Some thoughts on feminists shutting down those who dare to disagree

Please Note: I encourage you to read the relevant Twitter conversations and make up your own mind.

Please do not hassle any of the people I discuss here.

It has taken me over a month to write this blog. It has taken that long because I’m afraid. I understand it’s not just me that’s afraid. I am afraid I’ll be accused of harassing people even though all I’m doing is expressing my opinion. I’m afraid I will potentially be silenced by having my social media frozen. I am even afraid that I might be arrested and put on trial like Gregory Allan Elliott. I know that it’s very unlikely any of these things will happen – I doubt that I’m important enough to become a target for that sort of thing, but the possibility is there and has kept me silent for a long time.

And that’s the reason I feel the need to write this piece, which was inspired by two cases where people who have dared to criticise feminists have been treated appallingly. Any of us could be next, and I believe it’s caused by a very righteous mind-set which makes the awful assumption that anyone making a criticism of feminism must be a misogynist. I discuss draft EU legislation that makes this assumption here.

I am not writing this as an ‘attack’, and I don’t want to distress anyone, or spur others to send them unkind messages. I would rather not make this personal by writing about individual feminists, however I simply cannot address the issue here without discussing individual cases, for what disturbs me is that the ‘victim’ status of several women is being used to shut down valid criticism of their activism. I have no wish to silence them; I am writing this to point out hypocrisy.

The first case that has me terrified is that of Gregory Allan Elliott, who is on trial in Canada for some tweets he sent to/about Stephanie Guthrie and two other women. There really isn’t a huge amount of information about this online, so please do your own research before making up your mind, but from what I can tell the issue in this case is that while none of his tweets were threatening, he may be found guilty if Guthrie is able to prove that she was ‘scared’ by his criticism and rudeness. Sure, some of his tweets were rude, but that’s not illegal and if it were many people who use Twitter – including many feminists would be in jail right now.  There has not yet been a verdict in this case, but if he is found guilty people like me really will have cause to fear, while Guthrie is busy rolling her eyes.

A much smaller scale incident has also deeply shocked and saddened me, and I’m writing about it here because it enabled me to witness first hand how feminism is able to demonise critics who have done nothing wrong whatsoever. At the start of February 2014, influential Twitter feminist Caroline Criado-Perez made some – in my opinion – misleading and grossly unfair accusations about Mark Sparrow, a journalist who covers issues affecting the disabled. He is one of the nicest people I have ever interacted with on Twitter (seriously, look at his tweets – he’s funny and never horrible), and is part of a group (as am I) that is very sceptical of ideology that claims ‘all women are oppressed’, a sentiment regularly expressed by Criado-Perez. I believe that such assertions are serious, far from proven, and something that both women and men have a right to refute.

On February 1, Criado-Perez accused Sparrow of being creepy, obsessed, aggressive and of stalking her profile (after seeing this tweet), only for it to transpire that all he had been doing was reading her tweets and blog posts and then discussing them with others on a regular basis. She admitted that her reaction was not caused by the tweet itself, but by the fact that he has been reading and responding to her blog and Twitter feed for several months. She even coined a new phrase to refer to this: ‘hate reading’. Yes. Hate reading. You heard it here first – reading the words of a well-known figure and regularly discussing what they write is ‘hate reading’. As well as being horrid about him, she called him names based on male genitalia (prize prick), which surely by her standards is sexist…non? I actually have no problem with the fact that we have different insults for men and women and that many of them are based on toilet parts, but it would be nice if feminists could practice what they preach.

On a similar note, if a man had said this about a prominent Twitter feminist (or even any woman), what do you think would have happened?

Criado-Perez then goes on to demonstrate that she expressed her disgust at Sparrow’s ‘social standing’ without having looked into who he is in even the most basic way. She tweeted the following about Sparrow:

What shocks me about this that the first hit of a Google search for Mark Sparrow’s name returns the following page on the Guardian website, which confirms that he is in fact a journalist who has contributed to that newspaper and who has also presented a documentary on hospital food. He may not be the most prolific Guardian contributor, but that is certainly no reason to insinuate he may be a liar. Moreover, if she had taken 10 minutes to read some of his work on there she might have discovered that he suffers from a debilitating bone disease. She may also have read about how he wishes he could contribute to the running of his home equally to his wife, and do his ‘proper share’ of the housework. This might have made her less likely to announce to 25k followers that he ‘hates women’.

