Owen Jones: It's 'political flaws' that matter, not women's lives

Owen, Owen, Owen. Why must you reinforce every lefty male cliche in the book? I once thought we shared some politics, but it’s clear we don’t. Women’s lives have no place in men’s politics, after all.

In an article published at The Guardian, Owen Jones writes, of the discovery that Labour MP Simon Danczuk is a porn-consumer, “so what?” That’s not news, Jones argues. News is about politics, not women. News should cover the important work that men do, not lower itself to trivial things like misogyny. So long as those men have good, solid, “politics,” we should all stop asking questions, particularly when it comes to their feminist politic. Feminism, after all, does not count as “politcs” or as “news.” It’s just a girl thing, like shopping and periods and dieting. Jones wants us to focus on the real issues.

All men watch porn, Jones says. “Who cares.” If all men are doing it, it must be right, after all.

Jones wasn’t yet born when Andrea Dworkin famously wrote, in Pornography:

The new pornography is left-wing; and the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die. The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.

I can’t imagine he’s read the book since, but that doesn’t mean he can expect us to forgive the fact that he is merely replicating the same misogyny leftist men have been getting away with for decades. We won’t.

We — feminists — we, too, are the left. And you cannot have your politics without us. Without women. We, too, matter in this world, no matter how much you tell one another we don’t. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t purport to seek equality, while ignoring and supporting our subordination.

Cindy Gladue’s killer, Brad Barton, was recently acquitted. He studied pornography. He used it as research and as inspiration, seeking out filmed torture of women — pornography. That’s what pornography is, Owen… “The graphic depiction of vile whores.” The kind of “whores” you would likely say “consented.” The ones Andrea Dworkin was talking about. The ones you think you can ignore because politics. “Whores” are not “politics.” The abuse of women is not “politics” — the women who are used in and out of pornography, killed as part of men’s sexual fantasies, treated as rag dolls in their gang bangs…

Who cares?

All men do it.

Pay attention to the real issues.

What does matter to you Owen? What is important enough to be worthy of your attention? Are dead women not “political” enough?

Gladue’s killer told the jury that he stabbed her in the vagina “consensually.” You know, just like how they do in pornography. Just like how they do to prostitutes. Those women “consented,” after all, did they not? Barton paid to torture and abuse Gladue, after all. Fair and square, hey Owen?

These are merely intellectual exercises to Jones and his comrades. “There are debates to be had about porn,” he says. You know, at parties. Around the dinner table. It’s so interesting for men to sit around debating our lives. And when the debate becomes too challenging, they throw our movement back in our faces.

“But she said it was ok!” they shriek. She said I didn’t have to care,” they tell us, pointing across the room. “She told me I didn’t have to be accountable, and I really can’t be bothered, so I won’t.”

“Women have agency,” I was told yesterday, by a man. Yes, sir. I am fully aware. I am one. “Women have choices,” they tell us. Sure they do. And so do you. What have you chosen, sir? To turn a blind eye? To buy a woman like Gladue? To masturbate to a film that shows the rape and torture and degradation of women? Let’s talk about your choices, for once, seeing as you are so interested in “choice.”

Men are just weak, Jones argues. How can we punish them for their “weaknesses,” poor dears… “We want them to be free-spirited, flourishing individuals and brain-dead robots all at the same time,” he says, as though men would have to replace their brains with chips in order to stop exploiting and objectifying us. For someone who purports to seek equality, he has an awfully bleak view of humanity.

The problem with leftist men remains the same as always. It is not original — it is the problem with most men — left, right, centre. To them, women aren’t truly human. While Jones permits Danczuk to be human — “a human being with flaws” — he doesn’t offer the same courtesy to women. When men dehumanize women it isn’t important in the grand scheme of things.

Barton said Cindy Gladue died because of “consensual rough sex.” What would Owen Jones make of this? What would he make of the porn that fuelled Barton’s fantasies? I suppose he would conclude, as the jury did, that Gladue “consented” to her own abuse and, consequently, her own death. What can he do? What can he say? Barton was only human after all. Like all men.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Jasmine

    “We, too, matter in this world, no matter how much you tell one another we don’t. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t purport to seek equality, while ignoring and supporting our subordination.”

    This is hyperbole, nowhere does Owen Jones say anything like this, nor do you know what type of porn Simon Danczuk watches. You have no idea what type pornography Simon enjoys watching and so to state he enjoys violent gang bangs is libelous, as you have zero evidence for that.

    Owen Jones can support women and not have a problem with pornography. Ever heard of Liberal Feminism? You realise that you and your supporters aren’t the only voice for women, yet you pretend you are.

    • Meghan Murphy

      No, he doesn’t say it. I’m saying it. And liberal feminists are wrong on this.

      • Stephie Smith

        I say it too.

    • “This is hyperbole, nowhere does Owen Jones say anything like this…”

      Hyperbole is a valid communication technique, but I don’t think Meghan’s claims were an exaggeration. Jones dismissed the anti-pornography feminist movement by implying that it was not “real politics”, even though it does all the things real political movements do (e.g. protest, put forward legislation, write books, etc.) He also implied that the suffering women experience as a direct and indirect result of pornography was unimportant. He may not be aware that such suffering exists, but if so then he is either too uninformed or too uncaring to discuss the subject.

      “…nor do you know what type of porn Simon Danczuk watches. You have no idea what type pornography Simon enjoys watching and so to state he enjoys violent gang bangs is libelous, as you have zero evidence for that.”

