The Female of The Species

Posted: November 3, 2011 in Feminism, misandry, Uncategorized, Writing
Tags: , ,

‘The Female Of The Species is more deadlier than the male’ – Space.

According to an article by helen Lewis in New Statesman today, ‘female bloggers’ are the victims of regular abuse from ‘misogynists’. She writes:
‘The sheer volume of sexist abuse thrown at female bloggers is the internet’s festering sore: if you talk to any woman who writes online, the chances are she will instantly be able to reel off a Greatest Hits of insults. But it’s very rarely spoken about, for both sound and unsound reasons. No one likes to look like a whiner — particularly a woman writing in male-dominated fields such as politics, economics or computer games. Others are reluctant to give trolls the “satisfaction” of knowing they’re emotionally affected by the abuse, or are afraid of incurring more by speaking out.’

Apart from her use of the term ‘female’ to describe women who write online, which I will come back to, I have a problem with Helen’s analysis. Basically she is pitting women, and mainly feminist women, as innocent victims of nasty abuse from men, or ‘trolls’ as she refers to them. She does not provide any evidence to back up her statement she just says ‘if you talk to any woman who writes online’… Well I am a woman who writes online and the main abuse I have received has been from feminist women.  So that probably means it doesn’t count, right? She doesn’t mention men who write online, or suggest anyone talks to them about their experiences. And she certainly doesn’t mention that other ‘m’ word – ‘misandry’.  Because when it comes to ‘sexism’ and sexist language, it can only be aimed at women, according to most feminists.

She goes on to say:

‘Both are understandable reasons, but there’s another, less convincing one: doesn’t everyone get abuse on the internet? After all, the incivility of the medium has prompted a rash of op-eds and books about the degradation of discourse.

While I won’t deny that almost all bloggers attract some extremely inflammatory comments — and LGBT or non-white ones have their own special fan clubs too — there is something distinct, identifiable and near-universal about the misogynist hate directed at women online. As New Statesman blogger David Allen Green told me: “In three years of blogging and tweeting about highly controversial political topics I have never once has any of the gender-based abuse that, say, Cath Elliott, Penny Red, or Ellie Gellard routinely receive.” ‘

So according to Helen ‘there is something distinct, identifiable and near-universal about the misogynist hate directed at women online’ – what? I don’t see anything specific about ‘hate’ directed at women any more than hate directed at men. And, as I said, since most of the ‘hate’ that has been directed at me online has been from feminist women, her point falls on stony ground here.

Also she quotes David Allen Green, lawyer and ex Tory (supposedly), who seems to love cosying up to feminists these days. This is the same David Allen Green that encouraged, joined in and then tried to justify the ‘misogynist hate’ directed at me by his NS colleague and feminist ally,  Steven Baxter. So I don’t really trust anything he has to say on the subject.

(My hyperlinks aren’t working: The Baxter debacle is documented here) :

But the real problem I have with this article is the accounts it includes from ‘female bloggers’, those paragons of virtue and honesty and decency.

They include: Kate Smurthwaite

Kate is a particularly vindictive feminist blogger and ‘comedian’ who cheered when the late great Sebastian Horseley died, even though she knew him personally:

‘His deliberate refusal to acknowledge and attack the human rights abuses he was well aware of being conducted by the sex trade is inexcusable. His death is excellent news for all those who support human rights but I personally am still a little saddened by it.’

She attended Horsley’s funeral standing outside the church with a placard that read ‘what about the victims of prostitution?’  Nice. Of course I am blocked from commenting on her blog.

Also included in this piece is Cath Elliott. She also blocks me from commenting on her blog, and she also celebrated when Seb died:

‘It was Sebastian Horsley’s funeral today. Yeah I know, I didn’t cry when I heard the tragic news of his untimely death either.’

So when I hear of her tales of woe about receiving admittedly pretty nasty treatment from people online, I don’t feel that sympathetic.

‘Hate’ is expressed in many different ways. As Mark Simpson has explained, hatred aimed at men as treated as ‘acceptable’. Referring to a book on the subject he writes:

‘Men, say the authors, have become society’s official scapegoats and held responsible for all wickedness, including that done by women they have deluded or intimidated. Women are society’s official victims and held responsible for all good, including that done by men they have influenced or converted.’

So for me, regardless of the details of any nastiness aimed at the women who have contributed to this article, sorry the ‘female bloggers’, I think it is reinforcing this idea that women are ‘society’s official victims’ (and men the oppressors).

And the term ‘female bloggers’ relates to this in my view. It is falling back on the language of biological determinism, of the innate differences between the ‘male’ and ‘female’ examples of the species. It evokes the spirit of that old nursery rhyme which states that ‘little boys’ are made of ‘snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails’ and ‘little girls’ are made of ‘sugar and spice and all things nice’.

Well I have news for the ‘female bloggers ‘ of the world: they’re not. Women can be and are just as nasty as men, and can use misandry just as effectively as any misogynist uses misogyny. But they get away with it because misandry is acceptable in our society. It is so acceptable that people such as Sharon Osbourne can appear on national TV and laugh about a man having his penis cut off by his own wife:

Sorry ladies, I sympathise with any unfair treatment you receive as writers and bloggers, but I don’t accept the rhetoric you dress it up in.

  1. redpesto says:

    But it’s very rarely spoken about, for both sound and unsound reasons. – apart from every time a feminist blogger goes meta about the fact that some people are nasty-minded idiots (which in turn means that any valid criticism gets lumped in with the ‘trolls’).

  2. Tim says:

    After being heaped with so many honorary penes, they probably don’t count you among the ladyfolks anymore, QRG.

    Also, I like how they go “I know everyone gets haterade on the internet, but ours is speshul!”.

  3. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again–even though I reject the idea of “privilege”–Sharon Osbourne is one of the wealthiest women Britain….

    Other Feminist derogatory terms- “mansplainin'” “dude bro” What about teh menz” the list goes on and on….

    Oh, and I’m no fan of Barrack O’bummer-but remember how Sara Palin viciously attacked him whereas McCain kept it a little more civil? Why was that? Could it have anything to do with the fact that Palin is a “girl” and if he handled her with anything less than “kid gloves”-he’d be labeled a misogynist for sure…..

    • yep I think you are right about Palin – though ironically feminists have been quite viscious about her so the sisterhood is a bit precarious…

      • redpesto says:

        Ever since Palin got the VP nomination, feminists have been caught between her batshit Republicanism and the apparent need to defend her in the name of the sisterhood (ditto Michelle Bachmann). UK feminists had the same problem with Thatcher. Some people never learn.

  4. john smith says:

    I wonder how many of these “female bloggers” actually desire and thrive on the intense emotional conflict that they generate in others.

    “chumming the water” as portrayed in the Jaws film, so to speak.

  5. Elise says:

    This article is a load of hooey. What is a “female blogger”? Like men, women blog about everything under the sun. My blog doesn’t attract *any* comments (except for yours!), but the feedback I’ve had on it from the occasional Twitter follower has been positive. I was actually afraid of internet abuse when I started blogging, not because of my gender but because of the medium… but surprise, no one cares! I’ve also read many blog posts by women (mostly literary blogs, because that’s what interests me), and haven’t found any abusive comments.

    Presumably, then, the women whose stories are told at the bottom of the article are actually a minority of highly visible “female bloggers” who receive abuse when they write on controversial political topics. The stories of the abusive comments they’ve received are horrible… but the article writer was correct wonder if it “isn’t just the internet.” Because… it is. The internet loves violence threats, complete with published addresses. I first read about them on the jaw-dropping “humour” site Encyclopedia Dramatica, which exists to, well, upset people.

    As for visible male bloggers receiving abuse on the internet, I recall a time when the *only* comments Mark Simpson received on his website were abusive. And if anyone thinks this is because he’s gay… they were from gay men, who didn’t agree with his controversial stances.

    Actually, isn’t there a comment on that misandry article you linked to above, where a female commenter calls Mark stupid about one thousand times? Is that “hate speech”? (And why do Cath Elliot and her friends, as well as some other “female bloggers” who tell their stories at the bottom of the article, think that repeatedly, creatively, and graphically calling someone “ugly” is “hate speech”? Since when is “ugly” gender-specific? It’s not even human-specific.)

    There’s no excuse for rape and death threats, obviously. Threats are not protected speech. But the article by no means convinces me that women, or even visible, controversial bloggers who are women, are special targets of it. I haven’t done a comparison study of male and female controversial political bloggers to let you know… and neither has the writer!

  6. No there was only one comment calling Mark stupid on that misandry thread and it was really aimed at me as you can see:

    ‘Has it occurred to you, Mark S, that your essays have gotten shallower and stupider as you align yourself more and more with QuietRiotGirl? (Who is, speaking of labels, about as far away from “RiotGrrl” as one can get). Every time I read her blog or her comments I am amazed by how she can say so much while saying so little. The fact that some people in the “feminist blogosphere” don’t like her is not a sign that she is some radical thinker who just doesn’t toe the line and the orthodoxy of feminism just can’t stand it. It’s because she says stupid things and I am afraid her stupid is poisoning you, Mark S.’

    • Gs says:

      Their, seemingly, thoughtful consideration is nothing but an appropriation of consideration itself.

      Their dogmatism is just too evident.

    • Elise says:

      Regardless of who it was aimed at, it stood out in my memory as the most “stupids” I’d heard in a comment! 😀

      • he won’t be bothered by such types again now I am no longer ‘poisoning’ him with my stupid. But then comments at simpson HQ are pretty few and far between these days all round!

  7. Heresiarch says:

    When I think of women who regularly get insulted online, the names that first spring to mind are Nadine Dorries, Jan Moir, Liz Jones (yesterday’s hatefest victim, of course), Melanie Phillips – none of whom, strangely, were mentioned in that article. Not forgetting your good self, of course. But I suppose that “feminist men” are entitled to hate certain women, and even be applauded by the sisterhood for doing so.

    • yes I think the term ‘female bloggers’ is really code for ‘feminist bloggers’. They are the true victims.

      • Elise says:

        Well they did stick that one anti-abortion Catholic blogger in there (smokescreen). Whoever told her she should die in a back alley of a rusty-hanger abortion wasn’t obviously a misogynist or anti-feminist. It was either a feminist or a technical troll, that is, someone doing it for the lulz. I once took a look at the contributors to Encyclopedia Dramatica, and yep, they included women!

  8. Henry says:

    Not a bad piece at all.

    Wandering off in the other direction on Twitter, looking for anything else of interest, I instead stumbled upon some comments. Henceforth QRG shall be known as “that person”.

    “ha, I just read her blog on the subject. ‘Feminists were nasty to me’ check, ‘Mark Simpson said’ check, ref to @stebax check…”

    I don’t think you’ve persuaded the New Statesman crowd lol

  9. Paul Newman says:

    You should see the abuse I get on Lewes Forum, as a consequence of being a relatively rare Conservative in a land of Greens, Liberals and parochial radicals. Firstly, my real name was researched together with an ancient and ( untrue )story, then my address was published and then sinister references to my children kept popping up, along with endless dirty protest level abuse as well as pasting the same abuse when I commented.
    My problem was not the words although there is a sort of reptilian cunning to them, but chiefly the possibility of someone turning up at my house. I also think you can only convince yourself you are the only sane one for so long before its just too depressing .
    In the case of Laurie Penny I am not convinced her gender is the problem. She is a sort of token yoof without the intellectual equipment or Burchill balls to back up the positions she adopts, many of which are quite deservedly ridiculed as fraudulent bratty posturing. I know why she is scared, it is not witless abuse but a contempt she secretly knows is well merited.
    I think , women are less well equipped to cope with the rough stuff generally and men are also sad prats at times . I `m not having every weak talentless mediocrity living on her gender whining about it though, its as bad as Selina Scott crying ageism..what did she think she was picked for her brains ?


