Stalking – the myth and the reality
There are various accusations of stalking made against me recorded on the pages of this site, from scherfig, MontanaWildhack, MrsBurnout and others. The delicious irony of Montana’s accusation is that she has hosted a site displaying 400 plus comments about me and which quite rightly in the interests of free speech she’s allowed to remain. These were all on public display before I posted a single comment there. Many of them were the kinds of juvenilia you’d expect from a bunch of immature teenagers, some were vicious slurs and libels; others were threats of personal violence. Hardly any addressed the posts I’d made on CiF threads, a sufficient number of which attracted support and agreement from some of CiF’s most respected commenters. Most were straight abuse.
Recently, the accusation of stalking has almost replaced “ad hom” as the means whereby some posters attempt to deflect an argument to which they have no response. On the You Tell Us thread of CiF it is used as a one of the means of driving away those posters who don’t fit in with the regulars.
Chief among these accusers are CiF’s resident barrister BeautifulBurnout and her acolytes, many of whom repeat the accusation like a religious mantra, despite most of them having examined little or none of the supposed evidence. And indeed how could they, as only I and presumably the Guardian’s servers hold an almost complete record of my posting history. (Since writing this the Guardian has changed and my post are once more accessible) So amyone genuinely seeking evidence knows where to find it.
So what is the reality, rather than the myth of this accusation? To what extent is BeautifulBurnout a willing participant in the cut and thrust of online debate and discussion and to what extent is she a victim of stalking? To what extent was she the originator of the dispute I have with certain posters, including her and to what extent did she, sometime after it started, willingly join the likes of Ally Fogg, Hank Scorpio, Jay Reilly, Montana Wildhack, Fencewalker, etc. etc
The Historical Record
I started posting on CiF in April / May 2006. Then CiF was a markedly different place to what it has become and looking back at the responses I and others got in those early days, with a few exceptions, of which HankScorpio was one, the civility and politeness was quite remarkable. Along with others I posted thoughtful and considered comments and like them got the odd recognition from ATL writers, like here from Polly Toynbee, and here in the late Georgina Henry’s opening remarks of Comment is Fruitful on the first anniversary of CiF.
“It’s just an impression but we think that now Cif is a year old, commenters, as well as bloggers, are improving their techniques. Some of you appear to understand that a witty put-down works better than personal insults, as Bitethehand demonstrated in Marcel Berlins’ blog. Marcel wants us to stop arresting graffiti artists – or at least those who show artistic merit.
“Perhaps Marcel Berlins would post his address, so some of his artistic friends could come round and paint his walls,” Bitethehand suggested. Good idea or not, Marcel?”
Over the first three years I had a few run ins with among others, mikeangelo, Inyat Bungalwala, MrPikeBishop, Cath Elliott, (over freedom of speech), JeremyJames, hackettlad and Rosa Davis, AllyFogg, JayReilly, etc. My comments at least were all polite and civilised and well researched.
JayReilly and AllyFogg
Some have accused me of stalking both Jay and Ally, although to my knowldge it’s not a complaint either has made and not surprisingly. In 2007 I made just one comment on an Ally Fogg article and just four in 2008. Since 2009 I have regularly crossed swords with Ally and to a lesser extent Jay, but none of the parties has suffered even minor wounds. I supported JayReilly‘s reinstatement after he was banned for consistently abusing the moderators.
On 29 January 2009 Cath Elliott wrote an ATL article – Beware the anti-feminists in which AllyFogg, addressing Cath, was taken to task for one of his classic male put downs, “I’m not telling her what she should be doing, I’m telling her what she should be thinking”. . And within 11 minutes Jay Reilly had strode to the defence of Mr Fogg and set the pattern of exchanges between me and them for the rest of the year and beyond. And it was the first time that AllyF pronounced that he wanted to stand four square with both the pro and anti-feminist lobbies, something I and others felt was just a bit too close to courting popularity.
By the time BeautifulBurnout first posted on CiF on 9 April 2008 at 6:07pm I’d been posting for almost two years and it would be many months until our paths crossed. Her first response to a post of mine on Flying while brown was 3 January 2009 and mine to one of hers on Nick Griffin in Europe? Not likely on 1 February 2009, almost 9 months after she first appeared.
Both comments were largely supportive of the other’s point of view. This latter thread was the one where HankScorpio posted that classic paean of his – “Or in fact Kinnock, who was a genuinely principled guy”.
Montana Widlhack sets up The Untrusted site
So up to and including this point there had been no recorded animosity between me and BeautifulBurnout and precious little with Ally Fogg and Jay Reilly or anyone else. Then in March shortly after Montana Wildhack set up The Untrusted site, there was a combined effort by its inhabitants and supporters to scapegoat and bully a long standing feminist poster, the indomitable Ultimathule. And this was when the conflict between me and The Untrusted really started.
Towards the middle of March 2009 there were three articles in which sarka, pricesschipchops, Ultimathule and I, among others, pitted our efforts against the male chauvinist, fathers4justice and whatabouthtemenz brigade who saw feminism as a threat to their very existence.
