No, feminist speech is not the same as inciting genocide

Paris Lees’ claims that feminist ideas are “hate speech” demonstrate a deep misunderstanding of the term.

Paris Lees (Image: BBC)

Poor ol’ Paris Lees is running out of ideas. Luckily, an obsession with Germaine Greer will take you a long way!

Back in 2015, Lees argued that Greer should be no-platformed for saying that transwomen are male and that feminism is a movement for women. (EEK GASP!)

While indeed, those who are not familiar with the history of the feminist movement and the roots of women’s oppression may not like such statements (and likely can’t stand Greer’s blunt style — ladies should be demure and polite at all times!), they are, nonetheless, factual.

“Who is she to police the borders of womanhood?” Lees asked. Well, a woman, for one… But in the modern, post-patriarchy era we are all so fortunate to be living in, women’s opinions about women are irrelevant. Best to check in with men on these matters.

Lees argued, in 2015, that Greer’s claims that transwomen are men constituted “hate speech,” and compared her comments to racist right-wingers who compare refugees to rats and cockroaches. It’s a strange reversal, because when racist white people attack marginalized ethnic groups, there is an issue of power at play — we live in a white supremacy, so people of colour constitute an oppressed class of people. Similarly, under patriarchy, men make up the dominant class, and women are born into an oppressed class. Feminists like Greer rejecting men from the feminist movement is akin to black activist groups refusing to work with white people.

It is not, in fact, “discrimination,” as Lees claims, for oppressed groups of people to meet and organize without their oppressors. Lees is essentially arguing that feminists are guilty of “reverse sexism” and that oppressed people must allow their oppressors to dictate their language, activism, speech, and spaces.

It seems that in the past two years, Lees’ brain hasn’t developed much, so Lees has published almost the exact same article again in Vice. This time, Lees uses the firing of Katie Hopkins over a tweet she posted calling for a “final solution” after the Manchester terror attack as a jumping off point. This language is coded — the Nazis used the term “final solution” to refer to their intention to destroy the Jewish people. It described a plan to enact systematic genocide. This is where “free speech” ends and becomes “hate speech” — when you start advocating genocide.

But dear Paris seems not to understand either the Criminal Code or the difference between suggesting a group of people should be murdered and sharing political opinions or basic facts about biology.

As such, Lees falls back on that unhealthy obsession and asks why those who defended Greer’s right to speak on matters of feminism and womanhood are not defending Hopkins incitement to genocide:

“Where’s this lot now? Why aren’t they all leaping to the defence of Katie Hopkins? Because if Germaine Greer has an unquestionable, God-given right to a platform at Cardiff University, then by the same logic Katie Hopkins deserves a platform at LBC. After all, the press and broadcast media play an important role in promoting free speech — right?”

Lees imagines that those who defended Greer’s right to speak believe there is no line, when it comes to “free speech.” Of course, there is a line, and Hopkins crossed it. Greer and her feminist sisters, though, have not.

Feminism does not advocate to kill people who identify as transgender. (Ironically, trans activists do have a pesky habit of advocating the murder of feminists…) Feminism says that women are oppressed based on the fact that they are born female and says they have the right to safe space, free from males — the people responsible for abusing, raping, and murdering them. The false equivalency Lees puts forth, with regard to where lines should be drawn, is actually quite astonishing:

“For many people, clearly, referencing the Nazis and calling for a ‘final solution’ is the red line. For trans people, it’s when mainstream feminists imply that we are rapists and feed into the dangerous rhetoric that trans women are men in disguise — an idea that is responsible for the deaths of thousands of trans women around the world.”

Despite what Lees believes, the “line” really isn’t really as much a matter of personal opinion as it is presented here. Women are allowed to name their oppressors. It is not our obligation to pretend that we don’t fear male violence, simply because the males in question identify as transgender. Beyond that, it is not feminists who are responsible for the deaths of transwomen, but men. Lees’ attacks on feminists, whilst ignoring the male perpetrators responsible, as a means to vilify and silence women’s speech, is harmful and enables male violence. By disguising the cause of the violence perpetrated against women as well as trans-identified people, we let men off the hook, which empowers them to commit further violence.

If trans activists like Lees truly do care about the safety of those who identify as transgender, they need to hold perpetrators to account, not scapegoat feminists. So long as men’s actions remain invisible, they will continue to get away with abuse.

In conclusion, Lees calls for us to “focus on the important issues that cause people actual harm.” I agree, and look forward to Lees next article targeting male violence.

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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  • oneclickboedicea

    Seems like Lee identifies more with male supremacy than s/he does with feminism. Looks like you can take the man out of patriarchy but not patriarchy out of the man ….

  • G L.C

    seems no article is too serious for Paris to top it with a big picture of himself!

  • Sabine

    “In conclusion, Lees calls for us to “focus on the important issues that
    cause people actual harm.” I agree, and look forward to Lees next
    article targeting male violence.”

    I wouldn’t hold your breath Meghan! I am yet to hear of ANY trans activist actually naming the problem: MEN.

    • Emily Weir

      Miranda Yardley does, and is a great feminist ally, but a lot of the trans activism movement rejects her.

      • Sabine

        That makes perfect sense as 99% of trans activists seem to view feminists as the worst beings ever to have stained the earth with their cis-privileged/trans-men-in-denial-dyke presence! One of “their own” actually speaking non-woman hating sense is probably more than they can bear…

      • Zuzanna Smith

        Miranda Yardley is a man and steals radical feminist’s ideas like any other man.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Miranda Yardly knows he is male and fully acknowledges and credits feminists for the arguments he puts forth. I think Miranda is a great ally.

        • Yisheng Qingwa

          Yep. He’s going to betray us… mark my words. Women thinking he is an ally have been played.

    • FierceMild

      That’s ’cause he’s a man.

      • Sabine


  • DeColonise

    I’m not always so sure that people such as Lee misunderstand what feminism wants to convey, if I can put it like that. But rather that it is in Lee’s view a problem that needs to be fought. And then go on and make any kind of bizarre argument that pops up in the head to frame it as a problem.

  • Lucia Lola

    Paris Lees continues to be my goto when people ask me why I’ve had it with the trans agenda. Buffoon is the word that fits, here. Utter buffoon.

    • Lees is the low-hanging fruit, the most accessible example when you have to explain your point of view.

  • will

    Paris Lees is the Rush Limbaugh of the New Left.

  • radwonka

    What does Lees know about oppression when she said that catcalling is feminist? Why does she complain when she said that anything that a woman “like” is feminist per default? If some people think that science is pertinent, by her own logic, no one can complain.

    also, when these people want to focus on “more important issues”, it just means that real violence, the one that hurts our physical body and mind is not important, whereas feelings hurt (“not everyone thinks that 1/12 female and 8/6 male :”‘( “) are more important. In other words, fantasies are politically more important than actual abuse.

    It’s a political move. One that will banalize abuse (they will say “why do you complain if you were raped? Don’t you know that non binary people’s feelings are hurt?”) and also institutionalize it: something that is considered unimportant will be automatically normalized (and vice versa, any kind of opposition will be crushed). Male domination/feelings, aka gender identity, will be sanctified and women will be demonized (ie “im more feminine than you so im a real woman, not like you!”).

    I already said it but, whenever someone tries to describe an oppression as something unimportant, it’s a red flag: deep down, these people want to defend abusers (or are abusers themselves), that’s all. The focus on “gender identity” is just a way to keep us distracted. The real agenda is MVAW (which is why these same people who really close to pimps, johns, etc).

    Which kinda makes sense since these people support actual pain as long people “consent” (ie grooming women) to it. And still, you never see them denounce painful oppressions. And that’s the main problem: these people teach little girls that pain is not oppressive at all (but that their feelings hurt are the most painful thing that could ever happen on earth rofl).

    Aaaaand in this world where people all have “agency”, where there is no real oppression, no real class, they claim that you can “incite genocide”… What’s the truth? Are people immunized against social norms or not? How can you claim that catcalling and gender identity have nothing to do with social norms and then claim that not agreeing with someone=literally killing a class? What is a class when gender identity is so meaningless that you can’t even define it? How can you incite genocide against people if their identity is subjective, always changing and can’t be measured? Or is he saying that you can kill something that doesn’t even breathe?

    they are so mediocre that they can’t even justify their ideology properly. Even Christians try to be more logical than that.

