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Julie Bindel

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Julie Bindel (1962–) is a British feminist writer. Although she has done worthwhile campaigning for women, she is known for her more eccentric beliefs such as political lesbianism and particularly for her opposition to trans people.

She is firmly rooted in the second-wave feminism of the 1970s, and believes that more recent feminism has betrayed women by focusing on soft issues like equality in the boardroom.[1] This is certainly a gross misreading, as third and fourth-wave feminism have covered an incredible variety of issues, such as the Everyday Sexism project tackling harassment in the street and on public transport, and acted against media sexism and the racist treatment of immigrants, as well as tackling inequality and harassment in the workplace (which is itself a serious issue).[2][3] But anyone who disagrees with Bindel on issues like having sex with men, pornography, sex work, surrogacy, or how to dress, is seen as betraying women.

On the other hand, she has defended the right of women to enjoy alcohol.[4] And defended British DIY stores as essential to lesbian culture.[5]

Life[edit]

Bindel was born in 1962 in Darlington, England.[6]

Bindel is a prolific writer who has written for many publications; she is perhaps still best known for her work for The Guardian but also has contributed to many right-wing publications:

Her books include:[6]

  • Bindel and Harriet Wistrich, The Map of My Life: The Story of Emma Humphreys, 2003
  • Roger Matthews, Helen Easton, Lisa Young, and Bindel, Exiting Prostitution: A Study in Female Desistance, 2014
  • Bindel, Straight Expectations, 2014
  • Bindel, The Pimping of Prostitution: Abolishing the Sex Work Myth 2017
  • Bindel, Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation, 2021

Campaigning[edit]

Bindel's youth was influenced by her time in Leeds in the late 1970s when the serial killer Peter SutcliffeWikipedia was terrorising a large area of Yorkshire. Since then she has campaigned over various issues connected with violence against women. She has campaigned against rape, trafficking, and domestic abuse.[11]

She founded Justice For Women in 1990, "as a feminist campaigning organisation that supports, and advocates on behalf of, women who have fought back against or killed violent men".[12] It campaigned for Emma Humphreys,Wikipedia a Welsh woman convicted of murder for killing her pimp, and Sally ChallenWikipedia who killed her abusive husband.[1]

Female separatism[edit]

She has written about the importance of political lesbianism as promoted by Tina Crockett and Alison Garthwaite in their pamphlet Love Your Enemy? The Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism and Political Lesbianism in the late 1970s. In 2009 she wrote, "my lesbianism is intrinsically bound up with my feminist politics and my campaigning against sexual violence" and insisted "political lesbianism continues to make intrinsic sense because it reinforces the idea that sexuality is a choice, and we are not destined to a particular fate because of our chromosomes".[13]

She said in 2015: "I would love to see a women’s liberation that results in women turning away from men and saying: 'when you come back as human beings, then we might look again.'"[14]

She has called on women not to wear make-up, describing it as women "colluding in their own oppression", and claiming it is impossible for the wearing of make-up to be a feminist act no matter how you use it to present yourself.[15][16]

She has also joked about wanting to lock up all men:

I mean, I would actually put them all in some kind of camp where they can all drive around in quad bikes, or bicycles, or white vans. I would give them a choice of vehicles to drive around with, give them no porn, they wouldn't be able to fight – we would have wardens, of course! Women who want to see their sons or male loved ones would be able to go and visit, or take them out like a library book, and then bring them back.[14]

Hence, there is certainly an element of trolling in her work, while much of it is very serious business.

Sexual orientation[edit]

She has argued that sexual orientation is at least partly a choice in her book Straight Expectations, based on the fact that scientists aren't yet clear about the causes of homosexuality.[17]

She has also been critical of bisexual women, claiming bisexuality was a "fashionable trend" and asking "What makes some of us uncomfortable with bisexual women?" She linked this with political lesbianism, saying, "I believe now, that if bisexual women had an ounce of sexual politics, they would stop sleeping with men."[18]

She has also been critical of polyamory, equating it with traditional polygamy and condemning it as a fad.[19]

TERF[edit]

Bindel has repeatedly criticised sexual reassignment surgery and opposed the notion of trans people, rejecting the idea that someone could be "trapped in the wrong body" as a patriarchal mistake that assumes innate differences between male and female minds or behaviour.[20] She has stated that this is partly because she fears that as an adolescent girl who did not feel like a conventional girl, she could have been forced into sex-change surgery.[20] Yet it is exceedingly unlikely this would happen, because of both the standards around gender reassignment surgery and the extraordinarily long waiting lists. She also seems to confuse being interested in things relating to the opposite sex with actually feeling you have been assigned the wrong sex, which are different things, and you get trans people with very different combinations of gender conforming and non-conforming behaviour.[21]

