Tag Archives: feminism

White Ribbon STOP FIBBIN’!

BY Jim Byset

The mission to end violence against women received another boost last week with the news that White Ribbon Canada is to receive $300,000 in funding from the Canadian government. The money, donated by the Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, Dr. Kellie Leitch, is to be used to fund the development of an online toolkit that will help men end violence against women. Todd Minerson of White Ribbon Canada and Minister Leitch made the announcement in front of assembled press in Ottawa.

The news comes as something of a fillip for the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) amid increased scrutiny regarding its financial affairs, the accuracy of its claims surrounding domestic violence and rape, and the methods used to draw attention to its mission. Both White Ribbon Australia and White Ribbon Canada have recently had their financial records investigated, with the findings showing that the overwhelming majority of the WRC’s funding goes directly to staff salaries. In the case of White Ribbon Canada, this amounts to $528,101 from a total of $1,108,850, paid out to just 11 staff.

The next-largest tranche of funding is used for further fund-raising efforts, the net effect of which is that most of the money that the WRC makes goes into staffers’ pockets and most of what is left over is used to make sure that it keeps going there. Neither set of records shows how, or where, funding is spent on serious anti-violence efforts. For now, the WRC has two main campaigns—the most visible being “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” the purpose of which is to raise awareness through symbolic gestures of solidarity for women who suffer domestic violence. Yet, despite significant fund-raising, White Ribbon does not operate or offer any counseling services, helplines, or legal advice to those who are victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. According to White Ribbon organizers, their job is simply one of “awareness raising,” but if recent efforts in the Republic of Ireland are anything to go by, they’re failing.

Badly.

White Ribbon Ireland is also taking fire for making grossly exaggerated claims on the prevalence of rape in Irish society. The Irish arm of the advocacy group has apologized for a recent “error” that inflated the Irish government’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) rate of 451 reported instances of rape in 2013 to a massive 3,500. White Ribbon Ireland made the claim in a press release prior to its official launch, stating that[a]ccording to CSO statistics, there were 3,500 reported rapes in Ireland in 2013.” It is difficult to see how such an “error” could take place within a group whose expertise is supposed to be on these very issues. White Ribbon has not as yet fully explained how the number found its way into print or what it’s doing to ensure that such obvious falsehoods aren’t repeated—a worrying sign indeed. If White Ribbon’s mission is truly to raise awareness on issues such as rape and domestic violence, then it behooves them to ensure that data is accurate. Exaggerating data on crimes such as rape will only have one result—spreading fear.

But perhaps worst of all is White Ribbon’s insistence that domestic violence is an issue that only affects women. It is a well-established fact that men are just as likely to be victims of domestic violence. However, White Ribbon’s framing of the issue is one that ignores the male reality of suffering. This is completely unacceptable, especially so in an environment where the overwhelming majority of men do not feel able to speak out regarding their abuse. Police authorities are not trained to deal with male victims of abuse, and there are practically zero resources from which men can seek help. Tonight across Canada, and Australia, and Ireland, men will suffer their abuse alone, behind closed doors.

If White Ribbon is serious about its mission, then it’s time to acknowledge ALL victims of abuse.

It’s time to put all money into the direct provision of services. It’s time to stop manipulating figures. It’s time for honesty and transparency.

Unfortunately, Minister Leitch’s announcement may not prove to be as helpful as we’d hope, despite all of the fanfare. As long as Canadian taxpayer money goes to groups like White Ribbon, we will never be free of domestic violence and we will never, ever have a fair and equitable approach to these issues. The men, women, and children in our lives deserve so much better.

 

The end of rape culture

BY Jim Byset

A CURIOUS thing is happening at the National Post right now. Over the past two weeks, the National Post has printed four articles on rape culture. Rape culture, for those of you who don’t know, is the idea that we live in a society whereby rape is an accepted reality. Evidence that we are living in such a culture comes from our apparent comfort with sexualizing and objectifying women, the prevalence of prostitution and pornography, victim blaming, slut shaming, and trivializing rape.