    ““Who is she to police the borders of womanhood?” Lees asked.””

    Ha, again another inconsistency: if no one can define woman, then Lees can’t choose who can or who can not define it either.
    Likewise, if the word woman is subjective, then the scientific definition of woman should also be considered legitimate.

    I hate those libertarians who pretend to fight “policing” when all they do is silencing and policing others. Just like when “amoralists” pretend to have no morals when they demonize people they don’t like lmao
    This trend needs to die, bc it’s intellectually mediocre. Moreover what are your politics good for if you do the reverse of what you preach?

  • The Lees philosophy: “blah blah blah blah Disagreeing with me is violence blah blah blah Calling men ‘men’ is genocide blah blah blah If I don’t like what you say it’s hate speech.” Oh, and speaking of hate speech, Lees once had an online campaign targeting Julie Bindel called “Julie Bindel’s genitals.” You can read about it at GenderTrender if you really want to read more about Lees. Lees’ philosophy is patriarchal reversal, so boring and unoriginal.

  • Rereading de Beauvoir: “Woman is man’s creation”. Male transactivists just continuing a long tradition — redefining their creation as xy, testicled, bearded. Who are we to argue?

  • Si Llage

    Just once I’d like to see a transgender activist write in the Guardian about how pornographers who call them “trannies” and “she-males” should have their entire careers ended and all the pornography they make (about trans or not) no-platformed and censored off the face of the Earth.

  • Alienigena

    It amazes me that trans activists find safe harbour in academia given that academics pride themselves on their critical thinking, their contrarianism and constantly suggest that others are trying to negatively impact their academic freedom. The term intellectual rigour cannot really be applied to the academics who supported the attack on the writer of the article on transracialism in Hypatia. Seems more like group think.

    • Kathleen Lowrey

      it is one part ridikkle wokkle to 9 parts entrenched patriarchy. A set of propositions put forth by men that repeats many ideas originated by women but with women decentred from those same ideas: what’s not to like?

    • Hanakai

      Most academics in the liberal arts and social “sciences” are very science and math illiterate. If they had any knowledge of science, of biology, of neurology and neuroanatomy, they would know that trans claims are nonsense. Sex cannot be changed, it is embedded in EVERY SINGLE CELL of the body. Mutilating bodily structures does not change the sex embedded in every cell. And there is no such thing as a male or female brain, or a female brain in a male body: brain structures and neurochemistry are the same in males and females: same neurons, axons, dendrites, neurotransmitters.

      What goes on now in academia is groupthink, Orwellian Newspeak, and a malignant political correctness that makes too many incapable of correctly perceiving reality.

      • Alienigena

        “Sex cannot be changed, it is embedded in EVERY SINGLE CELL of the body.”

        It appears that even biologists are blind to sex differences.

        “Dr. Franck Mauvais-Jarvis is still amazed at how blind biologists are to sex. So, the physician scientist at Tulane University in Louisiana has decided to spell it out for them in how-to guide for studying sex differences on metabolism.”

        According to Dr. Mauvais-Jarvis “It’s not just a story of hormones. It’s more complicated than that,” “Male and female creatures need to be studied as two separate biological systems.”

    • thebewilderness

      This is where postmodernism was always going, I think.

  • Hekate Jayne

    “……we women, from generation to generation, are drilled to be the apes of an artificial standard, made for us and imposed upon us by an outsider; a being who, in this attitude, becomes our natural enemy.”

    Julia ward howe, 1870

  • John Stuart Mill

    It’s no accident that “trans” extremists target feminist women and not violent men. This is about colonizing womanhood and silencing any women who object. Erasing us and overpowering us by any means necessary – that is the goal of extremists like Lees.

  • lk

    “Beyond that, it is not feminists who are responsible for the deaths of transwomen, but men.”

    Say it a million times!!It is not women who are killing and physically abusing transwomen.

