Monday, 1 September 2014

The Spectrum of Misogyny

Consider three separate, seemingly unconnected incidents that have risen to media prominence recently.

1. The horrifying, systematic attacks on mainly white girls by gangs of Pakistani paedophiles in Rotherham.

2. The abuse meted out to Zoe Quinn, a US video game developer and author of Depression Quest.

3. The theft of naked photos from the social media accounts of prominent Hollywood stars, including A-listers like Jennifer Lawrence and Kirsten Dunst, and posting them online for all the world to see.

What drives a man to hack a woman's social media presence and repost details about her personal life? What kind of mentality laboriously reconstructs compromising pictures from supposedly deleted data to leak, leak, and leak again? How depraved do you have to be to spend time grooming schoolgirls solely for the purpose of imprisoning, raping, and torturing them? All of these behaviours are on the same continuum, a spectrum of woman hate.

And some say feminism isn't necessary.

The common root is more than just your standard misogyny, of the sort a lot of men have grown habituated to for over a century. The world where everyone knew their place, where men were men and women were sex/drudges is slipping into the night. And some men don't like it.

At the extreme, violent end of the scale is the Rotherham abuse. While conceding nothing to reader-friendliness, Slavoj Žižek(!) argues that the behaviour of the paedophiles concerned, be they convicted or not, is about asserting masculinity by damaging and breaking the girls they victimised. It's positioned as ritualised revenge, as getting back at the dominant white, secular but occasionally racist culture that positions them as second class citizens (brown-skinned, Muslim). Sexual abuse is an affirmation of their maleness, of seizing the property of one's adversary and using it as they see fit. "Their" women, their wives, sisters, mums and daughters already know their place, hence there is an element of the abuse "schooling" the white girls about their lot in life. There's something in this, but I'm inclined to agree with Paul Cotterill: the material circumstances and lived existences of the abusers counts for more than ideological considerations. Paedophiles aren't born sexual predators: they're made.

Then there is predatory behaviour of the other sort. The hounding of Zoe Quinn and the hacking of celebrity social media accounts is also an attempt - a doomed one - to put women in their place. As I've argued before, the "new misogyny", the harassment, creeping, stalking, name-calling, what have you isn't just the result of a few disturbed people getting their hands on an internet connection. It's deeper. It's symptomatic of a perceived emasculation crisis, of men on the one hand having to compete with women on an increasingly level playing field in the jobs market, of women becoming increasingly visible as actors and participants in their own right in areas traditionally marked off as men-only. Like video games. Like action-adventure films. What better way to lash out than rewriting a woman as a sex object, be it through scurrilous allegations that Quinn's game got good reviews because she slept around with industry journalists, or slapping naked photos of action heroine Jennifer Lawrence all over the internet? Everything else is stripped away. Their individuality. Their talents. The only thing that matters is what's between their legs. Pathetically, the men who pile in to these feeding frenzies find validation; they really think they're thumbing their nose at the feminist conspiracy.

Both types of abuse are born of decay. Women have been coming out of the home for decades. Girls and young women rightly expect to lead a life as meaningful and self-directed as that open to boys and young men. The redoubts of the women haters are crumbling as generation after generation are habituated to women in public life, to women in "male jobs", to there being no essential differences in capability and capacity. There is no reason to believe this trend will not continue, provided it is actively preserved and defended as we go. Abuse of this character is a spasm of inchoate fury and fear, but hopefully it is one whose days are looking numbered.


Madam Miaow said...

"The horrifying, systematic attacks on white girls by gangs of Pakistani paedophiles in Rotherham."

I think you need to check that. You'll find there were Asian girls as well. There are other cases where white men are grooming black girls. As per your headline, this is about misogyny, not race.

Speedy said...

I think it is optimistic to believe there will be any change soon. Indeed all the signs are that things are moving backwards.

Certainly for a swathe of middle class women things have improved - hence as you put it the resentment - but in general be it with ideas about childcare or the increasing prominence of more conservative ideas as a result of immigration - and I am not just talking about Muslims (!) I am talking about demographics - it seems likely the white bourgeois liberal consensus will be increasingly challenged, and while it might not affect the WASP elite (as it may become to be seen) it won't resemble "progress" much either.

The "myth of progress" Phil!

Chirs said...

"mainly white girls by gangs of Pakistani paedophiles"

To my mind this is a racist statement, has Miliband sent out instructions to all New Labour members? Firstly I don't think you would say this about white people abusing girls and secondly if you provided the ethnicity of every abuse you would be accepting race plays a part in child abuse.

If you say this is not about race but about culture then you really need stats to back up your claim that the insertion of Pakistani was justified.

Zizek is taking out of his backside in my opinion. But the best you can say is that it is an unproven theory.

I think internet abuse is a thing in itself, not necessarily Misogyny. Look at the postings celebrating the assault on Galloway. I notice you don't address this phenomenon.

