The following principles of academic freedom are taken from an interesting 2009 statement by UCU, one of the major trades unions for academics, researchers and other higher education staff. I recommend reading the whole thing here. ‘Academic freedom includes the right(s) to:

  • freedom in teaching and discussion;
  • freedom in carrying out research without commercial or political interference;
  • freedom to disseminate and publish one’s research findings;
  • freedom from institutional censorship, including the right to express one’s opinion publicly about the institution or the education system in which one works; and
  • freedom to participate in professional and representative academic bodies, including trade unions.’

einstein Monkeys Image from: http://www.prwatch.org/news/2005/10/4104/academic-freedom-aint-what-it-used-be Einstein quote image from:  http://pauleisen.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/academic-freedom-are-there-limits-to.html

I first wrote critiquing the concept of ‘rape culture’ back in 2010 when I still identified as a feminist, of sorts. Below is a version of one of my posts on the topic, published by  Arts and Opinion and  A Voice For Men in 2012. My thoughts on ‘rape culture’ have evolved since, but I stand by my main arguments. I will revisit the subject in the coming weeks, in the light of recent coverage of rape and ‘rape culture’ in the more mainstream media.

————————————

I didn’t enjoy being stalked by my ex-boyfriend, and then having him break into my house, threaten to kill me and then assault me. I didn’t enjoy it at all. Sometimes I call that night, over ten years ago now, as ‘the day I became a feminist.’

I was already a feminist. My Mum and her Mum were feminists. I was born into it. So I never really had to think too much until he stood over me, his hands round my neck, squeezing, telling me what a bitch I was. I never had to think what ‘being a woman’ or ‘being a feminist’ means. I will give him that. He and his violence really got me thinking.

After my assault, and my lonely journey through the legal procedure that followed, I naively thought I might be able to share some sisterhood and solidarity with other women who’d suffered violent attacks, including domestic violence and rape. But when I have tried to connect with women who campaign on violence against women, I repeatedly get told that because I have not been raped, I have no right to talk on this issue or to try and empathize with women who have. Rape seems to hold a special symbolic position in the minds of these feminists and is treated as worse — but also somehow better — than all other violent crimes.

The term used to demonstrate the privileged position rape holds in feminist discourse is ‘rape culture.’ According to Melissa McEwan:

‘Rape culture is the myriad ways in which rape is tacitly and overtly abetted and encouraged having saturated every corner of our culture so thoroughly that people can’t easily wrap their heads around what the rape culture actually is.’

Far more important than my own feeling of exclusion from feminist campaigns and groupings around gender violence is the countless number of other people who get attacked and killed in our society, who are not acknowledged by the concept of rape culture. Have you ever heard a feminist say that we live in transphobic assault culture? Or murder of young black men culture? Or homophobia culture? Or even domestic violence culture? I haven’t. Incidentally domestic violence is far more common than rape, and can also include rape. But it just doesn’t seem to impress the feminists who believe in rape culture. They are welcome to their victim top trumps, but I am not playing anymore.

When I say rape is privileged in feminist discourse, I don’t mean that it benefits anybody. I believe that by focusing on the centrality of rape in our culture, feminists are actually making it more difficult for all of us to campaign against all forms of gendered violence in society.

Trying to work out why these feminists do this is difficult. 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’d like to quote somebody who left a comment on a previous essay of mine about this topic. This woman is a survivor of rape, so the rad-fems won’t be able to dismiss her critique of rape culture the way they do mine:

‘This mythologizing of rape is still rooted in the whole “pedestal” complex, IMHO, and thus rapists are EVIL and women who get raped are spiritually/psychologically disfigured for LIFE and blah blah blah. The “rape culture” paradigm, while clearly meant as helpful critique and containing valuable cultural insight, seems to carry on that tradition.’

The term rapist is one I am not comfortable with using at all, if I can help it. I know I am in a tiny minority, as I see the word splashed across the newspapers on a regular basis, and I hear it being used widely in conversations about rape. The reason I don’t like the word rapist is that I think it serves to undermine our attempts to tackle rape and sexual violence. This is because it pathologizes people who commit rape, portraying them in our culture as monsters and hate figures’ This leads to a situation where we place rapists pretty near the top of a hierarchy of evil characters (maybe just behind pedophiles), so that in fact, it is actually very difficult to prosecute for rape. If rapists are these inhuman monstrous characters, it is not surprising that courts up and down the country are reluctant to convict the thousands of people who commit rape each year.

I have received criticism for my view, particularly from feminists who argue that survivors of sexual violence need the term rapist to enable them to name their attacker, proceed with seeking justice and ultimately to get over their ordeal. But I believe that just as we have changed our terminology from talking about victims to survivors of rape, we also need to change how we label perpetrators. When I hear the word rapist I think of a man, and not a man who is capable of change, of reflection. We have to speak about and talk to men who commit sexual assault as if they are able to change, and we also must acknowledge men are not the only perpetrators, if we want to reduce sexual and intimate partner violence in society.

‘Rape Culture’ is a myth. I reject it outright.

Sunshine On Concrete #FridayFlash

Posted: January 16, 2015 in Elly Tams

There are parts of the world I only know because of the dull brown envelopes that fall onto the mat, telling me I must go there at a certain date and time. Camberwell Green is one of them. It doesn’t really look like it sounds, that children’s TV programme echo – Camberwick Green it’s not. For me, and some other unlucky souls who put on their smartest clothes in the vain hope that it will help, Camberwell Green will always mean the magistrates court. The slabs of concrete march all the way up the path as if they’re about to take over and cover the Green, the trees, the sky. Greyness prevails even on the sunniest of days, (and I’ve been there in all weathers so I know). You’re not supposed to be ‘guilty’ till a district judge proclaims it, but there’s something about that approach, the reluctant swing of the heavy doors, the dark wood panelling inside that removes everyone’s innocence as they enter. What did Foucault say?: ‘our prisons resemble our factories, schools, military bases, and hospitals-all of which in turn resemble prisons’. I am sure he included magistrates courts in that imagery. Its not the architecture of liberty, anyway.

I don’t know what I am or am not permitted to say about what happened to me in Camberwell Green. I walked into a  vortex of semantics, where words become crimes, and describing my experience in a particular place could put me back there automatically, or somewhere worse. But maybe it’s ok to say this. Outside, just round the corner from the court building, there’s a greasy spoon called ‘Sunshine Cafe’. Not many legal types seem to go there. I mainly saw workmen having a brew in their breaks. The staff, probably middle eastern in origin are lovely, and it’s cheap. Not London prices at all. I remember Sunshine cafe because it’s where I sat, before or after or inbetween court sessions, taking comfort in the hot tea, the familiarity of my sister’s face, our ability to laugh inspite of it all. And I remember it because it’s the sort of place and people I’ve come to appreciate so much lately. Since the brown envelopes started to fall on my mat (will they ever stop falling?). In Sunshine Cafe I am treated like a ‘normal’, law abiding citizen. I am smiled at, respected, allowed to just be me. Now I know as some other unlucky souls know, who say ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’ in their best voices in the vain hope that it will help, what it’s like to be the ‘suspect’, to be looked down on and cast in the role of criminal, outcast, pariah, I take ordinary moments of human interaction as the gifts they are. Train stations, supermarkets, swimming baths, suddenly seem filled with kindness and compassion.  A world where nobody is perfect and we’re all just doing our best to get by. Sunshine on concrete. Light slips through the cracks and whispers about freedom.

low

It seems to be a symptom of love, that every so often, in the middle of a sleepless night, we allow ourselves to contemplate some horrific what ifs? What if I lose my love? What if our love fades? What if we’d never met? What if one, or both of us die? It is scary and sad but these questions serve to cement us to the loved one, to maintain our desire and commitment, to stave off loss and reaffirm life. Love returns to its delightful inevitability.

