Laurie Penny’s Authorial Fantasy

Everybody’s favourite feminist Laurie Penny engages in a spot of authorial fantasy where she envisages a world where robots have taken all the men’s jobs, forcing them to become more like women.

ROBOTS ARE COMING for our jobs—but not all of our jobs. They’re coming, in ever increasing numbers, for a certain kind of work. For farm and factory labor. For construction. For haulage. In other words, blue-collar jobs traditionally done by men.

Perhaps Laurie is unaware of the Industrial Revolution which saw huge swathes of farm work move from man to machine. She also appears to have missed the de-industrialisation of the west as the factory jobs moved to Asia, which is strange for somebody who places all the world’s ills at the feet of Thatcher. The changes she is describing have been happening for decades, if not centuries.

Millions of men around the world are staring into the lacquered teeth of obsolescence, terrified of losing not only their security but also their source of meaning and dignity in a world that tells them that if they’re not rich, they’d better be doing something quintessentially manly for money.

Oh, I don’t know. I see plenty of men mincing around with useless degrees working useless jobs.

Otherwise they’re about as much use as a wooden coach-and-four on the freeway.

You said it, sister!

Some political rhetoric blames outsourcing and immigration for the decline in “men’s work,” but automation is a greater threat to these kinds of jobs—and technological progress cannot be stopped at any border.

Right, but that process has been going on for quite some time and, for men working blue-collar jobs, the worst is probably over.

A recent Oxford study predicted that 70 percent of US construction jobs will disappear in the coming decades;

Unless construction itself is going to come to a halt, it’s hard to see how. Robots aren’t going to be building things any time soon, even if there is one that can lay bricks.

97 percent of those jobs are held by men, and so are 95 percent of the 3.5 million transport and trucking jobs that robots are presently eyeing.

Oh right. Self-driving vehicles will put millions of men out of business. Presumably the fusion-powered jet-packs will make airlines obsolete, too?

That’s scary, and it’s one reason so many men are expressing their anger and anxiety at home, in the streets, and at the polls.

You can almost smell the glee.

While all of this is going on, though, there’s a counter­phenomenon playing out. As society panics about bricklaying worker droids and self-driving 18-wheelers, jobs traditionally performed by women—in the so-called pink-collar industries, as well as unpaid labor—are still relatively safe, and some are even on the rise.

Firstly, how many of these pink-collar jobs are absolutely necessary, and only exist due to government policies looking for ways to keep women occupied now the washing machine, fridge, and tractor have been invented, paid for in their entirety by the surplus wealth – taxes – generated by those blue-collar men you despise so much?

Secondly, a lot of these pink-collar jobs exist in order to “manage”, administrate, and generally get in the way of those men doing the work. Will we really need sprawling HR, diversity, and compliance departments if robots are doing everything? Who will pay for them?

Thirdly, Laurie seems to think a lot of this pink-collar stuff can’t be offshored to the Philippines where ladies called Cherry will deal with your pointless HR paperwork.

These include childcare. And service. And nursing, which the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will need a million­-plus more workers in the next decade.

Which might be why the Japanese are working on a Care-Bot. But is this what our womenfolk with English degrees from Oxford and law degrees from Harvard have in mind for the sisterhood? Caring and nursing? Somebody ought to tell them.

According to the logic of the free market, when jobs are destroyed in one area of the economy, people will shift to new areas of productivity, acquiring new skills as they travel. So you might imagine that factory workers are becoming nannies. Not exactly. That’s because we’re talking about “women’s work.” Women’s work is low paid and low status, and men are conditioned to expect better.

The reason these nannies are needed is because the mothers have all decided they’d rather work than look after their own children. Now some say this is forced on them, but if robots are doing all the work, why can’t mothers look after their own kids? And the main reason factory workers won’t become nannies is because mothers who hire nannies generally prefer cheap brown women to do the job rather than white men – at any cost.

Whether or not you believe men are about to go the way of the portable CD player depends entirely on how you define manhood itself.

I’d say so, yes.

A great many men have been trained over countless generations to associate their self-worth with the performance of tasks that are, in a very real sense, robotic—predictable, repetitive, and emotionless.

But nevertheless a job that needs doing.

The trouble is that machines are far better at being predictable, repetitive, and emotionless than human beings.

It amuses me she thinks this applies more to craftsmen and technicians than women in process-driven roles in a giant bureaucracy.

What human beings do better are all the other things: We are better at being adaptable, compassionate, and intuitive; better at doing work that involves actually touching and thinking about one another; better at making art and music that elevates us above the animals—better, in short, at keeping each other alive. We have walled off all that work and declared it mostly women’s business,

Sorry, what? Art and music are the preserve of women? And what about sales, management, even engineering – all require adaptability, compassion, and intuition. Methinks Laurie – having been a freelance writer since she left university – hasn’t the faintest idea what various jobs actually entail.

even as exhausted women have begged men to join them.

