On s*x work and freedom of speech

5 Apr



On April 9 and 10, Melinda Tankard Reist is hosting a conference marketed thus: ” ‘World’s oldest oppression,’ the first ever gathering of sex industry survivors and abolitionists in Australia, will be held at RMIT University in Melbourne next weekend.” On Tankard Reist’s website it is further described as a “two-day conference for a world free of sex trade abuse,” and a “feminist human rights conference.”

Various parties have called for no platforming action against the conference, on the grounds that it offers an opportunity for hate speech, and the furthering of a religious/moral agenda against all sex work. This agenda intentionally conflates sex work with an international and abusive sex trade of women and girls. The two are not the same, and Tankard Reist et al do their cause no favours by this conflation. Given my knowledge of Tankard Reist and other participants in this forum, I’d be inclined to agree with the apprehension of conflation: these participants steadfastly refuse the possibility of sex work as a choice, and make no distinction between women who are the victims of sex trade abuse, and women who choose sex work as their career.

Reist, Caroline Norma and Julie Bindel have all at some time made the argument that women who choose sex work as their profession are victims of a kind of false consciousness, that is, they don’t actually make a choice because they have been abused to the point where choice is no longer possible, they just don’t know that about themselves. This seems to me a most presumptuous and offensive conclusion for anyone to arrive at, other than the women concerned, and it should be identified and challenged.

I need to disclose here my personal encounters with Tankard Reist, when she threatened to sue me for defamation after I’d written on this blog about her religious affiliations and their influence on her moral and political sensibilities . While it was a difficult period in my blogging career, and brought all manner of people from Anne Summers to Julia Baird to Miranda Devine down on my head, and made me for a nanosecond a global cause and the subject of a change.org petition to save me, it also taught me valuable lessons about efforts to silence a contrary point of view, and it is this learning that I’m drawing on in my argument that Reist et al must be permitted their platform.

After my experience of Reist attempting and failing to bully me into silence with threats of financial ruin if I didn’t shut up and retract, (supported in her efforts by some of the mainstream press) I’m highly sensitised to any form of censorship. As an academic committed to the deconstruction of controversial ideas rather than their silencing, I baulk at the current penchant for refusing a platform to those who hold a position with which I strongly disagree. I can’t support authoritarianism in any form, and withholding the right to express ideas is an authoritarian act. Who is to decide which ideas may or may not be expressed? And since when was it possible to destroy any idea by denying opportunities for its expression?

The fact that RMIT hosts this conference (which at first blush appears perfectly acceptable, after all, who wouldn’t like to abolish sex trade abuse) doesn’t indicate administrative support for views expressed during the conference. Permitting the expression of ideas does not indicate  acquiescence or agreement with those ideas. If ideas are forbidden expression on a university campus, we are in deep excrement.

Tankard Reist is adept at tailoring her marketing to fit her desired outcomes: in this instance she is using an understandable abhorrence for the trafficking of women and children into sexual slavery as an opportunity to attack all sex work. This approach needs not to be silenced, but identified and challenged.

Reist also states that survivors of sex trade abuse are speaking at the conference and I cannot, in any universe, agree to the silencing of the voices of survivors. Undoubtedly they are survivors who support Reist’s opinions: they ought not to be denied a voice because of this. I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse: is someone ready to instruct me that I may speak of this only within their terms of reference?

The weapon in situations such as this is not censorship but protest. Demanding that a third-party, in this case university authorities, step in and take action on students’ behalf is infantile. If you don’t want someone speaking on your campus get out there and protest and hopefully the academic staff who agree will support you. No platforming is the first resort of the weak.  You can’t no platform the world and everything in it you don’t want to hear. You have to learn to use your own voice for the whole of your life so you might as well start at university.

I’d like to add that Vixen Collective, who are protesting the “World’s Oldest Oppression” conference, have not called for RMIT to no platform. They have simply asked for an opportunity to have a voice in the discussions. That request has been ignored by the conference organisers. 




