Thursday 3 May 2012

Sticks and Stones

I've finally got my laptop back, and despite a list of things I need to write longer than a mile, Louise Mensch has filled me with such fury that they will have to wait.

Through my opiate-vomitty-hospital-bed-haze, I've watched the most nauseating example of womanly-wiles I think I've ever seen. I first noticed menschgate when I saw a tweet from Tim Montgomerie and Dan Hodges, listing examples of "abuse" Louise had suffered online. The tweets weren't very offensive at all - in fact one asked a very sensible question.

I felt feminist stirrings and it'as incredibly rare I discuss feminism at all. Why were these men defending her honour like some medieval chattel? Was she not a successful, powerful woman? Was she unable to take a bit of internet silliness without a shield of chivalry?

I pointed out that stupid, misguided, humour from stupid misguided fools, was not the same as genuine threats. Within minutes, scores of furious Tories flooded my timeline, accusing me of supporting violent attacks!! They were still trying to pick a fight with me hours after my drug addled brain had forgotten who Louise Mensch even was.

Now, what seemed to happen to me, was that Louise Mensch said something totally silly and thousands of people responded by saying "You're really silly." Of all careers, politicians must know that if you're going to say silly things, people will fairly swiftly call you silly.

Those politicians that use the internet regularly and engage on social media (which I admire) are perfectly aware that they will get abuse. I'm a woman. I write abut politics. I chose a male dominated arena to air my opinions. If I am so egotistical that I believe my opinions might be of interest to others, I have no right at all to complain when people disagree with me. When all of twitter disagrees with me at once, I accept that I'm probably wrong. There isn't a switch Ms Mensch. There isn't one big hive-mind that agrees to bully Tory women!! You made a fool of yourself and the world told you so. Deal with it.

But to go on to use the hashtag feminism??? FEMINISM???? When the basis of the argument seems to be "people shouldn't be mean to me because I'm a girl" made my blood boil.

Everyone gets twitter abuse, everyone. If some vitriolic, evil, pimple goes way beyond the boundaries of what's acceptable, you just block them and move on. You don't know these people, they don't have to like you. They don't have to conform to your ideas of what is polite or what isn't, what is funny or what is not. They can't upset you unless you let them. They don't cause offence, we allow ourselves to take it.

Unless we are to believe that Mr Montgomerie and Mr Hodges or even Mr Young have never suffered a wave of twitter abuse for saying something silly??

A while ago, someone threatened Kaliya Franklin with the gas chamber. She's Jewish and disabled. They said they would gas her to death, it was what she deserved. Now that's a genuine threat. The police rightly took it very seriously.

But standing in the playground, stamping one's feet and crying "it's not fair" is just embarrassing. To Ms Mensch, but more importantly to all women who struggle every day to achieve equality. Real equality, not equality-when-it-suits-us. Life isn't fair and most people over 12 have learnt this. Most women learnt it much earlier than that.

So no Louise, people didn't insult you because you're a woman, they insulted you because you're silly. Pleading special treatment because you have a uterus fills me with disgust.


  1. The force of a clear argument always makes an impression made by judgement and reason, and not by perverseness or any inhumanity.

  2. These were horrible insults and I di believe in chivalry, but Mensch is a clever politician who used faux outrage to deflect public anger at her defence of Murdoch. Once a politician always a politician. When they start out they may be trying to do good but those at Mensch's level-not all- are cleverly trying to save their own skin. I hope Kaliya has recovered from that disgraceful attack love to her

  3. The Tory trick is misrepresentation. Witness Grayling on Newsnight the other day yet again trying to misrepresent everyone receiving Housing Benefit as being unemployed (the majority far and away aren't). Witness the umpteen DWP press releases trying to misrepresent benefit claimants as scroungers etc. etc. If they had genuine reasons for their policies which weren't antisocial, and if La Mensch were genuinely capable of constructing a reasonable argument, they wouldn't have to be trying to misrepresent their positions all the time, would they?

  4. Disregarding Mensch there is a wider issue here. Sometimes as a woman you have to put up with a lot when working in a male dominated environment. You may even struggle to be taken seriously.

    For instance I was forbidden to use my name when I first started publishing academic papers but had instead to use my initials. I was told that I had to establish myself as an authority first, before people "caught on" to the fact that I was a woman. When I challenged this I was told that it was my own fault for "choosing" to work in the male dominated area of maths.

