Monday, 20 August 2018

Why It’s Not OK to Hate Men

by Tim Lott

Is it okay to hate women? Obviously not. It’s not only stupid and immoral but impractical given how many of them there are and the marked differences between each and every one of them. Is it okay to hate men, then? Again, obviously not, for the same reasons. Except – it’s not so obvious. Because such sentiments are again entering the mainstream.

I say ‘again’, since misandry – the unapologetic hatred of men as an undifferentiated group – is nothing new. Radical feminists like Andrea Dworkin and Valerie Solanis (founder of the Society for Cutting Up Men and shooter of Andy Warhol) were the most famous man-haters in the 1970s, but were pretty much disavowed at the time by many more mainstream feminists and later by third wave feminists. Misandry went out of fashion during the 1980s and the idea that feminists were all ‘lesbians and man haters’ was rightly ridiculed.

Now it’s back – and much closer to the mainstream than it was 50 years ago. Despite all the remarkable advances we have made in gender equality, the idea that all men are the enemy of all women has been given a new lease of life, helped by the disgrace of Harvey Weinstein, the rise Donald Trump and the successes of the #metoo and #timesup movements.

Understandable though this hatred may be as an emotional reaction, it is shocking – at least for a man – to see it in cold print. The highest profile attack came from Susan Danuta Walters in the Washington Post earlier this year, who says, in a piece titled, ‘Why Can’t We Hate Men’ that, far from being irrational, it “seems logical to hate men.”


If this were a lone voice, one could dismiss it as a fringe point of view. But it isn’t.
“You can’t hate all men can you? Actually I can,” writes Suzanne Moore, a British feminist, in the New Statesman in 2016. “As a class, I hate men.” Men are not a class but this doesn’t deter Moore from continuing her peroration. “I think any intelligent woman hates men,” she continues. She even comes up with a hash tag in the hope that this blanket condemnation will catch on – #yesallmen.
Meanwhile, in ‘The Cut’ section of the New York magazine, a member of the public writing in complains to the ‘agony aunt’ – the journalist Heather Havrilesky – that she “hates men” and is in danger of becoming a “cranky old bitch”. Heather suggests in reply that she simply embrace her inner bitch. “Most men are terrible,” she says. “Most men are shit.”

In addition, two articles on Medium – not quite as mainstream as New York magazine, the Washington Post, and the New Statesman, but certainly not fringe – echo the theme. Turns out, it’s not only (self-defined) man-hating women who have turned towards hate as a response to gender inequality. So have some men – like Anthony James Williams who writes in Medium that, “Women don’t have to like us, and history shows us that they have a right to hate us.”

In the charmingly titled ‘When You Can’t Throw All Men Into The Ocean And Start Over, What CAN You Do? Ijeoma Oluo – the mother of two boys, God help them – writes,
This society is doing everything it can to create rapists, to enable rapists, and to protect rapists. This society is broken, abusive, patriarchal (and white supremacist, ableist, hetero-cisnormative) trash. This entire patriarchal society is responsible for every single sexual assault that occurs.
If reading such hatred is exhausting, actually generating it must be even more so. I suspect hate is a young person’s game (although Danuta Walkers and Moore are not exactly spring chickens). It is tempting to shrug off this new misandry as just silly and something of a sideshow, but it’s possible that it represents a real strand of rising consciousness. If that is the case, it is not merely silly – it is dangerous. I have occasionally indulged in group hatred – ISIS in their racist, faithist, head-hacking, innocent-slaughtering prime, the Conservative Party in the 1980s, anyone involved in Prog Rock – but it’s not a very healthy principle to base your life around.

What does it mean to hate an otherwise random and unrelated group of people, as opposed to a specific individual? We can all enjoy hating, say, Nazis, pedophiles, and ISIS executioners beheading an aid worker. Hate can be reassuring, which is why it is so seductive. But when one is hating Nazis, one is hating people who subscribe to an ideology, an idea. Pedophiles and ISIS executioners are historically smaller groups, but they are also defined by a particular idea – sexual attraction to children and the cult of death. At some level, they’ve made a choice. No one is born a Nazi or an Islamist murderer, and even if Pedophilia is genetically influenced, that doesn’t absolve its perpetrators of guilt. However, hating men is not hating an idea or an abhorrent form of behaviour. It is hating half the world’s population, rich and poor, kind and cruel, black and white, gay and straight, just because they happen to have a Y chromosome.

To hate such a disparate group seems – is – demented. However, there is a prism through which it makes perfect sense, the prism constructed by the odd and contradictory fusion of neo-Marxism and post-modernism.

In this scheme of thought, now widely taught in the humanities and social science departments of the West’s leading universities, there are no intrinsically superior, universal values, like love or dignity or general human goodwill – and no such thing as ‘objective’ truth in the scientific sense. It’s all relative. There are just multiple and sometimes overlapping groups that compete for power, and their values, even their idea of what constitutes a ‘fact’, are determined by the relative status of their group. The most powerful group in society – in all societies – are men, and men, therefore, are collectively guilty for the oppression of every less powerful group.

Since anything men utter is tainted by their place in the power hierarchy and their implicit desire to maintain that power – a homeless man at Grand Central station may be surprised, even delighted, to learn that he occupies a ‘privileged’ position in this hierarchy – nothing a man says can be taken at face value because, consciously or unconsciously, it is imbued with patriarchal values and language. Whether they realise it or not, all men are engaged in a struggle to consolidate and extend their power, particularly over women. This is doubtless why, according to this theory, rape is considered a manifestation of male dominance – of the patriarchy – rather than an expression of sexual desire. Power is everything – which tells you something, perhaps, about the status anxiety of this theory’s most fanatical adherents.

Thus it is okay to hate all men – they are all infected by the canker of patriarchy which, unlike individual thoughts and motivations, is a kind of all-powerful super-organism, a hive mind controlling its male worker bees. Men as individuals are simply tokens of something deeper – structural misogyny embedded in institutional power. If you’re a man who thinks you are not a misogynist, who in fact thinks you like women perfectly well, you are deluding yourself. For such men, their sexism is simply unconscious, just as in classical Marxism the ‘good’ bourgeois was unconscious of the fact that he could not avoid exploiting his workers or employees, even though he might be providing them with a decent wage, good working conditions, and health and pension benefits.

This analysis, given a moment’s thought, doesn’t make a lot of sense. Even if you accept that all the ills of the world are down to patriarchy and the dominance of men, you have to concede the corollary – that all the triumphs of humankind are down to the patriarchy also, from medicine and science to the highest reaches of art and culture.

Women may point out that they have been excluded from these fields until now, and that’s largely true, although biology – the lack of control women have historically had over their own fertility and the greater physical strength of men – might be a far more simple and plausible explanation than the existence of a hypothetical, all-powerful super-organism. However, the very act that men hold the balance of power is proof of the existence of patriarchy, according to this belief system.

My own view is that we have not ended up in the place we are, for good or ill, because men are evil and stupid, or kind and clever, or because we’re all enslaved by the patriarchy. We are here largely because of blind chance – biology, the haphazard advance of technology and the peculiarities of human nature shaped by natural selection. Like most ‘ordinary’ people, I am quite sure such a thing as human nature exists and while some sex differences are biological, men and women are psychologically similar – far more similar than they are different.

As such, misandry is deeply irrational. Hating men is counterproductive. Hating men is not going to advance the cause of gender equality. On the contrary, if you tell someone that you hate them, simply because they have a penis, they have two basic alternative responses (other than ignoring you, which is probably the most sensible response). They can cringe and apologise – as many liberals do in the face of such onslaughts, hoping in vain for rehabilitation. The Maoists and their show trials did a lot to reveal the intrinsic human propensity to confess to imaginary sins. Alternatively, and more dangerously, you can respond with, “If you are justified in hating me then I am justified in hating you.”

Therein lies the hazard. I’m not denying that hatred can sometimes produce positive results, even a form of justice. Maybe some white supremacists, learning that they arouse intense feelings of hatred in others, have abandoned their beliefs. Perhaps those flirting with ethno-nationalism have been deterred from embracing it in the knowledge that it will make them a social pariah. But it’s harder to abandon your gender.

Hatred is also useful in providing people with motivation when prosecuting a just war – the Second World War wouldn’t have been won without hatred of the Nazis. But when unfocussed, inappropriate or overgeneralised, hatred is liable to produce far less desirable results. Resentment, for one thing. Anger, for another. More hatred in response. A sense of injustice on the part of good men – and such men do exist in numbers very similar, I suspect, to the number of good women. These feelings may well curdle and lead to an attitude of “If you think I’m hateful then I might as well be hateful.”

Such a response is tempting because hate has an array of psychological rewards. By hating me as a member of my group, you are legitimizing my temptation to hate you as a member of your group. So now I have a ready made justification for hating women, which didn’t previously exist (although a Google search of “I hate women” reveals zero results, unlike a search for “I hate men”).
Hatred can be a way of virtue-signaling – a way of contrasting yourself favorably with the hated party, i.e. as a ‘good person’ in comparison. To hate Nazis means you’re publicly announcing yourself as not being a Nazi. To hate pedophiles means you are not a pedophile. However, for all its short-term payoffs, hate strangles all understanding. This is as true when directed towards genuinely hateful groups – like white supremacists – as it is for those less universally deserving of condemnation, such as men. Once you hate someone, or a group, you don’t have to bother understanding them. It simplifies the world and saves a lot of mental spadework.

I don’t think that many women would say, or even think, that they hate men. But the increasingly widespread perception is that men are generally a bad lot, As Uluo puts it in Medium: “This entire patriarchal society is responsible for every single sexual assault that occurs.” We are, by default, morally in the wrong in most matters and furthermore unfairly privileged and entitled even when we don’t obviously appear to be (as in our homeless friend at Grand Central). This all-encompassing generalisation has a lot of small-scale but significant effects.

In personal relationships, for example, where any woman who thinks men are generally rotten and hateful is liable to take a pretty jaundiced view of any particular disagreement that unfolds between them and their significant other. The man, according to this toxic ideology, is going to be a priori in the wrong before the argument even starts.

I’m not suggesting women should be naïve or unduly trusting of men – yes, men commit nearly all the rapes, and most of the violence, there’s no getting away from that, and it’s no small thing, not in the least. I am forced to admit that in my experience, men are often, though by no means always, capable of being arrogant, ego driven, entitled and insensitive and I don’t necessarily exclude myself, certainly not my younger self.

Hate us if you will – your feelings are your own after all and sometimes those feelings are justified. Just don’t expect it to achieve anything positive, or make you feel better in the long run, or to produce a generous response in the objects of your ire. It may provide temporary relief from the phenomenon of the simple and relentless random unfairness of the world, but there can be a terrible arrogance in hate – the arrogance generated by what is in fact a deep self-doubt and buried fear. Fear of what? Of chaos, of uncertainty, of the fact that its very hard to work out what’s right and what’s wrong in even a single particular circumstance and individual, let alone an entire system or gender. As Reinhold Niebuhr said, “Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure.”

It is an old and perhaps sexist trope that women should beware of ruthless and dishonest seducers who are out to lead them down the path to destruction. Perhaps it might be useful to think of hate in exactly that way – and send it packing, its ears ringing with curses, and vows of passionate and perpetual rejection.

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Article originally appears at Quillette.com

Tim Lott is a writer and journalist. His best-known book is The Scent of Dried Roses which won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for autobiography and is now a Penguin Modern Classic. Follow him on Twitter at @timlottwriter.



Tuesday, 14 August 2018

What The Can The Left Learn From Jordan Peterson?

The phenomenal success of Jordan Peterson has created hugely polarised reactions, most clearly on the left, or progressive side of the political divide. Matthew Tarnas Segall is a lecturer at the California Institute of Integral Studies, a highly progressive and spiritually influenced college in San Francisco, and Jesse Estrin is a depth psychotherapist, a graduate of CIIS and has worked on causes for social justice for many years. In this four-way discussion with Rebel Wisdom's David Fuller and Alexander Beiner, both are keen to examine the question of what the left can learn from Jordan Peterson, and to ask why much of 'their tribe' has such a strong reaction to his thought.


“There's this polarization happening,"says Segall. "Everyone on the right thinks everyone on the left is a Stalinist and everyone on the left thinks everyone on the right is a Nazi.

"People like Peterson are trying to carve out... not a non-political, but a kind of position that's lateral to politics that's more in the psychological domain, to ask people to look at themselves as individuals, to question the extent to which they're projecting their shadow onto The Other.


"Until we can resolve issues on that level it's going to be difficult to resolve these political disagreements. That's one of the main reasons I've found myself so interested in what Peterson is saying: he's shifting the level of the conversation. Or trying to, at least.”





Tuesday, 6 March 2018


LOS ANGELES—Gushing that yesterday’s Oscars had changed the face of Hollywood forever, hundreds of total fucking dumbasses whose very existence insults the name of journalism reported Monday that “diversity was the real winner last night.” “On a night traditionally filled with glitz and glam, it was race and gender equality that finally had their moment in the Oscars spotlight,” wrote countless slathering dipshits, who, by publishing surface-level puff pieces claiming that “new voices had triumphed on the biggest stage in Tinseltown,” upended the very foundation on which journalism was based. “Inclusion stole the show last night in a dazzling spectacle that proves once and for all that outside voices are the real up-and-coming stars. In many ways, it wasn’t A-list celebrities who deserved a standing ovation yesterday, but representation itself.” At press time, the bumbling oafs continued to degrade their profession by declaring that, in many ways, America was the true Oscar darling.


https://entertainment.theonion.com/diversity-was-the-real-winner-last-night-report-hund-1823524487

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

MEETING THE ENEMY Cassie Jaye at TEDx


"When you begin to humanize your enemy, you will be dehumanized by your community" - Cassie Jaye

Monday, 18 December 2017

The Women Worried About #MeToo

Thirteen bold women on why we must reject victimhood:

Lionel Shriver says…

I am concerned that we are throwing knee-touching into the same basket as rape, which does a grievous disservice to mere knee-touchers and rape victims both. I am concerned that we are increasingly wont to confuse genuine abuse of power in the workplace with often distant memories of men who have made failed – ‘unwanted’ – passes. In the complicated dance of courtship, someone has to make a move, and the way one conventionally discovers if one’s attraction is returned is to brave some gentle physical contact and perhaps accept rebuff. Were I still a young woman looking for a partner, I would not wish to live in world where a man had to secure a countersigned contract in triplicate before he kissed me.

I am concerned that we are casting women as irremediably scarred by even minor, casual advances, and as incapable of competently and sensitively handling the commonplace instances in which men are drawn to them sexually and the feeling doesn’t happen to be mutual.

I am concerned that sex itself seems increasingly to be seen as dirty, and as a violation, a form of assault, so that we’re repackaging an old prudery in progressive wrapping paper. I am concerned that we are well on our way to demonising, if not criminalising, all male desire.

Turbocharged by social media, #MeToo may have gone too far. Rather than bringing the sexes together with improved mutual understanding, we are in danger of driving the sexes apart. If I were a man right now, I’d lock the door of my study with the intention of satisfying myself with internet porn for the indefinite future. Real women would not seem worth the risk of destroying my career. Is that what we want?

