Archive for the ‘misandry’ Category

The above video – by celebrity-endorsed campaign Chime For Change- features Laura Bates, founder and proprietor of the @EverydaySexism project, talking about her work. Earlier this month, Laura made a speech to the United Nations Commission On the Status Of Women in New York. A transcript of the speech was published in the New Statesman but with no narrative attached about the context of her visit.

Well what is the context? Why did a frightfully nice, posh, white English woman, with an MA from Cambridge university, travel all the way to New York (paid for by whom?) to talk to a global organisation charged with tackling poverty, war and disease? All because women on twitter tell her about their experiences of ‘street harassment’ that blights their (otherwise comfortable, western, plentiful) lives?

Feminists often present their movement as being neglected, dismissed by the ‘patriarchy’, treated with the same  ‘misogyny’ and sexism they claim to suffer as individual women. But the UN is positively enthusiastic about feminist dogma, even if it doesn’t always name it as such. The UN commission on women is very well funded and staffed. It produces annual reports called The Worlds Women dedicated to examining and supporting women around the globe. Before I say it, you know I’m going to say it (what about the….men?) this excellent article by Philip Cohen at The Atlantic echoes some of my worries about the rigour of UN research and statistics, that are wheeled out to justify all the money and attention it gives to women. Questioning the famous feminist claim, which references UN research,  that women do the majority of the work in the world, but own only 1% of its property, Philip writes:

‘These things are hard to measure, hard to know, and hard to explain. Setting aside the problem that the data didn’t (and still don’t, completely) exist to fill in the numbers in this famous sequence of facts—the first and perhaps greatest problem is that we can’t easily define the concepts, which is part of the feminist problem. Even in 1970, how could women own only 1 percent of property, when most women were married and in many countries had at least some legal claim to their families’ property?’

He goes on to say:

‘consider one of the facts. With a combination of arithmetic and basic knowledge of a few demographic orders of magnitude, it’s straightforward to conclude that, whether or not women only received 10 percent of the world’s income in the 1970s, they receive more than that now.

Here: In the U.S. in 2009, the 106 million women who had incomes averaged $29,700 each. I think that’s $3.2 trillion. The whole world’s gross domestic product—a rough measure of total income—is $58.1 trillion. So, it looks to me like U.S. women alone earn 5.4 percent of world income today. Ballpark, but you see the point.

One of the potential negative consequences of this is also one of its attractions: The claim that, for all women do, they own virtually nothing, is a call to global unity for women. But it is undermined by the fact that a large number of women are—let’s face it—rich. So if global feminist unity is to be had, it won’t be built on a shared poverty experience.’

Exactly. One of the main reasons I find Laura Bates and her Everyday Sexism campaign offensive, is that it seems to be an attempt to put wealthy western women’s ‘suffering’ at the hands of ‘patriarchy’ on a par with that of women living in poverty and terrible conditions including in war-torn countries across the globe. And she seems to be convincing the UN of that parity of ‘victimhood’ too. The problem with poverty, war and disease, for both Laura and the UN Commission on Women, is that they affect women and men. In very large numbers. And they put into question the ethical and statistical justifications for all the resources that go into women.

Even apart from poverty, the focus by British and American feminists in the (social) media sphere on street harassment, online ‘abuse’ etc, ignores real suffering of women elsewhere. I watched the Channel 4 news item recently about the Saudi princesses who are kept in captivity and severe discomfort by their father, the Saudi King. Even I see that as a situation that could be described as ‘patriarchal’ and ‘oppressive’ to a group of young women. But the twittersphere, the guardian-type feminists and the UN remained eerily silent about the story. I think they were too busy staring at their navels, and applauding the brave actions of the lovely Laura, as she flew back from the states following her whine about catcalls and wolf whistles. 

If you follow feminist discourse online, in the western liberal hemosphere, you won’t have failed to notice there’s been some trouble at t’ mill  lately.

