Statement on Harassment, Free Speech and Women’s Rights

 

One of our Steering Committee members has recently been ‘piled on’ on Twitter by a group of ideological extremists. Many other members of RESIST have experienced similar treatment at the hands of the mainstream media and others, so we are responding in a spirit of solidarity with our member and with all of those who have experienced the stress this behaviour causes.

We have the utmost respect for anyone who is campaigning for improvements in support and societal understanding of those experiencing gender confusion/dysphoria. We support those campaigning for protections, support and acceptance for those who are transitioning or who have transitioned. However we are opposed to the silencing of women and closing down of legitimate, evidence-based and respectful debate in relation to women and trans rights as follows:

  • No Debate’ Culture – asking questions, challenging and speaking out should never result in women being discriminated against, publicly slurred and intimidated. We are opposed to the normalisation of ‘No Debate’ and of the shaming of women – it is sexist

  • Piling On – as women have begun to find their voice on what can be a very contentious and fraught issue, a tendency toward ‘piling on’ and abuse of women who are speaking out publicly has evolved. We support women’s right to speak up in support of the protection of women’s rights, including retention of single sex spaces for those in prisons, refuges, seeking sexual assault and rape crisis support, in hospital wards and intimate care and in spaces where women might be in a state of undress and be vulnerable. Women should be free to comment on their own rights without feeling threatened personally or having their livelihood or reputation threatened. Piling on and online abuse of women is unacceptable and sexist

  • Use of Debate-Neutralising Slogans – for example ‘Trans Women Are Women’ implies that further discussion, even of what a woman is, or how trans is defined, equates to transphobia, bigotry or hate. These issues are complex and nuanced – clarity on how terms are defined are the essential foundation of any meaningful debate on anything

  • Attempts to de-platform by whatever means – women have fought for decades and at great cost for the right to have a political voice and be taken as seriously as men. We oppose attempts to de-platform women on the basis of their views on women’s rights, whether by ‘whispering campaigns’, or outright intimidation

  • Misrepresenting Women’s Views – we have noticed that women’s views are often deliberately misrepresented by people who refuse to take them on in a fair and public debate. Women face enough discrimination related to their sex and deserve a fair hearing and not to have words put into their mouths or to have their words re-framed

  • Interrupting and Cutting Off – women spend their entire lives being spoken over and having their contributions to debates de-valued or ignored. Women deserve to be heard and taken seriously.

For our part, we are committed to providing plentiful and fair opportunities for socialists to debate contentious issues on an evidence-based and respectful basis and in a way that is exploratory and solution-focussed.

We respect that as gender expression evolves, new forms of oppression may also need to be debated and addressed. At the same time, we fully respect the rights of women and other groups that have been fought for and won through long histories of oppression – these can and must not simply be erased or appropriated. It is imperative that gender is not conflated with sex and that we are clear in our use of language.

We live within a capitalist society that is still patriarchal. This means that men still exert domination over women economically, physically, culturally and within most spheres of life, sometimes knowingly and in obvious ways and sometimes more subtly or subconsciously, so how we interact online and in person as socialists must reflect that context.