The letters continue: Erasure, misrepresentation and Orwellian doublespeak


To the signatories of the letter Gender is all too relevant in violence statistics.

First let me thank you for the opportunity to continue this important conversation. It is clear your letter in the Guardian today is a reaction to the one signed by myself and 30 others last week, however it would be wrong to call it a response, as you do not appear to have addressed or even understood any of the issues our letter raised, preferring to criticise us on a variety of points which our letter simply did not make.

Allow me to be more specific.

Your correspondents call on the director of public prosecutions to “affirm [her] commitment to eliminating intimate violence against human beings of any gender” and criticise the Crown Prosecution Service’s presentation of statistics in its annual violence against women and girls report for being so explicitly gendered (Letters, 2 July).

We did not criticise the CPS report for being so explicitly gendered. We would expect a report entitled “Violence Against Women and Girls, crime report” to be explicitly gendered. Nor did we condemn the CPS for producing a report with that subject and title.

We criticised the CPS report for being dishonest and misleading in including crimes against at least 13,154 (known) boys and men in a report entitled ‘Violence Against Women and Girls’ while going to some lengths to entirely obscure the experiences of male victims.

It is established fact that these crimes are massively disproportionately committed against women and girls (female genital mutilation exclusively so) and that they are related to women’s broader inequality with men. Your correspondents claim without citation that “one in six of all victims” are male. This is disputed, and certainly does not apply equally to all the forms of abuse in the CPS report.

The figure of 1 in 6 did not require citation as it comes from the CPS report itself and the accompanying data tables. Where gender was recorded, 16% of victims of the crimes described in the report were men and boys. This is most certainly not disputed, the statistics are in Table 8 of the performance information here.

Furthermore, it is also critical that we retain gender in our naming and analysis of these crimes because of the gender of the perpetrators, whom your correspondents do not mention at all.

We did not mention it because we had no dispute with how the CPS report covered the gender of the perpetrators. The report explained quite clearly that around 94% of offenders of these crimes within the criminal justice system were male and 6% female. We accept this, and had no reason to raise it in our letter.

In searching for recognition and then for justice and support for male survivors of abuse, it is a grave mistake to suggest taking gender out of the naming and analysis, and neutralising these crimes into Orwellian “intimate abuse”. A failure to name and call out the abuse of power in these crimes is what kept them invisible for so long.

At no point in our letter did we suggest taking gender out of the analysis. On the contrary, we clearly expressed that male victims have their own gender-specific issues, such as those relating to social expectations of a ‘real man.’ Nor are gender issues neutralised by the phrase ‘intimate abuse’ or ‘intimate violence’ – this term has always been used by many public bodies including the Office of National Statistics, to describe crimes such as domestic violence and abuse – for example, see here, the chapter “Intimate Personal Violence and Serious Sexual Assault.”

You describe this phrase as “Orwellian.” I would suggest what is truly Orwellian is for the experiences of many thousands of violated men and boys to be described with the phrase ‘violence against women and girls.’ War is peace; freedom is slavery; boys are girls. What is truly Orwellian is for the CPS to highlight the conviction of Fr Francis Paul Cullen as an example of their success in prosecuting crimes against women and girls, when the large majority of his victims were boys, and for the gender of those victims to be entirely “taken out of the analysis” by descriptions of his victims only in gender-neutral terms as “young people.”

I would add that it is this type of erasure of male victims – even when the statistics and facts are right before our eyes – which has done so much to keep those crimes invisible for so long, a tragedy which your letter appears to strive to continue.

I do not speak today on behalf of the other signatories to our letter, only for myself, but I for one do not believe in taking gender out of the analysis of sexual and intimate offences. I believe gender issues are crucial to understanding why so many such crimes occur, and what kind of support is needed by victims. What I cannot accept is a cruel and misleading approach which focusses entirely on the gender of victims when they are women and girls and entirely ignores and erases gender when the victims are men and boys, or worse, when the experiences of those men and boys are subsumed into descriptions of violence against women and girls.

I finish on a note of genuine sadness. In our own letter we were very careful to honestly declare our full commitment to supporting all efforts to end violence against women and girls. Many of the signatories to our letter work with female survivors alongside men and boys, and are only too aware of the issues. But even though your response begins by noting our call for the CPS and other bodies to affirm their commitment to recognising and supporting male victims of intimate violence and abuse, in your response you could not even bring yourselves to offer a single equivalent word of support or compassion for the countless thousands of men and boys who are raped, abused, beaten and molested every year. I would add that, despite contacting them directly, we have as yet had no contact from the CPS or any other body that so much as acknowledges the existence of male victims, far less affirming support for their needs.

The male victims I know and support, and those engaged professionally by many of my co-signatories, often report feeling worthless and ignored, as if no one cares about what happened to them in the past or what will happen to them now and in the future. How tragic that your letter may well serve to confirm their darkest suspicions.

Comments

  1. says

    That’s a very disappointing response to your letter, Ally, but you continue to take the high ground in your reaction. It’s somewhat ironic those folks didn’t know where the ‘1 in 6’ figure came from–did they not read the report they’re defending?

  2. 123454321 says

    I’d rather be called out as Orwellian than be known as a precipitous LIAR of the highest order! This is the most hateful attempt at feminist, social manipulation and the most pathetic response letter excusing one’s own abhorrent behaviour I have come across since the last feminist abomination, of which there are now so many I have lost count. What a joke. She couldn’t even answer the question!

    Ally’s last couple of paragraphs sum the sadness of the situation up perfectly.

  3. 123454321 says

    Site crashed and then ended up posting (nearly) duplicate posts. Sorry. [deleted one, AF]

  4. Thil says

    I would point out to the CPS that it’s entirely possible to perform female genital mutilation on a transman or someone with an intersex condition. considering it’s something often inflicted on children, I’m fairly confident that that both have porobably happened many times

  5. gshelley says

    Furthermore, it is also critical that we retain gender in our naming and analysis of these crimes because of the gender of the perpetrators, whom your correspondents do not mention at all.

    I’d argue that this is what you are actually pushing for – for them to acurately represent gender, rather than simply classing any victim as “female”
    Did the people who signed on to that even read the original letter, or just the response and thought it looked reasonable?

  6. Paul says

    Ally

    I suspect you’re banging your head against a brick wall despite the fact you’ve clearly taken great care in the wording of your response .But at least you’ve made your position clear and you’ve got in on record.It would be nice to think it might generate some sort of constructive dialogue but i’m not holding my breath. Sorry if that sounds negative but as you know positions held on the issues raised are often pretty intransigent.

  7. Ally Fogg says

    No, I’m sure you’re entirely correct Paul.

    I’d be more than happy to continue the conversation with any of the signatories to the letter above, would actively welcome it, but really don’t expect it to happen.

    But at least as you say I’ve made absolutely sure there are no misunderstandings about where I stand.

  8. Thil says

    @Ally Fogg @7

    you “made absolutely sure there are no misunderstandings” last time, they still misunderstood you. it doesn’t matter how clear you are if the other side doesn’t want to listen

  9. Lesbian Catnip says

    #2:

    This is the most hateful attempt at feminist, social manipulation

    Correct me if I’m mistaken, but aren’t we in the habit of citing individuals rather than ideologies? We can only hold the author of the article (and their superiors who held them to that standard) responsible for these words. But thanks for keeping straw farmers in business, I guess.

  10. Marduk says

    Seems like bad faith rhetoric to me (although I agree the response has to be to grind your teeth and assume its all a misunderstanding) although what they think they are defending from a complete non-attack on their interests is very unclear. Then again, we’re in a climate where complaining about the woman who sacked a woman unfairly is obvious misogyny according to commentators (because men want women to be sacked, apart from the woman who was sacked by another woman because er…its very confusing), its like nobody is even thinking before they start shouting slogans at this point.

    Still, look on the bright side, I consulted some official statistics earlier and 100% of boardroom members, front bench MPs and Premiership Footballers were women or girls in 2015 [using CPS definitions of ‘women and girls’]. I suspect Fawcett et al would disagree with that observation for some reason though.

  11. Darren Ball says

    Ally,

    When you published your original article, I asked the question: “why would the CPS have done this?” The answer is to be found in the last half of this part of their response:

    “It is established fact that these crimes are massively disproportionately committed against women and girls (female genital mutilation exclusively so) and that they are related to women’s broader inequality with men.”

    There appear to be some very influential groups within this area of advocacy who are more concerned about gender issues than about actual victims of family abuse, and this warped and hateful ideology has finally found it’s way to Westminster and the Criminal Justice System. It is extremely worrying that no part of the Government seems able to stand against it, even though rational minds must see the inequality and irrationality.

    Well done to you and the other signatories for making a stand. Unfortunately, whenever the Guardian publishes such a letter, they always give the final word to the opposing view.

  12. Sans-sanity says

    I was linking your original letter to someone last night when I noticed their reply. I found it so far of base from what you originally said that I genuinely went looking to see if there was a seperate third letter that they were addressing.

  13. Anon287855 says

    @Darren Hall

    We live in a world where ‘male privilege’ is a specific category of domestic violence that is recognised by the courts and local authorities. Not even a joke.

  14. lelapaletute says

    Wow, only just catching up with all this – my head is spinning from the crazy.

    If I have understood you correctly, the CPS issued a report on violence against women and girls, in which it was the category of the violence which defined it as such, rather than the actual gender of the actual victim (???) I ask this as, in spite of having read the relevant blog and letter a couple of times through to be sure I haven’t grabbed the total obverse end of the olive-branch, that is so spectacularly arse-about-face I still find it hard to believe of a public body.

    And then when you’ve pointed this out as being shocking on so many levels, you have been accused instead of complaining that men and boys had been left OUT of the statistics, when the precise problem is that they have been left IN, but miraculously transformed into victims of violence not against themselves as men and boys but against women and girls, for the purposes of … what? Erasing their specificity? Bulking out the numbers? What? What possible reasonable explanation could there be for such bizarre misrepresentation? It’s batshit.

    If they wanted to write a report about those categories of crime (which are IN THE MAIN committed against women and girls) they should either call it what it is, a report on those categories of crime, and leave the men in; or call it what they called it and leave the men out, and be explicit that that is what they’ve done. I just.. don’t see how that fact can have escaped them. Or how, when you point it out to them, they can do anything other than hold up their hands and admit they cocked it up. And yet here we are.

    Ally, I once again have to take my hat off to you:

    a) for noticing and calling attention to this … this … I don’t even know what the word is for this nonsense.
    b) for expressing yourself calmly and clearly in terms no-one could possibly misunderstand, even going to the trouble of anticipating where misunderstandings could arise and ironing them out ahead of time
    c) when you are nonetheless (wilfully?) misunderstood and misrepresented, for staying calm and coolheaded, and simply restating your manifestly reasonable position, again, even more clearly. It does you personally, and men’s issues advocacy, colossal credit in an atmosphere where there is such lamentable hostility and mistrust between men’s and women’s advocates that just common decency (not to mention basic literacy, in the case of the respondents to your letter) seems to go by the wayside more often than not.

    And also, as always:

    d) for slapping down the ever-odious Mike Buchanan – always a treat to witness 🙂

  15. Ally Fogg says

    Haha, yes Lela, I can confirm the CPS issued a report on violence against women and girls, in which it was the category of the violence which defined it as such, rather than the actual gender of the actual victim. And then when I pointed this out as being shocking on so many levels, I was indeed accused instead of complaining that men and boys had been left OUT of the statistics, when the precise problem is that they have been left IN, but miraculously transformed into victims of violence not against themselves as men and boys but against women and girls,

    Also, to the best of my knowledge, we did not get here by following a white rabbit down any rabbit holes, drinking bottles marked “drink me” or eating cakes marked “eat me” but I cannot absolutely swear to this last part, because in all honesty, it would provide a more credible explanation than any of the others available.

  16. lelapaletute says

    Oh yes and also, this from the response to your letter:

    “Furthermore, it is also critical that we retain gender in our naming and analysis of these crimes because of the gender of the perpetrators, whom your correspondents do not mention at all. Many male victims of domestic violence, and the vast majority of men and boys who suffer sexual violence, are abused by men. We need to understand who these men are, why they choose to do what they do, how they target their victims by preying on other inequalities including age, sexuality and social class, and the gendered excuses for violence and abuse, if we are ever to eradicate it.”

    Then call the bloody report Violence Committed By Men, if that’s what you’re looking at. And leave OUT the crimes against men and boys (and women and girls!) committed by women. Explicitly. Words mean what they fucking mean. How does this even slightly pertain to the issue you and the others have raised? Whataboutery in a Sunday hat.

  17. lelapaletute says

    @Ally 16: Haha, glad you’re keeping your sense of humour over it at least – very much a ‘got to laugh or you’d weep’ situation…

  18. David S says

    @LesbianCatnip (10)

    We can only hold the author of the article (and their superiors who held them to that standard) responsible for these words.

    Well said. Attempts to turn the issue into a mudfight between feminists and anti-feminists, or men vs women are really unhelpful. Cats vs dogs would be OK of course, but it’s not a fair fight because cats win every time.

  19. redpesto says

    One minor, but significant, aspect running throughout the response letter was the fact that they used ‘gender’ and ‘gendered’ as meaning ‘affecting women and girls.’ Men and boys apparently either don’t have a gender or the data for that supposedly doesn’t exist, doesn’t count – or, in the case of the evidence cited in the actual CPS report, is ‘disputed’ (translation ‘La la la we’re not listenting’ – see Ally’s piece on Polly Neate and Women’s Aid’s own data).

    It’s difficult to know which is worse: the dogmatic attempt to ignore male victims or the embarrassing manner in which they felt they had to put out their own letter in the hope of controlling the ‘narrative’ about victims of violence and abuse.

  20. Ally Fogg says

    One minor, but significant, aspect running throughout the response letter was the fact that they used ‘gender’ and ‘gendered’ as meaning ‘affecting women and girls.

    Yes, from their ideological position, gender is nothing more than the patriarchal mechanism by which men oppress women – the “sex and reproduction class”, so gender is inherently oppressive to women and “gendered” can only refer to the oppression of women by men, nothing else.

    That is second wave radical feminism 101.

  21. says

    To them gendered clearly means female victims and male perpetrators. Their spin of erasing male victims and female victims borders on endorsement. Look at this paragraph in their letter:

    Furthermore, it is also critical that we retain gender in our naming and analysis of these crimes because of the gender of the perpetrators, whom your correspondents do not mention at all. Many male victims of domestic violence, and the vast majority of men and boys who suffer sexual violence, are abused by men. We need to understand who these men are, why they choose to do what they do, how they target their victims by preying on other inequalities including age, sexuality and social class, and the gendered excuses for violence and abuse, if we are ever to eradicate it.

    This rethoric is basically giving female perpetrators free reigns. Who they are, why they choose to do what they do, how they target their victims aren’t important to understand and there apparently is no need to address and hence eradicate the sexual abuse and domestic violence perpetrated by women against men.

    In searching for recognition and then for justice and support for male survivors of abuse, it is a grave mistake to suggest taking gender out of the naming and analysis, and neutralising these crimes into Orwellian “intimate abuse”. A failure to name and call out the abuse of power in these crimes is what kept them invisible for so long.

    Just…wow! Here it is in clear text: Male victims is to be pushed under the bus and erased in order for the signatores to keep on thinking that as far as they are concerned nothing exists except male violence agaist women and girls. It’s also pretty ironic that they point out that the failure to name and call out the abuse of power in these crimes keeps the crimes invisible in the same letter that conspicuously avoided naming and calling out the existence of female perpetrators.

    They clearly are seeing this as a zero-sum competition. To them the mere existence of acknowledgement of male victims or female perpetrators devalues female victims and excuses male perpetrators. If one thinks including something else makes a mockery of the original parts it’s pretty clear that you think the things being included are a joke.

    Hence it’s clear to me that the organizations represented by the signatories of the “Gender is all too relevant in violence statistics” have a great potential to be harmful towards male victims (and victims of any genders of female perpetrators) if they ever are in contact with them or get to influence policies impacting those victims.

  22. says

    Lesbian Catnip @10:

    Correct me if I’m mistaken, but aren’t we in the habit of citing individuals rather than ideologies? We can only hold the author of the article (and their superiors who held them to that standard) responsible for these words.

    This is not just a matter of 16 signatories on a letter being individually wrong.

    The thing is that the individual signatories (and presumably the organizations they signed as representatives of) very much adher to an ideology that informs the words they wrote. To them domestic violence is a matter of using power to control the victim. That combined with the feminist patriarchy theory that it’s men who have the power in our society pretty much by definition make male victims as well as female perpetrators impossible. This is formalized in the Duluth model of domestic violence. A model which pretty much collapses if male victims and female perpetrators are acknowledged to any degree beyond extremely rare exceptions.

  23. says

    Ally: I am wondering if you are looking at getting this or another (perhaps with your co-signatories) letter published in The Guardian as a response to their response? This deserver a wider audience than this blog has (I am presuming that The Guardian has more readers than you 🙂 ).

  24. says

    Great response Ally.

    What I find particularly dispiriting about the response letter in the Guardian is the creation of a falsely partisan relationship between those supporting women and girls on one side and men and boys on the other. This is not how I or my organisation understand the complex, multi-factorial issue of domestic abuse. While we support and advocate for men experiencing domestic abuse and understand the importance of gender we actively make links with womens support organisations and have a formal partnership project with one which is proving to be effective. The way forward in successfully intervening and sustaining change for those experiencing or perpetrating abuse lies in such partnerships. Thankfully there are many practitioners across the sector who recognise this and are quietly making a difference without getting involved in the heat and fire of political or theoretical debates about causes and consequences, preferring to ground responses in therapeutic and psychological needs-led support.

