Ally Fogg Goes Native* #feminism #misandry

Posted: November 12, 2013 in Blogging, Feminism, misandry
Tags: , , ,


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:

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.


* ‘going native’ observation by my twitter pal Ben

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

  1. Dean Esmay says:

    Ally often gets his facts right but his prejudices towards “angry men” but never offending “angry women” are tiresome.

    Anger is a legitimate human emotion that rarely leads to violence, especially when people are allowed it. The notion that men who have been wronged should not be “angry” because this makes them “dangerous” is yet another part of the cultural misandry of our times.

    • QRG says:

      I dont think there are any facts in his article apart from the fact that Kimmel has just published a book, Breivik did murder lots of people, and the women he names did get abuse online.

    • Dean Esmay says:

      Or should I say “never attacking angry women” – obviously some women get mad at him. 😉 And I should have added, never giving any hard time to women of privilege or acknowledges the privileges women have always had.

      Hard guy to figure. I know he’s a good guy overall.

      • QRG says:

        I don’t think being a ‘good guy’ is the point when you’re a journalist on gender issues. It’s a political arena and it’s ally’s politics I object to.

    • Paul Elam says:

      Kimmel gets some of his facts right, too. Males have penises. But I agree with the implication in the OP. Kimmel is more honest than Fogg by a long way. Kimmel is deceitful about men. Fogg is deceitful about men, and about what his agenda really is.

  2. elissa says:

    He has a large personal (historical) investment in the feminist doctrine, and his degree of fairness is a self-serving tactic to avoid catastrophic dissonance. It’s very difficult to go cold-turkey on belief systems that have dominated and shaped your thinking for years.

    I wish there was a better and less hyperbolic label to give: he needs rehab

  3. redpesto says:

    For simplicity, I’ll just repost what I said on Ally’s own blog:

    I was a bit disappointed by the Guardian article: it felt like a ‘boilerplate’ piece about men needing to get their shit together. I read an extract from Kimmel’s book over at Salon, and it had the feeling of him repeatedly wanting to wheel out ‘more feminism’ as the answer when so much of the evidence pointed towards a much bigger economic problem (as in ‘the 1% v the rest’).

    Kimmel might be ‘describing the irrational emotional fallout of the economic gender revolution detailed in books like Stiffed and The End of Men’ but in the same way Faludi’s book apparently rejected ‘adversarial’ gender politics in favour of some vague ‘alliance’ against an opponent she wasn’t able to clearly identify, the idea of targeting ‘a globalised neoliberal economic system that has declared ordinary people expendable – irrespective of their race, class or gender’ is often set aside in a ‘narrative’ best exemplified in the myth that Iceland’s bankruptcy was due to ‘men’. In the absence of alternative politics, policies or social organisations (e.g. social democracy, trade unions, and the legacy of ‘New’ Labour), let alone jobs/decent pay, it’s easy for some men to be sold the snake oil of blaming the Other (women, black people, migrants) and easy for some feminists to think that being male is an economic strategy to which ‘women’ are the solution (see this example from Caroline Criado-Perez).

    Likewise, where Ally says in his conclusion ‘Yes, men need to change and adapt to a rapidly shifting world. So too does the culture in which those angry white men are forged.’ is an interesting contrast to his BTL comment:

    In broad terms I think we do need a quite revolutionary reappraisal of what we mean by masculinity, manhood and all of that.

    It’s important to note that this is already underway and has travelled a huge distance. 40 or 50 years ago we were told that no man would ever accept having a woman as his boss or even his equal in the workplace. Those attitudes are close to extinct now.

    My view is that it’s not underway because of any politicised awakening amongst men or because there is some wholesale ‘reappraisal’ that can be conjured up for men to follow; rather that it’s the pragmatic/stoical response to changed social, economic and domestic circumstances. Men accept female bosses because it means they don’t get sacked, because they actually have a job, because being a dick about it isn’t in their character, or because it’s a good place to work for all concerned (there’s no reason why they should tolerate a bad female boss any more than a bad male one). It is is not simply a question of men ‘doing what they’re told’ by feminists (as Criado-Perez seems to recognise here, in response to Ally, and as Ally explained here).

    Moreover, if that change is really happening, then what ‘we’ seem to be arguing over is the pace of that change, or paying far too much attention to ‘dead-enders’ and ‘sexist hold-outs’ or simply to those small-c conservatives around gender issues who make the loudest noise and/or attract the most attention, while the much slower process of social change for men (which Lynne Segal noticed nearly two decades ago) works away in the background. No wonder so many arguments about gender issues are more ‘culture war’ spats than debates about more substantial change, and no wonder ‘we’ act all surprised when we (re)discover that men can and do change.

    • QRG says:

      excellent points redpesto.

      I think though the underlying assumption of feminism is that women always have been and are fine as they are, but men always have been and are lacking and in need of ‘change’. And that ‘change’ must be led by, as you say, feminist women.

  4. Henry says:

    The Guardian piece you mention was part of several feminist pieces within a few days, that saw an absolute orgy of comment deletion from the Graun moderators.

    I had a few deleted in this and other articles, getting to the point where they were simply deleting anything I’d written – I’d long since taken anything that might be “offensive” out of the comments.

    I for some reason called Ally “Ms Fogg” in jest, and someone replied to my comment saying “Isn’t Ally Fogg a bloke” – and HIS comment was deleted…

    Myself I thought Ally had converted back to hardline feminism, to read all the rubbish about how men need to adapt etcetc

    • QRG says:

      yes Henry deleting criticism is another aspect of the Graun, and of feminism. Journos always say ‘it’s not my fault I am not a moderator’ and Suzanne moore boasts about having had one of her comments deleted under her own Graun article once.

      But I think Graun journos could make a stand against moderation policy. They have the ears of editors and moderators surely.

      • redpesto says:

        Suzanne moore boasts about having had one of her comments deleted under her own Graun article once.

        Considering (a) the clickbait nature of some of her columns and (b) how she doesn’t bother engaging ‘below the line’, I don’t see what she’s got to boast about. Maybe it got deleted as spam.

    • redpesto says:


      Myself I thought Ally had converted back to hardline feminism, to read all the rubbish about how men need to adapt etcetc

      Whereas I thought he’d piss those same people off with this column: “Don’t give me this ‘if Lehman Sisters had been in charge …’ nonsense”, if not with the opening to this one:

      To my eyes, one of feminism’s more frustrating traits is a widespread refusal to acknowledge social progress or its own successes.

      In the context of a ‘fourth wave’ determined, amongst other things, to re-fight the 1980s ‘sex wars’, it’s a comment that rings true for me.

      • QRG says:

        so where’s ally’s acknowledgement of men’s ‘social progress’ in his latest article? I think he has zero consistency or coherency

      • Henry says:

        redpesto: Well I never. Didn’t see that one. Still, anyone who publicly accuses Harmann of talking nonsense can’t be all bad 🙂

        • QRG says:

          I think Henry feminists, especially in the Guardian, sometimes have a ‘good cop/bad cop’ routine. so the Julie Bindels and Suzanne Moores of the world can scream obscenities whilst gentle men like ally can be more ‘decent’ and occasionally critique feminist positions. but don’t be fooled! This piece by ally reveals his true colours, politically speaking, in my view.

  5. Jonathan says:

    I didn’t see any particular misandry in Ally’s piece, or even much feminism. I just thought the underlying premise was bollocks. But anyway.

    One thing though…

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

    Arrggghh! Penises! Run for cover!

    If Kimmel hasn’t regretted that fatuous comment already, it’s time he did. It sounds exactly like the sort of garbage some anti-trans feminist would trot out.

  6. Ginkgo says:

    This is the Ally Fogg who when a woman larger than him tried to rape him in a restroom, he couldn’t call it rape to himslef unitl years later in a blog comment hread. This is the Ally Fogg who blows a gasket when Paul Elam writes a post daring to claim men have the right to defend themsleves form physical abuse from a woman, or that in a country with a very bloody history of the racist uses of rape accusations, jury nullification is a moral course of action.

    He has written some good things in the pastbut they are starting to look like bait now.

    • QRG says:

      Hi Ginkgo I am not questioning the veracity of your observations and I agree with some. But I personally don’t want to be using personal things about ally (well any more personal than I have already) as the content of my argument. Even if they are relevant and even if he mentioned them in public himself. Maybe I’m copping out in that regard but …

      • Ginkgo says:

        I was speaking of his cultural misandry, and that personal anecdote was part of that. Taking it out doesnt hur’t anything.

        He has a reflexive and I believe culturally conditioned tendency to value women over men – to see equal harms to men and women as somehow worse when they happen to women, even when he is trying to advocate for men. For instance he refuses to call “made to penetrate” as actual rape and doesn’t think the word properly applies. For instance he bewails some supposed tendency to derail discussiion on FGM with references to MGM, when the fact is the derailment is always the other way around. (Since the incidence of MGM dwarfs that of FGM in our societies, harping on FGM is mote in the neighbor’s eye deflection anyway.)

        He had a whole post that was basically an argument for separate but equal, basically an apology for the pussy pass.

        He may be trying to come up out of his enculturation, but he is clinging to it so stubbornly that he is not making much progress.

        • QRG says:

          ‘He has a reflexive and I believe culturally conditioned tendency to value women over men ‘ – I agree. And if you’re a hetero man sometimes that is also tactically advisable, for your own (selfish?) ends. But I as a woman have always preferred men who don’t pander to women. Just my luck, eh?

      • Ginkgo says:

        “Maybe I’m copping out in that regard but …”

        Decency is never a cop out.

  7. Laura says:

    It’s such a simplistic position: when are we going to get a critique of gender politics and relations that goes beyond such childish positions?

