How to complain about the Advertising Standards Agency’s Report on Gender Stereotypes in Advertising

So this happened a while ago, but the UK ASA decided to put together a whole load of ideological rubbish to pave the way for changing guidelines / legislation on what does and does not constitute sexist advertising (probably because they were sore about not being able to rule against the Protein World ‘beach body ready’ campaign, but want to make sure that they can next time something like that comes around).
Jordan at thescreen.me has taken the time to put together an in-depth look at the weaknesses of the report, which you can read here.
If you are as concerned as I am about the clear ideological bias and agenda of the new guidelines you can complain to the ASA by emailing enquiries@asa.org.uk. Of course, please be very polite!
Here is the text of the complaint I have just sent them, feel free to use as a template:
Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to express my concern about ideological bias in your Report on Gender Stereotypes in Advertising.

The report has clearly been compiled from a standpoint of bias in favour of gender neutralist ideologies, taking the assumption that steps should be taken to bring about equal outcomes for different groups of people for granted. It also ignores a plethora of evidence based in hard (rather than social) science. For example, the work of Cordelia Fine is cited, while the work of academics such as Simon Baron-Cohen and Steven Pinker is not mentioned at all.

I would also like to point out that many of the sources that might indicate a different assessment of gender equality are handled highly disingenuously. The report presents those who may disagree with the gender neutralist argument as arguing ‘in favour of gender stereotypes or inequalities’. A rather underhand phrase which seems to be designed to side step the idea that factors other than discrimination may lie behind differences in outcomes for men and women, as well as keeping the distinction between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome conveniently out of readers’ minds – not to mention the question of how far public institutions ought to be making it their business to bring about equal outcomes.

Further dishonest (and frankly erroneous) handling of sources can be found on p. 23 where the claim is made that the website mrauk.co.uk asserts that ‘the gender pay gap has been closed‘. The website does no such thing, and in fact presents detailed statistical analysis explaining that the 18% pay gap is a highly misleading statistic, representing average earnings only, and that the statement that women are paid less than men for the same work is not true when like for like factors are controlled for. In addition the website draws attention to the fact that national data illustrates that women under 35 now out earn men. The link provided in support of the assertion that these claims ‘are not supported by evidence’ simply links to a gov.uk page citing explanations for the gap in median earnings – the very same statistics mrauk looks at in great depth.
The report also states that the website claims ‘women are over represented in
science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields’. Again, this is an outright falsehood. The site presents detailed evidence that when medical sciences are included (making it STEMM rather than STEM) the statement that women are overrepresented within those fields is also factually correct. The compiler(s) of the report are clearly guilty of either gross intellectual laziness or gross intellectual dishonesty – potentially both. The link provided as proof that the claim is ‘not supported by evidence’ is dead, and also appears to be to an online magazine article rather than any academic material.
Following on from this, the report as a whole is very poorly referenced, with many links being dead or not addressing the point that is being made.
Using ideological logic (i.e. that being exposed to content that does not fit in with an idealised vision of how society should be can ‘potentially cause harm’) to control what the British public can and cannot see is deeply troubling. Exercising top-down control in this way to bring about sameness between different groups of people is frankly Orwellian and something I personally find highly disturbing.
The idea that advertisements should promote life as it ‘ought’ to be (or rather as one group of people think it ought to be) is an assault on freedom of expression and creativity and crosses the line into propaganda.
As a woman from an ethnic minority background I refuse to be used as a shield for these endeavours and feel it is my duty to speak out against them.
Yours Faithfully
Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here‘s my latest article for The Backbencher: Corbynmania at Glastonbury: Why Drugs are Bad:

http://thebackbencher.co.uk/corbynmania-at-glastonbury-why-drugs-are-bad/

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Being Targeted by Hope Not Hate

It’s been five years since I started this blog – anonymously at first because I was warned about how people with views like mine are targeted and harassed.

I’ve been very careful with what I say online so haven’t had any problems until now, but since giving up my anonymity to become part of a group of like minded UK women (The Liberty Belles) someone has clearly decided that it’s time make sure we are silenced before the public has a chance to hear what we actually think.

It seems that the attention of the radical left was called to us after we started a group called Ladies for Philip Davies, in support of the only MP in parliament willing to stand up against radical feminist ideology and policy. It is clear that for him to be publicly supported by women is something that leftist ideologues must avoid at all costs.

The organisation Hope Not Hate has targeted us with an incredibly dishonest and malicious article which can be read here in which we are branded ‘far-right extremists’ without one single example of our views being put forward as evidence for this.

Of course, we understand that it is standard procedure for the social justice left to accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being part of the far right, however this article is simply so bizarrely unfounded and unfocused that it can be used as an example of just how low they have to sink when they have no arguments whatsoever to put forward against our actual opinions.

We also discuss the article in this live stream.

The following is our message to David Lawrence, the ‘researcher’ who put the piece together.

I hope his reply will illustrate how interested he is in truth, reason, openness and respecting women:

Dear Mr Lawrence,

Firstly we would like express our disappointment that your research clearly focused on ways to create our guilt by association rather than taking an interest in the nature of our opinions. We also feel that you made certain to contact us in such a way that we had little or no chance to respond to your allegations. It is our hope that this was a mistake and that you will be willing to withdraw your article or at least amend some of its more scurrilous statements. We are sure you would never want to mislead your readers or cause women to fear for their safety, which has been an unfortunate consequence of your work, as we explain below.

Regarding accusations of racism – these are especially spurious given the fact that one of our founders (Natoya) is mixed race and another (Catherine) has an ethnic minority background.

We set up Ladies for Philip Davies in support of Davies’ attempts to challenge radical feminist policies in UK parliament, policies which we believe do little to help women and waste precious time and resources. We notice that you also did not include a link to our interview with Davies. We hope that this was not because, had they watched it, your readers would have been left to judge for themselves where we stand on the political spectrum and would have realised that we do not hold any remotely extremist views. If you choose to leave the article online, we request that you give your readers the chance to make their own choice by linking to our video.

The accusation that we hold “extreme right-wing views” is not supported by any evidence in your article. None of us hold any. We as a group came together to discuss our issues with feminism and why we do not believe it works towards genuine equality. As such we have spent little or no time discussing far right ideologies. If you had bothered to read any of our personal blog posts you would have been able to confirm this. We would be very disappointed if you are aware of our work, but do not wish to draw your readers’ attention to it because it does not support any of the allegations you make in your piece. If you do not have time to read any of our writing, perhaps you could include some links so your readers can judge for themselves? We would also like to point out that several of us identify as non-feminist rather than anti-feminist, as you claim. Given that you did not make the effort to clarify this, we would also like to give you the opportunity to clarify this information for your readers.

The statement that some of us are involved in the Men’s Rights community is true. However as people are increasingly beginning to realise – particularly since The Red Pill documentary – the objectives and opinions of the Men’s Rights community have nothing to do with the far right.

Most of us identify as libertarians and classical liberals, while one of us defines herself as socially conservative. No amount of research and digging on us will ever suggest otherwise. We have no links with The National London Forum beyond one of our number speaking there on a platform about male genital mutilation. If you had approached Elizabeth for comment she would have explained that she was not aware of their true ideological bent, and that had she known of any links with the anti-Semite David Irving, or any bigot, she would not have accepted the offer. In fact several other members of the group had never heard of The London Forum until your article came out.

Perhaps the most deliberately underhand tactic you appear to have used is to list extreme right wing figures who have given THA talks, without mentioning that they host talks on a number of unusual and extreme topics, including speeches by radical leftist thinkers such as (in April of this year) Russ James of the Socialist Workers’ Party England, which is currently urging its supporters to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. We are sure you will agree that this kind of omission does a terrible disservice to your readers and is something you will wish to correct as a matter of urgency. If not, may we enquire whether you will be writing an article accusing the SWP of having links to right wing extremism?

We are five ordinary women not professional speakers with advisors and agents. Natoya Kadifa, a trained journalist, met with Claire Khaw personally to find out who the person behind the extreme online persona was and found a timid keyboard warrior. We find her opinions repugnant and have refused to share a platform with her in the past; she has subsequently harassed our group so much that most of us have had to block her on social media. Again, you would have learnt this if you had made any genuine attempt to ask if we had any connection to her. We find it particularly bizarre that you were able to take the time to connect with Khaw (which, we understand, is how you were able to learn that Natoya had attended her talk) and yet made zero attempt to contact any of us as individuals in good time before the piece, rather sending a single email to our group email address 24 hours before going to press. We would like to point out that it is very easy to contact us via the info we have in our public Twitter profiles. We do hope you will agree that your readership deserves a much higher and more rational standard of journalistic investigation.

We have nothing to hide, and had you contacted us we would willingly have discussed our passion for true egalitarian values. To be as clear as possible, the values we stand for are:

Democracy

Classical liberalism

Free speech

Civil rights

Equality before the law

Small government

These are all antidotes to far right and far left authoritarianism.

Finally and most importantly, some of us now have genuine fear for our own safety and the safety of our families, given that the website you write for appears to have links with Antifa via Searchlight Magazine and Unite Against Fascism. Antifa extremists are currently on trial in the US for carrying out unprovoked violent attacks on women and men whom they believe to hold right wing views. In the light of this, your labelling of us in those terms without having done genuine research into our views is a possible threat to our safety; your article effectively ‘marks’ us as persons of interest for sinister authoritarian left wing groups, such as Antifa and BAMN. We hope that your article was not written specifically with that cowardly goal in mind and that the errors and omissions were the result of shoddy research which you will be happy to amend, or remove from the internet entirely.

