Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Anthony Loewenstein line-by-line

Priorities trolling is a special kind of trolling. "Stop moaning about the pay gap, women in Saudi Arabia aren't allowed to vote". I know. The problems are actually related. I can care about more than one issue at a time. What do these dickheads do at weekends? "Is that the Cats Protection League? What about dogs!!!?", "Is that The Asthma Society? You know some people have Motor Neurone Disease."

For the record if I complain about Saudi Arabian women's rights I am called a racist and told that "things are hardly perfect here, shouldn't you focus on that first?".

Well apparently feminists - we're all doing it wrong (again). The wrong kind of feminism is helping the wrong people. 'Feminism lite' is letting down the women who need it the most says Anthony Loewenstein. Here's why he's wrong. In excruciating detail.

"Men are afraid to talk about feminism. If that sounds melodramatic, I’d ask you to count the number of articles written by male writers tackling the big and small issues around gender and women’s equality. You’ll be hard pressed to find a strong selection."

(1) To make this case you'd need to show me all the men who WANTED to write about feminism and were deterred. Maybe men, not women, are to blame for men not writing about feminism.

(2) The title suggests that this piece is going to be about how feminism needs to focus more on helping women in really tough situations. Now you think we all have to change our behaviour to help make male writers feel better about themselves?

"This is not acceptable. Men have a stake in gender equality, from promoting fair pay and no-fault divorce laws, all the way to stopping honour killings and sexual violence."

Yes poor men affected by a gender pay gap IN THEIR FAVOUR and honour killings OF WOMEN.

"We are boyfriends, husbands, fathers or friends, and yet too many of us shy away from these sensitive matters, fearing opprobrium."

Well yeah - if you write stupid things, you might get called out on it. That's free speech dude. Rather different from the rape threats I get on a regular basis I'd say.

"Too often, men worry they’ll be attacked by women for questioning a consensus position on feminist issues."

So you should be allowed to challenge "consensus positions" on feminism and women shouldn't be allowed to respond? You're no longer writing about feminism dude - you're just sitting on a massive great steaming pile of privilege muttering "must ask my butler to order more privilege".

"When Australian prime minister Julia Gillard was in power, a common refrain on the left was that she faced appalling attacks on her appearance and marital status."

"A common refrain" must be another term for "an actual fact".

"Her famous misogyny speech prompted headlines around the world after she accused her opponent, Tony Abbott, of sexism."

Yes sexism, That's what the whole feminism thing is about. Welcome to the party.

"There is no doubt that Gillard faced obstacles that men rarely have to contemplate, and that many of her ugliest critics have never accepted her legitimacy. Writer Anne Summers uncovered a litany of “vilification and denigration” against Gillard that went well beyond opposing the Labor leader’s policies. Many women applauded Gillard because they knew the daily realities of men ignoring, shaming or humiliating them at home, or at work."

So perhaps women around the world who have experienced similar prejudice and abuse felt pleased that she had called it out.

"And yet, during this entire period I found the debate depressingly staid."

What debate? The debate about whether sexism is ok? That's not a debate.

"The forums available to discuss these issues were limited, leaving (mostly female) feminists to defend Gillard from the trolls who mocked her ideas, clothes and hair." 

Perhaps you could send us the list of pitches you made to papers and journals asking for the opportunity to highlight the sexism she had experienced? Who stopped you adding your voice to this issue?

"My argument here isn’t that men should have been central in the debate – our role as privileged players in society has lasted far too long – but that mainstream feminism seemed only to feel aggrieved, and little else."

What the fuck else are we supposed to feel about RAMPANT SEXISM? Quizzical? Bemused? Aroused?

"But here’s the catch: Gillard ran a government that routinely enacted policies that harmed women, including placing asylum seekers in privatised immigration detention, backing warlords in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province, supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestine, cutting benefits for single mothers and opposing gay marriage."

And that doesn't make it ok for her to be criticised for her appearance.

More importantly - if you care so much about these issues - why don't YOU write about them? Instead of telling feminists what they should be writing about.