Quite often, statistics and facts accompany the theory – with feminists and activists quoting numbers that are, on the face of it, pretty terrifying.  While there doesn’t seem to be a consensus as to exactly how many women are being raped or sexually assaulted (advocates of the theory never include data on male victims,) what is clear is that the numbers are absolutely huge. Indeed, they’re so big that they’re simply not credible. Many noted academics, critics, and commentators such as Christina Hoff Sommers have repeatedly argued this point but to little avail. While critics of feminism have been effective in ripping the theory to shreds, gender feminists plow on regardless – safe in the knowledge that neither politicians nor the mainstream media have any interest in confronting their claims.

That comfortable status quo, however, might be about to change.

Over the past fortnight, The National Post has aggressively challenged the concept of rape culture. Barbara Kay, long noted for her rejection of feminist thought, wrote two articles in which she critiqued the spurious tenets of rape culture theory. Brian Hutchinson penned a piece in which he investigated the origins and veracity of foundational ‘statistics’ that underpin rape culture and, just two days ago, The National Post Editorial Board threw their considerable weight behind the push to openly scrutinize the idea of rape culture.

Kay sees the recent coverage as part of a greater awareness, and skepticism about the claims made by feminists.

I am very pleased to see the Post’s editorial board taking a definite stand on this issue[.] I think perhaps it is a sign that there is only so much fear-mongering you can generate without adducing evidence for it before public skepticism takes hold. According to rape culture claims, the risks to campus women of sexual assault are higher than the risk of any other crime on earth. And yet women walk around the campus seemingly blithely unaware of the terrible fate in store for them or their girlfriends (based on the one in four/five figure). There is a cognitive disconnect here, and ordinary Canadians are puzzled by it.

As well they should be – the idea that we live in a rape culture clashes spectacularly not only with official crime stats, but also with the dim view that society in general takes of sexual assault and rape – a point that Margaret Wente of The Globe and Mail recently explored, saying that,“[the] manufacture of “rape culture” is a triumph of ideology over substance. It has inflated a serious but uncommon threat into a crime wave.”

The key word here is inflated. Feminists routinely buttress their theories with statistics that are not congruent with reality; they use definitions and methodologies that result in a hopelessly skewed picture. No reasonable person – even for a moment – would believe the ‘statistic’ that one-in-four women are raped on university campuses, yet that is the conclusion that Mary P. Koss came to in her now infamous (and repeatedly debunked) survey in 1987.

Amazingly, 73% of the women that Koss characterized as rape victims, did not share that view – they did not think that they were victims of rape. 43% of these supposed rape victims went on to date their ‘rapists.’

Clearly Koss’ definition of rape is just plain wrong and an honest scholar would address that. Koss chose not to address the problem, however, and so have the countless feminist academics who’ve since mimicked her methodology. What exists as a consequence is a strange form of hysteria across college campuses, and, to a lesser degree – across society. Kay believes that the success of the feminist propaganda machine, in popularizing the myth of a ‘war on women’ is directly responsible for promulgation of rape culture.

Once you accept… that the urge to violence against women is a chronic and unabating evil, situated in the hearts of men, and ready to spring out at any opportune moment, you have created a moral panic with no basis in evidence, just a theory that violence against women is a continuum from a child’s stolen playground kiss on the cheek to the calculated rapes of women in Bosnia-Herzogovina. No amount of vigilance, therefore, is too much, and no woman is therefore really safe. In fact, a very tiny percentage of women are at actual risk of violence from men in our society, and of those who are, much of it is avoidable.

