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.


Tish said...

I love your brilliantly-expressed exasperation! and heartily agree. Applause! Nil desperandum, keep up the good work, your words give me hope.

Emily said...

That was awesome!! I found you via Butterflies and Wheels. Love it!! :) :)