Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

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gamerunknown
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Nov 3 2017 23:37

Oh, I just thought I'd throw this in: Chomsky on religion. My father made me watch and read Chomsky when I was quite young, which was my induction both into anarchism and atheism - I think my father probably got interested in him because of his consistent stance that the US shouldn't have been funding the murder of liberation theologians, since my father was studying theology and then Christian ethics (while waiting tables, which is what he's done for a living for 30 years or so).

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And the answer to that isn't a debate between Dawkins-esque and Galloway-eque positions but excluding both.

What's a Dawkins-esque position on religion?

Edit: The Shinto/Buddhist tradition thing was pretty cool btw, thanks for posting.

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Serge Forward
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Nov 3 2017 23:52

Mike Harmon. Okay, thanks for explaining that. It's appreciated. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Mike Harman
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Nov 3 2017 23:59
gamerunknown wrote:

What's a Dawkins-esque position on religion?

'atheism' as a tiny figleaf for racism and islamophobia, pretty much.

gamerunknown wrote:
Edit: The Shinto/Buddhist tradition thing was pretty cool btw, thanks for posting.

No worries. The 1918 rice riots, post-WWI production control movements, and Sanrizuka/anti-Narita movements are way more interesting though tongue

gamerunknown
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Nov 4 2017 01:04
Mike Harman wrote:
'atheism' as a tiny figleaf for racism and islamophobia, pretty much.

I don't deny that many approach atheism in this manner, but I don't think Dawkins does himself, nor do I think it's on the agenda of the new atheists other than Sam Harris. One of Chomsky's criteria for being taken seriously as a campaigner is to challenge power you're able to have an influence on, it's why he addresses the US government rather than the North Korean one, which he has said is the most repressive on earth.

Dawkins spends a considerable portion of his time arguing with government initiatives such as mandatory collective worship in public schools (School Standards and Framework Act of 1998), funding for faith schools or adding creationism to school curricula in England and the US. If he wanted to cash in on demagoguery, he could quite easily reserve criticism of these things, especially the complaints about the "racist and sexist" God of the old testament. He's stated he was inspired by Haldane in the past (Stalinist), wrote in an introduction to the Selfish Gene that he was a social democrat who disapproved of union excesses and is complaining about Brexit on his twitter feed (I don't follow him, just checked if he's gotten worse recently). He's very distant from anarchism, but removed from bitter reaction for the most part. The worst I've seen is when he complains about the failures of Islamic culture in medicine, engineering and so forth - it's completely inept: advanced in these fields happen in spite of the dominant religion of their practitioners. Only advocates of "Clash of Civilisations" want to attribute success or failure to the weltanschauung as it were. Especially as many countries with Muslim majorities have been devastated and occupied by NATO forces or historically by Britain.

Zia
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Nov 4 2017 01:30

Bookfair:
Libcom admins, this is a sewer. You are so transparent with your competitive OUTRAGE, so obviously trying to point the finger before it gets pointed at you. You may be trying to impress new people here. You don’t even seem to understand what it is you’re talking about. Steven, you particularly disgust me and I can’t believe you are a unison rep.

Please, Steven, Mike, other guys, Fleur, stop using the word TERF. Somebody posted something much earlier about TERF being a self description. So it once was, years ago. Are you aware of how it's used now? Please go look at the TERF is a Slur site or go spend a little time at Anarchist Memes on Facebook or others like it and see how TERF is used: the comparison with nazis, the death threats, the sheer misogyny. Women you may know are getting death threats. They are by now means targetted at who you may think are 'actual' TERFS who deserve it. Stop it. Think.

The actions and politics of some trans exclusionary feminists are dangerous for trans people. Agreed. Some have also got death threats or faced doxxing and intimidation. Agreed. The leafletting of the bookfair was vile. Hey, some of us have been against transphobic feminism for decades. But not everybody who criticises some trans activism and ideology or even has questions about aspects of new legislation can be treated as more or less a fascist. Yes, Mike, it's worth quibbling over the word fascist.

