Melbourne-based bookstore Readings has apologized for programming radical feminist author Julie Bindel, who stands accused of transphobia. The statement came in response to an apparent complaint by a queer book author.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the bookstore apologized for “any hurt caused by highlighting the work of an author whose current stance is to divide our community,” and said it “regrets programming Julie Bindel in 2018.”
Bindel is an English feminist, a researcher and long-time campaigner for women’s rights, who makes a particular focus on protecting sex workers from abuse. She authored several books on the topic, and one of them, ‘The Pimping of Prostitution’, was the subject of her July 2018 appearance at Readings.
The event drew criticism at the time from people unhappy with Bindel’s anti-prostitution stance or her views on gender reassignment surgery, which she sees as a modern version of ‘gay conversion therapy’.
Her controversial politics were widely known by the time Readings hosted her and didn’t prevent the event from happening – which even won the bookstore some praise for bravery in the face of online critics. But now the retailer evidently believes the invitation was wrong.
The statement appears to come in response to a complaint from Alison Evans, who restricted viewership of their tweets, making their words unavailable to the public. Evans, a queer young adult fiction author, is a self-described genderqueer, who “wrote” themself “into existence.”
The apology angered Bindel, who went on Twitter to demand an explanation. She described her recollection of the “packed” event at Readings and the wide representation of members of minority communities attending it.
“There were loads of feminists at that event, on account of it being about the hideous abuse of women and girls world-wide, and in particular, in Australia, NZ & across Canada, indigenous females. Many of those feminists are lesbians, on account of the fact that we have done much of the heavy lifting when it comes to countering male violence,” she said.
Please would @ReadingsBooks tell me where they fit in your vision of ‘community’? Shame on you.
A later tweet from Bindel apparently shows a screen-saved post by Evans conditioning her appearance at a scheduled Readings event on the bookstore apologizing.
Judging by the reaction to Readings’ statement, its belated cancellation attempt didn’t go over well with the public.