Lionel is an author, most recently of The Standing Chandelier, and winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Christina Hoff Sommers says…
The #MeToo movement seems to be devolving into an anti-male grievance-fest. Veteran journalist Lucinda Franks now claims ‘gender degradation’ irreparably harmed her career, but it’s hard to see the impact that sexual harassment had on a decorated reporter, who was the youngest person ever to win a Pulitzer. A Glamour writer has described a ‘spectre of fear’ haunting all working women in ‘every interaction’.

Reality check: American women – especially those in the professional/managerial class – are among the freest and most self-determining human beings on the planet. They may run into the occasional troglodyte, but overall, they are not merely doing as well as men – they are starting to surpass them. According to a recent survey of hiring data, young women are starting to out-earn young men. Women now earn most of the advanced degrees – including doctorates. The women’s advocacy group Catalyst reports that as of 2015, ‘women held 51.5 per cent of all management, professional, and related occupations’.

Gender scholars don’t dispute these findings. But they maintain that the patriarchy, in a desperate effort to hold on to power, is acting out in lurid ways. The evidence suggests otherwise. The General Social Survey is one of the most trusted sources of data in the social sciences. In 2014, a random sample of Americans was asked a straightforward question: ‘In the last 12 months, were you sexually harassed by anyone while you were on the job?’ Only 3.6 per cent of women said yes. That is down from 6.1 per cent in 2002. The patriarchy is well past its prime.

Powerful men are falling left and right – but not because women are second-class citizens. Just the opposite. Girl Power is real. Instead of carrying on about how frightened and degraded we are, maybe it’s time to acknowledge the truth: in 2017, we can destroy almost any man by a single accusation.
With power comes responsibilities. As Wesley Yang said, in the best article yet on the #MeToo frenzy: ‘Feminists should remember something they know well from their own experiences with men: nobody is so dangerous, to themselves and others, as a person or collectivity that wields power without acknowledging it.’

Christina is an author, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and host of The Factual Feminist.

Nathalie Rothschild says…
Why is the #Metoo campaign worrying? It is hard to know where to begin.
I could discuss how it is normalising the kind of mob behaviour that is the most negative aspect of internet culture, and how it is eroding the presumption of innocence.
I could mention how the insistence that men are complicit in perpetuating a ‘rape culture’ characterised by a ‘continuum of abuse’ – running from lockerroom banter to gang rape – demonises half the world’s population and relativises, and therefore trivialises, sexual violence.
I could argue that it poisons relations between the sexes, turning everyday interactions into a social minefield.

I could focus on the censorious impulse behind #MeToo. ‘Outed’ celebrities and their work are denounced as ‘degenerate’ and erased, much like ‘unacceptable’ material was shoved down the memory hole in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

I could discuss how #MeToo marks a return to puritanism, and revives a Victorian view of women as actual or potential victims of sexual assault and therefore in need of shielding.
But perhaps the most disturbing element of #MeToo is how it has transmogrified into a kind of confession competition. The more gruesome a woman’s testimonial is, the more sympathy she is likely to get from the online sisterhood.

The idea that the moments in our lives when we felt power was exercised upon us should be those that mark us and define us forever runs counter to the view of women as active, autonomous agents. And it is that view which ought to define the experience of being a woman in the 21st century.

Nathalie is a print and broadcast journalist based in Stockholm, Sweden.

Wendy Kaminer says…
#MeToo is the unthinking woman’s anti-harassment crusade. It commands us to ‘believe the women’ unthinkingly, without considering the seriousness or plausibility of their claims. It calls every accuser a survivor, whether she alleges a sexual assault or a single, unsolicited advance. It ignores essential differences between work-related harassment that undermines women professionally and inconsequential social annoyances, threatening to police interpersonal relations outside the workplace. It celebrates conformity and demonises dissent, as you might expect from a movement based on proclamations of ‘me too’.

