Tag Archives: Twitter

.@Twitter: Optimised For Abuse

Standard

The critics Criado-Perez refer to are as opposed to formal, legal relationship commitment as they are in favour of casual, domineering sexuality. Infer from that what you will, dear gender-sceptics…

Caroline Criado-Perez

Last summer I was the target of months of violent, misogynistic abuse. The abuse was widely reported, although the worst tweets (most of the tweets), were never broadcast or printed, because the media deemed them too offensive. This left me in the rather unfortunate position of not only being driven to the edge of a nervous breakdown from the fear and strain of hundreds of tweets  coming in every minute telling me I would be maimed, raped and killed, but also being targeted by people who thought I was being a delicate flower and couldn’t take a bit of off-colour banter, or “dissenting opinion”. Nevertheless, the media pressure was such, that twitter was reluctantly, eventually forced to act. They streamlined their reporting process by including a link on each tweet to report it for abuse, and automatically included the link for that tweet in the report form. For someone who was…

View original post 1,006 more words

Haters, whores and hypocrites: now trending…

Standard

‘[Darwin] emphasized that, though in almost all species the female was the choice-maker, in human societies the privilege of choice making had passed to the male, with deleterious effects.’ Gillian Beer, Introduction to the Origin of Species, 1859, Oxford University Press, 1988, (regarding Darwin’s, The Descent of Man, 1872)

As a man – and an educated man from a middle-class background; thrice-privileged – I can take freedom of choice, in speech as elsewhere, largely for granted, which is a very different proposition from saying I ought to be able to, or believing that the content of said speech is intrinsically valuable. One problematic aspect of privilege is that the privileged position renders it scarcely-visible; the distorting effect on one’s worldview tricky to apprehend. Admitting this perspective, it’s at least understandable that a challenge to one’s privilege might be mis-construed as an infringement of rights. I’m being magnanimous, here: plenty men intuit only too well the social head start that the accidental inheritance of a ‘y’ chromosome provides them with and miss no opportunity to revel in it, generally at the expense of those less-privileged than they.

Put another way; men are prone to a) talking bollocks, and b) lashing out like wounded animals when their ‘bollocks’ is subject to scrutiny. So it’s no wonder feminists come in for a lot of flak; scrutiny of men’s ‘bollocks’ being somewhat of a specialty of theirs. I came across a fine example of this a couple days ago via Madeline Rachael‘s fine wp blog The Feminist Agenda (below)

Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner: ‘There are “two forms of feminism…”

Swanson and Buehners‘ dismissal of feminists as ‘whores’ – and in a discussion diatribe defending ‘the family’ and ‘society’ – is as typical as it is telling. Christian conservatives of their stripe would have one believe that they love ‘good’ women and that their beef is with only certain types of ‘bad’ woman. I’m minded of a press statement issued by West Yorkshire detective Jim Hobson during the investigation into ‘Yorkshire RipperPeter Sutcliffe here in the UK during the early ’80s which (British feminist) Joan Smith quoted in her essay ‘There’s only one Yorkshire Ripper‘ (Misogynies, Faber and Faber, 1989):

‘He (The Ripper – at that point yet to be apprehended) has made it clear that he hates prostitutes. Many people do. We, as a police force, will continue to arrest prostitutes. But the Ripper is now killing innocent girls. That indicates your (sic) mental state and that you (sic) are in urgent need of medical attention…’

(My emphasis)

The implications of this statement are clear and frightening – only violence against ‘good’ women is remarkable, never mind legitimately criminal; prostitutes fall outside outside of the ‘good’ category; are thus legitimate targets for men’s and society’s disapprobation, and that the distinction between the legitimacy of arresting and murdering women is a mere matter of degrees. To emphasize differing degrees of misogyny, however, or to give credence to the notion that some women are deserving of it, would be to miss the point that criminalizing ‘bad’ women and murdering ‘good’ ones both attack women as a class.

