Why do people lie about rape?

We all know how damaging it is when someone lies about rape. It can ruin lives, not just those of the people directly involved, but those of all future rape victims, who are less likely to be believed as a result. So why do people do it? Why would someone who has not been raped do something that’s so harmful to those who have?

I don’t think there’s always a straightforward answer, although sometimes it’s obvious. For instance, if you’re an actual rapist you’d probably want to lie about rape if there’s a chance you’ll thereby avoid a prison sentence. Sure, it damages the credibility of the tiny minority of men who are falsely accused of actually raping someone, but what can you do? You’re a rapist! It’s not as though you give a shit. Continue reading


Message from a Woman, On Location, In the Workplace*

* Not really. I’m on the sofa at home.

“Women in the workplace” is a strange name for select committee inquiry, isn’t it? Hinting at novelty, it somehow suggests that “the workplace” is a strange place for women to be and that if there’s a problem to be explored, it’s to do with the presence of women, not with gender inequality nor discrimination itself.* Just women, being there. That’s the whole issue. Without them, “the workplace” would be simply “the workplace”. It’s not as though this has anything at all to do with men. Continue reading

Patriarchy and misandry: Same difference?

Imagine there’s an issue you really, really care about. It’s a serious one, one which causes harm to billions of people the world over. In some cases it leads to death. You attend conferences about it, write articles on it, try desperately hard to raise awareness. And then someone asks you what this issue really is – what are its causes, how does it operate – and you tell them “personally, I don’t really care”. Wouldn’t you find that just a little bit odd?

This is the problem I’m having with Ally Fogg’s Guardian piece on International Men’s Day. As the mother of two boys – and, on a far more basic level, as a human being who at least tries not to be a total tosser – I have no objection to engaging with problems that are more likely to be faced by men than women. I don’t want to have rights that my sons couldn’t also enjoy nor for them to feel afraid of expressing views that hold no stigma when they are voiced by women and girls. All the same, I tend to think that in order to challenge what Fogg describes as the “spider’s web” of “specific social injustices that specifically or disproportionately affect men and boys”, the most obvious port of call would be feminist analyses of gender injustice. If something is happening to men and not to women, it says something about what we think of women as well as men.
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Mehdi Hasan and abortion: So tell me, is this the right response?

I can assure you that no other lefty will dare touch this subject given the response I got today

tweet from @mehdirhasan, following responses to at his anti-abortion piece in the New Statesman / Huffington Post

Dear Mehdi Hasan

As someone who, like you, would describe themselves as “on the left”, I’m dreadfully disappointed that fellow lefties have let you down so badly following your groundbreaking piece Being Pro-Life Doesn’t Make Me Any Less Of A Lefty. You have been called “evil, a dickhead, sexist, misogynist, a dictator and the enemy”, and “a self-righteous little prick”. Worse still, bloggers have come up with virulent pieces such as this and this, which go so far as to accuse you, if not of being the type of person who fetishises “selfishness and unbridled individualism”, then at least of being in the wrong. I’m not surprised you’re upset and feel that the other side “effectively dominates and closes down the debate”. Well, sod them. You don’t have to listen to what they say – don’t they realise they’re just meant to listen to you? Continue reading

False rape accusations: A call for justice

A woman has been jailed for two years after falsely accusing three men of rape. Luckily the Daily Mail has written a report on the case, complete with photos of said woman “socialising” and details of her sexual history. This is obviously brave reporting, committed to reinforcing the impression that loads of women – but especially the slaggy ones – lie about rape. Still, two years – doesn’t sound like much, does it? As one concerned tweeter puts it:

This slut who falsely accused three men of rape should get the same term they’d have got

Nice! Still, perhaps he’s got a point. Isn’t it about time women who falsely accused men of rape got exactly the same treatment as men who actually rape? Continue reading

Husbands, wives and sperm: His body, his choice?

There’s a story in the news at the moment relating to sex, reproduction and consent. Well, okay, there are several (and each is maddeningly offensive in its own special way). But this one stands out from all the others. This one relates to husbands, wives and sperm donation. A woman in Surrey whose husband donated sperm without her knowledge is calling for new guidelines to treat sperm as a “marital asset”, which would mean that in future sperm could not be donated without the spouse’s views being taken into account. Continue reading

I’d make a brilliant misogynist, me

What is wrong with sexists these days? No sodding imagination, that’s what. No creative spark. It’s because they’re all emasculated. I blame all these women going around doing stuff. It’s enough to put any red-blooded male off launching a serious, vaguely credible hate campaign.

Back in the day, when it was still legal for husbands to rape their wives, you didn’t get Rod Liddle whining about monthly cycles, or someone by the intriguing name of Swayne O’Pie penning badly-referenced diatribes explaining Why Britain Hates Men. Yes, we had Neil Lyndon and his nevertheless ludicrous No More Sex War. But with Lyndon, you at least sensed that the man was making an effort. He had an air of professionalism. He didn’t just want to be that random sexist in the pub, ranting away bitterly in the corner. Good for you, Neil. I look at today’s leading misogynists and frankly, I’m disappointed. Continue reading

Contemplating the men’s rights flounce

Last night I scored my first “proper” full-on misogynist blog comment. It was, to put it mildly, a shock to the system. While up till then I’d had the odd attempt at a sexist put-down – “no sense of humour”, “PMS”, even the word “feminist” itself – this was something else. Although not remotely on the scale of the misogynist taunts and threats I’ve seen hurled at other women on Twitter, this upset me. Thankfully some lovely tweets and comments from some lovely people soon put it right. Oh, and some wine – that helped, too.

I’m not going to write a long post about this because other women have experienced far worse and have far more revealing stories to tell. What I am going to write about is the one remaining type of sexist comment I’ve received, the one that actually amuses me. I call it the Men’s Rights Flounce. Continue reading

Oi, masculinity! Mind having your latest crisis in peace?

Can anyone remember a time when masculinity was not “in crisis”? I’ll be honest with you: I can’t. Whatever the time, whatever the place, men have always found a way in which to be society’s real losers. Poor old them.

I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic. Oh, okay, actually, I do. I am sodding well sick of white male middle-class journalists linking petty struggles with their own egos to the plight of unnamed working-class males. Once you bring the working-class males into the mix, no one is allowed to be unsympathetic. Especially not feminists, who are all middle-class anyhow.
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Facing up to oldie feminism

So I am learning that my somewhat extreme response to Snow White and the Huntsman is not common to all feminists. What the fuck’s wrong with them, the fucking fuckwits? Only kidding. I guess it’s fair enough. Going to see a film that pitches ageing, secretly ugly woman (evil) against young, perfectly pretty woman (good) is not the best of ideas on your 37th birthday. Particularly when you realise that the ageing, secretly ugly woman is played by someone your age. And that compared to her you ming. No wonder my response is a bit “out there”.

There is a bit of me, though, that looks at some responses to the film and thinks “well, of course you don’t give a shit. That’s because you’re young. You identify with Kirsten Stewart, see her leading an army and think that’s all there is”. And all of that sounds incredibly patronising. But hey, I still think it. Moreover, I feel a bit patronised, too. Don’t you think I can’t see it? I can see all the shitty feminist manoeuvres that stupid film makes. But they’re all annulled by the narrative itself, and the positioning on beauty, ageing and a woman’s worth.

I’m turning into one of those feminists, aren’t I? One of those oldie ones who rants about younger ones. And I’m only 37! I wasn’t ready to make the switch just yet! I don’t want to be one of them! They moan about young feminists excluding them and not engaging with matters that relate to them. And in the past whenever I’ve heard such complaints, I’ve thought “well, that’s hardly helpful, attacking us young ‘uns, is it?” But actually they’ve got a point. Except if I say that, that’s also patronising (I used to think that, but I was wrong, therefore if you think it now, you’ll be wrong. I hate it when people do that. Especially me).

When they’re not going on about a whole host of other made-up injustices, some men’s rights campaigners like to hone in on the very idea of the feminist as an ageing, ugly woman – a “fugly”, if you will – who’s just pissed off about losing her own status to younger prettier women who can still do stuff (i.e. have babies). A fugly is a bit like Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman, only actually ugly (not to labour the point, or anything). I think age is a central issue in feminism because a woman’s reproductive and non-reproductive life is, unjustly, perceived to define her worth. It is unfair on us at any age. But I always used to close my ears a little to the complaints of older women about becoming “invisible”. I might even have thought “you should be so lucky”. I didn’t want to think about it because I knew it will happen to me, too. It will happen to you, and even Kristen sodding Stewart if we don’t do anything to challenge it (Not Kristen! Nooooooo!).

