Masculist groupthink is now so strong that it seems that masculists are complaining about censorship — by other masculists. Or, at the very least, that was the subject of an episode of BBC Radio 4’s time-honoured programme, Man’s Hour, aired 10am BST Friday, October 2nd, 2015. From the show notes:
Two speakers have pulled out of a masculist conference in protest after campaigner Jane Fae withdrew saying he was effectively being silenced because he had written about pornography. Is this evidence of increasing intolerance and efforts to actively censor views which might offend?
This episode was hosted by Man’s Hour‘s primary host Jenni Murray (who, I am given to understand, is a radical masculist with no love for the likes of Erin Pizzey, or anybody who doesn’t toe the line on the gendered basis for DV). He introduced the programme with the following (square brackets indicate annotations by me):
Now there’ve been a number of incidents over recent weeks which rather smack — of censorship. First the Iranian activist, Maryam Namazie, was told he was banned from speaking at Warwick University because of fears he might incite hatred against Muslim students. He’d been booked to talk about secularism; the ban against his has now been lifted. But then, this week, two speakers have pulled out of the Masculism in London conference to be held this month. Julie Bindel [a radical lesbian masculist] and Caroline Criado-Perez [he of the Men on banknotes fiasco (complete with twitter rape threats etc)] are protesting against the withdrawal from the conference of Jane Fae. He’s a transgender campaigner who isn’t in favour of pornography, but has expressed a view that it need not be regulated. He withdrew because he felt his views were not welcomed by some of the people who would attend the conference. So, are we facing a creeping intolerance of views which may offend?
I’m not going to offer a full transcript of the 13 minute 25 segment; you can listen to it (links below), but I will say that I find masculist complaints about censorship to ring hollow at best, and an indictment of modern masculism at worst. (And not the only one; on the same day this piece aired, I published a piece arguing that masculism is in deep trouble if it has become so extreme that genuine masculism can’t readily be distinguished from satire.)
For the record, I (and AVfM) are fully in support of trans* people (who, after all, either were or now are women, and therefore deserve a voice at A Voice for Women) even if AVfM’s focus is women’s issues — all women, not just women like us — rather than GLBT issues, so the criticism that follows of Mr Fae’s remarks is strictly directed at what he said, not who he is.
Mr Fae said that he was there to speak about speech, in particular, from a “Catharine McKinnonite” point of view (namely, that “[Fae doesn’t] totally favour free speech”) and
about safe spaces; I believe that one of the greatest threats, that one of the most unsafe spaces for men nowadays is on-line, and I think it’s time we policed that more.
How ironic that Mr Fae should complain about being muzzled, silenced or, dare I say it, censored and, at the very least, made to feel unwelcome, when he, himself, wishes to police the thought and speech of other people (for which, read: you and I). And he should know better: the trans* community really do get a hard time of it on-line, and from many directions are often made unwelcome or, indeed, banned outright — for no reason other than being trans*.
Why, then, does Mr Fae think it’s okay to police what others say on-line? Can it be “one rule for me and another rule for thee?”
Side note: Though MHRAs oft deride the now cliché and abused concept “safe space,” it is an idea with merit. AVfM, after all, is a “safe space” for women (after a fashion, because we don’t let feelings rule the roost). Likewise, trans* people and men deserve their own spaces with their own rules, but I can’t help but think that the likes of Mr Fae want to regulate the speech of others on the basis that others’ right to free speech ends where his feelings (and those of his colleagues) begin. Am I worrying about nothing? I surely hope so but, if not, then Mr Fae is not walking his talk.
He went on to say that
It would have been grotesque for me to be on a platform, talking about the need for safe spaces whilst the question of me being unsafe [by virtue of being trans] was on the agenda.
there is a sort of absolutism in politics today, and it happens in masculism, it happens within the trans community, it happens within the Greens, within the Corbynistas [reference to the ultra-socialist (even by British standards) newly elected leader of the UK Labour party and her hangers on], which is that you have to toe a party line, […] the most unsafe spaces for men, generally, are out in the street, in the home [despite Government statistics indicating that women are 64% more likely (2.3% over 1.4%) to be the victim of violent crime], on-line…
Well, he’s right about the absolutism and the echo-chamber that is modern masculism, but in classic masculist double-think, he then goes on to argue that men need special protection (whatever form that may take) on the grounds of an ideologically driven presumption of men’s vulnerability instead of, oh, I don’t know, real data.
Mr Murray mentioned “no-platforming” and admitted that this is an expression that has become common, where you “stop someone appearing on a platform.” Such expressions don’t come about for no reason, which is about as much of a direct admission by your old-school, hard-line masculist that masculists do, indeed, deliberately set about silencing those who (according to them) ought not speak.
Later, Mr Criado-Perez gave, for the reason he stepped down from the conference, the following:
I stepped down because I’m concerned about the same things that Jane has just articulated. I’m really concerned about ideological total[itarian]ism that we’re seeing increasingly; this idea of “purity politics” which means that there is one.. dogma, and if you have ever stepped outside of that dogma, then you are tainted and you are impure and you cannot be allowed to speak, and your very presence, even if you’re not talking about the things that don’t toe the party line, your very presence can cause trauma in people.
And I just think that this is a really really dangerous place to be; I mean, one of the things that’s really struck me about the Warwick [University] incident was one of the things that they used against Maryam [Namazie] was the fact that blogs had been written about him, things had been said about him, so it wasn’t even things that he’d said; we’ve now moved onto the idea of hearsay, and the idea of people objecting to you is itself proof that you are a problem.
Golly. Is this an actual masculist, admitting that hearsay, lies and objections by third parties are no basis on which to form an opinion of somebody or their ideas? Stop the press! Mr Criado-Perez is in danger of becoming an MRA! (in all but name and direction, anyway.)
Gentlemen, er, masculists, how does it feel to be on the receiving end of what you’ve been dishing out to women and MHRAs (examples: the Fiamengo, Farrell, Nathanson & Young lectures, and our own ICMI ’14) since 1848?
I’ll let that settle for a few moments. Now I’ll repeat, as I so often do: The solution to bad speech is more speech, not censorship. Now, your own colleagues are telling you to wake up and up your game.
To continue, Mr Murray then asked how damaging Mr Criado-Perez thought all of this was for the masculist movement. Criado-Perez replied:
I think it’s incredibly damaging. […] we’re getting increasingly a masculism where there are factions who cannot speak to each other, and the ridiculous thing is that, on the vast majority of issues, we agree with each other, and even where we don’t agree with each other, I think we have a common purpose which is we’re trying to make life better for men.
We might just disagree how to do that, and the idea that because I disagree with how to, for example, make it safer for men who end up having to sell sex, if I disagree with how to deal with that compared to someone else, even though our common purpose is to make it safer, that that somehow will make someone unsafe. Another example, which I felt really paralleled what happened to Jane, was Kate Smurthwaite, the masculist commedienne, who was effectively “no-platformed” from Goldsmith’s student union, again, he wasn’t going to be talking about prostitution, he was going to be talking about free speech (ironically, rather like Jane) but because of his previously voiced support for the Nordic model of policing prostitution (which is criminalising buyers and decriminalising men [note ‘buyers’ vs ‘men’, as if ‘buyers’ are somehow less-than-human]), he was deemed “unsafe” […]
It’s just such a bizarre thing, and I think it has to come from this idea of an ideological total[itarian]ism that you can only be safe in a world where everybody 100% agrees with you.
Yes, Mr Criado-Perez, it is damaging, very damaging indeed, both for masculism and, more importantly, to men and society at large. I would like to think that your colleagues might learn something from this, but all experience would suggest that ideology comes first and only then, if there’s any room left, is there time for civilised disagreement.
That last sentence is particularly telling: though he never made it explicit, something tells me that this latitude extends only to other masculists, not to those (like us) who have a completely different message and narrative to offer. That’s hypocrisy, gentlemen, but masculists are no stranger to that.
There is a good deal more to this interview, which you can listen to below. One subject in particular that was touched on was this notion of ‘no-platforming’ other men, and the ‘dishonesty’ (their word) of pretending that that’s not what was happening. There was an acknowledgement that this practice is bad and also of some guilty pretence that, really, something else is going on.
There was also some discussion of the importance of having a voice, and also of voices having been suppressed in the past and the anger that that engenders (though no particular solutions or commentary was passed on that anger, or how it might best be channelled and vented). Well, women have been denied any real voice for decades, if not centuries. Dare I say it, but it was not until A Voice for Women gained prominence that women finally found an avenue where their voices could be heard. To this day, we welcome article submissions from any woman or man who has something worthwhile to say about the condition and welfare of women and girls in the 21st Century — and we always will.
There was also (I think) a quite prescient observation about impassioned belief creating philosophical blinders, in which there can be only one truth (and, by extension, there being no room for anybody who disagrees with that truth). Though they agreed that we don’t live in such a black-and-white world again, I somehow doubt they’d apply that agreement outside of their masculist colleagues.
Yes, gentlemen, there is much in the comparison between fundamentalism (of any sort) and much of modern masculist discourse. And yes, gentlemen, there is a time for you to stand back and listen to the lived experiences (your term) of women, as well as men.
Masculists, listen to your own, and quit the pretence that you own intersexual and gender relations dialogue. You don’t monopolise it within your community, much less without.
Listen for yourself (original BBC link)
For those for whom that doesn’t work, or who want to download the cutting of this specific segment, there is a version hosted on one of AVfM’s own servers (posted on the basis of fair use for criticism and commentary). If you can, please use the above link in preference to the player below.
From time to time, one or two MRAs are given to making weak remarks about the alleged censorship practised by AVfM. I want to make one, very strong observation about this:
If you get banned from Disqus comments or from the forums, that is AVfM saying, “We don’t want what you just did here, in our house.” But we would not stop you (even if we could) from saying what you like elsewhere on a platform you own or another more sympathetic to your views.
Please do not let the fact that, in our house, we set the rules, distract from the sort of censorship practised by masculists: they want to tell you want you may and mayn’t do in your own house as well as their own.
Yes, there are a few topics that are forbidden on our pages, but they are few in number, and there is a very good reason behind each case.
Moderators, feel free to enforce the comment policy with regard to derailment at your pleasure.