Did a woman from my community just get urine poured over her face?

So a lot of people on Twitter have been asking me why I haven’t done a blog in over a year – well it’s partly because I’ve been super busy (I can just about manage 140 characters a day sometimes) but it’s also because I’m worried about attracting too much attention from our friends over at SocJus. They are scary; I have met up with people who have had their careers ruined, who have been threatened, who have had false allegations made against them, who have lost their jobs because of saying things these people don’t like. Sometimes I think maybe I should just stop being so paranoid. After all, these are people who claim to fight for the rights of everyone, who want equality, and who – especially – want the voices and opinions of women to be listened to, and respected. They abhor the violent and controlling ways of male dominated western patriarchy. It’s all about creating a safe space for a dialogue. Right?

Wrong.

So this morning, I wake up to news on my Twitter feed that someone has covered Lauren Southern (Libertarian, non-feminist journalist and YouTuber) in what may have been urine at a protest last night.

It seems that a group of activists were protesting at the planned venue of a speech in Vancouver which was not going to go ahead as the speaker had been barred from entering Canada. The following footage shows Lauren discussing issues of gender and feminism with some of the protesters present, who identify as feminists. There is strong disagreement, but at least there’s a conversation going on, and nobody is breaking the law. Someone pours a bottle of liquid over Lauren’s head and face. There is an altercation between the person who poured the fluid and someone defending Lauren (I think).

 

 

 

As Lauren leaves people can be seen sticking their fingers up at her and shouting things like ‘burn in hell bitch’. Some of them are loitering around in masks. These people are not afraid. These people do not care about a woman’s feelings, or her safety, or her consent. These people – who in a debate about misogyny would be happy to argue that the word ‘bitch’ is an insult that shames and oppresses all women – are not shy about shouting gender based insults at a woman, laughing at her when someone covers her in God knows what, and insulting her intelligence. Not everyone in the crowd behaved like this – of course not. But, unfortunately, this bullying, hostile and intimidating attitude is characteristic of so many of the activists who today claim to be coming from a position of powerlessness and oppression. For example, compare their behaviour to the people protesting at this speech. Screaming, making rude finger gestures and storming off. Do they look like people who have no rights? Do you think the people who made this speech before Christina Hoff Sommers spoke at Oberlin College really needed a ‘safe space’? Do you think they would have allowed someone from the other side of the argument to make a joke about ‘only biting people they don’t like’? And some of what happened to Maryam Namazie when she spoke at Goldsmiths was pure thuggery.

 

The fact that they treat women and LBGTQ people like this demonstrates that these people do not care about women. Or gay people. Or oppressed people. They care about one thing: their ideology. Being right. Just like the non-feminist community (of which I proudly consider myself to be a part) these people don’t care what gender or race you are. They admire people because they agree with their ideas. There’s nothing wrong with that. But what’s so galling about it is the hypocrisy; this is how Anil Dash (who only retweeted women for a year) treated me:

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(I don’t think he really can have read my blog properly, since his first reply came back within a minute and the second after 14 minutes)

 

When a movement that claims to fight for womens’ right to make their voices heard can rejoice pouring a bottle of urine over a woman’s head, and delete her posts that are critical of feminism from Facebook, I think we can all see that it’s ideology they are committed to, not women.

 

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Please don’t call me a feminist

As someone who was a teenage Daria lover this was the first thing that came to mind when I heard the lovely Ms Watson’s speech. Many thanks to @ouroborosidiots for making the clip for me; my technological ability reflects the fact that I’m an oppressed victim of the patriarchy.

