‘We apologise for any hurt’: Readings regrets 2018 event with feminist author Julie Bindel
Melbourne bookseller Readings has belatedly apologised for hosting an event three years ago with radical feminist Julie Bindel, who faces criticism over her views on transgender issues.
In 2018 Bindel, a campaigner against male violence, spoke at a Hawthorn bookshop event about her book, The Pimping of Prostitution, about the global sex trade.
Author Julie Bindel
On Tuesday, Readings issued a statement on its website saying it “regrets programming Julie Bindel in 2018”. The independent bookseller apologised for “any hurt caused by highlighting the work of an author whose current stance is to divide our community”.
Bindel told The Age that she believed the apology was directly linked to an online event with transgender author Juno Dawson, which Readings would be hosting later this month.
“Readings have publicly humiliated me and insulted me,” she said. “They have cowardly capitulated to bullies when for decades they have supported a diverse range of writers and publishers.”
Readings managing director Mark Rubbo declined to comment to The Age.
Bindel’s appearance at the 2018 event was controversial at the time.
Some accused Victorian Women’s Trust executive director Mary Crooks, who hosted the Q&A, of risking the trust’s reputation by “platforming Julie Bindel”.
Bindel does not believe transgender women are “real women” or that preoperative trans women should be included in female-only spaces, such as hospitals, prisons and refuges. She also says prostitution was inherently abusive of women and should be abolished.
The apology comes amid an increasingly toxic global debate over transgender rights and the inclusion of trans women in women-only spaces.
Readings managing director Mark Rubbo.Credit:Penny Stephens
Some feminists question the recognition of trans women as women and disagree that gender identity is separate from biological sex. Transgender activists say this view is transphobic and denies the validity of their existence.
Readings posted a statement on its blog and Twitter feed on Tuesday saying the independent bookseller “prides itself on ensuring everyone in our community feels safe, respected and considered”.
The statement thanked “our community for opening the dialogue with us” and said it was “committed to considering the work of all authors to ensure our future program of events, reviews and discussions remain relevant and diverse”.
The apology was welcomed by Transgender Victoria media representative Sally Goldner, AM, and Dylan O’Hara, from Vixen Collective, Victoria’s peer-only sex worker organisation.
Ms Goldner said: “Her views have no reasonable and rational basis and they cause ridicule, vilify and could reasonably incite harm against transgender people.
“To say we don’t exist, or to use twisted terms like to call someone like myself … a so-called biological male, just denies that my sense of self exists.”
Sally Goldner is head of Transgender Victoria.Credit:Eddie Jim
Dylan O’Hara said the apology was overdue, but showed accountability and recognition of the harm that was caused to trans people and sex workers.
“It would be great to see other organisations look at it as an opportunity to pre-empt these kind of situations. Sex workers and trans people made their views very clear at the time. If you take a ‘Nothing about us without us’ approach these kind of apologies aren’t necessary.”
Ms Crooks said on Wednesday that while the bookseller had the right to apologise, she worried about losing the ability to hold a dialogue.
“In my view if we’re not careful we will find that the capacity for considered safe, respectful and enlightened debate is being eroded before our eyes,” she said.
Ms Crooks said she was criticised at the time for appearing at the event with Ms Bindel.
“I pushed back gently to say I didn’t subscribe to the de-platform argument,” she said.
Victorian Women’s Trust executive director Mary Crooks.Credit:Justin McManus
Ms Crooks said she had been able to ask questions of Bindel that were “deeply probing”, including whether she could find it in her heart to include diverse people and give them her respect.
“The point is that the conversation that took part between Julie and myself was not some uncritical discussion but a thoughtful pushing of intellectual boundaries around her work,” she said.
She said she felt jumpy about the possibility of losing genuine debate in the future. “The key is to understand people’s position and ideas, not stomp all over them.”
Bindel has been outspoken for years against what she calls “extreme transgender ideology”.
“I don’t believe trans women are real women. Those of us who are female are oppressed under the patriarchy, one of the tools used is our biology,” she told The Age.
“I have absolutely no beef with the transgender community but I will not have preoperative trans women imprisoned along with the most disenfranchised women on the planet.”
Some feminist perspectives on trans women have become increasingly heated.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling was last year accused of transphobia after releasing an essay linking her experience of sexual assault with her concern over transgender women’s access to women-only spaces.
Last month a women-only pool in Sydney – McIver’s Ladies Baths – was criticised over a policy that suggested only transgender women who had undergone gender reassignment surgery could use the pool.
Most Viewed in National
Source: Read Full Article