Not that she had to read any of his articles. But if you felt that a person was ‘hassling’ and ‘obsessively focused’ on you to an extent that you felt they were enough of a threat block them, and took the time to read their Twitter bio, doubt their claims and express these doubts to others, wouldn’t you check them out first? I agree it would be really quite ‘creepy’ for someone who claimed to write for the same newspaper as you sometimes do to transpire to be a fake, but she could have established within minutes that he is not, and that he is a person who writes rationally about an important social issue.

Ms Criado-Perez’ Tweets received plenty of replies either in support of Mark, or pointing out that her comments were hypocritical and unfair (such as the replies to this tweet, or this one). Many Twitter users also defended him vociferously and were highly critical of Criado-Perez. However, some of the most salient criticism of her behaviour came from another prominent feminist who called her out and asked for her to justify her statements. I am very grateful to Louise Mensch for doing this, not just for her coherent and logical persistence, but for the fact that she was not afraid to hold a fellow feminist to account for behaviour she felt was unjustified. If there is one thing I would like people to take away from this blog post it’s this Tweet exchange:

Embedded image permalink

The fact that there are feminists out there who are prepared to call out unfairness like this is one thing that gives me hope.

I want to make it clear that I don’t think Tweets like these should be removed from Twitter. They are just opinions. What scares me about this is that Criado-Perez should know better. She has become a household name and has over 25k followers on Twitter – many people listen to her and believe what she says. She is a person who knows how it feels to have horrible things said to and about her when she has felt vulnerable. She is a person who is part of a movement who claims to advocate fairness and equality for all. Yet she decides to make rude and nasty claims about someone who by all accounts –even her own – has done nothing worse than follow what she has written and discussed it critically. I am also entirely shocked at the manner in which she throws around the word ‘troll’. She is arguably the most well-known victim of trolling, and frequently writes of the terrible trauma it has caused her, indeed she made reference to the rape and death threats she has received multiple times during this tweet exchange. To place a person who has communicated rationally, openly and in civil language in the same category as a violent and senseless abuser is incredibly unfair.

Many of Criado-Perez’ tweets on Feb 1 implied that Sparrow had been wrong to follow and critique her activism during a time she was receiving abusive messages. Well, I’m sorry but being on the receiving end of abuse does not place a person’s opinions above question – Katie Hopkins has made it clear that she receives huge amounts of exactly the same abuse but does that mean nobody has the right to question anything she says? Sweet Jesus no. Placing people above criticism and censure is dangerous – read The Crucible.

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About femalefedupwithfeminism

I am a very proud non feminist female. I believe that women and men are equally valid as people and I don't think women need an 'ism' to prove this. I don't believe in the 'patriarchy'. I don't believe that it is harder to be a woman than to be a man. I don't believe that everything that is gender specific is automatically sexist. I do not hate or wish harm to anyone; I simply believe that there is a more mature and constructive way of dealing with many of the problems faced by both men and women in today's confusing and changing world than applying what is essentially a fundamentalist ideology to every aspect of society and culture.
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18 Responses to Some thoughts on feminists shutting down those who dare to disagree

  1. Louise says:

    I know mark Sparrow in real life. I can confirm he is one of the the kindest, most gentle people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I am not familiar with Criado-Perez, and from this article you can be sure I won’t bother looking her up!

    Louise Barrett

  2. Pingback: On criticism…. | tsetse97

  3. funkymunkyluvn says:

    In the language of feminist newspeak, if you read what a feminist wrote and disagree with it, you are “hate reading.” This is classic. There must be some way in which to give these bigots an even bigger podium for shouting their drivel.

  4. This is absolutely insane. Criado-Perez seems to be living up to the stereotype of women that we’re all delicate flowers who must be protected from anything we could remote construe as threatening, even when it isn’t. Feminists are projecting their own patriarchal and conservative thoughts onto all men and any woman who trashed her Sisterhood membership card, and it is becoming more and more telling by the day.

    And Feminists wonder why an increasing number of women opt not to identify as such?

    • Mark Sparrow says:

      I think that’s a really interesting observation. For some time I’ve been noticing how some feminists appear to be as bigoted as the behaviour they are complaining about. As a father of two confident and strong young women I want to see equal opportunity but some feminists are fighting a war that has long-since been won in this country. IT’s the victimhood I really find hard to cope with.

      • The victimhood and its celebration is so disturbing to me. My parents were involved with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s here in the US and one thing they made sure I never thought of myself as was a victim. Sure, they raised me to understand that I won’t get everything I want (and shouldn’t expect to) and that I’ll experience setbacks at times even when I worked very hard towards a goal. But a victim? No. Never.

