Swerf to Avoid

7 June 2017

CONTENT WARNINGS: transphobia, sex work discrimination and slurs

A number of posters and stickers around campus promoting radical feminist group, Angry Sheilas, are being torn down as tensions flare between feminist groups at the University.

Posters have been found in Tin Alley and Royal Parade over the last few months, bearing messages such as ‘Prostitution is the world’s oldest oppression’ and ‘All women united’.

The group, named after radical feminist, Sheila Jeffreys, has in the past been criticised for harbouring anti-sex work and transphobic attitudes.

Other on-campus feminist groups have dubbed their members SWERFs (Sex Work-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) and TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists).

Members of The University of Melbourne Student Union’s Women’s Department urged others to remove any posters they find due to their exclusionary rhetoric .

“There are a bunch of Angry Sheilas posters up in Tin Alley between the gym and Royal Parade if anyone wants to help dispose of them. Angry Sheilas are a collective of SWERFs and TERFs on campus,” read one post on the group’s Facebook page.

Vixen Collective, the peak body overseeing sex worker rights and safety in Victoria, stated that calling the tension between radical feminists and sex workers a ‘discussion’ is inherently problematic.

“Human rights are inalienable – sex workers get them because we are human. To act as if we should have to justify our right to access them, or make a compelling argument to be included, is wrong,” a spokesperson said.

“Groups that oppose the human rights of sex workers, such as the Angry Sheilas and other anti sex work groups, contribute to the stigma and discrimination that sex workers face in Australia. Attempts to silence our community are toxic and must be recognised as such.”

Trans student at the University, Emily*, expressed her concerns for the trans community regarding the promotion of feminist groups like Angry Sheilas.

“Knowing that TERF groups are openly advertising at our usniversity is demoralising at best. I mean, the fact that they’re advertising by putting up stickers that are almost impossible to remove should be a red flag.”

*Names have been changed to protect sources.

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