Most of Emma Watson’s speech was irritating. Not that that’s a problem; if people want to ‘galvanise’ males by inviting them to sign up for phenomenally stupid initiatives which won’t do anything but make pop feminists feel a bit better about themselves then who am I to stand in their way. However, what really really annoyed me was the passive aggressive digs at those who choose not to identify as feminists. While she states ‘it is not the word that is important. It’s the idea and the ambition behind it’, she still makes a point of defining those who believe in ‘equality’ as ‘inadvertent feminists’. In her examples of such people she included those who don’t love their children less if they happen to be girls, and those who don’t assume women will go ‘less far’ because they might have a child. So what she’s really saying is ‘you might not think you’re a feminist, but if you’re a decent human being you are one anyway.’ No nod whatsoever to the fact that there may be different interpretations of what ‘equality’ means or the extent to which these interpretations should be enforced. No acknowledgement that there’s a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome.

And why do they need an ‘ism’ for what they do if all it means is someone who does not discriminate against women? I often say this to people who call me stupid or ignorant for not being a feminist:

Look up what an ‘ism’ is. If you think we need one of these to think of women as people, then you’re the one with the problem.

Do we need ‘isms’ to denote treating any other group of people well? How about: Personism, childism, peopleofcolourism? When it comes to prejudice an ‘ism’ usually refers to the bad thing; we have terms that we apply to those who are doing something we all know is wrong: ageism, sexism, racism so we can describe those things when we see them. We don’t have or need a set of ideological labels to which we must all subscribe before it’s possible to be viewed as a good person.

Many people do not identify as feminist because while they agree with the ‘dictionary definition’ they feel ‘the battle has been won’, at least in the West. However, for me it’s the dictionary definition that’s the most problematic thing about it. To declare that an ‘ism’ (an ideology) which focuses on only one gender should be synonymous with thinking that men and women should be treated as equally valid human beings is, to me, totally offensive because it implies that ordinary people need to opt into a movement or set of beliefs to view women as people. The idea that women can only be ‘equal’ if people opt into an ideology is also, in my opinion, a philosophically self defeating argument.

If you interview the general public in most western countries, most people agree that they support equal rights and standing for both genders, but a much smaller number identify as feminists. I believe people sense that the movement is based on ideology that interprets history and society in a particular way and choose to reject the label. The great irony here? If feminists really cared about the dictionary definition and nothing else, this wouldn’t bother them in the slightest. They wouldn’t care about the label if people accepted the basic principle. But they do care – and it’s because the ideology matters more to them than women ever will. For the term ‘feminist’ to mean what they want it to mean, one has to accept the theory that the balance of power has historically been shifted so far against women’s interests that an ideology is necessary to redress the balance – I believe that definitions ought to include this nuance; it is a perfectly arguable position and if people want to believe it I will defend their right to do so. But it is theory, not fact. Every branch of feminism is based in some way on the theory of patriarchal oppression – and feminists need to be honest about that.

Feminists seem to just want everyone to accept their label because it’s about ‘equality’. But then you hear a lot of those same people seemingly contradicting themselves by saying things like ‘well it isn’t feminism if it doesn’t include blah blah blah’, or ‘if they said blah blah blah they’re doing feminism wrong’, ‘my feminism this, my feminism that’. My reply to these people is that nobody put them in charge of deciding what feminism is, or who is and is not a ‘real’ feminist. Well, if every feminist gets to define the ideology and movement for herself/himself then I get to do the same – and reject it.

So, Emma, I’ll be the one to decide whether I’m a feminist, thank you very much. You do think women should have the right to define themselves, don’t you?

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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:

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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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 I become more dismayed every day at the failure not only of feminism to acknowledge that gender is a variable (for that is to be expected), but of others to point this out. Here are some points on the subject which are by no means a masterpiece.

 

The brilliant Girl Writes What has a great video on atheism (for those of you who don’t know, feminism has caused significant disagreement within the atheist community) where she points out that the question of whether God exists and the issue of whether religion is good or bad are separate, and that conflating the two is problematic. It seems to me that the same logic can be applied to the question of gender differences; the idea that gender differences are socially constructed rather than innate, of course, forms the backbone of much of the feminist activity going on today (hence campaigns seeking to brand princess related toys ‘sexist’ etc.), is separate to the question of whether those differences are good or bad.