Oh please! Sure, women are just crying out for more men to take up primary-school teaching, psychology, and nursing!

Feminists have, in fact, been arguing for a basic income for decades as compensation for unpaid domestic labor.

Women want to be paid to keep their own house clean.

Now that men might find themselves with more time to perform household tasks, they’re finally starting to listen.

What decade is Laurie living in? Most men I know can cook, clean, and iron as well as their partners, if not better. None of them has yet asked to be paid for this.

Work is work, and as men come to realize that, society as a whole might start valuing pink-collar and unpaid labor more highly and—as men take these jobs and join the call for increased wages—compensating it more fairly. Benefits only multiply.

Cleaning your house is work, just like building a bridge. Uh-huh.

No longer forced to choose between work and family life, more women can remain and thrive in, say, fast-growing STEM fields, increasing the pool of talent and expertise.

If I’m reading this right, Laurie thinks robots will make men redundant, meaning they will campaign for a universal basic income, which will in turn mean women can thrive in STEM fields instead of being forced to look after their kids. Like all good ideas, it’s obvious when pointed out.

Automation doesn’t have to make men obsolete, not if they’re willing to change their mindset. As long as men aspire to be cogs in an outdated machine, robots may well replace them.

The irony here is that it is women who stand to lose the most from robots: if sex-bots ever become realistic enough to replace a woman in bed, real women are going to have a hard time of it. We’ve already seen the effect Tinder has had, providing men with a means of getting laid without all the bother of a relationship.

But if they have the courage to imagine different lives of service and dignity, and then demand that those lives be made feasible in terms of both hours and pay, automation can help all of us be more human.

So if only men become wetter than a weekend in Wales and emasculate themselves such that legions of feminists can rule the roost, they will be permitted a role in Laurie’s Brave New World.

Well, how generous!


Facebook Feminism

Until somebody decided to shoot up a nightclub in Germany, this was running as front-page news on the BBC’s website:

Fairer pay for women must be backed up by stronger policies at work, according to Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.

But the firm’s chief operating officer, in an interview for BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, said the first step is to “start paying women well”.

She chose Beyonce’s empowering Run The World (Girls) as her first song.

This Beyoncé:

It’s one way to become empowered, I suppose.

She said: “We start telling little girls not to lead at a really young age and we start to tell boys [to] lead at a very young age. That is a mistake.”

We do? Okay, I can probably believe that in some countries with cultures we’re encouraged to embrace that little girls are told not to lead, but in the West? Really? Who is saying this, and where? This is bullshit.

“I believe everyone has inside them the ability to lead…”

Then you’re an idiot. Not everyone is a leader, just as not everyone is a loyal lieutenant, and not everyone is an essential specialist, and not everyone is an equally important plodder. If you’ve not understood this, you’ve not understood leadership at all.

“…and we should let people choose that not based on their gender but on who they are and who they want to be.”

Oh please. We’ve had women leaders since at least Cleopatra. Who, and where, are girls being told they cannot lead because of their gender? All I see on the webpages of major corporations is how important women are and how proud they are to have a load of them in senior positions. The fact we have a female COO carping at us in the national press ought to tell us that this isn’t really a problem. Whereas it is boys that are being failed by schools, more girls than boys are graduating from college and now lead in such fields as law and medicine, and young men are still committing suicide at a far higher rate than women.

Ms Sandberg made headlines in 2013 with her book “Lean in” about female empowerment in the workplace.

It became a worldwide bestseller, but was criticised by some for being elitist and unrealistic for many women not in her privileged position.

You mean not all women agreed, and cat-fighting ensued? I don’t believe it.

In the interview, she also called for more to be done around the gender pay gap between men and women.

The gender pay gap that Christina Hoff Sommers has debunked numerous times as being a complete myth?

Ms Sandberg admitted she had struggled with self-doubt at Harvard

The BBC’s poster-child for female empowerment and leadership wrung her hands in self-doubt while at America’s top university? Did Katherine the Great doubt herself?

…and recognised that women more than men underestimated their own worth, preventing them from putting themselves forward or asking for a pay rise.

A minute ago everyone was capable of leadership, and we need more women in such positions. Now we find they underestimate themselves. Sorry, but I prefer anyone presuming to be my leader to be a little less wet. Attila the Hun is my benchmark.

“We need to start paying women well and we need the public and the corporate policy to get there,” she said.

Says the woman who made over $18m in 2016.

“Certainly, women applying for jobs at the same rate as men, women running for office at the same rate as men, that has got to be part of the answer.”

As Christina Hoff Sommers repeatedly says, there is nothing stopping women going into higher-paid professions such as engineering and computer programming, they simply choose not to. The women who chose to become engineers are absolutely coining it. I can think of two now, one owns half of Melbourne (*waves*) and another spends much of her life flying around on holiday in business-class (*waves again*).

Following the sudden death of her husband Dave Goldberg, Ms Sandberg described herself a “different” person now.

She found him on the floor of a gym with a head injury after he had suffered a heart attack whilst they were on a weekend away.

Okay, I’ll dial it down a notch here. Losing your husband is catastrophic, and I am all too familiar with its effects. That she’s managed to carry on so well afterwards is genuinely worthy of admiration, and she deserves a lot of respect and sympathy over this.

I still hate the BBC, though.


Rebel Girls and Rapunzel

My research assistant has directed me towards this video, created by an outfit called Rebel Girls:

Where to begin?

Firstly, if a couple of Italians want to replace fairy stories like Rapunzel with books containing sanitised biographies of famous women and they’re crowdfunding to do it, good luck to them. Nothing wrong with that. Nor do I see much wrong with exposing young girls to stories about real-life, successful women.

What I don’t get is why this is considered rebellious: the books are called Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, which makes me think this is more about the parents than the kids. I had an older sister and a childhood containing lengthy periods of extreme boredom, so I am familiar with girls’ annuals such as Bunty and Judy. They were full of stories of brave, strong girls and women, some of them featuring real-life heroines. I believe Bunty’s longest running strip was The Four Marys, and although old-fashioned it hardly portrayed girls negatively, or weak and in need of a man’s help. Indeed, friendship, cooperation, and resourcefulness in the absence of men seemed to be the main theme. Were girls who read Bunty back in the 1960s and 1970s considered rebellious? Probably not.

But it’s clever marketting. What modern, third-wave feminist wouldn’t want to boast at an Anti-Trump protest march that her five year old daughter is a rebel and taking on the Patriarchy? Sadly, we only really hear feedback from the parents who insist their kids love it. Would they tell us any different if it weren’t the case? It reminds me of posh yummy mummies who went to uni together insisting their kids are “besties” even though they fucking hate each other.

That said, there’s no reason why kids shouldn’t love the books and if their parents say they do, who am I to argue? But why the knocking of Rapunzel? According to Wikipedia:

Rapunzel is a German fairy tale in the collection assembled by the Brothers Grimm, and first published in 1812 as part of Children’s and Household Tales. The Grimm Brothers’ story is an adaptation of the fairy tale Rapunzel by Friedrich Schulz published in 1790.The Schulz version is based on Persinette by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force originally published in 1698 which in turn was influenced by an even earlier tale, Petrosinella by Giambattista Basile, published in 1634.

Rapunzel’s story has striking similarities to the 11th-century Persian tale of Rudāba, included in the epic poem Shahnameh by Ferdowsi.

If a story has maintained its popularity across an entire continent for around 350 years, there might be something to be said for its universal and timeless appeal. The two women in the video seem to think the idea of a woman being locked away somewhere and dreaming of rescue is ludicrous, which is indicative of what they know about history and the world at large.

It also shows a staggering lack of understanding of literary allegories: young girls are prisoners to some extent, of their parents. Girls can relate to having their freedoms restricted, and whereas some may wish to bust out on their own by murdering their parents (now that would make for a rebel), most simply dream of an easy escape in the arms of a handsome prince where nobody gets hurt and everyone lives happily ever after. Far from a woman languishing in a tower being ridiculous, the story’s very success is proof that it resonates with a lot of girls, particularly those reaching sexual maturity but whose family or culture doesn’t yet allow them to explore it.

If I can work out the allegory of Rapunzel in twenty minutes of a Thursday morning, what excuse do these two women have? They not only appear to be a bit dim, but some humility wouldn’t go amiss, would it? Declaring timeless and universally liked stories to be ridiculous might appeal to loudmouth feminists in dungarees, but it’s indicative of a certain lack of class. Perhaps they’re right that men wouldn’t be portrayed in the same way, but why didn’t they run that to its logical conclusion by writing a story where a princess wanders the lands seeking random men to rescue from a life of back-breaking servitude in the master’s fields? I know why, and so do they.

Whether they like it or not, most young girls are interested in princesses, castles, and brief misery followed by rescue at the hands of a handsome prince. Not so many will be interested in a book about Malala Yousafzai, Frida Kahlo, and Simone Biles. To be fair, they might like the page on Beyoncé, but I’m unsure how she helps young women reject gender stereotypes:

Some of the reviews are interesting, too:

I wasn’t really expecting to have to explain gender reassignment surgery at this point in her life, so I am glad I read ahead and can skip that particular story.


Keep in mind, a 6 year old doesn’t exactly understand the concept of gender identity. So since there are multiple stories in here regarding gender identity pioneers, it’s awfully strange to have to explain to my little girl that it’s perfectly ok to just be herself, she doesn’t have to change because the person in the story did.


There are much better books written for girls. This book was more about politics …


Not sure if the story of a transgender kid should be included in a children’s book

My advice to parents is stick with Rapunzel; your kids will thank you one day.