      There is only one kind of pornography. The kind that seeks to generate sexual arousal by representing sex as an act in which people dominate and submit to one another (willing or unwilling.) All the different sub-genres of porography was just variations on that theme.

      Though I will admit that when it comes to politicians I am more concerned about their policies (including their policies with regard to pornography and women’s issues in general) than their personal behaviours. I would prefer a politician who implemented anti-pornography policies while watching pornography in private, to a politician who had never watched pornography yet public advocated pornography use and implemented polices which resulted in more pornography use. Of course, when pornography defenders like Johns says we should focus on politician’s “policies” they are implicitly excluding pornography (and women’s rights) related policies.

      That said, I would like it even better if all mainstream bourgeoisie politicians were overthrown in a workers’ revolution and the masses made the democratic decision that they were not going their time, resources and energy (not to mention the bodies of women) producing misogynistic, degrading videos that do not even involve any thought or creativity.

      “Ever heard of Liberal Feminism? You realise that you and your supporters aren’t the only voice for women, yet you pretend you are.”

      Of course I have heard of it. I reference it in the title of my blog and will continue to do so, unless I come up with a different, less bitter title (recommendations from other pornography opponents on this blog are welcome.) The statement that pornography opponents are not the only voice for women made me laugh. Of course anti-pornography feminists know they are not the only one’s claiming to be feminist, they get reminded of that fact every time they step onto a university campus and see a “feminist” poster or turn on the television and see some sexualised celebrity bragging about how empowered and feminist she is or step outside and see billboards featuring women’s butts and boobs everywhere.

      It is the liberal feminists who pretend to speak for all women. They don’t even call themselves liberal feminists, they call themselves “feminists” and many of the liberal feminists I talk to seem genuinely unaware of the fact that feminist opposition to pornography exists. There is not a single anti-pornography feminist who is not aware that self-proclaimed “feminist” supporters of pornography exist.

    • Sabine

      “Owen Jones can support women and not have a problem with pornography.”

      Categorically NO.

    • Priscila

      Whatever kind of porn they watch, we’re against it. Have you heard of radical feminism?

    • Survivorthriver

      “No harm was done to any animal in the filming of this movie”….is enforced by law and by animal rights activists. Why are women allowed to be beaten, raped, gang raped, hair pulled, degrading acts such as ATM, DP, TP, rosebudding tolerated as filmed male entertainment when exited survivors are letting the world know that their scenes became nonconsensual, and they were coerced in many instances to go beyond their limit.

      I think it’s a jolly good idea, Meghan, to focus on exactly what these men are getting their sexual jollies over – we need a reinvigorated Feminist movement more than ever. There are so many excellent research reports showing the Harms of Porn (dot com).

      Dworkin was right, time for women harmed in the filming of these atrocities to come forward and do mass class action against these female misery producers and distributors.

    • Reva

      You can’t support women and pornography at the same time.you just can’t.the base of pornography is sexism.you don’t really have to ask what kind of porn a man was watching because almost all porn objectifies and degrades women (except of course gay porn).if you really care about women and want to end violence against women then you have to consider all the things that promote and normalize sexism,misogyny and abuse against women.you can’t just ignore some things because they are normal and sexy and wait for violence against women to magically disappear.
      As for liberal feminism,you might wanna read what people on this blog have to say about liberal feminism and how it isn’t helping women.also read this article again carefully if you really care about women.

      • amongster

        Sexual submission is coded as feminine so even gay porn is built on misogyny.

        • Reva

          Yes,good point..!

    • “Owen Jones can support women and not have a problem with pornography.”

      How can you support someone while you support hate speech against them? Can you explain that?

    • Carmen Speer

      Pornography doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Considering the prevailing views about women and sex in our modern society (even worse in our “less modern” societies), films depicting the violent sexual exploitation of women cannot possibly be re-framed as empowering. Also considering the high rates of trauma and concurrent drug abuse to be found within the adult entertainment industry. And of course taking into account the way pornography changes how men approach women sexually and where their sexual interests lie. All of which is well-documented.

      Buying into the party line of embracing a male-centered dispassionate approach to sex and all things sex-related is simply a lie and a way of coping, but one that puts the majority of the world’s women at a massive disadvantage. Politics has nothing to do with it.

      • Dana

        Even before you get into the visual depictions of physical violence, there’s plenty to read between the lines about how porn encourages hatred of women. As someone who’s actually consumed porn in the past, I’ve seen this for myself. It’s not hearsay, empty hypothesis, something I heard from someone two blogs over. I have SEEN IT FOR MYSELF.

        No medium that depends for part or all of its income on calling women whores and sluts and bitches can possibly be liberating for women.

        The ONLY kind of porn I have ever read that didn’t treat the people it depicted in that way was Playgirl. Because we don’t tend to see men in that way, and it probably didn’t hurt that Playgirl also apparently has a large *gay male* audience. They would never put up with that kind of language. Why should we, when it’s aimed at us?

    • Laur

      “Owen Jones can support women and not have a problem with pornography. Ever heard of Liberal Feminism? You realise that you and your supporters aren’t the only voice for women, yet you pretend you are. ”

      Jones is a man. He needs to both listen to women and promote and do just actions. Actions that are egalitarian. Actions that are rooted in justice.

      I absolutely loathe when men pretend they are unbiased and only in favor of porn because some women they quote want it. Guess what? Men can find women that say absolutely *anything*, and they can find women that say whatever they want and state they are feminist.

      And I don’t feel Meghan or myself are the only voice of women by any means. It’s esay to make assumptions if you haven’t actually spent time hanging around people who are interested in radical feminism or feminism that is deeper than a lot of what is offered today.

