Archive for May, 2012

Dem a cut, cut, cut agains’ dem one another;

Dem a cut, cut, cut agains’ dem one another.

Don’t dem teach to love one another ?

Don’t dem teach to love one another ?

oh!See de ‘ypocrite, dem a-galang deh!

See de ‘ypocrite, dem a-galang deh!

- Hypocrite, Bunny Wailer

Last week on my Graunwatch blog I wrote about the forthcoming radical feminist conference (#radfem2012 on twitter) and the furore over its transphobia. I took an unpopular view in that whilst I agreed with everyone condemning its ‘no trans women allowed’ policy, I also pointed out that feminism AS A WHOLE is full of exclusionary practices, especially towards men.

The Guardian, after publishing an article by (trans) feminist Roz Kaveney (who blocks me on twitter by the way), gave Sheila Jeffreys the right of reply. She was tabled to speak at the conference but has now been told she can’t, due to her transphobia. An example of said transphobia can be seen in her Guardian piece. It reads:

‘Criticism of the practice of transgenderism is being censored as a result of a campaign of vilification by transgender activists of anyone who does not accept the new orthodoxy on this issue. A recent Comment is free piece by the transgender activist Roz Kaveney, headlined “Radical feminists are acting like a cult”, criticises a forthcoming radical feminist conference, at which I was to be a speaker, on the grounds that I and “my supporters” may be guilty of “hate speech” for our political criticism of this practice.

Though Kaveney’s comments about me are comparatively mild in tone, the campaign by transgender activists in general is anything but. This particular campaign persuaded Conway Hall, the conference venue, to ban me from speaking on the grounds that I “foster hatred” and “actively discriminate”. On being asked to account for this, Conway Hall appeared to compare me to “David Irving the holocaust denier”. The proffered evidence consists of quotes from me arguing that transgender surgery should be considered a human rights violation – hardly evidence of hate speech.’

I find it very depressing that after a venue in London has said Jeffreys’ views are not welcome on its premises, the Guardian newspaper has given her and her vile opinions a platform! In the name of what? Fairness? This is a paper that spouts a very narrow white middle class feminism day in day out, with very little chance for non-feminists to write about gender issues. Let alone trans women, black women, disabled women etc etc. But Jeffreys gets a column. Nice.

This hypocrisy is not limited to the Guardian. I think it is a characteristic of feminism in general. For example feminist blogger stavvers criticised Jeffreys desire to ‘debate’ trans issues whilst trans women are not allowed at the conference. However bloggers and activists such as stavvers are happy to ‘debate’ whilst excluding people, including women – e.g. me – from their feminist safe spaces. My 101 Wankers post is a list of all the feminists and their ‘allies’ who ban me and block me online. Stavvers is on the list.

So is Julie Bindel. Bindel, also a known transphobe, has a regular column in the Guardian, and when she was criticised for one of her diatribes recently, Chris Ashford of Law and Sexuality blog wrote a piece saying he was worried she was being ‘silenced’! Hers is a very loud silence then.

I think there are some very real and complex issues here to do with freedom of speech. I personally find the increasing mobilisation of the term ‘hate speech’ worrying. A woman was jailed for five months this week for hate speech, a racist rant on a tube. I have been accused of ‘hate speech’ and I know a few people who would be glad to see me locked up.

But when it comes to Sheila Jeffreys I think Conway Hall made the right decision. They are accomodating the radical feminists in their venue. They are allowed to refuse to host a speech that would be hateful, and one that would question the right of a group of people to exist on this earth.

However, ‘moderate’ feminists need to be very careful before they start throwing stones. Of course it is ironic that Jeffreys claims trans people could not withstand criticism, when she is part of a movement that demands to know the sex/gender identity of people before it even lets them in a building, let alone has a ‘debate’! But feminism’s overall approach to ‘freedom of speech’ is dire. And feminists’ need to sit in closed groups that do not include people who disagree with feminist dogma, suggests a weakness in their arguments.

Comment Is Free, the online discussion section of the Guardian, that so fairly and openly allowed Jeffreys a right of reply, now blocks me on twitter. They are not going to give me a chance to write for them now, are they?

I guess some women are just too dangerous to be allowed a viewpoint!