  10. Sarah AB says:

    Men and women attract different sorts of attacks – I think if I was a man I *possibly* might have been spared a certain kind of negative (but not necessarily obviously sexist) comment, but I also sometimes think that male bloggers are particularly vulnerable to other kinds of (still more aggressive) criticism.

    • Henry says:

      “Men and women attract different sorts of attacks”

      I think that’s true. Also men and women are sensitive to different styles of attack. So actually looking at the exact things said about men and women as if they are said in the same context would be misleading.

      Also women might possibly be more likely to attack someone with insinuations and social pressure. The guys who laid into Cath Elliott were often saying things along the lines of: “What a horrible looking c**t.” and “definite lesbian!”. Very silly (Though my jaw dropped open stupidly when I read what she and her commenters had to say about Sebastian Horsley – there was nothing subtle there)

    • yes I agree Sarah. And as you know from HP sometimes it is minority groups doling out the ‘abuse’!

  11. Carecrow says:

    On Twitter just now, Glinner retweeted a link to a Guardian article that went up today that basically runs with the New Statesman story. Out of the 5 women mentioned 4 of them are left wing feminists and I’ve got absolutely no idea who the other one is but can only assume she is not a left wing feminist because the article excrutiatingly points out that she has nothing in common with Laurie Penny. A token then; a ‘thing’ to justify the use of the phrase ‘women across the political spectrum’. Interestingly, there’s no mention of Liz Jones who Glinner himself called a ‘complete arsehole’ the other day (also on twitter).

  12. AOBAG says:

    Excellent article. It kind of goes hand in hand with something else I said lately, how it seems to be so wrong (especially to feminists, at least in my experience) to call a woman a cunt while it’s alright to call a male a wanker (pardon the language). For most terrible things you’ll see happening or being said to women, god knows there’s going to be almost always a direct male equivalent.

    Thanks for linking that video too- I’m encouraged by the amount of people speaking out against the kind of crap that happened on “The Talk” show, although I’m still disheartened at the fact it damn well happened in the first place. Can’t ever imagine a story about a woman being knocked out, bound and having her privates sewn up or cut out attracting huge laughs on a TV program, especially with a ‘celebrity’ guest or two. Looking through his other videos is pretty interesting, too, especially about what happened to the mens rights wikipedia page- just comparing the original version to the new one that came about after exposure on several websites, is pretty alarming. It’s now pretty much mens rights as described by vehement feminists. Didn’t see the same thing happen to the feminism article, though.

    For all they complain about the attacks they receieve, they’re capable (and carry out) far worse; they have the ability to stamp out or silence any group in opposition, doing so from a platform of ‘equality’. This gives access to weapons such as the ‘troll’ card, if you disagree you hate women, the facist ultra-conservative card, the ability to influence policies that make it impossible for opposing groups to lay on criticism while enabling easy attacking of them (just like on wikipedia) the list goes on…

    Wow, this turned into a bit of a rant!

    • Henry says:

      I’ll take your rant and I’ll raise it thus…

      I think people are quite ready to bash men. We’re all wired to be more sympathetic to women than to men. Think how many TV news bulletins you’ve heard where we are told that the victims of some disaster/atrocity were mainly “women and children” – so not that other bunch of slightly-less-important airheads then! Men are the ones who go to war and get killed and maimed defending our way of life, men do the more dangerous jobs.

      In other words – shock horror – there are PLENTY of inequalities that affect men adversely not just the obs they do but the unspoken casual attitude to men’s safety ..and very few people talk about this inequality

      We all just accept all this as the way things are. Yet when men have some perceived still-remaining privilege of ANY kind (such as one broad statistic that shows men earning more overall than women) then the undermining feminist questions start – why should men earn more than women? Why should men have a little status to balance against the unequal importance we give their safety and health?

