Feminism versus Bernadette Smyth?

What does it mean to be a feminist? Not easy to define, by any means. How about a feminist in NI today? Even more complex.

The women’s movement in Northern Ireland has hit some pretty difficult stumbling blocks over the last four or five decades. The divergence on the treatment of female republican prisoners and their subsequent protests in Armagh Gaol was one such stumbling block in the 1970s / 1980s. The awarding of a Nobel Prize to two NI women in 1976 was, on the other hand, obviously a big moment.. The formation of the Women’s Coalition in 1998 was another, albeit one that was dogged with accusations of elitism and middle class privilege, and which ultimately ended with the dissolution of the party in 2006. In 2011 Northern Ireland was leading the way in having the biggest gender pay gap, with women, on average, being paid £13,793 than men. Women are not particularly well represented in local politics. The list goes on.

Clearly, then, there is some way to go in term of achieving equality and, judging by the kind of division that arose and split the women’s movement in NI in the past, it would seem prudent to learn from history and for modern local feminist organisations to be as inclusive as possible and work together to achieve greater political representation, shatter the glass ceiling, close the pay gap and protect vulnerable women.

I have been troubled by this of late on Facebook, where I once upon an idealistic time joined a group called Belfast Feminist Network. There are 1774 members, so clearly this group does not speak for all women, or indeed all feminists, in Belfast, let alone across Northern Ireland. They are a vocal group, though, and of late have been very much involved with issues surrounding abortion, and the proposed judicial review.

The group is certainly inclusive in the sense that it is open to new members, the posts in the group have, in the past at least, tended to encompass a wide variety of topics and men are welcome to join etc.

The tone over recent months has been resolutely and increasingly pro-choice, which is not a huge surprise. What has become increasingly problematic to me is the underlying assumption that all members of the group must be de facto pro-choice. There does not appear to have been much debate around this, at least online (the group do meet up in person as well and there may well have been discussions about this issue which have not been documented or in any way referenced in the online group) nor does there seem to be room for any opinion that is not resolutely and militantly in this camp. I want to underline that my own views on this matter are completely beside the point. But the tone of the recent posts around Bernadette Smyth have become personally critical to a degree that I find problematic.

Is Bernadette Smyth with her own vigilante tactics of harassing women outside the Marie Stopes clinic someone who is much deserving of sympathy and support? Possibly not. But doesn’t some of this verge into feminists condoning personal attacks against another woman, albeit one whose opinions and behaviour are pretty abhorrent to the group in question? Bernadette Smyth (being photobombed with a Pro Choice sign) is now, in fact, BFN’s Group Picture on Facebook. But, to be clear, BFN are far from being the only feminist group in NI to have adopted this extremely visible and vocal pro-choice position, so this post is not intended as a critique of this one particular group. It doesn’t seem too far fetched, however, to suggest that this increased visibility and volume around the pro-choice position as an issue may reflect a change in culture within the women’s movement locally.

So what I am asking is, is it now an accepted position that to be a feminist in Northern Ireland today, that you must be pro-choice?  I have done a lot of community work over the last eight years and I have found, anecdotally, in just talking to women right across Belfast of different ages, orientations, all faiths and none, a huge divergence of opinion on the issue. So does the stance taken by BFN, and several other local feminist organisations, actively rule out the inclusion of women whose religious or personal convictions prevent them from holding a pro-choice point of view? Or women who take a more nuanced view of the debate? Or women who actually do not have a strong opinion on the issue but would prefer to be discussing employment opportunities for women in STEM locally or the gender pay gap or something else like that?

I find that I honestly just don’t know. It tends to be an oft-repeated critique of the left, splinter groups and sub divisions and factions, to the point of complete inertia. But does this mean that women need to fall in line to manage to achieve some feminist aims?

Anyway, as ever, I throw it out for some discussion – how do you perceive feminism in NI today? Is feminism still relevant? Regardless of gender, would you count yourself as a feminist? Or discount yourself from a label like this, and, if so, why?

 

** Edit: this post previously contained a screenshot image to illustrate the extremely positive response of the Belfast Feminist Network to a post deriding Bernadette Smyth. Names were obscured to protect identities, although no sensitive information was being divulged. Several group members have expressed concern that this screenshot was used. To anyone offended or distressed by this I apologise. This post is intended to provoke discussion about what now constitutes feminist thinking, and the picture is not an integral part of that debate so to mindful of people’s concerns it is now gone. ***

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  • socialanimal81

    The only people in society that describe men as inherently rapey are feminists. I can give you tonnes of examples of that. Perhaps you can cite some examples to back up the claim that ‘Women are told by society and patriarchy that men are rapists by definition..’

  • Reader

    Makhno: would have licences for that time period…
    Suppose I wanted to go out for coffee or a drink with my wife – would I get a licence? Suppose I was gay and wanted to go out with my partner – would I get a licence? Suppose I wanted to go out with friends, or chose to collect my daughter from Guides at 10pm? What if I wandered into a curfew area from outside? Or if I commuted through a curfew area? What if I was trans – is it an offence to be caught outdoors in posession of a penis?
    As for those people who went out without a licence – what is the prison sentence? If they cannot be chased down and caught, can they be shot? Would you flood the streets with police to enforce the curfew? And would any of the police be men?
    If the original attacker was arrested for breach of curfew, how would you ever know? When would the curfew end? Suppose both the victim and attacker were female, what sort of curfew would you impose?

  • Artemis13

    Gvmt report (that well know feminist collective of MoJ, Doj and ONS :/) says 1 in 5 women sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Other reports do say 1 in 4 but likely to be criticised here as ‘too feminist’ a source. http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/Statistics2.php “In January 2013, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office released its first ever joint Official Statistics bulletin on sexual violence, entitled An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales.”

  • Makhno

    Now you’re getting it, ridiculous, isn’t it? But surely a more effectuive way of dealing with rape than curfewing women? These details you mention could all be sorted out, once the riots finished…

  • I think abortions should be as early as possible, but as late as necessary.
    In the less than 1% that happen after 24 wks in the rest if the UK (and the world) they are exceptional circumstances. In countries where abortion is a health matter not a criminal matter (like Canada and Sweden) abortions happen EARLIER as a result, not later. Your opinion is entitled I just don’t think opinions should be the basis of law or health care. Evidence should be

  • babyface finlayson

    Thanks for that.
    I have seen different statistics quoted and people sometimes conflate sexual assault with rape as Orlaith Hendron appears to do.
    I don’t want to minimise the significance of rape and even if it is 1in 20 as socialanimal81 suggests it is far too many.
    I just think it is worth being clear about what is meant, when sexual assault could be anything from rape to having your bum pinched on a bus.

  • I think that if you knew the circumstances of women having an extremely rare, 37 week abortion, you would support it as well

  • there is no international human rights law that privileges a foetus with human rights, they are recognised only after they are born, as until they are born, they are inextricably, part of the woman.

  • When those beliefs are being perpetuated by a biased school sex-ed system and religious socialisation, then I completely disagree that we are wasting our time. Many people are taught about sex and abortion in NI and Ireland, through a moral and religious compass only. Teaching women that they are to be ashamed about sex, and given false information about what an abortion entails, what kind of people have them and in essence. Campaigning for safer sex-ed in schools, for access to non-stigmatised contraceptives, so many of these things have an impact on people’s views around abortion

  • Interestingly many of the women I encounter in Marie Stopes are from other cultures and they are the ones with the least problem with abortion. We have to recognise the stigma for what it is, taught and fostered by a sexist and religious dogma

  • the actual FACT is that pro-choice is an opinion that encompasses a range of opinions on the matter, whereas pro-life are anti abortion in all circumstances. Pro-choice opinion ranges from complete bodily autonomy at any date to those who wouldn’t have one themselves but can see circumstances where it is needed. And those who don’t agree but wouldn’t criminalise women – that is all pro-choice. It is in and of itself a continuum of opinion.

  • Alliance for Choice do outreach work with women in harder to reach sections of or communities. after our six week courses they not only engage with feminism but support it and become openly interested. The responsibility of the media (and blog posts like this) in portraying feminism as hostile and divisive is not only inaccurate but actively discouraging women from being openly interested in feminism.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    My point has nothing to do with whether a foetus is granted human rights under the law or not.

    My point is that it is perfectly possible for someone to believe, without contradiction, in gender equality on the one hand and that a foetus has the moral right to life on the other.

    The Plath Diary is arguing that you can’t be a pro-life feminist. My point is you can. Because being a feminist doesn’t commit you to a position one way or the other on a foetus’s right to life.

    Framing the debate solely in terms of ‘female bodily autonomy’ deliberately ignores the difficult point of whether or not a foetus has moral rights and if so how to balance the foetus’s right to life with that of the mother right to bodily autonomy.