50 Responses to “On s*x work and freedom of speech”

  1. townsvilleblog April 5, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

    Will they be addressing style, length of time spent, or perhaps communication of love. For me making love has been the only game in town, sex can be had by two stray dogs on a street corner, making love is a communication of love, for me anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. doug quixote April 5, 2016 at 2:05 pm #

    They can talk until they are blue in the face, but the problem comes when their incessant yapping gets the attention of governments. The pressure they are able to put on the lawmakers is despicable. The lawmakers are pressured to feel that they must legislate. And that almost invariably makes a poor situation worse.

    Let them find their own forum. They have plenty of backing; let the Catholic Church and the Happy Clappies come out of the woodwork to host them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 5, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

      Unfortunately no platforming them gives them the martyrdom they seek


      • doug quixote April 5, 2016 at 10:56 pm #

        We have this same discussion every few months it seems. Not that long ago it was Uthman Badar and his radical Islamism; Geert Wilders before that; if we went back far enough, we’d discuss Herr Hitler making a State Visit here to air his views, and how he deserved a fair hearing.

        Give them nothing and take them nowhere.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson April 6, 2016 at 6:25 am #

          DQ, what you advocate is totalitarianism, what about Voltaire?


          • doug quixote April 6, 2016 at 8:28 am #

            Not at all, Jennifer. There are limits to free speech, and every society will impose their limits one way or another.

            The only question is where the line is drawn.

            You exercise ‘moderation’ here on your blog whenever someone exceeds your limits, and quite right too – no-one is compelled to provide a platform for people to abuse you or propound views that strike at your core beliefs.

            As for Voltaire:

            In a letter to Frederick II, King of Prussia, dated 5 January 1767, he wrote about Christianity:

            “[Christianity] is assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most bloody religion which has ever infected this world. Your Majesty will do the human race an eternal service by extirpating this infamous superstition, I do not say among the rabble, who are not worthy of being enlightened and who are apt for every yoke; I say among honest people, among men who think, among those who wish to think. … My one regret in dying is that I cannot aid you in this noble enterprise, the finest and most respectable which the human mind can point out..”

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Wilson April 6, 2016 at 8:35 am #

              Well, I completely agree with Voltaire.

              I do shudder when I imagine RWNJ employing the no platforming tactic as it’s currently wielded by the left.

              Liked by 1 person

              • doug quixote April 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

                They do it now.

                Only the left has a conscience about it. A misplaced conscience.


  3. 8 Degrees of Latitude April 5, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    With you every step on this. Freedom of speech is paramount. The fact that Tankard-Reist talks total tosh is immaterial to the argument.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jim Fitz April 10, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

      As an example, though. What would you say if a pedarist lobby-group took a platform? Freedom of Speech carries responsibility. Acclaim this freedom if you like but if such a group openly targeted children (Say, for example, mine, well before they were adults) I would certainly question their right to that freedom. RadFems promote ‘Fair Speech.” Wiccan promote ‘Harm None.” Yet these 2 groups are often seen as marginal or radical, maybe zealous? (BTW, I’m not in any of these groupings)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson April 11, 2016 at 7:17 am #

        I would loudly protest them and whoever granted them a platform. I’m fairly confident that in the case of pederasts a great many others would protest equally loudly and the event would be cancelled. I wouldn’t protest on the grounds that they shouldn’t speak, I’d protest against their criminality.


      • 8 Degrees of Latitude April 11, 2016 at 10:07 pm #

        Sexual molestation of minors is a criminal offence. Consenting paid sex between adults is a victimless crime (and a crime only because sex is ‘dirty’, historically). If pederasts want to advocate, they should be allowed to do in the realm of theory where such practices should be confined. I do agree with your point, though, that freedom of speech carries responsibility. It’s better, too, if it comes along with evidence of sentience.

        Liked by 1 person

        • paul walter April 12, 2016 at 12:24 am #

          It’s a good lead in, yet I think many people wonder if there is not a trace of blinkering ideology/religion, political repercussions and commercial imperatives involved with

          This shit ramps up curiously at this stage in the electoral cycle and all the more insecure folk, urged on by tabloid media and press, turn conservative defensive and inward and vote tory on a fear campaign?

          Ok, probably not quite, but there is an underlying cultural scrap involving De Maistrean extremes and the dregs of medieval prudery and authoritarianism that reinforces the components of cultural reinforcement and blocks the hope for a more informed, less medievally fearful approach to sex that epitomises our era. Reification and commodification first, then we worry about collateral damage…

          Meanwhile, time for supper, maybe a toasted corn beef or ( name your tinned meat) sanga.


