Why do so many young women hate trailblazing feminists like me? asks JULIE BINDEL
For anyone not familiar with the different waves of 21st century feminism, this will undoubtedly come as a shock. But in my opinion, what currently passes for modern feminism is doing women more harm than good.
Many young women today do not just bow to men in their so-called feminism, but seem utterly indifferent to the fact that the hard-won rights of older women in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are in danger. to be catastrophically eroded.
They help everyone except themselves. In many ways, they betray everything I and my brave colleagues fought for. This is the worst intergenerational clash I have witnessed since I came to feminism in 1979, at the age of 17.
In universities across the UK and beyond, women are fed a kind of false feminism, often by men reluctant to lose any of their privileges.
Julie Bindel, who came to feminism in 1979, argues that rights acquired in the 19060s, 1970s, and 1980s risk being catastrophically eroded. Pictured: Julie (left) with Emma Humphreys in 1995 after a campaign to free her from prison for killing her abusive partner
These women are intimidated and coaxed into accepting absurd concepts that are, at best, naive and, at worst, downright dangerous.
Prostitution, these young women say, is a job like any other. They also argue that pornography is liberating. And finally, that trans women should share spaces reserved for women such as hospital services and domestic violence shelters.
The latter makes me want to cry. These are women of my generation – often referred to as second wave feminists – who 40 years ago built rape centers and shelters without funding or pay. To see them dismantled by the very women who might one day need them is heartbreaking and infuriating.
I don’t think these women – almost all of whom call themselves feminists – realize that they are complicit in the erosion of our rights, for the simple reason that they are no longer taught feminist history in universities. Instead, they are fed by academics from the ivory tower of an incomprehensible post-modern claptrap.
Feminists of my generation are not just ignored, but actively disparaged – or worse.
Since January 2004, when I first gave an opinion on the trans issue for a national newspaper, whenever it goes public that I am about to speak at an event, always on an aspect of male violence and always as part of my campaign work, a crowd forms in order to intimidate the organizers so that they do not invite me. It’s always played out in public and it’s always humiliating. Sometimes the organizers capitulate.
I have been invited and then uninvited to numerous university events following protests from trans activists and supporters of the ‘sex work is work’ policy. I have also been invited, and then removed from the platform, to a number of events exploring free speech.
On the other hand, the real achievements of the past are not recognized. From the start of my involvement in the women’s liberation movement, we were in the streets, holding up signs, carrying banners and shouting through loudspeakers, protesting the laws we wanted to change.
Julie said feminism has been renamed and repackaged as “just be nice and nice to everyone”. Pictured: A women’s liberation protest in 1970
It was our campaign that led to the introduction of the offense of coercive control; which prohibited the use of a woman’s sexual history in rape trials and guaranteed the anonymity of victims of sexual assault; and rape in forbidden marriage, which – young feminists are often surprised to find out – was perfectly legal in England and Wales until 1992.
Absurdly, being a feminist is no longer expected to force you to do anything feminist. Instead, and ironically given my experience, feminism has been renamed and repackaged as “just be nice and nice to everyone.” Young women are told that it is simply the “choice” to be who you “want to be”.
But if feminism is about choice, what does it mean for women and girls who don’t? Girls forced to marry, women procured by violent boyfriends, compensated women living in temporary housing with young children they cannot afford to feed?
For feminism to be meaningful, it must be for all women and not just for the privileged few.
Are young women even aware of the “battles we have fought for them?
You might ask yourself, as many young women do, what is still left to fight for? Although my generation of feminists and those before it have won many victories, women are far from being liberated. Levels of male violence against women and girls are off the scale, as we have seen with the tragic events of the past few weeks.
Conviction rates are so low that rape has been more or less decriminalized. Sexual harassment is rampant in our high schools and remains a problem for many women in the workplace.
Many young women claim to be feminists, but seem to spend their time dismissing those of us who do the job – as opposed to just talking about the conversation – as “unnecessary”, “uncompromising” and “past beyond.” Are these women aware of the battles we have fought and won to give them some freedom?
Julie said that in today’s climate of misogyny, many young women are turning to feminists like her rather than pointing fingers at violent men. Pictured: A rally to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2020
In 2018, for example, Ash Sarkar, a media commentator, tweeted about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, claiming that the introduction of “self-identification” would have no effect on women. rights of others. I replied, “Unless you’re a woman in prison, one of the most disenfranchised groups on the planet of course. It was a reference to the case of Karen White, the transgender sex offender placed in a women’s prison who then sexually assaulted two inmates.
When, in response, Sarkar claimed that “bigots” like me “didn’t care about women in prison”, that was too much. If she had known her feminist history, she would have known that I am the founder of Justice for Women – a campaign I started in 1990 – and that I have helped countless abused women get out of prison.
When I first came to feminism, there were no laws protecting lesbians from discrimination and abuse; violent men often obtained custody of children when women left the marriage; and domestic violence was treated by the police as a “private matter”. This has all changed because of active feminists, as opposed to those who sit on social media to signal virtue.
In fact, a woman reporting rape five years ago had a much better chance of seeing justice than she does today. There were 1,917 fewer rapists convicted in the year ending December 2020 than in 2016-2017, a decrease of 64%.
In today’s climate of misogyny, many young women are turning to feminists like me rather than pointing fingers at violent men. Yet there are young feminists who are doing invaluable work to tackle male violence and bring about the liberation of women.
Julie said social media activism is not the answer, as the #MeToo movement is not a substitute for action. Pictured: A women’s liberation protest in 1971
The activist group We Can’t Consent to This, which succeeded in abolishing the defense of “brutal sex” so often used by men who kill women, continues the work I was involved in as a young feminist when we We, too, abolished the insidious defense of “provocation” used by a number of men who had killed their wives because of “harassment” or alleged infidelity.
Of the more than 1,000 women attending the 50th anniversary of the Women’s Liberation Movement conference in London in February 2020, a minority, but a significant number, were in their 20s.
And when I launched my new book last month in London, well over 100 of the 250 books I signed were for women under 30, including some teenage girls.
Right now, we need feminism more than ever, but not one that puts men first. In the real world, prostitution is not a liberating career “choice”, and increasingly violent pornography is not “sexually positive”.
Social media activism is not the answer either. The #MeToo movement does not replace action. Let us point the finger at men who rape, rather than expecting more women to share their horrific experiences.
We live in a world where rape, femicide, and daily abuse and harassment are rampant.
To change it, we must be united and not divided by generational conflict. One way or another, and urgently, we must find a way to bridge the gap. Fighting among ourselves wastes time – and there is no time to waste.
Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation, by Julie Bindel, (£ 16.99, Little Brown) is out now.