All posts by markpostgate

Royalist Liz: ‘PM Tea part two’

Royalist Liz: ‘PM Tea part two’.

I’ve got little to add to this that wasn’t covered in the last post. Mainly this is the “do you believe in equality of the sexes? Congratulations you’re a feminist!” trope. The difference between the words “feminist” and “royalist” is in the fictional setting of these strips royalist meaning “a movement for equality between royals and peasants” is a new meaning that, at this stage in the strips, only exists in the mind of Liz, whereas in the real world the idea that feminism means, in principle if not practice, equality between males and females has been established and reiterated for long enough that a majority believes it.

However, contrary to the trope it ISN’T the dictionary definition in quite a few dictionaries! For example the Oxford clearly defines it as “advocacy of woman’s rights on the grounds of equality of the sexes” (a cynic, like Diogenes here, could replace the word “grounds” with “pretext”). The Merriam-Webster has, as a secondary definition, “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests”.

In the real world, pro-equality anti-feminists will frequently query why feminism has “feminine” as it’s root if it’s a mutual equality movement, and will either be given the historical reasons (that it began as an advocacy movement for the rights of women) or a reiteration of the oppression narrative that men have more rights than women in every sphere already. It is this latter view that this allegorical strip is repeatedly challenging. In this fictional world with it’s fictional movement, royalism, no such query need be made – when Jim Politician questions whether that is the right word he knows it isn’t because that word already exists with an obviously inegalitarian meaning.

One other departure the strip (which is supposed to be taken allegorically) makes from it’s real world equivalence is, there is no real equivalent, certainly in first or second wave feminism to the Royalist use of the word “peasants” instead of “commoners” or “subjects” – there are numerous put-downs for men, of course, including “pigs”, “dogs” and with the current wave (fourth wave?) “dudebros” has crept in as a generalised derogatory term. However, I remember how the word “men” or worse “typical man” (which when you bear in mind that the word “typical” means “normal” is significant) would be used dripping with such vitriol that it might as well have been a derogatory word. Of course tone of voice doesn’t transfer to the written medium in the same way. But the word “peasant” is used to describe all “non-royals” with little regard for their status. The Prime-minister is as much a peasant as the servants or the people working down mines. Of course the fact that the prime-minister is a peasant reinforces Liz’s world view that it is the peasants that have all the power!

I suppose one of the big driving themes in this strip, which I won’t go into much further here because the theme is expanded on further in the next instalment, is that sometimes feminism is right in it’s recognition of inequalities and double-standards but is wrong in it’s understanding of what they actually mean, in the same way as a medieval philosopher may make a correct observation but assign a dubious magical explanation. And one is, few feminists, notable exceptions might be Camille Paglia or Angela Carter, correctly identify pedestalization of the female as a source of inequalities that negatively impact on the female – they assume that any inequality negatively impacting on them must be caused by women being seen as inferior. Why should I care? Because it’s that same topsy turvy assumption that blinds them to not only their own misandry but some of the misandry that is inherent in traditionalism.



Episode 3 – ‘PM Tea part one’

“Royalism” as an Allegory for Feminism

Royalist Liz is allegorical rather than perfectly analagous. Once you include politics in the mix (or indeed wealth) the Royals versus Commoners becomes a false equivalence, but the allegory still holds, so now might be a good time to talk about why I chose “royalty as oppressed demographic” as my allegorical version of “women as oppressed demographic”. Partly it was to do with the implicit snobbery of making “peasants” your oppressor class. The idea that men were less dignified, dirtier and more beastly than women means that feminist rhetoric can sometimes come across as pure snobbery. It is also a perception of men, as compared with women, that pre-dated feminism. It was rooted in the cult of the Virgin Mary. We can see it in the rhyme about “what little boys are made of”. So if we look at how the disadvantages of gender work they tie in pretty closely to the disadvantages of royalty versus peasantry.

Women traditionally experienced disadvantages (or societal discomforts or disempowerments) either as a result of or in order to achieve their condition of being over-protected, over-visible, over-noticed; they have a high status innately but by the same token they do not acwure status from achieving; they are seen as more civilized, gentler and of purer intent (until they fall from their pedestals – the higher the pedestal the deeper the gutter). Men on the other hand, traditionally are judged by achievement but by that token they are more prone to failure. They are under-protected, under-visible and are more prone to neglect – both self-neglect and the neglect of others.

