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By Jason Michael
Feminism is doing something wrong when it finds itself working to protect people in power from public scrutiny because they are women.
There’s nothing funny about middle age. Other than all the bodily MOT issues that arise with increasing regularity, it seems to be a fairly universal experience that more and more things – things we batted off as nonsense and bonkers in our 20s and 30s – manage to get right under our skin. Social media does nothing to alleviate the symptoms of this complaint. It only makes them worse; so much so that the blood spot on the wall next to my laptop has developed into a gory head-shaped indentation. Being on Twitter and Facebook is putting people like me at serious risk of developing permanent, self-inflicted, head injuries.
Before I get stuck into today’s grumble a preamble of sorts is sorely needed. When I say that I am not a “feminist” I do not mean that I am an anti-feminist, that I am against the absolute and unfettered equality of women in every part of our society, or that I am not prepared to fight for the rights of women when they are denied. What I mean is that I am not prepared to give much time to the fashionable hyperbolic screaming of loony-leftist identitarian insanity that has in recent years attached itself to the left in general and to feminism in particular.
At lunchtime today, a man followed me through the streets, shouting Indy slogans at me while filming me, as his dog… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonMSP) May 25, 2018
Last week, as many on Scottish social media now know, the leader of the Scottish unionist party, Ruth Davidson, tweeted that she had been the victim of what she portrayed as a harrowing misogynistic attack. She wrote: “a man followed me through the streets, shouting Indy slogans at me while filming me, as his dogs barked. 2014, ’tis as if you never left…” On the face of it this reads like the most awful abuse, all the more disturbing in the knowledge that Ms Davidson is an expectant mother.
Things get murky, however, when we consider that “Truthless Ruth” has made something of a name for herself for being, well, an utter liar – especially when it comes to scoring political points. That she twice references her assailant’s politics in her report of the incident should have most of us hearing a call of ‘Wolf!” or – in this case – “Burly Blokes!”
It transpires, of course, that we were right to withhold our judgement. The event was witnessed by former SNP MP Michelle Thomson. She said that there indeed was a man with three dogs who put it to Ms Davidson that 90,000 people marching on Glasgow for independence was surely grounds for another independence referendum. More than this, the quizzer in question took the trouble to film what happened, and it wasn’t long before this was being shared on social media. His dogs don’t appear in the video and they didn’t bark at all. The chap was perfectly polite, he never did anything we wouldn’t expect from a journalist, and the best Davidson could give him in response to a perfectly reasonable question was: “You’re following pregnant ladies around the street videoing them?!”
aʟi (@The45Storm) May 26, 2018
By saying this she was attempting to reframe what was actually happening; a constituent asking a politician a fair question, as a form of sexual harassment – a grotty guy with a fetish for pregnant women following and filming them. The question we are forced to ask here is: Is this the level of engagement we are to put up with from our elected representatives; hiding behind their gender and their pregnancies to avoid answering questions? If this is where we are in our public political discourse, then we are in a truly bad place.
Having seen the video, however, Women for Independence decided to come to Ruth Davidson’s defence. In fairness, what they had to say was a fair point – if we are to forget that Davidson is a public figure, a politician, and the leader of her party: “[It] matters not what was spoken. It’s abuse to follow any woman down a road unexpectedly, demand her attention and film her.”
Coming from the position that claims women are uniquely delicate and female politicians incapable of engaging with male members of the general public, we can accept this criticism. Yeah, we may think it a complete load of tosh, but this is where Woman for Independence – at least on Twitter – is coming from, and they are fairly consistent. Fair enough. What had me banging my head on the wall like a demented polar bear at the zoo in a heatwave were the hashtags that followed: “#JoCox” and “#VAW.”
WomenForIndependence (@WomenForIndy) May 26, 2018
Jo Cox was the victim of a vicious and barbaric violent assault on the streets of her constituency in northern England during the Brexit campaign. She was hacked to death in public by a man whose mind was twisted by hatred and racism. No doubt she was targeted because she was a woman. I for one have no problem believing this. She was the victim of a hate crime and a cruel act of real political violence – and violence against women. Using her death as a political tool to forward a “feminist” agenda and silence reasonable political dissent in Scotland is vile. Women for Independence does a fantastic job, this is a wonderful organisation and a real credit to the independence movement, but – really – someone ought to have a word with the social media team. This was putrid.
I had to look up “#VAW,” but I should’ve guessed. It’s the acronym for “Violence Against Women.” Somewhere between the heckling, robust street politics of my youth and now a man asking a female politician a polite question on the street has become an act of violence. Sadly, like so many who’ll be reading this, I have witnessed violence. I have witnessed domestic violence and violence against women. I have seen with my own eyes the physical and mental abuse of woman by men and I have witnessed the effects of sexual violence. Calling this an act of violence – even violence against a woman – is nothing but an insult to the many victims of real violence. We all heard Ruth trying to twist what was happening into something sleazy in an attempt to shame him into silence. We all saw what was going on. We all know where the violence was here.
Sooner or later we have to call time on this new school pathetic politics of identity. Ruth Davidson is a politician, and as such she has given up her right not to be approached in public by voters. The public nature of debate and accountability is an inseparable feature of real democracy, and what we are seeing now is the construction of a trench system of excuses based on sex, gender, and other irrelevances designed to protect people in positions of power from exposure and accountability. Whatever the hell this is, it is not equality. It has more in common with cowardice.
The Gender Pay Gap