Advice for Julie Bindel

I doubt she will hear it, but I will try.

Julie Bindel is a gender-critical feminist often accused of being transphobic, including by me. There has been some concern about British gender critical feminists working with the hard Right in America against trans rights. Venice Allan went to America to make contact with hard-Right groups, and also apparently “laughed at a racist posh girl calling a feminist activist a Nazi”.

My advice is, don’t do this in public on Twitter. Phone her up, or just ignore it.

You agree about a lot. I don’t agree with this, but you both believe that trans rights conflict with women’s rights, and you both campaign for women’s rights against the encroachment of trans rights. You don’t campaign about all the same things, but most things one campaigns on, the other will be broadly sympathetic.

There are two views which a gender critical feminist might have. One is that the hard-Right is anti-woman, seeking to enforce regressive gender stereotypes, against birth control, and against bodily autonomy when there might be an embryo, and you would have nothing to do with them. The other is, while the hard-Right is wrong about almost everything, they are right that trans women are a threat in women’s spaces, and might provide useful support for feminists on the Left wanting to make that argument.

My personal view is that no feminist should have anything to do with The Heritage Foundation, but I can see why Posie Parker does.

I admire Julie Bindel’s integrity even as I disagree with her. I admire the directness of her campaigning. She uses words brilliantly, her polemic skewers her enemies, yet she should be able to make the leap of empathy with Posie Parker to understand why she has done what she has done, and (if she criticises at all) only criticise in private. You agree about almost everything. Do not let the one thing you disagree about come between you.

I agree with Julie Bindel when she said, in three tweets on 1 February,

Before anyone suggests that what I am about to say is in order to get myself a reprieve from the 15 years of hell being targeted by the trans lobby, I am aware that even if I set fire to myself in the street by way of ‘apologising’ I would simply be accused of causing the death of trans people who were in the vicinity and died of smoke inhalation – so not only do I feel I have nothing to apologise for, it would be a massive waste of time. But I want to say how I despise the latest tactics of Posie Parker and disciples, and want no part in it. As far as I am concerned, they are motivated by narcissism, bigotry, and ego. They are causing harm. THE END.

But I do not think she should have said it in public. It gives delight to her and Posie’s common enemies. Where do you think I found that screenshot above? On a trans campaign group. Everyone there is delighted at their- oh, I’ll be honest, our- opponents falling out.

In a similar way, the Heritage Foundation want to set gender critical feminists and trans people against each other. They are on the Right, and they recognise that gender critical feminists and trans people are on the anti-authoritarian Left, however much we might accuse each other of being right-wing. The Heritage Foundation is delighted that their enemies are fighting amongst themselves, for thereby we give ammunition to Right-wing causes and reduce the effectiveness of the Left. They might achieve that by funding trans women, so their choice to fund the gender-critical feminists is instructive: they believe that no-one will see the difference, and imagine that these women are standing up for traditional gender roles; and they believe that preventing the freedom to transition will lessen all freedom to express gender variance. That their desires are bad does not mean that their perceptions of the route to what they desire are unintelligent.

The Left is fractious. To the Left of the Labour Party, recently, there have been the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party of Britain, and the Socialist Labour Party, with clear differences between them a bit like the differences between the Free Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland. For me, Jeremy Corbyn and I don’t know, Chukka Umunna would be better PMs than Theresa May and I would leaflet and door-knock for either of them within the Labour Party. Twitter especially, and the internet more generally, makes the fractiousness worse. We have to find ways of working together.

Since writing this post, I have changed my mind. Julie Bindel is right. The hard-Right funding for gender critical feminists should be proclaimed as loudly as possible.

Two truths

Can two truths coexist?

Many Christians would say no. No-one can come to the Father except through me. Many atheists would say no, too, because the concept of God is as unlikely as that of a teapot orbiting Jupiter. To me, though, it is possible for someone to be atheist for good reason, and another to be religious for good reason, and for the good reasons of one not to apply to the other. That I do not choose your atheism does not mean that I do not respect it. Christians should know that I know in part; your part may seem inconsistent, because we do not see the whole. And I am irked enough by atheist Quakers saying “When you are as spiritually mature as me you will be non-theist too” to not say something similar.

It is like Athenian v Spartan, Apollo v Dionysus, Enlightenment v Romanticism, the language of a scientific paper v lyric and metaphor. We think differently. That is our strength. Coming to respect and appreciate the other’s way of thinking and expressing thought enriches both.

