Since I've become involved, I thought to share what I know about the feminist blowup occurring on twitter atm. The issue, as I first encountered it, can be found here:
- the comment from pawprintsofthesoul is mine, just so we are all clear.
The views I hold, of this situation, are based on both personal and professional experience - there is much I don't know but when intelligent women start fighting with each other over a man, my alarm bells start ringing. Farah and Kazuri Homes are my valued friends and it is painful to find them under attack, especially from those who might be regarded as allies in other situations. What I see is a mess which my friends are trying, and failing, to resolve. In the blog, Farah and Kazuri Homes explained their perception of the problem between the women involved and acknowledges that there were mistakes. I have yet to encounter any human organisation that doesn't make mistakes - what matters to me is if they address them. In contemporary society, those that do are rare beasts - Kazuri Homes is clearly one of them and fits with my own experience with them. I respect what they do and see it as extremely valuable, especially for women emerging from the Criminal Justice system. If I can do something to stop other women attacking my friends, I will.
Nevertheless, the other side of this story being told is often completely at odds with that of Kazuri's. In this explanation (see the comments after the post), a very different tale emerges which I find credible. I recognise the problem just I recognise the behaviour of the man at the centre of it. I'm grateful Kazuri Homes is able to hold a positive view of him because, personally, I can't. I'm grateful because, without it, we would have less chance of arriving at a balanced opinion. Without balance, we all run the danger of turning into lynch mobs. Having been a target for such behaviour in the past, I have no wish to inflict it on others no matter how tempting (even I am not immune to the reaction), so I need to be honest about my personal dislike of the instigator because it will influence my perception. Kinder perspectives are required too.
The man at the centre of this is known to me - I had a personal relationship (via letter) in 2004 when we were both prisoners and I see the same problems I experienced then occurring again now. He is a man who proclaims his commitment to 'feminism' but theory did not translate into practice as far as his relationship with me was concerned. As a woman who disagreed with and challenged some of his views, I experienced the same apparent aggressive'need-to-have-the-last-word' behaviour being described, coupled with what seemed to me to be a level of peculiarly masculine self-righteousness utilised to justify the same. To see similar behaviour being played out on twitter simply validates both my experience and the personal opinion I have come to have of him. I experience him as intentionally and negatively provocative. I ought to know because I'm a provocative woman myself and know provocation needs to be used wisely if it is to be used for healthy purposes. Whilst I may enter a fray to provoke discussion, I also need to step back and reflect on what is being said in response. When I provoke, my intention is to open discussion into usually unexplored areas so that everyone involved can learn, including me. What I continue to observe, from the form of provocation utilised by this man, are its results. As far as I can see, the outcomes are battles about who is right, who is wrong and where he gets to stand triumphant over the 'intellectual corpse' of his opponent. Right or wrong, this is what I see; this is what I've experienced; and this is what I see occurring now. On this occasion, if there must be a battle between his opinion and those of feminists, I'd prefer the women to win for a change because, at present, we are all losing out to such male power-games in just about every arena of UK life and it's got to stop somewhere if any of us are to survive.
Regardless of all the 'bad' behaviour that seems to be a feature of this shitstorm (my own included), one thing that stands out is how we seem to have ended up with women fighting amongst ourselves whilst the instigator shares his 'hero/victimhood' with his follows. We become the nasty close-minded feminazi women he doesn't quite call us in his blog whilst he displays his *innocence face*. If anything points to a emotional power-game occurring here it has to be this because we appear to be a competition for who gets to be the bigger victim and somehow it turning out to be him and not the abused 13 year old girl whose sexuality he chose to fantasize about. For a judge and prosecutor to call a victim predatory is abusive as far as the law about under-age sexual contact is concerned.
So let's take a closer look at what set this all off:
If you doubt my interpretation of intent to provoke, I recommend reading both the first sentence and the final paragraph.
The post purports to be an intellectual exploration of whether 13 year old girls are sexually predatory. What can be absolutely certain is that the man has no experience of being a girl/woman, so anything he reports is going to be hearsay and viewed from a forty-something male perspective. Whilst I may have reservations about the value of such a contribution, what is in no doubt is the framework in which this 'exploration' occurs. It's not a framework where juvenile sexuality is explored on its own terms. It is framed within a case where prosecutor and judge labelled such a 13 year old girl a sexual predator during the prosecution against another forty-something man. This latter framework is steeped in harmful male attitudes towards women's sexuality and it is within this that he chooses to pontificate his views on pubescent female sexuality. Whilst there are very good reasons for exploring women's sexuality, this is not the arena to have it in if we are going to learn anything of real value. From my perspective, this looks like a man spoiling for a fight with women he knows will react as any victim of domestic abuse can confirm. Any subsequent claims that this is about justice and the application of law do not hold water because, perhaps unusually for this man, there are no authentic references to it in the blog, merely casual asides. As an academic in Peace and Reconciliation, this seems to be a remarkably aggressive position for him to adopt.
