Folks walking down Franklin this afternoon will doubtless have noticed the protests outside LaunchPad, which were organized by radical feminists from the environmentalist group Deep Green Resistance after LaunchPad cancelled a Deep Green Resistance event planned for this evening as part of the Resistance Rewritten tour. A flyer handed out by the activists read as follows:
"Why is the 'Resistance Rewritten" workshop not happening at Launchpad?
Launchpad cancelled our event twenty four hours before it was scheduled The two speakers that were scheduled to give the presentation are radical feminists, and Launchpad fears that giving radical feminists a voice would, in their words, "alter the community's perception of our establishment." In am email to the organizers of this event, they said that they "wish to avoid the controversy." The scheduled presentation has nothing to do with radical feminism at all - it's about historical examples of social justice and environmentalism - but Launchpad believes that censoring radical feminists from speaking on any topic will preserve their public image among those who disagree with feminism."
Launchpad issued the following statement today:
The Deep Green Resistance event that was originally scheduled for this evening (June 23rd) has been cancelled. LaunchPad is a decidedly "un-curated" space that supports local artists and organizers by hosting almost any event that members of the community wish to create. Therefore, LaunchPad is simply a venue for a wide array of (sometimes conflicting) events and beliefs, and it does not endorse specific points of view. LaunchPad's goal is to promote unity within the community and be a space that feels accessible to anyone, and by Saturday afternoon it was clear that this event had triggered a divisive debate. Therefore, rather than risk offending the trans-community we chose to cancel this event. We would prefer to not host an event that could be seen as exclusionary.
The central issue is a fundamental disagreement between two sets of beliefs. LaunchPad can not act as a "judge" in these situations, and it is inappropriate to bring the venue into the debate and expect it to render a verdict. LaunchPad instead encourages unity and collaboration through a shared understanding of different and conflicting views. Therefore, we have set aside the evening of August 11th for a healthy discussion on these issues. If representatives from both side of this argument would like to participate, please send a brief e-mail with your info to email@example.com.
You can read more from Launchpad and others on their facebook page.
Launchpad has found itself at the center of a long-running conflict between radical feminists in Deep Green Resistance and transgender and queer activists. I don't have time to do justice to the nuances of the respective arguments, but I'd encourage those interested to check out DGR's official statement and this article from the movement's founders, as well as these critiques from transgender activists.
At its root, the conflict stems from divergent views of how gender is socially constructed. DGR activists argue that gender roles cannot be disassociated from patriarchy and that there is no choice (and a lot of violence) involved in a person's position within the binary gender hierarchy. Transgender activists argue that gender can be fluid and that individuals have a right to realize the gender identities they feel or choose. On the ground, this creates significant clashes, with each group accusing the other of supporting and legitimating the ongoing violence against both women and transgender people (they've also teed off on one another at left-wing events and conferences). Launchpad received many complaints from local folks arguing that their hosting of DGR constituted support for transphobia, while DGR asserts that the cancelation amounts to support for the patriarchy and perpetuates the silencing of radical female voices.
Readers, your thoughts? While it seems unlikely that the radical feminists of DGR and local transgender activists will share the stage at Launchpad in August, I, for one, wish that they would. While I sincerely doubt that the ideological gulf between these groups can be bridged, the continued violence against women and transgendered people (neither of whom occupy the "top of the totem pole" in the gender hierarchy that's reserved for straight men) demands a strategic alliance.