Three decades on, Swanson and Buehner, whilst they’re clearly not advocating violence against women per-se, are nonetheless arguing their ‘case’ (further magnanimity) against feminism from the same mindset; namely that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women and that feminists fall squarely into the latter camp, along with ‘whores’. The glaring contradiction is that both the women who confront their assigned status in the gender hierarchy (feminists) and those who submit perfectly to it (‘whores’)** are subject to the same negative judgement: ergo, in their eyes all women are ‘bad’, whatever they might say to the contrary.

This is significant when one considers the conflict between Radical Feminism and the Liberal Left/Trans* lobby which, though decades-old, exploded so dramatically into public consciousness via the publication of ‘Transphobic’ articles by Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill and the subsequent Twitter storm. Notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women loom large in the vocabulary of Trans* activists. As in Dt Hobson‘s assessment of Sutcliffe‘s murder victims (above) the wrong kind of woman is, in their opinion deserving of ‘extreme predjudice’ and the wrong kind of woman – the ‘bad’ woman – is any woman who questions the bipolar gender model on which their ‘identity’ depends. Scrutiny of their ‘bollocks’ is not encouraged, to say the least; presumably because it bears more than a passing resemblance to that spouted by Swanson and Buehner: sexist, anti-feminist and rigid in its adherence to gender bi-polarity. Accusations of ‘Trans-misogyny’ (an unhelpful term to my mind) are rendered risible by prolific resort to the common-or-garden variety by Trans* activists and their supporters.

So whilst bollocks of their kind continues to proliferate both on and under the radar of the MSM: on blogs run by Men’s Rights Activists; on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and in the comments sections of all manner of online publications; feminists, who discern profound ideological issues and serious health and safety concerns for ALL women, are being subjected to inquisition , hounded , jailed, ridiculed, and silenced by those who fear the prospect of a life shorn of privileged position. Some women themselves argue against the need for feminisn, including this Huffington post writer, who is somewhat hoist by her own petard by her declaration that ‘feminism is misunderstood … by many of those calling themselves feminists’, and her sexist dismissal of the anticipated feminist backlash to her article.

For the Trans* activist who has spent the majority of their life occupying a position of privilege, discerning the difference between loss of said privilege and a genuine infringement on human rights might conceivably be difficult; but let’s not make the mistake of being magnanimous again and again in the face of evidence to the contrary.  That anti-woman propaganda such as the Generations Radio feature and the Huffington Post piece are allowed to stand whilst the likes of Burchill and Gallusmag are censured tells us something. That these and other women – feminist or not, wives or the prostituted, straight or queer, butch or femme, workers or home-makers, black or white, young or old, trans* or ‘cis’ – so frequently take the brunt of societal problems that are manifestly not of their making tells us much the same thing: somebody needs to check their privilege, and they’ll be carrying a ‘y’ chromosome, I betcha!

**Couple points to note: a) I didn’t want to get sidelined into any kind of ‘blame game’ at that point, sufficed to say that the choice to be a feminist or a ‘whore’ are clearly not equal and opposite – specifically that the latter can be considered as ‘free’ a choice as the former – nor mutually exclusive. Andrea Dworkin is a case in point whose radical politics were deeply-informed by her personal experience of prostitution. b) The original use of the word whore was Buehner’s, and having quoted him thus I ran with it for the duration of the piece, mainly a creative decision since it made for a more memorable title. It implies no disrespect towards prostituted women on my part, hence the quotes ‘—‘.

A.M.

Aside

So remind me, who are the haters? Who are the ‘phobes’?

This kind of cyber-bullying – particularly of women – is becoming increasingly common: it illuminates a dark side of the internet and social media which, terrifying as it is, should not be allowed to discourage us from utilizing these tools to our advantage and betterment.

The words of intelligent, perceptive and loving chroniclers of the human condition such as Moore are worth a million of these nasty little messages – but isn’t amazing how much of a person’s true character they betray so succinctly.

 

GenderTrender

sm1

sm3sm4sm5sm6sm7sm8sm9sm13sm14sm 16 seranosm 18 vozsm21sm24sm 27sm25sm23sm22..

