Previously, on more than one occasion, I’ve made it clear that my anger at the members of the London Feminist Network who organise the annual Reclaim The Night march here in London arises from their continuing refusal to make any public clarification of their position on trans women attending the event. For a transsexual woman like me, their use of the phrase “women only” is contentious because it carries with it the baggage of nearly half a century of our exclusion from cis women’s spaces.
That such blatant and toxic cissexism is applied to trans women is, frankly, unforgivable in this day and age, but reading the latest post on the Feminist Fightback blog (link here) makes me realise just how dangerous the march organisers’ attitudes are when applied to other cis women too.
As self-identified women committed to fighting gender-based violence, members of Feminist Fightback attended last Saturday’s march in solidarity with sex workers fighting for the right to self-organise against exploitation in their industry.
From the blog post, it seems that not only were they subjected to physical harassment and verbal abuse from other marchers, but were approached and interrogated by the police, apparently at the request of one of the stewards.
[...] we were extremely surprised to find that one of the basic principles of feminism (and all social justice movements) was forgotten in this instance – namely, that we never resort to using police aggression to silence and intimidate members of our own movement, no matter how much we may disagree with them.
And that is the crux of the matter. Feminism isn’t – or shouldn’t be – about a minority of privileged cis women using strongarm tactics against other, far more vulnerable women simply to prop up their distorted and outmoded worldviews. Might is most definitely not right, and the actions of those self-appointed guardians of a fictitious ‘true feminism’ have revealed the extent of the moral bankruptcy at the core of the London Feminist Network. They should be ashamed of themselves and if they had a shred of conscience, all those concerned would have stepped down by now.
It’s no surprise that the organisers of the Reclaim The Night march have made no public statement about this incident and their silence serves only to underline their desperation to hold on to their positions of power without accountability. But listen well, my sisters: the day is coming when you will be called to justify your appalling treatment of all those women against whom you have consistently used your privilege to discriminate, when the right and proper thing to do would have been to support and assist them in their struggle against a common enemy.
- 25 November 2009: Feminist Fightback: Reclaim the Night: a space for all feminists?
- 25 November 2009: Zeitgeist, Bitches: Fuck ‘Reclaim the Night’
- 25 November 2009: My Private Casbah: Reclaim the Night (for white, cis, middle-class TAB people)
- 25 November 2009: jacinthsong: this should not be what a feminist looks like
- 27 November 2009: HarpyMarx: Feminism: isn’t it about solidarity and unity for all women..?!
Other, related posts on this blog:
- TDOR 2009 – Bring it on home (RTN London remix) (November 23, 2009)
- Request for comments – Claim The Night march (October 28, 2009)
- Feminism in London workshop: follow-up (October 10, 2009)
- Reclaim The Night (For Cis Women Only) and the London Cis Feminist Network (October 5, 2009)
- Cis Feminism in London 09 (October 3, 2009)
- Tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1985 (November 9, 2008)
- Stonewall was a riot (November 6, 2008)