If you agree that words can lead to violence or are actually violence, why are you ignoring the threats and atmosphere of intimidation? Think.

Also, having read HS's statement, you scrutinise the views but have nothing to say in any sort of concern at what she experienced at the bookfair and several people who have posted about what happened being violent or disturbing, the threats and chants, are either disbelieved, ignored or ridiculed. In the real world, there are plenty of us who can dislike the direction HS is going politically (even if we have some understanding of what in the political culture is sending people in that direction - this cannot be discussed on this thread where OUTRAGE is valued over thinking) but also deplore the mobbing she experienced and state that publicly.

Please stop referring to people as TERFS. I would have liked to talk about religion and atheism and racism and the bookfair, but really I wish this whole thread did not exist. It should not.

gamerunknown
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Nov 4 2017 01:42

Oh, someone posted this elsewhere, issues with the Los Angeles Bookfair - apologies if this is the wrong thread to discuss it.

Apparently the two major disagreements were about having a mostly white event in a primarily black area and excluding primitivists, more or less. However, the comments section says that it was "Hebrew Israelites" who shut them down (see here).

How on earth would that be dealt with in London? I know the context is quite different, but what would the response be to an authoritarian black religious group? I personally have no clue, I'd probably just leave.

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Reddebrek
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Nov 4 2017 02:27
Zia wrote:
Bookfair:
Please, Steven, Mike, other guys, Fleur, stop using the word TERF. Somebody posted something much earlier about TERF being a self description. So it once was, years ago. Are you aware of how it's used now? Please go look at the TERF is a Slur site or go spend a little time at Anarchist Memes on Facebook or others like it and see how TERF is used: the comparison with nazis, the death threats, the sheer misogyny. Women you may know are getting death threats. They are by now means targetted at who you may think are 'actual' TERFS who deserve it. Stop it. Think.

That was me, and what your saying is just sour grapes from a group that lost control of its narrative.

Literally every single word can be used as a slur. The word Feminism is so often equated with Fascism its spawned the neologism Feminazi, should we all stop using that too? And what about the awful associations Communism, Socialism and Anarchism have, they're all used as insults quite commonly. Gay is also still used pretty often to mean bad or lame, should we start resurrecting the Homophile movement?

Also if its a slur why do people still use it as a self descriptor and badge of pride? Is there an attempt to reclaim the term going on? Or has their been a split?

FFS even the racists prefer to be called Race realists and White Nationalists, and Identitarians, nowadays.

And homophobia is apparently a made up term to slander believers in traditional relationships.

If TERFs don't like being called TERFs anymore (even though quite a few still do) they have two choices.

1: Become better at peddling their propaganda so they become more accepted.
2: Stop pushing for the exclusion of Trans people.

So far they appear to be wedded to option one. Fortunately it isn't going very well for them, hence the continued sour grapes.

Mike Harman
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Nov 4 2017 07:47

@gamerunkown I'd probably go for a new thread on the LA bookfair.

Mike Harman
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Nov 4 2017 10:10
Zia wrote:

Please, Steven, Mike, other guys, Fleur, stop using the word TERF.
...

The actions and politics of some trans exclusionary feminists are dangerous for trans people.

The acronym is a slur but 'trans exclusionary feminist', albeit missing the 'radical' in your post is fine? It's like objecting to Tankie but being ok with 'person who celebrates Russian tanks being sent in to Budapest'.

It can be misapplied, would be a stretch to call David Davies a TERF, even though he's happy to work with them and they!re happy to work with him, but it's the radical and feminist bit that's absent there.

I've also seen stuff online where people got called TERFs after making very confused comments about trans issues, in those cases it can be hard to tell if people are hedging a deep seated transphobia or genuinely confused/ignorant. Probably not a nice experience, nor is seeing transphobic comments.

Zia wrote:
The leafletting of the bookfair was vile.