..

View original post

A partial Observer: not so liberal with the truth…

Standard

Julie Burchill’s ‘Transphobic’ rant has been a long time coming. Actually, the liberal left and feminists have been dancing around each other – and frequently butting heads – in the moshpit of identity politics and intersectionality for some time now (check in here for a whistle-stop summary of some of the fundamentals of that dispute) and the only truly shocking thing is that it’s taken so long to become big news in the MSM. Once again, the spectre of Fleet Street and its international bretheren being eclipsed by web-based social media as the first point of contact for authentic public opinion rears it’s head…

It’s not insignificant that the most vociferous backlash – against Burchill in particular – has arisen from liberal quarters. The comments section of her article was flooded with ‘disgusted from Tunbridge Wells’ types crying transphobia! and misogyny! and both it, and the piece in question were swiftly removed from the paper’s website. and replaced with an apology and a promise to ‘investgate’ (you can still read it here). Their liberalism – prevalent today – is of the ‘I’m ok, you’re ok’ type which, in its rush to affirm the validity of all and sundry often fails to discern – as Moore does so eloquently in this piece in today’s Guardian – the difference between true liberation and a nominal equality. More damagingly still, such liberals miss, or perhaps ignore, how granting the latter to one group can impinge upon the former for another group. Thru my day job, I’ve met financially and emotionally vulnerable women who live under the omnipresent threat of deportation. They understandably feel less than liberated by the knowledge that the Abu Hamzas of this world are accorded full legal rights under equality law. Conflating the two has in the past lead – and continues to lead – to a kind of laissez-faire liberalism which perversely serves to uphold the worst tenets of patriarchal societies’ reactionary conservatism. It took ten years for Greater Manchester Police to investigate and bring charges against a mostly-Pakistani child prostitution ring in Rochdale; a delay caused in no small part by fears of being perceived racist. Similar fears continue to result in a paucity of prosecutions brought against African-Britons who continue to practice Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in contravention of British law. It’s surely not insignificant that in both the above instances, the integrity (and safety) of females is valued as subordinate to the integrity of ‘culture’. In fact, this is very much the norm and bears somewhat on the Trans subculture that feminists have long scrutinized, deconstructed and found wanting.

There’s a paradigm of woman-as-defective-man that goes right back to Genesis, has been perpetuated by modern intellectuals, notably Freud and continues to be reflected in today’s consumerist societies which offer a plethora of ‘fixes’ from clothes and make-up. thru feminine hygeine products and medicines to cosmetic surgery. None of these are inherently bad, and superficial relaxation of gender boundaries – driven more by capitalist market forces than humanitarian concerns, it must be noted – have meant that more men than ever are availing themselves of such. Nonetheless, gender is tied to the physicality of females – in addition to conventions of behaviour, the mode by which male gender is most regulated – and in practice this is embodied in notions of beauty; specifically and most insidiously in the notion that one can never be beautiful enough. To be a woman, then, is to submit to a lifelong regime of correction…

Moore’s ‘Brazilian Transsexuals’ analogy encapsulated this brilliantly, if controversially. What women are fed up with, she suggested (and this is my inference, mind) is an expectation that they conform to standards of womanhood created by men; with a beauty that connotes second-class citizenship, sexual availability and vulnerability.

It’s a pertinent point, and something that Trans-activists would do well to take note of. If, after many years of dissatisfaction with their prescribed gender roles they find their newly-appropriated female ones more unsatisfactory still then maybe it’s the confines of those roles they ought to be questioning – which is exactly what commentators such as Moore and Burchill are doing. If acceptable stereotypes of behaviour and dress oppress born women, then surely they must oppress Transwomen too? If an ideal standard of physical beauty excludes and frustrates a significant majority of born-women, then what chance do Transwomen stand? More sinisterly, the trappings of femininity that Transwomen co-opt mark them out as targets for male violence. The image of womanhood appealing to many men’s eyes is simply passive, accepting, penetrable: a ‘slut’ paradigm that popular media attatches to particular modes of physicality and dress but is in fact psychically pervasive beyond any such parameters. The cry of many detractors that Brazilian transsexuals are in fact, a marginalized group and subject to disproportionate levels of violence is well-made, but in directing their – intellectualized – ire at Moore and Burchill they somewhat miss the point: it’s not feminists – or indeed, women at all – who are doing the raping and the killing. One Twitter user apparently threatened to behead Suzanne Moore – many users of Brazilian transgendered prostitutes, and woman-haters at large, aren’t content with mere threats.