      Indeed they don’t just undermine and ask carefully loaded questions, they ignore any details of the statistics, and jump to conclusions about what the numbers mean. The gender wage gap overall figure must, they say, be evidence of discrimination! No analysis – it just MUST be so.

      Then someone comes along and does slightly more work and says well you know actually single women earn more than single men, women don’t tend to pursue high earning careers in eg: engineering/science single-mindedly, and when they do, they earn at least as much as men (Warren Farrell said it was more in the US).

      Add to that the career decisions women make – to be near friends and family, to have more time for social life, so fewer hours a week of work etc etc. As usual the single broad statistic masks huge variation and detail. But starting with Harriet Harman and down to the simple-minded feminists Tom Martin talked to in the street in this video, feminists swallow the simple wage-gap myth whole, regurgitate it daily, and (in my experience) can use it to excuse ruthless behaviour at work and in relationships.

    • Henry says:

      ps: when I mentioned Tom Martin’s video I meant this one.

      • AOBAG says:

        It’s really sad to see, and the events of wikipedia really strike at me for some reason- maybe because wikipedia is now the first port of call for a basic overview of a subject for many people. And now the article contains little information on problems and issues men face, but is full of refutations and examples of ‘male privilege’. Hell, even in this form it’s justified because there’s less women on wikipedia and that the place is crawling with men who have little interest in equality and presenting a fair view of their own rights (no substantiation, no evidence). Of course, when that was faced with the counter-claim that gender studies departments are male-devoid and heavily feminist biased, it was slapped with a demand for sources and citations and that it was a biased view…

        So, it’s really depressing to see just how far feminist dogma has not only penetrated media, society, but also the rules and terms with which we communicate. And despite plenty of real life evidence of feminism endorsing misandry and anti-male campaigning, the media and popular culture has given rise to the belief that women are still some sort of second, neglected class, and that opposition to feminism is bigotry and always against equality. And it’s funny how programs praised for promoting equality and women have strong female characters, while males are bumbling, clueless baffoons.

  13. Thing is, violence against men is committed mostly by… ehm… other men. And there is little that women can do about it, seeing as they are not the perpetrators.

    • Hi mary Tracy welcome.

      we’re not really talking about violence but online ‘threats’ and ‘abuse’ though.

    • Ginkgo says:

      Actually there’s quite a lot women can do about it, Tracy, as women are quite often the instigators. it’s called violence by proxy. it’s ironic in a sick way that you make your comment in the 50th anniversary year of To Kill A Mockingbird.

  14. Quiet Riot Girl,

    I hope this isn’t too far off topic, I just wanted to post this aweful article from inmalafide just to show that the bigotry of the neo nazi white power types is similar to feminists….

    Hopefully my comments don’t dissappear into moderation, I’ve been resisting the same way as I argue with the feminazi’s…..

  15. Paul Havlak says:

    I don’t think that vocal women bloggers receiving such abuse want to be treated with kid gloves. It’s that there’s a difference between criticism about ideas, even when seriously unkind and personal, and abuse or threats of violence.

    It’s the difference between “stupid” and “I’m not sorry he’s dead” vs. “stupid cunt” and “You should be raped to death.”

    But I also think that such conversations about who gets the worst abuse are pointless. It’s a minority of commenters who generate the most hateful abuse. (I almost said “sexist abuse”, but recall that in the “David Mabus” case, the violent threats were liberally directed at male atheists as well.) Surely the same Bayesian software tools now used against spam can be retargeted towards comments that are not worth reading by any decent human being (except, in the most violently threatening cases, by the police).

    Crucially, it shouldn’t be one set of filters for the whole web, but ones that can trained towards the problems of each blog (and of the mail inbox of each blogger). A conversation about domestic violence shouldn’t filter every contribution having the word “rape.”

    There will still be plenty to argue over, even get hurt feelings and make enemies over. But as a basic starting point, threats of rape have no place in an inclusive forum.