    The notion that recognising needs of men and boys as victims of abuse, or recognising that women can behave abusively and require a requisite response, will somehow undermine services for female victims is categorically wrong, in my opinion, and actually undermines the effectiveness of services for women.

  25. Marduk says

    Unfortunately in our society at the moment we have a situation where the politics matters more than the victims.

    The understanding of DV has moved on and many cling to rather incorrect ideas about what it is, how it happens and why it happens that we know now aren’t true. The sad thing about this is that newer understandings don’t make things worse for women or compete in any way, rather what they do actually provide is some interventions that actually work for women (unlike the Duluth which we know is wholly ineffective to the point of being actively dangerous).

    I’ve said this several times before but it doesn’t stop being frustrating and sad.

  26. 123454321 says

    @LesbianCatnip (10) and David S (19),

    An ideology is more powerful and effective than an individual. Individuals conform to ideologies. They are influenced and supported by the ideology social framework. The permitted behaviours of individuals are defined via the overall acceptance of the ideology working within the social framework. Alison would NOT feel able to pull this one off without a background supporting ideology that goes unchallenged. In some ways you can view this as not being her fault: she follows the money trail; she gets widespread recognition; she has power and support; her actions have (up until now) gone unchallenged. This is a story about someone working within the acceptable boundaries of a radical ideology that has become firmly embedded across our culture. As far as Alison knows, it’s ok to ignore men and it’s even deemed ok to use them as a tool to strengthen the ideology she supports.

    Ally has done a great job challenging a single individual operating within an ideology that ranges from radical to reasonable – I agree and applaud that effort. But there is still a dangerous, radical ideology, much larger and stronger than any individual, which will be much more difficult to deconstruct. Despite your disapproval I remain fully entitled to criticise the overarching “radical” ideology and will continue to do so until conforming individuals indoctrinated by the ideology and pushing the narrative change their behaviour and recognise that they can’t just use and abuse one group in order to support the group THEY happen to favour above others! Ok?

  27. Danny Gibbs says

    Wow. That “response” was an amazing work of strawmanning.

    They not only avoided the actual points made but they continued to double down on their insistence that auch violence when gendered must mean that victims are female and perps are male.

    This is the exact type of willful ignorance (because this has gone on way too long to say they didnt realize they were doing it) that slows down the process of helping victims and stopping perps.

  28. StillGjenganger says

    @Lelapaletute 15
    That’s the way, Lela!

    Anyway, this kind of post is one reason you are always worth paying attention to, also in the not infrequent case where we do not agree.

  29. Marduk says

    Tamen

    Its a very complicated nexus of ideas. My guesses are:
    1. ideological absolutism. This comes across as being worse than it is because of the echo-chamber effect (read anything on Tumblrinaction for evidence of this) bolstered by further sub-ideologies that make it hard for them to even disagree with each other as friends sometimes should (e.g., ‘unity as a value’, ‘tone-policing’, ‘check your privelege’ etc.) If you remember Ms. Mustafa, she was clearly genuinely surprised to discover that the general public were not aware that racism had been redefined in the circles in which she moves. Thats a very frightening moment when things like that happen and its human to avoid them too.

    2. competition for funding.

    3. motte and bailey defence (which I think it is, which is why its bad faith)

    4. a more complicated issue about resisting the peer reviewed science which basically just says m-f interactions and violence are a bit more complicated than 70s radical feminism (e.g., Duluth) wants them to be. Linked to the above its pretty dangerous. We’ve seen various versions of this, denialism with regard to basic findings and things like trying to prevent men from diagnosed as mentally ill and more rarely trying prevent the intervention of social services (what it comes down to is that they are uncomfortable with any other interpretation other than the criminal justice victim-perp binary, which is why feminist-led DV charities are not interested in preventing or even ameliorating violence, they exist for post-violence only).

  30. says

    Ally I thought the open letter to the CPS was honest, fair and balanced. It pointed out specific facts ignored and massaged to suit a particular objective in the report in question. I consider your points raised above equally relevant.

    The response to which you were writing about above does not surprise me at all. Society today has blinkered version with this so called equality and discrimination that women suffer yet men do not have issues or troubles even when they share the same as womens issues eg DV, rape, sexual assault etc. If men are a larger group it is criticised yet embraced in situations that women hold the larger group. Reasons for female criminality are produced yet not for men. Compassion to female crime is urged but not for men. It goes on in many many other areas of life that affect men eg child access/custody.

    There is a huge society tidal wave against all men in society in all aspects of discrimination towards men and it appears to be because we are men. Society is obsessed with the old patriarchal system, not recognising that in this modern era opportunities are here for all and for those who want to pursue power, management etc. In this obsession they do not see matriarchal forming. The obsession with misogyny blinds them to misandry. They do this in the name of gender equality.

    I do not know what the solution is, but being positive and proactive like you is a good start. In my own world of discrimination issues I stand tall, remain positive and proactive. It is amazing how many men share my personal issue, accepting not a majority. Some do the same as me, others hide due to peer pressure. We have negative descriptions attached to us but not for women. Men like me pursue a full and unquestioned freedom of choice in clothing just as women have pushed for and now have without question or ridicule even when many women look like men in appearance even down to combat gear in everyday wear! They even use the same names of clothing, trousers, socks ties etc but to justify add the word womens at the front.

    Men as a whole must not succumb to peer pressure and remain united as whole for all mens issues, speaking loudly as one proactive voice. I do try where possible with my limited time and resources.

  31. 123454321 says

    “I do not know what the solution is……”

    Jeremy, It starts with using your voice, raising awareness, making your views get heard, not succumbing to the ridiculous shaming and silencing tactics employed by the do gooders who have got nowhere in the last few years and have effectively done nothing more than pave the way for a surging tide of blatant anti-male discrimination. Once upon a time I used to be sensitive to feminism and fully aligned with its goals but it’s gone way too far and has now embarrassingly spiralled completely out of control. I’ve grown up through all of this shit and have come to understand the motivations and drivers behind the ideology. Feminism is fast becoming a joke – actually, it already is. It could have been so good but the underlying selfish ideologies and loathing hatred exhibited by the hate brigade have now taken a foothold so strong that the barriers are almost impenetrable to anything remotely resembling logic. That pathetic response letter is a perfect example of the sheer arrogance exhibited by the brigade – a real showcase of a response demonstrating the unrivalled impunity of the radical feminist ideology. No accountability, no remorse, just pure condemnation aimed straight back at Ally’s very reasonable question. Yet a man in the public eye who dares to – even inadvertently – verbally scathe or patronise a woman will see his job on the line and his career put into ruins. PATHETIC state of affairs and hardly what I’d call equality!

    “…. others hide due to peer pressure.”

    DON’T hide. Otherwise it WON’T stop.

    “….speaking loudly as one proactive voice. I do try where possible with my limited time and resources.”

    This is what women are collectively brilliant at. Men are shit, so we need to try harder. Staying silent will NOT make a better future for our kids.

  32. Archy says

    I have lost all faith in services to help men and boys existing in a proportionate matter. Way too often it is usually women who will write articles like that, erasing male victims from the narrative and doing their best to say womengetitworse as much as possible to try act like males get a basic slap and females are getting the nine gates of hell treatment.

    It is way too common, across way too many countries that these groups and people trying to stop domestic violence will openly n blatantly work against including males as victims, and most especially females as abusers. There is a clear agenda that males just do not matter as much, if at all to these people.

    Even surveys on domestic violence are so heavily gendered that you cannot use them to compare males and females lives since the male data just doesn’t exist, or is poorly recorded. Yet so many anti-dv people will use stats that often only record data for female victims as evidence of sexism against women and act like it’s a one way street.

    I truly do believe a lot of the problem is that they’ve spent 10, 20, maybe 40-50 years in environments where only women and girls are taken in for domestic violence support (eg a women’s shelter) and this heavily biases their view of the world. When you see women and girls being harmed so often, much more than the general public would see and the men are often the abuser then there is a very real risk that your worldview can be severely biased. I see this “group think” and bias happen a lot in groups dedicated to one genders issues. Couple that with the fact that men and boys are far less likely to report or talk about DV against them it can lead to a view of males being somewhat invulnerable to abuse by women and girls.

    But seriously, there shouldn’t even have to be people who ask what about the men/boys, anyone with a heart and a brain who has seen male victims in statistics should have automatically wanted males included and fully supported. And because I don’t see much of that happening, I have lost a huge amount of trust and faith in these people in the anti-DV support positions. Too many are treating it like a zero-sum game and blatantly are offended by men and boys even being considered for support….it’s absolutely disgusting.

  33. sonofrojblake says

    Observation: Ally’s open letter had thirty signatories, 20% of them women.

    The response has 16 signatories. Did they even bother asking a single man whether he wanted to sign? Charitably, did they ask some men, but they all refused? Or did the writer(s) worry that if a man read it, they’d want to check what they were responding to, spot the egregious errors in it, and repudiate it (something none of the women who signed it apparently bothered to do)?

  34. proudmra says

    @34: Your point is valid, but you didn’t spell out the fact that ALL 16 signatories to the denial letter were women. Which is, indeed, quite damning.