 

Gender cis-function: a response to ‘Transwomen are men…’ by Sarah o’Rourke

Standard

As a relative newcomer to the cut and thrust of gender politics, I’m continually surprised and stimulated by the variety of contrasting opinion – and heated debate – within a continually-evolving political sphere. Thanks to the proliferation of social media it’s becoming ever-easier to stay current with and engage in such debate, and this post by a wp blogger I follow – and whose often insightful opinions I respect – caught my eye. In so many ways it is indicative of a direction in which feminist thought – and politics in general – is heading….

It in its turn was inspired by a recent post on wp blog, Pretendbians documenting a Twitter spat between presidential hopeful – and feminist icon – Roseanne Barr and Trans-activist Jennifer McCreath.

Maybe it’s an age thing, but…

Based on my – admittedly limited – knowlege, I find an internal logic in the 2nd wave feminist response to the whole transgender phenomenon that’s somewhat lacking in the currently-fashionable ‘inclusive’ 3rd wave model o’Rourke is espousing. Both models argue for acceptance of non-conformist identities but their terms are markedly different. This is perhaps over-simplifying but it seems to come down to that all-important distinction between sex and gender. Biologically, a Transwoman is male (or conceivably intersexed) and no amount of hormone therapy or surgery will alter that; the reverse being the case for Transmen. That biological males might exhibit tendencies towards thought patterns and behaviours (including conventions of dress) traditionally regarded as female, and vice-versa for females, is scarcely surprising but in itself proves little, save for the harmful limitations of tradition. The distinction, then, between the 2nd and 3rd waves is the difference between wishing to consign a gender dimorphism harmful to both sexes to the dustbin of history; and merely tinkering with it in order to accomodate a feeling of dislocation that a (vocal) minority cannot resolve for themselves: Mohammed refuses to go to the mountain; rather, the mountain must come to him.

And what makes him a ‘him’ – or her a ‘her’ – is a matter of some dispute, too. Again, it seems to devolve down to the distinction between sex and gender; whether one’s true identity is rooted in biology, or conventions of appearance, behaviour and dress seemingly arbitrarily – though in fact, most calculatedly – assigned to the former. Traditional representations of sex/gender adhere to a bipolar model – at least within the Abrahamic triparte – but ironically, it’s biology that illuminates the inadequacy of such a rigid distinction.

The existence of – various – intersexed identities argues for a fluid, non-binary conception of sex; but actually bears little if at all on gender. Gender, by contrast can bear especially harmfully on – some – intersexed people by pressuring them – or indeed, their parents during their pre-adolescent period – to select the sex identity they most closely resemble, and apply gender-based standards of dress, behaviour and – thru cosmetic surgery – appearance. If the erasure of Trans identities is a matter of dispute (see below) then the erasure of intersexed ones is surely not. The shortcomings of such choices can become painfully apparent come puberty when hormonal fluctuations kick in and trigger secondary sexual characteristics and urges. If the effects of native hormones remain imperfectly-understood , then the use of synthesized steroids has long been a bone of contention; whether one is discussing the use of The Pill (in it’s multivarious forms), synthetic insulin and thyroxin or androgens employed by sportsmen and women for competitive-advantage. The side effects of these include psychological as well as physical symptoms and include mood and cognitive changes. The cost of a ‘sex-change’ (gender-reassignment is the currently-popular term) over a lifetime can be high in itself, and that’s far from the only issue confronting Trans folk.

