PODCAST: The MRAs vs. Rad Fem 2013

Rad Fem 2013 is a radical feminist conference set to happen in London, on June 8th and 9th of this year at the London Irish Centre. When Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) caught wind of the conference, they staged a demonstration, pressing the London Irish Centre to cancel the booking. I spoke with Nic Nesbitt, one of the organizers of Rad Fem 2013, about the importance of radical feminism, the conference, and the behaviour and efforts of the MRAs to shut down their event. Listen to that interview below.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Absolutely disgusted that Nesbitt’s ridiculous, illogical, and bigoted comments about the exclusion of trans* women were allowed to pass unremarked. Equating MRAs with trans* activists is a truly disgusting tactic. Shame on the interviewer for skipping over this point, and for allowing Nesbitt to conflate the vile actions of MRAs with the principled and intersectional criticisms of trans* people and allies.

    Trans* women are not, as Nesbitt says, being excluded from RF2013 “on the basis of their gender”, because trans* women ARE WOMEN.

    I am also very doubtful that the MRAs’ actions caused the LIC to cancel the booking; it’s far more probable that the booking was cancelled because of the transphobia and transmisogyny of the organisers.

    Very disappointing. And if RF’s organisers are so proud of their event, why are they so cagey about the details of where last year’s conference was held? I do wonder.

    No platform for transphobia.

    • Meghan Murphy

      The purpose of the interview wasn’t to talk about transgenderism. It was to talk about the conference and the MRAs who are trying to shut it down. Having a conversation or interview about what you suggest here strikes me as an entirely different one — likely one that you would have been even further displeased by as well as a significant derail from the topic at hand. I’m also not quite sure how or why you think I, as an interviewer, could or should control the words coming out of my interviewee’s mouths…?

    • Hi. I actually said trans women were being excluded on the basis of sex, not gender. Also, if trans activists don’t want to be linked with MRAs they should stop colluding with them to shut down women-only space.

      • Melissa

        Beautifully said. Forming a group based on a shared experience (being born and socialized as female) is NOT the same as censorship and genocide. The histrionics that most internet MTFs and MRAs display when they don’t get their way is astounding.

        • ashley

          wow, i can’t believe your response to nic nesitt’s comment was “beautifully said”. i have been reading your site for the past few months but unfortunately now i think is the time i am going to have to stop. for some reason i had been under the impression that this was a non-transbigoted radfem site but i appear to have been incredibly wrong in that assumption.

          • Meghan Murphy

            You can read or not read, but this site is not anything-bigoted. I’m happy to talk with you further about any concerns you have, of course.

          • MLM

            Honest question, ashley : what exactly is bigoted about “Forming a group based on a shared experience”? Does it necessarily rule out opportunities to form other groups, too, with broader inclusion? Maybe I’m missing something but I just don’t see why it actually has to be an either/or proposition. Isn’t it possible for both radical feminists and the transgendered community to have their own spaces as well as shared spaces?

  • Meghan, thank you for allowing the organisers of the conference to communicate with women about Rad Fem 2013. Very much appreciate hearing this interview, as there is a lot of misinformation out there about the conference.

  • Thank you for this interview Megan. It’s a shame that the conference is having problems. I would have, however, liked to listen to more of why Trans* people were not welcome at the conference. I understand you think this would have gotten too off topic perhaps, but I also think that perhaps their protesting (along with MRAs b.s.) might have pushed people from the Centre to cancel the booking? Not sure. I guess I would like to know more about radical feminists rejection of trans* people, since I don’t understand it. Even though I am feminist who focuses on the root cause of oppression (patriarchy), I also welcome trans* people as allies. Maybe because I also believe gender is a powerful apparatus of oppression. Anyway, long comment, and this is probably discussion for a another day.

    • Go to this link. There will enough information to satisfy your curiosity, I believe. You can also find a post on the venue’s decision on the official Radfem2013 page.

  • Melissa

    You notice that a post and interview focusing on women’s activism and assembly turned into a discussion about transgender (MEN’s) supposed unfair exclusion? Yeah, that’s patriarchy at work.

  • Feminists of a like mind have a right to assemble and hold conferences!

    One gripe: I wish feminists would stop using “Men’s Rights Activist” – they are defending male privilege and nothing else. It’s like saying “pro-life”: their framing. Not good for us. MPAs, male privilege agitators.

    • lizor

      I always thought it stood for Men’s Rights Arseholes.

  • tahred-fem

    The logic behind the transphobia on show from the organisers is horribly twisted.

    A RadFem conference is a wonderful idea and the MRAs are clearly heinous, so it’s very disappointing that an important movement is being derailed by incomprehensible hate.

  • Missfit

    What? The great defenders of free speech that are the MRAs want to shut down discussions because they dont’ agree with/don’t like what might be said? I wonder if they receive hundreds of death threats from radfems because of that…

  • sporenda

    “You notice that a post and interview focusing on women’s activism and assembly turned into a discussion about transgender (MEN’s) supposed unfair exclusion? Yeah, that’s patriarchy at work.”

    I was initially supportive of MTF associations but I have strong reservations now: time and again, when they intervene on feminist spaces, it’s usually to re-center the debate on THEIR problems and THEIR victimization.
    And any feminist who is not willing to accept this is called transphobic.
    As far as I can see, they are no more our allies than most gay associations, who threw feminists under the bus long time ago.
    Unfortunately, the MTFs’ discourse appears to be mostly an updated version of “What about the menz”.

  • Maeve

    Wonderful, straightforward interview. Thanks!