  35. Jacob Schmidt says

    I got about as far as this:

    It is established fact that these crimes are massively disproportionately committed against women and girls (female genital mutilation exclusively so) and that they are related to women’s broader inequality with men.

    I just…they’ve definitionally cordoned off a set of violence in a gendered fashion (fine, in itself) and then said “hey, look at all this violence men don’t experience!” Well no shit. If I cordon off a set of violence against men, calling it “getting punched as a man” me saying “‘getting punched as a man’ isn’t something women experience” is terribly unconvincing.

  36. sonofrojblake says

    @35: I usually try to write for a readership capable of making simple inferences like that without help. From your username I can infer why you might not have developed that habit.

  37. Whiney says

    Watcha Ally, have been thinking this over and first of all, well done on getting the letter published, since it was clearly a substantial effort and not easy to get such a diverse group of people to speak with one voice. It’s surely a very positive thing indeed that these concerns have now been expressed and put on the record.

    I guess the only doubts I would have about it are about the asymmetry between the original harm done and the vastly smaller number of people who now have the correct information; but also I’m not totally sure about this paragraph from the last entry:

    “Since there has rarely been any kind of effective organised lobby on behalf of vulnerable men and boys, organisations like the CPS think they can get away with this kind of thing because hey, it’s just men and boys so who is going to care? I sincerely hope that this letter will be one tiny step towards changing that, and that the likes of the Crown Prosecution Service and all other public bodies realise that they cannot always just throw men and boys to the wolves and no one will care.

    I mean, by way of analogy, if you were to consider some of the court cases which have been won against the current Tory government regarding their trampling over the rights of disabled people, just imagine if a social commentator were to write this:

    “I sincerely hope that this court case will be one tiny step towards changing this situation and making the government realise they cannot just throw disabled people to the wolves and no-one will care”.

    The trouble, it seems to me, is that when an institution such as the government or the CPS demonstrates a really extreme form of discrimination or prejudice consistently over time, then one minor reversal like this, one small instance of the truth getting out, is not going to be enough to change the whole culture of that organisation. So simply to have a blind optimism or faith that things will now be rectified might well be misguided.

    Opinion formers in the liberal media are often fond of using the stock expression that ‘we’ve come along way, but we’ve still got a long way to go’, as if it should be taken for granted that everything is just one linear march towards progress. The implication, of course, is that we now live in an era of profound wisdom, where we can place our faith in social elites to guide us toward a promised land. But what if aspects of this vision are bogus and cannot be trusted? What if, for instance, the BBC flagship current affairs programme Newsnight were to demonstrate exactly the same approach towards this issue as the CPS, and then refuse to apologise or admit any wrong when they got caught out? What if this whole project of equality was actually based, in truth, on some groups being vastly more worthy of compassion and basic human dignity than others?

    So, all in all, I think this letter is a good start, but I suspect you’d need to have a much bigger organised public campaign to make a real difference here.

  38. says

    Sorry for the delay in replying – your riposte is brilliant article Ally. The completely reasonable letter that was issued and signed by a very broad based group of individuals was based on equality of support based on need, equality before the law and an equal society.

    Just as Nick from Abused Men in Scotland said, we also work with a broad range of organisations accepting that domestic abuse is multi-dimension and not one dimensional. Many of them also support female victims as well and that is brilliant.

    The signatories of those who responded are significantly out of step with what is happening professionally on the ground when it comes to these areas and out of step with what equality means and the way Modern Britain rightly perceives it to be.

    Two last words – here is an article in Somerset which shows the DPP/CPS erasure of men plays out at a local level. http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/news/attacks_on_women_rise_1_4147056

    And this is debate follow on form this in The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11690017/We-need-to-help-individual-victims-of-domestic-abuse-whatever-their-gender.html

  39. 123454321 says

    Heard this on PM tonight. National Crime Agency says 3% of men are potential pedophiles. It’s on player and starts at approx. 37 minutes. For the BBC to broadcast this, it MUST be right, right?
    I looked up further and found this:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/almost-1-in-every-35-men-could-be-a-sexual-risk-to-children-national-crime-agency-says-10334624.html

    Citation from link – “The NCA figures, which have been based on academic and other sources, suggested that between 1 and 3 per cent of men had paedophile tendencies.”

    Three questions:

    1. What are these “academic and other sources”?
    2. What are we supposed to make from the word “potential” being thrown in there?
    3. With no reference to women, does it follow that women can’t be “potential” pedophiles and/or the figure for female pedophilia is 0%?

    I also wonder what the sample group surveyed looked like (and where). What were the questions?

    A statement of 3% and nothing solid to back it up. Really?

  40. Paul says

    @40

    Although only between 5%-8% of those convicted of sex crimes against children are women there is some research which suggests that around 25% of all paedophiles are women.But as it’s a crime that’s so heavily associated with men there seems to be a reluctance to acknowledge the possible extent to which women are also offenders.And there seems to be some evidence that those victimized by women are less likely to come forward than those victimized by men.Something which is addressed in the article in the following link.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-28/female-paedophiles-prevalent-says-leading-forensic-psychologist/6428710

  41. Holms says

    ^
    But as it’s a crime that’s so heavily associated with men there seems to be a reluctance to acknowledge the possible extent to which women are also offenders.

    I suspect that that this is at least partly caused by the idea that the boys victimised in that way will often be seen as ‘scoring’ or ‘getting off to an early start’ or whatever, all part of the idea that males are sex obsessed and thus always willing. There is a fair chance that such a victim would recieve a high five rather than sympathy when coming forward and revealing that he was abused by a female, which of course does not apply if the abuser was male.

  42. Paul says

    As with male paedophiles the children sexually abused by women are of both sexes and range from babies to adolescents. You may well be right with regard to the response that adolescent boys who’ve been sexually abused by women may get although that doesn’t make it right.

  43. Ally Fogg says

    12345432 (40)

    On the one hand I’m sure you are right, that statistic has a definite feel that it has been plucked out of someone’s arse, and you are also right that the phrase “potential paedophile” is woolly to the point of uselessness (not to mention a wee bit Minority Report). It is clearly being used to lobby for funds and influence rather than to make any authoritative academic claim.

    Having said that, based on what we know of the prevalence of child sex abuse and the scale of the exchange in child abuse imagery online and all the rest of it, the figure itself doesn’t strike me as being particularly extravagant or sensationalist. I’ll honestly admit I have never seen research making any estimates at all in the general population, but personally I’d be surprised if it wasn’t in the ballpark of “a few percent.”

    Of course there are really complex criminological questions attached to this, such as what proportion of men who can be sexually aroused by children would ever actually physically touch / harm a child? It will not be a 1:1 ratio. At the same time, how many people might sexually abuse a child out of sadism, cruelty, control or whatever else – despite NOT showing up in the statistics for ‘potential paedophiles?

    And that is where the question of female abusers comes in, I think. As I understand it, it seems to be exceptionally rare for women to have an ongoing paedophiliac sexual orientation, but it is most certainly not exceptionally rare for women to sexually abuse children. I suspect the psychological profile is different. I would also suggest that there is a massive gap in the criminological canon where there should be an explanatory framework for adult female child abusers. I don’t think anyone has even begun to get to grips with that issue yet.

  44. 123454321 says

    “It is clearly being used to lobby for funds and influence rather than to make any authoritative academic claim.”

    Yes, this appears to be the real demon behind everything relating to this one-sided, gender-biased reporting that attempts to make all men look like evil monsters – the roots of the cause appear to lie around a huge money pile. There MUST be a causal link between promoting the reporting of such articles and the income revenue and benefits gained – perhaps this is why we are CONSTANTLY hearing biased, incomplete views about the male/female perpetrator/victim from the BBC. I feel I’m getting closer to the gold. It’s a bit like the police force. Without criminals, I suppose they don’t exist – no need for them. But who could ever reason with an outcome that suggests police must love criminals in order for them to exist and make money? It’s almost as if the mainstream media are simply following expectation from the audience and a money trail which brings them significant benefits. There are no consequences, no blockages, and so the river along with all the shit it carries keeps on flowing.

    “I don’t think anyone has even begun to get to grips with that issue yet.”

    And so the river flows…..

    I would like to know what the academic and other sources were because I don’t for one second believe the 3% figure is anywhere near correct and yet we now have masses of PM listeners believing 3% of men are pedophiles. For example, do the stats include the younger teenager groups, which may bring about a different perception to that of a 60 year old abusing a young child? Or maybe the female perpetrator stats are wrapped up and labelled as men in a similar fashion to that of the recent CPS fiasco. I wouldn’t put it past them, would you!

    All a whole bunch of unknowns contributing towards a river of factoids.

