Life doesn’t get much better than discovering you’ve been misrepresented by a prominent Gender Feminist journalist. Being (incorrectly) branded a liar – twice – by Julie Bindel in the course of my talk in the recent debate at Durham University is something I shall 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 on 25 March:
I met Ms Penny sometime around Xmas. She contacted me seeking an interview for a New Statesman piece, while I happened to be staying with friends in London. When we met, I proffered my hand to shake hers and she visibly flinched, as she had on the previous occasion I’d met her, when she’d sat next to me on a bench at Covent Garden underground station. At first I mistook her for another feminist ray of sunshine, Kat Banyard.
Ms Penny and I had a coffee – she paid, I didn’t offer to pay, lest I be accused 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 that day because I’d stayed the previous evening at a friend’s place in London, and was due to spend the next evening at another friend’s place in London.
The interview lasted for about an hour. We covered a lot of ground, and Ms Penny recorded the discussion. The only reason for relating these mind-numbingly boring facts 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 does this ‘journalist’ get wrong in just one paragraph?
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 simply 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 my work as a business consultant.
Far more important than such matters, however – and what has the fact that the coffee shop she chose was “nondescript” got to do with anything? – is Laurie Penny’s conflation in the article of “white” with “men’” It seeks to portray advocates of men’s human rights as racist, when they’re manifestly not. It’s the favourite tactic of hate-driven gender feminists seeking to divide men. The tactic is both cynical and racist, as well as becoming increasingly ineffective… as are all feminists’ shaming tactics, happily.
I’ve posted Ms Penny a link to my blog piece, and posed her the following public challenge:
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 http://j4mb.wordpress.com/our-public-challenges-to-feminists/.
I shall also be considering legal action on the grounds of defamation, and possibly other grounds.
Have a nice weekend.
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