A recent piece in US publication The Nation commented on Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars, suggesting that infighting and conflict in feminism is a contemporary phenomenon, linked in some way to social media.

There followed articles by UK feminists Helen LewisJulie BurchillJane Clare Jones and others, all variations on a theme, identifying feminism’s problems as being caused by or worsened by ‘identity politics’, ‘call out culture’, certain forms of  ‘intersectionality’ etc.

Burchill was her usual screechy, belligerent self, only matched in tone by @redlightvoices whose  diatribe entitled ‘I hate you all, media vultures‘ has caused Laurie Penny to drink gin and feel sad or something.
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As you can see I’m not quoting from these articles or commenting specifically on the content of the fall out.  Because theatrical conflict amongst feminists has been going on for decades. There have always been different schools of feminism, including Liberal, Marxist and Radical varieties. Feminists have always disagreed on issues such as sex work, domestic labour, heterosexuality (some feminists are against it, you know) etc. Social media provides a bigger, more visible stage for the performance of diversity within feminism. But, how diverse is it, really?

As I’ve written before, e.g. in my post Against Feminisms, feminists have much more in common than they do separating them. Speak to even the most intersectional of intersectional feminists for five minutes, and you’ll realise that they are united with their radfem and ‘white media’ sisters by misandry, a dogmatic belief that non-feminists are ‘misogynists’, a refusal to engage in research and writings that challenge their views, the ‘identity politcs’ of women v men, etc etc. Sometimes I wonder if the infighting and ‘divisions’ in feminism might be elaborate ‘ploys’ to present the movement as complex and diverse, when really its very simple, and united in its politics.

Even the great feminist philosopher Judith Butler, whose work has probably been one of the influences on my flight from feminism  –  what is gender anyway? why do we rely on binaries of ‘male’ v ‘female’, ‘man’ v ‘woman’? how is identity performed and contested? – falls back on the identity politics of womanhood. In a talk I attended last year, Butler grappled with some of the questions I’ve listed above, only to return to rhetoric about women across the globe lacking educational opportunities, political representation and economic power  ( to rapturous applause from her student fangirls).  So men are the problem after all? It’s the patriarchy, stupid.

Don’t get me wrong, watching a bunch of feminist women tear each other’s hair out on the internet is entertaining. But that’s all it is.  The real ‘debate’ to be had in gender politics in my view,  is over the value and purpose of feminism, any feminism, in the 21st century world.  And the fact that some of us are having that debate, and coming to uncomfortable conclusions, is probably what is upsetting those nice ladies from feminism.inc the most.

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Happy New Year!  I hope to introduce you to more writers, thinkers and do-ers  in 2014. Maybe I’m a bit tired of the cut of my own jib, or maybe I’ve suddenly gone shy(!). Either way, I think engaging with a variety of perspectives is always a good thing.

An independent-minded UK-based blogger/tweeter I like is Jacobinism. He has begun the year with a thought-provoking post entitled Racism; Censorship; Disunity. He puts forward the view that the ‘Left’, and ‘intersectional’ activists and writers within the Left, can be blind to oppression and violence unless it comes from white people. To illustrate his point he uses a case study from within the feminist blogosphere, where a young feminist woman was attacked and then censored by ‘intersectional’ feminism, for her views.  Jacobinism writes:

‘There is a damaging idea fast gathering influence on the Left that – like a lot of contemporary postmodern Leftist thought – urgently needs dismantling. This idea holds that racism is only possible when prejudice is married with power.

The corollary of this premise is that racism may only travel in one direction – from the powerful to the powerless – and it is therefore nonsensical to discuss, still less condemn, racist attitudes expressed by ethnic minorities. In the West, racism is the preserve of the white majority who use it – often, it is claimed, unconsciously – to sustain their advantage and to oppress those they deem to be ‘other’. In the geopolitical sphere, meanwhile, this racism is the preserve of the world’s wealthy democracies and is expressed as Orientalism, Military and Cultural Imperialism, and Neoliberalism, all of which are used to dominate and subjugate the Global South.’

