Saturday, 28 October 2017

On Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, Supply & Demand, Feminism & A Quote To Die For!!

The Harvey Weinsteins of this world may be grubby sexual opportunists, but the people calling for his head on a platter need to understand the landscape on which the likes of Harvey Weinstein operate. Not that that's any excuse for his behaviour (obviously!!) - but it does have a context, and it's a context that the people that become his victims help facilitate.

The way I usually summarise these situations is like this: When demand astronomically outweighs supply in a winner takes all market, the ground is fertile for manipulation and coercion. And that's what we are seeing here.

When consumers wanted to fill their tanks during the petrol crisis, some garages took advantage with higher prices, ditto water sellers after hurricanes hit America. When there is exceedingly high demand in a situation with very limited supply, the suppliers can have excessive power over the consumer, because power lies in the hands of those with a scarce resource in high demand.

Take any institution in which wannabe celebrities court fame - Hollywood, The X Factor, even the BBC -  and you will find my formula (demand astronomically outweighs supply in a winner takes all market) is highly prominent. Supply and demand are in extreme disequilibrium on Hollywood's yellow brick road, which means the power is skewed in favour of people like Harvey Weinstein, and heavily skewed against people wishing to carve out a career in Hollywood, and who may make themselves vulnerable if they think it will give them a leg up (pun intended).

Aspiring stars in a winner takes all market already have to fight hard to get on the ladder to stardom: usually their career begins with long hours, low pay, fringe roles and susceptibility to manipulation and coercion that wouldn't occur to anything like the same extent in other industries.

Just like how readers have to take a smidgen of responsibility for what the gutter press releases in its newspapers, would-be celebrities should be mindful that obsessive courting of wealth and fame makes them susceptible to the thrall of powerful people who will capitalise on those hopes and dreams (this does not exculpate the perpetrators {obviously!!}, but it's true that some crimes have a wider context that should be explored*).

What about the #MeToo gesture?
Here's the thing. On October 17th I made a prediction - I warned that genuine sufferers of abuse may end up being washed into similitude by floods of socially-conformist #MeToo gestures - and that is precisely what happened, I'm sorry to say.

But naturally, that isn't all that has happened - and despite some inevitable protestations to the contrary, I never said otherwise (again, obviously!! Who would?) The positive side of #MeToo is that it hopefully helped a lot of women who've been abused - to be reached out to by friends and family that otherwise might not have known, and to be supported in issues they may now feel more comfortable confronting.

Yet, alas, it also created a platform for the misandrous wing of feminism to spew out some pretty unpleasant things - and that is what I also warned against - that scores of socially awkward and intellectually inept women would take to their keyboards to paint a far too bleak picture of men, and hard-sell a worldview of women as being little more than pathetic victims in a harsh, patriarchal watered down version of The Handmaid's Tale.

To me, and I'm pleased to say, to quite a few women I know who are with me on this (pugnacious feminism is, thankfully, a minority level phenomenon), this radically departs from the well-worn wisdom that the best way to achieve progress for women and men is to be conjoined in striving for progress for both sexes, not in pitting one sex against the other in completely erroneous pursuits (like this one).

There are loads of examples I could pick, but as a couple of Facebook friends shared it, let's go with this one by a feminist called Jeni Harvey who writes a charming little piece in which she refers to people who don't agree with her as 'pus gatherers'. She divides these 'pus gatherers' into three categories, with each of her categories being as myopic as it is charmless:

1) First is blanket denial, whereby men and their cheerleaders deny that sexual abuse on such a massive scale exists at all. Women are fanciful, lying, exaggerating for effect. There is a bandwagon onto which women are joyfully leaping in an attempt to malign men and revel in their perceived victimhood.

Er…yes, damn right - we are denying that in the UK sexual abuse exists on a massive scale. It does not. Several things are getting erroneously conflated here. Of course we are all too painfully aware that every instance of sexual abuse is one instance too much - and we will always fight against it (I've done so myself in the past), but the vast majority of men are not sexual abusers, and it's a lie to say otherwise.

And on the second point, again, yes, damn right, there is a bandwagon onto which some women are joyfully leaping in an attempt to malign men and revel in their perceived victimhood. Once again, if Jeni Harvey is oblivious to this, she is ultra-selective in how she views reality.

2) Second, we have the more modern form of denial which concedes that yes, sexual abuse is a common problem, although not a gendered one. There are simply some people that abuse other people and all abuse is equally bad. The inconvenient and statistical truth that 98% of all sexual crime is committed by men, and that the overwhelming majority of their victims are female, can be pasted over with obfuscation and the politics of individualism.

