Take a ringside seat as Bindel, one of the biggest names in the long struggle for women’s rights, enters into battle with the newly ubiquitous transgender orthodoxy that decrees “woman” can mean anyone who identifies as such, even if they’re still in possession of a penis.
Trans activists (the Queer ISIS, she calls them) have gone, she says, from requesting we use she/her pronouns for transwomen to demanding we believe that they are women. Now we must call ourselves “cis” women and accept womanhood is fluid; and lesbians should have relationships with transwomen. She describes the “gender madness” that is forcing women to share single-sex spaces — toilets, changing rooms, clubs, refuges and prisons — with transwomen; and which denies women biological reality by substituting “chest feeding” for breast feeding and “front hole” for vagina. Even the word woman is being obliterated in favour of “menstruater” and “womb-haver”.
Should women fail to agree with any of this, she argues, they are labelled transphobic, bullied and “cancelled”, which is of course why the vast majority of us, however unhappy we are at the expropriation of our sex, are too scared to say anything. But Bindel, already de-platformed, abused and physically attacked by trans activists, has spent a lifetime defying bullies.
Bindel is a rock star of second-wave feminism, a co-founder of the organisation Justice for Women, which has helped so many women defend themselves against violent partners. In 1979, as a 17-year-old lesbian from a working-class background in northeast England, she entered the fight to free women from domestic violence, prostitution, pornography and institutional prejudice enshrined in law.
Her book is intended primarily to remind us of that unfinished battle.
She’s appalled by the Fifty Shades of Grey effect, which has sold women eroticised sexual violence and coincided with a tenfold increase in the “rough sex” defence, where women die and the accused, to date all male, claims the victim enthusiastically participated. In the past five years, more than half the men using the defence got off, although two thirds of the deaths were by strangulation. Bindel points out grimly that the latest addition to LGBTQQIA+ is K for kink, and much of kink — I suppose it’s best we know these things — is BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadomasochism).