Posts Tagged ‘blogging’


Hossein Derakhshan was in prison in Iran for six years, convicted for speech crimes relating mainly to his blogging.  He has recently written about his newfound freedom, but also about how blogging and the internet transformed, not necessarily for the good, whilst he was incarcerated. I recommend you read his article in full, in medium.

I am posting an extract here that I found particularly resonant with some of my own experiences. Maybe one day I’ll be ‘free’ enough to blog about them. In the meantime, I’m relying on the courage and clear expression of Hossein Derakhshan:

‘There’s a story in the Quran that I thought about a lot during my first eight months in solitary confinement. In it, a group of persecuted Christians find refuge in a cave. They, and a dog they have with them, fall into a deep sleep. They wake up under the impression that they’ve taken a nap: In fact, it’s 300 years later. One version of the story tells of how one of them goes out to buy food — and I can only imagine how hungry they must’ve been after 300 years — and discovers that his money is obsolete now, a museum item. That’s when he realizes how long they have actually been absent.

The hyperlink was my currency six years ago. Stemming from the idea of thehypertext, the hyperlink provided a diversity and decentralisation that the real world lacked. The hyperlink represented the open, interconnected spirit of the world wide web — a vision that started with its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee. The hyperlink was a way to abandon centralization — all the links, lines and hierarchies — and replace them with something more distributed, a system of nodes and networks.

Blogs gave form to that spirit of decentralization: They were windows into lives you’d rarely know much about; bridges that connected different lives to each other and thereby changed them. Blogs were cafes where people exchanged diverse ideas on any and every topic you could possibly be interested in. They were Tehran’s taxicabs writ large.

Since I got out of jail, though, I’ve realized how much the hyperlink has been devalued, almost made obsolete.

Nearly every social network now treats a link as just the same as it treats any other object — the same as a photo, or a piece of text — instead of seeing it as a way to make that text richer. You’re encouraged to post one single hyperlink and expose it to a quasi-democratic process of liking and plussing and hearting: Adding several links to a piece of text is usually not allowed. Hyperlinks are objectivized, isolated, stripped of their powers.

At the same time, these social networks tend to treat native text and pictures — things that are directly posted to them — with a lot more respect than those that reside on outside web pages. One photographer friend explained to me how the images he uploads directly to Facebook receive a large number of likes, which in turn means they appear more on other people’s news feeds. On the other hand, when he posts a link to the same picture somewhere outside Facebook — his now-dusty blog, for instance — the images are much less visible to Facebook itself, and therefore get far fewer likes. The cycle reinforces itself.

Some networks, like Twitter, treat hyperlinks a little better. Others, insecure social services, are far more paranoid. Instagram — owned by Facebook — doesn’t allow its audiences to leave whatsoever. You can put up a web address alongside your photos, but it won’t go anywhere. Lots of people start their daily online routine in these cul de sacs of social media, and their journeys end there. Many don’t even realize that they’re using the Internet’s infrastructure when they like an Instagram photograph or leave a comment on a friend’s Facebook video. It’s just an app.

But hyperlinks aren’t just the skeleton of the web: They are its eyes, a path to its soul. And a blind webpage, one without hyperlinks, can’t look or gaze at another webpage — and this has serious consequences for the dynamics of power on the web.

More or less, all theorists have thought of gaze in relation to power, and mostly in a negative sense: the gazer strips the gazed and turns her into a powerless object, devoid of intelligence or agency. But in the world of webpages, gaze functions differently: It is more empowering. When a powerful website — say Google or Facebook — gazes at, or links to, another webpage, it doesn’t just connect it — it brings it into existence; gives it life. Metaphorically, without this empowering gaze, your web page doesn’t breathe. No matter how many links you have placed in a webpage, unless somebody is looking at it, it is actually both dead and blind; and therefore incapable of transferring power to any outside web page.

On the other hand, the most powerful web pages are those that have many eyes upon them. Just like celebrities who draw a kind of power from the millions of human eyes gazing at them any given time, web pages can capture and distribute their power through hyperlinks.

But apps like Instagram are blind — or almost blind. Their gaze goes nowhere except inwards, reluctant to transfer any of their vast powers to others, leading them into quiet deaths. The consequence is that web pages outside social media are dying.’


It is with some trepidation that I write this. In the two years plus since I have been blogging, I haven’t gone more than a few days without posting something.But I have decided to go cold turkey, I mean take a break in August. Sometimes it is just good to step back and assess what your purpose is in writing and interacting in public. And sometimes being QRG gets pretty tiring!

I’m not going to promise to stay away for a whole month! If something gets my goat so strongly that I can’t sit on my hands and bite my tongue anymore I’ll blog. But I am giving me, and you, dear readers some time out. Have a beer, kick back, enjoy the sports on TV, or don’t. Read a book! Go swimming! Find another blog to read and come back and tell us about it!

Meanwhile here are some articles and blogposts that come with my hearty recommendation.

Matt Lodder ( @Mattlodder) sent me this article Live Through This, about someone’s experience of having been sexually assaulted. She rejects feminist dogma about ‘rape culture’ and ‘victims’ in a way I find very refreshing.

This week there is in the UK an Extreme Porn Trial where a (gay) man is being tried for viewing S and M porn. When consensual sexual activity and porn consumption makes its way to a criminal trial it is worth having a closer look at the circumstances and issues involved.

My piece for Words On Music telling muso journos to STFU is worth another plug!

And over at Kernel Mag Mic Wright (the inimitable @brokenbottleboy) has written a rousing defence of Freedom Of Speech against the incoherent positions of the ‘liberal twitter mob’.

I am currently supporting Colin Riches ( @Riches_C) Shared Parenting campaign and at Graunwatch I urge you to sign his petition asking UK Parliament to give fathers’ equal rights to access to their kids as mums.

Finally, last but by no means least, Rick Powell ( @homo_superior ) has written a great post stating that QRG is a radical, not a troll! Well, how could I disagree?

The main thing I have learned from running QRG (and Graunwatch which is also lying low in August) is that blogging is interactive, collaborative and communal. Without you this would be a lonely and pointless business. So thanks to everyone for reading, commenting, suggesting and writing posts and just being the brilliant and invincible #QRGMassive !

see you soon, for as my friends and foes no doubt know, I’ll be back.

QRG xxx

The last week or so has not been brilliant for QRG Towers. There is a chance you may have read some pretty nasty things about me online. At one point I considered the possibility that I might have to shut up shop altogether. So I am very relieved and delighted to announce that…


As I said in the Krank post above (@Krank_IE On twitter):

‘Life is for learning’ sang Joni Mitchell, back in the depths of the 20th century. And the internet age has been one big learning curve for me. This week I have learned a hell of a lot. Some of the insights I’ve gained I think have a wider relevance. The simplest one is this: never be afraid to say what you think!’

Here is some evidence of my continued existence in the form of recent online articles of mine:

Rape Culture and Other Feminist Myths (re-posted at Arts and Opinion):

A Partial Defence of Narcissism (at The Good Men Project):

The anthology I edit, Games Perverts Play, has a new books section. The PDF of the latest edition: DIRT is available there to download (FREE!):


Onwards and sideways, as Mae West may or may not have said!

‘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.

If you are not much of a participant on the feminist or transgender politics blogospheres, you might not know what a Safe Space is. I wish I didn’t.

According to wiki, A safe space

‘is a term for an area or forum where either a marginalised group are not supposed to face standard mainstream stereotypes and marginalisation, or in which a shared political or social viewpoint is required to participate in the space. For example, a feminist safe space would not allow free expression of anti-feminist viewpoints’.

No wonder I have problems!

Women only spaces have long since been an aspect of feminism. Growing up in a feminist household in the 1970s,  I remember my Mum and her friends being part of various women’s groups.  I was in ‘women’s CND’ in the 1980s and spent some time at that most excellent of ‘women’s only’ spaces, Greenham Common Peace Camp. Though, I have to tell you, it wasn’t just the lovely lesbian ladies, the feminist politics and the all-women anti-nuclear protesting that I liked. Because at Greenham, I actually encountered quite a few men, most of whom were in uniform! Whether it was coach drivers, policemen or those exotic, taboo figures on the other side of the fence: US soldiers, my favourite women’s only space wasn’t women only at all.

Since the internet got into its stride in the 1990s and 2000s, ‘safe spaces’ have come to fit the definition given above. these online ‘safe spaces’ exist alongside some women’s only ‘safe spaces’ in ‘real life’ such as rape crisis centres, women’s refuges and women’s discussion groups. Not to mention the Women’s Institute and women’s organisations which may not consider themselves ‘feminist’ at all.

I am focussing on internet ‘safe spaces’ here. The question I want to ask is, who are they protecting? Who is ‘safe’ in these spaces and who/what are the ‘dangers’ they are being protected from?

A lot of the language of ‘safe spaces’ focusses on issues pertinent to ‘radical feminism’. So safe spaces tend to be identified as places where women are safe to state their pro-choice views, to discuss and campaign against sexual violence (against women), and domestic violence (against women). Many ‘safe spaces’ online are tightly moderated and posts are flagged up quite a lot with ‘trigger warnings’. Trigger warnings

‘are designed to prevent people who have an extremely strong and damaging emotional response (for example, post-traumatic flashbacks or urges to harm themselves) to certain subjects from encountering them unaware. Having these responses is called “being triggered”. A trigger warning usually takes the form of some emphasised (usually bold) text describing in broad terms the upsetting nature of the content, and contains the words “trigger warning”‘.

The whole language and atmosphere of these online ‘safe spaces’ is one in which it is suggested that the women who participate in them are potentially vulnerable. That certain arguments, subjects and discussions are ‘dangerous’ or harmful to their well-being and that they should be protected from particular viewpoints and styles of debate.

Frankly I find this insulting. Not least because I am often labelled as the ‘danger’ to these women, and have my comments deleted, or am blocked completely from participating in discussions on a website/blog.

When you log on to your computer and when you sign in to comment on a blog, you do not have to state your gender identity, your political viewpoint or your status in regards to gender violence.  So the moderators do not know which of the commenters are in need of the ‘protection’ a safe space is said to provide.

The fact that, though I hate the phrase and the label, I am a ‘survivor of sexual violence’, a ‘survivor of domestic violence’ and someone with ‘gender identity issues’ means nothing. I have been treated as a threat, and accused of ‘triggering’ women on feminist blogs, and been kicked off them accordingly. These spaces are definitely not ‘safe’ for me, even though I tick all the stupid, infantile and patronising boxes that suggest they are supposed to be.

My most recent conflict with a feminist ‘safe space’ was just today, on this UK feminist blog, The F word, discussion about ‘the tyranny of silencing’ of minority and marginalised voices. Haha.

As you can see, I said on the discussion that I am continually ‘silenced’ by feminists, on blogs and websites, for stating my views and challenging their dogma. The result was, they did not publish all my comments, I was told I was ‘derailing’ the discussion, and someone made a long and personal diatribe against me before the whole comments thread was closed down. Before I could respond to her. The moderator left this comment before closing down the comments:

‘Just a reminder that the original post is by an agender person.

From here on out, comments which ignore that fact in favour of derailing/recentring/name-calling and carrying on personal feuds will not be published – not out of any intention to silence anyone but because it’s making this space feel quite unsafe.

With that in mind, I’m temporarily putting *all* comments on this post on hold for the rest of today.’

And that was that*.

It is laughable to me,but also quite worrying, that in this environment of mollecoddling women, and apparently ‘agender’ people (though  I get the impression many trans women and gender non-conforming people do not feel protected by feminist safe spaces), someone is always presented as the ‘aggressor’, the one who threatens this cosy little therapeutic atmosphere. And it doesn’t matter how nasty, personal or rude anyone is to that designated aggressor, because they have broken the law of the ‘safe space’.

It’s clever really. It is yet another ruse by feminists to shut down debate and stifle any challenges to their perspectives. As  I have pointed out before, tropes like ‘whataboutthemenz’ have entered feminist discourse, to dismiss and belittle anyone, especially men, who question their ‘gyno-centric’ view of everything.

‘Safe spaces’ do the same thing. On another discussion recently on an American feminist blog I got accused of ‘triggering’ someone’s trauma as a rape survivor and was told to leave.

Now,  I may be cynical. But I have this sneaking suspicion, that if I said I was upset as a result of the content of someone’s remarks about sexual violence or domestic violence, I don’t think they would be told to leave the feminist ‘safe space’ for the sake of my ‘safety’. Thank goodness they wouldn’t. I’d hate to limit other people’s rights to speak on any subject.

And that’s the thing. This isn’t about safety at all is it? Feminists are actually ‘abusing’ people’s real traumatic experiences and using them to justify their tactics of shutting down debate and keeping any dissent out of their little world. What this is really about is ‘silencing’. The tyranny of silencing.

I use the term ‘silencing’ with some reluctance. I don’t think this is a clear-cut case of ‘censorship’. I am not literally silenced. I am writing my response here on my blog. But in terms of feminist discourse and feminist spaces, the regularity with which I get my comments deleted or am blocked completely from sites, does constitute a form of ‘silencing’ in my view. And I know I am not alone in this.

They don’t care I know. They think they have to keep people like me from saying what I believe about gender issues, because I am ‘derailing’ their discussions, I am a ‘troll’ and a ‘timewaster’ and they are all ‘sick’ of me.

I bet they are sick of me. But maybe not quite as sick as I am of them!

Gender is the subject about which I care most about I think. Gender in its widest sense that is. Which is really like saying ‘people’. As such I won’t stop discussing gender issues wherever I see them arise. If I get told to ‘go away’, ‘kindly fuck off’, to take my ‘anti-feminist’ views elsewhere, I will have to abide by their ‘safe spaces’ and do just that.

But this version of sisterhood is precisely why I think ‘sisterhood’ is a farce. As someone once said, ‘it’s like being in the sisterhood without any sisters’.

I am not frightened of anyone. I don’t need protecting and treating like a child. I deal with my own traumas and my own painful memories on my own. I don’t think that ‘safe spaces’ exist in this world.  Because one person’s safe space is another person’s hornet nest.

I am the girl who kicked the hornets’ nest.

I hope you don’t get stung.

*The F-word thread was re-opened the next day and nearly all comments published. I only apologised to the original poster as I was being ‘polite’ and didn’t want to blame that individual  any of the criticisms I was making in the discussion of ‘feminism’ ‘safe spaces’ ‘silencing’ or ‘the F word’. I did not apologise in order to take responsibility/blame  for the way that discussion went!