This still skews the reality somewhat, and misses the point in doing so. Even if 98% of all sexual crime is committed by men, and even if the overwhelming majority of their victims are female, this still compromises a relatively small proportion of the population. Again, that doesn't trivialise all the dreadful instances of abuse that do go on, but to pretend this is a problem that indicts most men is a lie.

Moreover, even if we move away from sexual abuse onto other things that social justice warriors like to bemoan - like sexism and racism - you'll find this is greatly exaggerated.

If racism is accurately defined as:

"Unfair and unkind prejudice against someone based only on ethnicity or skin colour"

And if sexism is accurately defined as:

"Unfair and unkind prejudice against someone based only on their sex"

Then there is very little racism or sexism in the UK. Almost all prejudices (both fair and rational, and unfair and irrational) are not intrinsically about sex or ethnicity, they are about the distal factors associated with those things. I think despite all the bellowing out there, it is fairly obvious that actual racism and sexism is very miniscule in the UK.

By the way, don't be tempted to lump Internet abuse into neatly demarcated categories like sexism and racism, even when it looks very much like that is what it is. Most Internet abuse is driven from another place - a place of immature anonymity which takes the personhood out of communication. Face to face, most of these online trolls wouldn't act like as they do - social media is a mask behind which many insecure people spew out their bile because, like the experiments of Millgram and Zimbardo, they can do so under a different, morally less-culpable, persona.

3) Lastly, we have the outraged hyperbole. The shock! The fury! Whoever could have imagined such horrifying evil existed in the world?!

Oh do stop it! Look, those men that abuse women are awful, but most men would stand right behind you in a direct challenge to abuse. Men in general have done so much for women (and women for men) - men have gone to war to defend the household and toiled and sweated in hard industry to provide for their families. They do not deserve this level of misandry - and if the signposts were reversed, women would rightly be calling out misogyny.
"Do they seek to ameliorate or weaponise suffering? If it's the latter, they're fakes"

Melting socialist snowflakes
One final point and I'm done. It's no coincidence that most of the belligerent feminists that feed off female insecurity are also statist socialists who rather resemble conspiracy theorists in their distrust of markets, competition and the individual ability to act according to liberty and the free exchange of opinions and ideas.  

And I'm afraid that this is the triune responsibility of their parents, the education system and the media - all of which play their part in leaving young people thoroughly ill-equipped to deal with the society into which they will grow. Many are corralled inside a gilded cage of paranoia, and are imbued with a spirit that gravitationally pulls them towards safe spaces and an inability to encounter views and opinions that radically depart from their own.

This gets sold as society being more tolerant, sensitive and understanding - but if only that were true - it is a small subsection of society being selectively tolerant, sensitive and understanding towards views they agree with, and radically intolerant and dismissive of contra-opinions and afraid to have their ideas challenged. They are putting up walls for wallflowers, and this is a sure-fire route to an exaggerated perceived victimhood that convinces itself to look for offence, unfairness and injustice when it isn't there.

An analogy for the harm it does - when a child falls over and grazes their knee, if a parent fusses with 'Oh diddums' they will start to become cry babies every time they fall over. If a parent says 'Now come on, up you get, it's only a fall' they will habitually start to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and move along. 

The biggest amnesia from which the young need to be rescued is the one whereby they have forgotten that it's the free exchange of opinions and ideas that breeds the highest levels of tolerance, progression and clarity of facts and truths.  

I am going to close with an awesome statement I read the other day from someone called Kristina Blount Guyban. I don't mind admitting it brought the vapour of a tear to my eye:

"We will not sit back and watch our husbands and sons be disrespected by women who don't know them because they are men.

We will not sit back and watch our husbands and sons be lumped into the same category as disgusting and depraved men.

We will not sit back and allow the world to become a place that is hostile to our growing sons just because they are men.

We will not allow our husbands' masculinity and manhood be dragged through the mud because some women think all men are worthless.

We will not sit back and watch our hard working husbands sacrifice blood sweat and tears for our families only to have their earnings taxed to pay for things that are against their values.

We will not sit back and watch the legacies our husbands are building be torn down. This is our proclamation: some say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, we say hell hath no fury like a woman defending her husband.

We're not here to oppress you. We are here to defend our men. Don't underestimate us. We are smart, we are brave."
Kristina Blount Guyban

Amen! And I reciprocate that wholeheartedly to all women out there, and, of course, men too!!

 * We've been here before with feminists getting the wrong end of the stick about an argument - Arguing With Feminists About Rape