And so it is with my love of Low. The band have been going strong since they appeared, seemingly fully formed, complete and perfect in 1994 with their debut album I Could Live In Hope. But I was unaware of them then, making do throughout the 90s and into the 2000s with other favourite bands and artists such as PJ Harvey, Pulp, Prince (of course), The Libertines, Go-Betweens, The Fall. I could have survived on those I guess.

Then, in 2005 my musical landscape was transformed. I went on a blind date with a beautiful yet completely incompatible man with piercing blue eyes, and an impeccable taste in music. He brought his best mate on our first and last date. I assumed I’d never see him again. But a few weeks later I got a text telling me I had to go see this band at the Leadmill in Sheffield where I lived at the time. They were called Low. So I went. And I fell in love. (Not with the blue-eyed boy who was at the Leadmill that night, with his mate in tow of course). But to him I remain eternally grateful for his parting gift).

The Great Destroyer was Low’s 7th studio album. They played most of the tracks from it the first time I saw them live. I’d bought the album the day before but hadn’t had time for it to really sink in. By the end of that evening I’d sunk deep. Some Low fans like that album least – maybe it’s too poppy for their delicate sensibilities, too mainstream? As the first I heard it remains one of my favourites. ‘When I Go Deaf’ from The Great Destroyer is not only one of my favourite Low songs, it’s one of my favourite songs of all time. Now, whenever I hear the opening chords, I feel the goosebumps return that I felt the first time. Listen.

Apart from the beautiful harmonies sung by the core members of Low – husband and wife Mimi Parker and Alan Sparkhawk of Duluth, Minnesota – and the kick-ass guitars, and the obviously classic songwriting, I noticed something at that gig that I now see as part of Low’s ‘trademark’. Their rapport with the crowd, mainly loyal fans I think, was very special. For the main part of the gig the audience, inspite of being northern, and drinking, and at the spit and sawdust venue of the Leadmill, were practically silent. They had come to hear Low not to talk or heckle. But when the trio (there’s always a Third Man in Low and always a fantastic musician and I never remember his name) came back for the encore the silence was broken. ‘TWO STEP!’ someone shouted, joined immediately by others. ‘CANADA!’ screamed someone else. ‘MAJESTY!’ I didn’t really know what was going on. But Mimi and Alan put their heads together, whispering conspiratorially, then began playing to raptuous applause. For Low, I now know, are a band who listen back, and at every gig I’ve been to they’ve played requests from their fans. These days I’m one of the shouters in the crowd, and from me it’s usually ‘BREAKER!’

In the years that followed that first Low experience, I immersed myself in their music. One patient muso friend, who also likes Low once told me that I could, you know, listen to some other stuff too. But until I’d got to know all ten albums, their B-sides and rareties and some fantastic EPs, I could’t rest. Whilst in a way I am disappointed I can’t sit here and say I have known and loved them for the full twenty years Low have been in existence, I feel very lucky to have had them and their music thrown in my lap when there was already so much of it, with so much to explore and discover all at once. Their first album was one of the last I really got into. It’s probably not as immediately accessible as some of the others. I remember a solo holiday in Brighton. Sat on the beach, drinking a bottle of prosecco, I played I Could Live In Hope on a loop on my crappy walkman CD player, and I was hooked. I think it was something to do with the sea.

I haven’t seen Low play live in 2014, twenty years since they began. But I saw them twice in 2013 – once at the Barbican, where they played with the majesty and solemnity befitting the venue and their stature. I also saw them back in Sheffield where I started, in a working men’s club. At one point Alan Sparhawk started singing the local club’s football song, winking at the crowd. It seemed like a homecoming. I am always at home with Low.

I could go on. I am sure I will – when I’ve switched my computer off for Christmas I’ll listen again to Low’s Christmas album. The final word on Christmas albums in my opinion. And I am sure Low will go on too. They are currently recording some new material and I can’t wait to see them play it. I do sometimes allow myself the awful thought of what if? What if I’d never known Low? What if they never make another record? What if one of us or both of us die? But life seems impossible without them.

