Male violence against women is nothing new and characterizes all patriarchal societies including our own. As just one example, take the scourge of femicide – men kill three women every day in the United States, mostly their partners or former partners.
Even less talked about is the collective violence against the movement for women’s rights. This, too, has a long sordid history. During the Suffrage movement, women marchers were assaulted by male mobs and suffragists were attacked while peacefully picketing the White House with police looking on. After the suffragists were arrested, guards beat them with Billy clubs, dragged, choked, and kicked them, and subjected them to forced feeding. More recently, anti-abortionists have bombed abortion clinics, harassed patients and staff, and murdered abortion doctors.
Women and some men have been similarly subjected to violence for standing up to the extremist sex denialism of gender identity ideology, and for peacefully protesting for women’s rights – the right of women to speak in public, and to female-only spaces and programs.
Below are some recent examples of this violence, often done in the name of “trans rights” or “anti-fascism.” Such violence demonstrates that this is not fundamentally about defending anyone’s civil rights but is simply old-fashioned misogyny designed to keep women in our places. In addition, the women fighting for our rights have been unfairly demonized as “right-wing bigots” and “fascists” when not only is this very far from the truth, but it is the transactivists who are behaving like storm troopers. And like during suffrage days, the police have often been complicit, doing nothing to stop the violence.
- Attacks on the Let Women’s Speak rallies in Australia and New Zealand in March 2023. The mob broke through temporary gates set up by police and an organizer had tomato juice poured over her head and an elderly woman ended up with a concussion.
- Former University of Kentucky women’s swimmer, Riley Graines, posted on her social media account that on April 6, 2023 she was ambushed, physically hit and forced to barricade in a classroom by a mob yelling obscenities at San Francisco State. Gaines speaks around the country saying it wasn’t fair that she had to compete against Lia Thomas, a transwoman who won an NCAA national women’s swimming championship in the 500-yard freestyle in 2022. The San Francisco State University police department is investigating. On April 8 the University put out a tweet thanking the students who protested peacefully, saying nothing about those who were violent.
- Multiple attacks in various cities during a 2022 US tour featuring British women’s rights campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen. Keen is known for having founded Standing for Women to raise awareness of issues surrounding sex self-identification policies. A woman supporting Keen had her hand crushed by a trans-identified male whose aim was to stop her from recording video on her phone during a women’s rights rally in Tacoma Washington on October 26.
- Members of the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) held an event entitled “Fighting the New Misogyny: A Feminist Critique of Gender Identity” at the Seattle Public Library on Feb 1, 2020. During the day, the Seattle Police Department cleared the library following a bomb threat, apparently made as a last-ditch attempt to shut down the event. A mob threatening violence convened outside while inside 5 men were threatened with arrest after disrupting the talks. The audience began chanting Let Women Speak! In response to the hecklers. According to Feminist Current “Some of the protestors had dispersed by the end of the event, but a large group remained near the exit, phalanxed by police and shouting insults at the women exiting the library. One man ran around the escort vehicle in an attempt to cut off Meghan Murphy before she entered the vehicle, but was blocked by security. Had it not been for the police, the speakers would likely have faced attacks.”
- In late 2019 Meghan Murphy booked a speech on gender at the Toronto Public Library and required police protection as she was besieged by trans activists threatening violence. The next day the Toronto City Council voted 20 to 1 to review the booking policy for public spaces.
Feminists In Struggle extends our solidarity to all the women and men who have been harmed by this attack on women’s right to speak and peacefully protest in public places without fear. Political differences within this growing movement for women’s sex-based rights should never be allowed to stand in the way of uniting in unconditional solidarity with our sisters in the U.S. and around the globe under attack. Stop this despicable violence now!
And don’t forget everyday femicide. Men murdering their wives and girlfriends, mothers, sisters, daughters. Black women make up 45 percent of sexual and domestic violence victims. Mens violence and misogyny coming from the left and right is accelerating. This is why I hope that feminist in struggle will have more spaces in every state so women can come together and be with each other to speak and have a safe space. We need to expand radical feminist spaces.
Yes, we mentioned femicide at the start of our statement. And agree that we need to expand radical feminist spaces. We urge you to join FIST if you haven’t already, and get involved. We especially need help with our efforts to build local chapters.