    It seems to me that a belief in gender equality does not commit anyone to a particular position on these difficult issues.

  • Barneyt

    you are right. The fact that there is such a wide range of opinions in the pro-choice camp demonstrates how difficult the issue of termination is. The pro-life are black and white and don’t seem to understand that its an awful choice an circumstance that many find themselves in, when faced with an unwanted or risk pregnancy.

    I do believe that the pro-choice camp needs to narrow its range if there is going to be sufficient choice for women. Those that the top end of the pro-choice opinion scale (bodily autonomy at any date) in my view damage the pro-choice cause and offer succour to the pro-life brigade.

  • babyface finlayson

    Yes certainly educating kids about these things will help.. But I’m talking about the anti-abortion campaigners whose belief is every bit as resolute as the most ardent feminist.
    I am making the point that arguing that they should leave other women to make their own decision is futile, as they firmly believe another life is at stake.

  • Makhno

    Exactly, Reader, loads of human rights issues here, but what about our current arrangements? Is it acceptable to ‘curfew’ women? Btw my original point was made to Dan, who hasn’t responded (unless you’re him). I take all your points about how ridiculous this would be, but would say that we should adapt the same critique to the current situation re how women are treated, ie massive focus on how not to get raped, little attention to those who rape and rape culture.

  • Reader

    I was replying to the slogan from “The Plath Diaries”, who makes no reference whatsoever to circumstances, but only to “bodily autonomy”
    Does the (apparently) core feminist principle of “bodily autonomy” mean that 37th week abortions should be available on demand? If “The Plath Diaries” is willing to compromise at all on the unavoidable implication of her repeated and utterly unqualified slogan I have seen no sign of it in several posts.

  • If you grant the foetus a right to life, at what point does that right trump the rights of the already alive (and let’s forget the life-support machine of the foetus) woman?
    It seems to me you really haven’t thought about this very clearly, without the cloud of foetus fetishism in your mind.
    There can’t be a balance because the foetus is a aprt of the woman’s body until it is born.
    We do not obligate people to run into burning buildings to save people, even babies, we do not even obligate people to donate their organs after death, yet we are trying to obligate a women to donate her body if we give the foetus moral or legal rights before birth.

  • the debate wasn;t about hardline Precious Life types, it was about normal women and it was about feminists.

  • socialanimal81

    Yet more evidence that feminism and fact just don’t get along. Yesterday Orlaith was telling us 1 in 4 woman would be full blown raped. Today its 1 in 5 and the severity of the crime has dropped to sexual assault. The link below is to the HO report you describe:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/an-overview-of-sexual-offending-in-england-and-wales

    Of particular interest should be the extract – ‘Around one in twenty females (aged 16 to 59) reported being a victim of a
    most serious sexual offence since the age of 16. Extending this to include other sexual offences such as sexual threats, unwanted touching or indecent exposure, this increased to one in five females reporting being a victim since the age of 16.’

    Your 1 in 5 stat is typical feminist sensationalising, to try and hoodwink society into thinking there is a rape epidemic and terrify women / guilt men into joining your ranks. When examined in an unbiased manner the numbers prove otherwise, the 1 in 5 actually encompassing a wide range of offences inc. women who some troll has mouthed off to on twitter, had their bums pinched in a club one time or the local crazy has exposed themselves to them. I dont excuse the behaviour and the perpetrators should be prosecuted, but for gods sake stop manipulating the numbers to fit your ideology and narrative, it does nothing to further your credibility!

  • Dan

    Sorry that I haven’t replied to these comments to me before now.
    I’ve only just read them.

    I’m afraid that the idea that all men are inherently rapey is nonsense….and society most certainly doesn’t say that.

  • Dan

    Decent men most certainly do not stand by and let abuse of women happen.
    Decent men take a stand and look out for anyone in trouble.

  • Dan

    ‘Lived experience’?

  • Dan

    I swim most days.
    Women are in and out the pool all the time. What is this low level sexualisation you are referring to? I’ve yet to witness it,
    Mostly I just do my routine lengths, sometimes I’d say hello to another swimmer, male or female if they are in the lane next to me….is that part of the oppressiveness that you reckon women are subjected to?
    …or is that just normal human interaction you are complaining about..

