Artillery Row

Pink News vs Julie Bindel

Pink News’s slow and steady crusade against the feminist campaigner reaches a conclusion

On Monday 25 October, Julie Bindel, a high-profile journalist, author and feminist campaigner against male violence, and “news site” Pink News — publishers of Pulitzer-worthy articles such as “Meet the kink enthusiasts locking up their penises for Locktober: “It’s not just a month without wanking’” — released a joint-statement confirming that both parties had settled Bindel’s defamation claim before proceedings reached trial.

For those who may be unaware, Bindel had initiated proceedings on the back of a bizarre article-cum-interview with Beau Dyess (formerly Amy Dyess), that was focused on exposing the “cult” of gender critical feminists. The article itself was replete with utterly outlandish claims, including allegations that “lesbian journalists’ who were “household names’ were overseeing an “international network of powerful lesbians’ that had “groomed” many women, including Dyess. Of course, whilst Bindel was not explicitly named, anybody with more than a passing familiarity with the so-called “trans debate” wouldn’t struggle to recognise this referred to her.

Whilst these claims would be offensive in their own right, serious questions must be asked about how we collectively arrived at a position where a life-long campaigner against male violence towards women and girls can be accused of grooming and abusing vulnerable young women; but more important still, how these vile accusations were believed. 

Career somehow-inadvertently-sees-his-followers-pile-on-women pundits such as Owen Jones were quick to pounce on the story and stick the proverbial boot in. With Jones retweeting it to his 1 million followers with his usual carefully nuanced proclamations about the “anti-trans cult”, which in turn received hundreds of likes and retweets. Jones labelled the article a “must read”, despite this borderline-parody article lacking any factual basis at all.

Pink News’s slow crusade aimed at taking apart Bindel’s reputation had reached its nauseating conclusion

Yet he was more than happy to label a recent BBC article giving coverage to lesbians who had been forced into sexual encounters with transwomen who had retained their penises as “conspiratorial hate”. I suppose their lived experiences matter not one iota, do they Owen? One rule for me, another for thee after all. With the important thing being that Owen keeps setting the rules for the girls.

The answer to the question of how such accusations come to be directed towards someone like Bindel is easy enough to answer: this is nothing but plain old misogyny. When a woman dares to speak out about the dismantling of her hard-won social, political, and legal rights, men do what we’ve always done: we smear, vilify, and revile her for stepping outside the structures of patriarchy, and having the temerity to reject systematic male supremacy.

But the question of how such accusations come to be believed is an altogether different beast. To this we must look at the specific campaign of unrelenting contempt directed towards Bindel by Pink News. One of the central aspects of Bindel’s claim against Pink News was that the article at hand was merely one of many instances where the site had denigrated and censured her for years and years.

A quick search of Pink News’s site shows over 80 results for “Julie Bindel”, with articles stretching all the way back to 2007. This prolonged targeting — or harassment, as they would put it, or anyone else doing this to someone else — of Bindel laid the groundwork for what would become their grotesque pièce de resistance earlier this year. By releasing a steady deluge of articles painting Bindel as a monstrous “TERF”, and among other things a woman who — it was heavily implied — would lie about being attacked by a transwoman in order to garner sympathy, Pink News very subtly shifted the Overton window when it came to what subsequent ludicrous accusations their readers would and wouldn’t believe.

In the minds of Pink News’s readers, Bindel had already been dehumanised to such an extent that “TERF scum” and “cunt” became the go-to salutations towards her in her Twitter mentions. And with this in mind, it becomes easy to see exactly how Pink News pulled off this incomprehensibly offensive and hurtful final act. Implying that an anti-sexual violence feminist campaigner was “finding a wife” for a vulnerable woman in order to “control” her? Don’t be ridiculous. Accusing a sub-human “TERF cunt” who “hates trans people and denies their existence” — a view you’d find easily on social media — of doing the same? More believable.

And so it goes. Pink News readers lapped it up. The article went “viral”, receiving coverage far beyond that of the original post, and the damage was done. No longer was this a case of burning the witch; this was a boiling of the frog. Pink News’s slow and steady crusade, carefully aimed at taking apart Bindel’s reputation, article by article, had reached its nauseating conclusion.

Unfortunately for Pink News, Bindel did not let this attack pass by. Nearly eighteen months after her lawyers sent the first letter of complaint, the joint statement was released, with Pink News admitting that if the accusations were understood to refer to her — and let’s face it, who else could they have referred to — they would be wholly untrue.

Joanna Cherry QC MP is another woman who, along with J.K. Rowling, has been on the end of Pink News’s rabid misogyny in recent years, to such an extent that Pink News had to issue a grovelling apology for defaming her (are you sensing a theme yet?). Cherry said:

I’m delighted that Pink News have, rightly, been forced to learn a hard lesson due to Julie’s refusal to take their ridiculous accusations lying down. Their misogyny and lesbophobia knows no bounds and they need to understand that they cannot print lies with impunity.

This was nothing but a prolonged attack rooted in the demonisation of women who dare stand up for their sex-based rights. Pink News had insidiously shifted the conversation to a point where women can now be publicly and professionally ostracised, with absolutely no pause for breath to even consider whether these allegations are rooted in reality. It just so happens that this time, they didn’t get away with it. But how long until another woman is subjected to these obsessive smears? This cannot, and must not, be allowed to continue.

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