For affirmation of their preferred identity they rely on a combination of stereotypically ‘feminine/’masculine’ attire, learned ‘feminine’/’masculine’ behavioural posturing in line with the bipolar model, and positive affirmation on the part of society.  The tension that quickly emerges – and this is most dramatically apparent within a vocal minority of radicalMtF trans activists – is between the (often) decades of ‘masculine’ privilege and acting-out, and an attempt to ape traditional ‘femininity’.

Acting either a ‘masculine’ or a ‘feminine’ identity – never mind cack-handedly juggling both – only serves to obscure and stifle the emergence of an authentic, fully human one.

In attempting to articulate my concerns with regard to ‘acting’ and ‘affirmation’ it’s becoming apparent to me why the appending of ‘T’ onto the long-established ‘LGB’ has long seemed to be a bad fit. Whilst abortive attempts to conform to normative models has long proved harmful to both Gay/Lesbian people and ‘gender-deviants’ (and I’m positing deviant as a non-pejorative term, hence the quotes) society is not being required to affirm any person’s ‘gay/lesbian-ness’, merely (!) accept their equal status as citizens and human beings. Gay/Lesbian-ness requires no remote affirmation – it is a state of being that, whether inherent or chosen, is possessed of its own integrity; is whole and complete. In this respect it is of a piece with sex and markedly distinct from gender. Bi-sexuality is slightly problematic, insofar as it is viewed with scepticism by certain elements within both the Gay/lesbian and straight camps – personally I view sexuality in terms of a continuum, regarding myself as tending towards straight but having engaged in sexual relations with men on occasion with no apparent identity-conflict or permanent ego-damage; at least on occasions when relations have been consentual.

It’s interesting that a common trope amongst – particularly, some – MtFs is that a ‘cis-normative’ society seeks to ‘erase’ trans-identities – interesting because it’s a modified appropriation of a 2nd wave feminist argument that Trans culture seeks to ‘erase’ female identities. Trans faves (not!) Janice Raymond and Germaine Greer are the main – or at least, the best-known exponents of this, and whilst their views remain contentious, I’d urge readers to peruse The Transsexual Empire, and Pantomime Dames (yeah, I know!) if you haven’t already, just to understand where they’re coming from.

Raymond and Greer do understand the difference between biologically-based sex and socially-constructed gender, and expound upon the shortcomings inherent in the latter which are catastrophic for the lives and identities of not only women but menand ‘Trans’ too.  They perceive exponents of the – medicalized; implicitly and explicitly patriarchy-approved – Transgender model as conflating feminine with female (i.e. gender with sex); identifying as female and being female (and thus remodelling themselves and acting ‘feminine’ to prove the point). Significantly, many Trans – and especially MtF activists – conflate such reasoned criticism with bullying and hatred (conspicuous only in their general absence from Feminist writing). As a man I don’t read Feminism as Trans-phobic any more than I read it as misandric: they know well enough to be able to love the sinner whilst despising their sins. Contrastingly, too many Trans activists preach sisterhood with feminists only to respond with textbook misogyny (and homophobia, and ‘cis’-phobia) (edit: just re-read the post and realize I ommitted to mention racism, which, whilst not directly relavent here is nonetheless further indicative of Reid‘s character and stance: that Mohammed/mountain thing again…) when their contentious appropriations of Feminism are challenged (and see also McCreath, above – penis–washroom–vagina–mouth–marriage 2.15).

Misogyny is misogyny, whosoever espouses it; and Trans-activists are right to suggest that it impacts on them as much as on born-women. The fundamental flaw in the Transgender model is that, whilst it does provide an effective Band-Aid for the wounds (inflicted by gender dimorphism, not feminism) on some people, it also perpetuates said dimorphism by depending on it for – temporary – effectiveness. In doing so, it seals the perpetuity of misogny, Trans or otherwise. It confines us to our separate washrooms, for fear of the potential – and all too often real – consequences.