  • Elaine

    If nothing else, comments like these go a long way towards answering the author’s question as to whether feminism is still relevant or necessary. The argument from statistics (‘see, not as many are raped as you claim, some of these people are merely assaulted’ and ‘the pay gap is not as big as you claim, stop complaining’ and so on) denies the reality of women’s lived experiences and the problems with pinning down fluctuating realities with statistics. If you refer to the original article you will see that the author points out that the gender pay gap is even larger in Northern Ireland, is this being disputed?

  • Artemis13

    My 1 in 5 stat isn’t *my*stat-it is from the government. The report deals with things that have been reported to the police. If people reported every lower level sexual offence then the police stations would be very busy! The report suggests only 15% of rapes are reported, do you really think people are reporting getting their bum pinched, or that these situations would lead to a trial or prosecution?
    Nevermind that pinching some ones bum isn’t acceptable anyway, we have just become so used to it as something that happens on a night out that it is mostly brushed off or dealt with by a dirty look.

  • Korhomme

    Seaan, I should modify my remarks about Genesis a bit. Certainly, we can see that this is (was?) an explanation for and rationalisation of ‘male dominance’. However, it may well be that this represents an attempt at legitimisation of what was even then status quo, rather than the introduction of an entirely new theory. (Genesis also doesn’t explain how male dominance emerged in places, like middle America, which were quite untouched by Christianity.)

  • Biftergreenthumb

    “If you grant the foetus a right to life, at what point does that right trump the rights of the already alive (and let’s forget the life-support machine of the foetus) woman?”

    These are exactly the sorts of inconvenient questions that need to be asked. The fact that The Plath Diary is trying to frame the abortion debate purely in terms of ‘female bodily autonomy’ means that she is ignoring the hard question of when the cluster of cells becomes a person. This is not simply an academic question. It is central to the abortion debate.

    “It seems to me you really haven’t thought about this very clearly, without the cloud of foetus fetishism in your mind.”

    Trying to derail the argument by claiming that asking hard questions is akin to ‘foetus fetishism’ is bad craic. I have thought hard about the abortion debate. I’m not arguing against a woman’s right to choose. I am pro-choice. I’m arguing against two related claims 1.) that you can’t be pro-life and a feminist and 2.) that the abortion debate can be reduced to adebate about women’s rights.

    “There can’t be a balance because the foetus is a part of the woman’s body until it is born.”

    It’s not a simple as that though is it? A foetus starts off as a part of a woman’s body but as it develops it eventually turns into a separate being. There is no single point at which this happens. It is a continuous process of growth. To say that until the point of birth no moral consideration should be given to the baby is ridiculous. Unborn babies feel pain. They don’t just suddenly become conscious beings at the point of birth.
    This being the case legitimate questions can be asked about when the foetus become a person, when it should be given moral consideration and when or if these considerations ever outweigh the mothers right to ‘bodily automomy’. By refusing to entertain these questions and framing the debate purely in terms of women’s right you are deliberately ignoring the most morally problematic aspect of the debate.

  • Reader

    I note that when you talk about a male curfew you don’t need to use quote marks, because that’s what you actually mean – with arrests and prison sentences. The female curfew is metaphorical.
    And it really shouldn’t surprise you to learn that there are times and places where most men will not choose to venture alone. We, too, are subject to a ‘curfew’.
    As for rapists – well rape is illegal, when they are caught and convicted they are locked up. As for ‘rape culture’, I’m not sure what you mean unless it’s Rotherham-style. I hope and believe I don’t know anyone who thinks that rape is OK, or would try to justify a rape carried out by someone else. Clearly such people exist, but they don’t go public in most social circles. If you know any I suggest you ostracise them.
    By the way, I have a daughter. I will not be deterred from advising her how not to get raped by your disapproval. Is it at least OK with you if I advise her to wear a coat in this cold weather and if I advise my sons how not to get beaten up?

  • babyface finlayson

    I don’t particularly like classifying people as normal or by extension, not normal. Are the women in BFN normal? Who decides?

    But Orlaith seemed to be making a general point about those who would try to pressure others to their way of thinking, which is what I was responding to.

  • Makhno

    Top marks for totally missing the point. The female ‘curfew’ isn’t metaphorical. As for rape culture, I take it that you’re familiar with the media, and the internet? Check out the presentation of males v females, you’ll be amazed… Events in Rotherham are certainly an indication of something badly wrong, but by no means is this an abberation, sadly. Read some of the other comments on this thread, where women talk about day to day precautions which they feel forced to take, and ask yourself whether it is right that your daughter would be similarly constrained, but not your sons.