Or, her experience of Christianity is oppressive, and in liberating herself she has left it, but in mine I have felt the oppression but have also found liberation, so have stayed. For me the liberation is real.

Here is a dispute. I could go through it, showing at every point how I was right- it is tempting. Violet II asked Violet I why she referred us to lessons on communication. Well, if Violet II had taken an atheist stance and I had said the physical evidence of Noah’s Flood is overwhelming and “scientists” who deny it are entrapped by Satan, we would be unlikely to come to concord, or even courteous, respectful disagreement; but here we started with friendly intent, and it would be sad to lose that through misunderstanding.

Though I still assert that being able to respect a way of thought which is not my own is essential to such friendly dialogue.

Violet I referred us to this post on respectful communication. Oh God, not Elevatorgate again? [He was an Asshole! Picking her up in the LIFT? WT-


What it misses out is that we can both be right. Scientific consensus moves on when one expert in a narrow field produces an explanation of evidence which convinces the others. This does not apply to internet debate, where we dialogue through comment boxes rather than peer-reviewed journal articles.

Elevatorgate might be a good illustration, though. It is not strictly a dispute between all men and all women, but between high and low sex drives, or beliefs about casual sex. In the Tube, I saw an advert for holidays in Las Vegas: Come to a place where your accent is an aphrodisiac. Or- Las Vegas! You know about the drink and gambling, but have you heard of the no-strings casual sex!!? I was disgusted, but not everyone will be. Onywye. Elevatorgate.

-He meant well.
-She was repulsed.

He did not force himself on her, but made a proposal. There are arguments why he should not have done so, but feminist objections to slut-shaming make them more difficult to put consistently as absolute objections.

How would I put this as a seventh rule for pretentious ape?

Accept that the other’s contrary belief does not threaten your own. I do not have to convince thetruthisstrangerthanfiction that Noah’s Flood is just a story, to be certain of that myself. That is not quite it:

Accept that a belief you do not share may have value. At least sometimes. Try to find that value??

Or something. You may have better words for it, so do comment.

Guercino, Hersilia Separating Romulus and Tatius


Here is Laura K, who wants to tell the gay man that God loves him, rather than that God condemns his sexual activity as sin. He will then convert to Christianity, and she will be able to explain to him what God has to say about his sexuality.

Mmm. I think this is better than making the first message that God finds homosexuality sinful. While moral philosophers have evolved many reasons why something might be thought good or bad, people who believe the Bible is self-consistent, inerrant and inspired can only say something is good or bad because a capricious God says so; and gay marriage is a case in point. What on Earth reasons could there be for finding it immoral, apart from that The Bible, Koran or whatever, condemns it?

The trouble with this is that I have grown and matured in the Church all my life, always self-identifying as Christian, and I disagree about the content of morality and the effect of the Bible verses. I am uncomfortable with Laura K appointing herself my teacher about sexual morality.

I contacted her through facebook, and she asked me to email her. I would love to hear your faith story, and how you came to know Jesus. I appreciate it when others share their honest walk- including struggles and victories. I am not sure I want to. Certainly not by email, which may be misunderstood so easily.

What I want to do first is build animal trust between us. Holding off on the things we disagree about, which are important to both of us, I want us to take communion together. I remember the sentiment from the Church of England Eucharist, but it is 1 Cor 10:17: Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

I would like us to take it very slowly, and explore our areas of agreement over months sharing a church. These will be many, even if our disagreements are very important. If we could do something together, perhaps serving the coffee after worship together one Sunday, that would be good too. we might approach our areas of disagreement from a position of trust, respect and friendship. We might, after so long disagreeing, accept that we might continue to disagree after these discussions, but that there would be enough good each could perceive in the other to make continued fellowship worthwhile.

If we can make that leap of trust, and take on faith that there is that sufficient good in each other, then the dialogue on points of disagreement might start earlier.

One of the curses of Christians is that we hate disagreeing. It seems that if we disagree, at least one of us must be wrong, and we ascribe dreadful consequences to that wrong, perhaps even as dreadful as damnation. We used to burn each other at the stake so that the heretic could not pervert others to his evil falsehoods, imperilling their souls. If we become like little children we are less desperate for agreement on everything.