One of the recurrent false equivalences that feminism has used to present their oppression narrative is to draw a parallel between the disadvantages faced by women to the disadvantages faced by blacks, hence the notion of white male privilege, but this equivalence doesn’t stand up to analysis. A demonstration I discovered quite early on in deconstructing this notion was to ask my opponent in debate to do a thought experiment. They are told to imagine they have three cards – one which says white male, one white female and one black male and to rank them in order depending on a series of scenarioes – most likely to be used as cannon fodder in wartime, most likely to wind up homeless, likelihood to be stopped and searched, likelihood to be a victim of violent crime, life expectancy, length of prison sentence for the same crime et cetera et cetera. In all these examples the black male winds up worst of all, but the next, of the three, will be the white male. This I would say, demonstrates that there certainly is white privilege, but it is totally unlike male privilege. If white privilege is like anything it is like female privilege.

However, I acknowledged that there may well be disadvantages associated with being female, but what would they be? Lack of independence might be one. Tighter curfews could be another. Feminists perceive “cat calling” to be a sign of oppression – men experiencing the same hardly bat an eyelid or even like it. Why the difference? Because to a man it is a novelty. We’re used to not being noticed, not being acknowledged – being ignored. When somebody notices me enough to remark that I’m looking good it’s such a novelty it makes my day – it’s never been a regular enough occurrence to become tedious. In more traditional cultures female disadvantages might include things like not being able to drive or not being permitted to go out without an escort. What it boiled down to was that male disadvantages were to do with disposibility, invisibility and demonisation and female disadvantages to do with preciousness, visibility and pedastalisation.

Black males were clearly treated as more disposable, more invisible and more demonised than white males, so black disadvantage was like male disadvantage squared. “What section of society could be said to have female disadvantage squared?” I wondered, and then whilst I was reading a post by some tumblir feminist it hit me: Royalty.

The post said something like “I know I’m living in a patriarchy when I see men walking home alone and know I could never do that” – well of course she could, I thought, and in fact statistically if she did she’d be less likely to experience violence as a result, but people might be more appalled that she took the risk. People might be less inclined to let her take that risk. In much the same way as we wouldn’t let royalty go out in public without a bodyguard, not because they would be more in danger but because they are too precious to risk.

Royalty in comparisson to commoners suffer from a greater level of being over-protected, over-visible and over-pedestalised in the same way as women do compared to men. (Celebrities versus non-entities could have worked as well, but royals seemed to have more comic potential). That made the concept of Royalism – an equality movement with the intention of making royals equal with peasants the perfect parody of feminism. Of course equality between royalty and ordinary people could benefit both parties, but if royalty was to frame their striving for equality in terms of an oppression narrative it could only make things worse for the ordinary people,.

If we look at some of the double-standards that women legitimately complain of we can still see that the royalty/commoner dichotomy often fits perculiarly well – “why is it” a young feminist may complain, “that if I sleep with a man I’m considered a whore but if a man sleeps with me he’s a hero?” but let’s put this through the lens of royalty and commoners. Royalty did (and do) sleep with commoners all the time, and have a long history of it. Kings with numerous mistresses, Princesses with gangsters or rugby players, Charles II and Nell Gwyn, Edward and Mrs Simpson. Especially since it’s known that royals marry for politics rather than love it’s expected that they will have affairs. However, in each of these arrangements who is a scandal and who is revered? Well obviously the royal is scandalised for stooping to the commoner, the commoner on the other hand has the achievement of having had a royal. Nell Gwyn does not gain a worse reputation for being the king’s mistress – she gains status by the affair. The king on the other hand “should have been more discrete”. The Royal/Commoner model holds in this particular inequality.

In cultures in which women are far more restricted than we’d be comfortable with women are not permitted to drive, but a recent controversy regarding such restrictions being enforced at a London Jewish Orthodox school proved rather revealing in that support for the discrimination came from the women in the community. A spokeswomen for their women’s organization said they felt “extremely privileged and valued to be part of a community where the highest standards of refinement, morality and dignity are respected”.

“We believe that driving a vehicle is a high pressured activity where our values may be compromised by exposure to selfishness, road-rage, bad language and other inappropriate behaviour.”

That’s a terrible cost that your dignity and refinement should be of so high a value to you that you would willingly sacrifice your independence for it, but similarly the Queen will only drive on private property and is chauffeured in public.

