Life doesn’t get much better for me than when I’m demonstrably misrepresented by prominent gender feminists. I was (erroneously) branded a liar – twice – by Julie Bindel in the course of my talk in the Durham University debate. It’s a memory I’ll treasure to the end of my days. A supporter has just drawn my attention to a piece written by Laurie Penny for the New Statesman, published online three days ago:
The article appeared originally in the print edition, published 21 March.
I met Ms Penny sometime around Xmas. She’d contacted me while I was staying with friends in London, requesting an interview. When we met, I proffered my hand to shake hers, as is my custom. She visibly flinched but shook it anyway, as she had on the only previous occasion I’d met her, when she’d sat next to me on a bench at Covent Garden tube station. Initially I’d mistaken her for Kat Banyard, another gender feminist ray of sunshine, to whom J4MB presented the following award today:
We had a coffee – she paid, I didn’t want to be accused in her article of ‘benevolent sexism’ – at a coffee shop of her choosing in London. I’d politely declined her earlier suggestion of meeting in a public house in Soho.
I was carrying a suitcase because I’d stayed the previous evening at a friend’s place in London, and was due to spend that evening at another friend’s place in London, before returning home the next day. My only reason for relating these mind-numbingly boring details is that they relate to areas in which Laurie Penny misrepresented me in her article, in the first of the following paragraphs:
Some months ago, in a nondescript London coffee shop, I met Mike Buchanan, a “men’s rights” activist and the leader of the small, single-issue party Justice for Men and Boys. The former procurement worker, in his mid-fifties, was dragging a suitcase – he described himself as between homes and without a stable job and was moving from one friend’s sofa to another’s that day. It was only a few years ago, when he was looking for work and “a huge woman” turned him down for a job in public-sector procurement, that Buchanan realised that women had too much power.
“I think men are trashed, as you go down the social scale,” was one of the first things he told me. “As you go down the social scale, men are totally disposable. A man on the minimum wage – what chance does he have?”
Now, what’s inaccurate in just one paragraph?
Far from being a ‘single issue’ party, we’re making proposals in 20 areas. Our public consultation document detailing those areas is downloadable from the menu.
The ‘job in public-sector procurement’ was a consulting assignment, as I explained to Ms. Penny.
‘… he described himself as between homes…’. No, I didn’t. I explained I’d stayed overnight with a friend in London (where I don’t live).
‘… he described himself as… moving from one friend’s sofa to another’s that day…’. I said I was staying overnight with another London-based friend that evening.
‘…he described himself as… without a stable job…’. No, I didn’t. I retired about four years ago from business consulting, and haven’t sought work since. I’ve been offered a number of well-paid consulting assignments over that period, and turned them all down.
Far more important than matters relating to me, however, is Laurie Penny’s conflation of men’s human rights with issues of race. Not once have I ever spoken or written about race during my advocacy of men’s and boys’ human rights. Penny appears to be presenting advocates of men’s human rights as racist, when they’re decidedly not. ‘A Voice for Men’ http://avoiceformen.com has published plenty of articles, videos etc. from non-white men, and continues to do so. A recent example is SparkyFister’s series on ‘I need feminism because…’. The eighth piece in the series:
Penny is using a favourite tactic of hate-driven gender feminists, in a bid to pit men against one another along race lines. The tactic is both cynical and racist, and it’s rapidly becoming ineffective. But then all feminist tactics are rapidly become ineffective, pleasingly. Does she know how utterly ridiculous her analyses appear to people capable of thinking for themselves?
Shortly after I post this piece, I’ll be emailing Ms Penny a link to it. My public challenge to her:
Your recent New Statesman piece appears to suggest I’m homeless – is that what you meant by ‘between homes’? – and jobless, while I’m neither. I have a home, I’m living off my company pensions, and I haven’t once sought employment for the past four years. I challenge you to substantiate your assertions by 5pm next Thursday, 3 April, or publicly retract them, and apologise accordingly. Feel free to retract them and apologise by sending me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll make the apology public on your behalf. If I don’t receive a retraction and an apology by the deadline – which is surely a racing certainty – I’ll add this to our long list of unanswered public challenges of prominent feminists.
I shall also be considering legal action on the grounds of defamation, and possibly other grounds.
Have a nice weekend.