I Love…Low.

NB: The ‘Third Man’ in Low now – and he really is an excellent musician – is Matt Livingston.

It’s that time of year where my brain is not up to much for the ‘season’. 2014 hasn’t exactly been my most triumphant year for blogging. I am so grateful for everyone who’s stuck with QRGHQ and for your insightful comments as always. I’m sure 2015 will be more inspired!

But feminist internet land has not been suffering such self-doubt or reticence as I this year. I don’t know if it is just I’m tired of reading the dross or if there’s been more dross lately, but I think we’ve nearly reached saturation point for self-congratulatory, ‘othering’ of everyone else screed from (usually) young, white, respectable nice girls of feminist orientation. Two particularly self-congratulatory feminist bloggers/journalists Glosswitch and Sarah Ditum, both from the New Statesman stable of doom, have produced handy little cut-out-and-keep round ups of their year’s achievements and ‘targets’. Ditum lists her 10 ‘best’ articles and in doing so claims that 2014 was the year she discovered ‘proper’ (aka ‘radical’) feminism. This has given  her a higher calling and a deeper ‘pleasure in politics’ than ever before. But from what I know about ‘radical’ feminism I can only conclude it must be a sadistic form of pleasure indeed. And, as an eagle-eyed twitter pal of mine pointed out, Sarah’s newfound hierarchy of feminists contradicts her claim that she is not one to accuse other women of ‘doing feminism wrong':

Glosswitch’s 2014 ’round up’ also alludes to the notion that some people (not her) accuse feminists of ‘doing it wrong’ and she turns this idea into a satirical list of examples. I don’t get the joke really, because the things she lists in a defensive manner, as if they’ve been ‘falsely accused’ read to me like a list of PR disasters at the very least. From the ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirt sweatshop debacle, to digs at trans women feminists such as Paris Lees, to unapologetic misandry (for once I feel like defending Ally Fogg here), Glosswitch simply illustrates why #womenagainstfeminism has been one of *the* twitter hashtags of the year, but remains absent from most feminist ’round ups’ of life in the gendersphere in 2014.

Meanwhile Rhiannon Lucy Coslett also of New Statesman (and ‘Vagenda’) ‘fame’ sent her feminist pals on twitter the Christmas image at the top of this post. It’s another attempt at a joke, I guess. But it’s based on the outdated belief, held onto desperately by feminists and their allies, that it’s women (and lady Christmas baubles) who get ‘objectified’ in society and who are expected to look pretty and not much else. Well, apart from the deluge of well-coiffed young men I’ve seen decorating London, Birmingham and elsewhere with their cute Christmas jumpers this year, here’s a Christmas bauble to beat them all. Have a very Metrosexy Christmas everyone! See you in 2015…

Jamie Palmer ( @jacobinism ) has written very eloquently about the ‘authoritarianism’ and censorious approach of many on the ‘left’. The examples he gives of attacks on freedom of speech from so-called ‘progressives’ include, surprise surprise, a few from feminist campaigners. Because as I have banged on about before, it’s hard to find any version of feminism that doesn’t exercise or endorse some kind of censorship. Here’s an extract from Jamie’s piece:

 

‘We are now reaping the harvest of liberalism’s agonising slow death on the Left. Consider the following recent examples:

  1. According to a report in The Guardian, the political director of Huffington Post UK, Mehdi Hasan, has just publicly recommended the introduction of what amounts to a de factoblasphemy law in order to combat what he calls ‘Islamophobia’. The press, he announced, has been “singularly unable or unwilling to change the discourse, the tone or the approach” of its coverage. Casually eliding matters of race, ethnicity, and belief, he continued: “We’re not going to get change unless there is some sanction, there is some penalty. This is not just about Muslims; it is about all minorities.” Similarly, on an American talkshow, a visibly distressed Ben Affleck responded to Sam Harris’s criticisms of Islam by denouncing them as “gross and racist”.
  2. Dr. Matt Taylor, one of the scientists responsible for the awe-inspiring Rosetta satellite mission, found himself vilified by incandescent feminists when he appeared on television wearing a bowling shirt adorned with images of scantily-clad young women. It later transpired that the shirt had been hand-made for him as a birthday gift by a female friend and, as a rather touching token of appreciation, he had worn it on his big day. But an article for Verge decided that it was a symptom of the misogyny allegedly endemic within the scientific community, and reported Dr. Taylor’s televised appearance beneath the headline “I don’t care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing”.

    The most risible offering in this embarrassing row came from (supposedly) sex-positive feminist Greta Christina, who spent the first paragraph of her post on the subject itemising her own involvement in the production of pornography. This, she appeared to think, placed her in the unique position of being able to explain that “freedom for me does not mean freedom for thee” as she policed the clothing of another adult: “[D]oing an interview about your team’s big science achievement while wearing a shirt with scantily-clad pinup girls does not say, “Sex is awesome!” It says, “Women are for sex.”

    Christina seemed oblivious to those who would seize on this argument to call for the suppression of her own work, as well as all other kinds of pornography and erotica she defends in her writing. Nor was she moved by arguments that men, like women, should be judged on what they say and do, not on how they choose to dress themselves. Nonetheless, clearly shaken by the uproar, Dr. Taylor ended up offering a tearful and humiliating public apology to his critics. It will be an individual of uncommonly thick skin who dares to transgress in this way in the future.

  3. Last Wednesday, the Independent ran an article by an Oxford University student named Niamh McIntyre, in which she crowed defiantly about the success of her campaign to cancel a debate between two male speakers, organised by a pro-life group to debate abortion. She explained herself thus: “The idea that in a free society absolutely everything should be open to debate has a detrimental effect on marginalised groups”.

    Doubling down on her behalf, Tim Squirrell – the President of the Cambridge Union, no less! – took to twitter to declare that “shouting ‘free speech’ doesn’t help anyone without a more nuanced conception of its impacts + aspects”. He went on: “People have the right to feel…[s]afe from the expression of ideas which have historically been used to oppress them in very real ways.”

  4. Late last year, in response to long-disputed and empirically dubious claims of an omnipresent culture of rape besieging women on university campuses, activists campaigned to have Robin Thicke’s song Blurred Lines banned from their Student Unions. When UCL joined upwards of 20 other Unions in banning the song from its premises, its Women’s Officer Beth Sutton said: “UCLU have just passed motion to not play Blurred Lines in union spaces & events. Solidarity with all survivors!”

    [The same panic over ‘rape culture’ and anger over low prosecution rates for sex crimes has also led to unapologetic attacks from the Left, similarly advanced in the name of “solidarity with survivors”, on the presumption of innocence, the rule of law, and due process. An analysis of this disturbing facet of the effort to delegitimise liberalism lies beyond the scope of this post.]

  5. A few months ago, the New Statesman columnist Sarah Ditum wrote a rather good articleprotesting the illiberal use of ‘no-platforming’ to silence unpopular views held by those “deemed disagreeable”. However, her arguments were offered mainly in support of Julie Bindel, a radical feminist labelled ‘transphobic’ and ‘whorephobic’ for her views on trans rights and sex work. Ditum is, from what I can tell, largely sympathetic to Bindel’s positions on these issues, which made her defence of Bindel’s right to speak a relatively straightforward affair, causing her no significant ideological discomfort.

    But when it came to the no-platforming of a repellent male chauvinist and self-styled pick-up guru named Julien Blanc, Ditum’s principled defence of free expression evaporated, and she wrote a new blog post explaining that this was a very different matter. “There is no free speech defence for Julian Blanc” she concluded. (In response to the outcry, Blanc has since been denied a visa to enter the UK.)