In my last post I talked about the impact that [redacted] and [redacted]  has had on me, especially in relation to me finally abandoning feminism as a dogma. I wrote the post after seeing a recent review of Male Impersonators. The author could not publish her piece without making some snide remarks about me and my newfound ‘anti-feminism’ that I had explained in [redacted].

Interestingly someone else, a man, also read my review but had a very different reaction. He found my story of the influence of feminism on my life, and my eventual rejection of it, moving. He mentioned me in this post here:

http://themoderatevoice.com/147746/women-standing-up-for-what-they-believe-in/

He also mentioned another non-feminist blogger Girlwriteswhat. He described some of the abuse she has suffered online lately, due to her stance that goes against the feminist grain. He pointed out the irony of feminists punishing women for thinking for themselves and being independent!

Then today I read a piece by Ally Fogg in the New Statesman, pointing out to feminist journalists who have misrepresented a book about men, that it is not necessarily anti-feminist to acknowledge men are discriminated against as well as women.

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/lifestyle/2012/05/second-sexism-dont-judge-book-its-press

I thought it was interesting that Ally, who is generally sympathetic to contemporary ‘third wave’ feminism, was well-received by feminists such as Suzanne Moore, even though he had criticised them directly in his article. Whereas women writers such as me and Girlwriteswhat have been subject to what actually amounts to a  witch hunt  by our ‘sisters.’

The reasons for this discrepancy in reactions are complex. One is, I think, that Ally Fogg has won his feminist stripes, for generally being supportive of the movement. On Guardian cif website he has on more than one occasion come into the comments in defence of a poor hapless feminist journalist against the criticism she is getting below the line from mainly men readers.

Whereas Girlwriteswhat and I have specifically identified feminism as the problem when it comes to gender wars. Or at least one major problem amongst a few. And we have identified the misandry inherent in feminist dogma, that is supposedly the ‘acceptable prejudice’.

Ally Fogg kept the feminists on side by saying Men’s Rights Activists display more misogyny than feminists display misandry. But he does not back up his claim with evidence. In the light of the forthcoming #radfem2012 conference which is not only misandry-fuelled but also transphobic, the work of Mark Simpson that points out how misandry goes unchecked in our culture, and the way ‘pro-men’ women such as me and Girlwriteswhat are treated by feminism,  I think Ally is wrong.

http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2012/05/theres_nothing

h/t redpesto

I read [redacted]  rather late. Too late in some ways. The havoc it might have caused had I read it during my undergraduate or postgraduate studies, and my following career in gender departments in British universities did not come to pass. But it still caused some havoc. And for that I shall remain forever grateful.

To cut a long story very short, [redacted] changed the way I think, and the way I look at the world. It enabled me, along with some other factors, to finally let go of the feminist dogma that I’d been attached to for my whole life (40 years of it). From a ‘Freudian’ perspective then, it is no wonder that I have become so [redacted].

I conveyed my enthusiasm for [redacted]

And, finally [redacted]

‘Okay, so this is what I want: I want, when someone changes their mind about something, for them not to go ideologically swinging to the far other side. I was reading some reviews of [redacted] and there are some of former feminists writing about it. And when I say “former” I mean “anti.” We’re talking PhDs in women’s studies who have suddenly realized men are people, too, and they are also oppressed by our patriarchal structure, and so that means we have to wipe out decades of feminist thought, because obviously the two cannot coexist.

Someone can explain to me why this is later, I have tickets to the opera tonight and I have a feeling it’s going to take a while.’

Well I’d hate to interrupt anyone’s relationship with the opera, darling, but I can answer that question in one sentence. In an email to this poor confused opera-goer I replied:

‘That is easy. It is because feminism is fuelled by misandry and a need to present men as the oppressors of women.’

But this isn’t about me (NO REALLY) this is about [redacted] The review that appeared recently at The Smart Set blog was a joint review of a few books on masculinity. It reads:

‘I’ve been reading books about masculinity, the authors trying to challenge what we think of as normal. Boyhoods, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform, and [redacted]. All three writers are queer. When I tried to find a book that challenged society’s ideas of masculinity that was written by a straight man, all I could find was a book defending men’s needs to cheat on their wives.I did find a used copy of a book called Under Saturn’s Shadow: The Wounding and Healing of Men, which did not meet my expectation, didn’t so much challenge traditional forms of masculinity as psychoanalyze some problems men might have with women. But I kept reading it anyway, because the person who had it before me did some heartbreaking underlining. Next to the underlined passage “Out of their rage they wound others, and out of their sorrow and shame they grow more and more distant from each other,” there are two exclamation marks. Next to “A man’s experience of the primal relationship may have been so painful that he expects all relationships can only be painful. Thus his life is a dreary cycle of fearing domination by others and seeking to exploit them instead,” there is a star. “Many men are full of rage against women, and often they act it out” is underlined twice.I wonder about the man who read this book before me. I wonder what he got out of being told, “Men’s lives are as much governed by restrictive role expectations as are the lives of women.” I wonder what he then did with that information. Because it seems like the kind of book that would be read by one of the men in the 1994 essay collection [redacted]. In it, [redacted] sits down at one point with Alan, a man who appears in a documentary from the ’90s called Sex Hunters. He’s one of a group of young men profiled in the film who decided to spend their summers living together in a sort of boy commune. They live in a caravan, drinking and carrying on, and they have a contest for who can sleep with the most women. Each sex act is one point. 

Under Saturn’s Shadow is saying something true about the expectations put on men. But the previous owner did a lot of underlining about the betrayals of mothers and the absences of fathers, and not a whole lot in the sections where the author advises men to commune with their inner femininity and give it expression. Alan, in the documentary, complains about the duties of masculinity — the providing, the sacrifice, the achieving, the marriage and fathering of children. He has decided life should be more fun, that men should have other options. If you start spending some time on the websites of men’s advocacy groups, things can quickly turn anti-women, with men calling their ex-wives bitches, railing against women’s cold hearted natures, ranting about how “the system” is stacked against them and in favor of women. Simpson says to Alan, “Many all-male communities that get together and talk about common interests, activities — whether that’s fucking or surfing — is based on a kind of exaltation, a kind of worship, of the masculine and a denigration of the feminine, whether that’s the feminine embodied in women, or whether that’s the feminine embodied in so-called ‘effeminate’ men, men who, either in terms of where they put their dicks or how they dress or cut their hair, don’t conform to that masculine ideal.”’

This passage illustrates to me exactly why feminism cannot coexist with a love for men. And it illustrates why Male Impersonators, in my grubby hands, was such a dangerous book. Because it taught me that to actually be interested in men, in how culture has produced them, and how they resist or embrace or transform their ‘masculinity’, to actually want to hear men speak with their own voices, is to ‘offend’ feminism. To threaten it so much that it has to assert its own reason for existing, in an article that is ostensibly about men and books about masculinity. These lines from the review are chilling to me:

I wonder about the man who read this book before me. I wonder what he got out of being told, “Men’s lives are as much governed by restrictive role expectations as are the lives of women.” I wonder what he then did with that information.

The author seems to be saying that men can’t be trusted to read!

In feminism the notion of consciousness raising has been prominent for decades. Based on a Marxist model of ‘false consciousness’, feminists since the 70s (probably earlier) have been encouraging women to get together and to read feminist tracts, to open their eyes and to free them from the grip of patriarchy’s lies.

But men are not supposed to raise their consciousness. Unless it involves swallowing hook line and sinker the ‘consciousness’ of feminist women. They are supposed to shut up and listen.

[redacted] ‘raised my consciousness’ to the point that I abandoned feminism altogether.So I am not surprised that a feminist reviewer reading my take on Simpson’s work, nearly missed her date with the opera to huff and puff about my audacious cheek.

And look what I have done with [redacted]! Well, my dear feminist/gayist middle class liberal establishment, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  

 I don’t always agree with Peter Tatchell, veteran British human rights (and gay rights) campaigner. But I agree with him on this. He and a wide range of people/groups from different political perspectives are trying to get the UK government to reform the UK Public Order Act. Peter’s press release says:

Section 5 threatens free speech & the right to protest 

London – 16 May 2012

David Davis MP leads cross-party calls for reform

Secularists, faith groups and human rights campaigners unite in support

Where: Committee Room 5, Palace of Westminster
When: 11.15am, Wednesday 16th May
Who:David Davis MP
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
Edward Leigh MP
Simon Calvert, Christian Institute
Keith Porteous Wood, National Secular Society

Today’s launch of the Reform Section 5 campaign will increase the pressure on Home Secretary Theresa May to amend the 1986 Public Order Act.

