Women, political blogging and the future of the left.


12:44 am - February 9th 2010

by Laurie Penny    


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I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time these days sitting in sessions about New Media and politics in which men tell women why women don’t blog. The New Media debate at the Progressive London conference this month was exciting, and uplifting, and full of cutting-edge ideas about How to Use the Internet to Re-energise the British Left, and at the end of his speech, Andy Newman made a little, throwaway comment which made me feel as if all the air had been kicked out of my chest in one go.

“Not many women are really involved in blogging, because the blogosphere is quite pugnacious.”

In other words, this brave new world of ideas is much too rough for girls. In other words, keep to your corner of the playground before the nasty boys push you around any more.

When men are telling women why women don’t write about politics, they have a tendency to think of feminist politics as a niche subject, a fad, a schema somehow separated from the rest of political thought and action by a magical door of selective oversight. Coincidentally, whilst the New Media panellists were debating the apparent lack of female involvement in this new age of online activism, Matty Mitford was describing the progress of the Boris Keep Your Promise campaign in a much less well-attended Capital Woman session next door.

Boris Keep Your Promise is a multi-platform feminist, liberal coalition designed to embarrass the Mayor into keeping his election pledge to save London’s rape crisis centres. The internet has been essential in this campaign: activists blogged, tweeted and made a massive hypertextual fuss, pointing out that the amount of money required to save London’s one remaining rape crisis centre was exactly the same as Boris Johnson’s £250,000 yearly salary from The Telegraph, a sum he described as ‘chickenfeed’.

Mayor Johnson’s 2008 manifesto, in which he had pledged the rape crisis funding that City Hall officials were later forced to admit had not been prioritised, was quickly removed from the internet – but to no avail. On the 21st of October 2009, The London Assembly voted by a large majority to demand that the Mayor of London deliver the £744,000 a year he promised in his election campaign. Boris Keep Your Promise has been a coup for the left in London, it has been a flashpoint for internet activism in Britain, and it has been a victory for practical feminism. By challenging the right on small matters like whether they believe funding rape crisis centres is less important than keeping £750,000 in the City Hall PR budget, the Left can win victories. This is valuable campaining territory that is being lost in the wash of misogyny that pollutes the liberal blogosphere.

The offhand way in which Newman’s comment was made was what truly shocked me. Even if it were true that women don’t blog, even if it weren’t the case that thousands of brave, brilliant women from across the country and the world are right this minute raising their voices and debating online despite a great deal of targeted misogyny, Mr Newman and others on the panel made it seem that the presumed non-presence of over 50% of the population in the biggest conversation on earth was somehow a side issue.

Of course, the political blogosphere is pugnacious. It’s ugly, and it’s relentless, and it’s full of spiteful misogynists, rampant rape-apologists, slut-shamers, and bitter men in lonely bedrooms across the world whose idea of a great night in is to shame, decry and otherwise tear apart the very personhood of remote, virtual women who they’re never likely to meet. Nearly every female blogger I know has at some point spoken to me, half-amused, about her ‘stalkers’, and the strange and cruel things they’ve emailed to say they want to do to them. There is a reason that women bloggers moderate their comments, a reason why the majority of female World of Warcraft players choose male avatars, a a reason why we often feel unsafe in spaces where, as liberals or as conservatives or music fans or uploaders of inane vlogs about our cats, we should not have to expect hostility.

But when that hostility occurs, as it has for women since the internet began, most of us are big enough and tough enough to handle it, and handle it we do, quietly, exhaustively, relentlessly, fending off the misogynist attacks that any woman with ambitions to raise her voice above a whisper learns to handle. I have been called a cunt, a cow, a whore, a stupid little girl, I’ve been told that I deserve to be raped and beaten, I’ve been told I need to be taken in hand by a man who will fill me up with the babies that are the only thing my body and brain are good for, and I’m still here, I’m still writing, arguing and debating, and they haven’t managed to shut me up yet.

The sort of repulsive, everyday abuse I’m talking about is perfectly anodine, and it’s entirely expected, and it has all occurred within the liberal blogosphere. This isn’t the nasty, evil Tories. This is the Left. The left urgently needs to clean its own house when it comes to misogyny and sexism online. The liberal blogosphere needs to stop marginalising women and condoning sexist attacks if we want our thousand flowers to bloom rather than strangling each other, weedlike, before we get off the ground.

Tonight, What Difference Does Political Blogging Make?, a debate hosted by the Westminster Skeptics, took place in central London. The panellists – Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale, Nick Cohen, Sunny Hundal and Mick Fealty – were all men. And it’s not like they didn’t have women bloggers to invite. What about Cath Elliot, or Harpy Marx, or Sadie Smith? What about Jess McCabe of that phenomenal political campaigning platform, The F Word? If there’s going to be any sort of future for the left, female bloggers need to be acknowledged as a central and vital part of the conversation.

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About the author
Laurie Penny is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a journalist, blogger and feminist activist. She is Features Assistant at the Morning Star, and blogs at Penny Red and for Red Pepper magazine.
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Reader comments


Good post. One quibble:

“When men are telling women why women don’t write about politics, they have a tendency to think of feminist politics as a niche subject, a fad, a schema somehow separated from the rest of political thought and action by a magical door of selective oversight.”

A woman blogger is not a priori a feminist blogger. Nor is a feminist blogger necessarily female. Exclusion of feminist discourse is bad, but surely exclusion of discourse-by-women generally is what you’re talking about?

I’m a woman, and I blog, and love it.

and it’s full of spiteful misogynists, rampant rape-apologists, slut-shamers, and bitter men in lonely bedrooms across the world whose idea of a great night in is to shame, decry and otherwise tear apart the very personhood of remote, virtual women who they’re never likely to meet.

That is a reasoned comment, Laurie? If men have a disagreement with what women, feminist or otherwise, have to say then they are all misogynists? If that is the case I don’t follow your logic.

Tonight, What Difference Does Political Blogging Make?, a debate hosted by the Westminster Skeptics, took place in central London. The panellists – Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale, Nick Cohen, Sunny Hundal and Mick Fealty – were all men. And it’s not like they didn’t have women bloggers to invite.

That is something that you are asking them, one would presume, and, for one, I have no idea why women were not invited – why even, were you not invited to speak? Yet, are you asking for a quota of women to be involved in all aspects of society? If that is the case, then, by mutual equality thinking – shouldn’t men also be invited to all aspects of everything?

The criticisms of the generally misogynistic attitudes towards women in blogging seem right, but it also seems that there might be some truth in the “blogosphere is pugnacious” argument.

If we assume that in a patriarchal society, women are going to be encouraged (and taught from birth) to be submissive, weak, docile and that politics isn’t for them (for example, by constantly receiving intense negative feedback every time they engage in any political activity), surely we’d expect them to be disposed not to (politically) blog and especially not to blog in an environment that’s hostile even by normal standards. The same factor is plausibly behind why we don’t see more women choosing to be feminists, choosing to be scientists, choosing to be top executifves etc. Clearly there’s no intrinsic reason why we’d expect women to avoid “pugnacious” areas, so recognition of the above fact ought to serve as a call to action, rather than a means of dismissing (the absence of women) from the political sphere.

There was actually a female blogger (Helen Gardner) on the Progressive London panel that you mention. I’m not sure why you seem to have overlooked her.

Hmm if you read the post carefully you’ll see there were two different panels you were talking about.

And if I wrote my comments carefully I would make sure I used the right words … what I meant was:

“if you read the post carefully you’ll see there were two different panels she was talking about”.

Doh!

Five men, and at least two utter wankers. Irrespective of blokishness, a pretty poor selection. Also irrespective of gender, you could have been on it by right. Josh’s quibble aside, this is another typically powerful line of argument clearly presented.

