Yesterday, 22nd July, a member of the Women’s Voices Matter collective published an article on their Facebook page. This article was reported as spam overnight and taken offline. Facebook did not notify the page admin or the author. They just removed the article which was published as a page ‘Note’. The content was a discussion of the coordinated campaign attempting to prevent women discussing their existing legal rights and protections, face to face and online.
There was no mention of any other subject. Find out for yourself, it’s re-published below.
On the same evening, a member of the Man Friday group was harassed on twitter and an attempt made to hack into their twitter account.
On 20th July 2018 the web address of Woman’s Place UK was mass reported as spam and taken off Facebook for six hours.
None of this content is spam. Women are spending hours of their time writing about maintaining their existing legal rights and their subsequent experiences of being blockaded, bullied and threatened and taken offline.
Women are not reacting or retaliating. We remain peaceful and cooperative. We will not stoop to this level of personal and digital abuse against individuals or groups.
For women to spend hours and hours of their time writing from their heart, with love and compassion, only to wake up to discover their writing has been automatically labelled as spam. Is this what fascism looks like? Is this what censorship feels like? Or is it same old, same old, men bullying women, telling them to shut up?
Thank you #ManFriday for providing Women’s Voices Matter with webspace.
The original article:
Too scared to speak on women rights
This campaign against women speaking is fierce and ardent, and failing.
Women are meeting and speaking.
There are groups and individuals who don’t believe women should be allowed to meet, speak and organise face to face and online. They implement covert and overt strategies to take down those who they perceive to be most influential in standing up for women’s rights.
There are well funded lobby groups, masquerading as advocacy organisations, who zealously oppose women and children maintaining their existing legal rights, they couch their opposition in obfuscation and nonsense.
These lobby groups have tens of thousands of pounds of UK Government funding. They thrive with generous donations from the pharmaceutical industry, US benefactors and others.
Women’s rights advocacy groups have no funding. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Crowdfunding is the main income stream.
What kind of country do we live in? When the CEOs of organisations like Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Centres are afraid to speak publicly in favour of keeping women safe in single sex spaces because they fear losing their funding? And women who wish to campaign on maintaining their existing legal rights have no funding and are subjected to relentless digital silencing?
Funders rarely fund women rights campaigns. It’s controversial. (Cough, splutter.) And hey, the suffragettes could achieve the vote without support or funding. Then we can too. Women are safeguarding the rights of women and children without funding, and in the face of vehement opposition.
Feminist websites and blogs are subject to denial of service attacks. Twitter and Facebook accounts are hacked, mass reported as spam and taken offline.
Malicious untruths and accusations are spread by people who don’t seem to pause in their attacks and slander. Don’t want to discuss a mutually agreed way forward.
Women’s social media accounts are mass reported by orchestrated groups of people who vehemently object to women speaking.
They slur, lie, demean and undermine.
Don’t you think this is utterly ludicrous?
Coordinated groups orchestrate pile ons to venues that women book for meetings. They write blogs and tweet utter nonsense such as ‘Woman’s Place UK are a hate group.’ This hasn’t worked. Women still meet and talk. Men and women face down the gauntlet of people wearing masks, blockading venue doors, occupying venue stairwells, chanting, waving flags in their faces and shouting at them.
Why don’t they spend their time fighting the corporate behemoth? Tackling neoliberal capitalism? Raising awareness of the biggest threat to (wo)mankind – climate change. Opposing structural racism. Fighting homophobia? Disrupting mega agribusiness and extreme energy extractors? Promoting fair trade? Supporting refugees?
Why would you choose to protest against women and mothers when you could fight fascism instead? Doesn’t make any sense to me. Why do gangs of youths mask up and chant at women, many of whom, not all, are old enough to be their mothers. And care as much as their mothers too. (Maybe because some of us remind them of their mothers and university lecturers?)
Last week, four men sat in a room in the Brighton Quaker Meeting House for four hours. They decided that women could not meet and talk in the Friends Meeting House that Woman’s Place UK had booked for a meeting many months ago. So other venues were located, booked and paid for in five days. No easy task! This kind of patriarchal authoritarianism has been happening all over the country for the last ten months.
