Wednesday, March 08, 2017
A confused feminist
By Piers Morgan
‘I really don’t know what my t*ts have to do with it,’ exclaimed an exasperated Emma Watson this week. ‘It’s very confusing. I’m quietly stunned.’
The Harry Potter star was responding to widespread criticism of her decision, as Hollywood’s most vocal young feminist, to pose topless for Vanity Fair magazine.
‘Feminism is about giving women choice,’ she explained. ‘It is not a stick with which to beat other women. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. They were saying I couldn’t be a feminist and have boobs.’
Well, Emma, that would indeed be very confusing, I agree. But that wasn’t what the critics were actually saying.
It’s probably a given that the vast majority of feminists, unless they are men identifying as feminists, have boobs.
No, Emma, it wasn’t you flashing your boobs as a feminist that caused all the raised eyebrows. The problem is that you haven’t always had this attitude to feminism and boob-flashing.
In 2013, Beyoncé released her self-titled album which included a spoken word recording from the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, taken from her TED speech We Should All Be Feminists.
The album was accompanied by provocative videos showing Beyoncé in various states of undress. Many lauded it as ‘fierce feminism’ at its ferocious best. Others were less impressed.
‘As I was watching, I felt very conflicted,’ said one female critic. ‘I felt her (Beyoncé’s) message felt very conflicted in the sense that on the one hand she is putting herself in a category of feminist, but then the camera, it felt very male, such a voyeuristic experience of her.’
Wow. That sounds like precisely the kind of feminist that Emma Watson would deplore: a woman using feminism as ‘as stick with which to beat other women.’ Only, it WAS Emma Watson, in an interview for Wonderland magazine.
Yes, the self-styled global standard-bearer for feminism had decided that Beyoncé’s brand of feminism was not the right brand of feminism.
Why? Because, to deploy the parlance of Donald Trump’s notorious locker room, Emma felt it was incompatible for Beyoncé to claim to be a feminist when she was effectively getting her t*ts out for the lads.
Hmmm. This brings us back to Emma’s new photo shoot for Vanity Fair. It was no accident that she chose to take off her clothes and parade topless under a skimpy white crocheted bolero jacket.
She knew exactly what she was doing. After all, she’s a woman who’s been posing for magazine cover shoots since she was 14 years old. So when Emma removed her bra for the first time like this, she was doing it very deliberately.
‘It felt incredibly artistic,’ she said this week, ‘and I’m thrilled with how interesting and beautiful the photographs were.’
Of course she was, that’s what all actresses say when they strip naked to promote themselves and their movies. Though they tend to take a much dimmer view of women who pose as topless Page 3 girls in British tabloids. That, they sneer, is ‘demeaning to women.’
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t disagree with Emma’s assessment; the photos are inarguably interesting and beautiful.
But how does exposing her breasts to the world fit with Emma’s condemnation of Beyoncé doing the same?
A generous observer might say ‘uneasily’. A less generous observer would brand it flaming hypocrisy.
I don’t want to be too harsh on Emma Watson, not least because she is still young and should be allowed to evolve her views as she ages.
She’s also in many ways a very impressive young lady – an excellent actress who conducts admirable work as a United Nations ambassador.
In interviews, she comes across as intelligent and thoughtful, and she clearly cares passionately about this issue. But by posing for this Vanity Fair photo, she exposed not just her breasts.
She also exposed herself to some as a feminist fraud; someone who professes to want other women to have the ‘freedom and liberation’ to decide how they behave as feminists, but who actually wants to dictate to them how they behave as feminists.
Beyoncé flashing her flesh to sell an album in the name of feminism dismayed Emma, because she feared it would simply serve to titillate men.
Yet she sees no conflict in doing the same thing herself, while promoting, with almost comical inappropriateness, the new Disney kids movie Beauty And The Beast.
We live in an age when the debate about feminism, women’s rights and sexism rightly rages hard, and men, as I know only too well, tip their toe into the fire at their peril. But on the general principle, it shouldn’t be difficult to find consensus.