It seems like you live in this fantasy world where feminists are all paid a fortune to "sort out" gender inequality whatever way we think best and we have a big feminism staff meeting every morning to decide how to spend the money. That's not how it works. Lots of people write about trolling because they have experienced it. If we didn't get trolled so much we might have the personal resources to write more about other issues.

And it comes down to what will the media publish. In my experience as a woman it is really hard to sell articles that aren't related to a personal experience I've had. Men are much more easily accepted as "experts" on varied subjects. For instance you managed to sell this piece even though you clearly haven't even thought it through.

"There are countless other examples, yet they remained mostly dismissed by the same women (and men) who lavished support on Gillard for her “feminist ideals”."

Who has been dismissing these issues? The mainstream media. Which is not run by feminists. Far from it. At last weekend's Feminism In London conference I never heard Gillard's name mentioned - I did see a workshop on Turkish women's rights, a panel on issues around motherhood and panels on things like the harms of prostitution and women in the mental health system. I didn't see you there Anthony.

"The love-fest continued in September last year when Summers interviewed Gillard in an Oprah-style format, with sell-out crowds lapping it up. This was, unquestioningly, a moment of public catharsis. Of course, there is nothing wrong with praising Australia’s first female prime minister for her achievements – but at least be honest, and admit that a few principled speeches on her part don’t compensate for years of abandoning the very gender you claimed to be helping."

Can you hear yourself? "Australia's first female prime minister". Can you not imagine for a second why that might be important to Australian women? But yes the mainstream media very rarely challenge the political establishment on these sorts of issues. Why is it feminism's job to change that? Why not yours?

"In many of my books, female voices challenge a corrupt and militarised capitalist system, and it’s these characters that inspire me."

Characters? So you invent women and then say you're inspired by them? Does your imaginary girlfriend have a well-developed sense of irony? She's going to need it.

"We rarely hear from those women in the west, and if we do they are buried under the din of articles about face-lifts and marrying George Clooney (a great recipe for click-baiting)."

Feminists have repeatedly complained about and campaigned against the over-coverage of those issues in the media. Why don't you add your voices to their rather then attacking them for "not campaigning hard enough".

"I believe that’s part of the reason why female anti-feminism is growing, especially as issues many women see as tangential gain disproportionate online prominence."

Where's your science to back up "female anti-feminism is growing"? The only thing I see growing in male anti-feminism - yours.

"In Unspeakable Things, British writer Laurie Penny argues: The feminism that sells is the sort of feminism that can appeal to almost everybody while challenging nobody, feminism that soothes, that speaks for and to the middle class, aspirational feminism that speaks of shoes and shopping and sugar-free snacks and does not talk about poor women, queer women, ugly women, transsexual women, sex workers, single parents, or anybody else who fails to fit the mould."

Yes the media generally picks up on the least challenging aspects of feminism. It's almost like they're not run by feminists.

"This perfectly describes many western women who have become media spokespeople for their gender, appearing on TV with predictable lines."

Who? Who are you talking about? What predictable lines?

"These are the same self-described feminists now salivating over the possible US presidency of Hillary Clinton, despite her record as a pro-war Democrat who believes in endless war. Yes, some feminist hero."

I don't know who you mean. But yes a female president of the US would be a big deal actually. I didn't think you actually had to have a vagina to get this but I'm starting to think you do.

"In hindsight, there’s no solid reason why I couldn’t have written this article years ago, but I’ve hesitated to do so."

So you've been held back by "no solid reason"? FEMINISTS STOP!! Hold off on ending FGM. Let rape culture run a bit longer. Poor Anthony needs time to tie his shoelaces before he gets back on with attacking us.

"I’ve worried that I would be slammed for my white, male position and dismissed as ignorant of the real problems faced by women today."

Have a cookie.

"It’s an odd concern, because I don’t worry about extreme Zionists challenging me when I call them out on their racism (and I do receive plenty of vicious attacks whenever I write about it)."

Mmmm - comparing feminists to Zionists... Ho hum, makes a change from Hitler.

