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In Solidarity with @JuneEricUdorie

On 10 December, Nimko Ali, Kira Cochrane, June Eric-Udorie, Julia Hartley-Brewer, Abi Morgan  and Sophie Walker took part on a panel chaired by Jane Garvey organized by the Guardian about contemporary feminism.

The next day Ms. Hartley-Brewer published an account of the panel in the Daily Telegraph. From this it is clear that she found it a perplexing event in which issues and ideas were discussed that she did not understand or agree with. However, instead of presenting these arguments clearly and rebutting them with her own; she instead chose to write a piece mocking the other panel members and their views. In particular, she was unhappy about Ms. Eric-Udorie’s participation in the event. Ms. Hartley-Brewer wrote:

So I spent most of the evening being lectured on how to be a proper feminist by a 17 year old fellow panellist.

If only I could have met her before I became the third ever female political editor of a national newspaper in Britain! If only my mother had been able to seek her advice when, as a divorced mum of two, she decided to become a doctor in the 1970s! If only we had known then what that 17 year old knows now!

She was, to be fair, a very bright, articulate and sincere 17 year old but, nevertheless, a teenager. Luckily that didn’t stop her knowing that women only become the main carers for their children because they are forced to be, by their limited life choices, dominated as they are by the patriarchy.

The gist of her argument appeared to be, how could a 17 year-old girl possibly have any idea about feminism or women’s lives at all? And how dare this girl share those views and disagree with Ms. Hartley-Brewer in public? Only her indignation at being cricitised in public by a teenager can explain why she would make Ms. Eric-Udorie the centre of her column.

As a result of being so prominently featured in Ms. Hartley-Brewer’s column, Ms. Eric-Udorie found herself to be suddenly of interest to numerous Twitter users who like nothing better than to belittle, insult and harass women on-line. She and other feminists on Twitter complained to Ms. Hartley for the deeply unpleasant attempt to make Ms. Eric-Udorie a figure of ridicule.

Later on that day, and in the days that have followed, Ms. Hartley-Brewer and Louise Mensch have repeatedly ridiculed Ms. Eric-Udorie via Twitter. In an astonishing role-reversal, they claim that it is she who cannot take criticism (although what criticism they have of the arguments of Ms. Eric- Udorie have never been expressed).

Moreover, copying the tactics of internet abusers they contend that by speaking publicly and using a Twitter account she has brought the abuse she has received on herself. Ms. Eric-Udorie has requested that they desist with such behaviour but as yet, neither appear ready to afford her the respect she deserves.

Instead, Ms. Mensch continues to ridicule Ms. Eric-Udorie.

While Ms. Hartley-Brewer is still refuses to understand why a column written to ridicule a 17 year-old girl who disagreed with her on a panel event was in any way offensive.

As a result, we at EOM would like to make the following statement:

Ms. Eric-Udorie may only be 17. However, she was invited to speak on the panel because she is an active feminist activist. She has worked for 3 years on girls rights with groups such as @FGMSilentScream and @YouthForChange and directly with the Department of International Development for  UK government. In fact, she was shortlisted for a Red Magazine award this year in recognition of her work. As such, she had the requisite experience and knowledge to be on the panel, and more than enough authority to disagree with Ms. Hartley-Brewer.

We utterly deplore Ms. Hartley-Brewer’s decision to write a column framing Ms. Eric-Udorie’s disagreements and criticism of Ms. Hartley as “lecturing”. We further object to her decision to ridicule Ms. Eric-Udorie for her age and, implying quite falsely that Ms. Eric-Udorie lacks life experience as a feminist. We call on her to apologise to Ms. Eric-Udorie and recognise that she chose to target Ms. Eric-Udorie in her article because she was angry at being challenged by a teenager in public.

Secondly, we condemn Ms. Mensch’s continued ridicule of Ms. Eric-Udorie via Twitter. We call on her respect Ms. Eric-Udorie’s request that she cease to target her. Ms. Mensch declares herself to be a feminist and denies Ms. Eric-Udorie’s feminism. However, her behaviour towards Ms. Eric-Udorie is not in anyway feminist, it more closely resembles that of a Men’s Right Activist. We believe she also owes Ms. Eric-Udorie an apology.

