Linda Bellos has a history of being what she calls “respectful” to men who identify as women. She isn’t afraid to call them “transwomen” and use their preferred pronouns in a room full of radical feminists. Like any feminist worthy of the name, however, Linda has become concerned about transgender ideology. This led, in October 2017, to the withdrawal of an invitation to speak by a society at Peterhouse College, Cambridge University which, apparently in all seriousness, is described by its members thus:
Here’s the story that appeared in The Times.
Linda Bellos barred in Cambridge University row
A leading feminist has had an invitation to speak at Cambridge University withdrawn amid concerns that transgender activists could oppose her. Linda Bellos had been invited by the Beard Society at Peterhouse College and sent a list of dates — which were withdrawn after she said she would be “publicly questioning some of the trans politics . . . which seems to assert the power of those who were previously designated male to tell lesbians, and especially lesbian feminists, what to say and think”.
Ailish Maroof, the co-president of the society, which describes itself as a “gender and feminism” group, replied: “I’m sorry but we’ve decided not to host you. I too believe in freedom of expression, however Peterhouse is as much a home as it is a college. The welfare of our students in this instance has to come first.”
The prospect of laws to let men redefine their gender without a physical transition and then gain access to changing rooms and women’s refuges has angered many. “I’m not being told by someone who a few months ago was a man what I as a woman can or cannot do,” Bellos said. Maroof declined to comment.
It’s not clear what impact Maroof or anyone else thought the proposed talk might have on the welfare of their students.
In Linda’s interview with BBC Newsnight, her only reference to transwomen is when she says this:
Now check out this astonishing comment that appeared on Linda’s Facebook page soon after the programme aired.
Linda’s alleged “transphobia” is revealed….where exactly? In saying that men who identify as women are not the same as those of us who are women? This makes her a “propagator of hate”? “Out of step with the world”?
I don’t think too many people in the world would agree with this pompous idiot, who is surely the living, breathing confirmation of the insulation described by Frank Furedi here.
I agree with Linda Bellos that safe spaces should be about physical safety – not safety from ideas. To see university students whining about being offended by ideas is very sad, very disappointing, a pitiful indictment of their character and intellect as well as a betrayal of everyone who has fought throughout history for the free expression of ideas and opinions.
When Linda Bellos said she’d fight back
Happily, as a result of this attempt to silence Linda Bellos, she got two other speaking invitations, the first one in York in early November. The bullies got the venue – the Priory Street Centre, whose management should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves – to cancel with a few hours notice but the event organiser, Venice Allan, managed to find a better venue so the meeting went ahead as planned. Here is Linda’s contribution. Pay particular attention to the bit where she says: “If any one of those bastards comes near me I’ll take my glasses off and fucking…anyway.”
To those of us in attendance, it was a clear reference to the violent thugs at Speakers Corner who had, after all, been the ones to escalate an already volatile situation into violence, but her detractors chose to interpret it as “promoting violence against trans people” and complained to both the Labour Party and the police about her. It’s not clear how they managed to interpret a feisty 66-year old woman’s declaration that she will defend herself as “promoting violence”. Call it a sign of the times and be very afraid.
Her other speaking invitation came from a newly-formed group called A Woman’s Place, who decided to host an event in Cambridge in late November 2017. They invited Linda Bellos to speak alongside three other women who’d challenged trans ideology and suffered for it. Three of the speakers can be seen on A Woman’s Place’s youtube channel and an account by the organiser of how the bullies again tried but this time failed spectacularly to prevent the success of the event can be read here: Making sure A Woman’s Place is on the Platform.
If feminist Linda Bellos is seen as a risk, progressive politics has lost its way Claire Heuchan in The Guardian
“In recent years, gender has become an increasingly explosive subject. If anything, it was brave of Bellos to propose to address this schism between queer and feminist principles when so many seasoned activists shy away from the issue. And there is an issue: that women can’t even question queer gender politics without being viewed as suspect highlights an underlying problem with the ideology behind them.”