Moore, Burchill and the Web – A Timeline
We’ve put together a rough timeline of what’s been going on since the 8th of January when Suzanne Moore’s original article was published followed by Julie Burchill’s column a couple of days later and the ensuing online debates. We’ll be adding relevant articles and links as they arrive. Please feel free to comment below and share links of anything you find useful.
Tuesday 8 January: The New Statesman publishes Suzanne Moore’s piece “Seeing red: The power of female anger”. The line that provoked debate was:
The cliché is that female anger is always turned inwards rather than outwards into despair. We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual. We are angry that men do not do enough…
An article explains why this could have been phrased better and a debate grows on Twitter:
@suzanne_moore calling someone "a transsexual" is like calling someone "a gay" - really creepy. "Trans woman" would've been better but...—
Jo (@jonanamary) January 08, 2013
@suzanne_moore It's unfortunate, but given the number of Brazilian trans women murdered last year, that line got up people's noses.—
Roz Kaveney (@RozKaveney) January 09, 2013
!) People can just fuck off really. Cut their dicks off and be more feminist than me. Good for them.—
suzanne moore (@suzanne_moore) January 08, 2013
I dont even accept the word transphobia any more than Islamaphobia You are using 'intersectionality' to shut down debate. Its bollocks.—
suzanne moore (@suzanne_moore) January 08, 2013
Wednesday 9 – Thursday 10 January: Moore responds to the Twitter debate in the Guardian, “I don’t care if you were born a woman or became one“.
Some responses online:
- Blog It’s just a hobby posts “Do you have sex like a girl?”
- Kaite Welsh fiction author and journalist writes “The Master’s Tools: Why Suzanne Moore is stooping to David Cameron’s level”.
Support from journalist Julie Bindel sparks further debate:
Paris Lees (@ParisLees) January 10, 2013
Friday 11 January:
@stavvers It was and is a mob. A particularly vicious group of folk obsessed with identity politics and the hierarchy of oppression.—
Julie Bindel (@bindelj) January 11, 2013
- Zoe Stavri of Pink News says “I wish The Guardian’s Suzanne Moore would stop digging”.
10.51am: Suzanne Moore leaves Twitter and Pink News reports it here.
Support for Moore grows on Twitter:
It's very hard to think of a scenario where Suzanne Moore not being on Twitter is much of a win for any progressive cause.—
Martin Robbins (@mjrobbins) January 11, 2013
For the record, @suzanne_moore is a kind and lovely person who's about as open-minded as a horizon. Not the best target for a Twitter spasm.—
(@fleetstreetfox) January 11, 2013
For those who thought they were furthering social progress by abusing Suzanne Moore until she left Twitter: you weren't.—
Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) January 11, 2013
- Stonewall Writer of the Year 2010, Stella Duffy blogs “head/parapet”.
- Christine Burns, Equality and Diversity Specialist, explains the context behind responses to Moore’s article and the investigation into trans health doctor, Dr. Richard Curtis.
- Chiller blog posts “A different point of view on the Moore thing”.
- Kat’s research blog posts “The gap between experiences and (media) representation”.
Saturday 12 January: Francis Sedgemore, science writer and journalist writes “On Suzanne Moore, gender identity and penis fixation”.
Sunday 13 January: Julie Burchill’s piece in defence of Moore is published in the Observer entitled “Transsexuals Should Cut it Out”. It was removed the following day, (see below for more details); here’s the PDF.
No matter what troubles I face in future, I'm going to tell myself: "This could be worse. Julie Burchill could be leaping to your defence."—
Deborah Orr (@DeborahJaneOrr) January 13, 2013
"Transexual mob telling Suzanne Moore how to write makes me think of the Black & White Minstrels telling Usain Bolt how to run" J Burchill—
Nick Cohen (@NickCohen4) January 11, 2013
- Paris Lees publishes article in DIVA magazine “An Open Letter to Suzanne Moore”
- Juliet Jacques blogs “RE: Julie Burchill. An open letter to The Observer reader’s editor”
- Cheryl Morgan blogs “By Their Words Shall Ye Know Them”
- Roz Kaveney comments in The Guardian, “Julie Burchill has ended up bullying the trans community”
- Dr. Tim Stanley writes in The Telegraph “Feminists versus Transsexuals: Julie Burchill, Suzanne Moore and The Observer spark civil war on the left”.
- Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP and former Equalities Minister, tweets for Burchill to be sacked (and responds later that day to the point that Burchill is a Freelancer; “…I should have said not commission her again…”).