Jacobin’s discussion of the feminist ‘storm’ that illustrates his points is probably best read in full. To give a flavour of the ‘case study’ here’s some extracts from his post:

‘On 20 December, the feminist writer and activist Adele Wilde-Blavatsky published an article in the Huffington Post entitled Stop Bashing White Women in the Name of Beyonce: We Need Unity Not Division. Wilde-Blavatsky’s post was a rebuke to those – on what she described as the post-colonial or intersectional feminist Left – who use identity politics and arguments from privilege to delegitimise the voices of white feminists speaking out about the abuse of women in the Global South and within minority communities in the West…

The response to this argument from the bien pensant Left ranged from the incredulous to the vitriolic.

In the comment thread below her article and in a storm which overwhelmed her twitter handle and her hashtag, Wilde-Blavatsky (who tweets as @lionfaceddakini) was derided with accusations of arrogance, ignorance, bigotry, racism and cultural supremacism. She was advised that she had not listened sufficiently closely to authentic voices of women of colour.  Others declared her to be beneath contempt and an object example of white feminism’s irrelevance. She was accused of using a fraudulent call for unity as a way of advancing an argument from white victimhood. It was demanded that she immediately re-educate herself by reading various academic texts on the subject. Her “white woman’s tears” were repeatedly mocked, as were her protestations that her own family is mixed-race. And, of course, there were the predictable demands for retraction, penitence and prostration…

To accept that one’s unalterable characteristics can play any part in the validity of an opinion is to submit to the tyranny of identity politics and endorse an affront to reason. Arguments about rights and ethics must be advanced and defended on their merits, irrespective of who is making them. There is no other way.’

I applaud Jacobin for taking on this thorny subject, and for referring to feminism in doing so. Not only do feminists find it difficult to have aspects of their dogma questioned, they find it particularly hard to stomach coming from a man. But I have a couple of points to make that disagree with his argument.

1) All feminism suggests men are ‘innately’ powerful and women not.  I agree with Jacobin  that actions should not be protected from criticism simply due to the identity of those taking them. But I am wary of Wilde-Blavatsky’s  allusions to patriarchal culture and behaviour in her criticisms of violence against women in ‘the Global South’. Isn’t the term ‘patriarchy’ a way of playing ‘identity politics’ too? Don’t men get dismissed by feminism in general for having views on gender because of their ‘unalterable characteristics’?

2) All feminism reinforces the gender binary There have always been tensions within feminism and different schools of thought within the ‘movement’. However as I have said in my ‘controversial’ piece Against Feminisms, all feminists rely on the binary of man v woman with ‘man’ being found powerful, oppressive and so not worth listening to. And so

‘ feminist theorists such as bell hooks and Julia Serano and Beverly Skeggs, even when they are referring to other divisions such as ethnicity, class and transgender identities, are still relying on the reification of the man v woman binary to support all their arguments about gender.’

3) Feminism is more ‘united’ than it seems I will write more on this another time, but my view is a lot of the ‘conflicts’ in feminism are not exactly fabricated, but they’re superficial.  Feminism does have common characteristics.  I find this ‘flowchart’ that was doing the rounds online recently, laughable. But it does indicate a basic worldview that I would suggest all feminists share to a large degree. It also illustrates clearly how not being a feminist is unacceptable and derided by feminists of all stripes (click image to enlarge):

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I don’t want a young woman writer to be censored for having the ‘wrong’ outlook. But I think young men are ‘censored’ from expressing their views on gender before they even begin. Gender studies and media output on gender are dominated by versions of Wilde-Blavatsky. I don’t privilege (‘white people’s’) racism over gender but I don’t think gender inequalities function how any feminist presents them. If that makes me persona non grata at some dinner parties who cares? I can have my own party (and the booze is always great)!

