A Letter To The Editor

Posted: April 6, 2011 in Blogging, Freedom of Speech, Uncategorized, Writing
Tags: ,

Following on from my trip to Grub Street, I had an email/phone exchange with the deputy editor of the New Statesman. He agreed to take down comments from below the Baxter article which were offensive to me on a personal level. This is the last email I sent to him:


Thanks for speaking to me Jon. I hope those comments I mentioned will be removed.
But on a more general, or rather more specific point:

The fact is this piece was criticising the ‘sexual morality’ of the Sunday/Sport newspapers. In doing so the journalist, Steven Baxter, managed to lead a group of men on twitter in insulting me (because I critiqued his point), including using my sexuality as part of their insults. This boiled down to saying I deserved to be called names and humiliated on a public forum, because I ‘like it’ like that. And yet Baxter’s point about the Sport being the immoral character in terms of how women and sexual violence against women are represented was supposed to stand up to my initial criticism of it.

I think New Statesman has a question to answer there. I don’t know if you will answer it in direct response to me. But someone should think about it.

Quiet Riot Girl

  1. Karl James says:

    Great that you stayed cool and engaged. (Well – at least you appeared to stay cool. It’s hard when provoked no?!)


  2. Jenny Krase says:

    I await the results eagerly. Good luck.

    • thanks Jenny and for your support yesterday, despite any differences of view we may have.

      The silence from not just feminists but women I speak to a lot on twitter about kink, submissive sexualities, how people treat people regarding sexuality was defeaning! Which made you speaking up more appreciated.

  3. Matt Volatile says:

    I hope you’ll be writing to the Orwell Prize too?

  4. Matt Volatile says:

    Me too. But no; it’s quite expansive. You should write.

  5. elissa says:

    Glad you came out of this episode nice and “clean” – more nice than clean…just as you like it

    Had a chance to read and post on that NS thread. I admire your composure and the wonderful set of gigantic Mr.-balls you Sport.

  6. Fenner Pearson says:

    Hi Elly,

    That’s a good letter. I’m very sorry I wasn’t around to lend more support when this was taking place, although I think both Dan and, particularly, Matt did a great job. I don’t think it’s over the top to suggest that the NS should stop publishing Baxter over this issue.

    It does sadden me that you didn’t get more support from a constituency who constantly (and rightly) rail against this kind of male bullying and abuse.

    After the low level sniping you’re endured recently, I think that whilst it’s been unpleasant for you, it’s good that this behaviour finally moved into the open where it could be properly seen, analysed and identified for its nasty, stupid and victimising nature.

    I think you’ve been rational, brave and level-headed all the way through.


  7. I’ve followed Elly for quite some time on twitter, we’re far from agreeing on everything, call me naive but I didn’t think that was the point. When we have had discussions I’ve very much respected her arguments and the reasons she makes them.

    I think ‘the problem’ with Quiet Riot Girl is not that she’s a troll, who rocks up to cause trouble or abuse people. The ‘problem’ is that she’s a very intelligent women, who ciriticisms the mainstream left wing press don’t have a response to. Their response; seen in these last couple of blog posts, seems to be to resort to very nasty and very personal attack. That’s pretty god damn shame inducing if you ask me…..Some people really need to sit down and have a word with themselves.

    • elflojo84 says:

      Totally agree. ‘Progressive’ media outlets like the Guardian have a real problem accepting that intelligent people given the facts might come to different conclusions to them – witness the desparate desire to criticise the Tories under any circumstances, not to even consider allowing that the y might have valid arguments, they are just evil nasty bigots who probably want to kill all black people and subjugate all women.

      This is doubly, trebly exaggerated in the case of women because the obsession with moronic two-breasts-good-two-testes-bad feminism has put them in a position where they cannot separate in their minds the interests of women from the interests of feminism. So a woman disagreeing with feminism?? What is this madness?? She must really be a male troll. Or worse, she’s a woman mysogenist. Oh look, she gets off on men abusing her sexually. Well that figures. Chortle

  8. Thanks Fenner and Rachel!

  9. Todd says:

    See, I wasn’t going to say anymore about this but I’m really struggling to see how you can justify all this. With all due respect, it smacks of bleating over free speech you don’t like. I honestly though you were more robust than this.

