Woman blaming: How radical feminists are blamed for male violence

Dr Jessica Taylor

20/07/21

I open my social media apps to yet another onslaught of abuse, harassment and threads about how violent, evil and dangerous I am as a radical feminist in the world.

Only the day before, I watched as a famous woman was sent hundreds of abusive comments and death threats for holding radical feminist views.

The day before that, an artist was sent threats and abuse for her radical feminist perspective.

The week before that. The month before that. The year before that.

And yet, despite all this violence levelled at radical feminists for so much as writing their thoughts down, or creating artwork; I have noticed the persuasive shift towards arguing that radical feminists are the cause of male violence.

Most recently, I have noticed radical feminists being blamed for men committing homicide, femicide, rape and acts of misogyny.

In this post, I want to explore why this is happening, and how the only feminists who are able to name male violence, are now being held responsible for male violence. Specifically, I want to talk about radical feminists being blamed for:

1. Men murdering trans women

2. Men raping and murdering sex workers and prostituted women

3. Men sending death and rape threats to women online

4. Men hating women and girls (especially MRA/incels)

Before I get into these points, I will take the opportunity to clarify what we mean when we say we are ‘radical feminists’. Whilst many people think that the word ‘radical’ must mean ‘extreme’, this is not the way the word is used in activism of any kind. Radical thinkers and activists are termed ‘radical’ because they seek considerable systemic change to deal with the root of an issue. Radical feminists (like me) believe that we need a complete overhaul and reordering of the systems around us (locally and globally) in order for women and girls to stop being oppressed. This means addressing everything from subtle attitudes and stereotypes through to overt violence and persecution.

In doing so, radical feminists often point out the obvious male violence around us:

Men make up 99% of all violent offenders in the world each year

Men make up 97% of all sex offenders in the world each year

Men make up 99% of all murderers each year

Men make up over 99% of all terrorists and suicide bombers

Men make up over 99% of all school shooters

(FBI, 2020; MOJ; 2020)

But men are still more likely to be world leaders, business owners, senior leaders, financial controllers, CEOs of banks, criminal judges, lawyers, police officers, crime commissioners, politicians and heads of families (this is where the word ‘patriarch’ comes from).

Globally, the world is an unequal place where women make up 51% of the population but in some cases of senior boards, government leadership and financial institutions – we make up less than 2% of these roles.

Men are over-represented in violent offending, abuse and power – at all levels of society.

Radical feminism seeks to restructure this inequality and to change society at every level possible, in order for women and girls to seek equity.

Now the basics are out of the way; let’s look at how women who adopt radical feminist principles are now being blamed for the violence and abuse committed by men.

1. Men murdering trans women

Almost every day now, I see a social media post or meme claiming that radical feminist theory, arguments or activism cause the murder of transwomen around the world, despite the fact that transwomen are almost always killed by men.

In the UK, we have had one murder of a transwoman, Naomi Hersei, who was murdered by a 25 year old man. They had met on a sex swingers website. He had brutally murdered Naomi by stabbing in a hotel room in 2018.

However, in other countries (especially in South America), the murder of transwomen is commonplace, and increasing. According to TransRespect, the majority of the murders occurred in Brazil (152), Mexico (57), and the United States (28), adding up to a total of 3664 reported cases in 75 countries and territories worldwide between 1 January 2008 and 30 September 2020. 98% of those murdered globally were transwomen. 82% of all the murders registered happened in Central and South America; 43% in Brazil.

Of all murders of transwomen, 62% were being exploited or were described as working in ‘sex work’ at the time they were murdered by a man (or groups of men).

In most reported cases, transwomen are killed by the men who rape them, sexually exploit them or buy them for sex, and then kill them. Further, other transwomen have been murdered by male members of their families, such as brothers, uncles and Dads – and men in their communities. This is usually as a result of transphobia and homophobia (and/or a combination of the two, with other intersecting factors such as racism).

What is clear, is that in every single one of these cases, men made active choices to murder a transwoman. There have been no cases of radical feminists harming or killing transwomen. In all cases, transwomen have been stalked, harassed, raped, beaten and/or murdered by men.

This is male violence. Just as men are most likely to kill men, and women, and children, they are also most likely to kill transwomen.

There are two main arguments I have seen around this topic which need to be challenged. The first is that radical feminist views on gender and sex are the reason violent men kill trans people. I think it’s fairly clear from each case that the men who committed these homicides have zero interest in feminist theoretical discussions of the origins of gender and sex. Instead their murders have been based in their own motivations, violence and power dynamics (as are all acts of male violence).