Julie Burchill rant against transgender community is absolutely disgusting - a bigoted vomit for which the Observer should sack her. -lf—
Lynne Featherstone (@lfeatherstone) January 13, 2013
Tony Gallagher (@gallaghereditor) January 13, 2013
Justifiable for Editor to withdraw Burchill Observer piece. But alarm bells ring when a Government Minister tries to get a journalist sacked—
Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) January 15, 2013
- Independent’s columnist Jane Fae says “Burchill’s attack follows the same pattern – trans stories are only of interest if we star as villains”
- Quinnae Moongazer blogs “Unguarded and Poorly Observed: A Response to Julie Burchill”
- Sarah Burton, post graduate student in sociology writes on intersectionality, privilege and power
- Musings of Emily Rose writes about feminism and privilege
- In Lesbilicious, Ruth Pearce writes “Transphobia in the Guardian; no excuse for hate speech”
- In So So Gay, CN Lester writes a column on the “Julie Burchill transphobia scandal”
- Leftytgirl blogs “refusing the call: a trans woman rejects internecine war cry from anti-woman faux feminists”
- Catherine Baker writes “On intersectionality, academic language and where to put my big feet”
- The Independent runs a poll showing 87% thought Burchill went too far in her “transphobic” defence of Moore and her words were offensive.
Monday 14 January:
Despite all this there has been much bridge building between me and several trans people who I deeply respect.—
suzanne moore (@suzanne_moore) January 14, 2013
I am sorry to those that I misrepresented and I feel pretty misrepresent myself ( an EDL supporter??)—
suzanne moore (@suzanne_moore) January 14, 2013
Suzanne Moore returns to Twitter, issues an apology and thanks her supporters before subsequently leaving again.
We welcome @suzanne_moore's apology and see this as a positive step forward.—
Trans Media Watch (@TransMediaWatch) January 14, 2013
Burchill’s article is amended to replace the word “transsexuals” with “transgender people”.
- The Telegraph’s chief leader writer, David Hughes comments “Lynne Featherstone’s call for Julie Burchill to be sacked is a little creepy”.
- Telegraph’s Dr. Brooke Magnanti writes “We don’t need Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill to police the borders of womanhood”
- Jane Fae comments on Politics.co.uk “The trans community has finally arrived”
- In Gay Star News, Helen Belcher talks about discrimination in the health service and media
- On Index, the Free Speech blog, Padraig Reidy discusses Burchill, Featherstone and Leveson
- On Jezebel, a post entitled “Transphobia Is a Goddamn Embarrassment to Us All” recounts events
- Dorian Lynskey blogs “The Burchill Ultimatum” for 33 Revolutions per minute
- Hannah shares her opinions on the issue on her blog Flying on the Rainbow
- In The Quietus, John Tatlock writes “‘Nasty Idiotic Tripe’: Stand Against Julie Burchill’s Years Of Transphobia“
5.48pm: “The Observer withdraws Julie Burchill column as editor publishes apology”. The print version remains and only the online article is removed along with over 2,000 comments. John Mulholland editor of the Observer issues a statement:
On this occasion we got it wrong and in light of the hurt and offence caused I apologise and have made the decision to withdraw the piece. The Observer Readers’ Editor will report on these issues at greater length.
Stephen Pritchard, Reader’s Editor continues the inquiry.
David Aaronovitch (@DAaronovitch) January 14, 2013
- Toby Young and Telegraph Blogs gets permission from Julie Burchill to republish her “censored Observer article” in The Telegraph and Young blogs “The Observer’s decision to censor Julie Burchil is a disgrace”.
- The Daily Mail reports the story and the Mirror also picks it up.
- William Henderson writes for The Telegraph: “In trying to ‘unpublish’ Julie Burchill, The Observer displays its ignorance of the internet”.
The New Statesman Trans Issues Week (planned previously): Writing for NS Trans Issues Week, Jennie Kermode outlines the facts about trans issues and language: “Everything you’ve always wanted to know about trans issues (but were afraid to ask)”.
Tuesday 15 January:
- Independent’s Tom Peck says “Julie Burchill should be free to offend”
- In The Guardian, Dean Burnett writes “Julie Burchill, transphobia and hostility towards the victims of oppression”
- Head of Legal publishes an independent opinion piece “Julie Burchill, free speech and the Lynne Featherstone clause”
- Liberal Democrat City Councillor Sarah Brown blogs “What the Hell is Wrong With You People?”
- Martin Bright writes for The Spectator; “In Defence of Suzanne Moore”
- Heather McNamara blogs “Crass hypocrisy of Julie Burchill”
- Huffington Post publishes Elizabeth Mizon’s piece “Moore, Burchill and those opposed (aka those taking offense)”
Wednesday 16 January:
Writer and trans activist Roz Kaveney, Columnist Toby Young, Laurie Penny Contributing Editor at the New Statesman and former Editor of The Guardian Peter Preston discuss the role of a columnist, free speech and social media on Radio 4’s The Media Show.