  8. Ginkgo says:

    Dr. Tams, you are in a position and have the skill to look at a question of this scale – is there something specifically about English culture and its gender norms that is so gynocentric and misandric that even when a man tries to look at men’s and women’s issues on an equal basis, he just can’t bring himself to do it? I believe Ally made a truly good faith effort and is continuing to try, but this is all the farhter he can get. He reminds me of Southern white liberals during the Civil Right era, most of them quite privileged, so privileged that they could never conceive of themselves as on the same level as black people (or worse yet, poor whites -” Oh God no, people will think we’re like them!”), however many good works they did for the cause.

    Ally writes a post on gender equality
    that argues for double standards, basically what we in the Staes inelegantly call a pussy pass, and truly imagines he is arguing for gender equality. And he bases it on the most traditionalist male-protector-of-the-threatened-woman grounds, Victorian to the core. Frankly it smells a lot like the Cult of Southern White Womanhood that drives so much of our race dynamic, also an expression of Englsih culture (It is strongest in our Englsih states.)

    Is there any hope at all?

    • QRG says:

      Hi Ginkgo – Yes that is ally at his most ‘typical’, claiming an interest in all gender equality whilst writing ‘what about teh wimminz’ over and over again.

      I don’t know if Britain is much different from other western ‘democracies’ in its gender politics tbh. I see a lot of ‘white knighting’ from men to women in American media/social media too.

      But yes there is hope. I think that hope partly lies, to be self-absorbed for a moment, in people such as myself who are women but who refuse the role of ‘damsel in distress’ sometimes at a personal cost to ourselves. I also think trans people have a role to play in this. I often despair at trans women who just carry on wheeling out feminist rhetoric of women as victims, when feminist women tend to despise them on some level or other, to treat trans women as the ‘enemy’ unless they bow and scrape to the feminist goddesses. But trans people are being erased by articles such as ally’s that you linked to where ‘men’ and ‘women’ are homogenous, biologically and socially determined groups in a binary.

      I always attack the binary as I think it is the root of the problem. Maybe we’ll dig it up and destroy it completely one day

  9. distanceleft says:

    He writes for both the Graun and FTB, whilst I appreciate I’m behind the times here, what do people expect.
    What’s worrying is the sheer amount publicity he gets from interfering champagne socialists who are themselves part of and perpetuating many of the major problems we face here in the UK, ones like BS, Austerity, Toffs, Tax Evasion, Poverty, Tories, Wankers etc.

  10. Doug Spoonwood says:

    On the aggrieved entitlement conjecture:

    Men have only very recently in terms of human history gotten entitled to justice if raped *by anyone*. Women have gotten entitled to justice if raped for a very, very long time. Men almost never have been entitled to justice if raped by a woman, and penile envelopment is still not recognized as a form of rape by the FBI in the United States, and in many other governments.

    Men have almost never received an entitlement to help via social services if abused in a domestic relationship. Women have received such an entitlement in a significant number of situations.

    Men have never had any sort of entitlement to rid themselves of financial responsibility for a child that they didn’t want. Women have had an entitlement to either give up such a child for adoption or in some situations to have an abortion.

    Men have almost never had any sort of entitlement to enact a “my body, my choice” sort of decision via not serving in a military situation.

    So, honestly anyone who talks about “aggrieved entitlement” as an explanation of MHRAs doesn’t understand at least some points that MHRAs make (men’s human rights advocates/activists).

  11. Geeky Disco says:

    A very accurate analysis of the phenomenon that is Ally Fogg. I’ve long though that, in distinction to Aslan, Fogg really is The Guardian’s very own tame lion. He is allowed a voice because whilst making an omelette he breaks no eggs. Superficially, it may seem that on occasions he is at odds with the paper’s feminist voices but these are mere disagreements of personal taste rather than anything genuinely substantial. I don’t think many readers buy it though. Fogg offers masculinity neutered and feminised for Feminist consumption. Considering his employers, I should imagine that they think Agent Fogg is making a good job of his mission. That he has anything other than feminised scripts to give his readers though is, at best, a moot point.

  12. ScaaarBeeek says:

    Fogg does not even grasp the broad and deep gender differences that make men men and women female. Like a feminist, he dismisses well-researched realities as “opinion”. Men have throughout history been the great inventors, poets and artists simply because women have been brainwashed into believing they’re not as good as men. Never mind scholarly studies showing men have a wider spread of intelligence and superior spatial memory with stronger abilities in subjects like maths. That’s just old fashioned. Never mind that all you need to develop your poetry or mathematics is a pad and pen. Women have been too impoverished by men to obtain these luxuries. Forget the fact that Victorian aristocratic girls developed excellent musical skills in instruments like the piano or violin. None ever became composers because their fathers beat them if they dared to try (no doubt preferring their male acquaintances to claim the glory).

    Fogg thinks, acts, walks, talks (and probably even reverses a car) like a feminist. I’ve watched Fogg on Twitter cheering on misandric harlots like Laurie Penny while they are appearing in TV discussions. He backs to the hilt hate-filled self-confessed harpies like Suzanne Moore.

    Moreover, Fogg sees MRAs as MISOGYNISTS. (He’s SAID that.)

    Fogg is NOT one of us. He’s a failed excuse for a Trojan horse. Blow him out.

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