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Ally Fogg is not a feminist, allegedly. But maybe he is worse than that. His apparent attempts to be ‘reasonable’ and ‘balanced’ and separate from the battling factions in the gender wars are increasingly unconvincing. I can see the benefits, to Ally, and to feminism, of his fence-sitting stance. He avoids the personal cost of being a ‘male feminist’ and never pleasing the sisterhood enough (see Hugo Schwyzer). And the feminists get an – um- ‘ally’ who speaks feminism, acts feminism, supports feminism, but lets the girls rule the roost. The Guardian** (as an outpost of feminism) also benefits, as they have a man writing about gender to wave around as an example of their ‘diversity’. But a man who says exactly what any feminist woman journalist would say.

Fogg’s latest offering to the feminist goddesses is particularly awful. He starts by anticipating and undermining any criticism, and implies it will come from unthinking, crass individuals. I guess he’ll file my response as a ‘hit blog’. He writes:

‘ This is an article about angry white men and their galloping sense of aggrieved entitlement. It is at least partly inspired by feminist theory and analysis of structural racial supremacy. Before I’ve finished my third sentence, I’ve probably already contributed to a minor epidemic of hypertension among a certain section of Comment is free readers. I can anticipate the comments, the hit-blogs and the hate-mail already: by even mentioning white men, I am the real racist. I am the real sexist. Why doesn’t the Guardian take a pop at the angry brown men over here or the angry black women over there instead?’

Ostensibly, Ally is reviewing a book by someone who does own his identity as a ‘male feminist’ – Michael Kimmel. I am not a fan but what I think is troubling is how Fogg hides behind Kimmel’s brand of misandry. Fogg doesn’t say he supports everything Kimmel says but quotes him uncritically. So Kimmel’s comment that

‘the penis should carry a sticker saying: “Warning: operating this instrument can be dangerous to yours and others’ health.”‘

is given ‘airtime’, not challenged, and is a juicy bone thrown to Graun feminist editors and readers.

The article gets a little confusing as it progresses. Fogg mentions Kimmel’s criticism of ‘angry white men’ and puts the examples of ‘the men’s rights activists of cyberspace’ and ‘the high school spree shooters of parental nightmares’ next to each other in the same sentence. He then says ‘the thesis can only really be made to work by means of tortuous logic’ , but adds ‘nonetheless there is more than a jingling ring of truth to his argument’ and goes on to agree with Kimmel enthusiastically. Fogg supports Kimmel’s notion that white men are responding badly to social change and growing gender equality, due to their sense of ‘entitlement’ and an inability to move with the times.

This is a clever ploy in a way. If men’s rights activists, for example respond angrily to Fogg’s article, he can say ‘I told you so’ and cite their sense of ‘entitlement’ again. Fogg’s article also ignores the ‘angry white women’ of feminism, who  don’t like it up ‘em. He fails to mention how feminism has always celebrated ‘female’ anger. Sometimes that anger gets violent:

https://twitter.com/AxeCo2Tax/status/399489435416674304/photo/1

I don’t think I am angry with Fogg. I have got to the point of being jaded and a bit depressed by his collusion with a politics that belittles and demonises men, their problems and their opinions. Ally is a ‘white man’ too. I don’t like the implication that he is somehow ‘better’ than the men he derides, more ‘enlightened’, ‘nicer’.

It’s business at usual at the Graun. But it’s a rather nasty business. And any challenges to this type of misandry are in my view, more than needed.

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* ‘going native’ observation by my twitter pal Ben

** I’m putting this at QRG Blog rather than Graunwatch which is on a brief hiatus.

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The Liberal, Feminist, Chattering ‘Twitterati’ love to have a bete noire. It’s quite easy to see why people such as Michael Gove, Liz Jones, Ricky Gervais or Melanie Phillips have become monsters ‘right thinking’ people love to hate. Those individuals can be justifiably called ‘reactionary’ or ‘offensive’ or racist sexist whatever ist is important to the liberals at the time. But sometimes the mob goes for somebody a bit closer to home, and that can be quite an interesting spectacle.

