Do as I say (on Twitter). Not as I do.

men_vs_women_6The last few days have been an aggravating time on Twitter with a couple of hashtag wars on the following topics:

#INeedMasculinismBecause

and

#ThankAFeminist

Both of them have rubbed in the point that while there are reasonable people that call themselves feminist and reasonable people that call themselves Men’s Rights Activists the majority of noticeable and loud people on either side are a bunch of fucking clowns.

It’s my considered opinion that both men’s and women’s rights issues need to be replaced with human rights issues. Egalitarianism – equal treatment – rather than dividing it up by gender.

There are injustices and inequalities that women face. There are injustices and inequalities that men face. Both need to be tackled.

The hypocrisy displayed by the Twitter feminists is painful to see though and undermines the legitimacy and regard of the cause that they claim to be championing as well as scuppering the claim that feminism stands for equality, rather than purely women’s issues.

#INeedMasculinismBecause raised more than a few legitimate issues around problems and inequalities for men from military service and the draft to child custody and support, circumcision, cancer research, lack of reproductive choice and many others.

The whole thing was met with stereotyping, dismissal, mockery, the very things deemed unacceptable when directed against feminism but by people who – apparently – consider themselves progressive and egalitarian.

For example:

@Toffer #INeedMasculismBecause white privilege and middle class privilege are just not enough privileges for me. Really, I need more privilege.

Privilege is a ghastly, stupid and usually misapplied term but let’s play for a moment. Women and men (and people of all kinds) have different arenas in which they’re privileged and in which they’re underprivileged. Pointing out women’s exemption or privilege in certain areas wouldn’t be tolerated as a means to excuse their lack elsewhere, but apparently not vice versa.

@xiombarg #INeedMasculismBecause something one women did to me once that hurt my feelings is totally something all women do.

The idea that feminists are only feminists because they’re bitter man haters is not a stereotype that could or would be tolerated so why is the reverse perfectly fine?

@crushingbort #INeedMasculismBecause I took my annoyance at the wife always being smarter in sitcoms and fashioned it into an actual political philosophy

I doubt that people saying this think that negative portrayals of women in media are ‘harmless’ and should go unchallenged simply because there are worse things going on.
@a_girl_irl #INeedMasculismBecause i am a mentally ill child who wants everything to be as easy for him as it was for an antebellum plantation owner.
That has to be the narrowest avoidance of argumentum ad Hitlerum I’ve ever seen while, at the same time being equally offensive.
None of this is, of course, to say that anyone covered themselves with glory in the #ThankAFeminist tag but there is an important and fundamental difference in that that tag attracted a great deal of the typical, provocative trolling (and much handwringing about it) while the Men’s Rights tag attracted trolling from people who publicly and genuinely hold to progressive viewpoints yet can’t seem to process their own hypocrisy here.
It’s all rather sad.
#INeedEgalitarianismBecause

The Newtown Go-Around

Teacher

Heroic teacher Victoria Leigh Soto. Remember her.

Another day, another mass shooting in America. Yet again the rest of the world looks on with blank incomprehension as America ‘wrestles’ with the moral quandry of whether to make it harder for people who snap to gun down masses of their fellow citizens or, in this case, innocent children.

Is there any point me adding my voice to this debate? It’s already going the same way that it always does and it’s massively dispiriting to see the same old rhetoric trotted out yet again. Though I do sense a greater level of outrage and purpose in what passes for the American left I suspect tempers and resolve will fail again, there’ll be some tinkering around the edges of the law and then the same thing will happen again.

It’s all so depressingly familiar. The catchphrases, the rationalisations (not that they’re rational). ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people’. ‘The teachers should have been armed’. ‘Right to bear arms!’. ‘This happens elsewhere’. Even ‘It’s a price worth paying for freedom’.

As I’ve intimated before on this blog there are two different kinds of freedom, freedom from and freedom to. For me, a person’s right to life (freedom from harm) definitely outweighs the gun owner’s right to own one.

Under any sot of examination beyond the surface all the excuses and justifications fall apart. You can find that out easily enough yourself, there’s no shortage of statistical analyses doing the rounds.

It is true that gun ownership is not the whole of the problem, there is also the culture surrounding guns, their fetishisation, their worship. Properly controlling the sale, possession and access to guns is a good first step in fixing that cultural issue.