  4. paul walter April 5, 2016 at 5:31 pm #

    I can see it is the no platforming thing as much as anything, as well as the usual Pollyanna flurry of self presentation on a proposed but unexamined claim of exceptional heroinic virtue – stifles a long postponed debate about preconditions.

    Digressing, I’ve received a trail of friend requests at FB from young women who offer pics of themselves but no info, apart from a statement on one page that it is a page for fucking, not a dating service. The “friends” on their friend lists seem always to be the same little group of rather scurvy looking bikie types. I haven’t availed myself of their services.

    Why pay money to fuck someone who secretly despises you and who you detest and pity, with her underlying hostility? Where is the sponteneity and mutual desire?

    It’s possibly a complete abnegation of all sex should be about and I think it is possible that some sex workers, like victms of sexual assault, do end up a bit fucked up for having to do stuff, perhaps under coercion, that goes against the grain. Some of the pics showed healhy women, often students by the look, able to cope, but someof the pics have also shown women and girls looking a bit dead-eyed sorrowful.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 5, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

      I’ve seen a few dead-eyed and sorrowful wives, PW. You don’t have to pay for sex for it to be awful.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paul walter April 6, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

        Thanks for that. You could have easily misinterpreted my post but offered an empathic answer instead. On a bad hair day, a hand on the shoulder helps.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. badblood April 5, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

    So they attempted to silence you, and now you think that means they deserve free speech? CS called me a paedophile for challenging their attempt to have SexyLand adult stores denied a lease at Westfield. That was a week of utter hell. Here’s an idea: maybe no-platforming isn’t something that is always right or always wrong, but something that is sometimes appropriate depending on context. In the case of a conference being held in an academic setting to pretend a sex-negative movement – driven by values that are not open for debate – has a scholarly foundation based on evidence, it is appropriate to challenge their platform. MTR and Collective Shout are also known for vigorously advocating for black rappers and pickup artists to be denied entry into the country, let alone into an auditorium. They are not owed better treatment than they dish out to others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 5, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

      No I don’t think their attempt to silence me means they *deserve* free speech, or that they are *owed* better treatment than they dish out to others.

      I think their silencing tactics are absolutely despicable. So why would I advocate using the same tactics unless I wished to be equally despicable?

      They do in fact claim to have scholarly evidence to substantiate their position on the consequences of sex trafficking, and as with every claim, this should be subject to critique, not silenced.

      I have no doubt there are terrible sufferings as a result of sex trafficking. My dispute with MTR et al is that they are exploiting the already exploited, using them as a means to their own ends by co-opting their suffering to further their moral/religious prejudices against sex work and sex workers.

      There may be instances in which no platforming is appropriate: none of the recent examples in universities in the UK and US strike me as appropriate, and I’m appalled that this tactic is used on campus, of all places, to shame and silence other perspectives. Currently it’s employed largely by the left, how will you feel when it becomes a regular tactic of the right & views such as ours are denied any expression?

      What they did to you sounds appalling. I’d really like to get together a collection of accounts of what they’ve done to people such as yourself and me.


      • Moz of Yarramulla April 6, 2016 at 9:41 am #

        No platforming is used vigorously by the far right if you look for it. The “no BDS” campaign, for example, is largely carried out by far right groups, as is the anti-abortion war in the USA. We’ve seen a similar effort to suppress mention of atrocities committed during the invasion of Australia, and lately even the idea that Australia was invaded.

        I think that the Liberal Party is very keen on it, an their cleaning climate scientists out of the CSIRO is in part no-platforming. It’s also about removing the research that supports the platform, and also part of the “no government good, small government acceptable” philosophy. But there’s definitely a strong element of “don’t mention the war(ming)”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • badblood April 7, 2016 at 11:59 am #

        I am a researcher and a practitioner and an activist in a particular social change movement around queer politics and HIV. It’s a tradition that includes protests of the kind now stigmatised as ‘no-platforming’, as well as a thriving culture of academic and artistic and activist ideas and debate. It is an utterly false dichotomy to claim that no-platforming and debate are mutually exclusive. In fact, no-platforming is most often used to highlight where a discourse is only possible *because* of the voices it excludes. Such as the conference in question — which parades what it calls ‘prostitution survivors’ but works hard to disqualify the voices of current sex workers.

