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Meghan Emily Murphy is a Canadian writer, journalist, and founder of Feminist Current, a feminist website and podcast. Her writing, speeches, and talks have criticized third-wave feminism, male feminists, the sex industry, exploitation of women in mass media, censorship, and gender identity legislation.
Early life and education
Murphy began her journalism career in 2009, working for the Vancouver-based F Word Feminist Media Collective; writing until 2012 for its blog, The F Word, and as a host, producer, and editor of its radio program. In 2011, she began writing regularly for rabble.ca and worked as rabble's podcast network producer from November 2012, and evening editor from 2013, until February 2016. In 2012 she undertook a practicum at The Tyee. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Vancouver Observer, CBC News, Al Jazeera, New Statesman, Vice, The Globe and Mail, National Post, National Observer, xoJane, The Walrus, Quillette, and the German feminist magazine EMMA.
Murphy founded the Feminist Current website and podcast in 2012. Describing itself as "Canada's leading feminist website", its mission is to "provide a unique perspective on male violence against women, pop culture, politics, current events, sexuality, gender, and many other issues that are often underrepresented or misrepresented by mainstream, progressive, and feminist media sources".
Views on trigger warnings, sexism, contemporary feminism and sex work
Murphy has argued that trigger warnings amount to censorship, written about ageism within feminism, criticized liberal feminism, supported the MeToo movement, and questioned whether men can be feminists. She has also argued that anti-bullying campaigns ignore sexism and the way young men are taught to view women. She has lambasted feminist group Femen, who, she argued in 2013, was "making feminism palatable for the male gaze", presenting "a vision of female liberation that looks like a sexy, naked, thin, white, blonde woman". (For an English translation of the Isabelle Alonso interview, see Sporenda (August 2, 2013). Interview: Meghan Murphy on the sex industry, individualism, online feminism, and the third wave. Feminist Current. ) In January 2017, Murphy argued, in the context of a Washington Post editorial praising men for taking part in the 2017 Women's March, against making concessions to men to make them feel comfortable within feminism. It is not women who need to adapt, she wrote:
Women are not targeted by men walking alone at night, in their homes, at work, in bars, or in any of the other myriad of places women are attacked, harassed, and raped, because they are passive, wear high heels, have long hair, wear dresses, or behave in other "feminine" ways, but because they are female. Female children are not prostituted or abused by adult men because they identify with "femininity", but because of the sex class they were born into. Girls are feminized, not "feminine" by choice or because of some kind of internal, unchangeable personality flaw that turns them into victims.
Murphy has criticized third-wave feminism as well, interpreting it as a backlash against second-wave and radical feminism. For example, she has criticized Slutwalk and the attempt to reclaim a word that has been used to shame women. She has been broadly critical of sex-positive feminism, observing in 2013: "That whole burlesque/sex work is empowering/feminist porn aspect of the third wave is making a mockery of the movement." More generally, she has said certain contemporary movements are "cult-like" in their efforts to shut down debates by calling people "phobic" (such as "whorephobic") or accusing them of "shaming" (as in "kink-shaming") if they fail to "toe the party line". In 2013, she called Twitter "a horrible place for feminism ... intellectual laziness is encouraged, oversimplification is mandatory, posturing is de rigueur, and bullying is rewarded".
Murphy is highly critical of the sex and porn industry, which she regards as "inherently misogynistic and exploitative". When Hugh Hefner died in 2017, Murphy called him a "billionaire who profited from women's subordination". In an interview with CBC Radio's The Current in 2018, she argued that sex dolls may reduce men's empathy for women by presenting women as, literally, objects. She has written about her support for the Nordic model, in which buying, not selling, sex is illegal. She told Mic in 2015 that this includes public education, a strong welfare state, retraining police officers, and offering exit services for women. She has also been criticized by other feminists for her opposition to decriminalizing sex work.
Opposition to transgender activism
Murphy contributed as an editor and writer for Canadian online magazine rabble.ca beginning in 2011. In 2015, Murphy challenged a photograph of Laverne Cox's nude body in a magazine as being "defined by a patriarchal/porn culture, through plastic surgery" and "a sexualized object for public consumption". In response, a Change.org petition was created in May 2015 by sex workers' lobby group Maggie's Toronto, accusing her of racism and using transphobic language, and demanding that rabble end Murphy's association with the site. The petition was countered by a collective open letter in solidarity with Murphy signed by 22 international feminist organizations and over 215 individuals. The Change.org petition was rejected by rabble. However, in October 2016 Murphy quit rabble.ca after an article critical of the language Planned Parenthood had used to address women, referring to them as "menstruators", had been published and then removed without informing her. Editor Michael Stewart felt that it had used transphobic language and gone against rabbles journalistic policy. In an email to Murphy, rabbles publisher, Kim Elliott, stated that "the piece denie[d] the gendered identity of trans men who menstruate by implying that if a person has ovaries and a uterus, they are by virtue of those biological markers, a woman".
