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Saturday, 18 June 2016

Don't threaten Louise Mensch or Julia Hartley-Brewer. Kill all da mehnz.

"Kill da mehnz," they said. And we laughed. Oh how we laughed. Because we "da mehnz." The pale, stale males; all of us "the patriarch," and upholding that regressive system because we don't recognise our privilege.

Then they said, "these baldy white men" are disagreeing with us on Facebook and Twitter. So we assured them, yes, we disagree with you- but we disagree with the mehnz who are saying the same thing. But they continued to attack, saying that we hated women because we disagreed with them. And they told women, "you must be men- or else just traitors. All upholding and defending the patriarchy."

They called us misogynist for trying to silence them, yet we weren't. None of us were hacking their wifi nor were we objectifying them or saying they should stop saying what they were saying because of their womanhood. None of us were threatening them. That's not to say no one threatened them. I don't follow them on Twitter, and after the curious incident with one of them and a meme, I stayed out of groups on Facebook they shouted angrily on. Their view was valid- but different from ours. Our view on anything, if different from theirs, according to them- was upholding the patriarchy. Did they represent all women? They thought so. Not all women agreed.

Hartley Brewer- don't disagree?

We looked within ourselves and didn't recognise the criticism, because we hate patriarchy. We just didn't like their way of organising yet another socialist "hero" campaign- like all of the ones that had failed before. We just wanted to keep building where we had been for the past few years- in our communities; building trust and not vilifying socialists who had joined other political parties. Yet they "took the fight to the SNP," attacked socialists through their association with the Greens- and we- on the supposed same side, could not disagree because we were "da mehnz." Da pale mehnz; stale because we were horrified at their angry attacks across social media- dragging all of us into the angry box with them, by party association. Wrecking all of the building we, women and men, had done throughout the 2 1/2 years of the indyref- the campaign quite a few of them came to late- or had not engaged with at all.

But. Women were threatened by men. Men were threatened by men. Women were attacked by men. Men were attacked by men. The question is, did men attack women because they were women? Did women attack men because they were men?

Louise Mensch - don't disagree?

In our internecine fight in the small Scottish left bubble, I Disagreed with a political analysis of the left, the Scottish referendum and the way forward. And I was called a scab. I was threatened. I was called a troll. My job was mentioned as a weapon against me- I perceived a threat-  (I called the police when that happened) and then women were accused of being me. All the time, my only crime was disagreeing with how an organisation was run- and how a campaign was being destroyed from within. I was painted as a pariah, a creep, a troll- preying on young women, yet my biggest disagreement was with the male leaders of the group (as can be witnessed in my posts in this blog). And of course, there could be no way women would disagree with these people, because they were the only people sexist and misogynist things could happen to. Men must be behind all of these people disagreeing with them. Moreover- one man- a man with "a grudge." The ridiculous became sinister. The personal targeting and bullying took such a dreadful turn I had to take union advice (which was to go to the police!).

I profoundly disagree with what columnists Julia Hartley-Brewer and Louise Mensch have been saying this week and today. Hartley- Brewer disagreed that the gun attack in Orlando was an attack on the gay community. Mensch has been tweeting that the murder of brilliant young Labour activist MP Jo Cox, by a right wingnut was not political.

Both have a right to say what they did. But I found it so disagreeable, I said so on social media. Was I asserting my male privilege doing so? I would say if I was asserting any privilege it was digital. I didn't name call. I didn't stick them in a box for others to kick. I did point out what I thought were their errors in judgement. They had a right to be wrong. But defend a very wrong view, like the view of media right wingers that the murder of Lee Rigby was political (while under playing the black killers mental health issues), yet Jo Cox's White Britain First killer was  mentally ill and a loner and yes, I'll disagree.

Defend a view that the killer of people dancing in a nightclub was everything else but homophobic and I'll disagree- regardless of your gender.

Hopkins - Don't disagree?

I absolutely disagree with those two women, politically, in almost every statement they make. I won't diss them or attack them because of the fact they are opinionated women (though arguably, Opinionated for money). Should I learn the lesson I was taught by some of those involved in the internecine Scottish Socialist disagreement, who call themselves "angry," and not engage with the battle of ideas if the protagonist is a woman?  Should I be silent? Should the threat of being called sexist, misogynist or worse, silence me? If so, is it sexist/misogynist to call out right wing women? Should I step back because I am pale, male and bald? Because I am Middle Aged? Newly middle class? Can I not be angry now as a man? Will I leave the argument to self proclaimed angry women? Should what women left or right say, not concern me?

Of course I won't be quiet. The unmensch-ion-able and Hartley-Brewer, should be called out, much in the way Owen Jones has been this week. They are well out of order and should be called out, every bit as much as I have spent years calling out (and I'm being kind) proto-Nazi Nigel Farage and the past year calling out that pale, male and bald (?) nasty piece of political media work, Trump. Freedom of speech does not equate to staying silent when someone vomits hate speech. When someone organises trolling. When someone objectifies and throws those they disagree with into a box labelled "kick me, shoot me, kill me."