Do you think it should have been prevented? If so presumably in a way that didn't involve a couple of dozen people shouting at Helen Steel, which I agree would have been better. How could that have been done? Telling people they need to debate the leafletters isn't it so there must be another option that's neither of those. I saw at least one or two trans folks rather than staying for the confrontation just left the bookfair very angry and upset, that's not acceptable either and it still counts as being excluded.

comrade_emma
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Apr 21 2018 18:07

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Fall Back
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Nov 4 2017 11:07
Mike Harman wrote:
Do you think it should have been prevented? If so presumably in a way that didn't involve a couple of dozen people shouting at Helen Steel, which I agree would have been better. How could that have been done? Telling people they need to debate the leafletters isn't it so there must be another option that's neither of those. I saw at least one or two trans folks rather than staying for the confrontation just left the bookfair very angry and upset, that's not acceptable either and it still counts as being excluded.

Really important here to reiterate again and again - HS explicitly and deliberately chose to involve herself in this. The person who was confronted was someone who was literally given out hate literature. HS then defended this person and then (according HS' supporters) went after someone she recognised from Speakers Corner.

TERFs are desperate to control the narrative here, absolutely vital this doesn't happen. They want the incident to be known as a "mob" who targeted and bullied a lone woman for thought crime. It's bullshit. If you actively choose to intervene, defend and side with a hate group while they're literally in the middle of a targeted political action, then you're not an innocent bullied victim. You're the aggressor.

edit - to be clear this isn't aimed at Mike, more a follow on this his comments.

Fleur
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Nov 4 2017 12:51

TBH, my OUTRAGE comes from bigots leafleting their vile propaganda at an anarchist bookfair, with the support of the bookfair organizers and and anarchists defending them for doing so. People defending their freedom of hate speech at the bookfair, what's not to find outrageous?

I will call TERFs TERFs as long as they are people who identify themselves as being feminists of radical inclinations who exclude trans people from their politics and their spaces. Tbh, I always felt that TERF is a a bit of an insult to actually radical feminists, which they clearly aren't. Actual radical feminists don't pick on oppressed minorities.

It's not the word which is a problem, it's the ideology behind it. If everyone abandoned the word today, say in favour of Gender Critical, it wouldn't be long before they start whining that GenderCrit is a slur, in the usual manner which frames them as victims, as opposed to the marginalized group they pick on.

Mike Harman
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Nov 4 2017 13:16
gamerunknown wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
'atheism' as a tiny figleaf for racism and islamophobia, pretty much.

I don't deny that many approach atheism in this manner, but I don't think Dawkins does himself, nor do I think it's on the agenda of the new atheists other than Sam Harris.

Dawkins [...] The worst I've seen is when he complains about the failures of Islamic culture in medicine, engineering and so forth - it's completely inept: advanced in these fields happen in spite of the dominant religion of their practitioners. Only advocates of "Clash of Civilisations" want to attribute success or failure to the weltanschauung as it were. Especially as many countries with Muslim majorities have been devastated and occupied by NATO forces or historically by Britain.

If he's advocating 'clash of civilisations' how is that not using atheism in this manner?

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Nov 4 2017 14:08

This idea that 'TERF is a slur' needs to be crushed into oblivion. TERF's are borrowing a strategy of the far-right (which makes them far-right).

'I began encountering the “TERF is a slur” slogan in 2013, around a year after the political Right experienced a measure of success with its 2012 “homophobe is a slur” campaign.

The case was made that when discussing anti-queer hate in the news and anti-bullying efforts in schools, the term “homophobia” should not be used to describe the very specific type of anti-queer hate and oppression faced by LGBTQIA people because the term was an offensive slur.

By the end of 2012, the Associate Press banned the term “homophobe” from its news coverage and right-wing religious groups were working to ban the term in anti-bullying school materials because, they claimed, “homophobe” was a “made-up” term that promotes “hate and contempt for Christians.”

If we are unable to use “homophobe” to describe people who are “homophobic,” in what ways does this limit the queer community’s ability to accurately describe our sociopolitical situation?