Section 5 of the Act outlaws “insulting words or behaviour.” What constitutes “insulting” is unclear and has resulted in many controversial arrests and prosecutions. Civil liberties campaigns, faith groups and secular organisations have joined forces to have the word “insulting” removed from the legislation on the grounds that it restricts free speech and penalises campaigners, protesters and even preachers.

The Reform Section 5 campaign is headlining with the slogan: “Feel free to insult me”, and asks the vital question: “Who should decide whether words, posters or ideas are insulting?”

The campaign points out that the law rightly protects the public against discrimination, harassment, threats and violence – but that it has no legitimate role protecting us from having our feelings hurt.Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights lobby, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said: “Despite my well known disagreements with David Davis and the Christian Institute, in defence of free speech and the right to protest we’ve sunk our differences and are working together to reform Section 5. Freedom of expression is so important. It transcends party politics and ideology.

“It is commendable that David Davis and the Christian Institute are prepared to work with a gay left-wing Green atheist and secularist like me. We’re all putting the right to free speech before our personal politics and beliefs.

“I have been a victim of Section 5. In 1994, I organised a small peaceful protest against the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, some of whose members had endorsed the killing of Jews, homosexuals, apostates and women who have sex outside of marriage. I displayed placards that factually documented the persecution of gay people by Islamist fanatics. I was arrested and charged under Section 5 with behaviour that was deemed insulting and likely to cause distress. I fought the charges and eventually won, but not before spending many hours in police cells and standing trial.

“This experience convinced me that Section 5 is open to abuse by over-zealous police and prosecutors. That’s why I am supporting the Reform Section 5 campaign. The campaign brings together an unlikely alliance of people who would otherwise be political foes. Both my own Peter Tatchell Foundation and the National Secular Society have been traditionally at loggerheads with the Christian Institute over its opposition to gay equality and its defence of religious privilege. But on this issue we agree.

“The Section 5 ban on insults is a menace to liberty. It has been abused to variously arrest or threaten with arrest people protesting non-violently against abortion and for gay equality and animal welfare. Other victims include Christian street preachers, critics of Scientology and even students making jokes.

“In 2008, a teenager was given a court summons for holding a placard that denounced Scientology as a dangerous cult. Three years earlier, an Oxford student was arrested for jokingly suggesting that a police horse was gay. In both cases, even though the charges were later dropped, the victims had their freedom of expression infringed and they suffered public humiliation by the police.

“Section 5 has been also used unjustly against Christian street preachers who have merely condemned homosexuality, without being abusive or threatening. Although what they said was homophobic and should be challenged, they should not have been criminalised. Dale McAlpine was arrested in 2010 for saying that gay sex is sinful. In my view, Dale is a homophobe but he should not have been prosecuted. On free speech grounds, I offered to testify in his defence.

“Under Section 5, is it an offence for a person to use “insulting words or behaviour” in a way that is “likely” to cause “harassment, alarm or distress.” There is no requirement to prove that anyone has been harassed, alarmed or distressed. The mere likelihood is sufficient to secure a conviction. Moreover, an offence is committed regardless of the person’s intention. Innocently intended words, behaviours or signs can result in a criminal record. The police and the courts can decide if you or someone else mightfeel insulted.

“When does an insult cease to be a legitimate (if bad mannered) expression of opinion and become a matter for arrest and prosecution? Much satirical comedy and many polemical critiques of religion are deemed insults by some people.

“What constitutes an insult is a subjective judgment, open to widely different interpretations. For some ultra-sensitive people, what others regard as valid criticisms may cause them to feel insulted and distressed. Indeed, any controversial or dissenting viewpoint has the potential to upset someone and result in them – or the police – deciding that they feel insulted and distressed.

“If we accept that insults resulting in likely alarm or distress should be a crime, we risk limiting free and open debate and criminalising dissenting opinions and alternative lifestyles that some people may find offensive and upsetting. The right to mock, ridicule and satirise ideas, opinions and institutions is put in jeopardy. Section 5 can, in theory, be used to criminalise almost any words, actions or images, if even just one person is likely to be alarmed or distressed by them.

“There is no right to be not distressed or offended. Some of the most important ideas in history – such as those of Galileo Galilei and Charles Darwin – caused great offence and distress in their time.