  5. Richard Ford says:

    Thank you.

    The greatest irony of this whole game is that Ms Perez is actually a troll herself. She spins drama out of thin air by making patently absurd claims about the absence of women on banknotes (every banknote has at least one). Anyone pointing this out is then outed as a troll in the media when this is exactly what Ms Perez is herself.

    This has the advantage in making her a celebrity victim.. if some innocent person goes to prison for something she herself did then hard luck!

  6. Janet says:

    Mark says that ‘some feminists are fighting a battle that has long since been won’.

    So why….

    1) women are 2/3 of the public sector jobs (as many are ‘caring’ roles such as primary school teaching, nurses, social working etc) and these have been cut more as seen as less important than private sector.
    2)Pay gap still on average 15% although 20% in private sector (towards which jobs are migrating), or £5k on average between sexes. (From November 7th, women effectively worked the rest of the calendar year for free – that day was called, ‘Equal Pay Day’)Women’s pensions are on average 62% of mens, yet with longer life expectancy (not their fault!) they will be more likely to be forced into poverty
    3) benefits have been cut which affect women more – on average benefits made up a 1/5th of women’s pay compared to a 1/10 of mens and
    4) women use public services more than men and many have been cut – women’s refuges, legal aid for domestic violence, social care, childcare, care for depedants like the elderly. Typically, women take the strain here
    5) Part time women earn 35% less per hour than men working full time, in the same job so their, ‘Equal Pay Day’ was August 27th….Clearly there are more women in part time jobs than men and whilst the gov says they’ve created more jobs, they’ve actually created more part time employment. Which shafts women.

    That’s the cuts.

    Now on to representation in public life so that women can sort this mess out! But…oh dear

    1.Women are 51% of the population in the UK but are outnumbered by men at 3:1 in family films
    2.On TV it’s almost the same story – we make only a bit more than a third of TV characters.
    3.Only 20% of news articles discuss women and the majority of them are because women have been victims of male violence
    4.In 2011, only 18% of the staff working on the top 250 films were women. Only one film was made by a black woman, GLOBALLY.
    5.On average in Europe, only 27% of senior execs are women and this is because Scandinavia is pulling up the average
    6.One in Five MPs are women.
    7.Only 1/7th of the cabinet are women 4/23

    Now violence against women

    1.2 women a week are killed by their partner on average.
    2.1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime
    3.In 5 will be sexually assaulted
    4.95% of all crimes which are result in custodial sentences were commited by men. To get rid of crime against women, there’s an obvious solution!
    5.Female Genital Mutilation was made in illegal in the UK in 1985 but so far there hasn’t been one prosecution…because the law as it stands expects a little girl to walk into a police station to grass up her parents. There is no positive interaction to save these girls who number in the hundreds of thousands

    Long since won?? Really??

    I’ve never read such an utterly pointless blog.

    • rahsoft2015 says:

      I’ve never read such an utterly pointless blog.

      i have never read such a an utterly pointless whataboutry response.

      Female Genital Mutilation was made in illegal in the UK in 1985
      there has a been a proescution. MGM is never illegal because people like youself don’t want it so because you so worried that it will draw attention away from you.
      “There is no positive interaction to save these girls who number in the hundreds of thousands”. I’m sure you can come up with the numbers for the Uk right?
      hundreds of thousands. Are you carolines PR?

      the rest of your list- so trivial and just pointless.
      so why not campaign against chidl abduction by women?( majority women but no proescutions)
      why not campaign against women who abuse children( majority women)

    • Dear Janet,

      Nearly a year and a half after your initial comment, allow me to respond finally. I do apologise for the delay – life gets in the way and all.

      Re your first set of points:

      1) Because men and women are a sexually dimorphic species, in which women will often make choices that enable them to have a better work/life balance, often in exchange for less pay. And btw the public sector is essentially a society giving tax back to itself… less tax revenue, fewer public servants.

      2) These pay gap statistics are only comparing median wages – compare childless men and women with the same educational background and the gap vanishes to more like 1 or 2%. This has been debunked so many times but Christina Hoff Summers is a good place to start. If men earn more over the course of a lifetime, why wouldn’t their pensions amount to more?

      3) Evidence that women rely more on the state, not that women are systematically oppressed, my friend.

      4) Again, all evidence that women need the state more than men. Why is that? Is it because they are so big and strong and can look after themselves? Oh, and given that there are very few/no men’s refuges your point is a little disingenuous.