    It always bothers me that transactivist scream kill terfs, cis-scum, accuse women of killing transwomen merely by acknowledging biologal facts but seem to have little anger and criticism towards the men who are actually killing transwomen.

    On twitter, tumblr, etc…you’ll see transwomen saying things like : Bring me a terf to kill or I’m gonna punch a terf. They seem to reserve their violent threats and fantasies just for women.

    Too much of the trans movement is just about blaming women for everything…Women are not to blame for male violence against transpeople.

    • Hanakai

      ik wrote: “On twitter, tumblr, etc…you’ll see transwomen saying things like : Bring me a terf to kill or I’m gonna punch a terf. They seem to reserve their violent threats and fantasies just for women.”

      That is because these so-called transwomen are in fact men. Like most patriarchal men, they hate women and worship males. We need to stop referring to them as transwomen because that is a misnomer and misdescribes reality: a male cannot transform himself into a female, not matter what surgical or hormonal mutilation is done.

      Also, it is worthwhile to remember that claimed transpeople are mentally ill. If they think they are the other sex or have a brain of the other sex, they are detached from reality and are delusional. Self-hatred and sex dysphoria to the point of undergoing surgical mutilation is a mental illness. Further alleged transpeople suffer from co-morbidities, other mental illnesses, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, Anxiety and other mental illnesses.

      The message that transsexuality does not and cannot exist and that those who think they are the other sex are mentally ill needs to be spread far, wide and louder than the trans-insanity. The reality is that trans-insanity contributed greatly to the installation of T-Rump as the US president: seriously, people throughout the land are aghast at the thought that their children, under the influence of this attempted normalizing and popularizing of trans-insanity, would want to mutilate their bodies and pretend to be the other sex. Parents do not want boys in girls bathrooms or locker rooms and sane people know better than to buy this treansgender nonsense.

      The Democrats chose solidarity with the minuscule so-called trans population over solidarity with women . . . and that cost Clinton more than the 66,000 votes in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan that gave the election to T-Rump.

      • Agreed that they are mentally ill, and that it’s important to frame their delusion in those terms, but the abuse has more to do with being sexist men. A lot of those with serious mental illnesses, even the personality disorders you describe, are really nice people.

        • Cassandra

          Valuable point.

        • Hekate Jayne

          I really appreciate your point.

          Sometimes a misogynist asshole is just a misogynist asshole.

          I have worked with mentally ill people in the past, and most are lovely people. They are sick, but not entitled, sexist, abusive, horrible asslicks.

          Sexism and misogyny are not mental illness. They are choices made with purpose and intent.

        • Hanakai

          Yes, there are a number of mentally ill people whom I thoroughly enjoy, But generally, especially when off meds or in a full-blown episode, people with some of these disorders can be quite enervating and cause so much trouble for themselves and their families. Most people are not choosing to be mentally ill and like physical illness, mental illness causes a lot of misery.

          And the thing to do with a mental illness, like with physical illness, is to treat and heal it. So, like with a delusional disorder or sex dysphoria, the thing to do is to attempt to understand the basis of the pathology and to treat it in the safest and most parsimonious way possible. Mental disorders need psychological or psychiatric treatment, medication if necessary. Surgical cutting off healthy body parts and hormonal loading as treatment for a mental illness, it is an unconscionable creation of capitalistic greedhead medicine.

          It’s so crazy. If a person says I am really a kangaroo, please cut off my forearms, we get that they are seriously delusional. Same with those who think they are the wrong sex and want to be surgically mutilated. The thought of cutting off healthy tissue, healthy body parts, it’s barbaric.

      • Cassandra

        Agree that this shit was a big factor in Hilary losing. I blame fucking Obama. What a dick he was to us.

  • Hekate Jayne

    Susan B. Anthony painstakingly put together a record of suffrage. It’s 6 volumes and spans 80 years (1840 to 1921). It’s called “the history of women’s suffrage”.

    She, along with the women that worked so hard for liberation, saved as much information as they could, from conventions, speeches, personal correspondence, meeting minutes, etc., and compiled it all into the 6 volumes.

    These volumes are quoted in another book, “feminist quotations” that came out in 1979. It’s split into relevant sections (reproduction, law, sex, etc.) and has quotes from 1840 up until the 70s. I have that book. It’s the best thing ever.