More on Modern Feminism

Staying on the subject of modern-day feminism, Bloke in Lower Hutt made a comment under my latest post which deserves a second look:

It’s a sorry comment on the present state of the education system that investigation into the reason for under-performance of male pupils is only now being encouraged because it may be inadvertently negatively impacting females.

Indeed: an education system stacked against boys causing them to fail miserably was all fine and dandy until the power skirts couldn’t find partners of sufficiently high status.

On a different note, yesterday the ZMan wrote a post in which he described modern feminists thusly:

We tend to think of feminism as a young woman’s game, but the real damage done to society is by the middle-aged feminists. They are like the post-graduate drug dealers that hang around high school kids, offering them booze and drugs. Not content with having thrown their own lives away, they give meaning to their lives by helping the next generation destroy itself. That’s the modern feminist. Her singular purpose is to pass the virus onto the next generation, while simultaneously ruining the lives of her peers.

Recently I wrote about the rather sad case of Laurie Penny who, having been raped by a scumbag at the age of 19, found the older women whose company they kept – who she describes as “strong feminists” – told her it was her own fault. Near the end of the post I wrote this paragraph:

[T]he damage these so-called feminists do to impressionable young women is shameful, and twofold: firstly they encourage women to make extremely poor decisions which are very difficult to reverse, and then they deny them the ability to deal with what has happened and move on. Instead they fill their heads with the same garbage that got them into the mess in the first place and encourage them to preach the same poison to the younger generation – as Penny is now doing.

It appears ZMan has reached much the same conclusion.


The Price of Feminism

Well well well:

Prof Marcia Inhorn, Professor of Anthopolgy at Yale University, said professional women found themselves losing out in a game of “musical chairs” because there were simply too few men of the same calibre to go around.

Experts said “terrifying” demographic shifts had created a “deficit” of educated men and a growing problem of “leftover” professional women, with female graduates vastly outnumbering males in in many countries.

“There is a major gap – they are literally missing men. There are not enough college graduates for them. In simple terms, this is about an oversupply of educated women,” she said.

“These are highly educated, very successful women and one after another they were saying they couldn’t find a partner. How could it be that all these amazing, attractive intelligent women were lamenting about their ability to find a partner?” she said.

“The answer comes in the demographics – growing disparities in the education levels of men and women.

In short: women prefer men who are more educated than them, but as women are slowly becoming the more educated sex they are finding fewer educated men to partner up with. What to do?

The anthropologist suggested some women might need to be prepared to compromise some of their standards in order to find love.

One of the primary reasons middle-aged women are single is because they have an unrealistic idea of the sort of man they can attract. If you could solve this problem you’d not be writing newspaper columns, you’d be drinking gin on your mega-yacht. Fun though Sex in the City was, it ought not to be viewed as a documentary.

But she suggested society should act to increase the number of men going into higher education.

How’s that going to square with the relentless campaigns to put more women in the ranks of corporate management? As I said here, it is these very policies which are putting men off higher education and corporate life in the first place.

“It may be about rethinking the way we approach this,” she said.

“Most women who are educated would like to have an educated partner. Traditionally women have also wanted to ‘marry up’ to go for someone more successful, financially well off.”

“Maybe women need to be prepared to be more open to the idea of a relationship with someone not as educated.

Quite. I think it’s high time educated, intelligent women learned to love the slow-witted manual labourer just as us men are encouraged to love the ageing fatty.

Tell me, oh modern, non-shallow, non-materialistic woman: just what is wrong with you, a high-flying corporate lawyer, dating a builder? Aren’t we past all that gender role stuff in 2017? My pal Smiffy is dying to meet you, he’s the one over there with the cement stuck in his eyebrows.

Some women were paying a high price for feminism, she suggested.

You think? If only someone had warned them.

“As a feminist I think it’s great that women are doing so well but I think there has been a cost that has been paid,” she said, warning that many had been left in “sadness and isolation”.

Makes you wonder how many knew the costs before they were cajoled into it by the sisterhood, doesn’t it?

In some cases, the women taking part in the in-depth interviews said they would be happy to be in a relationship with someone less educated, but they felt they were “intimidating” to the men who were available.

So modern women, having quite deliberately positioned themselves to out-compete men in every field, now find they intimidate men. What did they think would happen?

About a year ago I met a corporate high-flyer here in Paris, a well-educated, smart Frenchwoman who was also rather attractive. She was single, and explained a lot of men were so put off by her lofty status in a giant, well-known corporation that she was reluctant to tell them what she did. I assumed this was down to some innate desire of men to be of higher status than their partner, but once I got to know her I changed my mind on that. Basically, the character traits required to gain the high ranks of a modern corporation are not the ones a man wants to see in a partner, i.e. a ball-breaker.

This might be as much about men being turned off by the personalities of high-flying women as women not wanting to date less-educated men. I suspect it is both, working simultaneously.