  • babyface finlayson

    It is probably not helpful to get too obsessed with statistics when as you say, they may not give a true picture.
    But if someone shouts it out in capital letters that 1 in 4 women will experience rape ( as Orlaith Hendron did above) then I think it is reasonable to follow that up.
    Why use a statistic at all if it is not accurate?

  • socialanimal81

    Bit hypocritical to complain about my use of statistics, when claims of discrimination from the feminist movement are all about statistics, only with added hyperbole and all context removed. Stats are the closest we can get to measure the true extent of a problem. The deliberate use of the 1 in 4 number is to convince people there is a rape culture and that vast amounts of men are out in the world committing rape all day long (they’d have to be to reach that sort of number), that they’re inherently dangerous and more laws are needed to control them. Its offensive, designed to scare and to further a feminist agenda.

    And the pay gap? See the link:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/11240532/The-gender-pay-gap-has-fallen-to-a-record-low.html

    I liked this quote – ‘The gender pay gap has been eliminated in Northern Ireland, where female full-time workers earned more per hour than their male counterparts, due to the higher proportion of public sector jobs in this region than in the rest of the UK.’

    Oh dear, thats a bit awkward. I look forward to the start of a new campaign by the BFN, being all about equality an’all, to close the gender pay gap and ensure men obtain equal pay!

  • It’s very easy to moralise theoretically, but if you ever came into contact with some of the women (under % of all abortions happen after 24 weeks), who have to make that decision, you would know that the reality is heart wrenching and awful. Go and do a bit of research. Check out Abortion Support Network’s work, https://www.abortionsupport.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/ASN_2013_Annual_Report.pdf where women from here have to go to because we have decreed it illegal, even if your wanted pregnancy suddenly become incompatable with life. Check out TFMR page, full of stories of women with wanted pregnancies that became unviable http://www.terminationformedicalreasons.com/homepage-featured/personal-stories/

    Or reality check’s : http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2009/06/01/share-your-late-term-abortion-story/
    This is why it is about women’s autonomy, otherwise people like you would like to restrict access based on morality and not medical evidence.
    Once you’ve actually engaged with real women’s lives and stories, come back and tell me about where exactly morality should fit in.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    “…people like you would like to restrict access based on morality and not medical evidence.”

    I feel like you have been arguing against views you are ascribing to me rather than views I’ve actually been putting forward.

    I’m pro-choice. I stated this in my last post. I’ll say it again just to be clear. I support women’s right to have abortions.

    My point is that to reduce the abortion debate to one about woman’s rights is to simplify the argument too much. The cluster of cells will grow into a person which raises the question “When should we give the cluster of cells/embryo/foetus/unborn baby moral consideration?” Farming the debate purely in terms of women’s rights ignores this question.

    The reason why I raised this issue is not because I am pro-life. As I have said I’m pro-choice. I raise this point because The Plath Diaries claims you cannot be a feminist and pro-life. But this is only the case if the whole debate can be reduced to one about women’s rights. The fact that there is a question as to when the cluster of cells/embryo/foetus/unborn baby becomes a being worthy of moral consideration means that the debate cannot be framed in this way. Therefore it is perfectly possible to be a feminist and pro-choice.

    Rather than ordering me to “Go and do a bit of research” perhaps you should actually read my posts before wasting your time arguing against points I don’t advocate. Recognising and trying to think through the moral difficulties of a very controversial issue is not the same as moralising.

  • Elaine

    The thing about statistics, as anyone with even a passing knowledge of SPSS knows, is that they can be used to show nearly anything, if the analyst is suitably biased. You demonstrated this pretty well in your point about the pay gap, but first; the 1 in 4 statistic. I hate to be the one to tell you, but most women don’t need to be convinced that rape culture exists. And can you please tell me about the legislation feminists are proposing to ‘control’ men? Please be specific, I feel sure I must have missed something huge. The problem with rape and sexual assault and the related stats is that there is a known problem with the reporting of these crimes, and even with the acknowledgement that such a crime has been committed against oneself, something particularly true for male rape victims, from what I’ve read.