Vulnerable women are still being failed – by Joan Smith, about the Labour Government’s consultation to tackle the multi-faceted problems of violence against women.
Call a truce in the war of the sexes – by Ally Fogg, – an attempt to dismiss the Labour Government’s consultation on the unique problems faced by women who suffer violence from men and to suggest that women were wrong to campaign for themselves, without also campaigning for men.
Soft on rape, soft on the causes of rape – by Joan Smith, on police failures in handling and responding to complaints against serial rapist John Warboys.
I made and received 180 posts and reponses on these three threads and these included compliments and support from among others:
BeautifulBurnout’s contribution to these three articles was first to ignore the masses of evidence about violence against women, particularly the way the women who complained to the police about London taxi driver JohnWarboys were treated, and instead effectively to state that her personal experience trumped everything.
She went on largely to ignore the way the police investigated many women’s complaints and to state “that the police are very often the defendant’s friend”. This on an article about way the serial rapist John Warboys was treated, showed complacency bordering on the breath taking.
And then having ignored the essence of Joan Smith’s article, she presumed to lecture Ultimatule on the particulars of the English legal system as if this somehow excused the police’s lack of action which resulted in a violent rapists being free to repeat his crimes.
This lack of critical analysis of the police was to reappear in her own ATL article about which I shall deal with later.
On the Warboys thread Ultimathule had largely fought a lone battle against the baying mob during which MontanaWildhack, scherfig and others, demanded that I join their mob. I responded:
“You are not going to get me to condemn a fellow poster, Ultimathule, who largely has stood alone against an onslaught of ill informed, comments. She has been called a hypocrite, unhinged, horrible, ignorant, stupid, not the voice of reason, rabid, (along with me) inflammatory and unbalanced. You won’t get me to join those posters however much you protest and neither will I give them the satisfaction of going away feeling they can use me as an alibi for their own rudeness and inaccuracy.
Rudeness and inaccuracy like this comment from OneInTen mid way down my comment to BeautifulBurnout:
“Ultimahule – you are a fucking disgrace. A fantasist, hypocritical, blinkered moron spouting bile and acting like your retarded opinions make you superior to everyone on here. Everyone who doesn’t agree with you, of course. it’s like a little club of psychos hanging out, talking SHITE and then congratulating each other. you make me fucking sick.”
This then is the background to the ongoing dispute I have with the Untrusted and will continue with, and how BeautifulBurnout, a rather late arrival, came to be involved at a later date.
Follow Up 5 May 2012
In researching this article on digital Stalking I came across this article by the current Home Secretary, Theresa May.
“So it was this week with Jacqui Smith’s summit on violence against women, at which Sandra Horley, the respected chief executive of Refuge, failed to stick to the script and instead rightly criticised the home secretary for resorting to “gimmicks”. ”
Mrs May’s article attracted only 50 comments of which mine was:
Once again we have an article about violence against women which, prompted by the heading, has descended almost exclusively into another debate about domestic violence. I am in no way trying to diminish the importance of ridding our society of domestic violence, nor to prevent it being discussed, but both the headline of this article and the writer herself have concentrated on this single aspect to the exclusion of the others. Theresa May’s own Policy document to which she refers states:
The forms that violence against women take are varied and, at times, overlapping. They include: domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, stalking, trafficking, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and so-called ‘honour-based violence. While each of these forms of violence have different characteristics, they all exclusively or disproportionately affect women.
Already on this thread we have the usual suspects crying that the men have been forgotten. And while they may be right to point to an increase of female on male domestic violence, other aspects of violence covered in both the government’s and the Conservative’s papers, are almost exclusively aspects of violence against women.
So if there’s male genital mutilation being carried out, please let us know about it.
If male rape and sexual assault is being wilfully ignored by the police and the authorities, likewise. If men and boys are being forced against their will to marry much older women with whom they have no desire to spend the rest of their lives likewise.
If men are being burnt alive and slayed in other ways because they’ve dishonoured their families by associating with girls and women from another religion, let alone proposing to marry them, likewise.
If there are parents who are increasingly disturbed about the impact of the availability of male based pornography, male nudity and sexuality in advertising and marketing, and young boys being stalked and groomed as potential subjects of sexual gratification by older women, likewise.
Please would the men, and they are largely men who claim they’re hard done by do two things. First would they look at the whole picture rather than just one part of it? Secondly, if as they claim, and they have produced some evidence to back this up, that there has been an increase recently in the amount of female domestic violence, would they start to address the question of why this might be happening?
To which Simon1968 responded:
Bitethehand – I ENTIRELY agree with you. As usual on these sort of discussions most people jump on a band wagon and use it as evidence of women bashing men. Get a grip – Theresa May’s article and the Conservative’s paper (did anyone actually bother to go through the link and read it?) deals with all aspects of violence against women and DOES acknowledge violence against men but explains that the paper is not going to deal with it.
The most significant thing is the promise to guarantee funding for three year cycles. Giving voluntary groups a bit of stability will do more to help their clients than anything else.
And princesschipchops responded:
bitethehand Okay I was not going to get involved with this debate again because it is an exercise in futility but when you mentioned Theresa May on the other thread I just had to have a look at what she was saying. Then of course I read the comments and nearly put my head through my computer – until I saw your wonderful comment.
So well put. But I doubt any of the usual crowd will want to debate with you about the more complex issues you post. On the previous thread AllyF commented that because there is not absolute evidence linking porn and violence to women (actually there is plenty of evidence but there is also evidence arguing the opposite so I think what AllyF actually means is there is no absolute consensus) then we should not be ‘diverted’ to discussing porn. My own instincts would be that if girls are increasingly being groomed, flashed at, touched, upskirted etc and as things such as upskirting are practically pushed as a ‘good thing’ by the likes of the Sport then we should have a debate on this.
AngryGranny Excellent post and well said. I know of many women who have been treated appallingly by men but say that and you are a rampant feminist.
I am NOT a feminist – in the sense I think these men mean and I am sick of them calling me or any woman who dares to suggest that life is not an even playing field such. I was even called a feminazi on another thread recently.
Well okay – this is my own personal experience. I never studied feminism or sociology or any of the ‘touchy feely’ subjects I imagine some of these angry men would imagine I did. My degree was in business. When I was 18 I read Andrea Dworkin (a mate gave it to me and said it was excellent) and I didn’t agree with her one bit. I then went and worked abroad for four years as a dancer, promotions girl and model (not a stripper – a dancer). I danced on a podium in a dance club in Athens – there were four women and four men and we wore ‘ravey’ (shudders to remember it) clothes (hardy the career path of a hardened ‘feminazi’). The men never got harassed – the women did. Gay men did not touch up the male dancers – straight men thought it perfectly okay to cop a feel of me whenever I went to the bar for a drink. Of course they were cowards because it was crowded and you could not tell who had just pinched your arse. I am not saying this for sympathy (so dont come on here and tell me I was a big girl and could have left) I was an adult and I left that job after a few months, but it highlight the differences. I then met a Greek man anyway and stayed with him for the remaining three years and just did some modelling and promo stuff and in the summer worked in his bars and restaraunts on the islands. Came back to the UK and did some odd jobs. Then I went to work in finance. I got promoted quickly and was soon earning lots of money, life should have been good but this was where i really realized how sexist the world still was. You see some guy pinching my arse when I had been dancing – whatever – it went with the territory, so I left the territory.
In finance though I should have been treated as equal to my other colleagues but i was not:- a male colleague told me i needed a good raping because I disagreed with him (he used the rape word too not f***). Men heckling me when I doing training, making comments about my legs etc (was wearing a knee length biz suit at the time). Men propositioning me and touching me. At a conference another consultant barged his way into my room (thank god my friend was there) it took us fifteen minutes to get him out! Another man once tried to push me against a wall and kiss me. One day in the office my BOSS was arguing with another consultant – asked me to join in. I make jokey reply that i am ‘neutral like Switzerland’. Boss replies ‘yeah you have a great mountain range too’. I could go on. It happened to most of my female colleagues too.
Then I went into lecturing -business development etc – as a lecturer I was shocked to hear supposedly caring ‘left wing types’ talking about female students in a very worrying manner in the staff room.
As a child I have been flashed at, encouraged to ‘go with’ a man etc. I could go on. Nearly all my friends are married – they are pretty cool women if i do say, they do not hate men at all. One is a part time model still and works in finance (she gets too much hassle!) – some are mums, most work. They have all had at least one horrid experience. And I do not even count such ‘little’ things as being pinched, poked, leered at, insulted etc. An attractive man walking down the street would not get calls, whistles, leers etc. It happens to attractive women all the time.
So when you men on here can say that you have experienced throughout your life the kind of crap that most women get on a regular basis then please do let me know. We do not have equality at all. Women are not equal to men still in this society.
Thereas May ended her article:
If they do not act in time then the Conservatives are ready to take the right action to work towards a society in which no woman has to live in fear of violence.
This week Dentist Dr Omar Sheikh Mohamed Addow, 55, and Dr Ali Mao-Aweys, a 61 year-old GP, were being questioned following the series of raids on addresses in Birmingham. West Midlands Police said the pair were held over claims that the illegal procedure, known as FGM, was being offered for money throughout the city.
Police declined to “confirm or deny” the pair’s identity, but the arrests come a fortnight after they were named by the Sunday Times, which had conducted an undercover investigation into the allegations.
Follow Up 25 February 2013
There were a number of links in this article to posts made by BeautifulBurnout. However in an act of censorship vandalism, at her request, the Guardian has removed both her individual profile and all the thousands of posts she made over a period of almost five years,, including of course those referenced in this article.
First published Published on April 15 2012