Without terms like “homophobe” and “homophobia,” the queer community’s ability to communicate and reference a specific anti-gay culture is hobbled, caged inside of rhetorical parameters defined by those who work to empower anti-gay culture. After “homophobe” and “homophobia” were deemed by a heteronormative culture to be too toxic to use, the queer community’s languaging of the hate it faced each day disappeared from most mainstream media use.

Sometime in 2013, sex essentialists who self-identify as “radical feminists” began pushing the slogans, “TERF is a slur” and “Cis is a slur” on social media and blog posts.'

http://transadvocate.com/are-misogynist-homophobe-terf-slurs_n_20729.htm

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Nov 4 2017 14:44
Quote:
TERF's are borrowing a strategy of the far-right (which makes them far-right).

No it doesn't. I don't agree with this victimhood thing of saying Terf is a slur, but equally it does no-one any favours, least of all the trans community, if we start bollocking on about Terfs being aligned with the far-right.

They have a specific bigoted view about trans people, they aren't looking to repatriate minorities and reform society on a hardline nationalist basis, and throwing inaccurate terminology around for effect does little more than muddy the waters and bolster their claim that the people they're arguing with are unreasoned.

gamerunknown
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Nov 4 2017 14:41
Mike Harman wrote:
If he's advocating 'clash of civilisations' how is that not using atheism in this manner?

Sorry, yeah, I didn't think that one through. Most of the time I don't find anything particularly objectionable, occasionally he demonstrates a real absence of consideration. I guess it depends on whether you think his mask is slipping when he makes comments like that or if it's just a deviation. I'm inclined to believe he really does dislike the forms of discrimination he decries, since he could have chosen to be silent on it.

I'd forgotten about those comments until it came up though, not really worth putting any effort into staging a defence of him.

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Nov 4 2017 14:56
Fall Back wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
Do you think it should have been prevented? If so presumably in a way that didn't involve a couple of dozen people shouting at Helen Steel, which I agree would have been better. How could that have been done? Telling people they need to debate the leafletters isn't it so there must be another option that's neither of those. I saw at least one or two trans folks rather than staying for the confrontation just left the bookfair very angry and upset, that's not acceptable either and it still counts as being excluded.

Really important here to reiterate again and again - HS explicitly and deliberately chose to involve herself in this. The person who was confronted was someone who was literally given out hate literature. HS then defended this person and then (according HS' supporters) went after someone she recognised from Speakers Corner.

[/i]

Agree 100%.

That last sentence is extremely disturbing. I would not feel safe in that situation if someone supposed to be an ally actually defends the people who later called the police to intervene and on top of that, identified you to anyone within earshot as being at Hyde Park.

(There's another angle to this that I can't disclose on an open forum.)

Zia
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Nov 4 2017 15:32

I didn’t actually say TERF is a slur. As you can see if you read my posts I am aware of the bigotry on that side.
I suggested looking at the website with that name.

https://terfisaslur.com/

Or look at other anarchist sites to see the threats being made. None of you has had anything to say about this.
How far would you go, Mike? Are there any limits you’d want to put on this discourse?

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Nov 4 2017 15:40

Zia, you're an apologist for a hate group. Begone.

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fingers malone
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Nov 4 2017 17:56

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comrade_emma
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radicalgraffiti
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Nov 4 2017 17:45
Zia wrote:
I didn’t actually say TERF is a slur. As you can see if you read my posts I am aware of the bigotry on that side.
I suggested looking at the website with that name.

https://terfisaslur.com/

Or look at other anarchist sites to see the threats being made. None of you has had anything to say about this.
How far would you go, Mike? Are there any limits you’d want to put on this discourse?

i'm just going to assume that website is terf propaganda with out looking for now, cause it looks like it will be, and you won't say what it is

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Nov 4 2017 18:04

It's pretty much entirely just a gallery of screenshots of hotheads being angry-shouty on Twitter. Which I'd agree is unpleasant, but is also something that happens all the bloody time because people of all political stripes can't seem to help but act like mouthy tossers on Twitter. It'd not be too hard to find similar levels of bile directed at trans people.