    On the pay gap, that article specifically says that the pay gap has been eliminated for women in their 20s and 30s who are not mothers and who work in the public sector. Unfortunately that leaves rather a lot of women – the majority, even – who are paid less than their male colleagues for doing the same job, whose career prospects are stunted by their parenthood while their colleagues parenthood status is irrelevant if they are male. So, you see what I mean about selective use of statistics. The reason that young women in public sector jobs are paid more (very) early in their careers is tied to the fact that young women have been outperforming young men at school and university for some decades now, so unless you are suggesting that they should not be compensated for their greater educational attainment, I don’t see what the objection is. Unless it’s that educational curricula should make more room for different styles of learning, in which case I agree, and so do most feminist groups I’m aware of.

  • Newman

    It would be helpful to fully understand the pro choice view. Is the orthodox feminist position that (a) a child en ventre sa mere or foetus should have no rights until actual birth and (b) abortion should be permissible on demand right up until birth. We hear a lot about liberalisation about the existing law, but little about the extent to which feminism thinks the law should go. To what extent for instance does viability between 20-24 weeks introduce a change in how the law should view the matter? How do you define foetal abnormality? One wonders whether there isn’t a touch of fundamentalism in the feminist critique. Perhaps Plath Diaries and frecklescorp can illuminate. Does female bodily autonomy exist right up until the moment before birth?

  • For some it does and for some it doesn’t. The Pro-choice position encompasses a large spectrum of views.

  • socialanimal81

    We’re going round the houses with the rape stats but you are kind of making my point for me. The stats dont lie, but those who present analysis of the data certainly can. So can you tell your sistas in the movement to drop the 1 in 4 rape statistic thats an utter fabrication? We could argue rape culture all night, but the article below describes it in a more eloquent way than I could.

    http://time.com/30545/its-time-to-end-rape-culture-hysteria/

    As for the paygap, I’m afraid the bias still lies with you but good to see you’re beginning to use some context on the data, rather than the simplistic cover-all ‘women are paid 23% less than men’. The study shows women are paid as much as men (slightly more infact) up until their 30s, where many women leave to have children. If said women remained childless, or convinced their husband to stay at home to look after the kids, they would continue to match their male colleagues. Employers can only judge an employees salary based on factors such as experience, time served, accomplishments, qualifications, etc. and a woman (like a man) will always be paid accordingly. So the fact is a women will be not be paid less than a man due to some sexist, patriarichal policy, but because of the choices she freely makes. You cant legislate to control this. You could allow men to take all of a womens maternity leave or provide more government support for childcare allowing parents back to work (all good policies) but you may still find that the majority of women would rather take the time. So what are your suggested solutions to this? That business should be forced to hire back less experienced women at an adjusted wage to make up for the loss? You think that will encourage the employment of women in a free market? If you were a woman who remained childless and dedicated your life to your career, would you appreciate someone swanning back in, after years away raising kids, at your pay grade when they are less qualified than you? What about a government ‘top-up’ to salary for a parent who took a career break, a parent subsidy if you will? But where will the taxes come from to pay for this? We should also consider that people with children will take more from the government coffers in the form of free health care for their kids, free schools, tax credits, etc. all while paying in less tax in due to their lower salaries.

    All this aside, we havent even considered that as a cohort, overall male pay is higher because they gravitate toward higher paid jobs which are logic / problem / mathematically based, technically intensive, require more years of study and in some instances, are dangerous (power line maintenance, oil rigs, etc.). Women don’t enter these jobs, because they think maths is boring and rarely believe their salary worth dying for.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Dan, it’s not for the person who may be expereienced as threatening to tell the person feeling threatened that they are not experiencing it. It is for them to work out why it is happening and to deal with that rather than demand it is not so.

    Why the personalisation? I certainly did not name you as the problem. You may not be a threatening person, and may swim along with women without stressing them, but evidently not only my informants (I’m repeating concerns voiced to me), but from a number of posts here, other men certainly come over as threatening. Are you saying that the women who have spoken with me have no right to demand some relief from the level of threat they feel? I’d be very reluctant to suggest that the stock male image of the “over sensitive woman”, used over many decades to mock statements of sexual threat, may be at play here to silence (again!) their concerns!