There’s a bit towards the end of Snow White when the heroine says to Ravenna “I’m not like you”. But in many ways she is. She will get old. She will lose her value. I don’t want feminism to be some in-fight between older and younger women (especially given that we slightly older ones get portrayed as the murderous bitches, while the younger ones merely kick ass). I want there to be an unquestioned understanding that a woman’s life is of value at all stages. But how many slut walkers did you see with tits down to their ankles? (There was me. But that’s how I usually dress.)

The thing is, though, I don’t want to start posturing as the wise woman, giving (no doubt unwanted) counsel to the younger feminists. First, I’m not very wise. Second, there are loads of younger feminists so wise it makes me want to curl up and die of embarrassment. I was such a tosser at 25! You wouldn’t believe how much of a tosser I was! (bwt, that’s not a patronising comment on your presumed lack of credulity. It’s just to stress I was a total tosser.) And there are lots of feminists in their mid-twenties and they make sense! How do they do that? (Honestly, girls, when I was your age I was, I was … not in fact doing anything remotely exciting, come to think of it. So, um, yeah. Keep up the good work.)

Well, this is the start of my descent into rambly old lady pieces. Which is of course patronising to old ladies, rambly or otherwise. I wonder how many people it’s possible to patronise in one post?

I’ll get my (mutton dressed as lamb) coat.

PS I’m aware there may be older feminists who like Snow White and the Huntsman. Well, the others have an excuse. But honestly, I’d expected better of you *disappointed, and hence patronising, face*.

Men’s rights websites: Is there a meaningful response?

When I first started exploring the internet I used to visit men’s rights websites a lot. They held a strange fascination for me. I’d always known some men hated women. I’d just never expected any of them to put so much time and effort into justifying their hate.

The arguments made for easy, if disturbing, reading. You could puncture the assertions, one by one, without even pausing for actual thought. Not that this made any difference. It’s not as though there’d have been any point in emailing or adding comments along the lines of “have you ever considered, you know, women being people and all that?” I did try it once, though, on a men’s rights forum in which it was argued that women “dominated” the eating disorders “market” (whatever the fuck that means). I suggested that the female death rate from anorexia, and the extent to which the dieting industry targets women, were both rather extreme. I got called a “feminazi”. Then someone else started going “she heil! she heil!” Then someone else noticed that my real name (which I was using) sounded a bit German (except that actually, it doesn’t). And then someone else … Well, anyhow, as you can see it was all completely and utterly pointless. And particularly depressing when you witness the ways in which feminists tie themselves in knots trying to be inclusive and authoritative. Why don’t we just opt for the teenage “fuck you, you’re all facists!” flounce? It’s a hell of a lot easier. And when you’re not making sense to begin with no one can answer you back.

I’m not going to do the whole thing on why men’s rights websites are not the same as feminist websites. I can’t be arsed. And besides, I don’t think it’s fair. Why should I have to go to all this trouble? If a person can’t see the difference now, I’m not going to change their mind. How can I, given that said person is stupid, or hateful, or both? I seriously cannot be bothered. And just the thought of making an effort for them makes me cross. Plus, if I were to quote from some of them, I might attract trolls. There are limits to the extent to which I am prepared to argue with the terminally fucking stupid. Quite generous limits, but limits all the same.

While I can be quite opinionated, I would say that, in general, I’m quite amenable to engaging with others and having my mind changed, not least because I know I’m sometimes wrong. In this case, though, I know I’m not, at least as much as I know that I’m a person with real thoughts and feelings and deserving of the same opportunities as any man. I am all these things, despite the fact that I’m also a fugly (gloss: an ugly woman who is therefore a feminist because it’s her only weapon against the dominance of more sexually attractive women on the only marketplace upon which we’re allowed to compete. I actually got this from an antifeminist website and not, as you might be thinking, from the film Snow White and the Huntsman).

Well, I’ve written all this in a fit of pique, having followed a link from Twitter onto a men’s rights site, which I’m not going to link to here, but which I’m sure would be a piece of piss to find. I’m not quite sure what the point of this post is. I guess, if anything, there is one thing it makes me aware of more than ever: FEMINISTS ARE REALLY FUCKING ACE AND CLEVER AND KIND AND NECESSARY. FORGET ABOUT ‘IN-FIGHTING’ AND WHATNOT – WE’RE JUST ALL SODDING ACE AND OUR OPPONENTS ARE TOTAL MORONS. LET’S NEVER FORGET THAT.

