Standing on Fear

Margaret E Ward, a journalist at the Irish Independent, declared at 2:30 am yesterday that "women are experiencing death by a thousand cuts in a culture that applauds misogynists as heroes and tolerates sexist behaviour as the norm".

This came as a bit of a surprise to us here at MHRI, we'd have thought that the skyrocketing ratio of male to female suicides in Ireland, the increasingly poor academic performance of men, the constant denigration of men in the media and advertising (and that's when famous or attractive men aren't being objectified), the brutal treatment of men in the divorce courts, the ever climbing per capita murder rates of men and so on all said the exact opposite. We'd have thought that a culture where a man getting kicked in the genitals is funny but a woman getting slapped is terrible would be more of a misandric culture that applauds misandrists as heroes.

As evidence for her declamation she presents a news story about the recent spree shooting by a severely disturbed young man in the US, Elliot Rodgers, the fact that someone set up a facebook page to support it, and that it took facebook three days to take it down.

For those who are unaware of the incident in question, Rodgers killed four men and two women, five if you include Rodgers himself, which by the numbers doesn't really seem all that misogynistic, but he also left behind a vast collection of youtube videos, manifestos, messages and other information online. In one of those videos he attributed his anger to the fact that he couldn't find a girlfriend and had never kissed a girl at age 22.

Let's be quite clear here - this was a horrific act and our sympathies and hearts go out to those whose families and friends were affected. However it must be said, he left plenty of messages about how he hated black men, asian men and Latino men as well, in fact three of his male victims were asian and one was Hispanic. Further, many men and women have difficulty finding sexual partners and they don't go on shooting sprees or descend into hate fuelled revenge fantasies.

Leaping upon the insane delusions of a very unhinged young man and trying to garner political and ideological capital from it by characterising his madness as somehow a symptom of widespread hatred in wider society is contemptible.

And really, someone set up a facebook page about it? Someone sets up a facebook page about EVERYTHING. Here's a small sample of what crops up on facebook on a regular basis:

Last month, 21-year-old Amine Derkaoui gave an interview to Gawker, an American media outlet. Derkaoui had spent three weeks working in Morocco for oDesk, one of the outsourcing companies used by Facebook. His job, for which he claimed he was paid around $1 an hour, involved moderating photos and posts flagged as unsuitable by other users.

“It must be the worst salary paid by Facebook,” he told The Daily Telegraph this week. “And the job itself was very upsetting – no one likes to see a human cut into pieces every day.”

Derkaoui is not exaggerating. An articulate man, he described images of animal abuse, butchered bodies and videos of fights. Other moderators, mainly young, well-educated people working in Asia, Africa and Central America, have similar stories. “Paedophilia, necrophilia, beheadings, suicides, etc,” said one. “I left [because] I value my sanity.” Another compared it to working in a sewer. “All the ---- of the world flows towards you and you have to clean it up,” he said.

I mean by Margaret's standards society apparently also strongly encourages paedophiles, necrophiliacs and cockfighting.

Plus, if it took facebook three days to take the offensive page down it's probably because nobody even knew the page existed. So much for a culture of misogyny. And then she carries on about facebook removing a picture of a mother breastfeeding - a friend of mine had a picture of his goldfish taken down because someone reported it as offensive, presumably PETA were on the warpath. These events don't indicate that society hates goldfish, they indicate that facebook is, as their employees note, kind of a sewer.

Next Margaret takes the crusade to the moral panic factory that is twitter, and the #YesAllWomen hashtag which began in response to the shootings. This event was somewhat similar to the Everyday Sexism website, but I'll let a veteran observer of the times put it into words:

Some of the #YesAllWomen tweets offer harrowing tales of sexual assault. The vast majority, however, seem, well, less than empirical: “I know that not all men threaten women, but that all women have been threatened by men.” (Really? How do you know?) “Imagine the creative energy we would release if half of humanity didn’t have to devote so much time in fear of the other half.” (Yes! Then they could spend more time writing things on Twitter.) “I’ve spent 19 years teaching my daughter how not to be raped. How long have you spent teaching your son not to rape?” (Quick answer—so far, on three sons, I’ve spent about zero seconds. But they’re all under six, so I figure they don’t turn into rampaging, predatory, inhuman monsters until they’re about 12 or 13.)

Don’t worry, it gets much more ridiculous. Other #YesAllWomen complaints—and please, keep in mind that this is in response to a killing spree—include the following: “Here’s to never hearing a dude tell a woman to ‘smile’ ever again”; “If I don’t feign an interest in what the too-friendly grocery clerk is telling me, everyone in line will judge me”; and, my personal favorite: “When I asked for Happy Meal and didn’t specify a gender, they gave me ‘boy’ toys. Male is the default.” As far as I can tell, that last one was not a joke, but I did laugh out loud.

Lest you think I’m cherry picking, check out the thread yourself. The tweets I’ve selected are pretty much representative. There are a few awful tales of abuse, stalking, or rape, but the vast majority of tweeters basically complain about obnoxious bosses, horrible boyfriends that no person in their right mind should go out with in the first place, or some random dude wolf-whistling at them on their way into their entry-level analyst job at Goldman Sachs.

...

Why, in our age of unprecedented plenty - and, at least in America, unprecedented power for women - is victimhood so appealing to so many? When complete strangers were murdered on the West Coast, why do hundreds of thousands of people, healthy in body if not in mind, enthusiastically latch on, insisting that they were victims too?

Margaret then wheels out one of the old faithfuls, the oft-repeated feminist canard about how one in seven women are the victims of severe abusive behaviour of a physical, sexual or emotional nature from a partner at some time in their lives.

Guess what happens when you apply the same survey methodologies to male only surveys? You get the same results for men!

Domestic and intimate partner violence are non gendered crimes, this is far beyond dispute.

This journalistic shambles is wrapped up with a call to ratify the toxic Istanbul Convention, again a feminist initiative which includes among its articles the essence of the Duluth model, which means that in all cases of domestic violence the man is responsible whether or not the female present is willing to press charges and whether or not he is actually responsible, he can be arrested or thrown out of the house by Gardaí without any judicial proceedings, article 27 report your neighbours, article 31 fathers don't get to see their children if their mother decides he shouldn't, and of course the infamous article 55 which means that say, if a false rape accuser withdraws their accusation, feminist groups and the state can still prosecute for rape.

Anyway I'm sure her rambling and incoherent article seemed like a good idea at 3am in the morning, but society is not misogynistic no matter how badly those whose jobs depend on misogyny wish it to be, regardless of how loudly they preach from the bully pulpit.

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