Suitably it ties in nicely with the girls having princesses as role models, boys having heroes as role models. And that’s why as I said with the first strip; I don’t think Liz is entirely wrong; only her entire approach and conceptualization of the problem is wrong.

To see how gender inequalities actually work, look at The Good Life (I believe known as The Good Neighbours in the States). The egalitarian relationship is the Goods, Tom and Barbara; the inegalitarian/traditionalist relationship is the Leadbetters. In the chauvinistic relationship Margo it could be said that Margo is the more regal whereas Jerry is the more serf-like.

Another analogy to traditonalism that holds pretty well is the woman as child, man as parent analogy that is made very well by the Equality Agnostic site.

So where am I going with this? Personally I am all for gender equality. Clearly Tom and Barbara are a happier couple than Margo and Jerry. The problem with feminism is it concentrates on the disadvantages experienced by the more regal half whilst blaming and demonizing the more serf-like half. How could that come across as anything other than snobbery and hatred?

In this instalment

When I started writing “PM Tea” Britain was on a verge of an election and it seemed topical. The new PM in this strip is called simply “Jim Politician”. He bears a visual resemblance to both Miliband and Blair and he is supposed to be a Labour politician. This is quite fitting given the extent to which the British left were co-opted by the feminist movement to a greater extent than the British right, despite, or perhaps in part because of, the fact that initially women were more likely to vote Conservative (partly because they were less likely to be union members and partly because Conservative men wore nicer suits and had neater haircuts). Chiefly, of course, the reason I have a socialist prime minister as my foil to the Queen is a left wing politician is more likely to have aspirations to disband the monarchy. Many rank and file members of the Labour Party would like to see the monarchy disbanded, but the further up the party you go the less likely you are to find the view replicated. It just isn’t a politically expedient view to have because the average Joe Public are generally view the monarchy as a national asset. This is almost a mirror image of the Conservatives views on the NHS; backbenchers and party members in the Conservative party would probably like to be rid of the NHS, but the nearer to the top they are the least likely they are to express it because to Joe Public the NHS is a national treasure and something to be proud of.

So the idea here is that a new PM with secret anti-monarchist views, that he’s probably been secretive about for reasons of political expediency, is faced with a monarch who at first sight appears to hold exactly the same views, and he thinks this is marvellous and is certainly something they can work together on.

However, over the course of their meeting (this and the next two strips) he learns that she is only interested in being freed from the obligations of royalty and gaining the freedoms, rights, power and privileges of being a commoner, but is not interested in giving up any of her own rights, power and privilege nor in freeing peasants from their obligations. That is why I say this sequence is more allegorical than analagous.

Here’s another reason why the left were more easily suckered by the feminists than the right were: the feminists used the rhetoric of equality and came to the left with an oppression narrative. The left is naturally the champion of the underdog. You could almost say that the left is the party for losers and the right is the party for winners. The fact that “loser” is fashionably a perjorative term is indicative that we are in a right-leaning society. Broadly speaking, the right believe society is fine as it is and for the most part people get what they deserve; the winners are winners because they earned it; the losers are losers because they lost fair and square. “Consevative” is hence an appropriate name for the right. The left believe the game is rigged; the winners are winners because they were unfairly advantaged; the losers and losers because they were unfairly disadvantaged. Neither of these views are entirely true, of course. If there was no sense that the degree to which you fare well was based on what you do you would not endeavour – that is the problem with a totally leftist view. If, on the other hand, there was no help available for the disadvantaged then they might as well give up and crash and burn. That is the problem with a totally rightist point of view.

A Temprorary Fugue in my Flow of Consciousness – Where are MRAs on the Political Spectrum?

The MRM has no natural political home. When Angry Aussie dismisses the MRAs as a bunch of losers he is not off-track; in some sense the MRM is full of people who have to some degree or other lost out in some way. The fact that he uses the term as a scathing attack says more about him than the people he’s attacking. No progressive would, or should, be using “loser” as a perjorative term.

There are a number who think the natural place for the MRM is on the right, citing that the welfare system itself is gynocentric; men pay the majoirty of taxes whilst women receive the majority of welfare. The former bit is absurd. It relies on the same fallacy as the gender wage gap. if the gender wage gap is caused by women choosing to be reliant on their husbands for support then the money being taxed is coming from the husbands who they rely on for support, in which case they get less support – we are all being taxed equally.

If the welfare system and child maintenance system are rigged in such a way that a woman is actually financially better off divorced than with her husband that is clearly a problem with the welfare system, that is not pro-families. Just as with the last blog, identifying a double standard is not the same as identifying what the universal standard should be. There is a welfare spending gap, but does it represent too much money spent on women or not enough money spent on men? I’ve seen posts about housing the homeless, which is definitely a men’s issue problem, devolve into bickering in the comments because spending money on the homeless offends the libertarian views of the new right. We can leave our politics at the door when we talk about problems but as soon as we suggest solutions our party colours show and we become divided.

So the left is unappetizing to the MRM because, to the left, men are the oppressor class but at the same time the MRM is an advocacy movement pushing for change to help people who are suffering under the present system, and changing things and caring about people who are losing out is not what the political right do. Hence politically we are nomads under the current system. We have no natural home.

What we need is governments who do not care more about mothers than they do about fathers, and do not care more about women than they do about men. But there will not be political parties that represent those views until there is an electorate that cares for fathers as much as for mothers, and cares about men as much as for women. A political party to whom men’s issues are worthy of consideration does not exist yet because an electorate that thinks that men’s issues are worthy of consideration either doesn’t exist yet or is not visible or audible yet.

Why Identity Politics Does The Left No Favours

So back to where I was before the fugue: it was easy for the left to get more suckered in by feminism because they favour the underdogs – those who lose out in society, because the rhetoric of “equality” was their own and because feminism came with an oppression narrative, but I will argue that this was a co-opting of the left and contrary to their roots. The left’s original goal was to deal with economic disadvantages and disadvantages associated with class. By allowing feminism to control their narrative, and indeed by letting all subsidary identity political movements to control their narrative they allowed themselves to be embourgoised. If the glass ceiling is higher on your list of priorities than the glass cellar you are catering to the most privileged in society – I am not referring to women, I am referring to high earners. No low earner, male or female is advantaged or disadvantaged by the glass ceiling; low earners of both genders are equally disadvantaged by the poverty gap, minimum wage and the right to be a member of a trade union. If it is of a higher concern for women to be equally represented in parliament than it is for people of working class backgrounds to be equally represented in parliament this means that working class people of both genders are disenfranchised whilst we argue over whether Mr Luxury-Yacht or Mrs Luxury-Yacht should be in charge of deciding what is to be done about the NHS or the education system. Old guard socialists have always been against racism not because it is about whites having power over blacks but because it is divisive between working class people of all colours that should share common goals.

As left-wing economics fell out of vogue with the rise of Reaganomics and Thatcherism, identity politics became the way the left could distinguish themselves as the champions of the underdog whilst ignoring the problems of poverty which in urban areas is largley people of colour, but in more provincial areas is people who are not identified by any other demographic than their weekly wage. Identity politics is a distraction from the left doing what they should be doing, and it is no wonder that seemingly right wing parties like UKIP are picking up disenfranchised Labour voters who feel the left no longer represent working class issues, but merely socially conscious hipster issues. UKIP is a tiny monster bred by the Blairite sleep of reason. To  more conservative MRAs alienated by my blatant display of leftist political colours, let’s be frank – on men’s issues neither of our houses are in order. We Brocialists (as the feminists have taken to calling the left-wing MRAs) will work on putting our house in order, and you Chapitalists (which would be the suitable corollary to Brocialist I’d have thought) can work on putting yours in order. The difference between us is not on our identification of problems but our interpretation of what is to be done.

Well that was a big tangent, but finally “Ethics”!

All of which has very little to do with this strip. The PM here needn’t be a politician at all; as a “peasant” who equally wants equality with “royals” he represents perhaps the disillusionment with feminism experienced by any male who takes their claim of wanting equality at face value and finds their oppression narrative leaves them beyond reasoning with. There is of course an alternative egalitarian way of looking at equality of the sexes and it was expressed by both Warren Farrell and Karen De Crow – that all inequalities are double sided – what may prove an advantage in one sphere proves a disadvantage in another. To gain advantage in one sphere you have to give up a certain amount of advantage in the other. For one party to want to increase their power in the sense in which they are disadvantaged but not being willing to give up power in senses which they are advantaged is not a move for equality but a move for supremacy.  Some second-wave feminists understood this. When in the Seventies a judge moved for a lenient sentence for a woman who commited murder whilst suffering PMT feminists quite rightly identified the judgement as chauvinistic. How could women be taken seriously as doctors, lawyers or politicians if some judge is prepared to rule that women are not responsible for their actions every fourth week of the year? By the Eighties feminists were agitating for exactly that sort of leniency. This move to begin advocating for male chauvinism rather than against it was the inevitable upshot of a feminist system of ethics as expressed by Alison Jaggar, “Women should not focus on making the world a better place for everyone in general; rather, their primary aim should be to make the world a better place for women in particular” (not a direct quote from Jaggar but a quote from this article on feminist ethics). Since the “benevolent sexisms” (as feminists call them – we could equally call them anti-male sexisms) of chauvinism do, on the face of it at least, make the world a better place for women it is no wonder that by the third wave, with “making the world a better place for women” as their only goal, feminists would begin demanding the traditionalist advantages of chauvinism back again. The very notion that feminists should need their own system of ethics is disquieting in itself. It’s also a far cry from Mary Wollstencraft who felt that women should be held to the same ethical standards as men. If being viewed as helpless and less culpable makes “the world a better place for women” then why strive for an equality that will force women to adhere to the same moral responsibilities as men? A genuine equality movement would not place making the world a better place for one gender above making the world a better place for the other. A grievance movement with an oppression narrative would, because that oppression narrative would make them assume that the “oppressor” in their narrative was already living in the best of all possible worlds. I think Wollstencraft, who sought to treat her fellow women as “rational creatures” would be ashamed of the movement that claims her as a pioneer and yet asks for particular protections, rejects the scientific method as being “phallocentric” and forms it’s own system of ethics where all human beings are not treated with equal consideration.


Royalist Liz – Mr Taster

Mr Taster is the second strip in the Royalist Liz series, and I’m going to use these as launchpads for discussing some of my issues about modern feminism. This is going to kind of meander; it’s a little flow of consciousness. If I was up to writing a well-structured article I’d have published it elsewhere under a more reputable banner like HBR. I’m using this site to write more personal observations and also to share these humble comic strips which I wouldn’t wish to sully anyone else’s reputation with (I mean, I can’t even draw – hence why I’m using bitstrips).

A Long-Winded Preamble About Comedy Taboo

There’s a lot of debate about what should and shouldn’t be a subject of humour and one taboo that has been very strongly enforced is that we shouldn’t make jokes about rape… upon women. I have to specify that last bit; the taboo does not seem to extend as far as rape upon males; in fact there is such an absence of taboo on rape with male victims that there is a male rape joke in Dreamworks “Puss in Boots”, for example. Puss’ collaborator turned traitor Humpty (who is a talking egg), when contemplating prison says “have you got any idea what they do to eggs in prison; I’ll tell you this; it ain’t over easy!” This isn’t an isolated incident; I’m highlighting it because it is a family film. There is also numerous examples that could be cited in other comedies including a joke involving a man raped by a gorilla in Trading Places that is more disturbing than funny.

However, identifying a double-standard isn’t the same as knowing what the universal standard should be. It’s also notable that all other forms of violence against men are more acceptable than the same violence commited against women, and while it is a problem that real world violence against men is not taken seriously enough, I’m loathe to place a taboo upon violence against men in comedy – mainly because comedy violence is funny. It’s funny because it’s unexpected and unjust, it is cruel and absurd. We need to ask ourselves what is humour actually for and one of the things it’s undoubtedly for is resolving the dissonance caused by absurdity.

You can’t tell what people find acceptable as comedy just by asking them. If you outright ask them is seeing an animal in pain funny they will unequivocably tell you “no”, but show them an episode of Tom and Jerry in which both a cat and a mouse are frequently taking turns experiencing some sort of pain or violence and they will laugh. Been asked the question does not elicit an honest answer then, because in the clinical situation of simply being asked people will query their moral sense, but in the context of seeing the joke their sense of humour will over-ride their moral sense. We find appalling things funny, not because we are appalling people, but because the fact that we find it appalling creates the dissonance that can only be resolved through laughter. Violence against men in comedy is only misandrous when it is framed in such a sense that we are laughing at the victim rather than expeiencing empathy with him, and the context is such that we are being told he deserves it and we are to relish his comeuppance and when we are invited to admire the perpetrator. Most comedy violence does not come into this category. Even though Tom often does bring the experience of violence upon himself, we are almost always invited to empathise with his experience of it. As Wile E. Coyote falls off a cliff he holds up a sign saying “uh-oh” and we empathise with his resignation to his fate. Wile E. is the Sisyphus of cartoon violence enduring the same misfortune over and over again trapped on a wheel of inevitability.

So maybe the double-standard needs to be addressed in the other direction. It may actually be that no one should be above comedy violence as long as the comedy violence doesn’t fall into those trappings of hatred. I think this is the rule – comedy violence is hateful if a) we feel no empathy for the victim, b) we’re invited to admire the perpetrator and c) it is assumed that we all agree that the victim deserves it. So don’t let me ask you “is violence against women” funny, your ethical sense will tell you no, let me instead ask is it funny when Emo Philips says “my girlfriend got angry with me when I said she looked sexy with black fingernails. Because then she thought I’d slammed them in the car door on purpose.” or the slapping an hysterical woman scene from Airplane.

So my conclusion here is all taboos on what is or isn’t permissible to make jokes about are artificial. In fact it may be the more heinous a thing is the more we need to make jokes about it. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the wizarding students are instructed about how to defend yourselves against a boggart. A boggart is a being that takes on the form of whatever you fear the most. It is the Potter universe equivalent of Room 101. The defence against it is to diminish it’s power by reducing it to a form where it can be laughed at. To make something that causes fear and anxiety beyond the scope of humour is to rob the fearful of one of their best psychological defences. Why would you wish to keep someone in a state of fear, unless keeping them in fear was politically expedient.

The Absurdity of Feminist Rape Culture Rhetoric

And all of the above is a preamble which brings me at last, to the topic of the comic strip which is clearly obliquely about feminist rhetoric on rape culture, and it isn’t the first time I’ve tried to pen something on this topic. The first was a sketch called Green Sex and Ham; the scenario was that a crowd-pleasing TV presenter has invited the feminist author of a book on rape onto his show to demonstrate that he is socially conscious, but the guest in question is a radical feminist who goes on to expand her definitions and claim that Green Eggs and Ham is a rape manual because it depicts an unnamed female character (the presenter points out that the character looks male and she scolds him for objectifying her!) being “verbally coerced” into receiving “meat and two eggs” which she insists is an obvious metaphor. When the presenter points out that she is being absurd she calls him a rape apologist and, as the conversation esculates, later a rapist because he admits he has at some point in his life had drunken sex. To defend his character he then phones, on air, the woman he had sex with so that she can testify to his guest that she had not been taken advantage of. The sketch ends with the presenter trying to wrap up the show whilst his guest and his ex-girlfriend argue with each other angrily over the phone  – the guest accusing the woman of being in denial, self-blaming and “colonized” and the ex-girlfriend accusing the sex-negative feminist of being disempowering and regressively Victorian.

The butt of the joke was clearly not rape itself but the ideological expansion of definition on it, the insistence that it is a culturally sanctioned thing, and the refusal of certain feminists to acknowledge that when a woman says she hasn’t been raped that she is capable of making that assessment (bear in mind 73% of the women Mary Koss claimed had been raped in her study for Ms Magazine agreed with the terminology). To my mind it was the expansion of definitions that was trivialising and the sketch was an angry swipe at those who are behind the expansion of definitions. The humour was not doing the trivialising. Retrospectively, whilst at the time I was still a gynocentric pre-red-pilled male and my ONLY concern with the sketch was that it might be construed as trivialising rape, but it was also a sketch about false rape accusation which is as sensitive an issue, as life-damaging an experience and in many ways my boggart that needed a ridickulus spell cast upon it. I prefer to fight my boggarts by including them in comedy, not excluding them.

My gynocentricism still comes through very strongly in the sketch; I still considered myself pro-feminist so I made the other female character a feminist too (albeit a more sex-positive one) for fear of strawmanning all feminists by highlighting the lunacy of the McKinnon/Dworkin/Koss style feminists.

That said, I felt the sketch was a bit near the knuckle and I felt uncomfortable even though I also felt it was a very funny sketch, so I sent it to a friend to see what she thought, and she has always insisted that she never got round to reading it. I’m strongly of the opinion that she read it and was so appalled she thought it was best not to talk about it.

I wrote another less challenging sketch about a pet-medium and titled the sketches clearly because I did not want “Green Sex and Ham” to be merely referred to as “the rape sketch” and sent it to a comedian friend who had stated he wanted something a bit controversial, and he shortly replied “didn’t think much of the cat-medium sketch – thought it was a bit obvious. Loved the rape sketch.” and it will at some point in the future, no doubt, be performed. If we record it I’ll post a you tube link.

But the rhetorical barriers put in place to prevent people talking about the subject are innumerable. When Judy Finnegan remarked on air that the rape Ched Evans had been accused of was not a violent one she was bullied into an apology for suggesting that there might be different kinds. She wasn’t even professing his innocence, merely saying this is not an incident like those we normally associate with the word rape. Although there is plenty of evidence that Evan’s conviction was an unsafe one. To on the one hand be expanding definitions, whilst on the other insisting that the word only means one thing, is an act of psychological manipulation that would make the most accomplished gaslighter blush. I wrote an article more extensively about this on the Honey Badger Radio site.

Humour is a defense not only against fear, but also against psychological manipulation. If someone is trying to force you to believe two contradictory ideas at the same time you will experience cognitive dissonance. Humour is the best escape from cognitive dissonance. If you are forbidden from escaping that dissonance through humour and you are not permitted to question the authority of those impressing those two contradictory views upon you (men are never permitted to speak with any authority on any form of sexual assault), that can only lead to a sort of intellectual learned helplessness.

So this comic touched on the rhetoric of feminist rape culture hysteria without actually mentioning rape. It is not about the expanding definitions of rape, but it is about the expanding definitions of “victim blaming” so I’m going to deal a bit with my views about that.

I Agree, Victim-Blaming is Terrible; All-Men-Blaming is Worse.

There absolutely is such a thing as victim blaming and it is insensitive. However, it is also not peculiar to rape. In the wake of almost any misfortune from something as serious as a child being abducted (“where were the parents that’s what I’d like to know?”) down to the trivial there will always be someone who says you could have done more to prevent that from happening. There’s a rationale behind it called the “Just World Hypothesis” which is the belief that we get what we deserve out of life. We don’t, life is composed of random elements and the labour involved in preventing all possible risks that may happen wouldn’t leave you very much in the way of an enjoyable life. We need to take calculated risks in order to function as human beings and things happen that are unfortunate. It may well be in this age of 24 hour news coverage we are all suffering from some sort of global compassion fatigue since we are aware of a ton of misfortune happening to everyone everywhere and the only way some people can shut it out is to find a way to make all these misfortunes in some way karmic rather than calamitous.

That sort of after the event “well why didn’t you…” we have every right to be angered about including victim blaming of the falsely accused. Read this article by Michael Daly with some phenomenal victim blaming towards the five students flasely accused of raping a student from Hofstra. The fact that the girl was consenting, Daly argues, proves that she was troubled and the falsely accused deserved the ordeal of being falsely accused for having sex with a troubled woman. “But the fact that the five did not gang-rape the woman does not mean their behavior was anything but disgraceful.” sounds a lot like what feminists call slut-shaming, but surely we keep being told, that is something that only happens to women. Why is Michael Daly not high-fiving them all for their sexual prowess as feminists insist we patriarchs all do?

However, feminist campaigners have expanded the definition of what constitutes victim blaming to include the act of taking precautions itself, or recommendations about what precautions to take. This shouldn’t be difficult to understand, you can’t be victim-blamed before you’re a victim – advice about precautions is just advice; it isn’t blame. How can there be anyone to blame for something that hasn’t happened?

Excessive precautions may indeed be galling, but the blame is not placed upon the fearmongers who exaggerate the dangers, but men who constitute the phantom menace they are taking precautions against. They call for all men to be educated to prevent the actions of a tiny minority. Not that the feminists will accept that the minority is that tiny. What many seem unaware of is men are already being educated in schools and colleges and by the media to be scrupulous about not risking the provision of any form of unwanted sexual attention, and already women are reporting dissatisfaction in being forced into the initiator role by men no longer comfortable with taking the risks. The number of women using male prostitutes has almost trebled. Married women are complaining about being rejected by their partners. And some are so bitter about having to do the asking that they’re spilling their bile at men for not having the balls. 

Speaking of balls, some men, like Scott Aaronson went as far as to seek chemical castration because his conflict with a desire that he had been taught to see as potentially harassing or threatening to women was driving him to suicidal thoughts. An experience Laurie Penney dismissed as “different from structual oppression” and that was pleasant compared to what Marcotte had to say about it. Then again, having your face savaged off by a pitbull is pleasant compared to anything Marcotte has to say about anything. Even the picture on that article is bullying. We are talking about a man who was so psychologically damaged he was considering castration and Marcotte’s response is to make “boo hoo” faces at him! Is there no bottom to that woman’s well of hatred? But, let’s put Marcotte to one side (and by “to one side” I mean “into the very bowels of Acheron”.) to Penny I’d like to ask what does “structual oppression” mean if compulsory “sexual-assault prevention workshops … with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that “might be” sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn’t be sexual harassment or assault.” is not considered to qualify. It’s compulsory, it’s institutionalised and if it left Aaronson “with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last [him] through another year” it was certainly oppressive.

There is no consideration for this when across the internet pointers hover over the “share” button of memes that say “don’t teach me not to [insert whatever rape precaution feminists are angry about now] teach men not to rape”. Men are already being taught how not to rape (and have you considered that the very idea that they need that lesson conveys the sense that it is something that might be done accidentally out of insufficient scepticism?) and how not to sexually assault (which is a much broader term), how not to harrass, and some men (like Aaronson) are being taught too well; because the same lessons and messages are going out to all men, not just the ones likely to rape, but also to the vast majoirty that would only find reward in reciprocal pleasure. It’s as if to prevent obesity a message went out telling everyone to eat less, even those who were already starving themselves.

I found some great burden lifted when I read this line in Katie Roiphe’s book “The Morning After”.
I cited it in a comment’s thread and was immediately told by a feminist that it was “the worse kind of rape apology” she’d ever heard. Except it isn’t. Sexual attention isn’t penetration. Obviously penetration is a form of sexual attention, but sexual attention is a much broader term including eyeing up, making a suggestive comment, kissing, stroking, putting your arm around someone’s waist – any of which could be unwanted, and any of which we are already motivated to avoid delivering unwanted if we can at all help it, because an unwanted form of sexual attention to the deliverer means a rejection, just as much as it means discomfort to the recipient – it already comes with it’s own negative reinforcement without requiring the additional designation of characterizing the provider as a sex pest, a creep or a harrasser. Unwanted sexual attention is already an unpleasant experience for BOTH parties without there being a necessity for one party to be demonized, and yet it is a necessary risk in courtship.

How about instead of clicking “share” on memes saying “teach men not to rape” you instead insist “teach ideologues to stop lying to us, stop fearmongering, stop elevating the sense of threat to force through their agenda for more totalitarian policies”? It may well be that no one needs rape prevention nail varnish or to ask someone to watch their drink since the use of date rape drugs has been shown to largely be a myth and not because it is men that need to be taught not to do this mythological thing. It may well be that you don’t need an escort home that is four times more likely to be attacked than you are when he returns alone. It may well be that the precautions you take are excessive, but that doesn’t mean the threat is excessive, merely your perception of it.

tl;dr? Don’t worry, there’s a comic strip and it’s a lot lighter and funnier than all that lot I’ve just written.

via Royalist Liz – Bitstrips.

Royalist Liz: ‘Peasantarchy’

This is the first (and most primative) of 24 bitstrips I’ve created with this character, Royalist Liz. I can’t reiterate enough that she is a fictional character as are all the characters in the strip – they merely draw inspiration from real members of the royal family, in order to allow easy recognition of the themes. The 24 strip series (I think 24 episodes constitutes a season so there we have it – I’m going to take a rest from it now) was a satirical critique of identity politics through the lens of a “what if” scenario: namely, what if the Queen (and by extension other members of the royal family – see later episodes) began to see themselves as an oppressed group.

It seems, at first, like a straightforward and one-sided analogy but as it develops it becomes more nuanced, and here’s why: I don’t think Liz is entirely wrong. She shows some appalling attitudes as the strip develops but I personally am a compassionate anti-monarchist. I genuinely feel sorry for royalty – I think it is an artificial way of life that is dehumanizing to the very people it sets upon pedestals. What makes Liz (who is, I reiterate, a fictional character) wrong is her choice to see her discomfort as symptomatic of oppression in which the non-royals (termed throughout as “peasants”) are the oppressors and the ones to blame.

Read on, enjoy. I suppose you could go to bitstrips and read it all in one go, but I’m going to keep posting them here until the season is done making some discussion of my ideas as they developed and invite comments from the readers below.

Royalist Liz: ‘Peasantarchy’.