    I had similar issues stemming from the fact that I was also disabled.

    This is totally wrong and needs to be fought tooth and nail. You simply cannot say it is to be expected and is your own fault for working in a male dominated/disabled free environment.

    With the current Mensh situation I think we need to be very careful not to make any statements which appear to support this train of thought which so many otherwise apparently respectable and openminded people believe.

    I totally agree however that it doesn't help if, when you do something wrong, you hide behind the fact that you are a woman/disabled and pretend that is the only reason you are being criticised. Quite the contrary that damages any progress that might have been made.

  5. Yes! It was this damage that made me so cross. The sexism was incidental to calling her stupid. Crying wolf sets us all back decades

  6. if Louise Mensch believes that Rupert Murdoch is a trustworthy person then she'll never make pm as her judgement is well off the mark
    Tom Watson is no better thou as he was involved in the expenses scandal so both of them shouldn't even be on the committee at all

    It's only the likes of them and David Cameron in power that have allowed the likes of Murdoch to get so powerful and out of hand in the first place

    1. Agree

      the enemy of the people never was the Unions - it has always and will forever be, the elites and the politicians

  7. To Sue I can only say Hear, Hear.

  8. Mensch is an idiot..YOU aint end of.....

  9. "Why were these men defending her honour like some medieval chattel?"

    Errr bacause in their dreams they think she can suck a golf ball down a hosepipe. And that they are in with a chance.

    Louise Mensch is a vacuous gold-digger who thinks she is a very important person. This brings out the worst in rich old men who think they are in with a chance.

    Being full of yourself is not the same as being a good politician. She is regularly wrong, sometimes spectacularly wrong - and that is part of the unforgiveable bit.
    That and then turning into a pathetic girly when the going gets tough as that invites knights in shining armour.

    Brace up Mensch, you big wimp.

  10. The big problem for Louise Mensch is that she's good looking so no one is going to be able to get the message across to her that she should be more modest and act like a lady
    she has got all of the men under her thumb so she can do with them whatever she wants

    She will end up no doubt being the party leader at some pont

  11. Errr bacause in their dreams they think she can suck a golf ball down a hosepipe. And that they are in with a chance.

    Best laugh I've had today, (which has been spent marking essays, so funny it's tragic) but also true, the banalities of my sex never fail.

  12. Dear Sue,

    I've just read your blog via a newletter I receive from CAP. I watched your video too. I'm sitting here gobsmacked at what you do, it's either that or crying at the injustices you continue to suffer.

    We are a family of seven, mum, dad and five kids, two of whom have left home. Out of the remaining five, four of us are on DLA. I was diagnosed with ME in 1992 and spent many, many years bedridden, although those dark days have gone I've been left with fybromyalgia pain, a prolapsed disc in my spine, terrible IBS and migraines.

    My husband worked until 2008 when a massive MS relapse caused a significant drop in his ability to walk, left him with poor cognitive functioning when exhausted and he frequently falls due loss of balance.

    Our soon to be nine year old son has type one diabetes which is totally unstable, it's not unusual for me to lose many hours of sleep on a fortnightly basis preventing middle of the night hypos or giving emergency injections and dealing with vomiting and ketones. We have been home edding him since Feb 2009 as he was losing to much schooling due to poor health and the system wanted shut of him as it didn't look good on the attendance records.

    I must admit I've found it hard to keep up with the disablity reviews due to ongoing probs at home, it is frightening. My husband has had a change to his DLA which has had enormous ramifications to our IS, we're still OK at the moment, but if they came in and re-assessed me for instance we would be in a right mess.

    I will keep checking in to see how you're doing and whatever small amount I can do for the cause count me in.

    As for Mensch... handbags at dawn I say!!!

    Sending my very best wishes to you and your family

    San x

    1. Thanks for the comment, nice to "meet" you :)

  13. If the sexist comments solely consisted of people calling Mensch names like stupid bitch I'd agree with you, but I read Owen Jones's article and there were a lot of comments which clearly fall into the category of sexual harassment or threats, including the suggestion of strangling her and a magazine asking Occupy protesters if they'd have sex with her. As he says, no man who defended Murdoch is subjected to this sort of thing, and a number of women who have engaged in certain debates online have been bombarded with abusive replies of a sexual nature including threats of rape.