"The bottom line is that writing about feminism when male is like gatecrashing a party – and I’m concerned I’ll be slammed for daring to arrive without an invitation. But the responsibility to advocate for half the population falls of everyone’s shoulders, not just women."

Advocating for half the population - great - go ahead. Telling us all we're doing it wrong while we're fighting for our own rights AND at the same time telling us that we need to prioritise attending to a vague intangible feeling of discomfort you're experiencing - consider yourself slammed you whiny waste of space. How can I put this clearly? YOU'RE NOT HELPING.

"To do it meaningfully, however, we need to focus on the issues that truly need our help the most urgently: benefits taken away from single mums; sexual violence which affects all women, but especially already vulnerable ones; endemic racism which leads to parents of colour scared to have their child shot by police forces; lack of unionising or legislation which leaves women without working rights worldwide; the right not subject to rape threats and abuse, online and offline; equal pay for equal work."

But if we talk about online abuse (like Gillard's) we're missing the point? Feminists I know are campaigning on all these issues. If you think more needs doing, good, I agree, now here's an idea: do it.

"Ultimately, I realise I’ve been been too cautious for too long, not daring to add my voice to the debate. I agree with The Atlantic’s Noah Berlatsky who states that although misogyny predominantly affects women, “it’s important for men to acknowledge that as long as women aren’t free, men won’t be either.”"

If you're only interested in helping women achieve equality because of what you, as a man, can gain from it, you're not a feminist, you're a self-interested shit.

"But to win this battle, we have to remember that the debates about celebrity red carpet dresses and celeb-feminism are designed to distract us. This is feminism lite, and is little more than white noise. Gender equality will only be achieved by hard work and uncomfortable questions."

No it's not "feminism lite" it's not feminism. Feminism is not about celebrity dresses. It's about women. Always has been. And yes gender equality (MY equality) will only be achieved through hard work but how exactly is it therefore my job to do that work. Is it not the job of sexists to STOP BEING SEXIST? Why should it be left to the victims of inequality to end inequality. The whole point of inequality is that we have less resources with which to do so.

So thanks for your input on the five hundred subjects that feminism ought to be doing more about Anthony but my schedule's actually pretty full right now. To be honest I could do without the extra work of telling you where to stick your patronising anti-feminist bullshit.

And breath.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Parenting 1.01

About four years ago a Daily Mail writer by the name of Kelly Rose Bradford took exception to me shredding some dreadful piece of journalism she had produced. Her concerns, she insisted, were principally for the well-being of her son (who she then tried to charge me £500 for a picture of). You can read my piece and the saga of her complaints here.

So imagine my surprise to open up the Daily Mail website today and find self same parent-of-the-year MISS Kelly Rose Bradford has published a piece about how she prefers her dog to her son. The article of course is replete with images of said dog and said son with captions like "William can sometimes get jealous of his mother's constant canine companion". They might as well just be honest and say "William is at risk of bullying and low self esteem because of this article".

Miss Bradford is keen to assuage our worries though... "Before you pick up the phone to the NSPCC, you should know that I'm not alone in how I feel". No, I'm sure you're not, but you are alone in publishing your thoughts in a national newspaper along with actual close-up photos and the full name and age of the child concerned. Top quality parenting Kelly, keep at it. Sigh.




Monday, September 29, 2014

Full length version of my column for The Teacher this month

As some of you know I write a column for The Teacher magazine (the magazine of the NUT, the National Union of Teachers). This month due to space issues they cut my piece down quite a lot which is fair enough and very much within their rights to do but I thought I'd give you the full length version here, maybe also interesting to those of you who wouldn't get to see the magazine...

Last month while I was appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe David Cameron was in Westminster putting together a hilarious little skit of his own. My favourite of his jokes was “sometimes politicians shy away from talking about the family”.

No they don’t. Politicians love talking about the family. They think it makes them seem less like swollen corrupt egos in sweat-creased suits and more earthy and wholesome. Given the chance they would gladly wrestle one another to the ground to get their puckered lips on a photogenic baby. Posing on the school run and being interviewed by MumsNet are rites of passage for the ambitious modern politician as much as pretending to be working class or explaining away photographs of dominatrices.

