We are saddened to report that the Multnomah Quaker Meeting House has caved to demands to renege on our contract to rent the space.
We are especially saddened to have to report that their stated reasons for participating in the ongoing blacklisting of gender-critical women indicate that they have bought into the blatant lies and smears of a small minority of people who use bullying, deception, and intimidation to close down open dialogue.
Their cancellation email cited “abusive language and behavior” on the part of scheduled speakers, but provided no attempt at proof that any of the organizers or women scheduled to speak (Kathleen Barry, Dawn Schiller, Lierre Keith, Heath Russell, Rachel Ivey, Samantha Berg) have ever committed abuse against anyone. Not only is this assertion provably false, it is a stunning reversal of reality since most, if not all, of the women involved have been subject to intimidation, stalking, sexual harassment, online bullying, threats of rape and violence, and in some cases, actual physical violence, BECAUSE of their courage in speaking out against the gender caste system and systems of sexual exploitation.
To add insult to injury, a subsequent note from a contact at the Meeting House to one of our organizers dismissively referred to the ongoing conflicts around gender-criticism, free speech, and the blacklisting of feminists as “bickering.”
Unlike many of the previous events that have experienced this kind of suppression, this event is not for women only. This event is open to the public, and yet it is receiving the same level of obstruction and obfuscation and intimidation as any women-only event I’ve been involved with. This is extremely illuminating and sobering. I’ve been told again and again that by fighting for the right of female people to organize autonomously, I’m being exclusionary, and told that this is the reason for the lies and threats. I’ve been told again and again that radical feminists need to engage in open, public, airing of issues and answering of questions in order to bring this issue to light, and that a perceived failure of radical feminists to do so is the reason for the lies and the threats. The people who told me these things have not been truthful – this is a free event, open to the public, aiming to open respectful dialogue, and we’re still not allowed to speak, still subject to the same tired lies and threats. Why?
Because we disagree. Because we are women who say no, gender is not natural. No, gender is not inevitable, not something to be embraced or accepted or celebrated. Gender is stereotypes. It’s constriction of behavior. It’s control, and not control for its own sake – it’s control for the creation and reproduction of male supremacy. Gender hurts, and gender’s defenders assure us that it would stop hurting so much if we would just stop struggling. We say no – and everyone knows what happens to women who say no.
Though the fashionable outcry against gender criticism tends to drown out all else, I’d also like to emphasize that gender is only one of two topics that we be discussed at this event. The other is resistance to commercialized sex exploitation. Often, women are prevented from speaking out against the sex industry by the industry’s powerful lobby. Other times, like this time, those same women are both silenced and ignored by those who would rather obscure the issues at hand. In both cases, we are not only being prevented from speaking. We’re being prevented from organizing, strategizing, and ultimately from acting in the interest of women’s liberation from material exploitation.
The bottom line is that an open event centered on promoting dialogue has been blacklisted from this venue because a small minority want to suppress dissent. Voices on all sides of the conversation around gender abolition have justly demanded open, constructive, respectful dialogue around this issue, and this kind of dialogue is the purpose of Radfems Respond. Our event will be open to the public, and registrants have so far included radical feminists, trans-identified, and detransitioned individuals. In fact, some of the most recent opinions in defense of Radfems Respond have been penned by trans-identified people, who have also asked that others stop trying to silence women in their name (here, here, and here).
We have asked the Multnomah Quakers for clarification on their reasons for cancellation. Based on their stated reasons so far, we can only conclude that they believe malicious falsehoods. If you would like to inquire as well, or express your regret that they have chosen not to support this dialogue, you can email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. They also have a facebook page (found here).
Rest assured, however, that this event will go forward despite the failure of our original venue to keep their commitment. Because of the history of threats, intimidation, and silencing against radical feminist voices, we do have a backup venue in downtown Portland, and we will be announcing those specifics very soon. We hope that members of the Multnomah Quakers will join us at our new venue and participate in the respectful discussion that they were unable to support. We look forward to seeing you there and continuing this much-needed conversation.
Please spread the word about this attempt at censorship on twitter by using the tag #radfemsrespond, and on facebook by liking our page.