The recent debacle at Wellesley College in is a perfect example of this hysteria. American artist Tony Matelli’s temporary art installation – a statue of a fairly ordinary looking man sleepwalking in his underwear was deemed by students as an “inappropriate and potentially harmful addition to our community.” Admittedly – the statue is unusual – and at a stretch unsettling – but it’s a statue. It doesn’t possess agency and has nothing to do with rape. Yet, these staggeringly obvious facts did not deter Wellesley students from setting up a Change.org petition to have the ‘triggering’ statue removed from its location on campus grounds, which, depressingly, garnered some 988 signatories.

Somnambulist statue at Wellesley college
Somnambulist statue at Wellesley college

[T]hat is the point of it (rape culture) – to sow terror of men in order to convince authorities that women continue to need support, that the rape-crisis industry is not only necessary but in need of expansion, and therefore even more funding in this area is called for. The real beneficiaries are stakeholders in jobs created by the moral panic.

It is difficult to draw any other conclusion. Rape culture just doesn’t make any sense. It contradicts the general societal view of rape and sexual assault as a heinous crime; it contradicts how seriously the legal system views such crimes and relies on debunked, dishonest research. It also describes a picture that Kay says is completely at odds with crime statistics.

 “The fact is that instances of rape have gone down in the general population. If they have gone up on campuses, there have to be other factors at work. Why has there not been more emphasis on facts and statistics around the phenomenon? Because the case for rape culture collapses when you start looking into the stats. Even if you multiply reported rapes by 100, you still don’t get figures that add up to a “culture.”

It is vital, according to Kay, to continue to put pressure on those that perpetuate such theories by asking questions, and demanding answers.

“[We should ask] the same questions we should ask of someone who promotes the idea that there are packs of stray dogs roaming the city and we are in danger of getting rabies from their bites: Show me the evidence. How many police reports of bites? How many hospital admissions for rabies? How many stories of bites and rabies turned out to be urban myths? Why are the rabid dogs only roaming around in this city and not in the nearby ones? Is “rabies” a misnomer in most cases for “infection”? Has “rabies” been redefined in this city and not in others? How is it that so many of the self-reporting victims were so drunk when they were bitten that they can’t remember feeling the pain of the bite?”

These are questions that feminists need to answer. There should be no more talk of ‘triggering,’ no more ad hominem attacks or appeals to emotion – if feminists want their theories to be taken seriously then they should be made to publically defend them. If they are not willing to do that then financial support should be withdrawn from programs that support such spurious theories. It is high time for a critical audit of rape culture theory, and the industry it supports.

My red pills

BY Jim Byset

Red Pill 1

I’ve always been skeptical of feminism. Always. I don’t think that there was ever a time in my life where I thought that feminism was an equality movement. My earliest thoughts on feminism reveal some vague recollections about women who were very shouty, very annoyed, very white, and overwhelmingly well-to-do. They weren’t poor. They weren’t ethnic minorities and they only seemed to shout on behalf of themselves. As such, I don’t think I’ve really considered myself a blue pill guy in the sense that I never believed that feminism was something good – or even that men, overall, had it better than women. If anything, where I grew up, it was patently obvious that this wasn’t the case. Where I grew up I saw young men overwhelmingly abusing drugs and alcohol; young men overwhelmingly as victims of assault; young men overwhelmingly dropping out of school; young men were overwhelmingly getting hassled by police. I managed to stay on at school despite the fact that I wasn’t very studious, and was bored to tears. I had every motivation in the world to do as many of my peers had done – to drop out and go on the dole. I didn’t do that though, and went on to college to study journalism – which was a massive relief. Going to college made me feel as though I’d dodged a massive bullet.

Red Pill 2

After a few years I decided to return to education. I attended Trinity College Dublin, where I studied feminism as part of my English literature degree. It was mandatory as part of critical theory. I read feminists like Luce Irigary and Helene Cixous. I read about queer theory and rape culture and patriarchy and all sorts. While doing this I was also reading (or attempting to read) Wittgenstein, Kant, Sartre, Russell, Nietzsche, Plato, Hume et al as my minor was in philosophy.