(H/T Tim Worstall)


Laurie Penny is not a nerd, and never will be

This caught my attention yesterday:

For those who might not know, Laurie Penny is a feminist journalist and author who studied English at Oxford and has appeared on the BBC, Channel 4, and in the New Statesmen, Guardian, and Morning Star almost always to express her political views. She is extremely outspoken and loves both stirring up trouble and getting attention, including writing about her polyamorous lifestyle in a national newspaper. The Daily Telegraph called her “”without doubt the loudest and most controversial female voice on the radical left.”

Does this sound like a nerd to you? No, me neither.

There was a time when to be a nerd you had to be good at science, technology, engineering, or maths (STEM) to the detriment of everything else. Or at least you had to be more interested in these subjects than most other people were, which made you socially inept as a teenager. Given that I studied maths, physics, and chemisty for A-level, did a Mechanical Engineering degree, and have (sort of) worked as an engineer for most of my career, believe me when I say I know what nerds are.

Nerds can be women. My first girlfriend back in university was a nerd, one of those one-in-million geniuses who could understand calculus without being taught, was blind as a bat, and if she spilled a glass of water the next thing she’d do was step in it by mistake. I knew another female nerd here in Paris, some maths whizz who worked for one of the international finance groups and numbers excited her. Wander around the geoscience department of a major oil company and you’ll see plenty of female nerds, although they are outnumbered by the men. The geologists are the most weird of all. They wear cargo pants and lumberjack shirts and take two-week holidays to go and visit an outcrop somewhere.

Being a nerd is about personality, which drives what you study. Nerds pay obsessive attention to detail, which suits STEM subjects where accuracy is more important than creativity. This is why nerds never really grow out of it. The engineers I work with are no longer the awkward teenagers they once were, but they still engage in the same hobbies. A colleague and friend of mine is from Malaysia, has a PhD, and wears glasses. His hobby is building amplifiers the old fashioned way using valves. Sometimes the stereotypes write themselves. Another colleague, a Venezuelan, heard about this and the two of them built one together. Both of them are around forty. Other engineer friends of mine are obsessed with whatever kit and equipment is associated to their hobby: biking, skiing, sailing, music. For them fiddling with the kit is three-quarters of the fun. Me? I have been known to build Airfix models as an adult and if I had the time and space I’d build a model railway. And I play the banjo. Enough said? I think so.

So why would an obvious non-nerd like Laurie claim to be one? Simple: in the modern world nerds are successful (once they grow up) and nerds are one of the few female groups who genuinely don’t need looks to gain attention, recognition, and progress in their careers. By claiming to be a nerd, Laurie is implying that she is highly intelligent and is respected in a field which requires a lot of hard work and dedication to enter. She says this in order to offset the physical disparity between her and the models, something nerds of both sexes do. Laurie is intelligent, but nobody would call a polemical feminist writer with such a craving for attention a nerd. Except herself, when asked to stand alongside a bunch of models.

It cannot be ignored that nerds tend to get well-paying jobs in stark contrast to those who study sociology or gender studies. Whatever it is nerds have, employers like it. Also, TV shows like Mythbusters and The Big Bang Theory repainted the nerd as an eccentric with a certain charm. The combination is to make the adult nerd somewhat endearing in terms of character and overall station in life (with the caveat that there are limits to the nerdiness). By calling herself a nerd, Laurie is attempting to portray herself as a loveable eccentric whose idiosyncrasies and quirks will be overlooked in light of her superior intellect and high-standing among like-minded peers.

Naturally, there are men falling over themselves to validate Laurie’s claims in the replies to her Tweet, probably thinking it will get them laid, but she’s not a nerd and never will be. That title is bestowed upon you by others, not awarded to yourself whenever you need a cutesy persona.


Bad Hair

There’s something I find rather annoying about certain British women, an example of which is below:

Look at the state of her hair: it looks as though she’s just got out of bed, yet she’s happy to have this picture at the masthead of her opinion pieces in a national newspaper.

You see this a lot with British women. Watch the evening news and stick around until they interview a council spokeswoman, or a university lecturer, or some other “modern” woman of leftist bent and you’ll see the same thing: hair all over the place.

They do this deliberately, believing it displays casual indifference to their appearance which implies they instead express themselves with intellect, compassion, and other non-physical traits. Only to me it makes them seem slovenly.

This isn’t about looks – I don’t care whether the women are young or pretty – it is about effort. If I were asked to come on TV, or to provide a photo for a column, I would make damned sure I had shaved that morning and I’d probably be in a suit and tie. Anything else and I’d not be taken seriously, and rightly so.

British women, alas, have somewhat of a reputation among foreigners. One phrase I hear often is “they don’t know how to take care of themselves”. Is it true? I don’t know. But one thing is for sure: you’d not see a French, Italian, or Russian woman appearing in a national newspaper with hair like that.