  45. StillGjenganger says

    ‘Potential paedophile’ sounds not only woolly, but designed to throw maximum moral horror over that largest possible number of people with the least possibility of being proved wrong. Much like ‘trafficking’, really. What do we mean by a ‘child’, for a start. A baby, a person of 14-17 with a fully adult body? Or someone in between? What does ‘sexually attracted’ mean? That your sexual urges are mainly directed towards children, that you are capable of feeling sexual with a child (and might be tempted to go for a child that was available in the absence of other outlets, like people get gay in jail), that you might have the occasional child appear in your sexual fantasies, or that you might look at child porn for the same unfathomable reason that some people look at splatter? And, as you say, how many of your ‘potential paedophiles’ actually have any potential for doing something bad, as opposed to fantasizing about it?

    The number of people caught could vary by an order of magnitude or two depending on exactly how you defined your terms. So, I really think that this kind of number is not only woolly, but dangerous, unless you say pretty clearly what you mean by ‘potential paedophile’.

  46. Ally Fogg says

    “What do we mean by a ‘child’, for a start. A baby, a person of 14-17 with a fully adult body?”

    It did specify in the Independent article that it means:

    The results suggest as many as 3 per cent of men could be a potential sex abuser or have an interest in online child porn, of which 250,000 men are “true paedophiles” who are attracted to pre-pubescent girls who are less than 12-years-old.

    Interestingly, that appears to suggest they are not counting as “true paedophiles” those who are attracted to pre-pubescent boys.

    Although my guess would be that is a mistake, yet another journalist who thinks a victim of sexual abuse must be a girl.

  47. Ally Fogg says

    and following the links, the Independent leads back to that bible of truthful data, the Daily Mail, and an interview with Gormley and Gwynne from the NCA

    Gwynne says there are no absolute figures given the furtive nature of this proclivity. But based on detailed research, he believes at least one per cent of adult men may have sexual interest in minors. But he adds: ‘Some go up to three per cent. The number I would put on it is 750,000 men in this country.’ Of these, he says, about a third are ‘true paedophiles’, as defined by scientists for having an interest in pre-pubescent children – those under 12.

    So it would appear to be the Independent journalist who has replaced the word “children” with “girls”

  48. says

    The Independent article cites an Daily Mirror article which had this line

    Horrifically, as many as 250,000 men may be sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children – defined as those under 12 – according to the findings disclosed exclusively to The Mail on Sunday.

    So it’s probably correct to assume that Alex Ward is yet another journalists who thinks a victim of sexual abuse must be a girl – why else rewrite “pre-pubescent children” into “pre-pubescent girls”?

  49. proudmra says

    #37: I see you don’t take helpful suggestions well. Your reaction suggests that you don’t understand your point too well either.

  50. 123454321 says

    Way to go, Ally. I now firmly lay my stake in the ground and declare that the media and its entourage of loyal, indoctrinated journalists are obviously fuelling this ever-flowing river of factoids. What a blatant and purposeful choice of word change! Beggars belief!

  51. sonofrojblake says

    @45: “It’s a bit like the police force. Without criminals, I suppose they don’t exist – no need for them”
    Whatever Teresa May might say, the police do a good deal more day to day than “fight crime”.

    @46: “in the absence of other outlets, like people get gay in jail”
    If you “get gay in jail”, newsflash dude, you were gay before. If you think otherwise the only person you’re fooling is yourself.

    @47: “they are not counting as “true paedophiles” those who are attracted to pre-pubescent boys. ”
    Catholic church propaganda? “Our priests are not true paedophiles, they only do boys”.

    @53: I look forward to your first helpful suggestion. In the meantime, consider that since you were able to correctly infer my point, I obviously understood it well enough to communicate it to you without ambiguity. That you felt the need to restate it more baldly (presumably because you feared people dumber than you might miss it) really only speaks to the kind of audience you’re more used to (comfortable?) addressing.

  52. proudmra says

    @55: You mean, feminists? Yes, I find that spelling things out very slowly and clearly is often necessary with them.

  53. StillGjenganger says

    @SonOfRojBlake 55
    Playing word games on me? I thought it was fairly well established that some men, who would otherwise stick to female sex partners, would try out other men when they had no alternatives, like in jail, army camp, or boarding school. Anyway, that is the point under discussion. Deny it if you wish. But either way it makes little difference whether you say that some men are ‘really’ gay even though they will never look at another man unless they get arrested. Or that some opportunistic heteros are willing to try the alternatives if pushed.

  54. Paul says

    @58

    I know there’s a certain degree of fluidity in human sexuality but i don’t know of any research which looks at how much consensual same-sex activity takes place between straight adults when they’re deprived of contact with the opposite sex.Coercive same sex activity however is not necessarily driven by sexual orientation but is more about power.So it’s perfectly possible for violent sadistic adults to rape and sexually abuse other adults of either the same or opposite sex without having any sexual attraction for the victims.

  55. says

    I’m delighted that you have taken up the issue of the systematic erasure of male victims of sexual violence. Are you aware that the news media systematically erase male victims of non-sexual violence in other contexts, such as war violence where men are in fact the vast majority of victims?

    Consider for example the headline of this Mirror story.

    500 women and children buried alive by Islamic extremists, claims Iraqi minister

    The lede refers to the victims in gender neutral terms, which does nothing to contradict the false headline. It is only about halfway into the story do we learn that according to the only source for the story, the victims include women and children i.e., almost certainly the vast majority of them were adult men.

    Here’s another example. The story refers to mass rape of women and to looting, but makes no mention of the mass stabbing whose victims were mostly men. The only reason I know about this at all is because a few accounts did manage to mention them, briefly and in passing, and to gender the victims. A cursory search just now did not turn up any of those reports, though it’s possible that they are still extant. This BBC report does reference the stabbings, in the usual blink-and-you-miss-it manner, but does not gender the victims. It seems unlikely that every victim of a mass stabbing will have survived, but I was never able to find any reference to fatalies, despite extensive searching at the time.

    The Reuters story provides us with another example in its last sentence. When I investigated how many of the “women and children” were actually men I found* that the General was implicated in two major atrocities, one an indiscrimate slaughter of men, women, and children, the other a targetted cull of men.

    There is nothing unusual or new about the mass execution of defenseless men in war. Nor is there anything unusual or new in the media practice of erasing and desexing the victims. In the near decade I have been blogging, I have seen dozens of similar examples. There have been many more which I have suspected, because all the tropes were there, but where the erasure was total, and thus impossible to verify. The seminal academic paper on this topic was published in 2001.

    *Some UK-based surfers visiting my website will by met by a blocking page declaring it to be a hate site. It isn’t. There’s no hate-speech there. It’s a progressive, leftwing site which is pro choice, pro gay-rights, pro trans-rights, and supportive of abuse survivors. Unfortunately it is also fiercely critical of a movement with enough institutional clout to persuade the authorities to silence its critics.

    (If you can’t view any of the pages linked above, look at the URLs to get a sense of what they’re about.)

  56. sonofrojblake says

    @57: word games?
    “I thought it was fairly well established that some men, who would otherwise stick to female sex partners, would try out other men”
    (my emphasis)

    Yes indeed. And there’s a word for that minority of men. And it’s “gay”[1]. Except… society, including and especially those men, still has a problem with teh Gayz. Which is why healthcare professionals prefer not to use the word, and instead talk about “men who have had sex with men”. This ludicrous circumlocution is intended to protect the feefees of men who are gay or bisexual AND HAVE ACTED ON IT but absolutely will not admit it to themselves or others, to the point that they’ll lie in circumstances where it could literally kill them. Which is another symptom of toxic masculinity, isn’t it?

    It’s also well established that many of those men publicly stick to female partners, while concurrently covertly engaging in gay sex even while hetero sex is available to them. Pretty much every gay man I know has tales of the “straight” guys they’ve been with.

    [1]or “bisexual” if you like. That’s a word game I’m not really interested in in this context.

    @58: “Coercive same sex activity however is not necessarily driven by sexual orientation”

    This always sound to me like just another bullshit way closeted men justify to themselves and others that, yeah, OK, technically they had sex with another man, but hey they forced him to and that totally doesn’t mean they’re one of teh Gayz or anything. It baffles me why anyone supports this narrative, because it seems to be supporting the rapist in their “I’m not gay or anything disgusting like that” attitude, when the proper response would seem to be “No, dude, you’re definitely gay, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s the whole RAPIST bit that’s wrong.”

  57. StillGjenganger says

    @60
    Thee probably are quite a lot of bisexual men who will not admit to it. But we still have two different concepts: Men (in this case) who are strongly attracted to other men. And men who are strongly attracted to women, but might in some limited circumstances try having sex with a man. As long as we acknowledge both concepts and have a word for both it is of course unimportant how those two words sound. But claiming that any otherwise straight person who ever has or in any circumstances might possibly have sex with another man is GAY GAY GAY, sounds more like a way to artificially inflate the number of gays for political purposes.

  58. lelapaletute says

    @sonofrojblake 60 – You don’t get to decide what someone else’s sexual orientation is. Sorry. You might want to dial back the oppressive, prescriptive labeling of people against their own self-definition. Just saying.