  6. This is not to mention the recent fracas over the Exhibit B installation, deemed unacceptable by anti-racist campaigners (which I covered in an essay here), or the hounding of feminist Adele Wilde-Blavatsky for her opposition to the veil and the demonisation of ‘white feminists’ (which I covered in an essay here). The latter post, incidentally, led The Feminist Wire todescribe what I wrote as “racist and anti-Black specifically”, and an attempt “to maintain white supremacy”.
This handful of examples barely scratches the surface of the problem. Not one of the writers or campaigners above was detained by the need to establish a causal link between the expression of ideas they dislike and consequent harm. Censors never are, despite the fact that, in an open society, the burden of proof ought to rest with those who would restrict individual freedom. Instead, those inclined to defend free expression were variously tarred with the brush of racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, or rape apologism (depending on what was at issue).

When taken together, these individual cases – niggling and petty in and of themselves – speak to the flowering of a deeply sinister and censorious tendency amongst self-identifying progressives, invariably justified in the name of protecting the weak, the vulnerable, and the voiceless. In their righteous zeal to place certain people, views, and ideas beyond the pale, and secure in the complacent belief that their own opinions are beyond reproach, not one of these well-meaning men and women appears to have considered that their own liberty will, in the end, fall victim to the very same arguments they advance to silence others.

It should hardly be a surprise that in the midst of this reckless and dangerous onslaught against liberal values and the belief in the axiomatic nobility of the oppressed, there should be no room for sympathy with the Middle East’s only functioning liberal democracy. A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] campaign, ostensibly mounted in support of Palestinian nationalism, but actually aimed at the disestablishment of the only Jewish State, has been slowly gathering mainstream support and legitimacy in the West.

Reprehensibly, the BDS movement seeks not simply the boycott of Israeli goods (which would be bad enough); it also explicitly attacks academic freedom. In the foreword to a recently released collection of essays entitled The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, the American political theorist Paul Berman argues that BDS activists are only able to make such arguments because they have convinced themselves of a misperception: they see what they are doing as “modern and progressive” when in fact it is “retrograde and disgraceful”.

The same must be said of the examples itemised above. Even as they thoughtlessly stigmatise those who defend free expression as “right wing”, these activists, writers, and campaigners have succumbed to the right’s most regressive autocratic tendencies. Dogmatic and unbending in their misanthropic view of human sexuality and race relations; unapologetic in their advocacy of an infantilising, separatist agenda of ‘safe spaces'; ferocious in their intolerance of views they deem unacceptable.

Gazing with mounting dismay at the escalating authoritarianism on the left of the political spectrum where my own political sympathies lie, I have been repeatedly reminded of a post published by the late Marxist theorist Norman Geras five months before his death. With a minimum of preamble, Geras quoted Chris Brown, Professor of International Relations at the LSE, as follows:

I think the biggest shift that has taken place in my thinking over the past 30 years is that I’m a lot less tolerant of relativist ideas, and multiculturalist ideas than I used to be. And that’s something that when you say it, it induces shock and horror sometimes. 25 years ago, I was writing material that, if it wasn’t poststructuralist, was at least ‘fellow traveling’ with the poststructuralists, arguing essentially anti-foundationalist ideas, arguing that the Western liberal tradition was just one tradition among other traditions, and so on. In a way, I think I was in bad faith over a lot of that. I believed that liberalism would always be there, and so one can afford to attack it. The events of the last 20 years have shown that that’s really not the case, that a lot of the traditional liberal values of freedom and tolerance are seriously under attack and need to be defended. So I’ve become a defender of the Enlightenment project in a way that I wasn’t maybe 30 years ago – that’s a big shift.

Unfortunately, there appears to be scant appetite for Professor Brown’s critical self-examination on the postmodern Left. Instead it clings to its metaphysical conspiracism, and disdains empiricism and a meritocracy of ideas derived from free and open debate in favour of the imposition of speech codes designed to stigmatise, shame, and silence.