  16. Paul says:

    The thing is, i highly doubt male bloggers out there are getting away unscathed. We just don’t “count” it because it’s normal. That, and they aren’t being hit with so-called “gendered insults” Because, apparently, calling a woman a bitch is worth more victim points than calling a man a jackass (which, if we are to consider Bitch a gendered insult, jackass must also be one for the exact same reason.)

    It’s like that World Equality Report that gets put out every year or so. The only things labeled as inequalities are the things that negatively affect women. Men living between seven and ten years less than women? Doesn’t count. Women making a few cents less than men? RED FUCKING ALERT!

  17. Sarah AB says:

    Insults perhaps need not be obviously gendered to be much more likely to be aimed at one sex than another. I hesitate about this comment, because I’m grouping together ways of insulting people which are *very* different, and I don’t want to imply any similarities between them other than that I think they are more often aimed at men – charges of autism, paedophilia and alcoholism.

  18. […] The Female of The Species […]

  19. poet says:

    Actually your opening quote is from a Rudyard Kipling poem (, recently discussed here( Since you’re such a stickler about people naming their sources maybe you want to add that.

    Speaking of other sources, I’ve seen a bunch of the horrible things you point out *women* have done discussed on feminist blogs, and criticized as utterly wrong – because cheering when someone dies is *always* wrong, and making fun of castration is also *always wrong*.

    The point is that these things were done by women, not necessarily by feminists, and that they gained explicit disapproval from feminist sources. Feminism is about ending gender discrimination, and that includes acknowledging that women can be mean too, and that men get discriminated against too. This is already being done.

    Another thing that already exists, and in particular in feminist / LGBT / etc. circles, is a communicative culture known as “calling out”, which means that within a community that practices basic solidarity and shares common goals, despite the solidarity you can criticize others for saying or doing things that are insensitive to the shared concerns of this group. More explicitly put, anyone who claims to hold up the ideals of fairness and equality but then uses language, or makes claims, that contradict these ideals, will be made aware of this by someone.

    I have the impression you don’t really read any feminist blogs or news sources, because otherwise you’d know that.

    This also means that if you comment on a feminist blog using language and claims that seem to come straight out of a Men’s Rights Activist’s handbook (and maybe we can agree that MRA are definitely both misogynist and misandrist because they promote extremely simplified and inaccurate views of what “the two genders” are like!), someone is going to call you out on that. I suspect this happened to you and you interpreted it as “abuse”.

    Please go read some feminist blogs, and try to refrain from proving that female trolls exist…

    • I have read plenty of feminist blogs which you might know if you read them more carefully as I often comment on them, unless I am banned.

      I am banned from commenting at cath elliott, no, seriously what about the menz, another angry woman, cruella blog and shakesville for example.

  20. Missile Smile says:

    In light of recent events, if anyone were to ever doubt Laurie Penny’s or Helen Lewis Hasteley’s claims that female bloggers get a lot of abuse online they would do well to check out Julie Bindel’s and Paul Burston’s recent behaviour and Twitter timelines and see the vituperation aimed at Quiet Riot Girl.

    Of course though their abuse doesn’t really count because they’re not anonymous or attacking a feminist.

    What strikes me most about Bindel’s and Burston’s behaviour though is Bindel’s role in supporting Burston’s ‘outing’ of another woman’s personal details published alongside threatening language such as “we know who you are” in combination with her own relentless ganging up and hurling of invective. Is her interest in protecting women conditional perhaps? Maybe it’s conditional on whether or not you piss her off and if you do then you’re ‘asking for it’?

    Again, perhaps this particular invitation and, arguably, encouragement of potential violence upon a woman blogger does not count somehow (because to be fair, Quiet Riot Girl’s views *are* diametrically opposed to Bindel’s and Burston’s after all) but what I do know is that I’m leaving this comment on this blog rather than confronting Bindel or Burston themselves for fear that they will attempt to reveal my own personal details and subsequently endanger me.

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