    • Dana

      “Owen Jones can support women and not have a problem with pornography.”

      No he can’t.

      “Ever heard of Liberal Feminism?”

      Ever read the critiques of liberal feminism that have been published right at this-here blog?

      “You realise that you and your supporters aren’t the only voice for women, yet you pretend you are.”

      Liberal feminism is not a voice for women. It’s a voice for men. Woman-hating men who still want to get laid, so they cheer on their female sychophants to “feel empowered” and lecture the rest of us on how to do proper feminism. Got to make sure the living blow-up dolls don’t get any crazy ideas about “liberation”, that just wouldn’t do.

  • Hannah

    Gang bangs are mainstream Jasmine. It’s naive of you to assume that a regular porn user wouldn’t watch them.
    And also, there’s a weird tone to your comment that makes me suspect you aren’t a woman. Hi Owen!

    • Missfit

      Also, the Owen article linked refers to Danczuk specifically accessing ‘hardcore pornography’, not just ‘pornography’.

  • parallelexistence

    You have no idea what type pornography Simon enjoys watching

    How is the “type” relevant. The issue is here is yet another man (why is anyone suprised ?) who takes pleasure in the degradation and dehumanisation of women. That is what pornography is, that what it is for. There is no nice porn, there is no nice way to use women as sub-human wank-objects.

    The problem with leftist men remains the same as always. It is not original — it is the problem with most men — left, right, centre. To them, women aren’t truly human.

    This as you say is the same as always, and generation after generation continue to rediscover it. There was a comment I saw on twitter earlier from some bright young thing talking about this: “there seems to be a trend at the moment” – completely oblivious to the fact that we have been talking about this for lifetimes.

  • ArgleBargle

    Cindy Gladue was a 36 year old woman living in Edmonton, Alberta. Four years ago, a man named Bradley Barton invited her to his hotel room and then killed her by inflicting an 11 centimeter (4 inches) tear in her vagina sometime that night. Barton admitted inflicting the wound, by his account during “consensual rough sex” when he inserted four fingers into Ms Gladue. Perhaps he was wearing a ring that cut and tore flesh (not proven). Perhaps he stabbed her with an object, as the Crown alleged (not proven). At some point after Ms Gladue started bleeding, Barton went to sleep and did not bother calling 911 until the next morning. When Ms Gladue was found the next day in Barton’s bathtub, she had bled to death from that wound. Her blood alcohol was tested at four times the legal limit. A jury recently acquitted Barton not only of first degree murder (premeditated intent to kill not proven) but also of manslaughter (when a person commits a crime that unintentionally results in the death of another person).

    Whether or not one believes Barton guilty of murder, it is hard to understand why they jury found him not guilty of manslaughter. By his own admission, he killed Ms Gladue during “rough sex” that he had paid for. Crime: purchasing sexual services. Ms Gladue was too intoxicated to have met the legal definition of consent. Crime: sexual assault.

    The jury’s decision implies that Canadian men can have “sex” with a highly intoxicated woman in Canada and have a good chance of being found not guilty of sexual assault. The decision also implies if a man kills a woman in Canada while engaging in “sex” with her, “consensual rough sex” is available as a legal defense. Even better chances of going free if she is poor, indigenous, or lacking power in some way.

    It takes a special point of view to sit on a jury and be open to coming to this conclusion. The ubiquity of porn showing men depicting sexual violence upon (apparently) consenting women and media acceptance of men paying to coerce vulnerable women, many indigenous into “sex”, likely helped.

    Every woman in Canada should take note of this case. Jian Ghomeshi’s lawyers likely have.

    • Or the fact that Barton watched porn before the murder should be considered as sufficient evidence. One would look through the laptop of a serial killer to see what he “watched” before committing these acts so why not in the case of rape-murder? A truth that no one wants to talk about or acknowledge?

      • ArgleBargle

        Yes, the Edmonton Sun quotes Judge Ferne LeReverend as noting that “The accused (Bradley Barton) accessed disturbing pornography, which included gaping vaginas and extreme penetration and torture”.

        According to the Sun, police seized Barton’s duffel bag, including the laptop, illegally. Both the Crown and defence agreed the facts would be too prejudicial (to the defendant) to include in the trial.

        Violence against women sheltering under freedom of speech -> torture porn sites.

      • Survivorthriver

        That’s why we need a class action stemming from exited survivors of filmed prostitution.

        Ted Bundy warned us. He said that violent pornography was part of his urge to escalate and act out violent sexual assault against women. There’s a YouTube of him from jailhouse saying how he can’t believe society allows this sadistic porn teaching called porn.

        I think that examination of hard drives of rapists 100% necessary for us to understand this impact and start blaming the creators of hate porn.

        These film-makkers like to live like rich kings of entertainment. Out them. Their children go to school with other elite children. Mass civil suits against the makers of films that enact actual beatings and rapes of females. For male entertainment.

        Dworkin was right. Class action suits. On behalf of all women.

        In mass, vagina riots.

    • Dana

      There is some thinking that the verdict turned out the way it did because this young woman was First Nations/aboriginal, what we would call Native American or American Indian here. They have a point but I think even if she’d been a white woman, if the jury decided she was the *wrong kind* of white woman they’d have probably arrived at the same verdict. And it’s all too easy to be demoted to Wrong Kind Of Woman.

    • purple sage

      ArgleBargle, I shared this comment of yours on Facebook and it got a lot of likes. Thanks for this!

    • Scottie

      Women don’t matter even a fraction as much as a man’s ‘right’ to get off.