Well. I’ve said it now. That is all.

The Second Sexism: A posting hat-trick

I have never ranted about the same thing three times in one day. Okay, that’s not true; I’ve just never done it on a blog before (and each blog post tends to be the outcome of a million in-my-head rants, so perhaps you could call the posts “concentrated” rants. A bit like smoothies. How many should one have in a day?). Anyhow, I am STILL fuming about the sodding Second Sexism book discussed in the Observer. So here goes:

I am now starting to wonder what the actual intent and effect of the coverage given to these books could be. Is it to encourage harmony between the “two” sexes? To permit women to see the error of their feminist ways? Or could it be that most people will ignore it, feminists like me will be pissed off, but a small minority of men will use it to feed the growing resentment they feel against women, women they blame for whatever their lot is in life? Which of these do you think it could be?

I’m wondering, too, if it could feed the most extreme type of resentment, the type that leads you to gouge a woman’s eyes out and imprison her for 12 hours without calling for help, while you dwell on your own fate and what she “made you do”? Obviously I’m referring to what happened to Tina Nash. Do you think this has nothing to do with a wider cultural trend towards believing that if men suffer, women must therefore have the upper hand? A belief that if men lash out, it’s in part because they’re oppressed and manipulated by the women in their life? Of course, it has been universally decreed that Tina Nash’s ex was “a monster”. But what about Raoul Moatt? Ched Evans? These men have, for some, become folk heroes, brought down by evil slags. I don’t see a huge leap between this type of thinking and the assertions made by men’s rights activists and writers. Men suffer, therefore men are victims of women, or at least of a system that apparently favours women over men.

This morning I was listening to The Killers while getting dressed. The album Sawdust features a cover of the Kenny Rogers classic “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town”, the lyrics of which are from the perspective of a Vietnam War vet who’s been seriously injured and is now confined to his home awaiting death (so, trauma-wise, it’s way beyond being piqued at a Jo Brand joke). His woman, Ruby, wants to get dressed up and “take [her] love to town”. This seriously pisses off our ‘Nam vet, as you’d expect. So much so that, by the end of the song, he tells us “if I could move I’d get my gun and put her in the ground”. Nice. But trauma does that to a person. The trouble is, the trauma isn’t all Ruby’s fault.

“It wasn’t me who started this whole crazy Asian war” sings Kenny/Brandon Flowers, plaintively. True. But it wasn’t Ruby, either. Nor was it Mrs Eisenhower (or maybe it was. You know what Lady Macbeths we all are “behind the scenes”). But anyhow, the world is shit, and there’s Ruby painting her lips and rolling her tinted hair like none of it matters. Stupid bitch. Wouldn’t you want to kill her? Not the people who sent you to war, not the politicians, not the generals, but her. The stupid bitch with her lipstick and curls who’s leavin’ now cos you just heard her slammin’ out the door (after a day that may or may not have been spent emptying bedpans and being shouted at. We don’t know. Anyhow, she’s a stupid tart and deserves to die).

We attack those closest to us, because they’re there. I don’t even dislike this song; I actually find the lyrics quite beautiful in the way they depict someone who’s totally trapped, aware of what he can see and hear but unable to play an active role in the world any longer. But one thing I do think it shows is how broader male suffering gets set against a perceived absence of suffering in women – because we’re silly, because we’re frivolous, because we’re too busy putting on makeup to think – and creates the sense that women are the privileged ones. And, perhaps, that women deserve to suffer, even violently.

I can’t help thinking books such as The Second Sexism, or at least the reporting of them, stir up these feelings of resentment. I can’t see whom it helps. By contrast, I don’t think it’s at all difficult to see whom it might hurt.

There’s a reason why they’re called “jokes”

Well, I’m back, still posting about that sodding Observer article regarding men’s rights. But there was one thing I forgot to mention and I think it deserves a post all of its own (not just by way of recompense for having been forgotten; but issue, please forgive me).