Brendan O’Neill is a favoured target of ‘lefty’ bile. The Telegraph blogger, and Spiked editor is regularly wheeled out for the ‘good guys’ to make an example of and to throw metaphorical rotten fruit at. A few choice phrases have been used to describe Mr O’Neill on twitter: ‘cunt’, ‘idiot’ and ‘nutjob’ all feature quite heavily in the twitter ‘criticism’ of Brendan and his work (click on images to enlarge):

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What has the writer and commentator done to deserve such opprobium? Well, something that I’ve learned from bitter experience is unforgiveable, and even more so coming from a man. Brendan’s crime is simple: he consistently and coherently challenges feminist dogma.

Back in 2011, Brendan’s Telegraph piece questioning campaigns against ‘Online Misogyny‘  gained the wrath of feminists across the internet. He wrote:

‘Leaving aside the question of who exactly is supposed to do all this “stamping out” of heated speech – The state? Well, who else could do it? – the most striking thing about these fragile feminists’ campaign is the way it elides very different forms of speech. So the Guardian report lumps together “threats of rape”, which are of course serious, with “crude insults” and “unstinting ridicule”, which are not that serious.’

In the light of recent events and recent arrests for tweets his words are as relevant now as ever. At the time I agreed with his observations, adding that I thought feminists’ ‘fragile’ response to nastiness online is accompanied by hypocrisy whereby they dole it out as much as anyone. That too has been borne out in the last couple of weeks. And O’Neill’s most recent piece about the current moral panic over ‘twitter trolls’ is as good as anything I’ve read on the topic.

Not unlike me, O’Neill has been met with as much if not more fire and brimstone than any ‘right winger’. Because, having been involved in ‘left wing’ Politics ( leaving aside what any of us from that background may think of the RCP) Brendan and I know of what we speak. His comments on feminism don’t come from a ‘women should get back in the kitchen’ ignorant and out of date point of view, but from an educated informed position of mixing with feminists over a period of years.

When he went head to head against one of the feminist women at the heart of the recent furore over ‘online abuse’ on R4s The World Tonight, Brendan destroyed the opposition and won the argument. Before going on the show his debating  partner and screecher extraordinaire, Caroline Perez was gung ho, branding O’Neill an ‘idiot':
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After the show had aired, and she’d lost the battle, she admitted her performance was ‘pretty rubbish’.
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But feminism is a powerful dogma not due to the logic of its premises or the articulacy of its followers. Victim Feminism, that O’Neill has successfully pulled apart is fuelled by identity politics and presenting women as ‘weak’ and ‘oppressed’ by men. Therefore, criticising feminist women is perceived as ‘oppression’ or ‘misogyny’. Caroline Perez has used the same terminology, and a number of times on twitter blocked or even threatened to have her (‘misogynist’ men) detractors arrested! Whilst I agree with those who’ve pointed out men can be on the receiving end of nastiness online, the men are victims too line employs ‘victim feminism’ s faulty positions, just applied to men.

I don’t agree with everything O’Neill writes. I do identify with him and admire him for his refusal to play any kind of ‘victim card’, and for his willingness to take on one of the most sacred of sacred cows in the milieux in which he moves – feminism. By having and winning arguments with feminist women he’s not likely to lose his bete noire status. But he’s impressed this ‘troll’. Kudos.

And another one’s gone! From Feminist Ideology. I was recently contacted by the blogger called Female Fed Up With Feminism. Like me, she is a woman who has used that precious right of women (and everyone else) everywhere, and changed her mind. Now that she has become ‘fed up’ with feminism, and seen its bias against men, and against honest open debate, she has decided to challenge some of the worst excesses of the gender politics ‘cult’. FFUWF writes:

‘I am a very proud non feminist female who has decided that it’s time to deal with the frenzy that is now going on in the media about how society is riddled with so-called ‘sexism’. I believe that things are much more complicated than that, and that the manner in which feminism is hijacking important issues is stopping us from having a mature and rational debate about many things.’