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Nov 4 2017 19:05

-

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QQ
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Nov 4 2017 19:38

Given this thread has turned towards the topic of challenging religious ideology (or more specifically Islamic ideology) I'd like to offer a quick few thoughts if I may.

I am from a social background and a neighbourhood where perceived Islamic values are important to many people. I also rejected religion in my late teens. Importantly, my rejection did not manifest in a climate of new atheism. In fact, if I had doubts about religion in today's climate, I suspect I would have remained a Muslim - this for me is the crux of the matter. People like Sam Harris and even Majjid Nawaz serve two functions (1) concretise beliefs that young people were beginning to reject and becoming increasingly fragile and (2) silence dissenting 'ex-Muslims' (a term many left-leaning former Muslims now reject, in fear of associating with these clowns). In addition, many of the (online) communities where ex-Muslims were beginning to make sense of their identities have been overrun by what we would now regard as the alt-right.

Our priority should be and what I always understood to be is to help people form their own thoughts and draw their own informed conclusions. Whether this is by way of demystification or releasing the boot from someone's neck - the situation and context dictate the strategy. Muslim communities are under siege - helping to lift this siege is not only more effective, it is also an exercise in good praxis. Whether this leads to a wholesale rejection of religion or not is frankly none of our business; I know many self-identified Muslims with better politics than a lot of non-religious self-identified anarchists.

So let's ask: do Muslims need paternal white anarchists offering their rote proclamations or are Muslim people perfectly capable of having these debates if free from duress and bullying? There is a degree of Orientalism on the left (and wider society) that would lead me to believe that many people regard the latter impossible and perhaps it is these attitudes we should be challenging. Or you know, continue shooting fish in a fucking barrel and watch how none of us gets anywhere.

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Nov 4 2017 20:31

So, Helen Steel is gonna share a platform with other TERF's in Cambridge.
A terf is a terf is a terf.
Not our comrade.

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Nov 4 2017 20:31

Great post QQ.

Mark.
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Nov 4 2017 21:08
QQ wrote:
In addition, many of the (online) communities where ex-Muslims were beginning to make sense of their identities have been overrun by what we would now regard as the alt-right.

Do you have any thoughts on how this could be, or could have been, avoided? There’s a recent thread started by the admins on the CEMB forum that relates to this but I’m not sure how far it’s putting forward any real solution.

Mike Harman
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Nov 4 2017 21:22

Yes really good post from QQ.

This is the Cambridge event Helen Steel is booked for, looks like yet another step taken:

https://twitter.com/ mayday4women/status/926833475071692800

wimpled off
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Nov 4 2017 21:34

The Gender Recognition Act is an archetypical piece of what is now called “neoliberal” legislation. It reduces the roll of the state in the name of freedom, with the intention of reducing state health provision and expenditure. In the past similar initiatives were call Thatcherite, or rightwing libertarian.

Trans people may see it as in their interests for now, but it will mark a reduction in access to psychological counselling and to gender reassignment surgery. This is aimed at reducing the tax burden.

Libcom uncritically supports the Gender Recognition Act and prohibits discussion on it. The so-called “Libertarian Communists (sic)” align with the right wing libertarianism of the Tory government. This support goes along with support for violence against women, support for religion and all manner of post-structuralist and identity politics.

There is nothing remotely classist in any of these positions. When it’s revealed Helen Steel is a union rep, far from this giving pause to the rabid anti-feminist witch hunt, a Libcom regular announces that he will seek to get her removed from her job. This is called blacklisting.

The forum is dramatically poorer than the library. It can only be a matter of time before the admins start deleting material from the library as they already delete posts from this thread. The most telling deletion is of a post that called their behaviour “Stalinist”.

With its support for violent suppression of discussion and support the government and various reactionary movements, Libcom is not communist and is not even libertarian.

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