“Do we really need the police and the courts to criminalise insults? Should we not just accept that the risk of insult is a fair price to pay for living in a society which respects free speech?

The law rightly protects us against discrimination, harassment and incitement to violence. It should not be used to protect us from mere insults. It’s time to reform Section 5,” said Mr Tatchell.

ComRes poll: Nearly two-thirds of MPs back Section 5 reform 

A recent ComRes poll commissioned by the Reform Section 5 campaign shows that 62% of MPs believe it should not be the business of government to outlaw “insults.” Only 17% of MPs believe that removing the contentious “insult” clause would undermine the ability of the police to protect the public. Furthermore, only 1 in 5 MPs believe that reform would put minorities at risk and the majority of MPs in each Coalition party support the removal of the “insult” clause.

For further information:

Reform Section 5 campaign website: www.reformsection5.org.uk

Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation

www.PeterTatchellFoundation.org

I was delighted to get the chance recently to edit a theme at the Good Men Project website. I chose teenage kicks  and sought out articles by and about young men and teenagers.  These are the ones which have been published:

Bully : Surviving School by Mic Wright (@brokenbottleboy):

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/bully-surviving-school/comment-page-1/#comment-163054

Advice for parents of teens by Prymface (@Prymface ) :
http://goodmenproject.com/teenage-kicks/advice-for-parents-of-teens-from-a-teen-mom/

Young Dads TV (@youngdadstv):
http://goodmenproject.com/teenage-kicks/youngdads-tv/

Teen Princes – Men writing YA Young Adult fiction (ft @_Jamesdawson and @itliesbeneath ) :
http://goodmenproject.com/teenage-kicks/teen-princes-men-writing-young-adult-ya-fiction/

Shank Generation: a story by Marc Nash (@21stcscribe) :
http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/shank-generation/

True Gentlemen – an unusual university ‘frat house’ by Jake DiMare:
http://goodmenproject.com/teenage-kicks/true-gentlemen/

Boys without ambitions by ex-gamer Chris Hutton:
http://goodmenproject.com/teenage-kicks/boys-without-ambitions/

MetroseXY Movement – interview with DPhillgood (@dphillgood )
http://goodmenproject.com/teenage-kicks/metrosexy-movement/

Teenage Dating In A Twilight/Hunger Games World by Sean Hackett:

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/teenage-dating-in-a-twilight-hunger-games-world/

All the articles in the theme can be found here!:
http://goodmenproject.com/category/teenage-kicks/

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/tearful-andrew-sullivan-praises-obama-father-figure-saying-im-fully-a-part-of-this-family/

You can’t have failed to have heard the news. Obama, who originally took a firm stance against gay marriage, preferring the traditional view that marriage is between a man and a woman, has done a U-turn. His recent statement in favour of equal marriage has sent teh gayz into spasms of emotion similar to a reanactment of Torch Song Trilogy.

Andrew Sullivan, who has also done some U-turns in his life, as he used to be a Republican but now is all over poor Barack, said, choking back the tears:

‘I do not know how orchestrated this was; and I do not know how calculated it is. What I know is that, absorbing the news, I was uncharacteristically at a loss for words for a while, didn’t know what to write, and,… there are tears in my eyes.

So let me simply say: I think of all the gay kids out there who now know they have their president on their side. I think of Maurice Sendak, who just died, whose decades-long relationship was never given the respect it deserved. I think of the centuries and decades in which gay people found it impossible to believe that marriage and inclusion in their own families was possible for them, so crushed were they by the weight of social and religious pressure. I think of all those in the plague years shut out of hospital rooms, thrown out of apartments, written out of wills, treated like human garbage because they loved another human being. I think of Frank Kameny. I think of the gay parents who now feel their president is behind their sacrifices and their love for their children.’

I think the ‘gay lobby’ and their media supporters have been very clever here. It looks to me as if Obama didn’t have much choice. The tide of opinion was growing in favour of gay marriage. To continue to oppose it would have lost him votes. But his basic political manoeuvre has been adopted and appropriated and turned into a huge victory for the gay rights lobby.

Not only that, they have transformed Obama from a quite cautious, traditional family man into ‘THE FIRST GAY PRESIDENT’! The photo of him on the Newsweek cover with a rainbow halo is nothing if not striking, and… gay. The conflict with Obama has been buried in a pile of rainbow dust and everyone is happy…and gay.