 

Anyway, feminists currently working on the theory that we are all brainwashed into our gender roles bemoan this tragedy. But they also accuse people who make ‘negative’ generalisations about women (apparently they are the self-appointed judges of what is and is not ‘negative’) of being ‘sexist’. Hang on a minute though, if us women really are brainwashed into…shock horror… liking shoes, then we like shoes. Surely in that case it’s not sexist to say that we like shoes, is it? Or is it sexist because women don’t actually like shoes, and the whole thing’s a lie? Because in that case we can’t be brainwashed, can we? Make up your mind please. Otherwise we end up in a totally circular train of logic – ‘women like shoes because they live in a society that tells them to like shoes’. Aside from being a total insult to the intelligence of women, this argument fails to address any external factors for why this might be. (Go on someone; tell me in the comments that the external factor is ‘patriarchy’. Go on. Do it.)

 

So, I think feminism shouldn’t get to have it both ways – if gender differences are ingrained from birth, why bother branding those who draw attention to these differences as ‘sexists’. Either the stereotypes have a basis in day to day reality or they don’t. If you want people to stop saying that women love shoes because you don’t think that sort of thing should be encouraged (because you think gender differences are bad), why not explain to the people who make adverts like the one in the link above that they ought to join in the righteous reconditioning of social consciousness – using all product design and marketing material to teach women and men right thinking, rather than to sell products? Oh, wait. Nobody would listen to such puritanical nonsense. Better stick to the oppression theory in that case.

 

Doesn’t it seem more likely that while men and women are equally capable of shallowness, callousness, greed and superficiality, that the manner in which these traits are expressed will be conditioned by gender to a certain extent?

 

For example, does it not make sense that people will interact with individuals who are potential sexual partners differently to how they interact with those who are not? And that this might hold when a person is being both pleasant and unpleasant?

 

But no. None of this logic is allowed, because men and women are supposed to be equal. Equal as in the same. Nobody is allowed to mention the word ‘biology’ (seriously, they fall into name-calling apoplexy if you do), and therefore nobody is allowed to suggest that we might want to view gender as a scientific variable. Nothing can be the result of a variety of factors coming together to produce an outcome; only discrimination can explain why the world doesn’t allow people who are slightly smaller and have babies & boobies to live lives just like men.

 

Well, I’m not just a less muscular version of a man, thank you very much. My strength does not lie in muscular power. If, on average, men are capable of physically overpowering women does it not make sense that women have a different kind of power, a different potency, a different allure? And yes, that power might be connected to sexuality. You may not like that it is, but just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean there’s an evil abstract entity enforcing it that you have to bring down.

 

Well, anyway that was my little foray into feminist thinking. Now I’m going to return to something I said above. I think it might be a little bit more likely. The real problem here is that feminists don’t like gender differences. And that’s ok. You don’t have to like everything. And you can campaign against anything you don’t like. That’s the beauty of living in a free country (although here in the UK feminism is working on changing that, but anyway…). But please don’t construct a narrative in which we are all at the mercy of an invisible force that only you have the intelligence to see and understand.

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The Rape Culture Epidemic-Thoughts From An Actual Rape Victim

I believe this is a really important article: disagreeing with the ‘rape culture’ theory does not make you a rape apologist or victim blamer.

TheRockabillyButterfly

Rape Culture is a term that is now widely used among many bloggers and media personalities. In light of the Steubenville case, there have been many posts by female bloggers in regards to “changing” this aspect of our society. What is Rape Culture? Rape Culture is a term that is used to describe a culture that shows acceptance and even support of rape. According to many feminist groups, this is the culture that we are currently living in. What? Really? So let me get this straight…we are currently living in a culture where people support rape. Interesting. I’m pretty sure that the majority of people don’t think that rape is cool and to call our society a Rape Culture is a little extreme. I haven’t really seen too many articles coming out from actual rape victims, so I wanted to give my perspective on it to maybe help shed a…

