I wonder how many readers of this blog heard last week’s Any Questions (BBC Radio 4, 8pm, Friday 8th Feb 2013). The panel for the evening included feminist Julie Bindel. Ms Bindel describes herself as a ‘radical feminist, not the fun kind but an out and out proud lesbian.’ As the topic of ‘gay marriage’ is hot in the news at the moment, I listened carefully to her comments. Ms Bindel began by saying that ‘those who are opposed to equal marriage are either ‘homophobic, bigoted or are on nodding terms with bigots’ and commented that being against gay marriage is ‘gross discrimination’.
After several such negative comments, she rather surprisingly went on to denigrate marriage, saying that she is ‘very critical of marriage and its patriarchal trappings.’ She went on; ‘Why lesbians and gay men are so desperate to enter into a system that has its roots in inequality I do not know. In the 1960s and ’70s, feminists blew open this myth that marriage was a great institution and kept families and communities together, because we saw that it was about old fashioned property ownership; we saw women rushing to the domestic violence refuges, and also talking about their children being sexually abused; about their unhappiness about the extra-marital affairs, et cetera, et cetera.’ She later talked of marriage as a ‘heterosexual mistake’ and continued; ‘Now that we can, let’s start fighting to abolish marriage and give civil partnerships to everybody, including heterosexuals.’ Although quite a few in the audience applauded, I was confused. It seems to me that Ms Bindel wants gay people to have the right to be married, but once that right is won, she would like to see marriage abolished.