Posts Tagged ‘Graunwatch’

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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.

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* ‘going native’ observation by my twitter pal Ben

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

Suzanne Moore has a column in The Guardian this week advocating for ‘freedom of speech’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/18/outrage-culture-limits-free-speech?INTCMP=SRCH

I critiqued her article at Graunwatch

In my piece I wrote:
In an early paragraph Moore writes:

‘If one’s default setting is now to be part of some anonymous but offended mob, somehow the hierarchy of outrage implodes into meaninglessness. ‘

I have had a few conversations with Suzanne, about anonymity and pseudonymity online. Basically she is against both. Or at least she is against both if they are used to criticise her and her writing. She has accused me on more than one occasion, of ‘hiding’ behind my Quiet Riot Girl moniker, and being a ‘coward’ that is afraid to face the world as my ‘real’ self. I suggested that was odd since she is friendly with people (women) such as Girl with a One Track Mind, Fleet Street Fox and Belle de Jour. All of whom have been or are using pseudonyms online. But Suzanne says they are ok because she knows their names. So anonymity is all right, so long as you disclose everything to Suzanne Moore?

Also Moore has joined with other journalists, in the call for an end to anonymous commenting ‘below the line’ at newspaper forums such as cif. I think, though she has since made statements to the contrary, that she largely agrees with this statement on the subject by Julia Hobsbawm:

http://www.iaindale.com/posts/time-to-stop-anonymous-commenting

So, when she says ‘anonymous but offended mob’  Moore is picking out a large group of people online that if she had her way, would not exist at all, let alone be having the freedom to be ‘outraged’. I see a problem there.

The next aspect of Moore’s piece I have a problem with is her insistence that she thinks ‘self censorship’ is a bad idea. In relation to Nick Cohen’s latest book on freedom of speech she says:

‘pre-publication self-censorship “is the most suffocating form there is”. This self-censorship is all around us’

Well yes. And Suzanne Moore positively encourages self-censorship. In me! A few times now she has written to me or tweeted me or left a comment on blogs, basically telling me to stop writing articles about her work.  She has commented here at Graunwatch:

‘ I’d hate if you had to engage in any world beyond your ‘oh -so -clever I am a woman who hates feminism doesnt that make me interesting stance’ If you are a woman? I’d hate to be so essentialist? Goodbye . Dont bother to ever speak to or about me again.’

‘Don’t bother to ever speak to or about me again’ is asking me to censor myself.

Thankfully, I am a bit stronger than that. And when I received a rather nasty email last summer from Ms Moore, telling me to ‘watch my back’ I ignored it.

But it’s not just a personal issue I have here. I think the brand of feminism that Suzanne espouses actually actively encourages men to censor themselves on a daily basis. With her kind of feminism it is my way or the highway, and the discourses of ‘pornification’, of ‘rape culture’, of ‘online misogyny’ all inhibit men from speaking out. As Simpson has put it, misandry (that Suzanne Moore often employs) is the acceptable prejudice, and so challenging it is almost impossible.’

Suzanne responded in the comments in a rather nasty and personal way I think.

Also, when I went back to her article at The Guardian I noticed that some of the comments ‘below the line’ had been deleted. I commented on twitter:

I know it is ‘cool’ to claim you are in favour of free speech. But to really actually be in favour of it takes a bit more than a couple of glib Guardian articles.