      About 10 years ago, my father was charged with numerous heinous acts, like incest, rape, sexual (interference?) of a minor, sexual abuse of several children (his own kids, nephews, nieces, and others)
      He was charged with more than that, and a few non-sexual crimes, and all he got was 12 months house arrest. Hell, the testimony I gave wasn’t even considered illegal! Just immoral.

      The Canadian ‘justice’ system is a fucking joke in general, but when it comes to women accusing men of rape, sexual assault, harassment and the like…? Crickets. It’s even worse if you happen to be a First Nations woman.

  • polarcontrol

    Great piece Meghan!

    Also, check out this response to Owen: to http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1slgnjt

    “This is what sex is for the porn generation”

    • Thanks for the link. I find it so hard sometimes to explain to young women what porn has changed about sex even in my lifetime. And I still keep getting shocked by what has become normal.

    • I went and read the link. Need brain bleach. How could things get so insane so fast? I’ve seen a couple of other posts along the same lines and I have to admit my first reaction is, “Huuuh? Surely, this can’t be true in general? She must be in with a weird crowd. Right? Right?”

      But it’s getting like that line in The Hunting of the Snark. “What I tell you three times is true.” Every young het woman who talks about it says much the same thing.


      How do they stand it? Why (why??) do the guys even want that stuff? Most of it sounds uncomfortable and EWWWW. Men do absolutely anything they’re told to do to hang onto their mancards, don’t they?

      /*continues boggling*/

  • Joe

    I have spent the afternoon reading through your website, very interesting ideas and very good writer although I feel you were a little cold in the case of Glen Canning. I have always considered myself a feminist ally (male feminist or whatever the right terms are) and had read from most the feminist sources I see (Liberal Feminists I suppose) that porn wasn’t intrinsically bad and the normal Pro-Sex worker arguments. Suppose I found them palatable as I consume porn, not violent stuff or any BDSM, occasionally and do struggle between objectifying women and just finding them attractive (is there a difference? I never value a women on her looks but its hard not to notice if someone is conventionally beautiful?).

    I will stop viewing it from now on, reading your Russell Brand piece and Brooks talking about the 5 symptoms of exposure to porn scared me. I don’t want to think of women like that and all 5 things I see in myself to a greater and lesser degree particularly point 5. Been an eye opening day for me, will look more critically at the stuff I read about feminism. Although it is difficult as hard to know which feminists to listen to?

    What do you think should happen to Simon Danczuk?
    Thanks for writing these articles, very useful.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Well, that’s a good question. I think he should be educated about exactly why pornography hurts women, in gory detail. For example, I wish there were a ‘porn school’ he could attend, similar to john school. I wonder if others have any suggestions or ideas?

      • Joe

        I just googled john school and it looks useful (not personally as even before I’d heard of feminism I wouldn’t entertain the idea of purchasing another persons body. I can’t even believe men need those lessons to be frank).

    • Sam

      Start with Gail Dines’ book Pornland & Pamela Paul’s book Pornified. Those were eye-opening even for me and I’ve been anti-porn for a long long time. Then read Martin Amis’s essay “A Rough Trade” that he wrote for the Guardian about 16 years ago. After that fun adventure, try just about anything by Robert Jenson, who’s a University of Texas professor who writes a great deal about pornography & radical feminism.

      • Sam

        Also, you can listen to all feminists, but make sure your bullshit detector is working. 🙂 Even Jezebel occasionally has some gold.

  • A follower

    Speaking as a Twitter follower who agrees with virtually everything you say, and who virtually never agrees with OJ, I think there’s a bunch of contradictions and inaccuracies here. I’m a man so do feel free to ignore me, and I realise you don’t need my permission to do so.

    One, “You know, just like how they [stab women in the vagina with knives] in pornography”. No, at least 99% of pornography includes nothing on that level. As you very well know. The case against misogynistic porn is strong enough without hyperbole.

    Two, Owen conceded on Twitter that the majority of porn was misogynistic and that wasn’t a good thing. Your critique of him deliberately ignores this important point, so as to make him look worse than he really is.

    Three, “liberal feminists are wrong on this”… says you! Liberal feminists would disagree. Some degree of self-doubt might help you here. You aren’t right about everything – no-one ever is.

    Four, you don’t have the evidence you need to convict Danczuk. You are making assumptions in order to do so. Maybe better not to speak about individual cases, then, when you’re making a point about the whole? Cos then you run the risk of looking like you’re wrong on the periphery and the core argument – that the majority of porn is misogynistic and damaging – is lost.

    And five, you were disingenuous about the “gay porn” point on Twitter. There’s lots of porn that doesn’t fit the argument you’re making. I’d implore you to direct your efforts at misogynistic porn, rather than all porn, so as to not leave yourself open to this obvious rebuttal.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Most porn sexualizes power inequalities between men and women. A hell of a lot of porn sexualizes violence — you can choose to see that violence as related or unrelated to the kind Barton watched and, in turn, the kind men around the world consume. You are naive to think millions of men don’t watch violent, degrading pornography…

      “Owen conceded on Twitter that the majority of porn was misogynistic and that wasn’t a good thing.” Well, to be fair and accurate, he also said “what about gay porn, why are you erasing gay men” and said, essentially, “not all porn” a bunch of times over again. Regardless of whether or not he concedes some porn is misogynistic, he still concludes, of men’s porn use, “so what? It’s not important.” I have no interest in making Jones look bad, I have been a fan of and followed his work for some time now. I am disappointed in his inability or unwillingness to see how men’s porn use matters and impacts women negatively.