There’s a subtle but important distinction to be made, then, between men/MtFs who claim the sovereignty of hallowed female space (including washrooms) for their own and those who advocate for shared facilities as a matter of course: it’s the difference between advocating that everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin (the latter position) and ‘just because I don’t feel comfortable in mine, no one can’ (the former). It’s actually a pretty good metaphor for the condition of women and men under a patriarchal political climate.

More to come on this later…

Not such a nice one, Cyril – and the ‘boy’ who cried ‘Rolf!’

Standard

Three days after Mark Williams-Thomas outed Rolf Harris via Twitter as the ‘fourth man’ in the Operation Yewtree investigation and the mainstream media is still playing dumb – or maybe smart: perhaps in the aftermath of the Leveson enquiry and an ill-fated Newsnight documentary, they’re simply on their best behaviour. Alternatively, Harris has taken out an injunction, strongly suggested by newspaper reports’ familiar wording ‘cannot be named for legal reasons’. But how many well-known Australian, children’s television presenters in their 80s, with waterfront property in Berkshire (currently besieged by camera crews from major press corporations) can there be?

A confidante of Harris‘ is quoted by media sources as saying

“Quite frankly I think police should be ashamed of what they are doing … Is everyone who has ever worked with that man Savile going to be hauled in? He is being tainted with guilt by association.”

Actually this is misleading, since police sources have clarified Harris‘ questioning falls within the third, ‘others’ sub-category of Yewtree and is thus unconnected to Savile. Also, and contrary to a large percentage of Tweets claiming that Harris has been arrested, he was in fact merely questioned and subsequently released without charge.

Exponents of the MSM and public users of social media alike, love to trumpet British justices’ lofty maxim of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ – much as I and others in the catering profession glibly adhere to the fanciful notion that ‘the customer is always right’ – and many are doing so in this case. It is a conceit, however – one that only the truly naïve would take at literal, face-value – as evidenced by the case of MP Cyril Smith which – eventually, and posthumously – made national headlines, though, as with Savile, never resulted in formal criminal charges.

A strong Prima Facie case – including a confession from Smith himself – was first presented by Greater Manchester Police to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in 1970. It was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who nixed it. This also happened on two further occasions in 1998 and 1999. Whilst not necessarily conclusive evidence of the widespread conspiracy mooted by the likes of David Icke (who, as one of the few long-term campaigners outside of the Women’s Movement to have worked to expose institutionalized sexual misconduct and violence, forever pissed on his own credibility chips by tainting potentially believable stories of corruption with fairy stories involving Satanism, lizards and alien blood-lines) it certainly proves that as far back as the ’60s, authorities were colluding to suppress knowledge of serious criminal activities perpetrated by the ‘great and the good’ in public life. This will inevitably lead to increased public and press speculation regarding knowledge and suspicion of paedophile activity within the care system, Whitehall and even the DPP itself. Also, as Williams- Thomas Tweeted later, conversing about the broader issue of institutionalized sex-abuse :

‘We can learn a lot from the past -but only if we want to.#Savile has changed a climate & given confidence for many to report’.

This in a nutshell demonstrates why, in spite of (in my opinion, much-exaggerated) fears of a witch-hunt, it is imperative that every case is properly investigated, including, where possible, the interviewing of suspects and other witnesses. In a statement regarding the original complaint against Smith in 1970, Nazir Afzal (Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS) agrees, concluding his statement by saying ‘Any victims who are considering coming forward should not be dissuaded by the decisions of the past … [t]he decision made in 1970 would not be made by the CPS today.’