I realise that there were two panels Josh. My point is that Laurie gives the impression that the first panel had no women on it. It was a panel “in which men tell women why women don’t blog” and in which “the New Media panellists were debating the apparent lack of female involvement in this new age of online activism…” But there was actually a women on the panel and the only report of that discussion I’ve read which does not mention her is Laurie’s.

Unfortunately I missed this session because I was speaking on another panel, but as I understand it there was a discussion about women in political blogging during which Helen spoke and which Laurie herself spoke at length from the floor. All of this seems to have been selectively ignored in favour of concentrating on one word that one panelist used.

What were the cutting edge ideas, btw?

I made comments similar to, ““Not many women are really involved in blogging, because the blogosphere is quite pugnacious.” in the past. The reason? Because that’s what women who I’ve tried to encourage to blog have told me.

You’re right that it doesn’t put everyone off. It also puts some men off. It’s also questionable quite how true it is (not all blogging is like the comment threads on Guido Fawkes, for example).

But as in my experience it is an often given reason not to blog, and much more so by women than men, I don’t see how it’s either accurate or productive to try to twist this into some sort of “keep in your corner” message?

12. Col. Richard Hindrance (Mrs), VC, DSO and Bar, Buffet, Dancing 'til late

Well done, Will Rhodes: your startling inability to carry out simple reading comprehension is eclipsed only by your uninspired regurgitation of the most stale anti-feminist tropes cooked up by right wing liberals.

Read the words on the screen, not in your head. Laurie is saying that the internet is full of “spiteful misogynists, rampant rape-apologists, slut-shamers, and bitter men in lonely bedrooms across the world whose idea of a great night in is to shame, decry and otherwise tear apart the very personhood of remote, virtual women who they’re never likely to meet.”

If you don’t believe this, then just go to YouTube, find anything posted by a woman and read the comments below.

Your comment, Adam, is yet another frustrating example of how deep sexism is rooted, even among people who claim that they are pro-feminist. I mean is your comment supposed make the point that sexism and misogyny are figments of the imagination of paranoid and overly suspicious feminists? That’s how it sounds to me.

It’s so typical of men to close ourselves off from reality, arguing that sexism does not exist because ‘the deputy prime minister is a woman’ or ‘lots of women go to university’ or ‘there are several female newsreaders on sky sports news’ or ‘But there was actually a women on the panel’. It is comments and views like yours which slow down and even reverse progress (otherwise partly known as the backlash against the progress made by the feminist movement) and in this case prop up the myth that women are actually acknowledged as a central and vital part of the conversation.

I’m assuming that you are a supporter of gender equality, that you wish to live in a world where men are not the default and women placed under “other” and a world where you’d rather not be told you should be raped whenever you post a blog/comment/your name (and such disgusting comments are hardly rare occurances). If my assumption is correct, I’m just struggling to see what your comment is trying to say.

Also, I’d have thought Laurie’s post is stating reality, rather than just a line of argument.

Kayvan:

“Your comment, Adam, is yet another frustrating example of how deep sexism is rooted, even among people who claim that they are pro-feminist. I mean is your comment supposed make the point that sexism and misogyny are figments of the imagination of paranoid and overly suspicious feminists? That’s how it sounds to me.”

How on Earth does it sound like that? I have made no such points.

“It’s so typical of men to close ourselves off from reality, arguing that sexism does not exist”

I have never argued that. Sexism is a real problem both off and online. I just don’t think that exaggerating the problem and misrepresenting people’s views is very helpful.

If men have a disagreement with what women, feminist or otherwise, have to say then they are all misogynists?

Of course not. But when someone’s primary means of expressing whatever nebulous disagreement they may have is by posting rape / murder fantasies rather than making any attempt to actually engage with the topic, then they clearly are misogynists. And if you don’t believe that happens, you have clearly never read an unmoderated feminist blog. (Admittedly they’re hard to find, as most people who try going down that route tend to give up once the ratio of rape fantasy / threats of violence to substantive comment exceeds 50% – which typically takes about a week, if you’re lucky.)

Yes, the blogosphere is pugnacious, but there’s a world of difference between what male bloggers have to put up with and what female bloggers do. I have never yet seen anyone suggest that a male blogger would benefit from being gang raped.

As for the question of What Difference Does Political Blogging Make?, I’m increasingly suspecting that the answer is “fuck all”…

Adam, forgive me if I’m wrong but you say that sexism is a real problem followed by saying that I exaggerating the problem. Is that not a bit of a contradiction? (No sarcasm intended in that). Yes sexism is real but it’s also extremely serious, and if you ask any feminist they’ll say that I haven’t exaggerated the problem. My point is that it’s so deep rooted that even people are believe they are not sexist (like yourself I assume) are in fact making comments that are incredibly frustrating to women by making it seem as though there isn’t a problem because there was actually a woman on the panel and because a woman was able to make a comment on the floor. If you’re simply saying that Laurie was factually incorrect by failing to report that there was a woman on the panel, then fair enough but that’s a very minor point. You’re obviously more intelligent than that and you’re comment is inferring something else. Obviously I am making my own conclusion from your inference by saying you are ‘making it seem as though there isn’t a problem because there was actually a woman on the panel and because a woman was able to make a comment on the floor’. I apologise if I have misunderstood so to clear things, what were you inferring by your post?

‘“Not many women are really involved in blogging, because the blogosphere is quite pugnacious.”’

In other words, this brave new world of ideas is much too rough for girls. In other words, keep to your corner of the playground before the nasty boys push you around any more.’

He never said any such thing ‘in other words’. That’s not even vaguely similar to what he said nor does it remotely resemble his obvious intent.

You obviously can’t tell the difference between describing a situation as it is with describing how it ought to be – particularly risible since you not only go on to agree with Newman but extend his argument into ‘Of course, the political blogosphere is pugnacious. It’s ugly, and it’s relentless, and it’s full of spiteful misogynists, rampant rape-apologists, slut-shamers…’ and other crass all-men-are-bastards stereotypes.

And I notice your list of attendees doesn’t include Kate Belgrave – possibly because she doesn’t fit your all-women-are-victims stereotype either.

a reason why the majority of female World of Warcraft players choose male avatars

I think you meant: a majority of female World of Warcraft avatars are chosen by male players.

Whilst I sympathise with what Laurie is talking about, surely women are also responsible for not standing up properly to the abuse? If indeed this is a case of 50+% of the world’s population being “locked out” of the debate, then that critical mass must take it upon themselves to do more than just complain – they must fight for their right to be taken seriously.

That’s how the suffragettes did it, that’s how Rosa Parks did it… and it’s worked out pretty well since then.

<blockquote.‘Of course, the political blogosphere is pugnacious. It’s ugly, and it’s relentless, and it’s full of spiteful misogynists, rampant rape-apologists, slut-shamers…’

Hang on, so you’re agreeing with Andy Newman here? So what was the problem with what he said? Or is it only offensive when he says it, because he is a man? (like how Chris Rock can use the n-word and not get labelled a racist)

You’re obsessed with your own victimhood. Get busy living or get busy dying.

I think this article somewhat misrepresents Andy Newman’s own points which he clarified later. He wants more women bloggers to write for SU and I’ve always wanted more women bloggers to write for LC (especially on non-feminism stuff because there’s a danger of getting women only to write about that).

I think Adam is right in that there’s far too many generalisations flying about. The “liberal blogosphere” is a diverse place and to try and characterise it uniformly doesn’t work. We have more feminist writing here than many other left-liberal political blogs. And I delete misogynistic comments as soon as I can.

