feminism for women julie bindel book cover
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'Feminism for Women' (2021) by Julie Bindel.
Julie Bindel's Feminism for Women resets the narrative on a women's movement recently driven off course by transgender activists who skew the reality of prostitution, porn and male violence against females.

When I asked what she had learned at school one day last week, my 12-year old daughter told me they had been talking about feminism and the #MeToo movement. I didn't dare ask any more at the risk of straying into an enemy minefield.

But I doubt that Julie Bindel's "Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation" is on the reading list at her school. Which is a shame, because Bindel's take on feminism in her new book is a refreshing reminder of what drives genuine campaigners like her. As the title suggests, it attempts to reset the narrative that has come to consume feminism's true goals.

Intersectionality has piled layer upon layer on feminism to a point that the 'white feminism' which is key to Bindel, has now become a slur. The new way of thinking would deem it selfish of a white woman to put her struggle ahead of that of a black trans woman lesbian sex worker. Anyone can be labelled a 'white feminist', and you don't even need to be white. You don't even need to be a woman. So long, Sisterhood.

Because trans women - natal males to you and I - have muscled in on feminism, entirely missing, or ignoring, the point that this is a movement aimed at securing "female" empowerment after years of being treated like second class citizens and having their lives defined through a male prism. How can anyone born male truly understand what that must be like?

It's not about wearing pink, thinking cats are adorable and putting on a nice dress, it is far more elemental. It literally is in your DNA.

But so vociferous and powerful is the trans lobby - campaign outfit Stonewall is the self-appointed enforcer of the mantra 'trans women are women' - that we are seeing natal males insisting on having access to female prisons, changing rooms, domestic violence refuges and to share sleeping accommodation with girl guides. Yet anyone who dares raise an eyebrow at any of this is put on the homophobe hitlist and slaughtered on social media.

As Bindel points out, rich, powerful women like Harry Potter author JK Rowling and tennis legend Martina Navratilova can rise above this fray over gender politics and robustly defend their feminist viewpoint. But others, like the campaigner herself, face constant attack from trans women and the new wave of feminists who seek to drown out her voice and cancel her at every opportunity.

These are the same feminists who would maintain that there's nothing wrong with prostitution and that 'sex work is work'; if you deny the right of women to sell their bodies for sex with strangers, then it's you who is the problem. In fact, because many of those in the sex trade live in or come from the developing world, not accepting their lifestyle choice means you are actually being colonialist, or, even worse, racist. Shut up, racist!

The genuine feminist argument about prostitution isn't around the legality of it, which is something of a distraction and implies that if only it was legalised, being on the game would be sunshine and kittens. That wouldn't change a thing about the profession. It is still about women being exploited and treated like meat - by men - who are completely aware of what they are doing, but do it anyway. And how do I know that? Well, for starters, I know of no father who says, "I want my daughter to grow up to be a prostitute."

Bindel identifies a similar motivation with the consumption of pornography and, as the father of girls, this terrifies me. Teenage and younger boys have porn just a few clicks away on their phones. Porn showing the rape, torture and assault of women, which the new feminists suggest is actually empowering for females.

They believe, for example, that in the ever-growing acronym of LGBTQQIA+, to which we must apparently add a 'K' for kink, being choked during sex is something the modern woman needs and wants to experience even if it means she ends up imperilled.

I'm not so sure about that and I think the families of Sophie Moss, Chloe Miazek, Grace Millane and Vicky Wynne-Jones, who all lost their lives during what are euphemistically called 'sex games gone wrong', might agree with me. It's murder, or at the very least, manslaughter, that these neo-feminists are sanctioning as they ignore it for what it really is - male violence against women. So many of the men involved in these incidents have previous histories of mistreating women, it's hard to believe all these 'games' are accidents.

Of course, as you would expect, Bindel identifies the patriarchy, which no doubt includes me, as the real enemy of feminism, and she is right, not that we think about it too much. Bindel quotes fellow traveller Marcie Bianco to explain the point: "People who have power do not daydream about empowerment." It's just the way men are.

Despite our role in being the opposition throughout "Feminism for Women", Bindel believes we can play a part. Men cannot be feminists, she says, and I agree that it's excruciating to see fellas pretend they can, but she does suggest, "Men can be feminist alllies, and we could do with their help." But that's not as trans women muscling in on the cause, as pimps exploiting their bodies, or as consumers of pornography which demeans and objectifies, all of which undermine the quest for genuine liberation.

Without doubt feminism has a long way to go to achieve its goals and, in all honesty, it's uphill every step. But that doesn't mean it's not worth trying or that we should stop talking about what women's liberation really means. Now that there's a handbook, at least everyone can stay on track.

Damian Wilson is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.