        Second, there’s a romanticising of the academy as a place of free speech and debate that really needs to be questioned, here. The academy is historically and currently an incredibly exclusive institution. I’m not just thinking of access to coursework degrees where the university gets paid for bums on seats; I’m talking about who gets to speak and be listened to as an academic. That has real practical consequences: it means that anti-sex work activists give evidence to government enquiries as Prof So-and-So, and their testimony is seen as objective and neutral. That’s what protesters mean by a ‘platform’ — the recruitment of institutional prestige, power and authority behind a cause — not the right to speak.

        Liked by 2 people

        • doug quixote April 7, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

          A platform gives them credibility. Any debate which presents a ‘yes or no’ case effectively says that there is a credible alternative.

          As an example, the nut jobs who denied climate change were afforded a platform – a place where their fringe views were presented as if they had credibility. In Australia and the US, that is; the Europeans weren’t so silly.

          If they want to disseminate their fringe nut job views, let them pay some other fools for the privilege. This is not suppression or repression; it is common sense.


        • Jennifer Wilson April 7, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

          I do not claim that no-platforming and debate are mutually exclusive, obviously they aren’t.
          It’s difficult to think of any discourse that does not exclude some voices, indeed there’s an argument that exclusion is an essential aspect of discourse.
          I have no objection to a conference in which women who identify as *prostitution survivors* are given a voice, and frankly, I’m astonished that you do. I find it difficult to imagine that *prostitution survivors* would be given a voice at a pro sex work conference. Practically no one is going to organise a conference and invite those who oppose its objectives to participate.

          I have no problem either with academics giving evidence to government enquiries into sex trafficking. Again, I point out the conflation between sex work and sex trafficking. I am supportive of sex workers. I abhor the trafficking of women and children. It’s possible for me to hold two thoughts in my head at once.

          If you refuse someone a platform you are not permitting them to speak in that space. Tim Wilson, late of the HRC, wanted Occupy protestors attacked with water cannon, a novel form of no-paltforming in a public space. I am no-platformed when threatened with arrest and jail time for protesting CSG. Whether the no-platforming is done by the right or the left, it is an authoritarian act that silences. That is its nature. You correctly argue that it highlights where a discourse is only possible because of the voices it excludes.

          I don’t think there is a *romanticising* of the academy as a site of free speech and debate, on the contrary I think many academics recognise that universities are far from that, and wish it otherwise.


          • badblood April 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

            So you think silencing is inevitable and no-platforming is bad. Got it.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Wilson April 7, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

              That is a ridiculous comment.
              I can see situations in which no-platforming is a useful and valid tactic. Nothing I’ve seen in the US or UK, or what is proposed here fits those criteria as far as I’m concerned.
              This is only my opinion, not a universal truth.
              I doubt there is any aspect of your work and your activism that I would disagree with. I disagree with you on no-platforming. Does that make me your enemy?


    • paul walter April 6, 2016 at 7:20 pm #

      Bad blood, I feel you are not being entirely fair.

      Non-platforming is obviously the issue here, the stifling of debate in favour of a possibly not entirely thought through ideological exercise where legitimate questioning is suffocated in favour of wish-fulfillment.

      Liked by 2 people

      • paul walter April 6, 2016 at 7:21 pm #


        • paul walter April 6, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

          Sorry, wrong button.


      • badblood April 7, 2016 at 11:47 am #

        It’s protest. Calling it ‘non-platforming’ is an attempt to stigmatise a form of protest that in fact highlights the way excluding certain voices is central to certain political projects. To all of the claims made about ‘no-platforming’ I say in response, as a social researcher: citation needed. Where is the evidence that it has these consequences?


        • paul walter April 7, 2016 at 2:27 pm #


          This goes from the sublime to the gorblimey, following this logic.., it’s not a game. Did you not read earlier posts?

          Do you want thought thought-through analysis as background to this work or merely a program based on false illlusions that fails, really, to help anyone, for the lack of previous examination?