Lastly – I think it’s better to focus on solutions. I remember going to that event at Housman’s a few years back (you were there to Laurie) where it was pointed out the feminist movement was very middle class and very white. And many feminists shifted uncomfortably and then said yes of course we want to have more diversity and we’re working towards it but it’s difficult – the same applies here.

If I could pay people to write for me it would be easier to represent a broader range of opinion. As it happens I have to rely on bloggers willing to put themselves forward (and are good writers) – which comes from a limited pool.

So if there are women bloggers out there who want to write about politics – get in touch. I need you to be short-ish, punchy, newsy and understand where LC is coming from (more on this in a few days).

So if there are women bloggers out there who want to write about politics – get in touch. I need you to be short-ish, punchy…

Do we really need height restrictions? And as for “punchy“, well, where does the ability to fight come into it? I really don’t think that we need to impose these…Oh, I get you.

“I have never yet seen anyone suggest that a male blogger would benefit from being gang raped.”

Happened to me….the suggestion that is, not the reality, thankfully. I’d written something about some idiot in the States who’d killed himself snowmobiling while drunk. Ended up deleting the whole post.

“Of course, the political blogosphere is pugnacious. It’s ugly, and it’s relentless, and it’s full of spiteful misogynists, rampant rape-apologists, slut-shamers, and bitter men in lonely bedrooms across the world whose idea of a great night in is to shame, decry and otherwise tear apart the very personhood of remote, virtual women who they’re never likely to meet.”

If that is true then so is this statement:

““Not many women are really involved in blogging, because the blogosphere is quite pugnacious.””

As to why it is so and whether it ought to be so, that’s another matter. But that second statement is true by virtue of the first being so.

I was there and when Andy Newman made his comment my sexism alarm bells immediately started ringing. He did say that not as many women blog because it’s a generally pugnacious environment and said women can’t handle it. I don’t think he was referring to the comments made directly against women, like the disgusting and sometimes frightening comments you often see. But Newman’s comment was basically saying that the blogosphere is too rough for girls (I say basically because I can’t remember his exact words) and was just a prompt for Laurie to write this blog about the bigger picture of women in blogging.

when Andy Newman made his comment

then

said women can’t handle it

then

I can’t remember his exact words

I rest my case

“Not many women are really involved in blogging, because the blogosphere is quite pugnacious.”

In other words, this brave new world of ideas is much too rough for girls. In other words, keep to your corner of the playground before the nasty boys push you around any more.

LOL yeah right. Or maybe its because women just dont like the testosterone fuelled atmosphere of british politics

One issue that hasn’t been mentioned is that blogging takes up a lot of time, particularly the kind of news-driven blogging and responding to comments that political sites need. It’s hard to fit that kind of intensive blogging in if you have much in the way of family responsibilities. I’m a mother who blogs, but I’m only trying to post once or twice a week at most, and if there are particular family or work crises I may not be able to find time to blog for longer than that. That works OK for my non-political interests and small-scale ambitions, but wouldn’t build a big site. How many of the people who do blog regularly on politics have much of a role as carers? If the people who are able to blog frequently are predominantly those with no domestic/caring role, that automatically excludes a substantial section of women.

Sunny, it’s not a generalisation, but rather it’s getting to the root of the problem, which in my opinion is men (surprise surprise) . Encouraging more women to blog on LC is a good thing, but it doesn’t solve sexism, misogyny and inequality. I think the whole point of Laurie’s article is in her concluding statement ‘If there’s going to be any sort of future for the left, female bloggers need to be acknowledged as a central and vital part of the conversation’. (Incidentally, notice how indicative that statement is of the the bigger picture…If there’s going to be any sort of future the left [= human progress], females need to be acknowledged as a central and vital part of the conversation). So encouraging more women to blog is one thing, acknowledging what they have to say is another. Liberal Conspiracy is an influential forum and I thank Sunny for that and for his endeavour, but why not use it to influence more men to become aware of our own deep rooted sexism which is itself a hindrance to progress?