  59. Adiabat says

    123454321 (54): You’re spot on when you identify the media as a big obstacle in getting male victims recognised. They have their agenda and they don’t really seem to care about the truth. A big part of the problem with these journalists is a lack of accountability. Their editors usually don’t care and will support them even as they push agendas and lie, as long as that agenda aligns with the outlet’s agenda.

    The only way to change this behaviour is to introduce consequences for journalists, and for the news outlets that support this behaviour. First contact the news outlet through their complaints procedure – be polite and stick to the facts. When they brush you off (and they almost certainly will) contact the outlet’s advertisers telling them that you will not be buying their products due to their support of these outlets – again be polite and stick to the facts. If you can organise this so they receive these complaints from many people at once this will be more effective. (Don’t use form-letter templates though; they tend to end up in spam folders).

    You have to make it so it’s not in the outlets interest to push their agenda irrespective of facts. If you are effective it’s only a matter of time before the Bean-Counters reign in agenda-driven editors (or the outlet goes under).

    Another option is to catalogue corrupt journalism. Many journalists depend on readers both not reading the author of an article, as well as the short memory of the public associating their repeated shoddy journalism with the same writer, especially when the journalist is freelance (once you start noting the author names you’ll be amazed how many articles you notice for their agenda are written by the same people). As there isn’t a professional based organisation that’ll regulate corrupt journalists (hence the lack of consequences), thus ensuring that they adhere to professional standards, the public needs to find a way to perform this function. Sites such as http://www.deepfreeze.it do this in one area of journalism, where corruption is catalogued and journalists’ names are searchable. Nothing frightens a corrupt freelancer more than a laundry list of corruption and shoddy work showing up in a google search for their name.

    I see no reason why a similar catalogue cannot be put together for journalists that repeatedly erase male victims, especially for cases as blatant as the one you mention.

  60. StillGjenganger says

    @SonOfRojBlame 60.
    On second thoughts, I’ll admit that my original phrase ‘people get gay in jail‘ was ambiguous. ‘Gay’ is ambiguous in itself, referring both to orientation (a man who is primarily attracted to men) and to behaviour (a man who will have sex with other men). Of course in most cases the two go together, but either is possible without the other. So, to be precise about it, I should probably have said ‘men who have sex with other men in jail‘.

  61. sonofrojblake says

    @61: “claiming that any otherwise straight person who ever has or in any circumstances might possibly have sex with another man is GAY GAY GAY, sounds more like a way to artificially inflate the number of gays for political purposes”
    Calling a man who has sex with another man “gay” is an artificial way to inflate the number of gays? And for “political purposes”? How can it be controversial to call a man who has sex with men “gay” (where, pace the couple of people I know who are bi and don’t give a monkey’s for labels, in this context that word includes bi).
    @62: “You don’t get to decide what someone else’s sexual orientation is.”
    Straw man – never said I did. I don’t get to decide my own, either. It is what it is.
    But here’s the thing: how do I tell what someone else’s orientation is? I have only two things to go on.
    (a) what they tell me it is and
    (b) what they actually do

    If someone tells me they hate cricket, then I’ll say fair enough and put them down as someone who hates cricket (I might have a rude name for them too…). Because hey, I don’t get to decide what someone else’s attitude to cricket is. But if they subsequently present at A&E in a set of pads and whites with a bat under their arm and a large circular bruise to their ribs… is it unreasonable to then consider them a cricketer? And to consider their self-definition as a hater of cricket as, at best, a shame? (After all, there is nothing wrong with loving cricket. Be proud! (but try not to be out…))

  62. lelapaletute says

    To use your ridiculous analogy:

    If someone tells me they hate cricket, then I’ll say fair enough and put them down as someone who hates cricket (I might have a rude name for them too…). Because hey, I don’t get to decide what someone else’s attitude to cricket is. But if they subsequently present at A&E in a set of pads and whites with a bat under their arm and a large circular bruise to their ribs… is it unreasonable to then consider them a cricketer? And to consider their self-definition as a hater of cricket as, at best, a shame? (After all, there is nothing wrong with loving cricket. Be proud! (but try not to be out…))

    All that would tell you is that they had performed an act of cricket. It would not tell you that they loved cricket, or were ‘a cricketer’. They might have played cricket with a gun to their head, or to please their family, or to curry favour with their boss who only promotes people who know what a googlie is. They may have hated every moment. Or they may have been relatively indifferent, and would have much preferred to play rugby, but cricket was what was on offer and they felt the need for some exercise. If you are saying that anyone who has ever had a same sex sexual experience, voluntary or involuntary, whatever they may think of the matter or feel inside, is by definition gay, then the category becomes infinitely broader than the one most people, straight or gay, would recognise or subscribe to. There is of course the possibility that only you know the one true definition, and everyone else is just kidding themselves. But on balance I doubt it.

  63. StillGjenganger says

    @SonOfRojBlake
    We are really unlikely to agree on anything here. But just for the hell of it:
    By your definition can you be both gay and straight at the same time?
    If yes: it is then quite possible that 90+% of the population is both, but it does not tell us anything interesting.
    If no: Why do you become gay if you ever, once, might consider same-sex sex? You could equally well say that anyone who might ever, once, consider heterosexual sex is straight?

  64. sonofrojblake says

    If you are saying that anyone who has ever had a same sex sexual experience, voluntary or involuntary, whatever they may think of the matter or feel inside, is by definition gay

    Well we can clear that one up very easily, can’t we? That is self-evidently ludicrous. It would be unbelievably crass to even suggest that if a man was raped, that by definition made him gay.

    Good job I never said that or anything like it, isn’t it? I was pretty clearly referring only to men who voluntarily have sex with other men. Does make me wonder why you’d bring it up. It’s such a repellent idea.

    There is of course the possibility that only you know the one true definition

    In general I find it’s only a fairly small minority who have a major problem with the idea that “men who have sex with men” = “gay” (where “gay” is shorthand for “gay or bi”). I’m always suspicious of the motives of people who are vehemently opposed to the idea that men who voluntarily have sex with men might be referred to as “gay”. Twisty arguments where there’s somehow a distinction between orientation (who you want to do it with) and voluntary behaviour (who you choose to do it with), and the suggestion that there should maybe be a special other word for men who have sex with men but don’t want lumping together with teh Gayz because labels are bad, mkay? It just smacks of toxic stereotyping.

    @64: “in most cases [orientation and behaviour] go together, but either is possible without the other”

    Citation needed. Begging the question.
    One the one hand, it’s obviously perfectly possible to have a gay orientation but not exhibit any such behaviour. In short, celibacy is a thing.
    On the other, though, it seems similarly self-evident that you’d only have sex with someone voluntarily if you, y’know, wanted to. Behaviour without orientation doesn’t make any sense conceptually, if you think about it. I can understand why people reject it, though.

  65. sonofrojblake says

    Simulpost.

    By your definition can you be both gay and straight at the same time?

    In answering that question I’d have to stop using “gay” as a shorthand for “gay or bi”, and be more specific with definitions. Therefore, and by necessity crudely, “straight” would be “has sex only with opposite gender”, “gay” would be “has sex only with same gender” and “bi” would be “has sex with either gender”. (And apologies for gender binary, but I’ve not got all night).

    Given those definitions, it’s axiomatically not possible to be gay and straight. I assume your 90% postulate is that 90% would be “bi”. Again – citation needed. Personally I doubt the number is anywhere near that high, but I’d absolutely agree with you, though, that the figure is definitely WAY higher than many people would think, and higher than many would be comfortable with. And I happen to think that is interesting.

    It’s interesting because one of the features of toxic masculine stereotypes is that it’s highly undesirable to be a “poof”. This despite the fact that really quite a lot of men would fit the definition of “poof”, including and especially a lot who would violently reject the label, despite engaging in the qualifying behaviours voluntarily. If that label weren’t so toxic, if people didn’t feel the need to reject it so violently, I can’t help thinking everyone would be a lot happier.

  66. lelapaletute says

    This always sound to me like just another bullshit way closeted men justify to themselves and others that, yeah, OK, technically they had sex with another man, but hey they forced him to and that totally doesn’t mean they’re one of teh Gayz or anything.

    You said this. Which seemed to imply that you thought that being forced to have sex with men was just an excuse, and that if you had sex with men at all it meant you were gay. Just like that. Forgive me if I misunderstood.

    The situation with men having sex with men in prisons is complicated, and involves power. There are straightforward situations of rape, yes. But there are also men who identify as straight who nonetheless consent to sex acts to obtain protection, to curry favour, and yes, to relieve sexual frustration resulting from their usual outlet being denied them. There is of course an argument about the extent to which this consent is coerced, and that can probably only be assessed on a case-by-case basis. But where these men do not themselves identify as gay, despite having had same sex experiences for a variety of reasons, you can only take them at their word. Fundamentally, gay is an orientation, it is something which happens inside someone’s own head – you can be gay without ever having sex with a man, or straight and still have sex with someone of the same sex, etc. The only person who can say definitively whether someone is gay or not is themself. We are clearly unlikely to agree on this point, but to me that fact is bleeding obvious.