A few days later, I stood outside the replacement venue, a smart Brighton Hotel. It was totally surrounded by protestors. I chose to walk outside, alone, (apart from a kind security guard,) in front of the venue shortly before the end. I walked through an angry mob of about 40 people, and stood facing the seafront. I was mobbed by an angry older man vehemently shouting at me. I’ve no idea what he was shouting because I had my minirig speaker on my shoulder blasting out ‘Feel The Love’ by Rudimental – at full volume. A younger protester tried to encourage him to step away from me, he wouldn’t.
Twice she asked him to leave me alone. (If that woman is reading this, thank you, your efforts were appreciated. I totally got that people preferred the music to his inexplicable ranting.)
I spoke to him, and said all I wanted to do was to watch the sea, that it was a treat to be at the seaside. So he turned sideways and waved the largest rainbow pride flag I have ever seen, in front of my face and body, to block my view, before he came in for another verbal go at me. We have since noticed the flag was upside down. No irony there then.
The hotel management were really worried. There were over 100 children asleep in the hotel and loud chanting protestors at the front and rear entrance to the building could easily be heard. Guests cancelled rooms and dinner bookings. The police tried on numerous occasions to ask the protestors to quieten down for the sake of the children. Their pleas fell on deaf ears. They were still making a noise when I left at 10.25pm. The police asked me to turn my minirig speaker down too. I complied, even though everyone loves a bit of reggae and being told what to do by the police is not my forte.
There was a moment, after the evening, about 10pm, when I was outside with a friend and I glanced at one of the protestors, he looked at me with such vitriolic hatred in his eyes. The feeling has stayed with me for days. It was such a shock. No-one has ever looked at me like that, not ever. I can still feel the prickling sensations of hate.
There are always women that buy tickets for women’s rights events and subsequently feel too scared to attend. Too scared to walk down the street alone, so they stay home or gather in groups before trepidatiously walking into venues. Too scared for their faces to be in camera shots. Too scared for their real names to be known. To scared to walk into a posh hotel.
What’s That About?
I believe Woman’s Place UK are a love group. They sell out their events. Hundreds of tickets are sold.
At the JamJar in Bristol a few months ago, I made my way through a blockade of about 30 masked protestors, slid under a banner, into a stairwell blockaded by more masked protestors. I grabbed the stairwell banister, tiptoed onto a skirting board, and hauled my body into a room so I could learn and talk about the rights of women and children.
When I arrived in the room I was utterly gobsmacked. Couldn’t believe what had just happened to me. Then I realised that actually the blockaders were not scary or violent, they just looked scary and intimidating, when they were actually children and young people. I’m a mum, so I turned right around, walked into the top of the stairwell and told them off; in a vain effort to disperse their mythical presumed expectations that the rights of women and children didn’t matter.
I went outside and supported small groups of attendees and presenters to make their way around the side of the building and enter through a fire escape. Some time later I watched as it took eight policemen to facilitate women entering a building. Shall I repeat that?
I watched as it took eight policemen to facilitate women entering a building.
When the meeting, organised by Venice Allen of ‘We Need to Talk’ finally began (yep, we did meet, we did talk), we paused before the presenters began speaking, and most of the people in the room took a moment to send kind thoughts to the people outside, to express concern for their well-being and to hope that they felt safe.
At Cardiff WPUK a month later, I supported a team of organisers to find a replacement venue, 5 hours before the WPUK meeting was about to start. In just a few hours, women located a school hall (phew), and I passed a microphone around the room, so we could listen to the voices of women, men and children. The original venue, the Mercure hotel in Cardiff, had caved into bullying and slander on the day the meeting was scheduled for.
Opponents of women maintaining their legal rights, phone, email, tweet and visit until venues booked for meetings and discussions pull out.
How can it be possible that women who genuinely care for the safety and wellbeing of all women and children can be considered hateful? That the very thought of us meeting and talking can inspire orchestrated silencing, de-platforming and misogyny?
They don’t just lobby against groups either.
People who don’t want women to talk also issue threats to individuals, as well as spread untruths, lies and slander to employers, friends, campaign groups, and thousands of twitter followers.
