Asking for brickbats

Laurie Penny says that internet misogyny should end.

“There’s nothing wrong with [her] a couple of hours of cunt kicking, garrotting and burying in a shallow grave wouldn’t sort out.”

Like many women who have public profiles online, I’m used to messages of this sort – the violent rape and murder fantasies, the threats to my family and personal safety, the graphic emails with my face crudely pasted onto pictures of pornographic models performing sphincter-stretchingly implausible feats of physical endurance.

There’s more attention to the issue (and yes, it’s an issue) now because Mary Beard spoke up about it.

According to its creator, Richard White, a lettings agent from Sidcup who started Don’t Start Me Off! “as a humour site to discuss issues of the day”, the site “is meant to be like a pub where people banter and try to be funny. It is not a hate site.” He went on to claim that “We didn’t allow certain words or people threatening to kill people.” That certainly wasn’t my experience. Clearly, one man’s ‘banter’ can be another woman’s ceaseless, dispiriting catalogue of sadistic fantasies and homophobic abuse. [Read more...]

Writing to be understood

Greta did a post the other day about someone who rethought something she wrote and then took it back. I hadn’t seen it until this morning.

This is how it’s done, people. She didn’t double down. She didn’t insist that she hadn’t done anything wrong; she didn’t equate “lots of people disagreeing with you” with tribalism, bullying, McCarthyism, or witch hunts. She kept it short and sweet, without a “making it worse” morass of defensive rationalizations/ making it all about her hurt feelings about people being mean to her. She heard the criticism, accepted that she screwed up, and apologized. This is how it’s done.

([cough] Michael Shermer [cough]) [Read more...]

What we need is a filter

Cath Elliott writes about What it’s like to be a victim of Don’t Start Me Off’s internet hate mob.

Note from Helen Lewis, who republished the post on her New Statesman blog:

Note from Helen: Cath Elliott’s Blog, An Occupational Hazard, was one of the pieces which inspired me to collect together the experiences of female bloggers about online abuse. I thought Cath was incredibly brave to write about the hatred she was subjected to – particularly since it was deliberately as humiliating and obscene as possible.

Funnily enough, her internet tormentors were from a site called Don’t Start Me Off! – which was taken offline last week by its owner after the unwelcome glare of publicity fell on it when Mary Beard spoke out about the thread about her posted there. As Richard White, the site’s owner, is now claiming that he has been badly misrepresented, I thought it was important to hear what it was really like to be harassed by DSMO. Here’s Cath, in a post originally published on her blog yesterday. [Read more...]

Will the archbish be a temporary floor mop?

I tweeted a link about an upcoming debate at Cambridge between Dawkins and Rowan Williams a few hours ago. There are replies saying Richard will wipe the floor with him. I’m not so sure. Williams was an academic before he was the archbish, and now he’s not the archbish any more.

He almost certainly knows of better arguments than the kind of highflown archepiscopal bafflegab he gave to the House of Lords and so on while he actually was the archbish. And since he’s not the archbish any more, he may feel less of a duty to sound churchy and archepiscopal.

There’s no chance that he’s actually stupid. The fact that he used to say a lot of stuff that comes across as stupid to atheists doesn’t mean he is actually stupid. It’s more likely a déformation professionelle. I would think that when arguing with Dawkins he’s well able to come up with things to say that will prevent the latter from wiping the floor with him. Whether he will choose to or not is another question, but I’m thinking he probably will.

The right to complain does not turn women into pathetic victims

More from Nussbaum on Christina Hoff Sommers and on “equity” v “gender” feminism more generally. It’s a very packed, dense essay.

From the end, this time. The penultimate paragraph.

In short, the feminist views attacked by recent critics are not the monopoly of a sect of radical extremists. They are commonplace in mainstream liberal, and even some libertarian, thought. These theoretical ideas have a very close relationship to the critique of existing preferences that led to the critique of rape law and to the demand for laws and policies dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace. [Read more...]

What they did about it

The BBC’s Andrew North tells us more about the Delhi rape victim.

Like the student’s family, at least two of the accused are from impoverished villages in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, and source for many of the thousands of migrants who come to Delhi every year hoping for a better life
– the same journey her father made nearly 30 years ago.

And the other men are from similar migrant backgrounds. Where they differ, though, was in what they did about it. [Read more...]

Uncovering Shakespeare

There’s a BBC Four series from last summer, Uncovering Shakespeare; I saw the first two episodes last night, Macbeth first and The Comedies/Shakespeare’s Women second, which is the opposite of the order of broadcast.

I thought the Macbeth wasn’t very good. It was way too heavy on “interesting” but totally irrelevant visuals – lots of New York streets packed with cars, for instance; wut? – and way too light on the words. Not enough discussion of the words, not enough saying of them, not enough clips of actors saying them, pretty much no discussion at all of the way the words do the work. On the other hand there were some clips, and the discussion wasn’t actually boring, so I enjoyed watching it, but I wished it had been better. [Read more...]

Equity v gender

Chapter 5 of Martha Nussbaum’s Sex and Social Justice is titled “American Women” and it’s basically about the idea that there is sane normal sensible feminism and then there is crazy extremist radical feminism, with the first being sensibly in favor of equality before the law, which we now have, so that’s that, and the second being about crazy wild stuff like distorted preferences and asymmetrical power. Nussbaum addresses Christina Hoff Sommers as the clearest source of this notion (and as a fellow philosopher), but she says the idea is widespread.

Nussbaum points out that the feminists Sommers sees as “radical” are the very people who brought about the changes that Sommers applauds. [Read more...]

Universal human rights in Nigeria

A letter to the influential Nigerian newspaper The Guardian defends same-sex marriage and cites Leo Igwe.

The letter points out that religious groups are very opposed to same-sex marriage, while human rights activists support it.

Such opponents include Christian denominations as well as Muslim groups all of which have voiced their rejection of the pressure on Nigeria by some sections of the international community. Among them is the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh who has repeatedly opposed the move, saying same-sex marriage is not biblical and therefore unacceptable.

However, Nigerian Humanist human rights activist, Leo Igwe, who is a supporter of the UK gay Humanist Charity the Pink Triangle Trust, said: “The statements made by David Mark that the ban on same sex marriage was irrevocable are reprehensible. They are a clear demonstration of homophobia and show a lack of appreciation of the humane moral values of the contemporary world.

Instead of supporting the ban on same sex marriage, the Senate and the Government of Nigeria as a whole should make a commitment to promoting and protecting the universal human rights of everyone, whatever their race, ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion or belief, even when such commitment conflicts with the teachings of religion.”

Good job, Leo.