  67. lelapaletute says

    it seems similarly self-evident that you’d only have sex with someone voluntarily if you, y’know, wanted to

    Bahahaha. If bloody only. You are talking about the world as it would be ideally – the way I myself frequently advocate it should be – but as I am frequently reminded, in practice, sex is muddied by a huge range of other power intersections and sociocultural motivations, and I think it’s bloody obvious that would be doubly the case in prison.

  68. 123454321 says

    @63 Adiabat,

    I agree these journalists need consequences but I fear that the problem is far deeper-rooted. The exaggeration and lies around gender statistics relating to DM, for example, has been going on for decades. The erasure of men and boys from the media is now commonplace, as we have all witnessed right here on Ally’s blog. The problem appears more fundamental. The root cause of the wilful and appalling behaviour of the media and the clan of man-hating feminist do gooders – who supposedly look after the interests of all those fluffy, little, helpless women out there who get beaten up by their menfolk in the hundreds and thousands every day – is clearly a gravy train of millions of pounds flowing through what can only be described as a HUGE business, or rather a significant number of smaller businesses all tight lipped but aligned with the same devious objectives, collaboratively supporting the narrative which says that all men are evil bastards and women are always the poor little victims and therefore please put your hand in your pocket and give us some cash to support self sustaining job creation and political representation within the growing business and the more grants they get the more the matrix grows and the more they can afford to use strength in numbers to interface with the public and the media, get their expenses paid, get their salaries paid, get more air time, earn money, garner more support via repeated lies and bullying indoctrination tactics, then set up charities to earn even more money to spend on conferences and seminars with a clear focus on proselytising amongst the masses who foolishly believe everything they fucking see, read or hear and have been programmed to not give a shit about males because only women and girls matter.

    How many of you guys still don’t get what’s going on here? It’s big business and it’s a business that’s blatantly lying to you all and covering up truths in order to get access to your wallet and credit card.

  69. StillGjengnger says

    @Lela 70
    I think he was saying that some people thought that male-to-male sex did not make you gay as long as you were raping the other man, and you misunderstood that. Otherwise I agree with you completely

  70. StillGjengnger says

    @SonOfRoj
    Making ‘gay’ a synonym of ‘gay or bi’ is cultural imperialism. You might equally well say that ‘straight’ meant ‘straight or bi’ and only the pure gays were excluded.
    For the rest we are talking about sexual orientation, not behaviour. and the obvious interpretation is that there is a gradual shading from people who could only possibly feel any sexual inspiration from one sex, ever, through various gradings and degrees of bisexuality. I have no numbers on how people are distributed (nor, I suspect, do you).The rest is a matter of how to divide up the territory. If anybody who could ever, possibly once, feel anything sexual with someone of the same sex is included, it is not unreasonable to think that 90% of the population is bi. But that is just another way of saying that this is a continuum. More reasonably you would divide the population into two or three, ‘mostly straight’, ‘mostly gay’, and perhaps include ‘mostly bi’. Which makes it untenable to clam that a single male-to-male sexual episode ‘makes you gay’.

  71. sonofrojblake says

    @71:

    You are talking about the world as it would be ideally

    No, I’m talking about the definition of the word “voluntarily”. You don’t seem to have a very clear understanding of the concept of consent, judging from what follows. You might want to work on that.

    For instance:
    “men who identify as straight who nonetheless consent to sex acts to obtain protection”

    If you’re “consenting” to a sex act in order to avoid violence or the threat of violence, that’s not consent. It seems incredible to me that you could even suggest such a thing, here of all places. Can you even imagine the kind of shitstorm that would follow if you suggested that a woman who had been forced under threat of violence to engage in sex had in fact “consented”? The FTB SJWs would fucking crucify you.

    But apparently as far as you’re concerned if you’re a man under threat of violence who submits to sex, that’s fine and dandy. Double standard, much? This is exactly the kind of victim-blaming BULLSHIT Ally’s letter was about, and I’m amazed you’re advocating for it with a straight face.

    “men who identify as straight who nonetheless consent to sex acts[…] to curry favour”

    See above – exact same thing.

    “and yes, to relieve sexual frustration resulting from their usual outlet being denied them”

    I presume here you’re referring to women as “their usual outlet”. I contend that if you’re a straight man and there are no willing women about, and you’re feeling frisky, the best, quickest, safest and most obvious way to deal with that is to, ahem, take matters into your own hands, so to speak. Men do this all the time (seriously, all the time). If it even occurs to you instead to choose to get jiggy with another man, then I contend that you’re kidding only yourself if you identify as “straight”, and I really can’t see how it’s controversial to say this.

  72. sonofrojblake says

    Simulpost again.

    Making ‘gay’ a synonym of ‘gay or bi’ is cultural imperialism

    /sigh/ I didn’t make it a synonym. I used it as an abbreviation for convenience, to save me having to write “not straight”, or “not as straight as you’re trying to give the impression you are”, or some other long, clumsy phrase.

    we are talking about sexual orientation, not behaviour

    I think I said everything that needs saying about this false dichotomy in post 68.

    I have no numbers on how people are distributed (nor, I suspect, do you)

    Indeed. But then, I didn’t name a figure. /shrug/ You seem to be missing the point, which is that the numbers don’t matter – what matters is the idea that label “not straight” (see what I did there?) is regarded as toxic, and that is part of the …

    heteronormative patriarchy.

    Roll credits.

  73. sonofrojblake says

    The only person who can say definitively whether someone is gay or not is themself

    This is fair enough, up to a point. You can tell yourself and others anything you like about your identity. The thing is – words have meanings. If I tell you I’m a Muslim, you should respect my self-identification, right?

    How about if I tell you I insist you respect my self-identification as Muslim through a mouthful of bacon sandwich that I’m washing down with a beer at noon during Ramadan? I think at that point you’d be somewhat justified in asking who I think I’m kidding.

  74. lelapaletute says

    @71:
    You are talking about the world as it would be ideally
    No, I’m talking about the definition of the word “voluntarily”. You don’t seem to have a very clear understanding of the concept of consent, judging from what follows. You might want to work on that.

    Right, I think the overall problem here is that you are coming at this issue blunt as an iron-age spoon and without the slightest bit of nuance. Hence your using ‘gay’ as ‘shorthand'(!) for ‘gay or bi’, in much the same way the report discussed above uses ‘Women and girls’ as shorthand for ‘Women and girls (and men and boys)”. in both cases, whether you are doing it because you’re a bit stupid, or because it serves your agenda, is an interesting question. That indefensible elision is getting debunked around your ears by gjenganger so I won’t bother doing it again.

    For instance:
    “men who identify as straight who nonetheless consent to sex acts to obtain protection”
    If you’re “consenting” to a sex act in order to avoid violence or the threat of violence, that’s not consent.

    I was not talking about situations where the threat of violence was being directed from the sexual partner (‘have sex with me or I’ll beat you up’). That is of course rape. I was referring to situations where the individual is generally at risk of violence from others (such as in a prison or a war) so seeks the protection of a stronger individual within that environment, by offering sexual favours. As I say, it is debatable in every case to what extent coercion is applied in this case, and from what direction – if it is the environment itself that coerces the behaviour, rather than the ‘protector’ who the individual approaches, is that ‘protector’ a rapist, or merely exploitative of the coercive environment? It is wrong, clearly, but what kind of wrong it is does matter in the context of this conversation, as you are implying that same sex sexual activity = gay, whereas I believe the motivations for the activity have primary relevance when you’re talking about orientation.

    It seems incredible to me that you could even suggest such a thing, here of all places.

    You’ll be relieved to hear I wasn’t then. Although I suspect you knew I wasn’t all along, and were just flinging shit because you know your position is untenable. But that’s between you and your conscience.

    Can you even imagine the kind of shitstorm that would follow if you suggested that a woman who had been forced under threat of violence to engage in sex had in fact “consented”? The FTB SJWs would fucking crucify you.

    Well since I am a ‘FTB SJW’, if by that you mean ‘someone who argues for clear explicit consent as the standard, I look forward to hearing their views. They’ll be here any minute, no doubt. Oh no, wait, it’s just you willfully misinterpreting me.

    But apparently as far as you’re concerned if you’re a man under threat of violence who submits to sex, that’s fine and dandy. Double standard, much? This is exactly the kind of victim-blaming BULLSHIT Ally’s letter was about, and I’m amazed you’re advocating for it with a straight face.

    Well you can reel in your amazement, because I’m not. Quite clearly, to anyone actually reading what I’ve written. Where, anywhere, did I even imply that men having sex in prison for reasons other than sexual attraction to their partner is ‘fine and dandy’? I am merely looking at the motivations and context in a way that is a trifle more nuanced than the brain-aching ignorance of “sex with another man = gay gay gay”.

    “men who identify as straight who nonetheless consent to sex acts[…] to curry favour”
    See above – exact same thing.