They do this from inside political parties, organising groups, friendship group, unions and employers.
Many of the women who organise to maintain the legal rights of women and children, work in rape crisis centres, they support women battered by men, women who have been trafficked. They campaign against harmful abusive porn. They are women who work in non-profits, women who work in trade unions, volunteer in left wing political parties, support refugees, women who campaign against climate change.
These are not hateful women. These are women who care. Women who freely give of their time and energy for good causes, women who want to be a part of making a difference.
These women are brave and courageous, they want to publicly stand up to maintain the legal rights we currently have. That’s all. Nothing else. To maintain the legal rights we currently have and to ask that they are implemented. We have noticed our legal rights are not being upheld, that flagrant, unlawful breaches and misunderstandings frequently occur. Women’s organisations want to be included in the political discussions they have previously been excluded from.
Why is that too much to ask? Look at the 5 requests on the Woman’s Place UK website.
What’s egregious about them?
Take it from me, it’s not an easy path to walk. The fallout that women receive, when they stand up for the rights of women and children, is relentless and ridiculous and can be very wearing and disruptive to professional and family life. If you haven’t seen it, you would struggle to believe it. I struggle to believe that people can be so persistent and vindictive.
The majority of people I speak to are frightened into silence. Terrified of being doxxed. As in, scared of lobbying, lies and pressure leading to them risking losing their jobs, houses, children and political organising spaces. Their emails & home addresses, employers details and social media identifying information is being spread online in private groups and tweeted to tens of thousands of people.
I’ve spoken to a broad range of men and women in different occupations, campaign groups and voluntary roles – bullied into silence. Too scared to speak.
Some work in domestic refuges, others are members of the House of Commons, The House of Lords, trade unionists, local politicians, church ministers, environmental campaigners, nurses, doctors, activists, legal observers, women who work to decriminalise sex workers, academics, PHD students, journalists, university lecturers, women supporting refugees and more – bullied into silence. Too scared to speak.
This familiar narrative repeats on a loop, ratcheting up whenever those who want women to stay silent have had a F2F meeting. Suddenly, more social media accounts are trolled, reported to Facebook and Twitter, taken offline, their employees, friends, campaign groups and political parties are repeatedly harassed until they give in under relentless pressure and lies from people who do not want women to safeguard their existing legal rights.
No one is campaigning for any protected group or individual to have more rights or less rights than anyone else. Simply wanting to maintain existing legal protections brings about an unbelievable level of vitriol. It’s really shocking. And it’s only directed at the women. Rarely the men.
The names of members of the activist group #ManFriday were put online the other week.
Some of those women were terrified. I mean terrified. Women have had to form support groups to take care of each other. Some women have closed all their social media accounts. Hidden their contact details, and made sock accounts to use online. If they don’t, they are concerned they may lose their jobs, political representation, organising and social groups.
No wonder they can’t speak. It’s utterly relentless.
Is this right?
Do you believe that women being bullied and scared into silence is acceptable?
Do you believe this level of misogyny is acceptable?
Are you willing to support women? To make a difference?
It’s mostly the women who speak out who are the victims of this misogynistic oppression and silencing.
I do not know of one single man who is frightened into silence. Although I do know many men who are silent. They support women, yet dare not open their mouths or type their truths.
Not through fear of being threatened or losing their jobs, oh no, that doesn’t happen to the men. They have fear of social ostracisation. Fear of being marginalised in political and campaign organising.
There is a men’s rights movement running the show in the UK. So men tend not to experience the patriarchal bullying, lies and vitriol that women are subjected too.
You might have been a recipient of misinformation about me or one of your other female friends. If so, please do consider that truth matters.
Believing what people say without asking for evidence, without asking people if the truth has been spoken is not congruent with being an honourable and respectful person.
Honesty and loyalty are two qualities I value in myself and others. I ask for your solidarity.
They will not silence me.
Their threats fall on deaf ears.
Their relentless bullying will not impact my ability to stand up and protect the existing legal rights of women and children.
I don’t care what they do, the more they attack, the more impassioned I am. The more effective I become. The more they silence my friends the louder I become.
There is nothing more noble I could campaign on.
