A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests
I’m sorry, I know I’ve been utterly useless at regular posts as of late. In my defence, unlike so many bloggers I do have a job (that isn’t blogging) and with that, and my thus far poor efforts to crack on with my book, finish some articles and putting together some journal special issues, finding the space in which to reflect and write blog posts has proved challenging! Nonetheless, I hope you’ll persevere with me and should you really want to follow my string of consciousness, I remain as active as ever on FB and Twitter (links on the right).
Anyway, to Julie Bindel. Now then, there is a chance you have no idea who she is. She regularly pops up in the Guardian where she describes herself as ‘a freelance journalist and political activist’. For what it’s worth, let me make clear that I think she’s wrong on most issues and continues to perpetuate myths (notably around sex work). However, I do respect her right to put forward her views and I do not find a deep uncontrollable anger swelling inside me as soon as I see her name (I save that for Tory MEP Daniel Hannan). Yet, for many in the queer and trans communities she does exactly that whilst many researchers and academics who engage in the study of sex work are understandably vexed at her pronouncements.
Earlier this week she put in an appearance at Queer Question Time in London. For those of us not on the London queer circuit, it’s something of a parochial event but for many commentators, it is of course on their doorstep and all hell was seemingly let loose. One blog describes (and shows) the protest which included 40 people. Yes, we’re talking small numbers but from the online reaction you’d think it was 40,000. Gay novelist and commentator Paul Burston posted Facebook statuses in support of Bindel and changed his picture to a photo of her. The blogosphere repeated the list of charges against her such as on this blog by the trans poet Adam Fish, whilst many bloggers such as the self described ‘kinky tranny dyke’ Sarah brown described the series of events and cyber upset on her blog.
I’m not sure the protests made a huge amount of difference except perhaps to raise the fee Bindel can ask for her next op-ed piece. If Bindel is to be challenged, it must be done rationally and with clearly marshaled arguments. Then again, Bindel does sometimes make it hard to respond rationally. As with Nick Griffin on the BBC’s Question Time, they should be allowed a democratic space but we should not make their voice reach further or be heard louder than it might otherwise have been by our own reaction to their presence.