It is also equally important that these matters be openly and freely discussed; a conversation that a MSM overburdened with regulation, and subject to injunctions on behalf of those rich and well-connected enough to serve them might find harder to report. It bears reiterating that it is not the government, the DPP or the CPS which are ultimately on trial here, either in the media or thru the courts. As the buck doesn’t really stop with the BBC or the education and care systems for enabling and acting – or not acting – to conceal Savile‘s criminality, nor does it stop with politicians and prosecutors in Smith‘s case; although they were arguably in a more powerful position to act should they have so wished. The real culprit is our (male) establishment, hierarchical to a fault and a two-faced arbiter of specious morality. That the likes of Savile and Smith moved in higher circles differentiated the nature of their offences little if at all from similar crimes committed within the domestic sphere, schools, churches, sports clubs and other less-lofty institutions inhabited by the great unwashed. One common feature of sex-crime (amongst other moral and criminal outrages) is the degree to which institutions and their membership – whether the government, the police, the state, the church or the family – have historically connived and colluded to protect the integrity of the establishment at the expense of individuals’ integrity and safety; the integrity and safety of women, children and minorities in particular.

As I applauded Philip Schofield for raising the issue of criminality within The Commons, so I applaud Williams-Thomas for doing likewise in his profession. If it is regrettable that apparently innocent parties such as Lord McAlpine have, and will inevitably continue to become embroiled in this unfolding scandal, then the fact that said scandal has gone unpublicized and its perpetrators unpunished for so long is infinitely more so: indeed, ‘regrettable’ barely begins to describe it. Let it unfold, and in the full glare of publicity, the better to banish the shades of deceit and denial. If the MSM allows itself to be unduly constrained by regulation and legal machinations then it may well find itself made redundant, in similar manner to the way that old media within the entertainment industry is likely to be made redundant by filesharing, streaming and direct-marketing and selling. Efforts to stem the flow of information and other media content via email, Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere have thusfar proved largely ineffectual. Napster, anyone? This is a two-edged sword, mind – the once maverick Facebook shows signs of succumbing to the old institutions’ double-standard: yesterday it removed a page sharing information on the identities and whereabouts of convicted sex-offenders, in response to a court order; yet in the past it has repeatedly failed to take down pages created by sex-offenders for the purpose of grooming and procuring children for sex. This is not to say that the internet and social media are inherently bad things: they’re neither inherently good nor bad, and on balance the benefits probably outweigh the drawbacks, but they do place responsibilities on us as citizens of today that previous generations have not had to contend with. We need to embrace and discharge those responsibilities to the best of our ability. To talk of ‘learning lessons’ has become trite in recent years; glib jargon that glosses over a personal and collective desire to do anything but; to wish a problem – whatever it may be – away. But there are lessons here, for anyone ready and willing to learn: that denial cannot wish problems away; that the very means – in this case social media and the internet – that enable organized criminals to a heretofore unprecedented degree, might also empower their opponents and ultimately bring about their (criminals’) undoing. If old media are losing out to new in consumer market-share it’s because they are still playing by redundant, old institution-led rules that fail to take account of new realities. In days gone by, Fleet Street and its imitators around the world would have been champing at the bit to report in full on stories such as Harris‘s. McAlpine‘s  rearguard action – which as justified as it may superficially be, ought not to discourage future testimony from abuse victims – and any potential fallout from Leveson must not be allowed to plug this current volcano of truth.

If enough good people speak out then evil will not triumph.

A miscarriage of earthly justice

Standard

One of the great things about Twitter is the way it cuts thru the  crap. The ongoing public and media storm, there as elsewhere, following the death of Savita Halapanavar is as polarised as it is predictable, feeding into a sensitive debate too-often dominated by rhetoric and political grandstanding.

As the placards carried by protestors outside Galway hospital (left) ably demonstrate, sometimes you can say more with less. Feeling shame for being Irish was a common theme among both women and men interviewed by journalists. Twitter‘s 140 character limit simply don’t allow much room for ambiguity or obfuscation. Hearts, feelings and predjudices are on show, bite-sized and easily-metabolized.

By way of example, here’s a brief exchange in which I participated in the early hours of this morning:

Lots of supposed pro-lifers advising “calm” over #Savita‘s death. No. A woman died a preventable death in an Irish hospital. Get angry.

@andgoseek A truly heart-breaking situation, and worse that it will [be] politicized and used to justify every abortion henceforth.