Opposition to gender identity legislation
Murphy is critical of gender identity legislation. In May 2017, Murphy appeared before the Canadian Senate, together with Hilla Kerner of the Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter, to oppose Bill C-16, which encoded gender identity and gender expression into Canadian law. She told the Senate: "Treating gender as though it is either internal or a personal choice is dangerous and completely misunderstands how and why women are oppressed under patriarchy as a class of people ... The rights of women and girls are being pushed aside to accommodate a trend."
In 2019, she was invited to speak before the Scottish Parliament regarding gender identity laws and their impact on women's rights. At their public meeting in London, she told Woman's Place UK, "I see no empathy for women and girls on the part of trans activists, that is to say, those pushing gender identity ideology and legislation. What I see is bullying, threats, ostracization, and a misogynist backlash against the feminist movement and much of the work it's accomplished over years." In an interview with The Scotsman regarding her views about transgender rights legislation, Murphy stated:
I'm not interested in stopping anyone having surgery or hormones if they feel that's making their lives better, and certainly people should be able to wear what they want and express themselves in ways that make them feel fulfilled and living authentic lives. But once it became about laws and legislation and gender replacing sex it became clear to me that this would have a real impact on women's rights and spaces.
Twitter ban and lawsuit
In late 2018, Twitter changed its policy on hateful conduct and harassment to officially prohibit intentionally calling a trans person by the wrong pronouns or using their pre-transition names. Beginning in August 2018, Murphy stated that her Twitter account was locked more than once after she tweeted about issues involving trans women. Twitter permanently suspended Murphy's account in late November 2018, after she referred to Jessica Yaniv, a trans woman, as "him". On February 11, 2019, Murphy filed a lawsuit against Twitter in response to her banning. The suit was dismissed in early June, but Murphy stated that she intended to file an appeal.
Public appearances and protests
Murphy's public appearances have been subject to protests in Canada, notably in Vancouver and Toronto. In both cities, LGBTQ organizations have also criticized public libraries for allowing Murphy to book space for public appearances. Mayor of Toronto John Tory announced that he was "disappointed" in the library's decision to host Murphy's event, and said that the "highest of standards" should be set to ensure that "offensive commentary" is not hosted in city facilities. Official Opposition Culture Critic Jill Andrew, a queer-identifying member of the ONDP Black Caucus, also objected to the event, saying "As a proud member of Toronto's queer community, I stand in solidarity with LGBTQ folks, as well as with local writers and members of the literary community who are standing up to oppose the [Toronto Public Library's] decision" to host "a person who publicly espouses hate speech".
Tory asked City Librarian Vickery Bowles to reconsider the decision to permit Murphy's appearance. In response to the statements by the mayor, Murphy said, "It is unconscionable that the mayor of Toronto would attempt to pressure the [Toronto Public Library] to cancel this event...What I am saying is not controversial, and certainly is not hateful ... We deserve space for this conversation and our concerns deserve respect." Bowles defended the approval to host the event, noting that "Murphy has never been charged with or convicted of hate speech".