- Roy Greenslade’s column in The Guardian says “Burchill’s offensive column should have stayed online” and writes furthermore in The Evening Standard “Why the surprise at transsexual rant by Burchill?”
- Natacha blogs “Putting words into our mouths”
- Harry Giles blogs “Julie Burchill, Newspapers and Freedom of Speech”
- Open letter supports a Protest against Transphobia at The Observer
- An open letter video reaction is shared by @girlsteve
Thursday 17 January: The Guardian publishes Moore’s most recent response “It saddens me that supporting freedom makes me an opponent of equality”.
Rod Liddle writes “How Moore, Burchill and Featherstone all had a lovely bitch fight” in The Spectator.
Channel 4 News hosts a Google+ Hangout with Dr. Sally Hines, Paris Lees, Sarah Savage and Gary Ennis, debating “Transsexual people and the online ‘age of rage'”:
- Alison Bancroft blogs “We need some new feminists”.
- Natacha Kennedy writes “An open (hearted) letter to Suzanne Moore”
Guest blogger Hyosho writes for Media Darlings “Please no Moore: A snapshot of transphobia in Britain’s broadsheets”, explaining the issue with Moore’s original statement:
This is a related issue which speaks to a lack of intersectional understanding, but it is not the primary problem. The main issue is that it is dehumanising – it posits a stereotype as the norm, and uses it for a punchline. Moore is relying on the reader’s mental image of a transsexual woman for her joke’s humour and force, assuming that her reader shares her prejudices and preconceptions, mainly that a “Brazilian transsexual” is a) a trans woman, b) of a particular physical appearance, and most importantly c) not a real woman.
Friday 18 January: Roy Greenslade reports in The Guardian “PCC to investigate Julie Burchill column” and “Burchill column ‘a collective failing of editing’ by senior staff”.
The Observer reader’s editor, Stephen Pritchard provides a full explanation for the removal of Burchill’s piece.
- “Why I’m trans…and a feminist” – Comment Is Free hosts ‘The Panel’, interviews with Paris Lees, Jane Fae, CL Minou and Stuart Crawford.
- Editor of Polari magazine asks what happens now, “in the wake of the controversy over Julie Burchill’s unhinged tirade against trans women”
- Dan Solomon wrote for The Frisky “Why a Straight Man Like Cares About Transgender Rights”
- Helen G writes for The F Word blog “Feminism is for everyone – including trans women”.
Saturday 19 January: Deborah Orr writes “Feminism shouldn’t be about telling trans women they’re not female enough” in The Guardian.
Sunday 20 January: The Observer’s ‘The big issue’ publishes “Prejudice: trans people shouldn’t have been subjected to such abuse”.
- Imogen Blake writes for The Student Journals “Julie Burchill’s article should not have been censored”
Monday 21 January:
- TransBareAll post a video response to transphobic language from trans masculine people and allies
- Hel Gurney blogs “The Burchill/Moore saga continues…”
Tuesday 22 January: Patrick Barkham writes “Voices from the trans community: There will always be prejudice”, in The Guardian Society.
- NUJ Equality Council issue a statement on Julie Burchill’s article.
- Steepholm blogs “Cabals, Communities and People”.
- Writer and activist Mercedes Allen writes “If Offence is a Virtue” on Burchill’s column for The Montreal Gazette.
- Stephen Wood, researcher, writes for the Institute of Development Studies blog; “Julie Burchill, silo mentalities and international (trans)gender equality”.
- Brynn Tannehill writes for The Huffington Post Gay Voices “Improving Conversations about Transgender Issues”.
- Marko Attila Hoare blogs on Greater Surbiton “Julie Burchill: What is behind her supporters’ talk of the ‘right to offend’?”
- Reubs J. Walsh posts “The Guardian Media Group should apologise with actions, not words” on Protest Transphobia.
Thursday 24 January: Fionola Meredith from The Irish Times writes “It is important to defend the right to offend”.
Friday 25 January: Diane Leigh Shipley posts on the blog Bea “In defence of intersectionality (and ‘priviliege’, and trigger warnings…)”
Monday 28 January:
Response to the Trans Media Action Timeline from Suzanne Moore:
— suzanne moore (@suzanne_moore) January 28, 2013
Tuesday 29 January: Stavvers posts in Another angry woman “The value of trigger warnings”.
Wednesday 30 January: Paris Lees comments “Why it’s wrong to defend Burchill’s ‘right to offend'” in response to Fionola Meredith’s piece from Thursday 24th January .
We’re continuing to collect interesting links, articles and stories so please feel free to share any below.