Ok sorry J.W. Booth I had initially written he ‘basically said’ but deleted it then I was looking for better word then I got distracted then I submitted it by accident.

‘One issue that hasn’t been mentioned is that blogging takes up a lot of time, particularly the kind of news-driven blogging and responding to comments that political sites need. It’s hard to fit that kind of intensive blogging in if you have much in the way of family responsibilities.’

That’s just the same argument as Laurie’s previous posts about lone parents being incapable of holding down a job because they have kids to look after: it’s the sexism of low expectations.

And since there are male posters here whose posts rarely go beyond ‘Lookit what Blogger X said now!’ lack of time and effort aren’t barriers to participation.

Shatterface@ 29, OK, show me your blog and tell me how much time it takes to maintain, and how you combine that with your other responsibilities (you can see mine via the link on my name). Then I might respect your views a bit more. Otherwise, don’t tell me it’s sexism when I try and use my own experiences to talk about why women might be deterred from political blogging.

kayvan: I was there and when Andy Newman made his comment my sexism alarm bells immediately started ringing.

I agree and I think Laurie was right to raise the point and call him out on it. But he did clarify to say that what he didn’t mean that the blogosphere was too rough for women – but that was frequently a complaint made by women themselves.

One issue that hasn’t been mentioned is that blogging takes up a lot of time, particularly the kind of news-driven blogging and responding to comments that political sites need

I agree – and looking after a big site takes up a hell of a lot of time – this is nearly a fulltime job.

That said – this is why I say I’m happy to get submissions from women who don’t want to maintain their own blogs but are happy to write occasionally if and when.

My problem is that generalising about the liberal blogosphere is a bit Nick Cohen-esque: making vast characterisations that open you up to easy criticism.

Ok sorry J.W. Booth I had initially written he ‘basically said’ but deleted it then I was looking for better word then I got distracted then I submitted it by accident.

Told you girls can’t blog…… 🙂

If you think Andy Newman was being “a bit sexist” in making that comment, just wait until you read his views here:

http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=5240

I’m in the comments, defending Sunny, for a change 😉

33 – I thought this comment was particularly amusing

If I were Hundal, I’d be issuing an apology sharpish. But then self-obsessed, right-wing, mouthy commentators – be they Hundal or Liddle – rarely have much sense.

I notice that his readers don’t know the difference between assault and battery either.

If Sunny read this before he defended Newman @20 he should get the Leftist Blogger Magnanimous Post Of The Year Award.

But I bet he didn’t………

Sunny is a very forgiving guy 🙂

Isn’t Newman a supporter of the current Iranian regime?
So in fact it is he who is the right-winger.

Why does anyone take anything he says anout anything at all seriously?

What were his “cutting edge” insights at “Progressive” London?

“All of this seems to have been selectively ignored in favour of concentrating on one word that one panelist used.”

Not so strange Adam when Laurie is writing a blog post about her emotional response to a statement that dismisses her. She wasn’t giving an account of the panel.

Yeah, but he was hardly the worst. Remember, they had Azad Ali, who is a blogger for the clerical fascist Jamaat-e-Islami front group, Islamic Forum Europe.

(He recently lost a libel action against a couple of newspapers who wrote about his support for military jihad, as well)

Laurie is largely right, the abuse directed at women is unacceptable.

Though there is a larger issue of which this is a part, and that is the perceived anonymity that posters, particularly those who comment on existing content, believe they have. We do not interact online the same way we do in real life and that is largely because we are free to interact anonymously. This allows people to be as rude as they like to whomever they like without consequence. Until people come to the medium without that baggage they will continue to act as they do.

Concomitant to that, commenting is often a polarised medium, by it’s very definition. People who agree with the point made are limited to agreeing “yes I agree with the post” or “this is a good post”. Whereas most of the traffic is coming from people who disagree – often sent to the thread by a post somewhere else saying “look at point X they are making, its unbelievable” which is further encouragement to turn up and vent in the comments.