- Meghan Murphy. Ravishly. Archived
- Manchester, Julia (December 6, 2018). Self-described feminist banned from Twitter says platform is setting 'dangerous' precedent. Retrieved April 21, 2019. Archived
- Davidson, Gina (18 May 2019). Canadian feminist Meghan Murphy 'won't be silenced' in Scotland. Archived
- Graduate Alumni. MA – Course Based. Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. Simon Fraser University. Archived
- The F-Word Media Collective. Grassroots Feminism. 2012. Retrieved 2019-05-04. Archived
- The F Word (February 14, 2012). Occupy Valentine's Day!. rabble.ca. Archived
- The F Word (December 17, 2009). Women and skepticism. rabble.ca. Archived
- Sporenda (22 July 2013). Interview n°7: Meghan Murphy. Isabelle Alonso. Retrieved 4 November 2018. Archived
- Meghan Murphy. rabble.ca. Retrieved 2018-06-15. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (3 May 2012). Does Simon Fraser University Need a Men's Centre?. The Tyee. Retrieved 15 June 2018. Archived
- Meghan Murphy. The Vancouver Observer. Retrieved 2018-06-15. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (June 21, 2017). Why a women-only spa in Toronto should not change its policy to accept trans women. CBC News. Retrieved May 3, 2019. Archived
- Meghan Murphy. Al Jazeera English. 2013. Retrieved 2018-06-15. Archived
- Meghan Murphy. Retrieved 2018-06-15. Archived
- Meghan Murphy. Vice. Retrieved 2018-06-15. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (March 28, 2015). There's nothing 'safe' about silencing dissent. Retrieved June 13, 2018. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (March 27, 2014). Meghan Murphy: The problem with the 'I am a feminist' campaign. Retrieved January 27, 2019. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (October 25, 2016). OPINION: Bill C-16 is flawed in ways most Canadians have not considered. National Observer. Retrieved June 13, 2018. Archived
- Meghan Murphy. xoJane.
- Murphy, Meghan (April 8, 2017). Our Own Worst Enemies. Retrieved June 15, 2018. Archived
- Meghan Murphy (12 December 2016). Meghan Murphy: Freiwillig entfremdet. Retrieved 8 June 2018. Archived
- Kleiman, Jonathan (3 December 2012). The Final Results for the 2012 Canadian Blog Awards. Canadian Blog Awards. Retrieved 4 November 2018. Archived
- Launched in July 2012, Feminist Current is Canada's leading feminist website.. Feminist Current. Retrieved 2018-06-08. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (May 12, 2014). Meghan Murphy: A slow slide into censorship. Retrieved January 27, 2019. Archived
- Murphy, Megan (26 February 2014). Kicking against our foremothers: does feminism have an ageism problem?. Retrieved 4 November 2018. Archived
- Freedom Fallacy: The Limits of Liberal Feminism. (ch. "'I do what I want, fuck yeah!': moving beyond 'woman's choice', by Meghan Murphy") 2015. Connor Court Publishing. pp. 17–24. ISBN 978-1925138542.
- Murphy, Megan (16 October 2017). Yes, you too. Feminist Current.
- Flanagin, Jake (June 8, 2014). Is It Possible to Be a Male Feminist?. Retrieved June 14, 2018. Archived
- Murphy, Megan (14 July 2018). The problem with male feminists. Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 4 November 2018. Archived
- Berlatsky, Noah (2015). Bullying. (ch. "Antibullying Campaigns Ignore Sexism Against Girls and Women, by Meghan Murphy") Greenhaven Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-0737772111.
- Sainato, Michael; Skojec, Chelsea (January 22, 2017). Washington Post Insults Women's March, Stealth Edits Article. Observer. Retrieved May 3, 2019. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (May 7, 2011). We're Sluts, Not Feminists. Wherein my relationship with Slutwalk gets rocky.. Feminist Current. Retrieved June 15, 2018. Archived
- Mendes, Kaitlynn (2015). SlutWalk: Feminism, Activism and Media. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 95. Retrieved 2018-06-14. ISBN 978-1137378903.
- O'Connor, Maureen (23 December 2013). Can Feminist Hashtags 'Dismantle the State'?. The Cut. Retrieved 4 November 2018. Archived
- Ramzy, Austin; Bilefsky, Dan (September 28, 2017). Celebrities Remember Hugh Hefner for More Than Just the Articles. Retrieved June 13, 2018. Archived
- Walker, Connie (30 August 2018). Sex doll brothel turns 'women into objects', says critic. The Current. CBC Radio One. Retrieved 4 November 2018. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (April 23, 2018). Canada's Twitter Mobs and Left-Wing Hypocrisy. Quillette. Retrieved May 3, 2019. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (June 3, 2013). A prostitution solution: Outlaw the customers, not the hookers. Retrieved June 13, 2018. Archived
- Aleem, Zeeshan (March 13, 2015). 16 Years Since Decriminalizing Prostitution, Here's What's Happening in Sweden. Mic. Retrieved June 8, 2018. Archived
- Balkidsoon, Denise. The targeting of other women shows Meghan Murphy is no feminist. Retrieved 2020-01-23. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (February 10, 2020). You can't cancel the truth. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (April 22, 2015). Laverne Cox's objectified body 'empowers' no one. Feminist Current. Archived
- Bindel, Julie (9 October 2015). No platform: my exclusion proves this is an anti-feminist crusade. Retrieved 15 June 2018. Archived
- Greer, Darryl (November 3, 2016). Writer Quits Rabble Over Pulled Blog. Canadaland. Retrieved June 8, 2018. Archived
- Open letter to rabble.ca - Support Meghan Murphy suffered a misogynist campaign by the sex industry lobby. Sisyphe.org. 11 May 2015. Archived
- Statement on review of Meghan Murphy petitions. rabble.ca. May 14, 2015. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (September 7, 2016). Are we women or are we menstruators?. Feminist Current. Retrieved November 4, 2018. Archived (first published in rabble.ca)
- Murphy, Meghan (October 21, 2016). Hi friends. Just an overdue update. Facebook. Archived
- Interchange – Sex Politics: Meghan Murphy and the Feminist Current. WFHB. March 20, 2018. Archived
- Authenticity & empathy: Meghan Murphy. Woman's Place UK (WPUK). 20 May 2019. Archived
- Murphy, Meghan (July 22, 2019). The Yaniv scandal is the end-product of trans activism. Archived
- CTV Vancouver (January 11, 2019). Trans advocates rally against controversial feminist speaker Meghan Murphy. Archived
- "Meghan Murphy Presents a Feminist Case Against Bill C-16". YouTube.