          There is a sense that the people runnng this show avoid sscrutiny of their propositions and ideas. This cannot be if so when young lives are at stake…too important for silly roadblocking to avoid what should be a welcome part of formulative process that eliminates error.


          • badblood April 7, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

            This comment is not even wrong.


            • paul walter April 7, 2016 at 5:07 pm #

              You don’t think MTR’s notions should be tested?

              Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter April 7, 2016 at 10:26 pm #

      Sorry. What I wanted was the story but I can’t get the beeb to cough up this story in isolation. It represents two diametrically opposed viewpoints- sex workers and those who sought legal changes that charge men for paying rather than women for soliciting. The sex workers, affronted, felt the laws left them in danger and worse off, and subject to the whims of state and clients, whereas others who wanted this law felt that penalising men for payment would shut down the sex industry, which they felt was a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson April 8, 2016 at 7:12 am #

        It’s beyond me why sex work should be subjected to laws in the first place. Why make it illegal to sell and buy sex? I don’t get it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • paul walter April 8, 2016 at 7:29 am #

          Good morning. Doing insomnia and must be at the dentist about ten, so am killing time on line, which means another post here.

          Firstly, bad blood. I may have got you round the wrong way on platforming/ non platforming. If so, you have my apologies.

          Jennifer, quite agree.

          I think an average person just fears less strong or young and inexperienced people being duped and coerced, as apparently occurs in the sex industry..its a protective thing, we’ve all heard stories of young people or women abused and it is the abuse that bothers people rather than a quick buck for a quick hump between adults.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Moz of Yarramulla April 13, 2016 at 9:16 pm #

          > Why should sex work be subject to laws at all?

          That seems like an extreme libertarian position, which I think is unlike anything I’ve read from you before. Are you really suggesting that, say, it should be legal to buy a child to use as a sex slave? That’s what “no laws around sex work” has as one extreme.

          There are limits the other way, though. To me suspending someone’s dole if they won’t do sex work is unreasonable. But I do think a better approach than criminalisation is simply the imposition of all the usual bureaucrazy. Yeah, you can run a brothel, but you need commercial zoned premises, payroll tax, an occupational health and safety inspection, a qualified first aid person on staff and fire exits etc etc etc. At least that makes it *possible* to do sex work reasonably safely, where criminalisation prevents almost all safe options (I am assuming that marriage doesn’t count as sex work, just for now 🙂 because I think that’s a whole ‘nother extreme view of sex work)

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson April 14, 2016 at 6:45 am #

            Moz I said sex work shouldn’t be criminalised, not kidnap, slavery and rape. Laws exist to deal with these things already, specific laws criminalising consenting adults have no place, IMO.

            I agree with the imposition of bureaucratic safety measures.

            As for marriage – I agree with you on that as well. There’s an argument to be made for that, one I almost got into, then stopped myself. It deserves a whole post to itself.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 11, 2016 at 7:15 am #

      Well, this isn’t really a post. I don’t know how it got through the spam police.


      • paul walter April 11, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

        I don’t know why you would say that, but frankly, it was a weird thread starter and I’m still trying to fathom where it was going.

        ‘My comment is straightforward enough to me, not spam but an honest response. I have your own history in mind when it comes to abuse and misery and why would you wish me to support anything that would perpetuate that for some one else.

        Are you sure it is MY comment that is “spam”?

        ps, you ARE right on one thing, on my FB travels last night coming across a post from one Julie Hayes, to a Greens page, of all places, is correct- it does look like that viewpoint is doing publicity on the BACWA agenda unaltered.

        I was silly enough to suggest that they try out your critique for some thing more objective.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson April 12, 2016 at 10:35 am #

          I said that because I couldn’t open it & usually when there’s more than a couple of lines the spam thing blocks it, as Forrest discovered to his chagrin. I was always having to rescue him.


          • paul walter April 12, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

            Forrest is a nice man (presumably), but I fear the sort of man who would need rescuing. It is always good to see the Forrest for the trees.

            “Spam thing” is very scientific, I like that.. But, who rescues poor old Pauly (snuffles, shakes head, bears up).