      “Four, you don’t have the evidence you need to convict Danczuk.”
      Who is ‘convicting’ Danczuk?? I’m responding to Jones’ response to the situation. I have no interest in ‘convicting’ anyone of anything. I am not a cop.

      “And five, you were disingenuous about the “gay porn” point on Twitter.”
      I most certainly was not ‘disingenous’ about gay porn. Gay porn is completely irrelevant to this particular post/conversation. Jones brought it up because he was losing the ‘debate’ and wanted to change the subject/try to turn it around on me. It’s cheap and, again, disappointing coming from someone who is otherwise intelligent.

      • I really hate the “not all [insert thing here]” because its like saying that “not all poison kills people” or “not all storms kill people.” It’s not relevant to the main point,yeah, you can claim that a storm never killed you but that should not be regarded as the universal argument in regards to storms, the point is that porn still (negatively) affects certain areas of the human brain whether you want to believe it or not.

      • sabine

        We’ve had #not all men. Next it’ll be #not all porn. It’s beyond pathetic.

    • “A Follower”, (how courageous of you to not use your actual name), stop with the “not all porn” BS. It *is* all porn. There is no non-misogynist porn. All porn degrades women. Even porn with only men in it reinforces the idea that other human beings exist for sexual entertainment, and that idea is used to degrade women.

      And if you are an actual follower and not a sealion or a troll, go read Nine Deuce’s blog. http://rageagainstthemanchine.com for a very good explanation of why you are wrong.

    • Laur

      You’re concern trolling and doing an awfully bad job at hiding it.

    • Dana

      He had sex with a drunk woman and that should have been enough to send him to jail for a little bit. I mean they checked her blood alcohol level. (If you can’t sign a contract while drunk, you can’t consent to sex either.) He admitted to having sex with her. That alone. He also admitted to hiring a prostitute. Could have sworn that was against the law too. Is he facing any legal consequences at all? If not, doesn’t that bother you?

      Just because someone has a different opinion than me doesn’t make them right. How closely do their opinions reflect factual reality, as well as we can perceive it? From where I’m sitting they are all in La-La Land. Their “politics” are based on how they’d like the world to be. I’m looking at the world as it is, near as I can tell. Two different enterprises entirely. If they could come back down to reality and deal with it instead of trying to pretend we are all somewhere else, that’d be swell.

  • HCS

    Standing Ovation.

  • HCS

    I’d like to know what you think of the Laurie Penny article Jones tweeted.

  • DefenderofThemyscira

    Just another useless disappointing leftist man.

  • pisaquari

    “Women have agency.”

    To do WHAT! Pick our noses? Twirl our hair? Eat ice cream at midnight? (Mmm)

    STFU already. If all you’ve got is some vague attempt at telling women we sometimes do things (zzzz), you got NOTHING.

    Recognizing that women are oppressed or mistreated is NOT the same thing as infantilizing them ffs.

    Seriously, go up to some poverty-stricken mother while she is applying for food stamps and declare “but you have agency!” Go up to a disabled person on sidewalk ramp and declare “but you have agency!” Raise a toast to the homeless population at your local food pantry and *you let them know*: “you!have!agency!”

    Then go home to your comfy life in Most Uninteresting, Useless Statements Ever-ville and stay the Fuck out of feminism or politics of any kind.

    • Priscila


      Women have agency, but only if it’s to mantain the status quo. If it’s to demand being treated like human beings, then it’s too much agency. *sarcasm*

  • andeväsen

    Not surprised that Owen Jones defends pornography as politically neutral. Never been impressed by Owen Jones or Laurie Penny. Sophomoric is an overestimation of their politics. Their arguements are the rhetoric of a newly politicised mid-adolescent. Either they haven’t progressed in their understanding of the world since age 14 years or their myopia of thinking was hitherto even more severe. It is dismaying that Jones, in particular, has managed to occupy the seat of the “voice of the left” du jour. It speaks to the general poverty of imagination within mainstream British politics.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Their arguements are the rhetoric of a newly politicised mid-adolescent.”

      Yes, I think you are right in many ways — in particular, w/r/t feminism. The problem is, of course, that they know the best way to keep their stature/soapbox is to spout this liberal, over-simplistic garbage-feminism. There is absolutely no reason for them to challenge it. No one with any real power will ever ask them to.

  • Missfit

    This reminds me of something I read on feminist blog a while back. It went something like this:

    ‘- Knock Knok.
    – Yes?
    – Hi. I’m Mr.X, I’m representing the X party in the upcoming election blablabla…
    – Hi Mr. X. Yes I’d like to ask you a question, do you watch porn?
    – Heh what, hem, well, yes, I mean of course blablala nothing wrong with that blablaba all men blablabla. Now wouldn’t you rather ask me a question about my politics?
    – I just did sir.’

  • mauritia

    I am anti-porn, but considering that nearly all men (and a large number of women as well) watch it regularly, it doesn’t seem like a sensible criterion for judging a politician — I mean, the unfortunate truth is that most politicians probably do already.

    The Owen Jones piece is still smug and stupid, though. I was pleasantly surprised to see the following line: “Heterosexual porn frequently replicates and reinforces misogynistic attitudes towards women, as sexual objects who exist to sexually gratify men” — but of course he didn’t take it any further than that.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I think you’re probably right that most men — politicians included — do use porn. I think Jones’ response — which was to say that this was irrelevant when it comes to ‘politics’ and that it didn’t matter — was what made me most angry. I mean, of course it is relevant and it matters and I think we should make sure men know that it is relevant and matters.