In 2004 she received considerable criticism and was censured by The Guardian for calling a trans woman a "man in a dress" in an article offensively headlined "Gender benders, beware".[22] She later spoke on Radio 4 under the title "Sex change surgery is unnecessary mutilation".[20] She has also referred to trans activists as "Queer Isis".[11]

CL Minou in 2010 accused Bindel of inconsistency for arguing that gender is a social construct and biology is not destiny but still being opposed to the idea that trans women are women, and hence being a biological essentialist after all.[23]

In 2019 Bindel claimed to have been "violently attacked" by a trans women, Cathy Brennan, and Bindel then misgendered Brennan. Brennan denied ever touching Bindel, and said she had only pushed past a security officer to confront Bindel.[24][25]

SWERF[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Sex worker-exclusionary radical feminism

She is clear about her opposition to any decriminalisation of sex work.[26]

The English Collective of Prostitutes criticised Bindel for derisively referring to prostitution advocates as the "happy hooker crew", saying that Bindel "salaciously misrepresents" her opponents.[27]

Deplatforming[edit]

See the main article on this topic: No platform

In recent years she has faced deplatforming from various feminist and left-wing events, due to her views on trans women.

In 2021, Melbourne bookseller Readings expressed regret for having had her speak at an event.[28]

In 2022 she was banned from speaking at Aspley Library in Nottingham due to her views on trans rights being seen as incompatible with the council's values.[29]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation by Julie Bindel – review, Rachel Cooke, The Guardian, 31 Aug 2021
  2. The fourth wave of feminism: meet the rebel women, The Guardian, 10 Dec 2013
  3. The waves of feminism, and why people keep fighting over them, explained, Vox, 20 March 2018
  4. Booze is a joy – so stop criticising women for drinking, Julie Bindel, The Guardian, 25 July 2017
  5. The decline of B&Q is a hammer blow for lesbians, Julie Bindel, The Guardian, 31 March 2015
  6. 6.0 6.1 See the Wikipedia article on Julie Bindel.
  7. Authors: Julie Bindel, Daily Telegraph, accessed 5 September 2022
  8. Author: Julie Bindel, The Critic, accessed 5 September 2022
  9. Writer: Julie Bindel, The Spectator, accessed 5 September 2022
  10. Author: Julie Bindel, UnHerd, accessed 5 September 2022
  11. 11.0 11.1 Feminism for Women by Julie Bindel review – equality is not enough, Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian, 6 Oct 2021
  12. Justice For Women website main page, accessed 5 September 2022
  13. My sexual revolution, Julie Bindel, The Guardian, 30 Jan 2009
  14. 14.0 14.1 An Interview with Julie Bindel, Rad Fem Collective, 7 September 2015
  15. Julie Bindel - Come on feminists, ditch the makeup bag, RNZ, 23 Feb 2019
  16. Come on feminists, ditch the makeup bag. It's a far more radical statement than burning your bra, The Independent, 22 Jan 2019
  17. Lesbian Journalist Julie Bindel Says Sexual Orientation Is a Choice, Towleroad, 7 July 2014
  18. Where's the Politics in Sex?, Julie Bindel, Huffington Post, 12 June 2012
  19. Rebranding polyamory does women no favours, Julie Bindel, The Guardian, 26 Aug 2013
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 My Trans Mission, Julie Bindel, The Guardian, 1 Aug 2007
  21. No, the existence of trans people doesn’t validate gender essentialism, Kaylee Jakubowski, Open Democracy, 23 Aug 2018
  22. Gender benders, beware, Julie Bindel, The Guardian, 31 Jan 2004
  23. Julie Bindel's dangerous transphobia, The Guardian, 1 Feb 2010
  24. It’s Time to Cancel Julie Bindel and Second Wave Feminism for Good, Laura LeMoon, Medium, 10 June 2019
  25. Radical feminist Julie Bindel claims physical attack by trans person, Pink News, 7 June 2019
  26. As a lifelong Labour supporter, I can't believe I'm having to go to the Tories to help victims of the sex trade, Julie Bindel, The Independent, 18 April 2018
  27. Sunday Times: Letter in response to Julie Bindel, Niki Adams, English Collective of Prostitutes, The Sunday Times, 8 December 2019
  28. 'We apologise for any hurt': Readings regrets 2018 event with feminist author Julie Bindel, The Age, 10 Feb 2021
  29. Julie Bindel: Council cancels, BBC News, 27 June 2022