But I notice a few problems with this gay rhetoric. One of course is that speeches such as Andrew Sullivan’s above privilege ‘gay’ people and the ‘gay’ identity over all other minority gender and sexuality identities. If you are bisexual, or trans, where do you fit in to this big gay festival? Trans people’s rights are not prioritised in America. Murders and violence against trans people happen at a far higher rate than the ‘gays’ would care to mention. And some gay people are as transphobic – and biphobic – as any straight ‘homophobe’.

The second thing I notice is Sullivan, and Newsweek, are tying the knot with Obama in a quite sickly way. It is as if ‘gay’ politics are the only politics in the world. What about Obama’s healthcare policies? What about foreign policy? That is all swept aside for the Big Issue – gay marriage. The way Sullivan suddenly decides he is part of Obama’s ‘family’ is comical. As if now things such as ethnicity and racism play no part in American society (or indeed in gay politics which can be racist). They are all one big happy family, bro!

Indeed racial analogies have been used by gays in their campaigns for gay marriage a lot. The ‘back seat on the bus’ metaphor has been doing the rounds for a while, as has the references to ‘apartheid’. (click on image to enlarge)

http://www.queerty.com/newsweek-obama-americas-first-gay-president-20120513/

I think it’s pretty grim to be honest. And Obama may well be feeling a bit pressured by this group of white, middle class liberals (the gays and their allies), to perform to their tune. When he also has to woo black voters, republican voters, and… yes, homophobic voters! As I have said before the right have caricatured Obama as the metrosexual president and this latest move will have only made matters worse from their point of view. I would not want to be in Obama’s rainbow coloured shoes just now.

*
One person who is keeping rather quiet about this turn of events is [redacted]. He has been vocal against gay marriage, though he seems to have softened a bit recently (not to the extent of Obama though). Back in 2008 [redacted] suggested that the gay marriage campaigns in America were ‘on the rocks’ so it could be that he just doesn’t want to admit that he has been proven wrong. Or at least that times have changed. Also there are some ‘gay politics’ going on in the UK that even I don’t understand. Maybe [redacted] has some juggling to do as well as Obama.

Me, I don’t welcome the news from the States. But I am not going to lose sleep over it either. I would celebrate with my ‘bros’ if Obama closed Guantanamo like he said he would. But I don’t think I have Andrew Sullivan or many liberal white gays on my side there.

The Sex Myth begins with an anecdote. Dr Brooke Magnanti (aka Belle de Jour) describes a phase in her childhood when she and her friends were in competition to discover the ‘truth’ about the naked body of the opposite sex. The girls were particularly inventive, and would look under cubicle doors in the boys’ toilets, craning their necks to get a glimpse of a fleshy member (p1-3). I found this story engaging, fascinating and not a little Freudian. For, as Magnanti states, one of the ‘sex myths’ of our age is that children are innocent and sexuality only develops with the onset of puberty in our teens. But Magnanti uses her childhood investigations of how not to do sex research. Now she is a grown up, a doctor (PhD), a scientist, she knows the difference between ‘bad science’ and ‘good science’. Or does she? This is the main question I had whilst reading her book. And, unfortunately, I think the answer has to be ‘no’.

Worryingly, I don’t even think Bagnanti knows the difference between ‘science’ and ‘social science’. Right at the beginning of the book she writes:

‘In recent years a large number of researchers have looked into areas of human experience previously assumed to be untestable. Questions such as whether porn is harmful, or how childhood is affected by sexuality, can now be examined in a way that is consistent with evidence-based reasoning. Not only that, people who study different disciplines are starting to realise the advantages of interdisciplinary study, with social science enriching the finds of quantitative methods and vice versa. [emphasis mine]’ (p5).

This suggests that ‘social science’ does not include ‘quantitative methods’ when in fact a large section of sociological study is based on quantitative (numerical) data. I found this to be a glaring error and a sign that this is a book by an academic with little interest in the complexities and value of social science. My reaction is borne out by the lack of bibliography in the book. Magnanti includes her references in endnotes, which, on close examination, reveal that she uses very few social science/theory books in her work. Most of the references are from scientific academic journals and the popular media. This is a ‘bias’ that should be acknowledged I think. For one of the greatest myths I know of in sex research is that ‘science’ is objective, rigorous and the best way to get to the ‘truth’. My experience has shown otherwise.