Family is also a great subject on which to show a little stage-managed weakness, an exercise overpaid PR consultants probably call "humanising". The kid with the gappy teeth, the tussle for the remote control, airbrushed into adorability by the same PR egos. Ooops! Mum’s dropped the Christmas turkey! But they muddle on ignoring Granny's snoring and rolling their eyes at Dad's dodgy jokes like the Waitrose Waltons.

Sure enough for his next punchline Comedy Cameron pretends to be self-depreciating. “I am far from the perfect father and husband”. 

He'd never say "I'm far from the perfect economist" because it's true. He stupidly quotes the long-disproven pseudo-economics that is the Laffer Curve and insists that trickle-down economics is a real thing. The best way to get money to poor people is by giving it to rich people? What next, help the hungry by feeding the obese? Improving health by operating on the fit and well?

The flip side is that while he did leave his daughter at the pub that one time and you or I shiver at the thought of waking up next to his smug doughy face, in many respects he is the “perfect” father and husband. He’s loaded, well-connected and even takes them on loads of fancy holidays.

Teachers know that most families in Britain are nothing like the Camerons. The prime minister’s family probably haven't noticed the child benefit freeze, the bedroom tax, the cut to the childcare component of Working Tax Credits or the fact that you now have to work an extra eight hours a week to even qualify for them. They could always balance out the shortfall by christening their new yacht with a jeroboam, rather than a methuselah, of champagne. (And, yes, I've won a lot of pub quizzes!)

And another thing. Let's be frank - some families are rubbish. Some too busy and stressed out to care, and some who just downright don't care. Heartbreaking, yes, but utterly unsurprising as the only qualification required for parenthood is leaving your condom in your other coat.

The group of people who have qualifications to support young people is of course teachers. [Insert your own snide remark about unqualified teachers and bear in mind that it’s unlikely the very worst of them could be as dangerous in their job as one M. Gove. Good riddance.]

What we can't do is guarantee every child a top-of-the-range family but we could guarantee them a good teacher. A fully qualified teacher with a class size small enough to spot those who are struggling, the resources to support families falling through the gaps and the back-up to intervene where families are failing.

And the joke is ultimately on him because that's exactly the sort of thing politicians like Cameron do shy away from talking about.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

STOP PRESS: Woman gets into boat

From todays MailOnline website: EVEN when she was climbing into the speedboat, Amal managed to stay composed.

This is definitely NEWS. Personally when I get into a speedboat I just stand on the dock and fall forwards onto my face. That's probably why I'm not married to George Clooney.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

How disappointing you are Kelly Brook.

Kelly Brook has "opened up" to the Daily Male about "her relationship with her breasts". I didn't read the article - I hope she says "they're attached to the front of my chest, which is good cos it'd be awkward if they were on my elbows".

In the process she mentions - and headliner-writers leap on the fact that she is a bra size 30FF. Her IQ is not published, presumably because she's smart enough to know there's no point issuing a press release about that.

The trouble is this. Her range of underwear at New Look doesn't include ANY bras in a 30 back size or ANY bras in a FF cup size. So NONE of the underwear that bears her name in the high street would fit her.

And this is an issue, because thousands of women struggle to find affordable clothes that actually fit. Dress sizes are a total nonsense. I don't know anyone who just "is" a dress size, everyone is one size on the top half and another on the bottom half or needs extra width in the arms, or the legs, or the bust, or whatever.  We all make do and adjust and end up paying over the odds. I'm not asking Brook to become some sort of ambassador for body confidence - I'm saying did it not occur to her during her intensive hands-on participation in the design process to say "could the range of sizes include my size?"?

It also means (in case it wasn't obvious) that EVERY SINGLE PHOTO OF HER MODELLING HER COLLECTION IS FAKED ONE WAY OR ANOTHER...
...in this case also because no-one has ever been THAT happy about squatting in uncomfortable shoes.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Daily Mail - this is a new journalistic low EVEN FOR YOU.