Above all, America needs to have a rational debate on the issue and come to a level of agreed upon change to rebalance these priorities for the 21st century, rather than the 18th.

As we’ve seen with this recent election, with the creationism debate that still rages in American schools and now, with the blame game going around again, America doesn’t seem capable of having a rational debate whether in the public square or in the more rarefied heights of political offices.

Until leaders choose to lead and educate, to risk their popularity to do what’s right and to change people’s minds, nothing is going to change and even an ocean away that makes me sick to my stomach.

This is going to keep happening.

Bullshitzkrieg

roystonWe like to be smug, on this side of the bond, about how America is hobbled from pursuing obvious political and social advancement by its mythology. The idea of the self-reliant, successful, pulled up by their bootstraps cowboy or the ‘American Dream’ are toxic myths with just enough truth to them to stop the poor and downtrodden working truly in their own interest and demanding things like decent welfare safety nets or medical care.

‘Idiots’ we say, at the parade of ignorant rednecks that congas across our TV and computer screens. ‘Morons’ we laugh at their talk of ‘death panels’ and ‘socialism’ without the slightest inkling of what they’re talking about.

The truth is though, that Britain has its own mythologies that are just as politically and socially damaging. Sure, we share some of those same American values but they’re not as widespread in our culture and never really got traction in the wider society, even in the worst excesses of the 1980s.

No, the cultural myth that fucks us over is older and perhaps more insidious. It’s the ‘stiff upper lip’, it’s the ‘blitz spirit’. Its the idea that there is something noble, wonderful, magical and so DAMN BRITISH about suffering, forbearance and stoicism.

Americans are conditioned to think that hard work and enthusiasm will allow them to ‘make it’, that they’re all ‘temporarily embarrassed millionaires’ to quote Steinbeck. We British are conditioned to worship, idolise and fetishise suffering and sacrifice and that’s how the Chancellor can squeeze and squeeze and squeeze the worst off while granting a 5% break to the most wealthy. We think it’s noble to struggle on, even if our rulers don’t.

#MuslimRage – Hulk Smash

So, the aftermath of this nonsensical ‘Innocence of the Muslims’ film is rumbling on and it seems to be an all-star parade of bastards and shitty goings on. Today we get confirmation via one of the actresses involved (via Neil Gaiman) that the whole thing is a dubbed over (apparently intentionally) no-budget film that was originally a different – though with 20/20 hindsight obvious – story.

It’s been turned into an anti-muslim film, but frankly however shifty, repugnant and dodgy the whole thing is and however much the guy behind it deserves vilification it’s hard to find fault with the principle points (that Muhammed was a violent, womanising paedophile) however crudely and insensitively that was pushed home.

Also, frankly, it doesn’t make any difference to what’s going on that the guy behind it is a scabrous shit-tick and it shouldn’t be remotely controversial that images of stuff that is actually happening should end up on the cover of a NEWS magazine.

This was a shitty, no budget film, privately produced, that NOBODY SAW and NOBODY CARED THE LEAST BIT ABOUT until it blew up precisely because of the fuss over it. Apparently the concept of ‘don’t feed the trolls’ hasn’t made it to the mullahs yet. You’d think that small piece of wisdom might be in a holy book wouldn’t you? Some version of turn the other cheek?

Whatever damage has been done, or has been thought to be done, by the film, fades into total obscurity next to the harm done to Islam by… ISLAM!

Riots? Deaths? Attacks on embassies? Calls for the US government to be held accountable?

Do what? Why should the US government be held accountable for something a private individual has done? I’m pretty sure the guy tailgating me on one of my recent driving lessons was Iranian. Should I demand an apology from the Iranian government because of that? Clearly not, don’t be ridiculous.

More than the sadly predictable violence and flag burning, what disappoints me is the lack of courage and devotion to what should be as important to us as defending the honour of a long dead bandit and child molester is to Muslims. Free expression.

The very same people who tell me how significant relatively small anti-cap demonstrations, slutwalks, anti-war demonstrations, occupy and so on are are trying to tell me that the tens upon tens of thousands of people raging across the Muslim world are a tiny minority that doesn’t matter and is non-representative.

Their own protests, it is argued, are representative of a greater number who can’t or won’t come out onto the street to express their displeasure. I buy that, I even think it’s true. More than just buying it, I buy into it. You cannot, then, ask me to ignore these kind of massive outpourings of primitive  and superstitious rage and pretend that its ‘not representative’ or you’re undermining yourself.