    Anyway, that particular quote is credited to Julia ward howe, American women suffrage association convention, 1869, history of woman suffrage vol. 2, 1882.

    I have never heard of her. But I do love that quote.

    • FierceMild

      Thanks! That’s going on my wishlist.

    • She also wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

  • Morag999

    “It seems that in the past two years, Lees’ brain hasn’t developed much … ”

    I’ll say!

    But what he lacks in intellect, he attempts to make up for with lies, reversals, and pure projection. He projects his chauvinistic, illiberal, dictatorial mindset onto feminists and onto all women who resist male-defined womanhood. Or who, as Meghan says, fail “to check in with men” (snort!) on all matters concerning gender. And then, lacking imagination, common decency, and sensitivity toward the millions of victims of genocide, he compares feminists to Nazis. That’s as crude and reactionary as any male-supremacist can get.

    According to Lees, the “red line” feminists cross is when they “imply that [trans-identified males] are rapists and feed into the dangerous rhetoric that trans women are men in disguise.” Well, first of all, these are facts, not implications. They are men, and, as such, they rape at least as often as any other demographic of men. But that’s not the real “red line” anyway.

    We have to drill down further, to get to the root of what gets him squawking about how feminist speech crosses a line and literally makes men drop dead. It’s when women insist that we are living, breathing, walking, talking, unique individuals. When we insist that we are female-bodied PERSONS.

    It’s when women insist that we are real, that we are not an eternal, misty state-of-mind, that Paris get so cross. That’s crossing Paris’ line in the sand! And that’s all there is to it. All the rest is a bunch of silly, dishonest, ugly, hateful noise designed to distract us from the fact that it’s HE who is policing the borders of womanhood using this new/not-new definition of women as not human, but an idea or essence. That HE is the one itching to dictate, to banish all the ego-threatening references to the female, just to protect his male fantasies.

    • Cassandra

      One of your more dazzling displays of mad language skills, Morag. Brava!

  • Julio

    “Feminism does not advocate to kill people who identify as transgender.”

    It’s astonishing that this even needs to be said.

    • DeColonise

      so true. I have read quite a few books over the years now on various topics with the framework of ‘feminist theory’. from radical feminist writings and publications to eco feminism and so on. All written by different women in different time periods. So far I’ve yet to encounter one sentence that says this.
      It does not exist.

      Yet these people who are trans advocates/activists & and their allies go on and on about this.

  • thebewilderness

    1st rule of misogyny: Women are responsible for what men do.
    2nd rule of misogyny: Women saying no to men is a hate crime.
    3rd rule of misogyny: Women speaking for themselves are exclusionary and selfish.
    4th rule of misogyny: Women’s opinions are violence against men thus male violence against women is justified.

    • Cassandra

      Funny and accurate at the same time; as usual, bewilderness.

  • corvid

    “Lees argued, in 2015, that Greer’s claims that transwomen are men constituted “hate speech,” and compared her comments to racist right-wingers who compare refugees to rats and cockroaches.”

    You know, that’s funny because trans activists have, literally, used the word “cockroaches” to describe radical feminist women.

    The trans movement has set itself impossible goals. Trans activists will never stop every last woman on earth from knowing and acknowledging that biology exists. So, too, will they fail to suppress women’s opposition to the rape industry, and feminist criticism of patriarchy-imposed femininity. We will resist.

  • Cassandra

    Dear Paris Lees,

    Your magenta hair, tacky top and Lee Press On Nails aren’t doing you any favors. Girlfriends have to tell each other such things.

    Also, saying that feminist speech is “hate speech” isn’t doing you any favors, either, as you just reveal yourself to be a garden variety misogynist. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Same old same old. Yawn.

    A female who knows male shoulders and hands when she sees them

    P.S. I think it’s safe to say that people who were actually victims of genocide would tell you to go fuck yourself.

    • Marmalade Teardrops

      Critiquing a woman’s appearance on a feminist blog? Definitely not the action of a feminist which, to your credit, you don’t pretend to be. Pity that character is so much harder to change than one’s top.