    Let me get this straight: you are trying to get someone sacked from the New Statesman for insulting you? “I’m not frightened of anyone” is ringing especially hollow right now.

    Like in our other discussion, you unfortunately make a good case for the dreaded safe space. You really are no better than those you purport to be different from.

  10. Todd says:

    You’re welcome!

  11. Del says:

    This makes me so angry and I’m glad you’ve stood your ground. The New Statesman site is a hostile place for female commenters. Any woman who enters that space is seen as fair game for the trolls who hang around there… And that’s just the commenters for starters! Now we see a woman who dares to speak her mind or express dissent getting abused by a writer there. I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m glad there are women like you stepping into the fray and taking the shit that comes with it but, me, I think I’ll stick to websites that don’t allow the kind of crap you’ve just had hurled at you!

  12. Cadi says:

    I don’t understand, if the author thought you’d misunderstood the point of his article, or just thought you were trolling, why not respond in the comments – what was there to lose? If he hadn’t made his point clear enough and there was a misunderstanding, he gets to clarify for anyone else that may also be thinking “huh, that doesn’t sound right…”, and if you were trolling he’d have been able to prove as such.

    Responding on Twitter like he did just makes him look like an arse.


    Free speech aside, it’s hardly professional of him, and free speech doesn’t come without consequences.

  13. Del says:

    I’m having issues with my PC today so I can’t tell if I’ve successfully posted any comments. I think might have a virus 😦

    Just wanted to say thumbs up to all this and good luck.

    In sisterhood, Del x

  14. elflojo84 says:

    I missed out on this furore but having read back … good for you. Those comments about your submissiveness were frankly sickening. Can you imagine if someone said something similar about a battered wife? Can you iamgine how those same people sniggering about your supposed ‘submissiveness’ would, rightly, react if a victim of domestic abuse had said similar things and people sniggered about how she loved being abused by strong men?

    Frankly i have little to add but fuck ’em all, the fucking hypocrites

  15. Clarebear says:

    You know what? I think you’re right about those guys at NS. They were being assholes. Not to mention prudish. Shame on Cath Elliot too. But has it occurred to you that some feminists may have been silent because they didn’t read on when they saw it was a QRG thing? Could they have assumed from your usual conduct that it was you who was being the jerk? Remember what I said to you about there being a reason for feminists not falling over themselves to accommodate you?

    Oh and feminists and women who are into kink or sexually submissive aren’t mutually exclusive either (see the 4th comment above), though I’m sure it would be convenient for you if we were.

    • yes its occurred to me that those feminists were silent because it was me being attacked. But not because I am a ‘jerk’ I just am someone who challenges them a lot.
      I quite like me. I hope that is ok?

      Yes I know there are feminist ‘submissives’ . some ‘submissives’ use their feminism as a way of avoiding the contradictions involved in being a woman hetero submissive in the modern age.

  16. Clarebear says:

    I’m not just talking about submissives. There are a whole bunch of pro-sex feminists who would take a dim view of your treatment at NS. Let’s be honest. here. You don’t just challenge feminists. You make it your business to smoke them out and misrepresent them in whatever way you can.

    • you make it sound like the OK Chorale, Clare.

      So i’ll go with that and remind you this is my saloon you have walked into with your determination to put me down and criticise, and if you don’t want to buy a whisky and relax with the kind people here, I might consider asking you to leave.

      good day to you ma’am.

  17. Clarebear says:

    But wasn’t it you that criticised people for the “my site, my rules” thing? Some might say you’re stifling debate. I thought you hated that shit?

  18. Clarebear says:

    Way to go with the attempt at silencing there! Tell the person to “keep debating” so it looks like you’re in charge if they do.