    No, it isn’t. Unless you believe that all sex work is rape, which is not a view i subscribe to. I think it is wrong (not in a finger-wagging morality police sense, but in a ‘deeply unpleasant and sad’ sense, as you can see from about a million wrangles I’ve had on these pages before) but it is nonetheless a fact of life that people do have sex for a wide range of reasons beyond ‘they want to have sex with that person’, including for trade. Unless you believe all transactional sex is rape, which is an argument to be made for sure, but I’m not sure you do, I think you’re trying to elide three different things (violent or coercive prison rape, sexual relationships entered into for protection from other violence, and sex as a form of bartering) into the same big category of ‘rape’ so that you can carry on supporting your thesis that ‘men only have voluntary sex with other men in prison because they desire sex with men’ – when by your highly restrictive definition of ‘voluntary’ you’ve ruled out any other type of sexual encounter. I think you want this to be simple, when, frankly, it isn’t.

    “and yes, to relieve sexual frustration resulting from their usual outlet being denied them”
    I presume here you’re referring to women as “their usual outlet”. I contend that if you’re a straight man and there are no willing women about, and you’re feeling frisky, the best, quickest, safest and most obvious way to deal with that is to, ahem, take matters into your own hands, so to speak. Men do this all the time (seriously, all the time).

    That is the best way to relieve the physical sensation of sexual frustration, yes. But as anyone with any sense knows, there is a great deal more to sex than physical release. Otherwise we’d all just be at home wanking away. The other, less physical desires encompassed in the urge to have sex do not just go away in prison, and under duress, people will tend to try and satisfy those urges with whatever and whoever is to hand. Not saying it’s right, just saying it’s true, and to try and hack that wide range of situations and motivations down into ‘it’s rape or it’s gay’ is just… simple-minded in the most literal sense imaginable.

    If it even occurs to you instead to choose to get jiggy with another man, then I contend that you’re kidding only yourself if you identify as “straight”, and I really can’t see how it’s controversial to say this.

    And here is where I can only put my head in my hands and wonder if your actual thought processes are as primary-coloured and two-dimensional as your discourse.

  75. lelapaletute says

    Oh an by the way, on the subject of isolating and victim-blaming, you do realise this ‘if you willingly have sex with another man, you’re gay as a gay gay thing whatever you might think about it’ oversimplification probably does men who have sex with men in prison but otherwise identify as straight a lot of harm. If for whatever personal or sociocultural reason they reject that label being applied to them, then they may hide their activities, not seek sexual health support/counselling if it is appropriate, put themselves at risk. The best way to support people is to respect their self-definition without judgment, and give them the practical help they need/ask for.

  76. StillGjenganger says

    @Roj
    Lelapaletute has already said most of what I could add, but one more point:
    If ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ are just neutral, descriptive terms, they are symmetrical. Some prefer men, some prefer women, no reason to privilege one over the other. Which means that ‘gay = not straight’ is no more logical than ‘straight = not gay’ – there is no reason to put the more or less bi-type people in one group rather than the other. For that you need to make the groups asymmetrical. The obvious reason would be to put a moral judgement on one of them. If people think that ‘gay is bad’ it could make sense to say that anyone not fully straight is gay, and therefore bad. Or of course that since I (or person X) is not really bad, we will not judge him as gay. Or (as you might be thinking) ‘They are putting shit on me for being gay, that guy is no better than me, he has no right to pretend that he is different’.

    If we want to get to where gay and straight are neutral and symmetrical terms (as we surely do), we can not apply this kind of ‘if-you-are-not-100%-with-us-you-are-against-us’ logic

  77. sonofrojblake says

    it is debatable in every case to what extent coercion is applied… is that ‘protector’ a rapist, or merely exploitative of the coercive environment?

    So you exploit a coercive environment to have sex with someone who would not otherwise consent… but you’re NOT a rapist? If you’re a lawyer, Bill Cosby might be interested in your services…

    As far as what you said in post 79, I can only assume you either didn’t read or didn’t understand post 60.

    @80:

    If ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ are just neutral, descriptive terms, they are symmetrical

    Only in the sense that they’re value-equivalent. There’s a massive asymmetry in numbers, for starters, and though there’ve been great strides forward gay and bi people are still oppressed minorities. Note the plural. “gay= not straight” is perfectly logically equivalent to “straight = not gay”, as long as you acknowledge, as most people do, that bi is a different orientation entirely – hence “LGBTQ”. I had hoped that for the sake of brevity I might be forgiven for eliding the G and the B there, as I might be similarly forgiven for taking it as read we were talking about cis-gendered males only (I even apologised upthread about stereotyping gender binary). But hey, no chance must be missed to police in every minute detail every identity politics mis-step, and no allowance or quarter shall be given for the sake of brevity of expression.

    Fine. In post 46, you used the phrase “in the absence of other outlets, like people get gay in jail”

    My response SHOULD have read:

    If you “get gay in jail”, newsflash dude, you were gay or bisexual before. If you think otherwise the only person you’re fooling is yourself.

    Better?

  78. StillGjenganger says

    @SonOfRoj
    Less aggressive, less offensice, but the problems remain:
    – If ‘bisexual’ means someone who has a reasonably strong sexual attraction to both sexes, your statement is quite likely wrong, for the reasons Lela has already said.
    – If ‘bisexual’ means someone who might at some point have sex with both men and women, it is true (well, duh!) but says nothing about the orientation or nature of the person you are talking about.

    To illustrate, there are men who on occasion has had sex with various inanimate objects. The fact that someone has ‘had sex’ with a watermelon does not necessarily mean that he has a particular sexual orientation towards watermelons.

  79. lelapaletute says

    So you exploit a coercive environment to have sex with someone who would not otherwise consent… but you’re NOT a rapist? If you’re a lawyer, Bill Cosby might be interested in your services…

    Again, a remarkable elision of ‘exploiting a coercive environment’ with ‘drugging and forcible penetration’ – you really are stone deaf to nuance, aren’t you? Do you then argue that, as I previously asked, anyone using the services of a sex worker is a rapist, as that person would not have sex with them if they didn’t want their money, and are living in the arguably coercive environment of capitalism? This would be the consistent approach given everything else you have said, and I could then disagree with your overall argument. But at the moment, you are slipping about like warm jelly trying to have it all ways at once.

  80. says

    Hi Ally

    Once more, I goggle at your patience responding to a letter that so spectacularly misses the point.

    This casual, bidirectional equation of womanhood and victimised is really insidious. Check out the not-so-subtle difference between headline and content in this report from the Independent earlier this week.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/watch-the-moment-34-women-and-children-managed-to-escape-from-isis-10387692.html

    It seems to me such an easy thing to have got right. And it should go without saying that the casual lumping together of women and children itself is awkward language, with its implications of helplessness.

  81. Marduk says

    The men=bad/aggressor, women=good/victim binary also works the other way.

    The Guardian’s writers now automatically assume any anonymous internet threat-maker is not just male but a “white male” (as per the Pao coverage for example). However, when these people are identified it tends to be basically equal, if anything skewing slightly more female for more serious campaigns of harassment and acts like “vanning” (making anonymous reports to the FBI that a person is a terrorist or a drug dealer in the hope of FBI “party van” – that is, the home raid command and control centre – parks on their lawn). It appears that internet really levels the playing field when it comes to this kind of behaviour.

    Similarly I’ve noticed for a while now that “society” in an SJW (feminists proper are more careful about this) article rarely means society, it is usually code for “other women”.

    This is obviously a more controversial and argumentative point but I think not wanting to question this side of the equation is perhaps why male victims can’t be recognised on the other side.

  82. eye4beauty says

    ‘I would add that, despite contacting them directly, we have as yet had no contact from the CPS or any other body that so much as acknowledges the existence of male victims, far less affirming support for their needs.’
    Feminist ideology drives it, no question. The pressure to have women in influential places, for public and legal recognition of the oppression (sexual in this case) they have allegedly suffered, women in influential places then influencing males in influential places to conform to this ideology. It IS about ideology, and ideology needs to be tracked, only then do we fully understand where individuals are coming from. It’s a barely disguised crusade to make women the most powerful gender (not an ‘equal’ gender) and minimalise oppressions and abuses committed against men, or even nullify the very concept of oppression of men.

  83. Marduk says

    As an example of the sub-genre mentioned in post 85.

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2015/jul/14/few-servicewomen-sexual-harassment-british-army-written-everyday-sexism-project-complaints

    Laura mentions male victims but completely forgets to mention female perpetrators. What makes this particularly despicable is that she doesn’t mention male perpetrators either directly, just ‘sexism’. She is actually too careful for one to believe it was an oversight or a lack of information. If you understand what she was avoiding saying, its a masterpiece of evasion and innuendo in service of narrative.

    The figures in the report are on p.39
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/446224/ADR005000-Sexual_Harassment_Report.pdf

    Keep in mind when reading that table (which hardly exonerates men either) that if women are 10% of the armed forces they are massively over-represented as perpetrators of harassment.

    The Telegraph gets it half right, women sexually harass male soldiers as well.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/11750314/Women-sexually-harass-female-soldiers-says-report.html

    Taking the report as a whole it seems to be more about organisational culture and abuse rank than gender per se.

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