Poisoning Minds

Laurie Penny, the radical feminist and polyamorist, caught hold of the developments surrounding Julian Assange last week and decided to make them all about her. Her article starts off with a warning:

This post comes with a trigger warning for rape and sexual assault that should be visible from space.

I don’t know about trigger warnings, but a Martian would have certainly caught the wokeness.

Some of them are just everyday internet idiots who happen to believe that if a man who you have previously consented to sex with holds you down and fucks you, that isn’t rape. If you were wearing a short skirt and flirting, that isn’t rape. If a man penetrates you without a condom while you’re asleep, against your will, that isn’t rape, not, in Akin’s words, “legitimate rape”.

Or, if it’s Roman Polanski we’re talking about, it’s not “rape-rape“.

Old, white, powerful men know what rape is, much better, it seems, than rape victims.

Whoopi Goldberg aside, it’s old white men to blame. Who else?

As a culture, we still refuse collectively to accept that most rapes are committed by ordinary men, men who have friends and families, men who may even have done great or admirable things with their lives. We refuse to accept that nice guys rape, and they do it often.

We do? Actually, normal people believe most rapes are carried out by sickened individuals who inhabit the criminal fringes of society with the remainder falling to men who otherwise appear ordinary and whom you’d never suspect of such a crime. I’m sure Penny knows this, but:

This is not an article about Julian Assange.

No, it’s an article about Penny:

The man who raped me wasn’t a bad guy.

He was one of the good rapists?

He was in his early thirties, a well-liked and well-respected member of a social circle of which I am no longer a part,  a fun-loving, left-leaning chap who was friends with a number of strong, feminist women I admired.  I was nineteen. I admired him too.

Note the importance of his political orientation in Penny’s explanation as to why she ended up in bed with a rapist. Had he been a paid-up Republican I somehow think Penny would not be using sentences such as “the man who raped me wasn’t a bad guy”. Her judgement was found wanting then, and I’m wondering whether it’s any better now.

One night, a group of my friends held a big party in a hotel. Afterwards, a few of the older guests, including this man, invited me up to the room they had rented. I knew that some drinking and kissing and groping might happen. I started to feel ill, and asked if It would be alright if I went to sleep in the room – and I felt safe, because other people were still there. I wasn’t planning to have sex with this man or with anyone else that night, but if I had been, that wouldn’t have made it okay for him to push his penis inside me without a condom or my consent.

The next thing I remember is waking up to find myself being penetrated, and realising that my body wasn’t doing what I told it to. Either I was being held down or – more likely – I was too sick to move. I’ve never been great at drinking, which is why I don’t really do it any more, but this feeling was more profound, and to this day I don’t know if somebody put something in my drink that night. I was horrified at the way his face looked, fucking me, contorted and sweating. My head span. I couldn’t move. I was frightened, but he was already inside me, and I decided it was simplest to turn my face away and let him finish. When he did, I crawled to the corner of the enormous bed and lay there until the sun came up.

In the morning I got up, feeling sick and hurting inside, and took a long, long shower in the hotel’s fancy bathroom. The man who had fucked me without my consent was awake when I came out. He tried to push me down on the bed for oral, but I stood up quickly and put on my dress and shoes. I asked him if he had used a condom. He told me that he ‘wasn’t into latex’, and asked if I was on the pill.

I’m going to take Penny’s word for it that this actually happened. Granted she has made stuff up before, but the purpose of this post is not to cast doubt on her version of events. As she describes above, she was raped. Which is a pretty shit thing to happen.

I don’t remember thinking ‘I have just been raped’. After all, this guy wasn’t behaving in the manner I had learned to associate with rapists. Rapists are evil people.

So who taught you, at age 19, what rapists were like? I’ll hazard a guess that the “number of strong, feminist women” she admired who were friends with this rapist made the same political points you did, i.e. that old, powerful white men are largely are the ones to look out for and that being left-leaning automatically made him “decent”. Thus leaving you hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with a real-life rapist.

They’re not nice blokes who everybody respects who simply happen to think it’s ok to stick your dick in a teenager who’s sleeping in the same bed as you, without a condom. This guy seemed, if anything, confused as to why I was scrabbling for my things and bolting out the door. He even sent me an email a few days later, chiding me for being rude.

The point of Penny’s post appears to be that her rapist appeared nice but turned out not to be, on the assumption that it was an easy mistake to make. But what exactly was this social-circle of which she is no longer a part, and who the hell were these friends? This man appears to be engaging in behaviour deemed acceptable to the group: where is their culpability in all of this? Did he treat others in the same way? Note that the age gap is at least 12 years, which at the respective ages speaks volumes.

I had to wait two weeks for test results which showed that the man who raped me had given me a curable infection.