The most obviously ‘bad’ science that Magnanti uses is in her chapter one, where she sets out to debunk the myth that ‘when it comes to sexual attraction, men are visually stimulated and always interested in sex – and women aren’t’ (p9). To do this she uses the scientific ‘experiments’ of a group of American researchers from Northwestern University. The most well known of these is J Michael Bailey. He found his way into the news last year when he included a live sex show  in one of his lectures to students. The two adults involved were consenting, thankfully.  Serious ethical questions were raised however, over whether the audience were consenting, the value of the results from such a sensationalist method, and the effects of the media reaction on everyone involved.

But my concerns about using Bailey’s work uncritically are not limited to that one incident. You only have to google his name to find a string of controversies relating to him and his research. The most famous relates to his book The Man Who Would Be Queen: ‘The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism’. Even the title sets off alarms, with its use of such loaded terms. Basically, in this book Bailey used his ‘sex science’ (which includes hooking people up to penile plesmographs to measure their sexual response to viewing pornography) to claim that gay men’s homosexuality is genetic. And that trans women are actually gay men. Nice. Bailey was investigated by his university, NorthWestern, and was demoted. But he remains an academic at that institution. Whatever one’s views, it seems irresponsible of Magnanti to completely ignore the furore surrounding Bailey’s research, and to present it as solid, reliable ‘science’.

Another point about Bailey that Magnanti failed to mention is that only last year, he and his colleagues had to revise their theories on bisexuality in men. They were commissioned to re-do their experiments which back in 2005 had shown that bisexual men don’t exist! The penis plesmograph never lies, except sometimes it does. This latest set of experiments, surprise surprise, showed that bisexual men do of course exist. And that even ‘science’ can be wrong sometimes.  On reporting this news, [redacted] asked:

‘So why the turn­around by Bai­ley? Well, it seems the loud and angry protests from bisex­ual organ­i­sa­tions that Bailey’s 2005 find­ings under­stand­ably aroused has taken its toll -– and indeed one bisex­ual organ­i­sa­tion even funded this recent research.

They got the result they wanted, but I fear they’re wast­ing their money and merely encour­ag­ing more bad sci­ence. Some of course will hold these find­ings up as proof that this Heath Robin­son kind of bio-mechanical sex research can cor­rect itself. But they would have to be true believ­ers to see it that way. All that has been proven is that mea­sur­ing penile blood-flow in a lab­o­ra­tory is a highly reduc­tive and highly abnor­mal mea­sure of male sex­u­al­ity. Men are not just penises. They are also prostate glands. Per­ineums. Ear­lobes. Inner thighs. Brains. Nipples.

It also shows that you get the result you’re look­ing for In 2005 Bai­ley wanted to prove that male bisex­u­al­ity didn’t exist. In 2011 he didn’t. QED. Per­haps the worst thing about this new find­ing is that Bai­ley et al will now try to turn male bisex­u­als into a ‘species’ to be stud­ied and dis­sected. Bisex­ual men may quickly come to the con­clu­sion that they were much bet­ter off when they didn’t exist. Unless of course they them­selves have a bit of a fetish for penile plethys­mo­graph play.’

Could it be that Brooke just didn’t know about the controversy surrounding Bailey? Like I said if that is the case she failed in doing basic research, such as googling his name. But she blogged about his work in 2011, and both [redacted] and I tried to tell her about the problems with it. This is the reply I got from Dr Magnanti:

This is a sign that when ‘objective’ science that is not objective at all, is questioned, it and its ‘scientists’ do not stand up very well to scrutiny.

So the first chapter of The Sex Myth showed its methodology and ‘theoretical’ basis to be seriously lacking. I read the rest of it with a sceptical arched eyebrow. I also did not learn much that was new. As another reviewer, Heresiarch noted,

‘I find a lot of this yawningly familiar by now, but many people won’t and Magnanti’s book provides an entertaining compendium of tabloid myths, as well as a source of ammunition. Whether it can do much against the juggernaut of the Daily Mail, currently engaged in a crusade to introduce compulsory web-filtering, remains to be seen. ‘

The chapter on the false correlation between rape statistics and the increase in adult entertainment establishments was the best (p79-99). I had read some of it on Brooke’s blog before, but it stood up as a tight piece of research, in comparison to some of the less rigorous work in the rest of the book. However even in that chapter, and the one questioning the motives of people campaigning against the sex industry (p209-222), Magnanti was very vague about politics. An uninitiated reader of The Sex Myth might come away from it thinking Brooke was the first person to criticise ‘feminism’ and its views on sex/sex work.  This is of course not the case.