I have fought and won lots of campaigns over the last 25 years. My mission on this planet is to campaign in favour of making a better world. I wake up every day determined to make a difference. I’m going to be a part of winning this campaign too.
Please know that if you are personally unable to speak out publicly, women understand. You don’t need to explain why.
We understand there are a myriad of reasons to stay under thehttps://www.facebook.com/womensvoicesmatter/ radar, and that putting the safety and well-being of your family and yourself first is what matters most.
If you would like your voice heard, Women’s Voices Matter welcome anonymous submissions to publish as notes on our page. You can message the Facebook page or Twitter , or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
All submissions are totally confidential, unless you would like your note attributed. If so, please let us know exactly what information you would be happy to have published in the note, and give us the links/social media account info etc.
If you do want to help ensure that more women’s voices are heard. Here are some suggestions:
- Send your MP the 5 requests on the WPUK website
- Even better, meet with your MP. You can ask them to keep the meeting confidential
- Meet with women, talk to your friends and family. Share tea, cake and discussion
- Gather together – in cafes, front rooms, the park, the lido. Take the kids, (or not!)
- Send messages of solidarity to your friends who might be confused or struggling (I’m not struggling, each attempted disruption empowers me.)
- Sign this petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/214118
- Read up on the issues. We post links & notes on the Women’s Voices Matter group page. You can follow, like, or look every now and again
- If you are a female survivor of male sexual violence, please sign this incredible letter, it’s stunningly crafted and utterly brilliant
- Contact your favourite political parties’ constituency office. Send them the WPUK demands. Tweet/email/Facebook message – Momentum, the Lib Dems, the Tory Equalities ministers, women and equalities committee. Remember that social media and email accounts are often run by different people so please contact via different channels if you can
- Independently or in small groups, decide to complete the current Government consultation proposing changes to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act. Guidance on how to complete will be published by various groups soon
- Send a copy of the Transgender Trend Inclusive Resource Pack to your local school
- If you can, speak out on social media. Please do. Share and retweet gender critical and radical feminist social media. Make friends with like minded folk online. Support each other. Take care of each other. Be inclusive, we don’t all appreciate or share each other’s strategies or tactics. That’s fine. Diversity of approach is what wins campaigns.
Women’s Voices Matter specific requests:
- Switch to Bulb green energy for your domestic energy supply. Its ethical, super cheap and we both get £50 for the two minutes it takes to switch.
We are currently raising:
£78 to cover our web page hosting costs and £10 for phone credit.
- Venue Hire: £27.50
- Photocopying: £20
- Speaker Expenses: £75
- Refreshments: £20
- Contributing to babysitting costs for mothers who wish to attend meetings: £50
- Travel Expenses bursary fund so women can attend meetings, get taxis home if it’s late: £200
And finally, offer to help Women’s Voices Matter set up their WordPress site if you have the time and skill.
Thanks for reading this far. Tis utterly bizarre, it’s 15.27 in the afternoon and at 7.30am this morning I started typing a facebook status. It ended up as this lengthy tome. Am hoping one of the Women’s Voices Matter crew will edit it and make it smaller and more easily readable, and perhaps someone will grab this text and put it on a website somewhere. (That’s not my area of expertise.)
Enjoy your day / evening and thank you for standing up for the rights of women and girls. It matters. A Lot.
Now I’m off to a birthday party! Yay! After I’ve fed the starving child a very late lunch, obvs.
22nd July 2018:
The 3,400 words above were removed from the Women’s Voices Matter Facebook page notes section while I slept last night. I awoke to a message from a friend telling me the hours and hours I spent typing, when I could have been parenting my small child, and attending my friend’s birthday party, had been removed from Facebook and marked as spam. FFS. Haven’t they got anything more positive and less misogynistic to do with their time? We could do with a crèche if they want to do something constructive instead of block and attack.
We are victorious, we are not victims. We will speak. We will not be silenced. We are not afraid. I am not afraid. I am a strong and powerful woman who cares deeply and passionately about the safety, well-being and rights of women and children. I will not be silenced.
Nor will I attack, retaliation holds no interest for me.
To those who attempt to silence, I send compassion