A Guest Post by Peteronormative Hatriarchy
Who the is Ally Fogg anyway, you ask? It’s a good question, and the answer is essentially this: some appalling no-mark who writes for Comment Is Free. But who still reads the Guardian anyway, especially Comment Is Free, which provides a safe home for the anti-trans activist Julie Bindel, her almost equally grim pal Suzanne Moore, and Simon “climate? wut?” Jenkins? Why bother with a website which is currently trying to rehabilitate the egregious Chris Huhne, who very nearly became a less honest and credible leader of the Liberal Democrats than Nick Clegg.
But I digress. The grisly CiF cavalcade of wrong can’t all get Weekly Wankered all in one go. Let’s stick to Mr Fogg. Like many of those listed above, he features here because he’s essentially the opposite of what he presents as (as per feminists who hate women, environmentalists who hate renewables, etc), but the others get called on their bullshit a bit more regularly. If you take Fogg’s word for it, he’s all about social justice, a respectful friend to sensible women everywhere, and an all-round thoughtful gender superhero. He no longer wants to be called an ally to feminists, though, as he sets out on his pseudo-ironically-titled blog Heteronormative Patriarchy. That’s fine, though, because he’s really more of a misogynist wanker.
I mean, just read this piece on said blog: at first glance, could he be more One Of Us? The jargon is so right on, and it looks like he’s sticking up for trans people against the wicked Burchill/Bindel white feminists. That’s until you get to his view that “feminists must have the right to discuss and debate the place of trans women within their movement (and of course there is an obvious paradox there, whether the debate includes trans women to begin with)”, which implies it isn’t obvious whether trans women should be part of feminism by right. Thanks bro. Nor does he mention that trans women get a hard time both for being women (hello patriarchy!) and from people who think they’re not women, the latter being a group which apparently includes Fogg himself.
I’ll just list a few of his other offences in no particular order before getting to the one which inspired this post. The last one is a cracker, but most of the others would probably be sufficient by themselves for him just to be put straight into the bin.
1. A woman writes about misogyny in the cultural sphere. In the comments Fogg challenges her “to explain what she means by misogyny, how she defines it, how it manifests itself, how it differs from other forms of sexism, and if I / we think she has a point, then we’ll acknowledge it”, as if anyone who writes about gender with any credibility could pretend not to know what misogyny is. He goes on imply she might be a “paranoid fruitloop”, which is certainly a lovely way to talk about both feminists and mental health.
2. Here’s one about Fathers4Justice,where, rather than pointing out what really unites that crowd (“extremists, men with convictions for domestic violence, men with restraining orders against them, even men who hadn’t bothered to see their children in their allotted contact time”), Fogg ends on a note of concern that “separated fathers will continue to cry out in anger and frustration”.
3. Another quick cracker: he actually claims that “patriarchal misandry” is a real thing, and that “the systematic gender oppression of men is an essential element of the economic system, running alongside and parallel to the systematic gender oppression of women”. The best bit of this is where he claims men are systematically oppressed into an oppressor role. Ha! No. Fuck off.
4. Nearly there – just a quick penultimate one on Elliot Rodger, the California spree killer who left behind a manifesto all about how women had to die because he couldn’t get laid. Fogg wrote about him, on one hand saying: “What we do know, without question, is that he was spitting with misogyny.” This is quickly forgotten, though, and he goes on to cite the following as if it explains why any man might go on a shooting spree: “The boys beat [Rodger] while the girls looked on and laughed.” Much as beating this little prick up probably wasn’t constructive, one glance at his manifesto and it’s not exactly a mystery as to why Rodger might have been so widely hated. Chicken or egg? Who knows, but let’s not try to look like we’re justifying his actions, eh, Ally?
He then does a couple of clever pivots to defend the Men’s Right’s Activists he pretends not to love so much. First, he notes that “In Rodger’s manifesto there is no sign of even a slight interest in gender politics”. Sure. Just actual out-and-out MRA-style misogyny. And then he warns that “Feminists and their allies are already spinning this as the work of an MRA and a consequence of men’s rights ideology”. To get to this contorted position requires one to be happy to accept the subtle distinctions within what he calls the “manosphere” (as if all men..) rather than recognising them as overlapping, misogynist, entitled, often racist, and potentially violent.
5. Finally, though, the pièce de résistance.
Content note: discussion of sexual violence, ultra-depressing male bullshit, etc.
Let’s skate over the paragraphs which cite Reddit as a source. Sexual violence, Fogg implies, is almost as much about women abusing men as men abusing women. No, really.
He uses a CDC citation to claim that “the rates of men being forced to penetrate women over the previous year were identical to the rates of women reporting being raped: 1.1%.” You don’t have to get past the executive summary of that report to find clear (and entirely unsurprising) evidence that sexual assault and domestic violence are overwhelmingly gendered. That one sketchy pair of figures is overwhelmed by evidence that (for example) “nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives.” He knows this is bullshit, too: in a long and unhelpful piece where studies are cherry-picked without links, he admits “the research does not show that women are as likely to sexually aggress as men”. But do go ahead and imply that elsewhere, mate, eh?
Also, if US figures are definitely his thing, he could have read this, from the US Department of Justice in 1997, which noted that “an estimated 91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault were female. Nearly 99% of the offenders they described in single-victim incidents were male”. (hat tip) I mean, it’s possible there’s been an epidemic since 1997 of women making men penetrate them, but I’ve not heard a single man ever describe such an act. Conversely, the overwhelming majority of women I know and love have experienced some sort of sexual assault, with a male perpetrator.
Closer to home, the 2010/11 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey claimed that 5% of women and 1% of men had experienced at least once form of serious sexual assault since the age of 16, with 95% reporting the offender as male and 5% as female. That 5% figure (and quite possibly the 1% one as well) stink of serious underestimates (UK Government figures show just 11% of victims of serious sexual assault report it), but that’s still an offender ratio of 19 to 1.
This grim piece from Fogg also contains the following line (as if it makes female power identical to male power):
“Not all men are bigger, stronger or more assertive than all women.” True, perhaps, but also tendentious and misleading. Also “not all men“.
Comic by Matt Lubchansky
There are two levels this can be looked at on. First, the individual: let’s be against sexual assault and other violence no matter who perpetrates it. We can agree with Mr Fogg on that. But to look at the bigger picture and conclude anything other than partner abuse and sexual violence are both overwhelmingly gendered and patriarchal is to downplay the seriousness both.
And then, near the end, as if to justify his whole MRA-style argument, he pivots to say (having offered none of the copious evidence for it): “I will be accused of undermining attempts to address the rape and sexual assault of women which is, by any measure, the more extensive and harmful social phenomenon and public health crisis.”
Yes, fuckwit, you will. You have done that. You’ve attempted to erase decades of work done to demonstrate that domestic violence and sexual assault are gendered, and you’ve done it in the classic MRA way – taking a real but small problem (most sexual violence against men is also carried out by men), using extremely selective data to imply men typically have it as bad as women, while making sure you leave some unsubstantiated crumbs of acceptance that women have it worse to cover your tracks and point at when you get called on it.
No wonder this post was very popular amongst the Menz Rightz Activistz and Fathers4Justice types, whose plaudits Fogg was happy to welcome. You can tell a lot about someone by the company they’re happy to keep.
As Mr Fogg himself almost said, “humanity can cope without me, I’m sure, and will be all the stronger for doing so.”