#RadFem2013 Supporter’s Online Tirade of Hatred and Abuse

[Trigger warnings: transphobic abuse, rape, cyber-bullying]

In June of this year will be the Radical Feminism 2013 conference in London. Their event got cancelled last year after a storm of controversy when they decided to ban transgender women who were born as men. As far as I’m concerned that’s a ridiculous and immoral decision that stigmatises a deeply marginalised and abused segment of society. I would say more, but Stavvers has already said what needed to be said in a far more eloquent and informed way than I could.

A year later, have they learned their lesson? Here’s the answer. Cath Brennan (tweeting as @BugBrennan, though she seems to have made her Twitter account private in the last few hours) is one of the supporters of Radical Feminism 2013. According to RationalWiki, when she’s not at conferences her hobbies include writing to the UN to demand that transgender people should not receive human rights protections; and outing transgender teenagers to their schools. Apparently her school of “thought”, if you can call it that, is known as Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminism, or TERF.

Claire OT is a British occupational therapist with an interest in the use of social media in mental health. She’s also proud to call herself a feminist, though unlike Brennan she doesn’t demonise men or transgender women. Earlier today she got into a brief Twitter exchange with Brennan, and promptly received a deluge of abusive tweets , including such charming responses as “you two can be dick pleasers all you like” and “stop telling lesbians to suck your dick, rapist”.


Is Claire OT the only person to have receive abusive tweets from Brennan? A quick Twitter search suggests not.


And the organisers of Radical Feminism 2013 have the nerve to consider themselves a civil rights movement? What they’re propagating is hate speech. While they make a lot of noise, it also seems that they’re also pretty unrepresentative of contemporary feminism. Younger feminists in particular aren’t buying this bigoted codswallop.

The conference is due to take place at the London Irish Centre. If you want to let the venue owners know what sort of ideas are likely to wind up being promoted on their premises, here’s their contact details.

EDITED TO ADD: It seems I’m not the only person who’s been screenshotting abusive tweets by the charming Ms Brennan

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25 thoughts on “#RadFem2013 Supporter’s Online Tirade of Hatred and Abuse

  1. Thanks for documenting some of the verbal abuse and cyber bullying that Cathy Brennan has been slinging my way. I’m not well enough to blog it myself at the moment, and I really appreciate that so many people have contacted me to offer their support about it.

    I believe Cathy Brennan and her ilk will be recorded as a footnote in feminist history/herstory; because we know that rights-based social justice movements eventually win. The rights of trans* people will eventually be enshrined in law and in popular opinion. However, the damage that’s done on the way to dismantling the kyriarchy by some radical feminists is sad and unnecessary.

    I really hope that people thinking of attending any TERF events such as #radfem2013 might reconsider, and let the venue know why they’re unable to attend. It’s not enough to fight misogyny unless we’re also working on our own innate prejudices.

    “My feminism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit” -Lourdes

    • I’ll be at radfem2013 and Cathy is our sister. None of us oppose human rights for anyone. Saying that is either greatly misguided or willfully misleading.

  2. It’s interesting. I keep thinking I might have much in common with feminists and yet whenever I try to engage with them (with the odd exception) I find myself accused of sexism, male privilege & a vague form of bigotry that has never been made explicit.

    Consequently I find myself rejecting feminism in favour of equality & human rights.

    Ho hum.

    • maybe you do, but you just haven’t met any intersectional feminists yet.

      • I would agree that it’s important to recognise that Brennan doesn’t speak for any but a tiny segment of feminism. Just about all feminists I’ve spoken to are as appalled by Brennan as anyone else.

    • “whenever I try to engage with them (with the odd exception) I find myself accused of sexism, male privilege & a vague form of bigotry that has never been made explicit.”

      How many times has this happened? Because if you keep getting told this, you might want to consider why you’re being read this way.

  3. Rad fems have also attacked @itsjustahobby on Twitter, and I have seen some nasty tweets from them attacking Claire OT, and also @stavvers.

    So they don’t like women having sex with men, or with other women; they do not like transsexual women, and can’t manage to regard and address them as women, even as a courtesy (I mean obviously they ARE women, but even people who don’t believe that could do the decent thing and use the right names and pronouns). They do not like sex-workers and want the Swedish model introduced everywhere. And they do not like men – not even gay men. So basically, they dislike all the aspects of feminism that are important to me as a queer person.

    • In other words, they’re not a civil rights group at all. They’re a hate group.

    • “So they don’t like women having sex with men.”

      Not true. We critique that sex within patriarchy is problematic because of the power structures and imbalances within the culture that contribute to the dynamic between a man and woman when they are intimate. We critique that patriarchy promotes sex that serves male desires and not women’s, which makes sex all about him, not her. “Intercourse” by Andrea Dworkin covers this pretty well.

      “or with other women”

      Definitely not true.

      “they do not like transsexual women”

      Also not true.

      “and can’t manage to regard and address them as women, even as a courtesy (I mean obviously they ARE women, but even people who don’t believe that could do the decent thing and use the right names and pronouns).”

      Not because we are trying to be indecent, but because we feel that gender is one of the root causes of women’s oppression, and do not want to participate in upholding a structure that is used to oppress us.

      “They do not like sex-workers”

      Not even close. Many radfems are exited women who helped develop the critiques on the sex industry. Anyone who thinks that a woman’s body is something that can be bought, sold, fucked, cum into like a vessel for some man’s lust is the true hater of sex workers.

      “and want the Swedish model introduced everywhere.”

      Do you have a better idea for how to end prostitution?

      “And they do not like men”

      Not true. We have sons and brothers. But in any case, why should we like our oppressors? Men rape, mutilate, beat, and murder us. To like them is faaarrr to kind.

      “– not even gay men.”

      One of my best friends is a gay man, but he is also pro-feminist. I know many radfems with gay male friends. The problem isn’t with gay men, it’s with men who uphold patriarchy. I prefer men to be gay, cause then there’s less of a chance they will one day decide to try and rape me or something.

      “So basically, they dislike all the aspects of feminism that are important to me as a queer person.”

      There is a very big difference between “dislike” and “disagree” and I think you use the words interchangeably.

  4. As I mentioned on twitter… If Cath Brennan and her ilk’s version of feminism was the one I’d been introduced to… I’d probably still be propping up the kyriarchy instead of trying to tear it down. They are doing no one any favors, and spreading hatred does nothing except invite more back. I almost wish I understood why someone could harbor so much negativity, but I don’t think my soul could handle it.

  5. Radical feminists that I know (through Twitter) have been great advocates for the theories connected with this branch of feminism. They have been been openly learning from interacting on Twitter and blogs with other feminists, including trans*women and sex-workers. These self-identified radical feminists have been supportive of debating the questions and comments that were raised. They have then been rounded on by the #radfem2013 team in much the same way that I was, and are now feeling let down by their sisters and their political “home”. Whatever #radfem2013 radical feminism is heading towards, it seems to be leaving many rad fem allies behind, never mind the rest of us.

  6. Some helpful facts:

    Feminism is not about equality or human rights it is about women’s liberation.

    Support for radical feminism is growing massively.

    Radical feminism invented intersectional.

    Radical feminism is not anti trans it is pro females.

    Believing that your friend’s choices are not feminist choices does not make the critical analysis of radical feminism wrong.

    The ‘bullshit’ quote is from Flavia Dzodan not Audre Lorde.

    • Hi FR

      So, what do you think of Brennan’s comments?

      When you say support for radical feminism is growing massively, do you have any statistics on that?

      • Cathy Brennan is one Radical Feminist amongst many. We are a diverse bunch. Radical Feminism is an analysis informed by a collection of theories. Different people interpret the analysis differently.

        Obviously I don’t have the stats you request but I have been involved in radical feminism for a long time and am witnessing more women engaging and speaking out.

      • Do you agree or disagree with her sending abusive tweets to fellow feminists?

  7. Abusive tweets to anyone is not something I’d endorse and I think unfortunately there is far too much of it within feminism. I’m not interested in debating CB tho.

    I was more concerned with this:

    “And the organisers of Radical Feminism 2013 have the nerve to consider themselves a civil rights movement? What they’re propagating is hate speech.”

    Because I don’t think it’s true.

    • I had to block @feministroar on twitter recently precisely because of a tirade of abusive (& indeed defamatory) tweets. How odd that such tweets came from someone who doesn’t endorse abusive tweets.

      • My tweets to you were not abusive you just didn’t like the content. That’s different. You were being so aggressive and unwilling to listen to the person you were conversing with she felt the need to ask others for support.

        Also, that you come in on a discussion just to have a go rather than add something actually offers a better insight into your behaviour than anything I could say.

  8. I think you’ll find that this isn’t my 1st comment on this thread. Both were legitimate observations.

    .Anyone interested in the truth can check my timeline on twitter (@stuartsorensen) & search in my timeline for @feministroar to see that I was being far from aggrssive (apart from a little sarcasm after enduring several days of abuse from radfems).

    My initial comments were clearly an attempt to find common ground re human rights which were met with abuse from you & 1 other (both of whom I eventually blocked).

    • I would also encourage anyone who wishes to pass judgement to read the thread. Or check out the screencaps Stuart did. It’s very clear what happened. Having said that I doubt anyone cares…..

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