Both of those factor encourage this negative behaviour. I’m not excusing it in any way, just saying that the polarised, ill-thought, inarticulate comments are part of the medium. Course the whole rape threats/fantasy and general misogyny is not acceptable in any way, at all, and very confusing to right-thinking people.

If we’re honest most of us do it.

I was aware of Newman’s post/attack on me before Laurie posted this article (thanks to David T). Despite his own idiocy in playing down what happened between Liddle and his then girlfriend – I’m more concerned that the “liberal blogosphere” is being misrepresented here.

Although I think Laurie would have a stronger case when pointing at Andy Newman’s post defending Rod Liddle as example of his attempts to play down misogyny. As someone on his own blog said:

I was going to phone the police when my boyfriend beat me up, but thanks to all the male lefties on this blog I realise it is all very complicated and sometimes the involvement of the police only makes things worse.

Also apparently only Marquess of Queensbury Rules apply to Rod Liddle. His post about Harriet Harman didn’t need ot follow those rules because it was about a woman.

Thanks guys! I’ve got that all straight now.

Comment by The Second Sex — 8 February, 2010 @ 10:36 pm

I don’t take responsibility for the idiocy of many on the hard-left but I’d like to think the centre-left is different when it comes to attitudes towards women. Or maybe I’m being too optimistic.

Sunny, all that Newman does is repeat the fact that accepting a caution for assault is not the same thing as ‘beating up his girlfriend’. This is so obviously true that I don’t see what your problem with it is.

all that Newman does is repeat the fact that accepting a caution for assault is not the same thing as ‘beating up his girlfriend’.

I’m happy to accept that – though my comment was a layman’s use of the language and not the legal one. In any case, I accepted that and changed the wording on the ad. His point is that talking about that issue is wrong – I dsagree. Liddle has made many misogynist comments since then and it does, to me and others, say something about him.

The problem is that people do tend to dismiss genuine misogyny quite easily. Andy would never say the same about someone who’s made Islamophobic comments for example, but when it relates to this issue, suddenly it is out of bounds. Bollocks it is.

we all know Liddle did it.

“Sunny, all that Newman does is repeat the fact that accepting a caution for assault is not the same thing as ‘beating up his girlfriend’. This is so obviously true that I don’t see what your problem with it is.”

Oh come on!

In order to receive a caution, you have to accept that the police did what they accused you of. You can’t get off with a caution if you contest your guilt.

Therefore Liddle either did wallop his girlfriend, or was falsely accused of that crime and then untruthfully told the police that he had done it, and was sorry.

Liddle says it is the latter – but frankly, I think it is acceptable for Sunny to say that he doesn’t believe that.

Sunny,

“We believe in free speech but not your right to abuse our space.”

In your “Rod Liddle makes legal threats against us” conversation last week you accuse him of trying to supress free speach – only to delete my comment (formerly comment 44 on this topic) a few days later.

Did my pointing out your returning to the subject of Rod Liddle – even on this unconnected topic by Laurie – merit you removing my earlier comment? Was I being abusive or just being an irritant – albeit neither silly, sarcastic or abusive?

As a fine upholder of our liberty you must try harder.

There is a difference between (a) deleting a post from your own website, which you own, and the content of which you control and (b) being sued for defamation

The former can be remedied in about 2 minutes. Set up your own website. Post whatever you want on it. Bingo – no free speech violation

The latter will take up a little bit more of your time, and effort, and money.

Believe me – I’ve been there!

David T,

I’m not the one claiming Rod Liddle is making legal threats and attempting to curtail free speach on this blog (when he clearly isn’t) whist at the same time deleating posts which refer to the obsession with him.

Ah, the joys of the Internet – people with the temerity to disagree.

The comments I receive make me flinch with their inarticulate aggression. Often they are no more than a string of expletives of the sort pathetic inadequate males direct at women, but with extra lashings of racism. I am left wondering how any blogger can change the hearts and minds of such moronic rage.
I used to delete the hate mail, but now save it with as much information about the sender as possible.

