Why is Massey University encouraging the harassment of people who want to attend Feminism 2020?
HIGH PROFILE CANADIAN feminist and journalist Meghan Murphy will be speaking at two events in New Zealand. She will be speaking in Wellington on November 13 and in Auckland on November 18.
However groups opposed to her visit and to Feminism 2020 have tried to shut down the Wellington event. Massey University says that 'We have had several complaints about this event and questions from media on why we have allowed the booking to go ahead, as this group holds controversial views on the rights of transgender and intersex people.'
Murphy has been attacked as being 'transphobic', which she denies. In a recent issue of the New Statesman she wrote:
'The trend of neutralising absolutely everything sex-specific is not only unnecessary (there is nothing wrong with being male or female, after all), but it actually harms women – the category of people who are oppressed under patriarchy.
How can we ensure women are being fairly represented if we refuse to even acknowledge women exist? And how can we, for that matter, determine who is getting the short end of the stick (and therefore resolve that inequality) under patriarchy, if we erase the categories of men and women entirely?'
In recent months NZ Herald columnist Rachel Stewart and Green Party member Jill Abigail have also been charged with being 'transphobic'. There were also attempts made to suppress their views.
A short -lived campaign was mounted to have Rachel Stewart removed as a columnist for her newspaper, with Labour Party-friendly blogger and commentator Morgan Godfery suggesting that she 'shouldn't have a place in public life'.
Longtime Green Party member Jill Abigail saw her article critical of gender identity politics pulled down from the Green's publication Te Awa, reportedly on the instructions of Green co-leader Marama Davidson. The move backfired with the article published on other websites and blogs.
In a press statement released on Friday, Massey University have declared their opposition to Feminism 2020 stating ''that the university strongly and openly stands with the sexual- and gender-diverse community.... We do not in any way share the views of the speakers of this event.'
Although Massey University says it is committed to the principle of free speech 'as a fundamental tenet of a university' it is suggesting that people who intend to attend Feminism 2020 will be met with a hostile reception:
"We are currently placing signs, flags and posters around our campuses to show support for our community and we will be increasing this over the next few weeks so that our people are aware of our commitment to diversity and inclusion. The rainbow and transgender flags will fly prominently on campus wherever possible. We will be taking active steps to ensure that the participants of this event will have to arrive to a venue that is very clearly pro-rainbow, and that our staff and students experience our support.'
Massey University may say it stands by the principal of free speech but that doesn't seem to preclude it from openly encouraging the intimidation of people who want to attend Feminism 2020. They should be able to do so without being harassed.