Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

There is a point which arose from my previous post and fjm's comment on it in which she argued that I would be rightly furious if someone defended Julie Bindel in the terms in which I defended Ross. (Defended? I said he should be disciplined, but not lynched, for what I agree was entirely disgraceful sexist behaviour.)

What, in an ideal world, would I want to happen to Bindel? Clearly, not driven from public life or sacked from all journalistic work. In my ideal world, progressive newspapers like the Guardian would not regularly commission transphobic rants from her and Germaine Greer. I think that she and other transphobes should be made accountable and obliged to note that we have rights and feelings. I personally feel that Bindel is over-rated as a journalist on other issues because she is insufficiently complex in her analysis, but I am often too reasonable, myself.

It is significant that, on the Facebook page, when she was told that none of us is interested any longer in 'robust debate' over our right to exist, she walked away from the discussion rather than accepting that we are very very angry.

I did not pursue the off-duty cop over Toiletgate - in fact, I made it clear that the question was one of inadequate training. Had Stonewall proposed him as LGBT Officer of the Year, I would have criticised them, but I do not, in general, go after individual sanctions when the actions of individuals reveals an institutional culture that has produced behaviour. It is too easy to get institutions to throw individuals to the wolves and very much harder to get institutions to change their culture.

If a public media culture of sexism and obnoxious bullying were about to be changed, I'd be all in favour of that. There is, though, a real difference between making token gestures and making what the Jesuits taught me to call 'a firm purpose of amendment'. When Jonathan Ross is sacked in a few hours time, he will not be being made an example of in any sense that changes anything - politicians and the press are far too fond of saying that someone should be made an example when what they mean is that they should be made a sop to public opinion or a token gesture that costs nothing. If I thought sacking Jonathan Ross were genuinely going to change the terms of public life, I might be more prepared to consider it.

Making a fuss about Bindel is a chance to make clear to her and others like her that the trans community is no longer interested in being stigmatized; it is a chance to demonstrate to Stonewall that we regard them as accountable. There seems at some point to have been an unofficial deal between Stonewall and some trans communities a decade or so ago in which they carved up spheres of influence - both sides chose to ignore the section of the trans community (about a quarter or a third, probably) which identifies as queer; that was wrong then and it is intolerable now.

It is folly for Stonewall to honour someone who believes that a section of the LGBT community has no right to exist as such, and who favours abolishing us through therapy. Large parts of the public believe that the entire LGBT community has no right to exist as such and can be abolished through therapy and prayer. Julie Bindel is a lesbian and is also a turkey who advocates Christmas for a group of turkeys in an adjacent farmyard - that is why I shall be demonstrating against her next week. In a very real sense, I am demonstrating against her, but also in her larger interest.

Pursuing the analogy, and because I have criticized people who like Bindel and don't confront her, I shall write to Ross and communicate my position on his behaviour to him. Later His facebook page is gone and his e-mail has changed - I shall have to use snail mail.

Oh, and I entirely agree with fjm's position about inflated salaries, but only if we are going after all inflated salaries and not individual currently soft targets.
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