- The Standing Senate Committee On Legal and Constitutional Affairs – Evidence. Senate of Canada. Parliament of Canada. May 10, 2017. Retrieved November 4, 2018. Archived
- Legal and Constitutional Affairs – Meeting Detail. Senate of Canada. Parliament of Canada. May 10, 2017. Retrieved June 8, 2018. Archived
- Tasker, John Paul (May 12, 2017). Transgender rights bill threatens 'female-born' women's spaces, activists say. CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved June 8, 2018. Archived
- Robertson, Dylan C (May 30, 2017). Senate committee rejects motion to narrow trans bill's scope. Daily Xtra. Retrieved July 27, 2018. Archived
- Twitter-ban feminist defends transgender views ahead of Holyrood meeting. BBC News. 22 May 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2019. Archived
- Sitwell, Ros (May 24, 2019). Hundreds of women gather in London to discuss sex and gender. Archived
- Meghan Murphy: Canadian feminist's trans talk sparks uproar. BBC News. 30 October 2019. Archived
- Wells, Georgia (February 11, 2019). Writer Sues Twitter Over Ban for Criticizing Transgender People. Archived
- Prengel, Kate (November 24, 2018). Meghan Murphy: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know. Heavy. Archived
- Robertson, Julia Diana (November 27, 2018). Twitter Bans Meghan Murphy, Founder of Canada's Leading Feminist Website. AfterEllen. Archived
- Brean, Joseph (February 12, 2019). 'Yeeeah it's him': Vancouver writer sues Twitter over its rule against misgendering trans people. Archived
- Brean, Joseph (October 29, 2019). Meghan Murphy, the woman behind trans wars breaking out at the public library. Retrieved 8 September 2020. Archived
- Matt, Naham (February 12, 2019). Feminist Writer Sues Twitter After She Tweets 'Men Aren't Women' and Gets Banned. Law & Crime. Archived
- Fry, Madeline (July 10, 2019). This journalist lost her lawsuit against Twitter for banning her account, but she's not giving up. Archived
- Davis, Wendy (June 13, 2019). Twitter Defeats Lawsuit By Journalist Banned For 'Misgendering'. MediaPost. Archived
- Compton, Julie (January 14, 2019). 'Pro-lesbian' or 'trans-exclusionary'? Old animosities boil into public view. NBC News. Archived
- Hoard, KC (October 29, 2019). Hundreds protest controversial Toronto Public Library event featuring Meghan Murphy. Archived
- Wadhwani, Ashley (July 23, 2019). Vancouver Public Library banned from Pride parade after allowing controversial speaker. Archived
- Ritchie, Kevin (October 18, 2019). Toronto Public Library facing Pride ban over Meghan Murphy event. Archived
- Rider, David (October 17, 2019). John Tory 'disappointed' Toronto library allowing event with writer accused of being anti-transgender. Archived
- Kvaskov, Alex (February 7, 2019). From "why?" to "why not?": Faculty of Education grad becomes MPP and activist for social change. Faculty of Education. Retrieved November 8, 2019. Archived
- Knope, Julia (October 17, 2019). Tory 'disappointed' in Toronto Public Library for hosting speaker accused of transphobia. CBC News. Archived