Thinking people make distinctions – between a hand on your knee and a grope up your skirt, between a sexual attack by a supervisor and a pat on the butt from a guy in a bar – just as they distinguish pickpockets from home invaders. #MeTooism condemns such distinctions as reflections of rape culture. At best, when we differentiate ‘sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping, [we] are having the wrong conversation’, Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand asserts, while preparing to run for president as the self-appointed avenger of all self-identified female victims.
This dangerous nonsense denigrates women – we are not all traumatised by every fool who cops a feel – and questions our claim to equality.

Wendy is a lawyer, author and a former national board member of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Julia Hartley-Brewer says…

The #MeToo campaign is very worrying and will achieve the opposite of what it pretends to want. The hashtag claims to be about empowering women to speak out when actually it is turning women into perpetual victims.

Women who put up with sexual harassment and keep quiet about it for years, protecting the perpetrators, are hailed as heroines and strong, powerful feminists. Yet, bizarrely, women who speak out and deal with sexual harassment forcefully at the time, and then happily move on with their lives as I and millions of other women have done over the years, are derided as ‘victim-blamers’ or even ‘rape apologists’. It’s almost as if a woman is only ‘the right kind of woman’ if she is willing to play the victim.

This is not what feminism was supposed to be about. It was supposed to be about empowering women, not infantilising them. Any woman can now point the finger at any man and make any claim she wants about something that may – or may not – have happened to her 10 or 20 years ago. That allegation, whether there is any evidence to back it up or not, is enough to end a man’s reputation, his career or even his life. We are seeing an end to the principles of natural justice, innocence until proven guilty and fair trials.

Make no mistake – this is a witch-hunt, and to hell with any innocent men who accidentally get caught in the net of the #MeToo outrage.

Julia is a journalist, broadcaster and host at talkRADIO.



Emily Yoffe says…

We should not tolerate sexual harassment. But I am worried that, with the growing consensus that there should be ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual harassment, we will make the same mistake regarding the workplace that we’ve made with other social problems in recent decades. (The concept of zero tolerance is itself problematic – to oppose it means being accused of tolerating whatever wrongdoing is under discussion.)

When we apply zero tolerance to a problem, we enlarge what the problem is and take away the ability of those charged with passing judgement and meting out fair punishments to weigh the entirety of the circumstances and tailor a response that brings justice. Instead, too often judges and school principals, for example, have become rubber stamps who impose the harshest possible penalties. We should pause before using this model for sexual harassment.

This is a rare moment in which women and men of good will can work together to fashion more equitable workplaces. That project is endangered if we unreasonably expand what we mean by sexual harassment and then make any accusation of it a trigger for potential career banishment.

Emily is a journalist and contributing editor at the Atlantic.

Mary Kenny says…

No woman should be coerced into sexual relations – let alone raped – and moral codes exist for a reason. Yet sexual relations are complex. Shakespeare wrote: ‘Sometimes from her eyes I did receive fair speechless messages.’ If we are honest with ourselves, we know how many layers of complexity there can be in jest, flirtation, a look, a sigh, a word. Women have often warmed to a touch, a joke, a comment which implies interest or pursuit. That is not harassment.

Feminism should mean taking responsibility for ourselves and also standing up for ourselves. Unwanted attention should be dealt with. As Camille Paglia points out, men are often quite frightened of what women will say to them – be bold and say it. What is dismaying about current trends is the tendency to return women to delicate, Victorian damsels who reach for the smelling salts if they hear a lewd joke. What next – chaperones?

The novelist Kingsley Amis used to say: ‘Women are trouble – keep them out of all institutions.’ He was a misogynist, but such notions will revive if women portray themselves as so fragile that they can’t deal with the small change of everyday life with robust common sense.

Mary is a journalist and the author of Am I a Feminist? Are You?.