The views expressed about those he clearly anticipates will react to his provocation are equally informative: stupid idealogues who seek to deny the truth about pubescent girls and their sexuality, yet his truth is remarkably limited and limiting. Nowhere do I see a woman's viewpoint even referenced which is quite a remarkable achievement when spouting off about women's issues. This is also provocative behaviour. The chance that the majority of those he 'opposes' are women is extremely high because we have authentic experience to counter his 'intellectual' arguments. The chance he would be accused of being a rape apologist are also extremely high because this is the precise framework in which he presents his opinions. Nowhere do I see any effort made to acknowledge that this particular framework fits a rapist mindset or that such statements by men, whether in a court of law and pertaining to a VICTIM or by those men who choose to blog about it afterwards, actually contribute to rape culture and assumptions.
This is one of the best examples I've seen about how this rape mindset works:
I'd suggest that a 'casually-toned' middle-aged male exploration of pubescent female sexuality within the framework being used contributes to rapist mentality in exactly the same way, whether the author thinks it does or not, and this emotional knowledge is what has caused feminists to react. I believe that the intent of the blog was to trigger this exact response in order to make women look bad and the author look 'heroic' for 'taking them on'.
Rape and abuse of women and girls by men is a highly emotive topic - it touches deep emotions, especially in women,
and it causes tremendous harm to the body, heart, mind and soul of the true victim, male, trans or female. Nowhere in the casual musings of this man does this awareness appear. There is no balance for women in his ideas - instead there are insults to all those raising genuine objections. If the bad behaviour so evident in the subsequent shitstorm came from anywhere, it began here and those in reaction merely reflected the level of shit being thrown at them.
This isn't a discussion, this is an invitation to a fight - and he got one. People, and mainly women fought back from their feelings. I share what I see because, my true friends, we need to find our way back to where we were before this *** decided he could play games with us. This is not a game - this is real life and women are hurting. We can't afford to keep falling for this shit.
This is the point. The blog itself is an intentionally provocative intellectual argument on an issue that belongs firmly in the language of emotional intelligence, the language of women. The man is knowingly embarking on a intellectual male-based power-game to be played out in the deep dimensions of emotion, where many women dwell. When our feelings erupted - as was entirely his intention (he says so) - he then falsely claims the role of hero/victim and maintains the women he provoked are persecutors. "She made me do it" - the theme tune in every case of domestic violence. His behaviour invites the audience to take sides - to choose between his 'heroic' viewpoint or those who disagree with him. There is no middle ground and certainly no peace or reconciliation. What is more, he also plays 'Let's You and Him Fight' (google it) so that we women end up fighting amongst each other whilst he produces one triumphalist tweet after another. In the realm of emotional intelligence, this is divisive and dirty behaviour which serves no other purpose than to cause harm. That it is causing harm to women says more about his version of feminism than I ever could.
This is not the first time I have seen the man behave in this manner. I suspect this is how he feeds his ego and, usually, I will have no part of it. Nonetheless, on this occasion, I have been drawn in because women friends were being attacked for supporting him. To reiterate, I do not object to this because someone has to see something good in him, even if I can't. This subject is far far bigger than simply my personal perception and many different opinions contribute to greater awareness and knowledge of the problems women deal with around the attitudes and behaviour of some men towards us.
This man is not the victim here. He knew what he was doing from the moment he began writing the blog and its clearly produced the exact outcome he was hoping for as far as I can see. As a feminist, I sharing what I see so others can check my perceptions for accuracy. If I'm right and women have been subject to this emotional power-play, this should hopefully help us out of this obnoxious 'game' we fell for so we can, at least, stop fighting with each other.
Let's be grateful for this lesson in emotional manipulation so we don't get caught out next time this stuff happens. This is typical abusive behaviour and the faster we catch ourselves, the quicker we get by this type of power game. The issue of women – and-girls - sexuality is for us to define in the first instance because we are the experts on the matter. Provocative intellectual games from middle-aged men designed to split women are simply an indicator that we are being effective in challenging their 'privileged' assumptions about us.
Other than that, let's not feed his ego or play into more of the same. He really isn't worth it.