June 17, 2021 - 4:23pm

As a fellow journalist that sometimes crosses paths with Ayesha Hazarika I have come to like and respect her, but her misjudged and massively inappropriate piece in the Evening Standard this week has left me shaking my head in despair.

Likely prompted by the disquiet expressed by feminists on social media regarding The Fawcett Society’s silence on the Maya Forstater case, Hazarika, a board member of the women’s rights organisation, explained how terrified she has been in speaking out about the war between trans-activists and feminists. She wrote:

As with so much right now, extremist, unforgiving, rigid voices on both sides dominate the online war in a fight to the death of who can scream and shame the loudest. And all it does is alienate people in the middle who want to find a solution which is humane, modern and common sense.
- Ayesha Hazarika, Evening Standard

Not only was the column offensive to those vast swathes of women who have been bullied and attacked for having the ‘wrong views’ on the gender debate, her response to the relatively polite and measured criticisms following its publication was pretty dire.

Hazarika appears to be claiming that this debate is an equal playing field. She is also implying that feminists have not yet attempted to find a solution by being ‘reasonable’.

Women’s Place UK has been calling for reasonable and fair discussion since it was founded. There are many other groups and individuals that have bent over backwards trying to find common ground, only to be told, ‘NO DEBATE!’

I have lost count of the number of times I have attempted to engage in a reasonable, polite discussion with trans activists. Over the years I have been physically attacked, screamed at, lunged at by gangs of protesters, bullied and harangued, and been regularly subjected to rape and death threats. I don’t recall having ever said anything even vaguely threatening to those that scream “Nazi”, “bigot”, “fascist” in my face as I prepare to give a presentation on male violence. Ironic, isn’t it?

Fawcett has a rather shameful history when it comes to this debate.

In its Sex Equality 2016 report, in which the authors were so firmly on the fence they would have been tweezering out splinters for weeks, Fawcett accused me of being ‘transphobic’. The only ‘evidence’ used to justify this claim was a quote (comprising of subjective opinion) from an LGBT publication. The claim was later removed after complaints from myself and other feminists. As journalist Sarah Ditum wrote to the then CEO:

One may have good-faith disagreements on the issue of what gender is, and how trans people should be integrated into the women’s sector. One may disagree with certain statements or positions. But to deliberately cast other women as the “bad” feminists, regardless of their dedicated histories of activism and intellectual labour, and in apparent ignorance of the misogynist harassment directed at them, is unforgivable.
- Sarah Ditum

Here we are half a decade later.

In failing to speak out about the Forstater case and its wider, positive implications for women at work, Fawcett failed to do the one job it is mandated to do. In a climate of unbridled misogyny, it let women down. As such, it ought to disband and let actual feminists take over.

Julie Bindel is an investigative journalist, author, and feminist campaigner. Her latest book is Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation. She also writes on Substack.