    • According to Pamela Paul (in her talk “From Pornography to Porno to Porn”, which I can’t find now but which was at one point accessible via a link on Antipornography.org) the percentage of males who watch pornography is 80%. That is clearly a large percentage, but it is not 100%. By comparison, around 90% of males claim to be straight, but it is not considered acceptable or correct to state that all men are straight (you can in big trouble with liberal social justice activists for making statements like that.) Nor is it considered acceptable to state that all university students are white, even though it is also true that the majority of university students in the west are white (particularly in more privilleged universities.)

      I point this out, not because I wish to argue that men are saints (there are all kinds of other behaviour that men engage in which reinforce masculinity and therefore male dominance), but because the view that all men watch pornography is (as Pamela Paul says) a permission giving belief. It makes men feel that it is acceptable for them to watch pornography and that they cannot help but watch it. We need to make it clear to men that they do have another option.

      We also need to resist the idea that the struggle against pornography is pointless. We should not be naive. The pornography industry is powerful, but it is not omnipotent. It has many supporters, but it also has many opponents and potential opponents (including non-consumers, particularly non-consuming women.) Pornographers may like to claim that they are the victims of totalitarian sex-negative movements and censorship obsessed governments, but the view that the pornography industry is so powerful and popular that it cannot be defeated and contained suits the interests of the industry just as much.

    • Priscila

      I don’t know if I agree. One of the biggest problems with porn, after all, is *precisely* the fact that it’s considered normal. When OJ tries to treat the subject as non-important by claiming that “all men do it”, he doesn’t seem to realize that this is part of the problem.

      Now of course we grew to expect so little of men that his comments are also considered normal. I understand that.

  • Mahihkan

    I understand your points on pornography and wholeheartedly agree with them, but when Cindy Gladue’s verdict came out a few weeks ago, no mainstream media was covering it except Indigenous media outlets. It was through that activism that mainstream media started paying attention and it was tough since no women’s media was taking notice, up until recently. I’m glad it has finally reached Feminist Current. I’m glad your site has chosen to not ignore the injustices of missing and murdered Indigenous women, as some women’s groups won’t even flinch about it. However, why exactly, is Cindy Gladue’s death important to Feminist Current now, and being used to argue against Owen Jones? Besides the critical analysis of porn and violence against women, how is Owen Jones relevant to the families, the communities, and other missing and murdered women? He is a male power figure, and promoter of sexualized violence but why is writing on white male colonial violence have to be done in this rather co-opting manner? When writing this piece were you thinking about how you may upset some of us Indigenous women? I can’t speak for Cindy’s family but how do you think they would feel, or could they see the benefit of this piece as raising awareness on the colonial injustices of the legal system? I know some Indigenous women may support this writing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t offer insights on this piece and call out the lack of focus especially if we’re survivors of an array of violence ourselves. We have a great stake in this dialogue. So, I ask would dedicating an article on solely Cindy Gladue not been good enough in calling out the violence that men inflict on Indigenous women? Meghan, my concern is how you chose to talk about missing and murdered Indigenous women. How we insert ourselves in spaces to speak is key here. Commentators can freely objectify Cindy’s body further by intellectualizing and analyzing her death on here. It’s not ok. I’m not trying to shame, censor,or call you out as we always need critical writing content on violence against women but I’d wish you’d introduce more perspectives from Indigenous women, even if you may disagree with how we deal with the dialogue on missing and murdered Indigenous women.

    • Meghan Murphy

      That’s a totally fair criticism with regard to Cindy Gladue. The reason I only wrote about it today was because I only learned about and was able to read up about the case yesterday. I felt it was important because Jones — and men of his ilk — seem not to be able to connect pornography (and, more generally, the sex industry, objectification, sexualization, dehumanization) to violence against women. They don’t seem to understand that women’s real lives are at stake. Women are treated as disaposable — particularly marginalized women — by men, yet we go on compartmentalizing objectification, pretending that porn is ‘just fantasy,’ that prostitution is just a transaction between consensual adults. It’s not. And the fact that the jury bought the ‘consensual rough sex’ argument is very fucked and very significant and, in my opinion, very much has to do with the way that we talk about the sex industry and, more generally, misogynistic sexual practices and the way in which we sexualize power and inequality. I try to bring a new angle when I write stuff here — to say what other media outlets aren’t saying, and I haven’t seen anyone write about the ‘consent’ issue and the connection to porn. As I’ve said many times, a big part of what I try to do is make connections, and that’s what I tried to do with this piece — to show men like Jones that the way men view and treat women DOES matter. They cannot pretend they aren’t complicit in this culture.

      I hate to admit that I was only able to read about the case yesterday, but it’s very, very difficult for me to keep up with everything, news-wise, I try to read and follow as much as I can, but I’m always struggling to keep up and often only learn about things when people bring them to my attention, when I hear it on the CBC in the morning, when I can watch the news at night or when I see it on Facebook, which I often barely have time to look at. I usually don’t read my twitter feed unless I have a spare moment on the bus. I don’t have time to get through my emails most days and I find time to look through my Google alerts maybe once a week, if that.

      Did Gender Focus write about her? Feministing? Jezebel? Rabble published something yesterday… The Tyee doesn’t seem to have covered it. Neither did the Vancouver Observer. Her name does not seem to have been mentioned at Riccochet. With the exception of Gender Focus, all of these outlets have WAAAAY more resources than me. Like, incomparably. Look up their staff and their annual budgets (that they even have staff and annual budgets speaks to the immense difference between them and Feminist Current). Most of that info is online. Then imagine how many more resources mainstream outlets have access to. Did you ask any of these sites why they have not even mentioned her name?