  • Elaine

    I’m not sure there is any point to continue discussing this with you, since you insist on being so patronising, but here are a few points.
    1. I’ll tell my ‘sistas’ about your super statistical analysis as soon as you tell your brahs to stop twisting statistics, too. And while you’re at it, explain that rape is bad, no matter how many of them are doing it.
    2. I’m still waiting to hear about this evil legislation feminists are cooking up in their cauldron of misandry – I notice you sidestepped that question pretty quickly.
    3. Any job where the qualification needs constant ‘updating’ and the employee needs to be up to date with current legislation due to regulation and such has a CPD programme to facilitate that. These programmes can be completed during maternity leave or any other sustained absence from work, and so the returning worker can be as qualified and informed as someone who has never so much as taken a sick day.
    3. Tax breaks and such for parents are good economics because when we are all retired we will need tax payers to pay for our pensions, NHS etc. So we have two options; tax breaks that allow people to be able to afford more children, or mass immigration. You can pick whichever you prefer, but governments would be well advised to go for the former. And also parents of both genders benefit from this, so stop pretending it’s for women only.
    4. I can’t imagine being so sad as to devote my life to my career, but I’ve seen many less qualified people (men) promoted over me and colleagues of mine as soon as we had rings on our fingers or foetuses in our uteruses, so I think I could manage to suck it up, having done so thus far.
    5. The ‘women find maths boring and can’t do technical work’ stuff – now I know you are trolling me for a reaction so I won’t bite, but you are only succeeding in making yourself look ignorant. Incidentally, ever wondered why male-dominated careers are generally better paid? Could it be because they are male-dominated?

  • socialanimal81

    1. And you say i’m trolling? Like us brahs all sit around chatting about how great rape is! Anything else I should tell them – maybe not to murder? Feminists don’t seem to concerned with men telling eachother not to do that. Why? because they know it wont stop it, but rape is their fixation, an effective lodestone to rally the troops. As bad as the right wing blaming all muslims for the few psychos in their midst, and that somehow they’re all responsible for terrible acts said psychos commit, their complicity proven merely by association.
    2. Legislation that exercises control through fear of prosecution or lack of support. Seeking to have rape cases tried based on ‘guilty until proven innocent’, rather than the other way around (our DPP has already signaled her intention to move in that direction), family courts that separate kids from their fathers under the flimsiest pretenses or accusations, domestic violence support for women but not men (40% of the victims), propensity of criminal justice system to gaol men, for longer, for identical crimes, attempts to enshrine in law positive discrimination employment practices for women in certain industries, etc. – some examples of government sanctioned discrimination brought about by followers of feminist theory.
    3. Sounds good to me. I’m skeptical as to whether CPD programs would provide the necessary challenge and experience to equal time spent ‘in the field’ but if employees came back from leave as effective as their colleagues then why not.
    Other 3. Also all makes sense to me. I didnt say it was for women only, just that the partner who drops out of the workforce for a while will lose career ground and its generally women who take on that responsibility (exercising their free choice – quelle horreur!). Its part of societies social contract that as a unit, the family will have less earned income, but this will be somewhat recovered in the form of more money from the tax payer.
    4. This is an anecdote that doesn’t really prove anything. I found out that two female colleagues who joined my company the same time as me, with the same qualifications, earned more despite working fewer hours and producing poor work on numerous occasions. Is this going to persuade you the pay gap is a myth? I doubt it. Many reasons could explain this but i don’t believe discrimination is one of them.
    5. Don’t remember saying women cant do technical work, I said men gravitate to technical work because their interests tend to lie there. The women find maths boring was an over simplification, there are of course exceptions. But generally, brain differences in the sexes translate to different interests and different jobs. A documentary by Harald Eia was all it took for nordic countries to finally accept this and to defund the nonsense science that was ‘gender theory’ which sole purpose was to try to deny biological fact.

    http://www.menshealthaustralia.net/content/nordic-countries-defund-gender-ideology.html