Claire Berlinski says…

The #MeToo movement has exposed allegations of very serious sexual crimes and the degree to which women are simply fed up. This is healthy, up to a point. But we are way past that point.
It has now morphed into a mass hysteria. Men have been accused of transgressions no reasonable person would define as a crime. And this crime comes with a swift and terrifying penalty, but has no clear definition and no statute of limitations. This is juridically and morally absurd. Nulla poena sine lege.

This crime, it seems, may be committed through word, deed, or even facial expression. It rests entirely on discerning what a woman feels, or will feel, even decades later. But discerning this is actually quite difficult. ‘It’s payback time for men’ is not a reasonable definition. We must now together reason this out. Nullum crimen sine lege.

The names keep coming. The heads keep rolling. A charge of creepiness is a death sentence. (De minimis non curat lex.) Once the charge is made, employers race to purge the creep lest they too be stained by his dishonour. ‘We are deeply disappointed by the reports that Mister Absolutely Unacceptable in this day and age failed to live up to our company standards’, begins the ritual. And you know damned well Mister Absolutely Unacceptable will never get his job, or his life, back. Audacter caluminiare, semper aliquid haeret.

This is not good for men. But neither is it good for women. Newton’s third law is not just about physics. There will be a reaction. And women as a professional class will find themselves figuratively screwed – not an obvious improvement in the screwing scheme of things.

Claire is a novelist and journalist. Donate towards her new book: Stitch by Stitch.

Cathy Young says…

The post-Harvey Weinstein #MeToo momentum has ended the silence surrounding sexual abuse committed by a number of wealthy and powerful men, so it’s difficult not to see a positive side. But it is also increasingly clear that this cultural moment has turned into an orgy of female victimhood and the demonisation of men.

Some alleged abusers are being punished with very little evidence; the announced resignation of Al Franken, the Democratic senator from Minnesota, has been a wake-up call for many. (One of the eight charges against Franken was squeezing a woman’s waist while posing for a photo.)

Women are being encouraged to scour their past for experiences that make them ‘survivors’ – such as a smarmy compliment or a drunken pass from a colleague. Men are being told to soul-search for past mistreatment of women. Yet the reality is that there are also male victims of sexual abuse and female abusers – and when it comes to low-level hurtful or obnoxious behaviour in the arena of sex and romance, the sexes are probably just about equal.

Telling women that their lives are a chamber of sexual horrors, and telling men that they are part of an evil oppressor class, is not the path to equality.

Cathy is a journalist and the author of Ceasefire!: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality.

Rita Panahi says…

Due process and the presumption of innocence cannot be forgotten in our eagerness to embolden women coming forward with allegations of harassment and sexual assault. There must be a balance between believing women and ensuring that the lives of innocent people are not destroyed.
My greatest concern is that the #MeToo phenomenon creates a toxic narrative that casts every male as a potential predator and every female as a perpetual victim. This can be enormously damaging for women, particularly young girls who, despite having every advantage and legal protection in the West, grow up believing they face enormous, perhaps insurmountable, barriers.

In Australia, women have outnumbered men at university for the past three decades. But instead of this fact being celebrated, many in the media continue to portray empowered women as lifelong victims. As institutionalised forms of discrimination are eliminated, the obsession with supposed entrenched misogyny deepens – despite all evidence to the contrary.

Meanwhile, modern feminism all but ignores the plight of the most oppressed women around the world who are subjugated from the cradle to the grave.

Rita is a journalist and columnist for the Herald Sun, in Australia.

Joanna Williams says…

‘Sorry, I nearly touched your elbow. I forgot we can’t do that any more’, he said. ‘You have to ask my permission first’, I replied. We both laughed.

A social event at the university and, for once, I wasn’t counting the minutes until I could leave. I was talking to a professor I’d not met before and it turned out we shared the same views on academia, free speech and mutual colleagues. I relaxed.

And then the elbow non-incident happened, and an exchange among equals became a conversation between a woman and an older, more senior, male colleague. Even laughing about new rules of etiquette prompted self-consciousness.