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Ironic but terrifying: Draft EU legislation that seeks to suppress anti-feminist opinions

I am sorry it has taken me so long to write another post – things have been pretty busy at work, plus I have been spending my time trying to understand the wonderful world of Twitter. Driven to the site by my desire to babble away through the Twittersilence (ahhh that wonderful idea of Ms Moran’s that set the feminists at each other’s throats) I have discovered both amazing support but also feminist fueled insanity that has made me more determined than ever to challenge the self-righteousness of a set of people who believe that nothing should happen in this world on terms other than their own.

The draft of the new EU regulations is available here and calls for ‘concrete action to combat intolerance, in particular with a view to eliminating, racism, colour-bias, ethnic discrimination, religious intolerance, totalitarian ideologies, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-feminism and homophobia’.

Seriously? What the hell is wrong with the phrase ‘equal gender rights’? What serious person is actually going to have a problem with a term like that?

Oh the irony of the fact that in the same sentence they are trying to get rid of ‘totalitarian ideologies’…

Feminism here is the odd one out – the only example above in which people are obliged to adopt a particular ideology, and where opposition to that ideology can be assumed as an intolerant act. That’s almost like calling me Islamophobic because I don’t convert to Islam and live as a Muslim. Or that I am against civil rights because I don’t attend black power meetings and call myself a black power activist. Call it ‘gender equality’ and I’ll sign up. We don’t need an ‘ism’ for that. I do appreciate the difference between the terms ‘anti-feminist’ and ‘non-feminist’ – I personally try to use the term non-feminist because I want to show that I respect the rights of people to be part of it as an ideology. But I also deserve the right to criticise that ideology, particularly when it’s owners are trying to spread it in such a militant way. Does opposing feminist views make me an anti-feminist? Probably – but I believe I have the right to opt out of a label that by its very nature implies that the world is wrong and needs to be re-organised.

I and others come under tremendous attack when we argue that feminism is not synonymous with ‘equal gender rights’, and indeed one of the main things that an examination of how ‘feminism’ is coming across on Twitter has convinced me is that one of the most significant problems here is the word ‘feminism’ itself. Is it not obvious that using the word ‘feminism’ to define gender equality only works if one buys into the idea that life is so skewed, unfair and biased against women that the whole system has to be redesigned to compensate for this? For anyone who does not believe this to be true the idea of ‘feminism’ becomes an entirely self-defeating argument – as the term focuses on one gender only as the key to ‘equality’. Oh and to those idiots who say that feminism is better for everyone because in countries with more feminism there is more freedom for the rest of society too… don’t you think that it might… just possibly… be the other way around? Just think about cause and effect there for a second please.

I personally can’t think of any other issue where the ‘problem’ isn’t given the special name (such as racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, terrorism) and viewed as some sort of an opt-in. However with feminism it’s ok to assume that the whole world is evil unless they choose to adopt this particular label – which in turn gives the feminists the ammunition to argue that anyone who refuses to adopt their label is evidence for the need of feminism, rather than that fact people just think it’s a load of immature nonsense that fails to deal with the real issues and that they may, in fact, be right.

Do a search for the term ‘feminism’ on Twitter and see what comes up. There will almost certainly be a bunch of tweets along the lines of ‘to all those people who say they’re not feminists… you just don’t understand what it means!’ I think it’s time we started pointing out that the solution to someone disagreeing with you is not just to call them stupid.

Or at least we’d better take the opportunity to do that until we’re prevented from doing so by law.

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Banner which I’ll hopefully be using on twitter!

Banner which I'll hopefully be using on twitter!

I made this for my twitter account @femalefedupwith

Please feel free to take it and use it if you like.

Sorry for taking so long to post – life’s been really busy and I have just not had time to write about the things I see all the time that are so wrong.

Also thanks for all the new follows, and sorry to anyone whose comments have made it into the spam folder and been lost!

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