We also mustn’t ignore the fact that many of the transwomen who have been murdered have been in sex work or sexual exploitation, being oppressed by men – and that the men who buy their bodies for sex are already dangerous, violent people who choose to exploit and use vulnerable minorities for sex on tap.

None of this is about radical feminist thinking or theory. It is purely down to the man who commits the crime.

It puzzles me that most of the time, radical feminists such as myself are framed as fringe extremists with nothing useful or impactful to say, and that no one should listen to us harp on about the abuse of women and girls – but that people seem to think we are powerful enough to influence thousands of homicidal men to go out and kill transwomen.

We can’t be both shrivelled up, shrieking nobodies who have no influence over men and also causing worldwide murder by influencing men.

The second is that radical feminists views on why we need to be able to label males and females (especially in crime reporting) are bigoted and harmful.

Yet here, we have a vital reason why we need to be able to record the correct sex of the criminal – males are killing transwomen which is part of a millennia of male pattern offending and male violence. Men are the majority murderers of everyone else – so it makes sense that they would also be the murderers of transwomen.

It is vital that we are able to talk about male violence (and female violence, when it does occur, and it does) correctly and accurately for everyone. We cannot tackle male violence against transwomen if you cannot name the perpetrator as a man – or as a trend in male violence.

It strikes me as the ultimate form of victim blaming and woman blaming, to excuse and shift the blame of male murderers on to women and feminists. Women and girls are being killed in their thousands every single day by men. They are not the ones causing or influencing male violence towards themselves, or towards transwomen.

It appears to me that we have become the scapegoat.

Such a self-proclaimed progressive movement, and yet, they have made the age-old error of pointing the finger at women, instead of men who commit violence. Again.

2. Men raping and murdering sex workers and prostituted women

The second example I seem to see a lot, and have been subjected to myself, has been radical feminists accused of causing the rape and murder of female sex workers and prostituted women around the world.

I have often been sent abusive messages accusing me of contributing to, or causing these crimes against women in sex work, by my own views on sex work. Despite the fact that my views on sex work come from lived experience, my views are clear: women in sex work should never be criminalised, we should campaign to have all of their convictions removed, and we should help every woman exit sex work – whilst criminalising the buyers, exploiters, owners and punters.

I (and many other radical feminists) believe that no man should be able to purchase consent, and that women in sex work are predominantly exploited, raped, harmed, beaten, threatened, injured, oppressed, criminalised, pathologised and discriminated against – all so a man can get his kicks.

Nowhere in radical feminist views do we support any discrimination or harm of women in sex work or prostitution. In fact, renowned radical feminists have been instrumental in helping prostituted women to remove their criminal convictions which were unjustly subjected to.

Again, what we have here is the positioning of women and radical feminists as the cause and the solution to male violence. Despite the fact that the majority of all sex buyers and exploiters and traffickers are men, women are still blamed, held responsible and held accountable for male violence.

Similarly, I find it odd that anybody would argue that radical feminists (who are a relatively small group of women) would have any power over violent men who buy sex and consent from women and girls around the world. These men certainly don’t listen to radical feminists when we talk about the harm and the trauma caused by sex work and prostitution, so why on earth would they listen to any of our theoretical arguments about decriminalisation or criminalisation?

It seems a lazy and misogynistic excuse to simply blame women for the actions of men, yet again. I just can’t understand how everybody can see that men (and the patriarchy in general) are not remotely listening to radical feminists, and instead silence them, shut them down, threaten them, harass them, mock them, and humiliate them – but simultaneously attempt to argue that radical feminist theory and thinkers are the reason men go out and commit such devastating crimes against women in sex work and prostitution.

It’s as if they have never considered that men going out into the community and buying sex with women and girls, would suggest that those men are already violent criminals that are more likely to kill women and girls.

The other point that it completely ignores by blaming radical feminists for men murdering and raping sex workers and women who have been prostituted, is that a large proportion of radical feminists are survivors of the sex trade, sexual exploitation and prostitution. Therefore, the radical feminist position is often informed by thousands of women who have survived male violence and prostitution. They weren’t listen to or respected by men then, and they’re not listened to or respected by men now. I just cannot see how you could robustly argue that radical feminism is the cause of male violence.

Aren’t men making their own decisions here? Why can’t we hold them accountable for their views and actions the way people seem to be able to do to radical feminist women?

Men are killing sex workers and women and girls in global prostitution because they dehumanise them, and they hate them. They use them for sex, and then they kill them. Radical feminists on the other hand, are arguing against the sex trade because of these things. Because of the fact that violent men dehumanise women and girls, and hate them, rape them and kill them. These are not two sides of the same coin. These are not related positions. These are opposing positions.