Given that many of your readers are likely to hold the opinion that women are not safe either in society or on the internet we are sure they will greatly appreciate you dealing promptly with this matter.

Yours Sincerely,

Elizabeth Hobson

Natoya Kadifa

Paula Wright

Catherine Kitsis

Belinda Brown

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

My latest blog for The Backbencher

This is me writing on some of the latest violence and lies from the gender activists that will not attract any attention from the mainstream media:

http://thebackbencher.co.uk/violence-lies-and-hypocrisy-the-safe-space-crowd-are-making-trouble-for-us-all/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m now blogging for thebackbencher.com

I am now writing for http://www.backbencher.com here’s my article about those pesky feminists who just can’t survive without policing what people say:

The Tangled web of Feminists, Free Speech, and the Internet

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A law unto itself: NUS commissioned investigation concludes ‘no-platform’ is illegal. They see ‘no reason’ to change policy

Commissioning a QC to write a 37-page opinion regarding the legal status of the NUS’ no-platform policy must have been expensive. Expensive, and paid for with funds earmarked for the improvement of the lives of students. And yet, when Christopher McCall QC found that (except in the case of officially proscribed groups, such as terrorists) the no-platform policy is likely to be illegal, what did the NUS do? Nothing.

Nor can we read the legal opinion, as it has been kept ‘confidential’. Well done on transparency there, NUS.

McCall found that no-platforming groups or individuals not on official proscribed lists may fall foul of section 43 of the Education Act 1986, which contains the following:

‘Every individual and body of persons concerned in the government of any establishment to which this section applies shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers.’

One would like to think that a student union would be pretty excited about securing every freedom possible for its members – especially those protected by law.

But sadly this does not seem to be the case. Instead of addressing McCall’s concerns, they issued a statement claiming that there was ‘no reason’ for them to change their policy. Like the friend who asks for advice and then gets annoyed when you tell them something they don’t want to hear, the NUS are demonstrating – yet again – breathtaking immaturity and arrogance.

Whether they are deciding that ‘cisgendered’ gay men just don’t deserve representation on LGBT committees, or proclaiming that some people have more equality than others these individuals are a law unto themselves. But Google Christopher McCall’s judgement and it seems that not many people are talking about this. They should be. As Sam Leith points out writing in the Evening Standard, this raises important issues; for example, will the NUS or individual SUs be held responsible if a legal challenge to a no-platform decision were to be brought successfully?

Since the opinion itself has not been published we also don’t know whether it contained any pearls of advice regarding safe-space policies either. Could it be that SUs may simply have no right to prohibit music and publications as they see fit? I would certainly like to know what a legal expert has to say about that.

The NUS spends a lot of time and energy fighting individuals and groups they consider to be fascist. There is perhaps a deep irony, then, when a group that is supposed to oppose despotism is arrogant enough to decide that the laws of the land simply don’t apply to them.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Why I’m supporting ‘The Trouble with the F-Word’ documentary

Some of you might be aware of the current Kickstarter campaign for a documentary called The Trouble with the F-Word. I was interviewed for this production three years ago now, and I’m writing this blog to share my experience and opinions about the project. I’m going to try to be entirely honest and I’m really sorry if that upsets anyone from either side of the argument but I think it’s the best policy.

 

Here is the film’s official trailer:

 

And here is their Kickstarter page, with another video explaining more about the format of the documentary and the problems they have faced.

 

 

In this video the director – Vanessa Pellegrin – talks about some of the problems with getting the film funded, and also states that she has spent most of her personal income on this project. Vanessa first contacted me in 2013 asking me to speak in the documentary. At the time I asked how soon they were expecting it to air, and she didn’t know exactly but gave me an estimate of around 6-8 months. I was under the impression that it might be airing on BBC3 (more about that below). Vanessa has since explained that the BBC had said they might have been interested but then dropped the project. I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth but the impression I get is that both the BBC and other channels stopped being interested when they realised that Vanessa’s approach was to try to be as neutral as possible. This does not surprise me at all –there is very little doubt in my mind that Vanessa’s experience has been similar to what happened to Cassie Jaye in terms of how she has been viewed by both sides. I sometimes wondered why so much time went by without the documentary airing, but never really looked into it until the Kiskstarter campaign came along, but now it does make sense. At the time I don’t think those involved in the program had any idea the process would go on this long, or any concept of the wall of resistance they would encounter.

