As many radical feminists know, Julie Bindel, a famous radical feminist theorist and writer, has long since been no-platformed by the National Union of Students in the UK, and cannot speak at universities, including my own, on any topic, because of her “transphobic views”. These “transphobic views” are basically that women are oppressed on account of our biology as females, not because of our ‘ladybrains’. Cut to my seminar on Tuesday:
I’m taking a seminar on Critical Theory and the seminar tutor and convener of the module is a young, American man with a doctorate in comparative literary studies, or something like that. He has created a new syllabus which he’s very excited about because “since the credit crunch Marx has come back in a big way and this theory we are going to be learning has become just as relevant as it was in the 1970s, if not more so”. I immediately thought of the Women’s Liberation Movement, of course. We are going to be reading Marx extensively: Term 1 will be a grounding in his theory, and then in Marxist revisionism; Term 2 will be spent, half on Marxist feminism and then some stuff on the anthropocene and Environmentalism etc. He gave us a run-down of each section.
When introducing Marxist Feminism, he asked the class a question. He said, “Feminists in the 1970s started looking at Marx and saying, ‘there’s something massive missing here. Marx has completely ignored a major component of unpaid labour in this society.’ And what do you guys think is this ‘unpaid labour’ they were talking about?”
One of the four men in the class, of course, put forward, the classic answer “domestic work”.
Then a theatre student added, “feeding the workers.”
And I chimed in, controversially perhaps, “physically producing the next generation of workers”.
And I was expecting a hushed silence, I was expecting my tutor to grimace, to clarify that female biology has nothing to do with this sexism that we’re talking about now. But, to my genuine surprise, and to my amusement, to be honest, he nodded enthusiastically. Yes! “All of women’s labour was ignored in Marx, and these feminists sought to address that. Production as Reproduction.”
Woman = Female!? No one batted an eye.
The reason I’m posting the story on my blog is because I want people to know. I want people to know that at my university, where Julie Bindel is no-platformed, where we are not allowed to use the word “woman” or “female” on our Anti-Sexism Society’s discussion page, a prominent male tutor is teaching Marxist Feminism with sexism defined as sex-based oppression. It just blows my mind: his male privilege means he can speak the truth with no consequence. At least I already know what my essay topics are going to be.
Men can say what women get punished for. Liberal feminism is intellectually bankrupt.
Reblogged this on Stop Trans Chauvinism.
Reblogged this on Radfem Repost.
I agree that it has mostly to do with him being a man, but I think it’s probably also because there’s no spotlight on him and his ideas (unlike invited feminist guests). Also, Marxism is generally considered old hat and discredited, so people are probably not too worried about what a Marxist says about sex and gender.
Though the fact that he was male probably had something to do with it, we should keep in mind that just because an oppressive rule governing political discussions exists does not mean it will be enforced in all circumstances. Can they really stop every single conversation that implies that “female” is a biological category? No, it would be almost impossible.
They probably target high profile guests and specific fields which they regards as “women’s issues”. Marxism (and economics in general) is supposed not a “women’s issue” so they do not moniter what gets said, same with biology (another context in which the term “female” is used to refer to reproductive differences).
I think ultimately they would like to control these types of discussions but they do not have the power to. There may no have been a transactivist in the room and if there had been a liberal feminist there she would not have been on the lookout for “transphobia” because no one told her to look for it (liberals have so many “phobias” to be wary of that they cannot possible notice all of them).
While it is terrible that radical feminist voices are being suppressed, I am relieved that the ideas still exist in academia. They cannot really act as though the second wave feminist movement never existed, even though they try. Though I am curious to know whether this man was endorsing the radical feminist viewpoint.
In my experience, several lecturers have started off their discussion of an issue by explaining what Marxists and radical feminists think about it, only so they could “debunk” both views and declare that they were outdated or crazy. In the case of radical feminism, they make sure to point out how personally offended they as feminine, heterosexual women are by it, because that is somehow relevent.
Anyhow, I hope the suppressive atmosphere at universities with regard to radical views eases up in the near future. Being a radical university student is scary.