For instance, I agree whole-heartedly with Emma Watson’s own overview: ‘Fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. This has to stop. For the record, feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.’
She’s absolutely right. But other female celebrities don’t seem to have got the memo.
Every time Madonna rants and raves at a women’s march about blowing up Donald Trump, the cause of feminism is damaged.
Just as it is when Kim Kardashian posts another bird-flipping topless selfie, supposedly in the name of ‘female empowerment’.
Or, as happened at a Welsh university in Britain this week, when students are told that they can’t use words like ‘mankind’ or ‘sportsmanship’ any more because they are ‘gender-offensive.’
None of this nonsense helps anyone, particularly when there are far more important battles to fight.
This weekend, a Polish politician actually said in the European parliament during a debate on the gender pay gap, that ‘women must earn less than men, because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent’.
Now THAT is outrageous sexism and if there’s a march to get this despicable misogynist dinosaur sacked, count me in.
But let’s also have some rational perspective to counter the more rabid, headline-grabbing brand of feminism.
Right now, the five most powerful people in Emma Watson’s home country are all women: Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II; Prime Minister, Theresa May; Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon; Home Secretary, Amber Rudd; and Metropolitan Police Commander, Cressida Dick.
With the exception of the Queen – who has turned out to be arguably the most successful Monarch of all time - they all got there strictly on merit.
As Oprah Winfrey put it so perfectly: ‘Excellence is the best deterrent to racism and sexism.’
Silicon Valley Subsidizes Hate
by Sam Westrop
In many lines of work, a new job means a slow first day. My first day as the director of the Middle East Forum's Islamist Watch project, however, featured a clash with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), the nation's largest community foundation, which holds over $8 billion in assets.
I previously ran Stand for Peace, a British counter-extremism organization. I know that we face the enormous challenge of media, government and civil society that refuse to acknowledge the extent of Islamist influence over the American Muslim community, and the threat that it poses to our security. My first day was never going to be an easy one.
For several months before my arrival at Islamist Watch, the Forum had attempted to contact SVCF's staff and trustees, urging them to stop funding extremist groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief USA, a branch of the largest Muslim Brotherhood charity in the world. Since 2008, SVCF has given $330,524 to these two Islamist organizations.
The Forum's attempt to explain the extremist links of CAIR and Islamic Relief were rebuffed by SVCF, which refused to address MEF's concerns that they were not funding ordinary American Muslims, but international Islamism, an extreme form of the religion.
SVCF funding of extremists betrays moderate Muslims working to free their faith from the grip of Islamism.
SVCF's unwillingness to stop funding extremists betrays moderate Muslims working to free their faith from the grip of Islamism. So on March 1, the Middle East Forum published a petition that explained the anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic rhetoric that SVCF money is subsidizing.
Regular speakers at CAIR and Islamic Relief events include Hussein Kamani, who advocates sex slavery and calls for adulterers to be "stoned to death"; Jamal Badawi, who tells husbands they have a right to beat their wives; and Siraj Wahhaj, who cites the death penalty for the "disease" of homosexuality. Hardly the proudest product of Silicon Valley ingenuity and liberalism.
You can read our press release and sign our petition here.
Just a few hours after publishing our petition, SVCF responded. You can read their reaction here.
We had urged SVCF to work instead with moderate Muslim groups. Rather than examine the facts, SVCF chose to label our evidence "Islamophobic." The Forum, our Muslim staff and our Muslim allies disagree.
The Forum is not the only organization concerned about CAIR and Islamic Relief. Both CAIR and Islamic Relief are designated as terrorist groups in the United Arab Emirates. CAIR was named by American federal prosecutors as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial. The FBI has banned outreach with CAIR since 2008, and the Anti-Defamation League accuses CAIR of promoting anti-Jewish sentiment.
In a recent article published at National Review, we revealed that Islamic Relief USA is funding a Hamas-linked charity in the Gaza Strip, whose officials have called for Jerusalem to be "free... from the filth of the most dirty Jews." Senior Islamic Relief USA staff have included Omar Shahin, who once preached: "oh (servant) slaves of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him."
I have a lot of experience with Islamist groups like CAIR and Islamic Relief. Coming from the United Kingdom, I know exactly how dangerous it is when a society fails to challenge the forces of radicalization and extremism that run the charities, schools, community centers and mosques all across the country. It took Britain over a decade after 9/11 to realize that we had been giving power and money to the wrong people within British Islam, at the cost of thousands of recruits to foreign terror groups, increasing numbers of homegrown terrorists and whole Muslim communities that have segregated themselves from British society and teach their children to hate Jews, Christians, the West and all its values.
It's time to fix our mistakes and properly challenge Islamist forces at home and abroad.
Over the last few years, the British government finally started to realize the terrible mistakes they have made. They cut funding to Islamist groups and refused to meet with them. For many, it feels this insight was too late. In America, the extremism problem is less developed – we have time to fix our mistakes and properly challenge Islamist forces at home and abroad. But we have to start now.
If groups such as SVCF continue to fund the flagship institutions of Islamist extremism, they will further disempower moderate Muslim organizations, contribute towards the growing problem of radicalization, and aid Islamist incitement against Jews, women, homosexuals and Muslim minorities.
Help us show SVCF that by funding Islamist groups, they are not fighting prejudice; they are promoting it. Sign our petition, share it and tell SVCF that they're making a terrible mistake.
Pelosi Should Rebuke Fellow Dem for Sexist Conway Comment, CWA President Says
Fellow Democrats and liberal womens’ groups need to condemn a Democrat congressman’s insult of Kellyanne Conway, Concerned Women for America (CWA) President Penny Nance says.
Nance issued a statement Monday calling on House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to rebuke Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) for commenting that Conway, an advisor to President Donald Trump, was down on her knees in a “familiar” pose:
“Nancy Pelosi needs to call Mr. Richmond on the carpet and send out a clear, unmistakable warning to her caucus and all Democrats that neither she, nor the Democratic Party leadership, will tolerate sexism, misogyny and chauvinism in their ranks. There can be no double standard for Kellyanne Conway who was viciously attacked by Democratic congressman.”
Nance also said that it would be hypocritical for liberal womens’ activist groups to let the comment pass without condemning it:
“Likewise the National Organization for Women and leaders of the "Women's March" need to do the same. The silence from the feminist women’s groups is deafening. Their empty claims to fight for women will repeatedly fall on deaf ears unless they back up what they say. Otherwise, they look like the ultimate hypocrites, and they will only continue to lose credibility in the eyes of the American people. We’re still waiting to hear from them, and every hour that goes by without a forceful statement will only confirm their hypocrisy and small-minded elitism.”
Apparently drawing a comparison to the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, Rep. Richmond made the controversial comment about Conway at the Washington Press Club Foundation Dinner last Wednesday:
“I really just want to know what was going on there, because, you know, I won’t tell anybody. And you can just explain to me that circumstance, because she really looked kind of familiar in that position there. But, don’t answer, and I don’t want you to refer back to the 1990s.”
Richmond released a “clarification” in response to backlash about his comment, but has yet to apologize.
On Sunday, Pelosi refused to condemn Richmond's comment.
UK: How a popular teacher lost his job and good name when he was accused of sex abuse by a boy he'd never met in a harrowing two-year ordeal
Jerked from sleep by the trill of the doorbell at his Suffolk home one crisp December morning, Simon Warr felt puzzled. At just after 7am, it was still dark outside and too early for a delivery.
Never in his wildest dreams could he have predicted who would be at the door: five police officers who proceeded to place him under arrest. The charge? Historical child abuse.
The complainant was a former pupil at a school where Warr, now in his early 60s, had taught 30 years previously. Warr had never met him and had certainly never taught PE, the lesson during which the 'abuse' supposedly happened.
He says: 'I was horrified, of course, but it was clearly a ridiculous mistake. I thought it would all quickly be cleared up.'
Yet that rude dawn awakening would mark the start of a two-year ordeal which would, to Warr's bafflement and despair, take him all the way to court – in a case driven by a police force apparently determined to build a case against him.
A jury would later find him not guilty in less than 40 minutes.
But by then the damage had been done: the man once labelled 'one of the outstanding school masters of his generation' had lost not only his profession and his livelihood, but his good name.
He says: 'Two hundred years ago if you were a criminal, they'd paint the word "criminal" on your forehead. 'Now, due to the internet, you just need to be accused of a crime to be for ever branded.'
How, then, could a man of unimpeachable character have found himself subjected to almost two years of agony on such flimsy 'evidence'?
It is possible that Warr's profile as a 'TV headmaster' in a successful Channel 4 series made him more vulnerable to false accusations.
Then there is Warr's concern that Suffolk police officers effectively 'canvassed' for evidence to build a case against him. He says: 'If it was not actually a witch-hunt, it feels pretty close.'
Most of all, however, he believes that our [British] system of criminal justice has been seized by a collective madness following the exposure of Jimmy Savile, and that the innocent are paying the price
Warr loved teaching, and in June 1981 he arrived to teach O-level languages at St George's in Suffolk, a boys' boarding school (now Finborough School) whose grand Georgian facade gave no hint of its somewhat austere atmosphere.
Nearly 30 years later, the headmaster, Derek Slade, would be sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment for sexual and physical abuse of children in his care. It is this, Warr believes, that laid the groundwork for his own subsequent arrest.
After two years at St George's, he moved to the Royal Hospital School, also in Suffolk, where he remained for what he calls '30 very happy years', dividing his time between school accommodation and a flat he owns in Osterley, West London.
'I loved my time there,' he says, and it seemed the school loved him back. In 2007, the then headmaster, Howard Blackett, labelled him 'one of the outstanding school masters of his generation'.
Warr was, then, wholly unprepared for the knock on the door of his house at the school that chilly December morning.
At the police station, he was told that a former pupil, known as 'A', had alleged that after a PE lesson at St George's, when Warr was supervising showering, Warr had asked the pupil to part his buttocks to check they were dry.
The former pupil, who said he was 11 at the time, would also claim that Warr had once touched his genitals.
'The first thing I said was that I had never taught a single lesson of PE in my life,' Warr says. 'I also didn't teach juniors. I'm a senior teacher – my pupils were 14 and over – and even with them I never supervised showers. It was patently nonsense.'
Basic checks, he assumed, would corroborate his account.
Yet after an exhausting 13 hours in the police station, he was released on bail and told he could not return to his school quarters at the Royal Hospital School.
It was to prove only the start of his ordeal. Initially bailed for three months, it would be nine agonising months before Warr would learn his fate.
In the meantime he was left in limbo: temporarily suspended from school while the investigation proceeded, he struggled to fill his days.
With his name now made public, he found himself the victim of vicious trolling by a small number of former pupils and their parents.
He was called a 'f****** paedo' and told to kill himself in a sewer.
He says: 'I can't describe the desperation. I couldn't eat and, though I was dead tired, I couldn't sleep. I felt utterly alone.'
At his lowest moment, two weeks after his arrest, he recalls contemplating jumping in front of a Tube train, and was only stopped by the thought of the impact on the driver.
The climate was febrile: a month after the arrest, the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, announced that people reporting child abuse 'must be believed'.
Warr says: 'I knew then I was in trouble. It is not for police to believe or disbelieve. Their job is to collect evidence.'
The case against Warr was flawed from the start. Police documents would later reveal to him that 'A' had first approached the police in 2011 when he made the allegation that Warr had asked him to part his buttocks.
The police declined to act – until eight months later, when 'A' returned and now said Warr had touched his penis.