Finally, we stand in solidarity with June Eric-Udorie. We refuse to see young feminists frightened from speaking in public by the intolerance and abhorrent behaviour of other women.

Solidarity with Connie St. Louis

Reactions to Sir Tim Hunt‘s controversial comments about women’s role in science continue to illustrate how misogynists dislike to be held to account for their prejudice.

Hunt said: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry”. Although he has since declared he was joking, the three people who initially reported on the story after hearing him speak insist that he spoke in earnest.

 

 

Whether Hunt was joking or not is beside the point. As Hilda Bastion has already demonstrated, his remarks are equally offensive when framed as “humour”  .

In a 2004 review of empirical research, Thomas Ford and Mark Ferguson[PDF] point out:

Disparagement humor (e.g., racist or sexist humor) is humor that denigrates, belittles, or maligns an individual or social group…[P]eople have become less willing to allow joke tellers “moral amnesty” for their derision of social out-groups through humor.

Sexist and other discriminatory disparaging humor takes a code for granted: its funniness relies on people recognizing the stereotypes that are the basis for the joke. It asks us to not take discriminatory stereotyping seriously. That’s not going to take the sting out of it.

Ford and Ferguson concluded that jokes don’t create hostility to the outgroup where it doesn’t already exist. But the evidence, they said, showed that joking reinforces existing prejudice. If you joke about women and get away with it, those who are hostile to women will see this as social sanction for their views and behavior. The joke tellers don’t themselves have to be actively misogynist to end up encouraging others to be.

 

Hunt’s comments initially provoked condemnation of the type above as well as humorous memes from women scientists who poked fun at him using the hashtag #distractinglysexy. It also proved a good opportunity for many to talk about sexism in science.

The discussion turned unpleasant after Hunt resigned from a Honorary Fellowship at University College London. It was then that a narrative suggesting Hunt had been driven from his job by on-line “witch-hunt” from feminists began to form. The narrative has lots of problems, as Emily Hunt has shown. Chief amongst these is the fact that it is simply not true.

Studying the comments under an on-line petition demanding Hunt’s reinstatement, Dr. Dorothy Bishop notes that three misconceptions govern on-line discussion in support of Hunt:

  1. a) They think that Tim Hunt has been sacked from his job
  2. b) They think he is ‘lost to science’
  3. c) They think University College London (UCL) fired him in response to a ‘Twitter mob’.

But as she goes on to say:

None of these things is true. (a) Hunt is a retired scientist who was asked to resign from an honorary position.  That’s shaming and unpleasant, but an order of magnitude different from being sacked and losing your source of income. (b) Hunt continues to have an affiliation to the Crick Institute – a flagship research centre that recently opened in Central London. (c) UCL are explicit that their acceptance of his resignation from an honorary position had nothing to do with the reaction on social media.

Dr. Bishop highlights how this narrative of on-line bullying has been presented to the public via the media: especially, from the BBC. She points to the fact that women and feminism have been the favourite scapegoats for what people believe to be the hounding of Hunt:

there was an awful lot of blaming of women, Twitter and feminism in general, with comments such as “Too much of this feminist ranting going on. Men need to get their spines back and bat it away” and “A respected and competent scientist has been hounded out of his job because of an ignorant baying twitter mob who don’t happen to like his views“. And my favourite: “What he said was a joke. If lesbian feminist women can’t take a joke, then they are the joke.”

In this post, we would like to point out how the Daily Mail is contributing to the propagation of this fictional narrative against women and feminists. In particular we wish to draw attention to its hate campaign against one of the women who initially reported on Tim Hunt’s comments: the academic Connie St. Louis, senior lecturer in Journalism at City University, London.

