Hate stickers cause a stir

By Niccola Anthony

A number of stickers from radical feminist group Untameable Shrews have popped up around Docklands over past weeks.

The stickers include slogans that are hateful to Melbourne’s trans population, such as “real women have vaginas” and “trans rights are men’s rights”.

The Untameable Shrews’ Twitter account has documented the presence of the stickers around the Melbourne Star precinct, on public transport shelters and on other unidentified surfaces and walls in the local area.

The Untameable Shrews is a self-described “international radical feminist street art movement taking over the world one act of civil disobedience at a time”.

The group is based in Australia and was formed in 2016 from a number of smaller independent groups engaging in radical feminist activism around Melbourne and Brisbane.

Untameable Shrews has been condemned by other feminist groups for having a Sex-Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist (SWERF) and Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF) agenda – two branches of radical feminism that often appear hand-in-hand.

While the SWERF agenda focuses on the abolition of the sex trade and often incites hate towards women who choose to participate in the sex industry, TERFs deny the right of transgender women to identify as female.

Karima Baadilla, director of The Artists Guild in The District Docklands has described the stickers as an affront to the values that The Artists Guild works to promote in the local community.

The Artists Guild is a social enterprise that provides peer support for female artists to network and aims to close the gender divide in the arts industry.

“It’s definitely not what we stand for, because our biggest mission is inclusion. If your feminism is not inclusive and it’s not intersectional, then it’s not feminism. It’s something else,” Ms Baadilla said.

“When we say ‘we are women’ we are definitely using an inclusive definition of women and female and that includes gender queer, non-binary people.”

Ms Baadilla was particularly concerned with the impact that the stickers may have on the safety and wellbeing of artists at the The Artists Guild who identify as trans.

“It’s really distressing that some of these things are around Docklands because we really want to create a safe space for all women,” Ms Baadilla said.

“This includes women in all stages of wherever their genders are, whether in the process of becoming women or identifying as non-binary.”

On the same day that the Untameable Shrews published Tweets promoting the stickers around Docklands, The Guardian UK reported on a similar incident in Liverpool involving the women’s rights group Liverpool ReSisters.

Phallus-shaped stickers saying “women don’t have penises” were found plastered over statues on a local beach, part of a public art installation by the artist Antony Gormley.

It is unclear whether the Liverpool incident is linked to the posting of the stickers around Docklands, however, the Untameable Shrews has re-tweeted a link to The Guardian UK article on its Twitter page.

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