      • Rich Garcia

        @marmaladeteardrops:disqus Paris Lees is a man. A member of the privileged sex class, and a white male at that. What’s his oppression? That he wasn’t born female (the underprivileged sex class) and wants to pretend that he is?

      • Wren

        FYI she was critiquing a man’s appearance.

      • Zuzanna Smith

        Paris Lees is not a woman.

      • Jessica

        Not critiquing a woman’s appearance at all. Critiquing the way a man has interpreted womanhood through a misogynistic, sexist and stereotyped lense? Yes. Critiquing the way that a man has attempted to appropriate womanhood and feminism to serve the privileging of men? Yes. Getting fed up with men and handmaidens telling women how to be feminists? You bet.

      • Cassandra

        Paris Lees isn’t a woman so who gives a shit?

      • will

        Defending a virulent misogynist on a feminist site? Hectoring a knowledgable, astute and witty long-time commenter on a feminist blog and, in doing so, demonstrating that you have not got the first clue what feminism is? Yeah, we’ve seen that before, usually from antifeminist men.

        • Cassandra

          <3 !

  • Karla Gjini

    so good !! needed this wisdom tonight
    thanks Meghan

    • Meghan Murphy


  • radwonka

    Well sorry but I don’t check if everyone is trans or “non binary” or not. Is that a crime?
    I’ve only read one article wrote by Lees and he doesn’t say that he is trans irrc (since I need to justify myself smh).

    Like, I wrote something about their way of thinking and their ideas, it would have been cool if you debated on that since you know that I dont believe in gender ideology.

    But since that’s a loaded question (, I won’t engage again.

  • Meghan Murphy

    “The assertion that [if feminists would just call transwomen female, men would not attack transwomen] relies on two obviously absurd premises: 1) If feminists tell men, hey, that male person is actually female, men are going to listen and agree (we’ve been saying women are human for centuries now, and it hasn’t sunk in with them); and 2) men would never attack anyone they perceive as female. LOL.”


  • lk

    I absolutely love when u ask these questions!

    The lack of response or the nonsensical responses you get never ceases to amuse me.

  • Kelly

    Yep. So yep.

  • will


  • Sabine

    I’d love to boot his over-entitled, privileged backside round Tuol Sleng (S21) and the Killing Fields and dare him to compare not being called “she” to inciting the genocide staring him in his make-up caked “lady face”.

    Paris Lees could not be more male if he tried.

    • lk

      “Paris Lees could not be more male if he tried.”

      And like many men, I’m sure Paris will stick to his guns no matter what.

      At this point, I think many transpeople are so disconnected from reality that if you took someone like Paris to the Killing Fields and attempted to explain why comparing the systematic slaughter of people to calling a human male a “He” is emotionally manipulative, inappropriate and just plain wrong…he still wouldn’t get it.

      Paris would be like…”I mean, suffering exists on a spectrum and genocide and Holocausts are awful, but like so is lesbians not having sex with transwomen and insurance not paying to remove healthy, functioning body parts.”


  • Rich Garcia

    @beefandbeanburrito:disqus There is no confusion at all. These are simply men talking shit to women and placating themselves as a threat to females when they are given access to their safe spaces. People continue to ignore the fact that these “transwomen” don’t stop being men just because they alter their appearance and are assaulted by other men.

    And any brand of “feminism” that supports male interests is not Feminism at all. Liberal Feminism, Male Feminism, Sex-positive Feminism. All misnomers meant to preserve the male status quo. The same with referring to men as “transwomen” or “transgendered women”, as if there is anything remotely female about them and humans have this magical ability to change sex.

    It is MY right to identify as so and so, and YOUR obligation to respect and affirm my delusion! is what this all boils down to. Male entitlement on display.

  • Scifimaster92

    In some ways, the worst thing about people like Paris Lees and Judith Butler is that they actually harm the cause of the very same trans people they claim to be speaking for (or more accurately, that they speak over) by not only denying the reality of biological sex and refusing to name the actual perpetrators of violence against trans people (i.e. men) but also by insulting their intelligence and associating the group with violent, abusive individuals such as themselves.