Anyhow, it’s this bit:

Men are also increasingly the butt of jokes. In a recent article for Grazia magazine, one male writer took exception to comedian Jo Brand claiming that her favourite man was “a dead one” and an advertisement for oven cleaner with the tagline: “So easy, even a man can do it.”

Sigh. Do we really need to explain? One of these is Jo Brand parodying the stereotype of what a feminist is, and the other is a parody of a genuine advert for Oven Pride, except that originally it was “even a woman can do it” and it was meant seriously. Got that? Jesus, men, this has fuck all to do with what anyone thinks of you!

But so what if it did? If we do make jokes about men that we wouldn’t make about women, what does it actually mean about who holds the advantage? Ladies and gentlemen, I refer you to Marcelle D’Argy Smith, former editor of Cosmopolitan. I wouldn’t normally refer you to her, but she made a brilliant point about this on BBC Breakfast a few years ago. I can’t remember the exact wording but it was essentially that these jokes are like Tom and Jerry cartoons. Tom and Jerry are only funny (okay, not funny, but mildly diverting) because we know that in real life the cat would win. Just as we know that in real life it’s girls who are presumed better off dead and girls who get killed just for being girls, hence leaving some countries with a massive gender imbalance, of the sort we’ve not seen in the other direction since the end of World War Two. There’s nothing funny in stating the truth.

I refer you also to my partner, who made the same point in a different way, back when there was all the hoo-ha about David and Goliath’s rubbish “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them” T-shirts. My partner merely muttered “nice to see everyone can get het up about these T-shirts, but not rape victims having real rocks thrown at them on the basis that they’re adulteresses and deserve to die”. So it’s probably just as well we don’t have T-shirts saying “Girls are stupid, throw rocks at them”. Chances are too many people would follow the suggestion.

The complete and utter bollocks that dare not speak its name

Apart from, say, every time you open the Daily Mail, visit a men’s rights website, read a “scientific” analysis of gender difference or talk to my dad, have you ever heard it suggested that men are the true victims of prejudice in our society? I have. Either I hang around with deluded self-pitying tossers, or man, my finger’s totally on the pulse.

According to a piece in today’s Observer, men are now the winners in the Battle of the Victims:

In The Second Sexism, shortly to be published in the UK, David Benatar, head of the philosophy department at Cape Town University, argues that “more boys drop out of school, fewer men earn degrees, more men die younger, more are incarcerated” and that the issue is so under-researched it has become the prejudice that dare not speak its name.

It’s interesting (but also idiotic) to think of the quest for gender equality as actually a battle to decide who’s having the crappest time. That’s the really depressing thing about these books; they reinforce precisely the gender stereotyping that leads to mutual disadvantage. But it’s not a sodding competition! It never was! (And Professor Benatar, here’s a clue: more men are incarcerated because they commit more violent crime! It’s not rocket science! Which is good, since men are probably better at that…)

I’ve always felt that men are disadvantaged by gender prejudice. If pushed, I’d say nowhere near as much as women. If women killed male partners at the rate at which men kill female partners, I can’t help thinking we’d have no hesitation in considering it a gender-motivated crime. Moreover, there’s no male equivalent to women being denied abortion or even emergency contraception. That level of discrimination – where what’s beneath your own skin even isn’t your own – is not something I believe men have to come to terms with on the same level. So yeah, I can be dragged into the “who’s suffering the most” debate. I’d still contend that it’s not the sodding point.

Expectations placed on men and women because of the genitals they happen to be born with are unrealistic and cruel. We should be fighting those who seek to normalise and perpetuate this with shitty, selective “science” – including Susan Pinker, also quoted in the Guardian piece. I’d suggest, at its most basic level, our ideas of male and female difference still rest on the idea that women are inferior. Female babies are more likely to be unwanted and even killed; grown women are valued less when they’re no longer capable of producing other, presumably better people. But men can lose out due to this value system. I don’t believe many feminists today dispute that.

But god, this “men are the new victims” shit drives me insane. They only work “longer hours” because so much of the work women do isn’t even counted as work! And where’s THEIR sodding Ann Summers I-Scream van, encouraging them to get their cocks out for the girls? We don’t even acknowledge most of the shit that surrounds women because there’s just far too much. And because instead of getting on with fighting fundamental battles about “essential” difference, we’re now left firefighting against all the men’s rights bollocks that’s coming at us from all sides.