 

To be perfectly honest, I can understand why people on both sides of the debate are worried about this project. We know how feminists react the minute anyone dares to even suggest there might be a counterargument to any of their positions, so I won’t spend too long talking about it. This is how they treated the woman who set up the first ever women’s refuge when she refused to frame domestic violence as a male on female problem:

images.jpg

 

 

In terms of some of the reservations that people in the non-feminist community will undoubtedly be feeling, all I can say is that I feel them too. When I was contacted in 2013 Nick Lancaster was not yet part of the project, so the format was going to be Lucy Holmes’ journey of meeting people from both sides of the debate. I thought (and still think) that the odds of her doing a 180 on feminism are nil. She has too much invested in her activism, and after three years working on this documentary I cannot see any discernable difference in the ideological bent of her Twitter or the No More Page 3 campaign – she has changed her opinion about things like sex work, but I can’t see her leaving her ideological framework behind at any point soon. Secondly, I was also concerned by the fact that it was likely to air on BBC3 – this was before Reggie Yates, but the BBC has been a feminist propaganda machine since long before that, so I didn’t think there was any way people like me would be presented in a favourable light. Also, to those of you not from the UK, BBC3 is not a channel dedicated to intellectual pursuits – it’s pitched at young people and usually provides entertainment – their documentaries are purely designed to shape the opinions of impressionable people.

 

Despite all this, back then I decided that it was my duty to get involved. If only the more controversial members of my community are willing to speak, or only male ones for that matter, what right do I have to complain if they misrepresent us? If non-feminist women like me refuse to speak then we are playing into the hands of those who wish to paint us as down-trodden slaves to the men who supposedly boss us around, liars, or even sock-puppets. Vanessa was kind enough to spend a lot of time on the phone with me – I had a lot of questions about privacy and I was also trying to understand where she was coming from. Of course I can only vouch for my personal impressions, but she truly did strike me as someone who was trying to be as neutral and unbiased as she possibly could, and that did inspire confidence – no wonder the BBC ended up deciding they weren’t interested in the program she would have made. I had a lot of requests about my privacy etc. that she went out of her way to meet, particularly allowing me to see the final clip of my interview (I don’t know much documentary production but I assume this is pretty unusual). I met with Vanessa, Lucy and the executive producer at a bar before they decided to film me and everyone was friendly – I was offered drinks but stuck to the sparkling water as I needed to keep my wits about me! Of course Lucy and I strongly debated some issues, but I did observe that Vanessa was happy to make points for either side as they occurred to her.

 

It seems to me that if this project was intended to be yet another load of one sided rubbish it would have been funded and aired a long time ago. I did get a sense at the time that the approach to the material was a bit ‘light’, which is perhaps reflected in the tone of the Kickstarter video. I can understand why this attitude may have caused them problems – this issue is not ‘light’ or funny for a lot of the people involved, on both sides. But that doesn’t mean that the producers of this documentary don’t have a right to take that tone – one which is perhaps necessary when trying to be neutral in the face of so many fraught battles and debates.

 

The fact that they have since brought a male presenter on board does add weight to the idea that they are trying to be unbiased, and it’s also true that Vanessa has put so much emphasis on this objective that it would be super hard for her not to deliver a finished product that makes a decent attempt at impartiality. For example, she and I have talked on Twitter about how Roosh V is not representative of the MRA community – she’s done enough research to understand that Roosh and the MRAs are not friends, which is a lot more than many people who have ‘investigated’ the non-feminist community have done. I can still understand why non-feminists are a bit suspicious, and can see why the choice of Nick Lancaster might cause concern – he’s not as deeply invested in the non / anti-feminist side of the argument as Lucy is in hers. That said, I have to take my hat off to the man who is willing to even go near this issue – it is certainly putting his career and reputation on the line. Don’t get me wrong, when I hear Lucy’s arguments in the Kickstarter video about the wage gap or making feminism compulsory on the politics A-Level, I feel royally annoyed and want to shout out all the reasons why I find these points disingenuous. But I have to remember that when feminists watch Nick’s sections they are feeling the same way. Many of them will feel emotional and angry – triggered even. But like Cassie Jaye stated in the video I linked above, that’s the result of the attempt to give both sides the opportunity to be heard.

 

One thing that Vanessa said to me was ‘I’m disappointed to have been asked to become an activist when I am just a filmmaker’. This mirrors my own disappointment in the way that many within the media have handled this issue. My personal hope is that the project will reach its Kickstarter goal. Partly because I don’t want to see a person who has worked really hard and tried her best ruined financially, but also because I’d like to see support for material that doesn’t promise to feed only the agenda of one side. Of course, everyone needs to judge for themselves, but I have made a donation to the Kickstarter and hope that more people will do the same.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments