Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Janice Fiamengo - The Anti-feminist

I'd like to thank Janice Fiamengo​ for her willingness to speak up when silence would surely be convenient, for her intellectual honesty when others advocate delusion, and for her empathy when it would be acceptable not to give a damn.



We think we have outgrown prejudice, but we have not. We just can't see it in our time. All prejudice is culturally invisible in its day, the time in which it is seen as the acceptable norm, fashionable or even virtuous. The fashion has changed perhaps, but have we? - Andy T

Andy Thomas

Friday, 28 August 2015

May as well be ghosts

In a world where celebrity culture reigns supreme, fashionable consumerism wears a glittering sheen. But in the shadow world of living ghosts, an anguished soul lies in the street but goes unseen. Ghosts are they who occupy space and time, when those who pass perceive only their shadow or a stime. - Andy Thomas

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Peak prosperity is never coming back — Get used to it!

My father worked hard to build a better life for his family, as his own father had done before him, and as many of you do now for your own children. However, we can no longer take it for granted that things will be better tomorrow.

Peak prosperity has already happened. It's been and gone, and it's never coming back. We are now on the downward curve. The future is one of austerity for all but those at the very top.

Here in the UK, the elite, those in the top 1% now own well over half of all wealth in the country [1]. This inequality is not static, but has been gaining momentum since the early 1980s. Things will get worse. Those at the bottom will forced to live in hell so that the fat cats at the top can have all the cream.

But who can we look to?

The Labour Party betrayed all working people when Tony Blair tore up Clause IV to pave the way for more privatisation and ingratiate himself with Rupert Murdoch. What passes for democracy in this country is, in reality, no such thing. It is a theatrical ruse where the masses are given a "voting day", an illusion of democracy in which nothing really changes — politicians are an elite class with identical policies no matter which party they represent.

We live in a system where government and big business have become intertwined — where a revolving door exists between those in office and the executive board rooms of mega corporations. Policies are decided and deals done, not in Westminster, but on the luxury yachts of business moguls.

Like many, I once believed that capitalism was a good thing because it was all about earning an honest wage, so I thought. I believed that the money you spent went to local businesses, who then used it to pay the wages of their staff, and this is how everything worked.

But not any more. I realise now that such thinking was naive — that the real truth is more sinister.

Our country's finances and, indeed, the entire capitalist system is founded on debt. Whenever money is created, it necessitates debt. And whether we borrow money ourselves or not, we are all floating on debt.

The UK national debt has doubled since 2007 — a result of Gordon Brown saving the world, or perhaps more accurately, saving the private banks from themselves. This was a watershed for us all, and each household now pays around £2,000 every year simply to service the interest on this debt [2].

And with every new dose of "quantitative easing", the capitalist-state plunders the savings of the elderly and devalues the wages of the working — for it is working poor who will ultimately pay the debts of the idle rich.

Successive governments have been handing over our national services to private interests since Thatcher. The process of privatising the National Health Service is already under way [3]. Plans have been drawn up for the wholesale privatisation of the education system [4]. In the future, all national services will be in the hands of profiteers — the likes of Group4 and SERCO will run everything. And in this privatised hell, where spikes for homeless are everywhere, the only thing in national ownership will be the debts of the rich.

Socialism is alive and well it seems, but this is socialism for the rich — the rest of us are fed capitalism. And do not doubt that capitalism is slavery — a modern day slavery in which those forced to work long hours for low pay are told that they are free.

Written by
Andy Thomas
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Sources

1. The Guardian
Britain's richest 1% own as much as poorest 55% of population, May 2014
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/may/15/britains-richest-1-percent-own-same-as-bottom-55-population

2. Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_national_debt

3. The Guardian
Privatisation is ripping the NHS from our hands, August 2014
http://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2014/aug/06/privatisation-ripping-nhs-from-our-hands

4. The Independent
Secret memo shows Michael Gove's plan for privatisation of academies, May 2013
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/secret-memo-shows-michael-goves-plan-for-privatisation-of-academies-8488552.html

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Does the Independent's Matthew Champion condone violence against Indian men?

"We can't condone violence." These are the very words that i100 website news editor Matthew Champion uses to introduce his latest article on the Independent's new UK website. In the very same sentence, he describes how "satisfying" it is to see an Indian man being forced to kneel while a woman stamps on his head. "Hurrah!" Champion exclaims in this outstandingly shoddy piece of reporting.

He is writing about a YouTube video shot in Bangalore. A young man, K R Suryaprakash, is pursued down the street and physically attacked by a woman after he allegedly "eve-teased" her—an Indian term used to refer to sexually suggestive behaviour by men toward women.



The term "eve-teasing" is important because it has cultural significance in India and is subject to a drive for cultural change. It is often portrayed positively in Indian cinema as mild teasing and flirtatious courtship. In recent times, there has been a drive to stamp it out and to conflate it with rape and throwing acid at women. Now I do not defend sexual harassment—I think it is unacceptable—but the fact is that the term "eve-teasing" could mean virtually anything. The reality is what Suryaprakash allegedly did or said isn't captured in the video, nor is it even clear what that was.

Nevertheless, Matthew Champion reports his "crime" as fact—he "sexually harassed her," states the title of his article. In the video, however, all we see is Suryaprakash being chased and ordered to kneel in the street by the woman he is accused of harassing, who then stamps on his head after he submissively complies. Personally, I think there's a whole debate to be had here about who's actually being socially disadvantaged in this complex cultural backdrop.

But you know what? Who gives a fuck?

Why should Champion let an inconvenience such as "balanced reporting" get in the way of an opportunity to demonstrate his "real man" credentials? Indeed, why let old-fashioned concepts such as justice and humanity get in the way of the sheer glee of seeing physical and social harm meted out to a young Indian male who is culturally unable to defend himself?

After all, he probably deserves it, right? No need then to consider his account, the cultural context, or even what it is that he is actually accused of? No need for any kind of due process on this one—no one cares about perverts anyway, so fuck him. "Hurrah!"

Is this what passes for reporting nowadays?

After a little searching, I found this less than objective article of the incident in the Bangalore Mirror. For the sheer level of vitriolic prejudice, this article takes some beating. (Perhaps it should serve as a glimpse of things to come for young men in western countries.)

However, it does provide an account by the woman in the video, Veena Ashiya Chindlur. This is what the young man is accused of:

"Around 9.30 a.m., my friend and I were jogging when he [Suryaprakash] made strange noises and eve-teased me. I tried to scare him by running after him. He tried to flee, but I chased him and hit him."

After Chindlur showed the video of her beating the man to the police, Suryaprakash was arrested and charged with "outraging the modesty of a woman" and "intending to insult the modesty of women," both of which are crimes under Indian law. From the above account, therefore, I surmise that he is alleged to have said something or made some gesture.

Let me reverse the genders here so that we can experience how things look the other way around...

As a teenage boy, I recall an incident in which lewd remarks were shouted at me by a group of drunken middle-aged women while I, too, was out jogging. If the genders were reversed, that incident would fall under the loose definition of "eve-teasing." Culturally, males are meant to feel "lucky" when women make sexually suggestive remarks to them. I didn't, and instead felt uncomfortable and kept running. At no point, however, did it occur to me to chase those women down and stamp on their heads.

No, I can't discern what it is that Suryaprakash actually said or did (if anything), and I would bet neither had Matthew Champion before taking to his keyboard. What I do know, however, is what is on display in the video is not justice. Simply because someone feels outrage at another does not and should not give anyone the moral and legal right to chase them down and attack them in the street. Irrespective of whatever he has done wrong, I see a young man with no opportunity to defend himself, no rights, and no one to represent his interests. He is simply painted as sub-human and "othered" by the media.

Moreover, I see people who should know better taking pleasure in watching him being harmed. The concept of "innocence until proven guilty" and the "right to a fair trial" are important human rights—both of which Matthew Champion has denied Suryaprakash.


Written by
Andy Thomas
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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Love's Bitter Rebuke

PART 1

I will always remember my mother's words.

“You'll never forget your first love,” she said as I cried into her arms.

For some months, I had been keeping a terrible secret. My girlfriend, my first girlfriend, had been raped. They didn't just rape her; they broke her nose. A knife was used. She was cut. There were two of them.

Picture Alley Sheedy in The Breakfast Club — well, that was Louise. Her soft Irish accent, long black hair and scruffy oversized jumpers made me love her with all my heart.

We were both seventeen years old and still at school.

Louise had met my mother just once, but things hadn't gone well at all. My mother had ignored her and when she had left, she pronounced caustically that Louise looked like she had “come off a council estate*,” and that I was never to bring her to the house again.

I never understood my mother's snobbery. So much of my mother's behaviour left me terribly confused. In any case, her prejudice was unfounded — Louise was actually from a wealthy Irish family who lived in the expensive part of town. They were also puritanically Catholic. If anything, I had assumed that my mother would approve.

I had a part-time job at the time pushing trolleys around a local supermarket car park, and it provided me with just enough money to run a rusty old Datsun. At weekends I used to heap body filler into the gaping holes around the bodywork, and slap on some industrial paint in the hope that it would stop it rusting to death. In the evenings, I would drive it around to Louise's place and we'd cruise around and find a quiet spot to park up.

There, we'd kiss, engage in foreplay and lie in each other's arms while we talked.

It was during these moments that she told me about what happened to her only a few months before we had met, and she swore me to secrecy. The fact that I betrayed her to my own mother has haunted me most of my adult life (it is only relatively recently that I have come to a realistic reconciliation with the past).

“You'll never forget your first love,” is what my mother said when I told her.

“What do you mean?” I replied, confused. “It's not over.”

At that point, my mother stepped back from me, her face turning cold. Then after a moment or two she spat, “Get lost!” before turning her back and walking from the room. Those words were a typical retort my mother used, but nevertheless I was left standing there, shocked, confused, hurting desperately and so utterly lost.

Over the coming months my mother conducted, what I now consider to be, an “emotional war” in order to get her way. Drunk on gin, she would accuse me bitterly of “killing her,” and threatened suicide unless I would agree never to see Louise again.

“You're destroying me,” she would complain. “Can't you see what this is doing to me!”

I would not agree to give up Louise, but I had already confessed to her that I had told my mother, and Louise had become distant from me as a result. Later, she would refuse to see me altogether.

My father, having been brought up in loving home, was a reasonable and rational man. He was so utterly ill-equipped to understand what was happening.

“Your mother's right,” he would say trying to rationalise her behaviour. “She must know something about that girl.”

I loved my dad, but his understanding of the situation was so utterly awry and I was so utterly confused, that neither of us could relate to each other during that time. I realise now that my mother put my father under tremendous strain, in effect pressurising him to pressurise me.

My school study petered out and I spent the days on long walks around the suburbs. I had few friends, and any attempt to express myself to outsiders ended in failure and misunderstanding. So I remained distant, said nothing, and slowly became detached from everything and everyone.

I ate little and my weight fell dramatically.

I spent my long walks lost in my own thoughts, trying desperately to make sense of things. During one of these walks, I was distracted by an advertisement billboard.

“So strange,” I remember thinking, having been brought out of my reverie by the imagery of a chimpanzee drinking a can of soda when, out of nowhere, came a sickening blow.

I almost blacked out and half blinded, thinking that I had been punched, looked around desperately to see where the attack had come from. But there was no one, and as I stared down at the blood pooling in my hands, I realised that I had simply walked full speed into the concrete lamppost while looking the other way. I dreaded going home, for I already knew what my parents would think.

“She's had you beaten up!” I was told when I got home.

While I initially tried to explain, I sensed how unlikely my lamppost story sounded and was resigned to that fact that any protestation was pointless. My dad took the keys to the rusty old car from me and declared that I would no longer be allowed to “drive that girl around.”

The sad irony was of course that, by then, I no longer had any contact with Louise — not that either of them would have believed me if I had told them.

The last time I ever saw Louise was when, on a Saturday afternoon, she walked across the car park where I was pushing trolleys at the supermarket. She never looked at me, and as she disappeared from sight, I began to feel that I was bleeding internally. I never finished the shift, but simply walked away from the job.

I heard later that her parents had sent her to Ireland. “She needs a priest,” I was told by a caustic old woman who worked on the tills at the supermarket.

I never saw Louise again.

It wasn't long after that things came to a head when my mother burst into my bedroom one evening swinging a heavy piece of wood in a drunken rage. It was a baluster, a piece of wood roughly the same shape and weight as a baseball bat, which my dad kept around in case of burglars.

“If you ever see that girl again, I'll kill you!” she raged.

I swear to you now that if she had struck me, I had no intention of even lifting my arms to shield my face. At that moment, I cared for nothing and said simply, “Go ahead.”

She didn't strike me, but instead started to smashed up the room. I simply stood back and did nothing while she went berserk. It was my dad who, on hearing the commotion, came in and stopped her. I will always remember his words to me after she had left the room. I can quote them verbatim, and here they are...

“This is not your mother, this. Whatever it is that you are doing to her, it's time to pack it in.”

He was wrong — that was exactly my mother. But at the time, I had no alternative perspective and with no way to understand such things, I had come to accept that, somehow, in some way, he was right.

I sat my exams, having done little revision, and as soon as they were over, I left home with a rucksack and some foolish notions about living “on the road”. I camped on a mountain side in the English Lake District for a few weeks, before finding a job and boardings in a remote pub called the Kirkstone Inn.

In the years that followed, I slid gradually into self-imposed isolation, characterised by drinking and self-harm. I ached so much to be with Louise, and I cursed myself for failing her. My mother had got her way in the end, and I lived for years with a confused sense of guilt and repressed anger that I had no way of reconciling.

PART 2

On my first day at school at the age of six, my mother had told me that there was no point in me going there because I was only going to be a road sweeper when I grew up. I can remember crying and insisting that I wouldn't, while she explained to me, rather matter of factly, that I was stupid and that she was telling me for my own good. That is my first memory of her calling me “stupid”, but not my last. In the years that followed, she never missed an opportunity.

Despite the events of my last year in school, I actually passed my exams, but only just. Half an hour into one exam, I was lying in bed not caring when a teacher turned up at my house in his car to collect me. Nevertheless, having initially thrown away my place at university when I had left home with the intention of tramping the roads, I eventually went to University and got a degree in Physics — proving in my own mind that my mother was wrong about me.

In reality, however, I was a very troubled young man and throughout it all, what I so desperately looked for was a meaningful answer to the question, “What was so wrong with me?” Having no useful framework with which to understand either myself or the past, I was groping around in the dark with questions I could not even begin to formulate.

“So how does that make you feel?” I was asked, at various times through the years, whenever I tried counselling.

And I would stare at the floor, wringing my hands, as I replied, “Well, I don't know really.”

It was always the same — meaningful answers were always held just out of reach by those who knew them.

It wasn't until my mid-thirties that things began to change when one day I had a profound revelation while walking home from work. It so shook me so that I stopped at the next telephone box I saw and made an international call to my sister.

“Our mother was an emotional bully, wasn't she?” I asked tentatively the moment she answered the call, not even waiting to say hello.

There was a short pause, and when she replied her words were the very first chink of light to penetrate darkness that was my confused inner world.

“Yes,” she replied. “She was.”

The first time I tried to speak to others about what I was discovering, I was told rather angrily, “That's a terrible way to talk about your mother!”

Those words shamed me back into silence for a while, but it would not last. I had begun to challenge the invisible cultural taboo that had prevented any rational scrutiny of my mother's behaviour. In fact, I was now on the way to realising a meaningful answer to my question, “What was it that was wrong with me?”

What was wrong was simply that I had been the subject of childhood emotional abuse in the form of my mother's sustained criticism, ridicule, interrogation and bullying as far back as I can remember. There was, in fact, a far bigger picture to be uncovered here than just the one depicting the fallout over Louise.

The astoundingly simple answer was that there had never been anything “wrong with me”. I had never been “defective” — I had just been a normal child like any other. This, for me, was a life changing realisation.

Throughout childhood, my mother had taunted me, telling me that I was stupid and that everyone was “laughing at me.” As a result, the message I internalised at a very young age was one of shame and inadequacy. I don't have a single memory of my mother ever cuddling me, playing with or reading to me. It was my dad who did all these things, and it is not lost me now how fortunate I am to have had that from him.

Now, here's the thing...

The things my mother said and did were normalised in my family. My father had grown up in a loving environment in which motherhood was sacrosanct, and this was the framework with which he made sense of the world. In my mother, he only saw what he wanted to see, and rationalised what didn't fit. Through him, she had a license to speak and do as she pleased.

She was beyond all reproach.

My mother would rarely talk about her own childhood. She opened up only once when, in my early teens, I found her sitting on the kitchen floor, drunk and crying. This was the only time she told me that her own mother used to openly express how she wished that she had been killed instead of her teenage brother, who had died in a motorcycle accident shortly before I was born.

My mother continued to drink and died a slow and lingering death, her brain corroded by the ammonia in her blood that her liver was no longer able to remove. Toward the end, she regressed into a child-like state, and my dad spent his last days spoon feeding her and taking her to the toilet.

One of the saddest memories I have is of him sitting with his arm around my mother, who was no longer fully aware, and trying to comfort her.

“I don't know how we will do it,” he said, “but somehow we'll get through this.”

I knew as I watched him that there would be no way “through this”, but only continued decline.

Within a year of that moment, both my mother and father were gone.

My dad had worked hard in a manual job from the age of fourteen, and spent the little retirement he had as a full-time carer for my mother. My parents were deeply in love with each other, and toward the end he often remarked how he would not have had things any other way.

After my mother's death, my father lived just long enough to put all his affairs in order and then, one day while out walking, he sat down and just died. After all the years of trauma and distress thrown up by my mother, I find it most distressing how he had managed to arrange things so that his own passing would be of no trouble to anyone. It is only now that I can begin to appreciate how, in those last few months of his life, he must have grieved so.

PART 3

I still find it difficult to tease out the good moments from bad, and properly reconcile the past. There were certainly good things about my mother, and some good times with her, and it would be wrong of me to paint an overly negative picture.

As a child, she had been cruelly bullied by her own mother which, other than the astute observations of a relative, had been culturally invisible at the time. As an adult, she had been put on a pedestal and emotionally spoiled by my well-meaning father whose chivalrous notions about gender came from a bygone age. Never had my mother been expected to deal with the fallout from her own behaviour.

Recent UK legislation aims to make emotional abuse a criminal offence. While it's undoubtedly a good thing that its seriousness is at last being recognised, its criminalisation is utterly wrong headed and will ultimately benefit no one except an army of lawyers and bureaucratic enforcers. The scope for institutionalised injustice here, I believe, far outweighs any benefit it could bring.

The solution lies, not in ever more punishment, condemnation and social exclusion, but in a sea change in our attitudes toward the generational nature of abuse. My mother didn't know how to be a mother because she was never properly mothered herself. Had the right kind of therapeutic intervention been available decades ago — one that would not have implied criminalisation and shame — the effect on my family could have been transformative. On the other hand, the involvement of the police and judiciary would have undoubtedly torn us apart and destroyed all our lives.

Abuse within the human family is not new — it has always been with us. Human beings are not inherently bad, rather the lives of our ancestors were characterised by subsistence level survival to which they were brutally adapted. Today, we still experience the echo of that in our relationships, on our streets, and in our prisons. If we could ever effectively dampen out this destructive echo from the past, we could transform human society within a few generations.

Whenever you encounter a damaged adult who is racked by deep insecurity, or who is emotionally destructive or physically or sexually violent, you are almost certainly looking at a battered or abused child who has simply grown up. Condemnation and contempt, without a willingness to investigate and to understand, ensures only continued ignorance and misunderstanding for new generations of children, and their children.

No, human beings are not intrinsically bad, but we are easily damaged in childhood, irrevocably so in extreme cases. Ultimately, however, it's all about how we treat children, not about how many people we lock up.


Written by
Andy Thomas
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Notes.
* In the UK, a “council estate” is a social housing development.
Louise's name was changed in this for anonymity reasons. Wherever she is today, I hope she is happy.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

How our children are betrayed from one generation to the next

In a rather succinct book, Erin Pizzey gave the world a simple message that should have changed our society for the better. I will never forget the breathtaking sense of clarity I felt as I read its very first page. Her book was called “Prone to Violence”, and in it she documents her experience of running the first ever domestic violence refuge, Chiswick Women's Aid, which she founded in 1971.

What she wrote seemed incredible to me at the time, but today it seems incredible that it wasn't obvious before that moment. Indeed, I find incredible that it isn't immediately obvious to everyone. I realise now, of course, that the reason for this is that our cultural narrative blinds us to the truth, and we must cut through this first.

It was my involvement with the men's human rights movement which caused me to read Erin's book and to seek her out personally. Later, it became clear that we shared an ability to view society from an outside perspective, and she and I became good friends as a result. If it surprises you that the woman who set up the first shelter for “battered women” should want to associate herself with men's human rights, then perhaps that's an indication that you need to question the things you've always been told.

In my case, I guess I could say that it was Sharon Osbourne, the celebrity, who caused me to question things with the degree of seriousness required to jolt me out of my oblivious state. I won't be thanking her for it, however.

A few years ago, I stumbled across a clip of a US television show, “The Talk”, which Sharon Osbourne co-hosts. In this clip, Osbourne ridiculed a man over his horrific mutilation and torture at the hands of his psychotic wife – a woman he had been attempting to divorce. As Osbourne mocked his suffering, her fellow co-hosts, all women, laughed along with the audience, which appeared to be all female.

I felt sick at the spectical.

I recognised on an emotional level that what I was watching was very wrong — these women were unable to see this man as a human being. History has shown us time and time again that once we stop thinking of a group of people as human, it becomes acceptable for society to target them. It was the apparent acceptability of Osbourne's behaviour that disturbed me most and, from that moment on, I began to take on new perspectives and new priorities.

Erin initially opened her refuge for battered wives. What she found, however, was that the abusive behaviour she encountered was often mutual between partners, and that men and boys were equally the targets of violence. Her shelter took in boys, and she often enlisted the help of men to look after her women and children, many of whom had never known good decent men. She also tried desperately to open a shelter for abused men but found that while offers of money for women were forthcoming, no one wanted to help adult males.

Most significantly, however, Erin was perhaps the first to truly appreciate how family violence and abuse is generational in nature, rather than gender based. Both men and women can be equally abusive in their personal relationships, and the significant factor in this is their childhood, not their gender. This is what she wrote about in “Prone to Violence”, and its message stood in stark contrast to that of the feminist movement of the 1970s which viewed men as the ones who were responsible for all violence, and that such behaviour is intrinsic to them. This is the belief among many within feminism as well as those outside of it, likely due to the influence of feminist thought, some 40 years later.

Consequently, upon trying to bring her perspective to a wider audience, Erin found herself subject to a campaign of threats and violence, including bomb threats against her family. Gender ideologues, using intimidation against her publisher, were successful in having “Prone to Violence” removed from the shelves. Eventually, Erin fled the country in 1981 after feminists managed to take control of the very organisation she had founded.

What remains of Chiswick Women's Aid today is known as Refuge, the UK national charity. Feminist ideology is now mainstream, and whenever we hear about domestic violence in the media, we are always told that it is “gender violence”, or “violence against women and girls”.

This is a tragedy for us all.

Erin Pizzey was the first person to understand the true nature of generational abuse — that whenever you encounter a damaged or destructive adult, you are almost certainly looking at a battered or emotionally abused child who has simply grown up. In the UK, we express anguish over Baby Peter whose mother, along with her boyfriend, tortured him to death. However, had Peter survived and played out his own childhood trauma in adulthood, society would have a viewed him as a monster — seeing only his abusive behavior as beginning and ending with him. In reality, abuse rarely begins or ends with one person, or with one generation.

This is not about “bad men” or “bad women”; it is about how we treat children. Each generation replays their learned pattern of behaviour to their own children, and the cycle continues. Erin's work was prevented from ever reaching the full light of day, however, and she often recounts a remark a prison governor once made to her. “Every abused child is a point on my pension,” she was told.

Once you grasp the true nature of generational abuse, you are only a step away from realising that if we could ever start to eradicate generational abuse effectively, we could transform the lives of future generations of children. What's more, we would also empty the prisons in the process.

We cannot allow Erin's legacy to remain buried.

Abuse within families and between intimate partners has always been with us. I can trace abusive behaviour within my own family back to my great grandmother. I suspect that it doesn't stop there, that it would go back centuries — an echo from times when life was hard, short, and cheap.

The lesson that Erin Pizzey gave the world in “Prone to Violence” is that things do not have to continue like this — if we could stop the echo of abuse from reverberating forward into future generations, we could transform human society forever.


Written by
Andy Thomas

Follow: @AndyManMRA


Notes.

* The Talk, CBS, July 2011.

** Baby Peter (Peter Connelly) was a 17-month-old British boy who died in London after suffering more than fifty injuries, including a broken spine, at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend.

This article was updated for style and clarity on December 23, 2013.


Further Information.

Ideology to Inclusion, a talk by Erin Pizzey. Sacremento, 2008.
http://youtu.be/oCw9LdrSnbI

Erin's book, “Prone to Violence” is available as “used” from Amazon. See also Erin's most recent work, “This Way to the Revolution”.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Returned TV Series - Are all men sex killers, perverts and batterers?

I started watching The Returned (Les Revenants) on DVD recently. It's a spooky French TV series, written by Fabrice Gobert. The story concept is just too good to resist — dead people inexplicably begin to turn up in an alpine village and, with no recollection of their death, try to carry on with family life as if nothing had happened.

How cool is that?

The Returned - Channel 4

It started brilliantly enough when a young girl, who had died in a motor accident several years ealier, walks into her family home and goes up to her room (which had been kept by her mother as a shrine) as if nothing had happened. The moment of bizarre reunion between the girl, her mother and, now much older, twin sister had the hairs on my neck standing upright.

I don't speak French, but I have no problem with subtitles and love cinema from around the world.

But by the fifth episode, however, I had turned off and wasn't going to watch any more.

Why?

The fifth episode is when I realised that, almost without exception, every male character is typecast as one of the following:

  • Serial sex killer
  • Pervert
  • Wife batterer
  • Child batterer
  • Abusive thug
  • Peeping tom

The one exception being, up to the point where I turned off at least, a seven year old boy called "Victor". (Although, it had been touch and go in the series as to whether this boy was really a sadistic killer or not.) Remember - little boys don't stay little — past the age of 15 or so, they are "fair game".

In contrast, the female characters in The Returned are portrayed, without exception, as brave heroines who are victims of male violence.

This kind of gender-stereotyping is old now, but toxic nevertheless.

While adult males with healthy childhoods may be able to "brush it off", young minds can't. It is dehumanising poison for any young boy to be made to behold himself through a prism of shame and perversion during his formative years.

I no longer tolerate anti-male propaganda. Nor should you.


Written by
Andy Thomas