@StrongBadToo @andgoseek Already political tho. Let women take charge of their own health – no further justification needed imo

14h StrongBadToo StrongBadToo ‏@StrongBadToo

@andy_guls @andgoseek Typical male abdication, Andy, imo. Fi (the op) cares only for her politics, not for the person. Humanity is better than that.

@StrongBadToo @andgoseek Politics are personal; personal is political: no separation. Can’t abdicate that which was never mine…

@andy_guls @andgoseek Then you’re not human, Andy. Any woman’s (or baby’s) death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind.

@StrongBadToo @andgoseek then by your reckoning you’re twice diminished by #savita‘s death. Mankind, eh?

(all emphases mine)

A short, instrucive exchange, leaving a reader in little doubt where both I and the anonymous StrongBadToo stand on the matter of abortion. Compare and contrast with the hedging and fudging that characterizes the statements of some of Ireland’s main political parties.

http://www.thejournal.ie/x-case-abortion-legislation-party-positions-675375-Nov2012/

Notable exceptions are Sinn Fein which believes that ‘…the difficult choice to terminate a pregnancy can be avoided by as many women as possible’ given investment in education and support; and The Socialist Party, which ‘…supports legislation that will give effect to the Supreme Court ruling on X. However we go further and support comprehensive, free, safe and legal abortion rights for women in Ireland, North and South.’

I’m amused by StrongBadToo‘s suggestion that in acknowledging women’s right to make their own healthcare decisions I’m abdicating (a responsibility? To who, and to do what?), But more so by the notion that this is ‘typical[ly] male’.  On the contrary, what is typical of the male establishment (and many within it, both male and female) thru the ages is a tendency to try and micro-manage the lifestyles and behaviours of its citizens utilizing every trick in the book, from seemingly-benevolent paternalism thru proscriptive legal and moral frameworks to undisguised hostility and brute force. Pro-life is of a piece with the established order in this respect. Assuaging the inevitable insecurity of privilege by kicking those whom you’ve subordinated in the teeth, or in the cunt, is not a recipe for human happiness; though it may well be a fine one for entropy and death, both actual and spiritual. And by implying that the responsibility for oversight of women’s reproduction is mine (even though I’m not human – perhaps he thinks women aren’t either?) whilst suggesting my abdication is ‘typical’ he’s surely contradicting himself and all available historical evidence in any case?

As men, our role in matters of gynaecology is fated by nature to be a supporting – and hopefully, supportive – one, by mutual agreement with our partners; and any attempts by force or stealth to upset that order is doomed to end in unnecessary aggravation and unhappiness for all concerned.

The specious argument for the pro-life position is illustrated more fully yet by comparing and contrasting their stance against euthanasia. When Tony Nicklinson took his case for legal assisted suicide to the High Court in the UK this year, he was inundated with appeals from pro-life advocates to reconsider. Nicklinson, whilst undoubtedly left in a vulnerable position by his illness, had, unlike the unborn, a voice: the notion that pro-life groups were best able to interpret and represent his interests is no more viable than a 17 week-old foetus. It’s the very mute-ness and dis-ability of a foetus that makes it such a perfect projector screen for pro-life fantasies of benevolent Godhood.  That position is scarcely tenable in the case of an adult such as Nicklinson, who besides being mentally competent and articulate has the support of a close-knit family; though as the former plays to the stereotype that women are incapable of making sensible decisions for themselves, so pro-lifers like to foster similar myths about the sick and disabled. Of the well who claim to know the sick better than the sick; men who claim to know women better than women themselves and mortals holding forth on the will of God, we ought to be rightly suspicious. Nicklinson died shortly after his High Court bid failed, having contracted pneumonia and also refusing food and water – hardly the peaceful and dignified end he was campaigning for. More the Euthanists’ equivalent of Gin, hot baths and knitting needles.

Ha! Who’s resorting to rhetoric now?! So let’s end this post, appropriately enough, where we began with the voice of the people, eloquently and poignantly expressed by one of the estimated 20,000 who turned out to protest Savita‘s death in Galway: