Our Thanks to the Opposition

Twitter 'report a transphobe' meme

(Is it okay, guys, if I write a bit of a tongue-in-cheek piece to entertain the wimms?)

The other day, I put out a blog post calling for an end to people nagging the women’s rights campaigners. I was fed up with our organisations having to deal with non-stop slander and sabotage, whilst being constantly told by our former ‘socialist’ groups and erstwhile lefty heroes, that we should be being more sympathetic, more nuanced, and include our detractors in our meetings, etc etc

Woman power poster
Read “Calm down, dear!”

The post was very popular, and flew around the women’s groups but one or two people are still claiming there must be an ‘other side’ to this.  If they’re asking for actual violence and so on, I say to them, I have not seen one whit of that from the women on this campaign – but it got me thinking. Today was the day I was told in a social media spat that my claim that feminism is supposed to be for and about female people was a ruse I’d made up to exclude people who disagree with me.

Okay, I see, and yes, there is another side, and yes, in a strange way, thanks are due. It’s like this:

Don’t start here

There I was, however many years ago, blissfully unaware that we even needed a women’s rights campaign. As a Constituency Labour Party officer, I was asked to look into some nasty behaviour going on amongst our members. I was directed to a Momentum Facebook page, where a couple of members of a local LGBT organisation were being stunningly rude to some women over I wasn’t quite sure what, and the officer of a national LGBT group had just dropped in to ask them (not the women) if they needed any help.

I asked a rookie question, and they all went nuts. About three comments on, I had been called a bigot, a Nazi and a transphobe. So we Labour Party officers set about trying to deal with the bullying and as a result, I got put on a ‘hit list’ launched publicly online by a Facebook group called Labour Against Transphobia. I have a pretty good idea who put me on that list, as the director of one of those local LGBT organisations was in the group.

Labour Against Transphobia
Naturally, I won’t give you the whole screenshot
because making lists of people without their consent is illegal

Anyway, I was amazed to see myself in such hallowed company. Some of the most impressive trade unionist women in the country were on that list. Of course, many of us contacted each other to say WTF is going on, and I made some wonderful new friends. In meeting those women, I also found out that the reason women were organising was that there had been multiple attempts to cancel or subvert women’s legal rights under the Equality Act.

What’s more (perhaps the most wonderful part, now I look back on it) the ‘low down’ on me included a live link to my blog, which really started me being known as a blogger. Thank you, LAT!

The real work

They say the real work at conferences goes on in the pub afterwards. Shortly after my experience described above, I went to a conference of the Labour Women’s Network because, having realised this ‘women aren’t allowed to talk about women’s rights’ thing appeared to be a national phenomenon, I thought the LWN would want to address it. We simply weren’t allowed to talk about it – but now, I need to offer up thanks to the Labour Party as well.

The organisers of some of the best women’s campaign groups in the country came to that conference for the same reason I did, and by the end of a very frustrating ‘conference’ day, thanks to all our attempts to get our issue onto the agenda, we had found each other. In the pub afterwards, I had a whole new education. One of the things that happened was that it was suggested to me that we should set up a WPUK meeting for my town.

How to run a meeting under fire

I had never organised an event of any size before, so this was a real education – and rather an SAS style one. Have you ever tried to plan, organise and market a public event when several very well-funded organisations are doing their darndest to stop you? What fantastic training! Thank you to all involved.

Three things really helped us. One was the slanderous email the director of an LGBT organisation sent to all the venues they could think of, and to the council. Quite a few of the recipients immediately contacted us to say ‘look what they’re saying about you. What’s going on?’ That got us connected to the people we needed to talk to. It also came in handy in our dealings with the police. The fact that we had already approached them and told them exactly what we were doing made an interesting contrast with the emails they received all about how deceptive we would be, and what we would probably say we were doing. We were assigned an officer to help and advise us along the way.

The day before the meeting, the two main LGBT organisations put out a message across social media asking people not to go to our meeting. That was great, because the last few tickets were immediately snapped up by people who contacted us, saying ‘what meeting? When? What’s going on?’

And then of course there was the bomb threat. We were determined to go ahead, but it put the police on high-alert and they were practically kerb-crawling anyone who came near on the night, so we didn’t even have to deal with the little gang of bandana-swathed muppets who were spotted creeping up the hill during the meeting.

Nationwide political education

The same thing was happening all over the country, training up a team of courageous, resourceful women, who basically went on to re-ignite feminism nationwide. Many of them had time to spare, having been drummed out of their political parties and organisations who had swallowed all the slanders, without a thought to those women’s track records as socialists. So thanks to the political groups, especially of the left, who freed up all these wonderful women to work together on women’s rights.

And while all that was going on, we all had an extensive academic and legal training on social media, due to daily practice at bullshit-recognition. Thousands upon thousands of women, every day, being offered fantasy-reasons why women may not organise as a sex class, may not use these or those words, may not have conversations amongst themselves without inviting their detractors – thousands upon thousands of women therefore going off and looking up the law, and reading their history and their feminist canon, and getting daily better at arguing their case. Thank you, social media muppets!

On-going recruitment

Amazingly, they learn nothing. The same LGBT groups are still going into local government and charity organisations to complain about women having opinions about women’s rights and almost every time they do it, more women approach those of us complained about, and say ‘what’s going on?’ and we get talking, and our groups grow and grow. Thank you, complaint-makers!

So there we are. I have done what I was asked, by writing a grateful blog post about the opposition. I’d best remind everyone once more, the opposition is not ‘trans people’, although there are some trans people in their ranks but there are also trans people in our ranks. (One of the reasons I’m pretty confident it’s not us who are prejudiced, bigoted etc is that we get that trans people have minds of their own, and we are capable of grasping the fact that not all trans people have the same opinions). It is the corporate lobbying companies constantly vying for all that funding that comes from the US, and the little gangs of bandana’d muppets they inspire to go out (or go on Twitter) to be rude to women who are the opposition.

Now, I find there’s another hit list out. Helen Joyce has tweeted about it…

Helen Joyce tweet: 'I am, of course, on this list...'

My first thought was ‘hooray! I hope I’m on it – I’d love to meet Helen Joyce!’ but then I realised it’s Twitter-based, and I don’t Twit so it won’t help me this time. Never mind, others will benefit.

Anyway, thanks everyone! I’ll be back to blogging admirably seriously about socialism and feminism presently.


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