Also like me, the blogger is concerned about feminists’ tendency to attack  freedom of speech   in the name of combatting sexism.  And one of the outfits she finds most irritating and propogandist on the subject of sexism is that well known (to some of us) twitter account  and blog Everyday Sexism. If anyone has any ideas about how to challenge Everyday Sexism’s bullshit about men, women and gender, let us know!

I will finish by wishing this latest Female Fed Up With Feminism all the best in fighting her  ‘sisters’ . Don’t forget to wear protective clothing though – these debates can get very heated!

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Earlier this week I watched (for the first time) American TV Show Justified, about a cop working in small town Kentucky, amidst gangsters, drug dealers and evangelical Christians. The episode I watched featured a great guest performance from well known American comic Patton Oswalt. He and his co-star played a lovely Stan and Olly routine as they bungled their way through some dodgy moonlighting police work, destined to go wrong.

The next thing I knew Oswalt was the subject of a Salon article by Molly Knefel chastising him for failing to speak out against rape and violence against women. Oswalt had previously defended Daniel Tosh against a feminist blogger who slammed him for making rape jokes. Feminists are angry with him for showing empathy for the victims of the Boston bombings, but not for women who are raped or assaulted (- by men. I don’t think this row is about lesbian rape). Knefel wrote in Salon:

‘What is challenging, though, is speaking out against the normalization of sexual violence, the degradation of women, and the role and responsibility that men have in either perpetuating or combating rape culture.’

Then over on twitter Oswalt got more stick for what? Not getting down on his knees and confessing his sins to the Good Lady of Feminism?

I am annoyed about how the feminists have picked on an individual man in the public eye, and seem to be taking him to task for a complex socio-cultural set of issues in society. He’s just a guy who makes jokes. He’s not Obama or Bono – he hasn’t set himself up as a spokesman or a moral crusader. But more so I am annoyed that feminist writers are peddling a narrative – again- about men, those dirty dogs, and women those poor innocent damsels. It’s very Mills and Boon in a funny kind of way. As I said in what became a rather ‘controversial’ article –  Rape Culture and Other Feminist Myths:

‘My instinct is that holding onto special victim status has some pay offs for feminists. They can continue to present gender politics as a binary opposition between men (potential rapists) and women (perpetual potential victims of rape). Basically, the concept of rape culture is misandrist, and it does not allow for the fact that women are sometimes perpetrators of sexual assault, and men are sometimes on the receiving end.’

I am glad Patton Oswalt stood up for himself to a degree, and didn’t let the feminist mob walk all over him. But I hope that one day, a high profile man (or indeed woman, or anyone who identifies however) actually takes on the myth of ‘rape culture’ and challenges the nasty misandry that underpins it. Women rape too. Men can be victims of rape. Violence in our culture has more men victims as a whole than women. More men commit suicide and suffer injuries at work than women. The ‘rape culture’ schtick is WRONG.

I of course say this often. But when I speak out against feminist rape culture fantasies people attempt to ‘silence’ me. I had my Rape culture myths piece taken down from The Good Men Project, and when I questioned feminist versions of rape culture over at cyborgology blog, my comments were deleted and I was chastised for being ‘unscholarly’. But its the dodgy statistics, misandry and – yes – hysterical premises of feminism’s precious ‘rape culture’ that is unscholarly.

Yes Patton Oswalt has a ‘platform’. But so does feminism. And when it comes to gender issues any man is at risk of being sent to the wolves if he speaks out of line. I believe any subject should be fair game for comedy. And I’ll be taking suggestions for jokes about feminists at the usual address. We could start with this lovely lady as inspiration:

h/t Henry for the Red video.