I loved philosophy; it was truly liberating to learn of so many world-changing ideas – to make the not-very-obvious-now – but-amazing-then discovery that you can think about the world in such amazingly different ways.  Studying philosophy was one of the smartest moves I ever made. I was always something of a thinker (which is probably why I was so bored / lazy at school) but philosophy made me realize that there was an entire universe out there to be discovered and that my previous ‘thoughts’ were at best daydreams. I wouldn’t say that philosophy put structure to my thoughts per se but it certainly enabled me, empowered me, if you will, to apply logic and reason to arguments in a far more efficient manner than before. It gave me the tools to see through bullshit.

So – back to feminism…

Studying philosophy alongside feminism is illuminating. When you’ve spent hours trying to criticize, say, Paley’s argument from design for the existence of god – it becomes a lot easier to see how nonsensical something like rape culture is; feminist thought is simply not rigorous at all. It can become difficult though –not because it’s well argued but because it’s either mired in some awful postmodern nonsense or because it’s willfully obtuse.

Either way – once you get into untangling the stylized language, neologisms, PoMo garbage and get to the nuts and bolts – the logic – you see, to coin a British phrase, that it’s all mouth and no trousers.

Red Pill 3

Yet, despite this, you can forget about trying to debate with most feminists. Usually, feminists come in two flavours – the one who self-identifies as a feminist – but knows absolutely nothing of feminist theory and the one who knows everything and will defend it to the hilt, usually because her livelihood depends on it. I had an argument a while ago with a feminist friend of mine. Now, this friend of mine is an educator and holds a PhD. So – not a dunce by any stretch. However, when I tried to talk to her about how feminism has historically ignored issues of importance to men and boys – and how things are getting worse – she dismissed the notion and immediately sought refuge in patriarchy theory.

I was gobsmacked.

I knew she was a feminist. I knew that. But I’d hoped that her feminist beliefs stemmed from an ideal of egalitarianism. In other words, I was hoping that she was one of the first types of feminists – the types that just thought feminism was great but didn’t quite know why. Seeing her attempting to hide behind such a flawed, ludicrous theory such as patriarchy theory settled it for me.

I’d had enough.

That was the final red pill for me. That was what ultimately drove me to the movement – the understanding that not only was feminism a bunch of bullshit, not only was it damaging to society (a society that didn’t resemble the simplistic black and white version peddled by feminists) but that those that hawked the idea will never be convinced of this simple fact – or at the very least, the vast majority won’t.

So those are some of the reasons, as least as far as feminism is partly concerned, why I came to the movement. There are other reasons but I just wanted to give a simple, chronological account of the three major periods in my life that led to this choice.

Being an equality advocate – particularly in the face of misrepresentation and blind hatred can be difficult – but it’s worth it. Winning little battles and getting the message out makes all the nonsense worthwhile.

Joy Smith Continues her attack on men

BY Jim Byset

JOY SMITH has been in the news a lot lately.  She just recently held meetings at her offices in Ottawa with religious crazies and radical feminists in a bid to futher demonize male sexuality by censoring internet porn.  Now, the Conservative MP for Kildonan-St. Paul has continued her attack on men by positing the idea that male buyers of sex from prostitutes should be criminalized, but not the sellers.

Joy Smith wants to tell men and women when and how to have sex

It is hardly surprising that Smith should think this – given that she is incapable of formulating any worthwhile, original ideas herself.  While meeting with her group of radical fringe collaborators earlier this month she presented her idea of making internet users register with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to access freely available, legal, adult material.  The thing is, the idea is not hers.

It was already tabled in the U.K. where it now set to fully roll out in early 2014.  In fact, such is Smith’s fanaticism that while speaking to the National Post she made the astounding (and frankly unbelievable) claim that she “got a letter from a young boy 10 years of age telling me he was addicted to porn. It just brought me to tears.”

