Woman speaks out, woman gets threats – this is my response

Caroline Criado-Perez has been having quite a week.

After a three-month campaign, that began after I saw a news story about historical women being wiped off banknotes, the Bank of England finally capitulated. Mark Carney announced that not only would Jane Austen be the face of the new tenner, but that a review process would be instituted to ensure that banknotes reflected the diversity of society.

I was overwhelmed. We had taken on a huge institution, a bastion of white male power and privilege, and we had won. I looked forward to future banknotes featuring Mary Seacole and Rosalind Franklin. I looked forward to these notes very publicly: on TV; on radio; and in the papers.

Predictably, humans will find a way to ruin anything. This includes undermining the campaign and, for some goddamn reason, sending Caroline threats. [Read more...]

Outrage, social media and knee-jerk responses

I have a new post up at the Guardian that you can go and fight with.

Additionally:

I quite like this piece by Laura Hudson at Wired on when the bullied becomes the bullies in the age of social media.

I think it’s a difficult discussion and, though I like the article, I’m not sure how far I agree. Probably about *sucks thumb* 90%.

As should be obvious from my Guardian piece, I am worried about the kinds of reactions we have; the sort of horrible name-calling, derision, threats, and pile-ons that can occur – even for a good cause.

After all, we don’t have licence to, for example, threaten homophobes with death. (I wouldn’t want to associate with anyone that did that, which would undermine the cause itself.)

To think we’re immune in our responses because we’re on the moral side is a dangerous precedent, I think. Just because we’re morally right in our position doesn’t make automatically morally right in whatever way we respond.

No, it’s not the 17th century

Sometimes I think this magical box I type on is from the future, because the world outside remains afraid of falling off the edge, gods throwing lightning, witches’ flying limits, and alien lizard monsters. For example, this isn’t from the 17th century:

A Norwegian woman who was given a prison sentence for extramarital sex after she had reported being raped while on a visit to Dubai has been pardoned and told she is free to leave the country.

No, that’s from earlier today.

[Deborah] Dalelv alleged that she was raped in March by a colleague, but was charged with having sex outside marriage after going to the police.

As is a trend with women and conservative Islamic world-views, as seen in Dubai, women having sex with anyone that’s not her Allah-annointed, usually significantly older, Manhusbander is seen as “sex outside of marriage”.

Well, yessss. But that’s an ill-considered definition of this rape. Sure a woman was harmed, assaulted, and suffered but come on: She had sex with someone who hasn’t her husband!

No question of whether it was consensual; no question of whether she was harmed. The focus is on the fact that it wasn’t her husband. Of course, if her husband raped her, we know that marital rape is sometimes not equated with rape.

Women are not persons, here: they’re breeding factories run by a single owner. They’re walking wombs.

This should not be happening and thankfully we are more aware of when it does, so we can warn, avoid and fight against it.

And yet it will continue. Just look at the obsession – yes, including my own on Twitter for mockery purposes – with Kate Middleton’s breeding.

Jason Schreier captured my perspective

Let’s be clear: We’re targeting not really the Royal Family – who might be perfectly nice people – but the weird fact that people care. That the Daily Beast still has a section on its site dedicated to the Monarchy – and not in an historic sense – adds to this.

Sometimes I think we invented fast-traveling, instantaneous information technology for the wrong species. But when I’m made aware of horror stories like Dalelv’s, I can only hope that being more aware might add to us being more pro-active in combating this very stupid views.

UPDATE: Ophelia just posted a more extensive post on Dalelv’s case.

 

White Knight MANifesto

Our plans have been revealed and thus, as Communications Director for the Male Order Brides of the Great FemiNazi Movement, it is my duty to communicate our new rules, as your “freedom” is relinquished from your dirty manhands.

ARTICLE I.

I.         The PCB (Pearl Clutching Brigade) is monitoring all social media, 24/7, in an effort to maintain constant outrage. We need outrage to power our war machines we’ve dubbed Common Decency, Empathy and Conduct. Any and all rape jokes, any and all pictures or details of indecently dressed women, will be targeted, shut down and censored. [Read more...]

We know how this will end

Death – or rather dying – is terrifying for many people. Watching or hearing about a great figure like Mandela – one of the greatest figures and leaders of my country – suffering from the inevitable break down of his old body is difficult. However, at Big Think, I’ve taken issue with much reporting of it and the equally inevitable issues of sensitivities that will arise: Are you sad enough, are you grieving enough, are you respectful enough, etc.

In case you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend my favourite Christopher Hitchens documentary that examines parts of British media that were censored, following another almost universally loved figure, the Princess of Wales’, death. It makes for depressing viewing: where emotions and a rather creepy mob mentality undermined critical reporting and writing.

Hence, Hitchens.

Girl raped, needs life-saving abortion, but can’t because every life is sacred. Um. Wait.

This happened again. From Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress:

An 11-year-old Chilean girl who has become pregnant from rape is renewing a contentious debate over abortion in the conservative Catholic country, where the medical procedure is illegal under all circumstances. Doctors have warned that continuing the pregnancy will be dangerous for the 11-year-old’s health, as well as for the health of her fetus. But, under Chile’s total abortion ban, she is forced to continue it anyway.

The girl’s mother’s boyfriend confessed to raping the girl and is in custody. That’s good at least, but the effects of his horrific actions remain. [Read more...]

Is Katy Perry powered by Twitter?

She must be, if this Tweet were true.

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 12.30.50 AM

You can see at time of capture, it had reached 100,385.

I’ve been even more sensitive to quick, knee-jerk reactions to stories and claims – especially those that occur via social media – thanks to reading an incredible book, No Time to Think. I’ll be saying a bit more about it when I’ve finished it. For now, let’s examine the Twitter-powered custard pumping android that, apparently, (and falsely) is Katy Perry. [Read more...]

Why ‘The Last of Us’ still sticks with me

As you might know, I write on pop culture things, like TV series, films, comics and video games. I recently penned a little article trying to articulate precisely why the Playstation 3 exclusive, The Last of Us, had such a profound impact.

If you’ve also finished it, let me know your thoughts at my infrequently updated gaming blog.

Don’t let facts get in the way of a bad story

Some of you may remember Dr Eben Alexander, who had a Newsweek feature about his book Proof of Heaven. (That Newsweek went belly-up and was consumed by the Beast soon should not be seen as a causal connection). Dr Alexander, in gripping and bad Dan Brown prose describes his experience of what he considers the after life.

Sure, many people claim to have crossed over, experienced NDE (near-death experiences) but – come on! – this dude is a doctor and he wouldn’t lie. And he has a bow-tie and is a scientist-kinda-thing.

Except, yeah. He’s still wrong, mistaken and probably – as according to a new story from Esquire ($) – a slight fibber (or at least Alexander is a highly inaccurate reporter).

Michael Shermer and Sam Harris have already pointed out obvious faults. The one that we should all keep reminding ourselves is why assume the supernatural, when drug-induced hallucinations can have equal – if not more intense – effects. It makes no sense to assume validity merely because of a person’s qualifications, let alone validity based on such apparently obvious side-effects that  anyone can experience.

Why jump to Heaven when science can tell us what happened right now, on the ground? (Obviously for various reasons: financial, to sell a story, fame, a genuine yearning or belief for it to be true. Nonetheless, these are not rational moral justifications.)

Alexander’s story, however, has a worse crime than not being true: it’s also bloody boring. If you are going to fib, do us the favour of being eloquent, exciting and original. Dante, thou art not.