Shouldn't I have called out an activist in my ex-political party when she tried to shut down discussions within its online forum on OBFA, Tommy Sheridan's misogyny and lies, the "Scottish Left Project" and our controversial drugs policy-because she is a woman? Should I have not called the police when a woman randomly and out of the blue,  attacked me and lied about me "trolling" her?

Jayda - don't disagree?

Shouldn't we call out Hillary Clinton on her warmongering, Wall Street profit taking, anti women policies? Should I allow the woman Home Secretary Theresa May, to attack the poor with increasingly Americanised profit making jailing policies? Should I never mention Thatcher or Currie and their 70's-90's political nastiness?

Should I step back and criticise only other pale, middle aged, baldy men (even Farage doesn't fit into that box)? Should we stay within our own boxes- neither helping nor hindering people floating in their own bubbles of genderised, ethnicitised, oppressed, oppressive labels? Surely that is the shattering of society Mensch, Hartley Brewer, Thatcher, Gove, Cameron, Trump, Farage, etc want? Surely we should, as socialists ENGAGE in discussion, debate and argument? Is that not what shapes and hones ideas and policy and belief?

Or should I engage publicly on SOCIAL media when I feel the group I am part of- be it humanity, the workers, the anti-war bloc, the pro-independence for Scotland bloc, the socialists, the Irish, the Catholics, the prods, the "white trash," the brown, black and Asian people, the Native American, the Eastern Europeans, the aboriginal folk, the mentally ill, the physically and mentally disabled... Etc- if those I am disagreeing with are women OR men? Just men? Just people with my characteristics?

And what about my trans friends? Should I sit back while they are segregated, beaten and trolled as less than human or less than any "gender" if those attacking are women?

Perhaps it is how we engage. Perhaps it is how we hurt each other with words. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me," I was taught to say. Something as a teacher I would never teach a child nowadays. We teach resilience and we teach children to call out hate speech and to take it to the authorities. And we teach tolerance and also confidence. But we also teach that it is ok to be wrong.

Thatcher - don't disagree?

I hate oppression. I always stand back and aside for women or disadvantaged groups or individuals when power is handed to me- over "them" - every time. I learned about my unwarranted privilege in my 27 years living in Northern Ireland-and challenged it. In my work life, in my personal life and in my political life I do what I can to buck the status quo (sometimes not enough- but I try!) - to turn privilege on its head (sometimes not enough... But I do my best...).  I feel women should be encouraged to speak and represent us in positions of power- even if that position is something minor- something far down the scale of political power. Women ARE an oppressed group -making up 51% of the world. That's just what I do. It's my politics- my personal belief- that equity must prevail- and one step to that is positive discrimination like the SSP fought within its ranks back in the early 2000's to have as part of its structures. Structures that were under attack last year. Structures I tried to defend. 50/50 is an but just a first step  and all men standing aside and supporting women candidates in a political party would, I believe, be an even bigger challenge to society. But my voice was silenced.

But I still have opinions. And I will defend my argument if I feel I need to- every bit as much as I will listen when I feel I am not in a position to comment (on women's experiences, trans men and women's experience, black peoples experience and other's...). If I feel someone- man or woman- does not represent my views as a human being, a white northern hemisphere man; a Scotch Irishman; a UK citizen; a socialist- surely I have the right to say so?

But perhaps we all need to temper HOW we disagree. How we use words to express our disapproval. How we as men and women engage online. I certainly do not want anyone to feel as threatened as I did by "comrades" last year. And I truly try to ensure it is the politics I am attacking and never the person (though as a flawed human being, I haven't always lived up to my own standards!). I have never physically threatened anyone online- I've warned someone who threatened me twice to stay away from me in no uncertain terms- but physical violence is not my way. Words are. Especially written.

So, should I not call out a woman when she casually says "kill all da mehnz?" Of course I believe I should. But when I witnessed that last year online I had been silenced by those who had labelled all opposition as attacking a gender. And that "kill all da mehnz" goes unchallenged within the party I left because I felt unsafe.


  1. a strong thought provoking piece i need to mull this over and will probally get attacked for sharing this as i am still in contact with many still active in the ssp - lets see what they say huh alan b

  2. Speak the truth even if your voice may shake. Stand up for the truth even if you are the only one in the room standing. And always, always fight back when someone has given you a kicking.

  3. Thought provoking article. It reminds me of R.D. Laing and Aaron Esterson's book "Sanity, madness, and the family". The book contains interviews with "schizogenic" families where one child within the family has been "diagnosed" with schizophrenia". The interviews depict a family fiction(s) that develop where mystifications and double-binds (Gregory Bateson) are flying all over the place. The "ill" person becomes the scapegoat, and fears from being able to speak the "truth". The unsafe situation drives the person "mad", but the rest of the group fight to keep fiction and mystifications in place, all the while recreating the unsafe space. Organisations as well as families can suffer these processes. Jules Henry writes about similar stuff.

    Bruce Scott


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