Smith’s statement today is in response to news that the Supreme Court of Canada (SCOC) has declared current laws on prostitution unconstitutional.  Her statement however, is little more than another pathetic attempt to demonize male sexuality by aping the legislation of other feminist zealots.  This time, she’s chosen to copy the efforts of feminist legislators in Sweden, who in 1999 made it illegal to purchase, but not to sell sex.

One has to wonder what they’re putting in the water in the constituency of Kildonan-St.Paul.  Here’s the statement – get your sick bags ready:

“The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the Criminal Code offences around prostitution are unconstitutional. This ruling leaves police without important legal tools to tackle sex trafficking and organized crime and does not reflect a 1990 Supreme Court of Canada decision which stated that the elimination of prostitution through law was a valid goal.

Despite this ruling, the debate around prostitution is hardly settled. There are those who wish to legalize and normalize the industry, those who wish to criminalize all aspects of the industry, and finally those, like myself, who recognize prostitution as an industry that is inherently harmful to women and girls and therefore must be eliminated.

I am convinced that the most effective route to tackling prostitution and sex trafficking is to address the demand for commercial sex by targeting the buyers of sex. Countries that have legalized and regulated have seen sexual exploitation, human trafficking and violence towards women and girls increase drastically. In fact, a 2012 comprehensive  study of a cross section of up to 150 counties revealed that legalizing prostitution increased sex trafficking. In contrast, countries like Sweden and Norway, which have adopted the Nordic model of prostitution, have seen a significant decrease in prostitution and sex trafficking.

The Nordic model of prostitution is effective due to its three approaches: explicitly criminalizing the purchase of sexual services, a national awareness campaign to educate the public that the purchase of sexual services is harmful to women, and finally strong support programs for those who seek to exit prostitution.

Many police services across Canada have already shifted to policing models reflecting the Nordic model approach that women, girls and vulnerable populations are victimized and profoundly harmed by prostitution. The Toronto Police Service, Canada’s largest municipal force, mandates their Sex Crimes Unit Special Victims Section to recognize ‘sex workers as victims first.’ Vancouver Police Department’s Counter Exploitation Unit acknowledges ‘that Aboriginal women are over-represented’ among prostituted women and focuses on assisting ‘young people escape from the sex trade.’ The Winnipeg Police Service’s new Counter Exploitation Unit has also adopted ‘victim first’ driven investigations.

The harm caused by prostitution to women, girls and vulnerable populations has been well documented by women’s and First Nations organizations. During the June 13, 2013 Supreme Court of Canada hearings, the majority of interveners that were directly opposed to legalizing and regulating prostitution represented women’s organizations such as Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, Native Women’s Association of Canada, and Vancouver Rape Relief Society. These organizations presented compelling evidence to the Supreme Court of Canada that legalizing prostitution would place women, girls and vulnerable populations at much greater risk of exploitation.

Even the buyers of sex recognize the harm caused by prostitution to women. A 2012 Canadian study on the buyers of sex called Buyer Beware, found that of the 20 men interviewed, 8 of the men indicated that they acknowledged that women were most harmed by their act of buying sex and another 10 of the men felt both the woman and the buyer were harmed. Result – 90% of the men who bought sex recognized the women involved in prostitution were harmed by act of prostitution. The same study revealed that all 20 sex buyers would warn a first time sex buyer against engaging in prostitution due to the harm caused.

Prostitution must be eliminated because it dehumanizes and degrades humans and reduces them to a commodity to be bought and sold. Legalizing prostitution is a direct attack on the fundamental rights and freedoms of women, girls and vulnerable people. In the same regard, continuing to criminalize the women and vulnerable populations being prostituted creates barriers that prevent them from escaping prostitution and entrenches inequality.

Let’s be clear: those who advocate either approach ignore mounting empirical evidence and will find themselves on the wrong side of history and women’s equality.

As a nation, we must ensure pimps remain severely sanctioned and prostituted women and girls are not criminalized and instead given meaningful escape routes out of sex work. Most importantly, Canada must focus on the real root of prostitution by targeting the buyers of sex.”