Shatterface:

You obviously can’t tell the difference between describing a situation as it is with describing how it ought to be – particularly risible since you not only go on to agree with Newman but extend his argument

Hrrm; I think you’re misreading here. Newman gives Internet pugnacity as a reason why women aren’t involved in blogging. Since he is factually incorrect in contention (women are involved in blogging, more of them than men; in party political blogging this is reversed). His statement of a cause for a non-existant situation is intrinsically flawed.

Laurie confirms that his assessment of the situation (the Internet is pugnacious) is accurate; she goes on to further the assertion, saying that the blogosphere has a lot of dick-size wars. (I’m paraphrasing her point, but I suspect she won’t mind, since I’ve understood it). What you seem to have missed is but when that hostility occurs, as it has for women since the Internet began, most of us are big enough and tough enough to handle it, and handle it we do, quietly, exhaustively, relentlessly…

The main bone of contention is that Newman et al. are failing to notice inconvenient women bloggers, presumably by way of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy; in this instance, “no really involved blogger”.

‘Hrrm; I think you’re misreading here. Newman gives Internet pugnacity as a reason why women aren’t involved in blogging. Since he is factually incorrect in contention (women are involved in blogging, more of them than men; in party political blogging this is reversed). His statement of a cause for a non-existant situation is intrinsically flawed.’

That’s self-contradictory. You say Newman is wrong in claiming women don’t blog because of ‘Internet pugnacity’ and claim instead that ‘women are involved in blogging, more of them than men’ – but then go on to say ‘in party political blogging [the subject of this article] this is reversed’.

What does that mean if not that men are more involved in political blogging than women? And how do you reconcile this ‘reversed’ situation with ‘most of us [women] are big enough and tough enough to handle it, and handle it we do, quietly, exhaustively, relentlessly…’

In order to receive a caution, you have to accept that the police did what they accused you of. You can’t get off with a caution if you contest your guilt.

Therefore Liddle either did wallop his girlfriend, or was falsely accused of that crime and then untruthfully told the police that he had done it, and was sorry.

Aargh! Assault =/= ‘walloping his girlfriend’. Assault, as a criminal offence, does not involve any actual violence – only imposing the fear of violence onto somebody. That’s the point. He may or may not have hit his girlfriend. Accepting a caution for assault does not prove it either way. Stating that he has beaten her up, and relying on that caution as evidence, is libellous, because the latter does not prove the former.

Shatterface @52:

That’s self-contradictory. You say Newman is wrong in claiming women don’t blog because of ‘Internet pugnacity’ and claim instead that ‘women are involved in blogging, more of them than men’ – but then go on to say ‘in party political blogging [the subject of this article] this is reversed’.

What does that mean if not that men are more involved in political blogging than women? And how do you reconcile this ‘reversed’ situation with ‘most of us [women] are big enough and tough enough to handle it, and handle it we do, quietly, exhaustively, relentlessly…’

The subject matter of this article is political blogging. Newman wasn’t even that specfic in his quote; he just says ‘blogging’, which makes him even more inaccurate. There is a difference between political blogging and, I emphasise this time, party political blogging.

The parties and their infrastructures are massively dominated by men. Newman’s comment reflects a reality about the main political parties, not a reality about blogging at all.

There are not more men involved in political blogging. There are more men involved in partisan political blogging. There are lots of women who blog politically; most of them, crucially, also blog other things, which is one reason men don’t class them as “political” blogs. Sara Bedford, for example, posts recipes as well as local and national politics.

The point here is that the insider system, i.e. the party political bloggers, are mostly men and they seem to think that this is because women don’t want to blog about party politics or are physiologically unable to do so. Both of these contentions are inaccurate. The reason party blogging is dominated by men is that the parties and the Westminster Bubble are also dominated by men.


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