Last week, the Mail published two articles about Ms. St. Louis:

Connie St Louis who revealed Sir Tim Hunt’s ‘sexist’ comments has no regrets | Daily Mail Online

Sir Tim Hunt investigation reveals flaws about Connie St Louis’ testimony | Daily Mail Online

The first article sought to frame Ms. St. Louis as the reason why Hunt was “fired” from his job. The second was an attempt at discrediting Ms. Louis – “the architect of the witch-hunt” against Hunt- by questioning the veracity of the curriculum vitae available on the City University website. The principal complaint of the Mail journalist, Guy Adams, was that Ms. St. Louis’s CV made references to work done more than ten or twenty years ago as if they were still in progess. He also appears to find it strange that breast cancer and family illnesses might have prevented Ms. St. Louis from concluding a research project.

Neither of these accusations hold much water. As Ms. St. Louis’s statement makes clear that the curriculum available on the City University website is not at all recent. City University itself says it has no doubts to the veracity of her curriculum. Moreover, breast cancer and family illness are both quite adequate explanations for the incompletion of projects.

Of course, the idea that Ms. St. Louis’s CV is somehow suspicious allows the Mail to fan the flames of the misogynists’ conspiracy theories regarding Sir Tim Hunt. It gives weight to the idea that the condemnation of his comments has been orchestrated by humorless feminists who are simply jealous of Hunt’s achievements.

Moreover, articles like those published last week, also mean that the Mail gives host a range of misogynist comments under its texts. The Mail may argue that these views do not reflect its editorial line. However, as can be seen from the following extracts from the comment thread under the second article, it would appear that most of its readers endorse its narrative of a “witch-hunt” of feminists and are in doubt who is the leading “witch”.

As the Mail also was careful to produce a full length photo of Ms. St. Louis, it also invited comment both on her attire and her looks. Much of this commentary is of an explicitly racist nature. The usual content warning apply.



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Finally, it is also of note that many the commentators on this thread heartily endorse and celebrate the continued harassment of Ms. St. Louis. To judge from the comments below, they wish to make sure Ms. St. Louis is kept in her place.

 

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This story also been repeated by the right-wing press: both the Spectator and Breibart News suggest that The Mail’s story is not receiving the attention it deserves.  On both sites, the comment threads contain similar opinions to those expressed on the Mail page. In the case of the latter, the racism and misogyny is as explicit in the text as in the comment section.

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As ever, we send our solidarity to Ms. St. Louis and all women beng targeted by misogyny and racism.

[UPDATED] Writer Valerie D’Orazio Calls Out Marvel’s New X-Men Writer Chris Sims for Online Harassment | The Mary Sue

[UPDATED] Writer Valerie D’Orazio Calls Out Marvel’s New X-Men Writer Chris Sims for Online Harassment | The Mary Sue

Salute All Our Lost Trans Sisters Who Couldn’t Be a Part of #BlackOutDay

blackmagicalgirlmisandry:

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10 Good Reasons to Date a Single Mom: If you’re an asshole

elegantgatheringofwhitesnows:

10 Good Reasons to Date a Single Mom: If you’re an asshole

Continuing these weekends theme of offensive, heteronormative and dangerous dating advice about single mothers, we have this entry from Belief.net 

All you single Mommas will be pleased to hear that we aren’t considered drama llamas anymore.

Don’t listen to the assumptions and over opinionated bunch that associates single moms with the ‘D’ word – drama. It’s not true, single moms are great women…

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Victim’s letter: to the guy who harassed me outside the bar

Victim’s letter: to the guy who harassed me outside the bar

[Análisis] Misoginia en redes, apología del feminicidio y machos infiltrados | DJóvenes

[Análisis] Misoginia en redes, apología del feminicidio y machos infiltrados | DJóvenes

[Análisis] Misoginia en redes, apología del feminicidio y machos infiltrados | DJóvenes

[Análisis] Misoginia en redes, apología del feminicidio y machos infiltrados | DJóvenes

Medicating Women’s Feelings – NYTimes.com

Medicating Women’s Feelings – NYTimes.com