  19. Todd says:

    “Thanks for speaking to me Jon. I hope those comments I mentioned will be removed.”

    WTF is up with you trying to get comments taken down?!

    To refresh your memory:

    “… I am continually ‘silenced’ by feminists…”
    “…they did not publish all my comments…”
    “…the whole comments thread was closed down…”
    “…the moderator left this comment before closing down the comments…”
    “… And that was that.”
    “… the regularity with which I get my comments deleted or am blocked completely from sites, does constitute a form of ‘silencing’ in my view.”
    “… They think they have to keep people like me from saying what I believe about gender issues…”
    “… I am not frightened of anyone. I don’t need protecting and treating like a child…”

    Tut tut QRG. You aren’t living by the stringent standards you set for others to uphold free expression.

  20. Todd says:

    C’mon, that’s a poor effort. You can be as evasive as you like but it’s there for all to see. You’re indulging in double standards.

  21. ever so *slightly* concerned that some peeps aren’t able to spot the difference between a comment pointing out a false dichotomy between ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ media; and comments calling people dozy pieces of shit and insulting them based on their sexual preference….

  22. elissa says:

    Watch yourself Sparkle, you may get accused of splitting pubic hairs –

    Hey Todd – don’t the things being compared, by context and content, have to be sort of the same for one to be indulging in double standards?

  23. Todd says:

    I think there’s been a misunderstanding about what I was comparing above. The quotes relate to QRG’s recent post about silencing. That post takes a dim view of comments apparently being deleted and, yet, a mere few posts later, QRG is telling another editor that she hopes offending comments will be taken down. True enough, QRG could say she wasn’t calling anyone names or denigrating their sexual preferences but one person’s ‘insult’ will be another’s ‘heated debate’ so I think she is getting into murky territory here. The implication seems to be that there is a standard line that everyone will recognise when crossed. But I don’t think there is.

    I’m not disputing that false dichotomy between ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ media. I’m with QRG on that one.

    • somewhere in amongst all this crap you have made a point I consider valid Todd.

      FYI-the NS did not remove the comments and I accepted that decision and am glad they didn’t now. Yes I agree to advocate free expression should include advocating not removing comments as much as possible from threads.

      BUT: My request was in the context of what I consider, and what many other observers consider to be continued bullying (making reference to my sexuality) of me by a group of people which includes mainstream press journalists and a lawyer/judge of a national journalism/blogging prize. This I believe got to the stage where I could not post a comment on a blog/website without getting a barrage of insults.

      If you think that is the same as me ‘derailing’ a discussion by disagreeing with a post on a blog, that’s your view. I don’t.

  24. Todd says:

    I’m glad we’re at least agreed on some points but a bit puzzled about exactly what I’ve said that can be termed “all this crap”! Perhaps that’s how you dismiss the bits you don’t agree with?

  25. Todd says:

    “lots of folk are like that”

    Including you when it comes to anything to do with “feminism”, it would seem.

  26. Chloe says:

    QRG said: ‘This I believe got to the stage where I could not post a comment on a blog/website without getting a barrage of insults.’

    It’s that kind of treatment that prompts people to attempt to make spaces “safer” so maybe you’re being a bit hard on those who try?

    What Del said too. Not everyone wants to step nto the fray and those people who are more sensitive deserve to be catered too as well I think.

    • I think you may have misunderstood my points about safe spaces, Chloe.

      I made the point that those ‘safe’ spaces are not safe for me, even though I fit the ‘criteria’ to benefit from their ‘protection’.

      And the example of what has happened to me online is not one in which I have sought ‘protection’ rather one where I drew attention to bullying that had already gone on.

      Incidentally, for the time being it has stopped.

  27. Chloe says:

    I don’t think I’ve misunderstood but it looks like we might feel differently about whether sites should be proactive to try to prevent flame-wars if possible or just reactive as + when they flare up.

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