      5) Please try to imagine a world where women are expected to go out and work because their income is likely to be higher than their partners’ and are seen as less naturally good at looking after their own offspring. It’s often more cost effective for the men to stay home and look after the children / home or work part time than pay for full time childcare. However the men still have the privilege of spending most of the women’s pay cheques. Most shops would display their merchandise for the primary benefit of men because they’d have the majority of spending power despite earning less. So women, who hardly ever get to spend time with their kids wouldn’t even have the privilege of spending the money they earn by busting their asses every day for their families. Then imagine that those women were accused of being oppressors because men who worked in part time, flexible jobs didn’t earn as much as they did.

      I think I know a movement which might call that ‘sexist.’

      1. Who are you angry with, the people who write the films, or those who consume them? I’m sure, like me, you fully support the right of artists to write as they creatively see fit. Feminists and feminist writers are free to write whatever they want, producers are free to fund it, and audiences will watch and pay if that’s what they want to do. And I’m proud to live in that world. Since the population is 51% women, women clearly have the power to make all that happen. But they don’t make the choices you want them to make. Horrible when women won’t dance to your tune, isn’t it? Oh and by the way, your argument is as rubbish as me saying ‘you can’t sell a magazine in this country without a woman’s face on it, therefore society idolises women and hates men’.

      2. So what?

      3. Citation please? And are all the men in the news there because we think they’re amazing, or because we’re criticising decisions they’ve made and holding them to account and public scrutiny. Perhaps women would rather be spared the harshness – I know I want to.

      4. Ditto my points for 1 & 2 above.

      5. Again, humans are a sexually dimorphic species. This documentary series looks into it beautifully:

      Seriously, please watch the whole series.

      6. Maybe that’s because we treat male MPs like shit and women are more risk averse?

      7. Ditto response for point 6.

      Have a nice day x

    • Oops sorry – forgot to reply to this section:

      1. How many men get killed by men every week? Evidence to indict the male gender, perhaps; to demonstrate that women are oppressed for the benefit of men, no.
      2. Sounds like an inflated advocacy statistic to me – citation?
      3. The Mary Koss research model is intellectually dishonest – another one that’s been debunked more times than I’ve had hot dinners.

      4. What’s an obvious solution? To get rid of men? What about the calls from feminists for women not to be sent to jail at all, or given more lenient sentences (which they already are)?
      5. This pisses me off most of all. My son has NO right to genital integrity, yet feminists would rather sit here and make up arguments why that’s ok, rather than put that effort into making things equal for both genders.

      An equality movement? My hairy ass.

  7. Dear Janet, thanks for your comment. I’m a little busy at the moment so will reply soon. x

  8. rahsoft2015 says:

    ah… Criado-Perez
    a mentally challenged fart in an echo chamber.
    Could you find anyone so jealous and overshadowed by their mum( who by the way gets on with the job of living life and doing, rather than caroline who is just acting like sulky teenager)

    I wonder what caroline has actually achieved( and the prescence of a woman on currency isn’t really achieving is it?
    nor is playing a gender narrative on domestic violence, but then caroline does live in a rose tinted world.

    Hope you are reading this caroline. BTW stop playing with your twitter likes it candy crush.

    “At the height of the abuse, Craido-Perez “lost half a stone in two days” and “couldn’t eat or sleep”. She commented later: “I don’t know if I had a kind of breakdown. I was unable to function, unable to have normal interactions.”[21]”

    thats the quote from wikipedia, given the hate and abuse that you throw at other people including on twitter I would call you a hypocrite. Half a stone in two days?- yeah right

    or this pearl
    “Perez said that the woman in question had “internalised” misogyny already rampant in society as a whole.”

    so if a woman disagrees with you they are an internalised misognyist?
    wow – way to to go caroline.

    I think that the combination of all the mispsent education and the possibleprojection of her daddy issues( divorce) has made caroline mad, bad and sad.