      I appreciate that I should do better — and I would like to, I just want to try to convey how challenging it is for me just to keep up with the bare minimum that I’m doing here. I miss A LOT. And I would like not to, but I literally cannot do more than I am now, at this point. I am stretched thin.

      All that said, I would love to include more perspectives from Indigenous women, but it’s hard to ask people to write when you can’t pay them. I try to showcase voices through podcasts (something that is EXTREMELY time-consuming, which is why I’m not able to produce more than a couple a month, it seems) and have done a number of podcasts about violence against Indigenous women and girls as well as articles — not just here on FC but for other outlets. Most recently I interviewed Cherry Smiley and Sheila Day about FAFIA’s work. Again, please remember that the podcasts I do are all done by me and only me — I do all the interviewing, all the recording, all the editing — everything. I’m not paid for this work except through private donations through the site, which I very much appreciate, but are not enough that I can afford to pay anyone to help me. Believe it or not, I’ve pitched plenty of pieces focused on violence against Indigenous women in Canada and specifically the Missing and Murdered Women, to other outlets, that were not accepted. Ms. published a piece of mine about trafficking of Indigenous women and girls up North, at least, in the fall/winter. Part of the reason we have What’s Current now (and part of the reason I’ve started the newsletter) is to fill the gap and to highlight issues and events and articles we don’t have time to cover or write about more fully.

      I barely can keep up with day to day basics and do not have money to pay people to help me out with editing or to write, at this point. I take what is offered to me (so long as it is good and works for the site… I am still relatively picky about what is published) and am extremely grateful for it — the work contributors do in writing pieces for the site is excellent and the daily work Susan does in putting together What’s Current is amazing but I’m not in a position to assign pieces. I wish I were. Considering what we are working with, I think we are doing pretty good… Most of the outlets I mentioned above are working with 100s of thousands of dollars per year and full staffs. And you can bet they’re all struggling to keep up/stay afloat, too! But I am one person and I am producing content that is not widely supported, popular, or profitable. I am working several different part time jobs on the side in order to make ends meet. I’d like to be able to do more and am working on trying to figure out ways to get enough funding so that we can pay contributors and get some help with the site and with things like editing so that we can publish more content (including future fundraisers/crowd-funding). If we could do that, it would certainly make it more feasible to cover more issues and include more voices on the site. With respect, I’m doing the best I can with little to no resources… If you would like to write an article on Cindy (or if anyone else would like to, really…), I would be absolutely thrilled to publish it but, I’ll admit that I would not feel completely comfortable asking an Indigenous woman to write an article for free… Journalists are paid for their work because it is hard work. It takes more time than, perhaps, the general public realizes. That’s why we do more blogging here than we do journalism, because we don’t have the resources or time. The reality is that all of the sites that did cover this issue as well as all the sites that did not have more resources than I. I’m not saying don’t ask these questions — do, of course — I think it’s very important that I, and everyone else, think and are challenged, with regard to how we engage with these issues. But I guess I wonder if you are asking the people with access to money, staff, and resources, the same questions you’re asking me, when what I’ve tried to do here is to be absolutely unapologetic about the male violence and misogyny that happens in this world — in a way that is not done by most other media outlets. You’ll see stories and issues covered here that other outlets refuse to touch or, at least, refuse to touch in the way we do here. We’ll keep trying to do more and do better, but I just wanted to try to put all of this into perspective.

  • Charlie
    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh good! Missed something else, clearly. In any case, as I mentioned, Jezebel/Gawker media has a huge, huge staff and lots of money/resources to work with.

  • damien

    I really enjoyed reading “Chavs.” And was brought here via a radical feminist website,which condones Owen’s viewpoint.
    May I add a couple of opinons:
    But watching porn? So what? Okay, I think it is addictive changes the brain chemistry in such a way that depletes empathy.Having Empathy towards Katie Hopkins may require more emapthy than is humanly responsible,and i am aware that her comments get way too much attention for the human race to evolve.But Failing to address her by her name is objectifing her?

    “Who knows, maybe an otherwise tense judge seeking a quick bit of relief will concentrate better.” I do! well at least I have a strong opinion on this. Concentrating better would only last for the first few minutes after orgasm and then will be replaced by the distractive notions of addiction,withdrawal. Try it if you don’t believe me.This kind of quick fix.Dose not sit well in the world of law where going to the toliet is likely to take 15 years of procratination?
    “it’s the political flaws that matter.” here is where I completly agree with the radical feminist view. “Pornography is politics.” If you want to see how a nation view eglateriasm,equalilty and human rights.How they govern.Look to the porngraphy that the society produces.Dose this mean that David Cameron has a great connection to human rights and equaility?In my eyes his actions say “no.” because poverty produces pornography.It is all very well asking every to opt out of porn.but can we opt out of his poverty so easily?

  • MIchael Lebednik

    Meghan, regarding your reply to Mahihkan: thank you for all your work. It must indeed seem thankless at times.

    • Meghan Murphy

      It’s not always thankless, and I do enjoy doing the work, even though it is hard, so no pity party over here, but thank you so much, nonetheless 🙂

  • Fueri Da’qui

    I personally don’t see how one can proclaim to be a true feminist, while supporting any female exploitation. I wonder how the ‘liberal’ males would react if the tables were turned on them, and they faced daily exploitation of their gender?

    Who wants to bet on a law banning such abuse would be passed, and enforced?

    I laugh every time I hear a male claim they are ‘only human’ or ‘only men’ when they behave in repulsive manners.

    ‘Man’ actually is our species type, I reply when I’m bothered enough. Males attempt to subcategorize female as lesser beings by calling us `Woman’, but use the ‘ I’m only a human/a man’ to excuse abhorrent behavior/acts they should be held accountable for.
    Additionally(off topic slightly), the ‘Man/Bro tagging’ of everything females also may have/use/like/do; such as; ‘mancaves, manscaping, manscara’,brogurt, bronies…etc; sounds beyond stupid, but is actually used as a method to declare male dominance over perceived female belongings/habits.

    So in hindsight, when males use the term ‘only human’ or ‘I’m only a man’, they are attempting(and do proceed) to shed/shrug off their own weaknesses and responsibilities (such as responsible parenting and respect for the ‘sanctity of life’), onto females. They gripe about ‘men’s rights’, which they seems to entails suppression and abuse of females. On the other hand, females are never exempted from societal ‘responsabilities'(to bear children/get married,etc). Those that do shrug off/avoid ‘responsibilities’ are viewed as ‘inferior’,’bad’ or even ‘monstrous’. There are no breaks in life if you happen to be the determined ‘weaker’ sex; when compared to males, apparently. The irony lies in the ‘politics’ they use to excuse to further their disregard of female life, while clenching control of it at the same time. It seems apparent, that control/suppression of females= control of life.

    Many females still do not even bother to understand the purpose of feminism. They do not care to understand that to pursue equality for all Men(yes,females are Men too) requires the removal of female exploitation, double standards, and the reinstatement of the equal value of female life. Look up the origins of pornography; it is connected to slavery.
    Sadly, other females look up to false examples of feminism to base their ‘girl power’ on, and foolishly(without living it) conclude that widespread pornography and prostitution is empowering. Such are the ‘Liberal’ feminists who approve of female exploitation.

    Statistics (and history) show that when females have more equality and less exploitation, males in general have better lives too. So feminism must come first, before we can right the wrongs in society and politics. Politics without female input/consideration is like a boat(or barrel)full of passengers going over a massive waterfall.

  • I feel that this post is largely an overreaction brimming with the kind of dogmatism that too often gives feminism a bad name . The porn described here is deplorable. No one can deny that. However, this extreme example should neither be used to denounce the porn industry, nor Owen Jones.

    Its important to note that the running principle of generalisation in the article could not be used for example, if one were to say ‘one woman has raped a child; therefore all women are pedophilic rapists’. Of course, we couldn’t say that. It would be ludicrous- and this is exactly how your argument comes across.

    Yet, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t bear in mind the problems within the porn industry. Owen Jones even mentions the harmful impact pornography can have on body image etc. in his article.

    Rather than attacking well- meaning left wing journalists, probably on the same ‘side’ as you, I feel it is be better to recognise reality as it is- without the dramatisism, and then work towards a rational solution.

    • Meghan Murphy

      You must know that feminists — and women, more generally — are irrational, over-emotional, dramatic, ninnies though?

      • EEU

        You’re giving feminism a bad name, Meghan! (sarcasm)

        • Meghan Murphy

          Aren’t we all… 🙂

      • Hanna

        Just radical feminists;)

        • Meghan Murphy

          Hi MRA 🙂

          • Hanna

            That right there is exactly why 99% of feminists dislike radical feminists. Obviously I must be a male rights activist because I disagree with you. Meghan Murphy you need to grow up. You call people trolls and mra’s anytime someone disagrees with you.

          • Meghan Murphy

            No… I really don’t. Because this is your first time visiting this site/comment section and that you are unclear on my politics/feminism, in general, you might peruse the site before making silly assumptions/accusations. Anymore comments like this will be removed. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and, again, you’re trolling.

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  • David

    Peter Tatchell joins the chorus of gay men who see nothing wrong in heterosexual porn.
    Article here

    “To justify their anti-porn crusade, the new puritans point to snuff movies, kiddie porn, rape videos, trafficked or coerced actors and degrading, humiliating images of women. Sure, this stuff is vile and wrong – and some of it should be criminalised to protect the vulnerable.”

    A prominent human rights activist thinks that some of the items he lists should be criminalised. He does not seem to realise that murder, child abuse, rape, trafficking and coerced sex (aka rape) are already criminal.

    Maybe he wants some of the “degrading, humiliating images of women” to be “criminalised to protect the vulnerable”, whatever he means by that. We will never know because it’s just a throw-away sentence before he gets to the part where he doesn’t give a shit and porn makes him horny.

    • Meghan Murphy


    • ArgleBargle

      I found this bit from his article interesting:

      “Sex mags and vids are also great sex education. Unlike the coy, euphemistic nonsense that passes for sex education in schools, porn shows young people about sex – the techniques and variations involved, and how to satisfy yourself and your partner. This gives porn users better knowledge and expertise in the art of sex.”

      Indeed. What better place than porn for teenage males to learn how to be intimate with girls and later, women?

      • Missfit

        Haha, porn users having better knowledge in the art of sex. Whereas it is common for women to say how porn users are bad lovers and easily identifiable (ex: they are self-centered, in their head/disconnected, have no clue how to make a woman come, take for granted women like painful acts, have a hard time maintaining an erection, and the list can go on…). This guy is completely out of touch with reality. Also tired of people who can’t see beyond the false dichotomy of puritanism vs porn.

      • lizor

        “porn shows young people about sex – the techniques and variations involved, and how to satisfy yourself and your partner. ”

        What a fucking idiot.

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