Salman Rushdie was on the BBC today talking about his experiences and when asked what the solution was, his answer was:

“Be brave.”

I agree.

He was also asked if he took any responsibility, any blame, for provoking the reaction he did. And quite rightly he said no.

Now, Rushdie wasn’t trying to provoke a reaction, unlike the epic tool behind ‘Innocence of Muslims’ but the only person really responsible for your reaction, is you. They’re just words, ideas. This kind of violence, this primitive, superstitious hatred that went out in the civilised world by the 18th century just confirms the very worst impression that people have.

This IS Islam

How do you solve a Problem like Assange?

With purchase of same.

So Assange has had his ‘life of Brian’ moment at the window of the Ecuadorian embassy and really that’s done sod all to change anything for all the hype leading up to it. All he really did was to make a rather vague statement that few people could really object to.

So the situation continues.

Assange seems to present something of a problem for a lot of the other progressive and activist people that I know. Why? Well, on he one hand he’s something of a folk hero despite being (unquestionably) a self-aggrandising prick and, apparently, an inconsiderate lover. Wikileaks represented a Citizen Media fightback and a way to get embarrassing information out there despite government controls and blocks.

On the other hand he’s been accused of rape and, at the risk of drawing ire again, there is a tendency amongst quite a large number of progressive types to tend to the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ when it comes to sexual allegations. The Assange case then, tears these people in half.

Let’s just pause a moment and note that he is accused only, that he has not been found guilty of any offence. He should not be judged by us as the public before he has actually been found guilty in a court of law. Jumping to conclusions rarely goes well. There are many reasons why an innocent man might run.

Assange may or may not be guilty but, given the treatment of people like Bradley Manning there are good reasons to be wary. There’s also the fact that one of his accusers published a blog with detailed instructions on how to get revenge on a man using some methods that now seem rather familiar.

There is reason to suspect the charges are somewhat spurious and in what leaked detail we do have they seem like a guy being a dick and two women, scorned, seeking to prove the adage about hell and fury.

Again though, we don’t have a lot to go on. The timing is suspicious, the nature of the accusations is suspicious and the past of at least one of the accusers is suspicious. It’s, perhaps, more likely that both Assange and his detractors have leapt upon the opportunity to wield his political hot-potato status as a weapon.

I don’t think he could get a fair trial anywhere, but he may – perhaps – have a better chance in Sweden and they’re less likely to extradite than the UK is. They’re also, I think, more likely to find him guilty of sexual misconduct that might be viewed more frivolously elsewhere.

Whether you think that’s good or bad is up to you.

Still, let’s just remember he’s accused, not guilty, yeah? Also that doing good things doesn’t preclude one from also doing bad things, and vice versa.

No More Ebay Hokum-Pocus?

So it seems eBay has decided to crack down on woo (or fraud as it’s otherwise known). While reaction in the neo-pagan and other woo-communities has been predictably shrill there remains some confusion over what is and isn’t allowed to be sold now. Spells, it seems, are not allowed so you can’t pay someone $6.66 to cast a love spell on your behalf. Understandably it’s bloody difficult to even know if someone’s done ANYTHING when they say they cast a spell and getting your money back when your amour doesn’t fall panting at your feet is going to be irksome.

Of course, they all cover their arses with the ‘entertainment purposes only’ and ‘no refunds’ despite the fact that a lot of them claim to believe in their magic spells, healing energies and so on. That just makes it even trickier.

The confusion seems to arise when there are physical items also involved. You may well still be able to buy crystals, dream catchers, wands, books of spells and so on which means there’s still a route for people to get shaken down by charlatans and pious liars but at least it’s an improvement.

I don’t imagine eBay will be banning the sale of bibles or homeopathic remedies any time soon though, more’s the pity. At the very least these sorts of things are doing financial harm to the buyer and I wonder if the ban extends to the claims, blessings etc of other religions.

It’ll be interesting to see where this all ends up and whether anyone will try to assert that it’s religious discrimination. Maybe we can take a leaf out of the new tobacco restrictions and label all religio-spiritual items with the word ‘BULLSHIT!’ and nothing else.

If I were of a more exploitative frame of mind I’d be registering SorcerEbay right now.