In the name of a righteously-espoused ‘inclusivity’, such people have submitted to the worst kind of authoritarian elitism, and forgotten an elementary truism of Enlightenment thought. As the revolutionary 18th century pamphleteer and Dead White Male Thomas Paine observed in the short dedication with which he opened The Age of Reason:

You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it. The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.’

Read the whole of Jacobinism’s excellent post here

As has been widely publicised, mainly by people who’ve developed a sudden and very specifically focussed interest in football, Ched Evans has been training at his old club Shefffield Utd’s grounds . A Utd spokesman has said:

“The club acknowledges receipt of a request from the PFA to the effect that the club consider allowing Mr Evans, who is a PFA member, to train at the club’s facilities.

“According to the request, this training would be with a view to enabling Mr Evans to get back to a level of fitness, which might enable him to find employment in his chosen trade.

“This request has come to the club, because it is the last club at which Mr Evans was registered before his conviction.

“The club agrees with the recent statements of the PFA, to the effect that professional footballers should be treated as equals before the law, including in circumstances where they seek to return to work following periods of incarceration.

“There can be no place for ‘mob justice’.”

This sounds to me like an uncontroversial, sensible statement. The law is the law. Rehabilitation is a vital part of our justice system. A man is training to be fit to return to work after over two years in prison having been convicted of a crime. But if you read the response from many feminists this set of events is a travesty, and a personal attack on women the world over.

Today Sarah Ditum reminded us of a piece she wrote in the New Statesman back in August, where she said that Evans should not be allowed to just ‘get on with his life’ on release from prison. Ditum wrote:

‘If there were justice for women, rape would be a crime that makes us all turn in disgust from the perpetrator. We would see rapists as what they are – men who have committed one of the ultimate acts of denying female humanity, men who have performed an act of intimate savagery by penetrating the bounds of a woman’s body against her wishes. If there were justice for women, the shame, disbelief and misogyny that lead to the 6 per cent attrition rate for rape conviction would not exist. If there were justice for women, Richmond and Evans would be humbly recusing themselves from the world while they await forgiveness – they wouldn’t be gently settling back into the lives they had before.’

I find this paragraph symptomatic of a lot of feminist dogma. Whilst simultaneously stating that we should not ‘shame’ women for being victims of rape and sexual violence, Ditum employs graphic language to shame Evans, and men in general. She says we should ‘turn in disgust’ from people who are convicted of rape, calls rape ‘an act of intimate savagery’ and says that men convicted of rape should hide from the world whilst they ‘await forgiveness’. But as we know, this is a forgiveness that never comes, from feminists at least.

Ditum’s sister in arms, Caroline Criado-Perez also employs the ‘leper effect’ this time to ‘mark’ anyone (sorry, any *man*) who believes Ched Evans is not guilty of rape:

Sarah Ditum and other feminists’ shaming of Evans, his supporters and anyone who dares challenge their point of view reminds me of Foucault. He has argued that whilst leprosy is no longer a blight on the modern world (though is Ebola the new leprosy) the figure of the ‘leper’ who must be banished from society for being ‘unclean’ is alive and well. Or sick. Foucault writes:

‘Once leprosy had gone, and the figure of the leper was no more than a distant memory, these structures still remained. The game of exclusion would be played again, often in these same places, in an oddly similar fashion two or three centuries later. The role of the leper was to be played by the poor and by the vagrant, by prisoners and by the ‘alienated’, and the sort of salvation at stake for both parties in this game of exclusion is the matter of this study’

– Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilisation

Sarah Ditum doesn’t just shame ‘rapists’ and men in general. She tries to ‘shame’ me on a regular basis too, by telling anyone in her earshot about personal details of my life that she *thinks* are shameful. She also attempts to shame trans women and sex workers. My view is that feminism is a politics of shame it’s just quite cleverly implemented and hidden behind a  pretence of challenging the shaming of women.

I look forward to Ms Ditum’s articulate and civil response to my criticisms of her journalism and her dogma. Oh: