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A Letter To the @commentisfree Editors about Julie Burchill

January 13, 2013

Dear all

I am writing to complain – something I have not done before – about the content of Julie Burchill’s latest cif article.

Yes it is offensive, yes it is transphobic, but I am used to this kind of ‘controversial’ link-bait Daily Mail esque style approach from the Graun now.

What I am complaining about is the threatening nature of some of Julie’s words. e.g:

Shims, shemales, whatever you’re calling yourselves these days – don’tthreaten or bully us lowly natural-born women, I warn you. We may not have as many lovely big swinging Phds as you, but we’ve experienced a lifetime of PMT and sexual harassment and many of us are now staring HRT and the menopause straight in the face – and still not flinching. Trust me, you ain’t seen nothing yet. You really won’t like us when we’re angry.

Now as someone who has a ‘lovely big swinging PhD’, a fact that was published online by two of Burchill’s journo mates, and someone who has caused the anger of Burchill and Moore by criticising their work, and someone who Moore has ‘accused’ of being a not-a-real-woman, I am frightened by this paragraph.

God knows  how actual trans people will be feeling right now.

I am sure you take legal advice before publishing hate-filled pieces but just because something is not illegal it doesn’t mean it is not threatening and scary.

I hope you do something about at least the section I quoted here, or at least write explaining why you kept it in.

Best wishes

Elly Tams, PHD.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. redpesto permalink
    January 13, 2013 9:25 pm

    Bloody hell – Burchill’s behaved like some drunk mate who asks ‘Is this person bothering you?’ and then resorts to violence when a polite word might have done the trick.

    Moore’s screwed: she can’t distance herself from Burchill (who boasted of being a mate of both Moore and Bindel, where the latter has a similar ‘form’ re. trans issues), because that would probably mean Moore’s critics were right. And Moore’s stuck with her original refusal to apologise, which presumably lead to Burchill wading in now. It would have been so much less painful to have said ‘sorry’, but now it’s probably too late: this week’s column will probably have to be about kittens.

    As for the Observer – what the **** did they think they were playing at?

    PS: I notice that Jane ‘Team Woman’ Martinson’s Twitter feed has absolutely nothing to say about any of this. You’d think the Women’s Page editor would at least show some recognition, even if it was of Moore’s original piece.

    • January 14, 2013 12:32 pm

      I will be mildly interested to see what Moore writes about this week. If the Graun let her post ANOTHER personal diatribe they will be sinking lower than I thought even they could.

  2. redpesto permalink
    January 14, 2013 5:45 pm

    At the moment, it looks like Moore’s going to leave Twitter (I suspect not for long)
    and desperately back away from the original problem:

    I did not set out to offend and the murder of all women trans or not is clearly something I DO care about. I think readers know this?

    Judging from her Hulk-out, no. And now she wants to apologise?

    On the other hand she still can’t resist the occasional cheap shot:

    But for now I see must leave for a while. Really bad things are happening in the world and this is a storm in a double D cup.

    She really can’t let it go, can she? I can’t see why Moore couldn’t just make her account private and stick to DM’ing her mates – but maybe that lacks the right dramatic flourish/level of media ‘noise’/desperate attempt to have the last word. Remember folks: she’s the real victim here. She still wants everyone else to feel bad because she knows there are More Important Things to Worry About. She’s abandoning Twitter; she’s not some feminist version of Captain Oates – and she’ll still be appearing in the Guardian (this week: either writing about kittens, horrid men or about ‘knowing who your real friends are’ – which may or may not include Julie Burchill). She’s going to have a hard time arguing for ‘solidarity’ after all this – but she probably thinks it’s everyone else’s fault.

    PS: I liked this bit of excuse-making:

    The Red essay had ben round for months and not a single complaint on my use of “Brazilian transsexual” as one of many idealised body shapes

    Maybe because (a) nobody bought the book; (b) the New Statesman has a much wider readership (c) it was online where people could post links/tweet/comment (or does Moore think that kind of thing only happens to people/articles she disapproves of?).

  3. redpesto permalink
    January 14, 2013 7:11 pm


    Here’s Suzanne Moore getting angry a couple of years back, which include A HREF=”″>this gem by her in the comments:

    You are wrong. I do appreciate your balls. But do you appreciate the difference between journalism and post-structuralist jargon? A newspaper column has to provoke and entertain. Sure it will not tick all your boxes. I doubt that I can ever manage that.
    But the day I start writing about “intersectionality” you may shoot me! x

    Sadly, she managed to shoot herself in both feet when she did start writing about ‘intersectionality’ – but maybe she was just being ‘entertaining’.

  4. January 18, 2013 9:17 am

    Moore/Burchill really are eccentric. I can only think they are attention seeking again. Monkey, the Guardian-blogger seems to agree with me. The numbers of comments under Moore’s column were dwindling rather until this nonsense. People were losing interest. Now,as if by magic, they’ve gone up to 1738 or so. Moore must think a job well done.

    Still, I do wonder at people like Moore turning around and saying “People died for my right to offend you.”

    What? At El Alamein, you mean? In the Battle of Britain? On the fields of Agincourt, jollied on by Henry V ? Careful Ms Moore, any mention of Churchill and the Telegraph might hire you! Doesn’t sound much like the usual Graun feminist line (I suppose that merely means I should “celebrate the Guardian’s diversity”)

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