            Tech is odd. I’ve just had Telstra on the line telling me they want to “improve” my plan by giving me three months free foxtel and frankly, apart from the accent, the terminology continues to baffle, poor fuzzy old head. I suppose they will end up diddling me somehow, but as Ellis used to say, “we will see what we will see”.

            Of course my stuff is spam, even I know that, but I like you and think there is much to learned here.

            I’ve had a lousy week, paying for old sins and maybe not clear in my writing, so little wonder a bright person would wonder at the worst of it. Incidentally, I am also in trouble understanding the various transgender debates about at the mo, I only caught a glimpse of Germaine Greer last night and want to catch up as to QA.

            As the Stones sang, back in the Triassic,
            “what a drag it is
            growing old”,
            ( Mothers Litle Helper )
            Now to put an end to the insomnia and I sincerely welcome your posting.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Wilson April 12, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

              If you are in my spam jail I will rescue you.
              Why do you want Foxtel? It’s rubbish.
              As for the transgender debates: I don’t think Greer is your model in those. I’ve seen some hair raising spats on social media on this topic & I think Fay Weldon reportedly observed that men only want to be women because that way they can continue to boss us.
              I guess the debate is fairly shallow, at least in the Guardian.


              • paul walter April 12, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

                The foxtel was three months free and the option of not continuing. Just the same, I do not trust them and think they employ Filipinas to make sure suckers don’t understand terms and conditions.

                I’ve reached the limits to my tolerance with free to air and three months novelty sounds cute, on the face of it.

                As for Germaine, next stop is a proper view of QA, the very little I caught, she sounded fair enough, but sections of the sudience, as usual, were out to hang draw and quarter her. The bloke next to her sounded like they should have been after him, instead.

                Have taken the Fay Weldon quote on board and have processed a relevant interpretation.

                Liked by 1 person

  6. Moz of Yarramulla April 13, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

    > It’s difficult to think of any discourse that does not exclude some voices, indeed there’s an argument that exclusion is an essential aspect of discourse.

    One of the joys of academia is that it’s generally pluralistic. Not “everywhere, all at once, all the time”, but in the sense that divergent voices are generally able to find spaces to develop their views and arguments, and over time influence the discourse (not just, as famously said, through waiting for their opponents to die). Through synthesis and theme-stealing extreme ideas get moved from the unspeakable fringe to the edge of what’s mainstream. The Overton Window effect, to some extent.

    My experience is with STEM more than social science, but one thing that interested me in my studies was the extent to which dead, discredited theories were kept around just in case, often for ridiculously long periods. We have modified gravity, string theory, and even aether still on the books despite their apparent stupidity because every now and then something like that turns out to be useful. I suppose most famously physics has the utter, complete, disastrous incompatibility of relativity and quantum mechanics. They go together even less well than your sex work theorists above. But we still have both, because each explains some observations rather well.

    I’m inclined more to say “what’s the harm”, and when we can point to direct harm from the event, ask them to get approval from the ethics committee before they can go ahead with their experiment (in this case “what happens if we have this conference”).

    Liked by 2 people

    • samjandwich April 13, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

      Moz (ha! autocorrect wanted me to call you “Mom”!), my understanding of what constitutes intellectualism is essentially that all information that is available should be considered simultaneously on its merits… and so even though there are countless current and past theories floating around whether acknowledged or not, there’s always value in throwing them into the mix.

      … which is why I fundamentally disagree with MTR and her acolytes – and for that matter any doctrine that seeks to exclude information it finds unacceptable – e.g. the ultra-conservative Liberals, Hipsters, the Chinese Communist Party etc etc… since their positions essentially become illegitimate and beneath contempt the instant they try to silence contrary voices.

      BTW, there’s a fun article on this conference on The Conversation, where my alter-ego Mr Glanfield fell a-fowl [sic] of one of those peculiar male radical feminists!

      NB thanks for keeping on the ball with this JW, unlike some of us!-)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 14, 2016 at 6:50 am #

      My suspicion is the conference organisers were delighted at the objections, and perhaps even at the threats. It gives them a cause in addition to the rescue of women, many of whom don’t wish to be rescued in the first place. It makes martyrs of the *righteous* who can portray themselves as persecuted in the pursuit of their cause.
      I’m agree with your last para, however the difficulty is, who defines *harm* and by what criteria?


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