  9. Sullivan says:

    I think these 3rd wave femanist need to be very very careful. They are putting women at risk. I can see one day some man who theyve taken everything from losing it and doing the unthinkable. They are poking a Grizzly bear for their own financial and political gain. Ive brought my son up to respect women (my mother is the queen of queens) and yet i find myself warning my son each time he leaves the house to be wary of all women. I have told him never to get married and to look after himself, never to enslave himself financially to a woman and never allow them ammunition to use against him. These facist Feminist are getting what they want and the rest of the female population are beginning to pay the price for that. This is whilst those very prominant feminist are building powerful and lucrative careers (and fame) on the fodder they are selling. I am so sorry for women.
    As a black man I have experienced both phisical attacks and verbal abuse in my many years. I have experienced severe racism in my career, on the streets and indirectly . I have seen things and experienced things peolpe should not have to. My work in fighting for racial equality has shown me that there are many good and brave white people who are fighting for equality peace fully side by side with me (my deepest respect goes out to them) and with that I have learnt never to tar a group with the same brush!
    With these feminazis I see a hidden and evil agenda here which if you do your own research will no doubt come to see. I have watched them talk about killing all men ( however this is a joke eh) , putting men in camps? Accuse good men of being rapist and rape appologists. I have seen them use lies to support weak arguments, target male children and dismiss the real plight of women across the world.
    I have to take a stand now, so I am now opting out (MGTOW) and with that comes the many kind, generous, helpful and liberating things that I can offer the many women I know and meet .I will now be wary IF and when employing females. Since Chivalry is bad, i will now withdraw it. Since I have fought for and ensured equality in my every day business, this will now not include women. If my neighbour beats on his woman I will be wary of interfering (given that I am accused of being just like him). If I see a woman fall I will not help her to her feet (given that im a potential rapist). I will withdraw my donations to the five charities specifically for women. I will not greet my female neighbours. and I will not show the ‘extra’ courteousy to a woman when driving. I will treat the female business aquaintances that I meet not as equals as I have done all my working life, but as potential enemies with no grace. When i am certain that a woman I meet is like Lauren Southern or Christina Hoff Sommers I will treat them as equals. I will defend then, Honour them and respect them. If needed I will guide them and support them. I will ensure I am last to enable them to be first. I will protect them and ensure that whilst they are who they are, honourable, fair and honest, I will do what ever it takes to see them happy, safe and content.

    • caprizchka says:

      I’m just going to pick on you now because I need to sharpen my claws this morning. Please don’t take this personally.

      If your mother, “the queen of queens,” should order you to bring her the head of a blonde woman, or to help you rob that woman’s lover who she claims to love, would you do it? You don’t have to answer that question.

      In a deck of cards, which queen wins?

      Oh wait, we’re all “equal,” right?

      • Sullivan says:

        Your just going to ‘pick’ on me? you are talking like the typical arrogant feminist with the foolish notion you are able to pick on me? the arrogance bewilders me. You act like a superior being having to lower itself to put someone (anyone) in their place. its totally laughable.
        Now why would my mother order me to do such a stupid thing. Why have you introduced such violence into the conversation? typical of a feminist planting seeds again!
        Back to my mother who is the kindest, most respected, inspirational woman im blessed to know.
        Ive seen her in a room full of feminist. They cant even look her in the eye. She didnt speak, just shook her head with a look of pure sadness in her eyes.. When we left I asked her why she was silent. She replied ‘You cant seperate sin and sorrow’ . Im sure you will never understand what this means and im not even going to explain it.
        Yours is a typical statement from a feminist . A question thats not really a question (so there shouldnt be an answer). You dont even make sense! This is the type of fantasy that feminist create in the minds of the weak. “bring me the head’? FFS you need help!
        Lets create a ridiculous scenario and then stop any sane response to it so the scenario becomes a solid notion in the minds of the weak! that notion will grow into fear . The fear of something that doesnt really exist in the form you describe!
        3rd wave feminazis and yes I did say Nazi. The way 3rd wave femanism works and seeds itself is exactly like the nazi party in the 30’s. You have no notion whatsoever of what equality is and the need to ensure a level playing field, the dangers of tipping that field to benifit one group and the resulting consquenses of doing so.
        Let me tell you a secret. Ive managed DV teams. Ive improved reporting of DV victims, Ive funded multitudes of support groups for women to create safe places/spaces for them. A great deal of those asian ( but you dont care about other women in other countries do you). I dont think I could control myself infront of an abuser. These dispicable people I have no adequate words for. Yet I hear the deafening silence of the feminists when those animals raped Cytherea in her home in front of her family! You are selective in equality which means ANY person who has suffered discrimination or any person with a little intelligence and common sense should be wary of your brand! You have the audaicty to attach the ‘plight’ of women to the ‘plight’ of black people when over 200 million of us have been murdered because of the colour of our skin in the last few hundred years! 3rd wave femanist dont care about race equality . They just want to use race as an extra weight against everyday white males who are just going about their business in peace.
        And in answer to your question i didnt need to answer?

        No mother I will not. Its wrong!

  10. caprizchka says:

    Perfectly rational and reasoned response. Thanks for the demonstration.

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