Warr says: 'In police documents it says they arrested me following further evidence. 'In fact it was an embellishment of his original statement, which was translated by the police into further evidence. How can a totally uncorroborated allegation be put forward as evidence?'
He now knows that, in the wake of Derek Slade's imprisonment, website forums were openly making accusations, mainly unsubstantiated, against all kinds of former teachers, himself among them.
Warr says: 'The police had approached the man who ran one of the websites to canvas for more information regarding my case.'
He accepts that his parallel career as a broadcaster might have marked him out as a target. By 2003 he had been given the role of headmaster in Channel 4's That'll Teach 'Em, in which 30 children experienced life as it would have been at a 1950s boarding school.
Nine months after his arrest, Warr was told that he would be charged and that the accusations against him had multiplied. Another ex-pupil, 'B', a very close friend of 'A', was making similar claims – which Warr also vehemently denies.
And a third boy, 'C', a former pupil at the Royal Hospital School, had alleged that Warr had chased him and attempted to pinch his bottom and had, on occasions, endeavoured to remove his towel in the changing rooms.
Warr accepts he may, on occasion, have done the latter – in full public view and in nothing more than teasing locker-room spirit. It is an interpretation accepted by 'C', who told police he felt it had been done as a joke.
Nonetheless, Warr now faced seven charges of abuse against three different children – four counts of indecent assault and three counts of indecency with a child.
'It was an effective strategy,' says Warr. 'A case of a few teaspoons of truth mixed with a whole ladle full of falsehoods, suggestions and innuendo.'
By the time the case came to court, nearly two years later, Warr had resigned of his own volition, believing that as he was near retirement age, it was in the best interests of the school.
On the day of his trial, in October 2014, Warr set eyes on his accuser, 'A', for the first time. 'A' was not a convincing witness.
Warr says: 'His testimony was an embarrassing shambles, full of inconsistencies.' Asked what Warr had been wearing to supervise the showers, 'A' stuttered that it was red tracksuit bottoms and white T-shirt.
'B', in his testimony, said he was wearing a suit and gown – 'an odd thing for me to wear to supervise PE', as Warr points out.
An astonishing courtroom revelation was to follow: 'Y', a witness produced by the prosecution to corroborate the accounts of 'A' and 'B', would inadvertently dismantle a key part of the case. 'One of the first things he said was, "Everyone knows Simon Warr didn't teach PE,"'
Warr explains. 'If the stakes weren't so high it would be comical.'
After a seven-day trial, he was declared not guilty on all counts. 'The relief was indescribable,' he says.
'I'd waited 672 days for that moment. I'm not ashamed to say I cried.' But he remains incandescent at the way he was, in his words, 'hung out to dry'.
'It seems that all that is now required to devastate someone's life, because these public arrests do exactly that, is an uncorroborated allegation.
The only thing that kept me sane and prevented me from killing myself during the period after my arrest was the knowledge that I was innocent.
'But this didn't stop agents of the state stripping me of my good name, my home, my career, my happiness.
'From the start the onus was on me to prove my innocence, not for the police to prove my guilt,' he says.
It is one reason he has written a book in which he lays bare the devastating nature of his ordeal and makes an impassioned plea for us to reconsider how our police handle historical child abuse cases.
Warr says: 'The furthest thing in my mind when writing this book was to drive victims of sexual abuse back into the shadows for fear they will not be believed.
'My purpose is to convey a clear message that all state agencies must also be mindful that there is a possibility that the complainant might not be telling the truth.
'I may have been exonerated by the court but the damage to my reputation is irreversible while the identities of the people who peddled untruths remain protected by the courts.'
A spokesman for Suffolk Police said: 'We carried out a thorough investigation after receiving complaints of alleged child abuse.
'We collated the evidence and presented it to the Crown Prosecution Service who chose to charge the individual with the respective charges. 'They also shared our view that it was in the public interest to prosecute the individual.
'The evidence was presented to a jury who returned their verdict. This is how the criminal justice system operates.'
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.