Why do I get the impression that this individual is not half as normal and decent as Penny is letting us believe. At a guess, I would say he is a slimy fucker of the first water who hangs around lefty circles hoping to get into the knickers of women, usually much younger and with low self-esteem and few morals, throwing out leftist and feminist platitudes to get himself accepted with no further scrutiny. Penny, at nineteen years of age, ought to have stayed well away from him even if she didn’t think he was a rapist.

I told my friend that I felt dirty and ashamed of myself. She said she was sorry I felt that way. Everybody else in that social circle seemed to agree that by going to that hotel room and taking off my nice lace dress I had asked for whatever happened next, and so I dropped the issue. They were right and I was wrong.

Some friends. Who, let’s not forget, were feminists.

It’s so common that – sorry if this hurts to hear – there’s a good chance you know somebody who might have raped someone else.

I can believe this, but it is more a reflection of Penny’s social circles and readership than the presence of rapists among menfolk in general.

I didn’t report my rape. It took me months even to understand it as rape. I stopped talking about it, because I was sick of being called a liar, and I got the shut-up message fairly fast. I tried to stop thinking about it.

By whom? Your family? Friends?

But this week brought it all up again.

That was yesterday. And that’s why I’m writing this post now. I’ve actually written it three times, and deleted it twice, and I’ve decided to bite my lip and click ‘publish’, because this vicious drift towards victim-blaming must stop. It’s not about Julian Assange, not really, not any more.

No Penny, it’s about you. Only it’s inadvertently about your appalling judgement, both then and now. Not in a way that implies you shouldn’t have gone to bed with him or led him on or that you deserved it. Not at all. Just that you should never have even met him in the first place, let alone admired him, and nor should you have entered a social circle of people who allow this sort of thing to happen and then blame you afterwards.

Had Penny wanted to write an article about her experiences, she could have listed the reasons why she, being young an impressionable, fell into this circle and made contact with these people and how she could have done with some sensible advice at the time. That may have been of some use to any young woman – and there will be many – who finds themselves in a similar situation of falling in with rather unpleasant older women who appear to share their values yet who consort with rapists. But that would require challenging her deep beliefs surrounding the nature of modern-day feminism and wouldn’t supply an opportunity to score political points and insinuate that every third male is a rapist.

I write this partly because the damage these so-called feminists do to impressionable young women is shameful, and twofold: firstly they encourage women to make extremely poor decisions which are very difficult to reverse, and then they deny them the ability to deal with what has happened and move on. Instead they fill their heads with the same garbage that got them into the mess in the first place and encourage them to preach the same poison to the younger generation – as Penny is now doing. Her brand of politically-charged feminism is going to make it more likely impressionable young women get raped because she is presenting ordinary, decent men as rapists and encouraging them to adopt the same misguided attitudes towards sex, friendship, and social interaction that landed her in such trouble. She’s learned something from her experience, but alas she ought to have learned a lot more.

The other reason I write this is because it aligns closely with the main character in my book, based on somebody I knew, who made some appalling decisions as a young and impressionable young woman in the absence of a decent set of friends and competent family members, and – almost a decade later – utterly failed to deal with any of it thanks to surrounding herself with older, radical feminists that encouraged her to embrace the lifestyle further, avoid any self-reflection, and angrily reject criticism.

These people have a lot to answer for.


Reading Between The Lines

Somebody on Twitter trawled through adverts for housemates in the Washington Post and noticed several of them required potential applicants to pass a political test:

I found something profoundly depressing about that advert. Here we have a group of women, most likely with degrees from high-ranking universities, probably all of them right-on feminists and as politically correct as they come, and no doubt enjoying promising careers in the capital. On the surface their lives sound like fun, but the manner in which they go out of their way to say – in an advert – what a fun bunch of gals they are makes me pause. It’s almost like they are trying too hard, as if they think they’re the women from Sex and the City, or something. Note the admission of drinking quantity rather than quality, and singing badly. Oh, the larks!

I’m going to be cruel here and take a stab at the real situation. Here you have three or four absolute bitches, all of whom are backstabbing and scheming their way to senior management positions overseeing process-driven functions in pointless organisations that are solely dependent on government largesse. If they don’t already, each will fit the description of “power skirt” in a few years and will introduce policies which ultimately cost their employers a lot of money and get awards for doing so. They’ll all be middle or upper class but will think they are down wiv the masses because they voted for Hillary, and will never have met a Trump supporter in their lives save for the well-built, handsome lawyer one of them fucked one Friday night after a drunken cocktail party. She thought he was very arrogant and “it could never have worked” but she didn’t shut up about him for the next three months.