3. Men sending death and rape threats to women online

As some of you will have seen this week, J. K. Rowling has been subjected to yet more death threats because of her opinions on sex and gender. Her position is broadly radical feminist, and this has resulted in thousands of messages of harassment, abuse, and threats of being bombed or killed.

There are two levels to the victim blaming and woman blaming that has happened in the last couple of days. The first is the indirect and direct blaming of J. K. Rowling for the death threats sent to her. It has been suggested several times that the death threats are justified, and that she deserves them. Secondly the victim blaming is focused on radical feminism, again.

One of the arguments I’ve seen is the belief or position that radical feminists holding contentious or contested beliefs about the concepts of gender, stereotypes, gender identity, and sex means that they are causing men to abuse them, harass them, and threaten them online. This often goes further and moves towards a suggestion of justification or desert. The belief seems to be that if women speak out or even privately discuss their views about sex and gender, they are bringing the violence of men upon themselves. Many radical feminist women (especially in the last 5 to 10 years) have been subjected to increasing security threats, rape threats, death threats, doxxing, stalking, and other forms of male violence in the name of activism and feminism.

What is most interesting is that women are paying the price for a view that is actually held by many men as well. I’ve noticed that when men speak out about their views about sex and gender they are criticised, but they are not subjected to death threats, rape threats, doxxing and harassment in the same way.

The suggestion that radical feminists are bringing male violence upon themselves by merely holding views about gender and sex, is very similar to the position held by men’s rights activists and incel groups which often argue that radical feminists deserve, and bring male violence upon themselves, by their so-called ‘misandry’.

4. Men hating women and girls (especially MRA/incels)

It’s no secret to most of us that MRAs and incels hate radical feminism and radical feminists. For them, we are the ultimate opposition. For most of us, we are gender nonconforming women, we are lesbians, we are activists, we are educated, we are independent – and for a lot of us we have no interest in living with, or cooperating with men, or the broader global patriarchy.

On the many occasions that I have been targeted by MRAs and incels, I have been advised that my views on feminism and women’s rights are ‘provoking the reaction’ and abuse that I receive. Police even told me to shut down my social media, or stop talking about women’s rights to solve the problem. I know that this isn’t uncommon – because other women have been told the same thing.

With broad similarities to the other points that I have already made, nobody seems to be holding MRAs or incels responsible for their violence online and in person. No one seems to be talking about the mass online groups which share memes, posts, and videos about violent porn, pro-rape culture, anti-feminist and anti-women’s rights propaganda, and articles which suggest that male violence and female oppression is a feminist conspiracy theory.

When questioned, people tend to argue that the MRA movement and the Incel movement are simply reactions or backlash to radical feminism which again position radical feminists as the cause and solution of male violence.

Blame the perpetrator – I mean, really, it’s not hard

I know this might seem a simple conclusion to a complex article, but the solution truly is to blame the man for male violence. Blame the perpetrators of the crime. If a radical feminist actually commits a murder, rape or sexual assault, then fine. It would be their fault. And they would be to blame. No issues there.

But in cases where men have trafficked, threatened, raped, assaulted, stalked, and murdered someone – blame the perpetrator. Hold him fully accountable. Make him take responsibility for his actions.

Where masses of men are committing these crimes, talk about male violence as a system problem – don’t pass the buck to feminists and tell that they are the ones causing men to kill, rape, threaten and abuse.

I’m watching this all very carefully at the moment, and truly believe that we are seeing the meeting of minds between several groups of activists who have decided to pin the blame for many different forms of oppression on radical feminists.

Whilst terrifying, maybe the most interesting thing about this, is that it was inevitable. What I mean by that, is that we are a relatively tiny group of ambitious, educated, intelligent, gender non-conforming, often gay and marginalised women who have decided to stand up for women around the world, network and stand up in the face of great challenge, threat and adversity.

They were never going to let this go easily.

Men have never allowed radical feminists to have an unfiltered voice. We have always been positioned as crazy, evil, nasty, dangerous and abusive. We’ve always been locked up, arrested, abused and threatened. We’ve always been blamed for women’s changing roles in society.

What I can’t understand is how other women who call themselves feminists could look at the murder of anyone, committed by a man, and then turn around and blame a radical feminist, instead of being able to see that male violence is common and systemic – and that radical feminism is the only form of feminism willing to consistently call it out.

The scapegoating of radical feminists for the acts of male violence has to end.

Dr Jessica Taylor

20/07/2021