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

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.