. It seemed that they were threatening me to keep quiet about anything that they might consider to be contentious. I told them I would be talking about feminism and refused to engage further.
Two days before I was due to travel to York, the event was cancelled. Days earlier the student union had removed the details of the event from the website, mumbling about ‘thorough risk assessments’. Essentially, they’re worried about spending more money on security for these events, so the organisers then usually cancel because they are then liable for the additional cost incurred.
This group of airheads have decided that I would be their maximum of 5/5 likelihood to breach the university’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy. The fact that I am a woman of working-class origin, an out lesbian, and a lifelong feminist is obviously irrelevant to these privileged kids who think being pansexual or non-binary is an oppression.
Some choice quotes from student activists on the Student Solidarity Network Instagram account include: ‘Julie Bindel’s whole career is founded in supporting the mass homicide of sex workers.’ I was called a ‘bigot’, ‘dangerous’, and someone that regularly peddles hate speech and incitement to violence against marginalised groups. I was also labelled a homophobe and a misogynist, with over 40 years of my campaigning against male violence and women’s oppression dismissed.
If this anti-democratic, censorious bullying is allowed to continue, universities will become nothing more than breeding ground for men’s rights activists. We must put an end to it.
A University of York spokesperson told the York Press: “This isn’t about no-platforming, but all the appropriate practical steps to make an event safe had not been put in place for the event to go ahead at this time – such as stewarding, suitable ticketing, event chairing and any necessary security.
York University have been contacted for comment.