  • Elaine

    1. You must have reading comprehension problems. That or you genuinely think all ‘sistas’ have a hive mind, but how dare I turn the tables on ‘brahs’. Nobody is saying all men are rapists. Wise up. Ironic that you earlier accused me of hyperbole, given your point above and your earlier post about rapists who must be raping day and night in order to rape 20% of the female population.
    2. Where to start?! Do you mean the DPP of the Republic of Ireland? Because I have just googled her name with keywords and all I see is her stating that lack of evidence, rather than credibility of victims, is the reason so few rapes are prosecuted. Is this what you have a problem with? I don’t see her saying she thinks men accused of rape should be presumed guilty. Citation needed? And you’ll find that the judicial system is largely controlled by the judges who impose sentences. They’re overwhelmingly male, are they all feminists now? No feminist group that I’m aware of have ever campaigned for men to be jailed for longer than women. Or, for that matter, for men to be prevented from seeing their children. I’m familiar only with the UK and Irish systems on this, but it is pretty difficult to get to a point that you are prevented from seeing your children entirely. Also, there are domestic violence shelters for men, albeit fewer. Do you think the government run women’s shelters? They do not. If men are finding themselves lacking shelter spaces, they need to do what women’s groups did; form a charitable group, raise funds and set one up. Why must feminists do it for you? But it’s easier to be condescending to women on the internet, no?
    3. So you broadly agree with me on this, which is why it’s confusing that…
    4. You can’t see that that anecdote is not intended to prove anything, but as a direct response to your question (again, work on your reading comprehension) about how I would feel as a woman devoted to my career to see women ‘swanning back’ to work after years off.
    5. I don’t know why a documentary by a comedian is supposed to convince me that men and women are so vastly different. I haven’t watched it yet, but I seriously doubt the millions of Scandinavians you claim were convinced by it actually were (everything I see describes it as controversial) and I’m afraid comedy is not science. You appear to put more faith in comedians’ research skills than I do, presumably since being funny is just another thing men are better at, right?

  • Croiteir

    Bernie is a puppet of the establishment ? seriously – do you believe the drivel you write – this is a low even for you. Can you tell us how much she gets as opposed to the profits made by Stopes?

  • Croiteir

    Did you note that SF abstained from voting on Clare Daly’s recent bill – compare and contrast with Ivan Bacik’s bill

  • babyface finlayson

    It baffles me, given that they support abortion in cases where the woman’s mental health is at risk.
    How could being forced to carry to term a child with fatal foetal abnormality not put any woman’s mental heath at risk?

  • socialanimal81

    What tables? Just asked that you have a word with your fellow ‘sistas in the movement’ about their figures. These are people you could influence. Bit different from your inference that I can change the minds and behaviour of ALL brahs. I am flattered by the God-like status you have bestowed on me though.

    The DPP for England is Alison Saunders, who set new guidelines for approaching rape cases with the need for males to prove explicit consent was given, and if not, is automatically assumed to be guilty. How this is to be achieved is anyones guess – presumably a consent form will have to be signed mid-foreplay before sex? This sets precedent that will become law eventually and will be adopted by other countries in the union. For sentencing you could read ‘Home Office research study 170 – Understanding the sentencing of women.’

    http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs/hors170.pdf

    ‘A superficial examination of the criminal statistics suggests that, for virtually every type of offence, women are treated more leniently than men.’
    ‘This study reveals major differences in the use of noncustodial penalties for men and women. Women were consistently more likely than men to be discharged even when their circumstances appeared, on the basis of the available data, entirely comparable.’

    Oh the horrors of Patriarchy! Male judges are some of the biggest supporters of feminism in this country so yeah they are blindly helping your cause.

    Of course the government doesn’t help with domestic abuse funding at all, except for the £28million for domestic violence support services UK wide, of which services helping males received a whopping £225,000. ‘Albeit fewer shelters’ is a bit of an understatement – there are 470 shelters for women, 1 for gay men and zero for straight men. Over 4000 places for females and 12 for men (if they aren’t currently being used by women at the time). Authorities performance on domestic abuse is even measured by government on support given only to female victims (by performance indicator BV 225) so there is no institutional recognition or pressure put on local authorities to provide specialist support for male victims. How exactly is a group going to get adequate funding under those rules? Yup, all in all its a balanced approach if ever I saw one.

    Good, we both agree incompetents of either sex can be promoted and paid more over their hard working colleagues, but that taking time off work wont help you in this respect. Thats all I can take from your devastating ‘fetus in me uterus’ story.

    As for the documentary…. you dismiss it without even seeing it? I suppose you disregarded ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ because Al Gore isnt a climate scientist, or ‘Super Size Me’ because Morgan Spurlock isnt a nutritionist? Harald may be a comedian, but he speaks to academics with solid evidence to show gender differences are strongly innate. Thats why it was controversial, it torpedoed 40 years of Scandinavian (see feminist) thinking thats being shown to be based on ideology, rather than science.

    Right, this has been fun an all but like every other internet debate with a feminist, its going nowhere. Reason and evidence will be stubbornly deflected, as emotional wallowing and hive-mind delusion must remain at all costs. You folks at BFN must get so much support from women in the Middle East, India and beyond, sympathising with how tough life is here in the west. Honestly, the things they have to put up with is nothing compared to your suffering here in this horrible place. Good day to you madam.