***What the f*ck? In the hours since I wrote the piece below rather than take down the awful piece, the Daily Mail have "updated" their article to name her and un-pixelate the photos of her, and add more photos of her in swimwear and a quote from her Dad (saying she is devastated and didn't bully anyone). Sick.***

In the wake of the Santa Barbara shootings lots of people are talking about the extent to which the killer was involved with online "men's rights" groups and the extent to which exposure to "pick-up artist" communities and online porn had influenced his expectations about relationships and attitudes towards women and men around him. As has been widely reported, he left a video on YouTube and a "manifesto" in which he said he was angry that women were not interested in him and planned violence in reaction to this. Having written a piece myself on how sinister the pick-up artist movement can be I was interested to see what links others were drawing. Perhaps I should have known better, Daily Mail, but I clicked a link to your page... (I've done a screen grab because I don't want to publish a link)

Firstly you're using the occasion of a horrific mass murder as an excuse to print sexy pictures of a very young woman who has not consented to appearing in your newspaper. AND you're pointing the finger at this woman as if somehow the killings were her fault. Sick sick sick.

You claim the moral high ground by not printing her name. Obviously a slightly pixellated photograph is going to leave her completely identifiable to anyone who really knows her. AND you printed details of work that she's done and details about her family and their jobs. Frankly you would not have to be Sherlock Holmes to fill in the blanks.

And lets look at the details. You claim that Elliot Rodger was teased by this woman leading to him developing a hatred of all women. On that, three things:

(1) Where is the evidence that any teasing took place? In a video made by a man who overtly hates women. Is that a reliable source of evidence? Of course not. In fact it seems clear from his actual words (if you had bothered to listen to them) that in fact he had a crush on her and felt teased because she wasn't interested. THAT IS NOT TEASING, WOMEN HAVE A RIGHT TO NOT BE INTERESTED IN GUYS WHO FANCY THEM.

(2) One woman being mean to you (which all the evidence suggests she wasn't) is not a good reason to hate all women. Generalising based on one individual is one of the most basic forms of bigotry. Why haven't you mentioned this (other than by doing it throughout the rest of your paper)? Otherwise one guy shooting people would be a good reason to lock all men up (not just Daily Mail journalists).

(3) When did this awful alleged teasing take place? When she was in seventh grade (age 12 or 13). Yes seriously. YOU'RE BLAMING A TWELVE-YEAR-OLD GIRL FOR A MASS MURDER AND PRINTING HER PHOTO.

And you repeatedly mention the killer was a virgin and was angry about being a virgin. Could you perhaps explain WHAT YOU EXPECT A 12-YEAR-OLD TO DO ABOUT THAT?

Perhaps the most sickening sentence is this one "MailOnline has approached the girl for a comment but she has yet to respond.". You rang her up? What did you say??

"Hey really sorry to hear about people in your community being brutally murdered by someone you were at school with. Yeah you probably heard about it because he mentioned you in a video. Yeah, yeah, that guy. On the news, yeah. Stop crying. So we're going to write a piece about you on the world's most-read news website and print some sexy pictures of you we stole off Facebook in which we're going to be, erm, pondering the theory, that maybe the multiple horrible murders were actually your fault. We were wondering if you'd like to make a statement about... Why are you screaming at me? I'm a what? ... A sick, disgusting, immoral asshole? Yeah I get that a lot, it's kindof in the job description. So any statement from you or shall I just say you have yet to respond?"

New low, even for you Daily Mail. New low.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Look at this AMAZING and HILARIOUS advert!

"Bit of a mix up?" LOL "However carefully you plan, things can go wrong." I know the feeling!

As you can see this poor man's glad he bought flexicover (TM) travel insurance because he's been left with a PINK suitcase.

As we all know it cannot possibly be his. No man would ever own a PINK suitcase. Or borrow one off their wife. Or boyfriend. Or just buy one in the shops because it's a nice bright colour and he figures it will be easy to spot at the airport. That would NEVER happen because as we all know...

MAN + PINK SUITCASE = HUMILIATION

Ha ha ha. Who comes up with this stuff? HILARIOUS.

Note: Do not adjust your screen - it is still 2014.