Women won free speech in Seattle! When will mainstream media get that?

The February 1 event Fighting the New Misogyny: A Feminist Critique of Gender Identity at the Seattle Public Library, was a victory over attempts to silence women once again. A victory over the witch hunt that has cost women jobs, speaking opportunities, and basic First-Amendment rights.

WoLF panel Seattle Public Library
Lierre Keith, Meghan Murphy, Saba Malik & Kara Dansky

It defeated a months-long campaign that demanded that the library close its doors on women’s right to discuss gender issues. Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF)  sponsored this meeting that featured speakers Meghan Murphy, Lierre Keith, Kara Dansky, and Saba Malik. Public support, and the Library’s principled stand to uphold its mission, made this victory possible.

When will women next assert the right to speak in public? What case against de-platforming, harassment, and threats can be won next, building on Seattle?

It was a significant news story that included controversy, police involvement, assaults on women, and even a bomb threat.

Feminist Current featured professional news coverage by Amy Eileen Hamm, highlighting the chant, “Let Women Speak!” and detailing the physical threat protesters posed. Likewise Women’s Liberation Radio News (WLRN) devoted its 46th podcast to what it called “The Battle of Seattle.” Coverage and commentary there are by April Neault and Sekhmet SheOwl. See these sites for in-depth video and audio coverage as well. In addition, the Dori Monson show, on radio KIRO, covered the story accurately. There was also this piece by Charlie Rae that highlighted the main divide between gender identity activists and feminists.

The major Seattle and national media, in contrast, missed the Seattle story of a changing tide in which women have at last pushed back the wall of silence and silencing. The Seattle Times featured favorably the efforts to suppress the event, with the headline “At Seattle Public Library, 2 arrested at event called anti-trans.” It omitted mention of what was said at the event or who spoke.

The Washington Post coverage was not more accurate or objective, focusing all attention on points made on behalf of silencing women. Its false headline: “Conservatives find unlikely ally in fighting transgender rights: Radical feminists.” This “news” article used a slur, “TERF,” well known to be associated with violent threats against women. The lengthy Post article did, however, report some facts about WoLF and the speaker, Kara Dansky, also quoting WoLF co‑founder Lierre Keith: “We expected authoritarianism from the right. We weren’t prepared for it from the left.”

We at the Defend Feminists Campaign are shocked that the self-designated “liberal” mainstream media takes the side of male autocrats working to suppress women’s voices. Meanwhile, media associated with the right, like the Wall Street Journal, sometimes publish science-based facts banned on the left, such as a thoughtful essay by an evolutionary biologist and a developmental biologist noting that sex is real and that its denial directly threatens existing women’s sex-based rights, erases homosexuality and places gender-nonconforming children at risk.

When the media fail to defend the First Amendment, we ask our supporters to spread the word and to support media that cover stories like this breakthrough for women’s speech in Seattle.

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