I also don't see how the posting of sex pics of Hollywood stars automatically counts as Misogyny.

I kind of agree with speedy on the economics of this, what is missing from the whole Rotherham debate is the poverty these girls were living in and how it affected their decisions.

I am convinced that if these girls had simply been homeless junkies relying on food banks and begging no one (especially the media) would have shown any concern whatsoever. That would have been left to social workers to deal with.

In fact most people would have called these girls welfare cheats, scrougers, good for nothing who are a drain on hard working people (particularly the gutter press).

But as soon as these scrounging, good for nothing, work shy, poverty stricken homeless junkies are involved in sex that is when concern must be shown!

call me an old cynic!

In fact don't call me a cynic because any social worker can tell you that there are many thousands of such youngsters who are out of sight and out of mind.

The opportunist media or blogger never gives them a second thought until it serves their agenda.

Speedy said...

"Look at the postings celebrating the assault on Galloway. I notice you don't address this phenomenon."

Yeah, you bastard Phil! And how about the war of 1812, eh?!

Actually I would take exception to the use of the term paedophile. Although technically accurate I don't think the hundreds of men involved in the rape of the thousands of young girls (I mean we're talking about ONE TOWN here) across the country would consider themselves as paedophiles or fit the normal profile.

But it IS a fact that the vast majority of them are Pakistani origin, like it is also a fact that precisely the same reasoning Chris uses was employed to cover up their crimes.

As I quoted on the other thread:

The Home Office researcher, who was not named by Panorama, also said she had been accused of being insensitive when she told one official that most of the perpetrators were from Rotherham's Pakistani community.

A female colleague talked to her about the incident. "She said you must never refer to that again – you must never refer to Asian men.

"And her other response was to book me on a two-day ethnicity and diversity course to raise my awareness of ethnic issues."

The thing I find alarming is that Chris admits he works for Rotherham council yet has plainly no conception whatsoever that the mindset that led to this was in any way at fault (despite a couple of blanket blah blah mea culpas) and would clearly act in precisely the same way (again) as the person who disciplined the researcher.

It makes you wonder how sincere any of the apologies were, or indeed whether we have seen the last of this.

Robert said...

Political correctness is deadly dangerous. Refusing to talk about a problem or describe it accurately for fear of being called racist will not make the problem go away. You can't ban bad news.

Appeasement simply plays straight into the hands of the BNP or EDL since it gives them credibility by posing as the only ones willing to tell the truth.

Chris said...

"I don't think the hundreds of men involved"

Where does this figure come from? I know of no source that says the number was in the hundreds.

I don't have an issue with exposing where people kept quiet because of fear of being labelled racist or fear of inciting racists like speedy. In the end keeping quiet has been a field day for racists like speedy. I am careful though to take anecdotal evidence as fact and personally think there is more complexity to this than just keeping quiet because of fears of upsetting race relations. But for racists like speedy this is the be all and end all of the story.

My own view is that it would be a very poor excuse indeed to keep quiet about a serious crime because of fear of racism . And I would not blame political correctness for this but the people that kept quiet.

No my problem is with your racist belief that we have a problem with Muslim culture for the reasons already given.

"and would clearly act in precisely the same way"

This is how the far right operate.

"It makes you wonder how sincere any of the apologies were, or indeed whether we have seen the last of this."

Note how speedy links me directly with the abuse and automatically generalises to make everyone who has apologised in the council liable for my words. As if we are one homogeneous mass all linked in like the Borg or something. Again the mindset of the far right and a really really pathetically infantile way of thinking.

Anonymous said...

The following may cause offence:
We are being presented with a version of the truth but the truth has many faces.

We are told that gangs of Pakistani men groomed girls in order to abuse them. However soms 'experts' claim that the focus on race is ignoring another aspect, namely the occupation of the men. The idea is that abuse is higher among men who work nights as these vulnerable girls roam between rhe night time economy. I think we can imagine that the girls initiated first contact with the men and rather than grooming this was about opportunity and sexual urges, at least in the first instance.

It should also be noted that while the girls were being abused they didn't regard it as abuse. The report documents that some girls jumped out of windows to meet their abusers. So why do they now? I offer 3 reasons:

1. as they have matured they come to realise how their vulnerability was exploited by the men.

2. Professionals have persuaded them they have been abused. The report shows that some victims didn't accept they were abused and had to be told otherwise.

3. The promise of significant compensation was a huge incentive to deprived people.

So what is the fallout? While the main concern has been institutional failure and clash of culture little has been said about the backgrounds of the girls, by all accounts they were very poor and had difficult home lives. I think one outcome of this will be that these vulnerable girls will be saved from themselves, i.e institutionalised. And in an era when the welfare state is being rationalised that could equate to being incarcerated. The point is the end result of this could be that this becomes effectively a war on these girls, on girls in this situation, and not a war where their life chances are improved but a war to ensure institutions don't look bad to polite society, who usually show zero concern for these girls.