Magnanti fails to acknowledge the politicisation of sex workers, who have been campaigning for years against anti-sex work feminists such as Julie Bindel. She also makes no reference to Sex Positive Feminism which has too been going for years, and has posed a direct challenge to draconian ‘conservative’ anti-sex feminism.  And, even in the realm of science, Magnanti ignores the ‘skeptic’ movement and the critical approach to science and science reporting employed (often very selectively I might add) by people such as Ben Goldacre.

It seems to me as if Magnanti is trying to reinvent the wheel. And to stand alone as a unique ‘sexpert’ in the field of sex, science and politics. Well she is actually one of many women (and men) who has staked a claim as having knowledge in this field. I was particularly disappointed in The Sex Myth because I actually think Magnanti is a very able writer. Of all the ‘sex bloggers’ and sex writers I have read including Zoe Margolis, Susie Bright, Bitchy Jones and Hugo Schwyzer I think Belle de Jour was one of the best. I would have been happy for Magnanti to have continued from her childhood anecdote that she began the book with, rather than promoting herself as a scientist as she did. Especially since she has relied upon and peddled such bad science.

What is life like for 21st century teenage boys and young men? If gender roles are changing, is the change being led by young people? Are we seeing glimpses of the men (and women) of the future, via the teenagers of today?

Are you a teenage boy or a young man? What issues are most important to you growing up? How is your life affected by technology, rules, music, sex, religion, bullying?

Are you a parent of a teenage boy or do you work with young people? How do you negotiate the pressures of the modern world in bringing up/supporting teenage boys/young men? What do you worry about /look forward to about their futures?

Please email your article as a Word document to Quiet Riot Girl (aka Elly) ellytams@gmail.com by May 12th. Submissions may be between 250-1000 words. Please be sure to include your name and email address on your document.

If you have an idea and want to chat about it contact QRG/Elly (who is also on Twitter: @Notorious_QRG

http://goodmenproject.com/the-good-men-project-content-calendar/teenage-kicks-55/

Someone on twitter this week was talking about how she tried to explain to her Dad the ‘homoerotic subtexts’ in the 1980s Hollywood film, The Lost Boys. But he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see it, and thought it was just a movie about vampires.

 

But can the Dads of this world deal with the homoerotics of things they have relied on as being ‘manly’, ‘macho’, ‘safe’? Things like body building, hardcore violent war movies, and Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Even the young, gay, ‘masculinity expert’ Mark Mccormack finds the idea that Arnie might be homoerotic hard to er, swallow. He says:

‘Born in the 1980s, I grew up during a period where the most macho masculinities were esteemed. From Rambo to Rocky, Die Hard to Lethal Weapon, men were portrayed as all-action heroes whom neither bullets nor armies could vanquish. Professional wrestlers appeared almost understated in their gendered performances compared to the display of masculine bravado found in movies and revered in the wider culture.’

 

[redacted]

This video was made in response to a great article at Cyborgology blog, about the collision between our online and offline selves.

The author, DA Banks, was himself responding to a rather snooty piece in the New York Times by Sherry Turkle (great name), harking back to a time before our lives were taken over by technology and ‘virtual reality’.

http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2012/04/23/sherry-turkles-chronic-digital-dualism-problem/

As you can see in the comments I agree with DA Banks. I actually found his piece very moving, as it really resonated with my recent experience of having been ‘outed’. My online identity was ‘unmasked’ by some people who don’t like me, to reveal my ‘true’ real-life name and identity. But which one is more real? And are they even two separate entities?

These are questions I have been asking myself in the last two months since my outing. I don’t have all the answers. Or even any. But I like the questions.

@DA_Banks and friends can be found on twitter.

@jsantley made the downfall spoof video

And Cyborgology is run by @nathanjurgenson and @pjrey.

I am a theory nerd, and probably not very cool at all, so this may not mean much, but I think these folk are some of the coolest people on the internet at the moment!

I’m sure they are great in RL too, whatever that is.