They are earning good money but the prices in DC mean they have to houseshare, which none of them will actually like but they are pretending to. As soon as they can afford it they’ll move out and rent an overpriced hovel where they’ll live alone. And that is likely how they’ll stay for their entire lives, unless you include the cats they’ll purchase for company when they pass forty. For my guess is right now they are “concentrating on their careers” and in the few hours they’re not working they are engaging in pointless political posturing (e.g. by joining the seemingly endless stream of protest marches that take place in their city), getting drunk, and generally behaving in a way that will put off any half-decent man of husband material. As I said here, most men settle down with the woman they will eventually marry in their late twenties, usually with women a couple of years younger than they are, i.e. in their mid-twenties. Any woman who thinks she’s going to start looking for decent husband material in her thirties is in for a rather rude awakening as she discovers almost all of it has been taken already by women who got their priorities straight early on.

I’d bet that none of the women referred to in that advert has a steady boyfriend that they’ll still be with in five years time, and right now they believe they can have it all: the career, the social life, and – later – the rich husband and the family. Or maybe not: perhaps I’m completely wrong about all of this.

But what I would do if I were thinking of renting that spare room is to find out why it is suddenly available, get in touch with the person that vacated it, and ask them what it was like living in that household. Take a notepad, because I reckon there would be enough material for an entire book.


Sexist Language in Performance Reviews

Early in March I wrote a post on the future for men in a corporate world which often appears only interested in attracting and promoting women. In it I said:

Where you don’t find as many women is in the technical and production side of a business, i.e. the bit that makes the company money. In other words, women prevail in the support services and men tend to dominate the departments which create the product that brings in the revenue.

The main difference between the production side and support services is that the former is very much goal-driven, while the latter is process-driven. Modern corporations have reached the point that huge swathes of their organisation, perhaps even most of it, is taken up by processes: ensuring various bureaucratic steps are followed to the letter with the involvement of myriad people and with maximum discussion, with the outcome being of secondary importance. It is these areas, particularly in relation to subjects such as HR and financial and legal compliance, that have driven the growth of corporation headcounts in recent years. Meanwhile it is the goal-driven parts of the business, where the process is important but nevertheless very much secondary to achieving a set outcome, which has seen headcounts reduced as automation, outsourcing, and efficiency improvements have been applied.

In short, the percentage of employees engaged in process-driven activities (compliance, HR, legal, finance, general services, etc.) has increased relative to those engaged in goal-driven activities (sales, production, maintenance, etc.) This brings me onto this article in the BBC on hidden sexist language in the workplace that contains this passage:

In performance reviews, women tend to receive feedback that’s vague (“you had a great year” for example) or sexist, such as a disproportionate amount of comments on communication style, while men get clearer feedback about specific skills related to actual job performance.

Of course you wouldn’t expect somebody at the BBC to consider this, but could it be different language is used for women during their appraisals because their objectives are so much more difficult to define, working as they do in process-driven positions? Perhaps men tend to get clearer feedback on specific skills related to actual job performance because they are working in roles where performance can be measured, i.e. in goal-driven roles. When setting employee objectives, managers in modern corporations have been advised to use the SMART acronym: Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, Time-related.

It’s easy to see how this would apply to objectives related to positions in production or maintenance, and especially sales. But for process-driven roles? I bet half the people in the support services couldn’t come up with a single objective that was measurable. How do you give somebody working in a diversity or HR department a SMART objective that doesn’t break down into vague, woolly guff or contain the words “managed to avoid a lawsuit”? An employee in charge of maintenance will be given an objective of 95% uptime on the piece of machinery under their supervision, and come the appraisal will be told:

“Well done, you kept the damned thing running! Your intervention during that unplanned shutdown that occurred at 4am that wet, November night was particularly impressive, as you’d arranged for spares to be kept on hand for just that eventuality.”

But what do you tell somebody who is working in the travel department?

“Yeah, erm…I see you managed to process one stage of the paperwork involved with the booking of hotels and you checked the concerned employee obtained the correct signatures each time, and when he didn’t you sent it back. Oh, and also you were quick to inform that other employee when he was trying to book into a hotel that was conveniently located but, alas, not on our approved list. Erm, well done.”

Or the diversity department:

“Right, I see you have sent out an email informing everybody that it is International Women’s Day. Yes, good. Well done. And your participation in the meeting about which ratio of Africans to Asians we should have on the front of our annual report was appreciated, although perhaps next time don’t point out so loudly that the people in the photo don’t actually work for us and we bought the image from a PR firm.”

Faced with carrying out an appraisal for somebody in a process-driven position with a vague, woolly job description which makes setting SMART objectives extremely difficult, is it any wonder managers simply say “you had a great year” instead of going into details of what they have actually achieved?

I suspect this supposed language disparity between the performance reviews of men and women is less about sexism and more reflective of the sorts of job each sex is employed in. A good way to test this theory would be to look at how women doing the same jobs as men are spoken to in appraisals, and probably the best place to do this would be in sales and marketing departments: they are very much goal-driven and are chock-full of women.

The next step would be to find those employees to whom vague feedback has been given and ask their managers to set some SMART objectives. If they struggle to do so then the employees should be fired along with the managers because they shouldn’t even be there in the first place.