One of the worst things about the #MeToo panic is the impact it has on informal workplace relations. Yes, people still socialise in mixed groups and colleagues still share confidences behind closed doors. But, at the same time, a new wariness has taken hold. A voice in our heads asks how our interactions might be interpreted by others. Is it best to leave the office door open? Invite a third party along to the lunch meeting? Under what circumstances can you hug a colleague? Or touch their elbow?

This self-consciousness robs workplaces of the spontaneous human warmth that makes having a job bearable. Worse, as colleagues are made suspicious of each other, we risk turning the clock back on hard-won sexual equality.

Joanna is spiked’s education editor and author of Women vs Feminism: Why We All Need Liberating from the Gender Wars.

Claire Fox says…

#MeToo has morphed into a campaign that brooks no dissent. Raise qualms and watch the insults roll. Critics are told they are suffering from internalised misogyny, are in denial, or are too old to understand the horrors of leering bosses.

One campaigning commentator, Rosamund Unwin, writes in the Evening Standard that reactions to harassment post-Weinstein have ‘exposed a generational divide’. Maybe she is right – I am one of those ‘older female journalists’ who is concerned at the YouGov survey revealing that two-thirds of women aged 18 to 24 view wolf-whistling as ‘always or usually’ being a form of sexual harassment. Twenty-eight per cent see winking in the same way. Yes, WINKING.

Unwin concludes that my failure ‘to cheer that our sex finally feels able to speak out’ is due to a ‘lack of empathy’ among the over-40s. She speculates that such indifference is because ‘some women perhaps feel they owe part of their success to being the female in the room who wasn’t difficult, who laughed at the boys’ “jokes”’.

These sorts of accusations are galling, especially for those of us who have spent years metaphorically kicking sex pests in the balls and fighting for women to be treated as equals in the workplace. I shouldn’t have to resort to personal anecdotes. However, as #MeToo confers credibility on those who declare themselves victims, I have felt pressure to reveal my own slew of nasty sexual experiences, as evidence that I’m not some traitor to the cause.

How ironic that #MeToo is fuelling its own bullying climate: women are told to conform, or else. This climate is a greater threat to real freedom than any pathetic groper.

Claire is author of I Find That Offensive and director of the Institute of Ideas.

Ella Whelan says…

#MeToo has been hailed as a revelatory moment. But the truth is, there’s little new about this obsession with phantom sexual-harassment epidemics. #MeToo might have been spurred on by news of a fat old perv in Hollywood, but the feminist narrative of victimised women has been around for a long time.

And screw it – I won’t say that there’s anything good about #MeToo. You don’t need to celebrate a hashtag to understand that sexual abuse and rape are wrong. Neither do you need a social-media movement to have the guts to stand up to any guy who crosses the line. I’m sick of women feeling that they have to caveat every political criticism of this victim culture with the line: ‘Of course I believe that rape and sexual assault is bad, but…’

#MeToo is a craven attack on women’s liberation, spurred on by middle-class journos, fame-hungry politicians and virtue-signalling celebrities. Normal, working-class women don’t get a look-in. We’re the wrong kind of women, you see, because we refuse to be patronised by such fainting-couch nonsense – and because most of us will know that being a ‘survivor’ takes more than having your knee touched.

I want to live in a world where women feel empowered to take life by the balls. So no, I won’t join in the #MeToo choir. This patronising, illiberal assault on sexual freedom is #NotMe.

Ella is assistant editor at spiked and author of What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism.

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Originally published at Spiked.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Karen Straughan Q&A hosted by Bettina Arndt

Bettina Arndt presents a live Q&A with the fabulous Karen Straughan, the best known female activist for men’s rights. Karen, also known as GirlWritesWhat, is one of the most popular women working for the men’s movement. She has more than 160,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel and her 2011 vlog on "Feminism and the Disposable Male" video has almost 1.5 million views.