feminism

Hardline Progressives Are Enabling Milo Yiannopoulos

By:James Di Fiore

He’s repugnant. He’s a vicious Internet troll. And he just happens to be right about mainstream left wingers in North America.


Milo Yiannopoulos, the gay conservative online provocateur is widely reviled, and for good reason. A contributing editor for Breitbart News, Milo’s modus operandi is to offend, annoy, and attack the left, as well as the groups seen as marginalized by society. He’s often well beyond vitriolic, ranting about how feminism is a cancer or how Black Lives Matter is a terrorist group. His whole career centers around one main pillar; that the left is determined to destroy free speech for those who do not subscribe to their rigid ideology.

 

And, tragically, he’s not just correct, he’s infallible on that point.This week Milo was scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley, the campus where the free speech movement was born, a reaction to the university faculty’s decision to ban on-campus political activities. Throughout the 60s and for decades, Berkeley was considered to be the main guardian of the 1st amendment.

My, how times have changed.

Milo and his controversial shtick were cancelled after students and other ultra-progressives fired rocks, Molotov cocktails, and industrial fireworks at police and security in a successful bid to shut down the event. By doing so, they not only made Milo more infamous, and probably more wealthy and influential, but they also excoriated their own campus’ legacy for being all about liberty and justice.

But it isn’t just Milo and American progressives battling to see whose side can be most influential. This battle is now an omni-present engagement between the two fringes of the right and left, as well as those of us in the middle who can’t stomach either side.

A strange phenomenon has been happening over the past decade or so that has stifled great debates, great conversation. I did not truly understand the magnitude of the problem until I began receiving messages from people on Facebook after getting into debates with strangers about identity politics. The messages are almost always identical; ‘Hey James, just wanted to let you know that I agree with a lot of the points you made today. But I can’t jump in because I don’t want to get fired from my job.’

They sometimes don’t want their families to give them a hard time, or they are afraid they will lose friends over their opinions. Depressingly, these are both very plausible outcomes, the aftermath of a polarized society where you must wave one of two flags, and by doing so you are required to parrot certain viewpoints or you will find yourself without a flag to wave.

I know about this first hand. Most of my friends lean left on nearly everything. And that’s fine, but many of them have opinions that are not in line with hard left ideology, and they are far too afraid to talk about those positions in public. Things like gender politics, for example. I would estimate that at least 80% of my female friends over the age of 30 refuse to call themselves feminists. They feel infantilized by modern feminists, embarrassed that they are being told to constantly place themselves in the role of a victim. And just as an aside, it is beyond sad that their views are met with rage and reflexive dismissals from their fellow women.

Milo uses the word ‘cancer’ to describe feminism, but I would say the modern movement is more like a caricature of itself, applying several litmus tests as a way to gauge whether or not a person can join the club.

It should be reassuring for activists to know that a growing number of women already feel like equals in our society, empowered by a healthy work life balance and a staunch confidence that their futures are centered around their belief that they have as many opportunities to thrive as their fellow male citizens. They believe they can negotiate a higher wage, and do not feel bogged down by the belief that the wage gap can be explained by misogyny alone. But many men and women know from experience that discussing topics like the wage gap is booby trapped with ideological talking points, accompanied by a visceral reaction that cites questionable statistics as if they were as ironclad as the colour of the sky or where babies come from. But the people I know who might disagree about the causes and size of the wage gap are all people who believe in gender equality, and many of them are strong, intelligent women.

Nobody wants to hear from these women though. The hardliners will dismiss their experiences as anecdotal, a symptom of a patriarchal shell game that isn’t indicative of most women’s experiences. And why would they acknowledge this progress? After all, it undermines their entire identity as the fighters of ingrained oppression. Like hardline conservatives and their cult-like faith in free market capitalism, there is no room for negotiation. Both progressives and conservatives engage in echo chamber activism born out of polarization that defines the other side as the enemy while branding their own side as unerring. There is never any compromise, never any debate to water down the dogma. Facts that contradict the radical positions of either side are off-limits, viewed through a lens tinted with the notion that the ends always justify the means, especially when those ends are all about justice.

I still consider myself a person with strong progressive ideals. I am on the centre/left of every issue I can think of, except one: political correctness. That a notorious troll like Milo concurs with my assessment of who is stifling free speech does not mean I endorse his brand, but I’m not about to stop him from speaking either. It’s paradoxical, and my daughter shouldn’t have to choose between a demagogue and a side too afraid to admit they’ve already won a few battles in the fight against inequality.

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Brock Turner and North America’s Anti-Rape Culture

Screenshot 2016-06-11 13.04.46

BY: JAMES DI FIORE

It takes a lot to get almost everyone in our society on the same page. As a collective, North Americans argue about just about everything. Social media has become our gladiator arena where we live in a state of perpetual verbal combat, launching vicious attacks against one another, often just for the sake of attacking.

Politics, crime, social issues — virtually every last societal facet has been and will continue to be endlessly debated by a public still trying to find a communications toe hold on this thing called the Internet.

But sometimes a story can put us all back on the same page. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen, as it did this week when Brock Allen Turner received just six months in prison for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. The public’s reaction was both swift and universal — this was a heinous crime and the six-month sentence is an affront to both decency and justice.

But one silver lining, so far as there can even be a silver lining in a rape case, is that all of us in the gladiator arena put down our swords, united in our shared contempt.

We were not entertained.

A man everyone agreed was guilty of raping a young woman received a sentence that everyone agreed was a travesty of justice and insulting to the victim and society alike. We all agree the judge is incompetent. We all agree Turner’s father is an asshole and the obvious first domino in his son’s attitude towards women. We all agree on everything. In particular, we all agree the justice system needs an overhaul so it can produce judges who don’t hit rapists with kid gloves.

Now, before I switch gears, let me preface this by saying I really hate that I have to preface this. But I do. Trigger warning: I’m about to make sense.

There are people reading this who are dogmatic about the terminology associated with gender issues. At the top of this list is the term only a nihilist could love. It’s a term soaked in self-deprecation, satirizing society’s moral minority and attributing their crimes and attitudes to the rest of us. It’s called Rape Culture, and it is a condescending way of delivering an otherwise worthwhile message; sexual deviancy and sexual assault are especially heinous.

Men who commit these crimes are often given light sentences, a testament to how our criminal justice system can let down survivors. Paltry sentences, along with the similarly short sentences for crimes against children, are two of the darkest corners of our legal system as I can think of. Both groups of criminals are almost always habitual offenders, the short sentences acting as behavioural enablers, ultimately providing criminals with more opportunities to perpetrate violence against innocent victims.

And the public overwhelmingly agrees that all of these realities are inexcusable. We all agree something needs to be done to stiffen the punitive aspect of these crimes. We all agree rapists are evil. Saying there is a huge problem within the justice system is one thing, but our actual culture – meaning us, the people – is not a culture that enables rapists. The justice system is separate from the people.

The label ‘rape culture’ unfairly stigmatizes society. It levies not just a reaction to sexual violence, but also a collective responsibility for the violence, accusing us of contributing to the victimization of rape survivors. Even when we are marching together, as we did when we heard about Turner’s six-month sentence, we are still lectured about how rape culture permeates throughout society. It wasn’t the judge who sentenced Turner, it was rape culture.

Despite the universal condemnation for all the injustices in this story, we are goddamn well swimming in rape culture. We are absofuckinglutely drowning in the shit.

Only, that’s not true at all. In fact, the opposite is true. I have good news everyone — we are up to our balls in anti-rape culture. That’s right, while we all recognize the need to continuously improve all aspects of our flawed society, we can take solace in the empirical data that shows us two stark yet equally important realities.

First, roughly 6 per cent of men commit sexual crimes. While that is obviously much too high, it is also tangible evidence that the evil men who commit horrible acts of sexual violence is a small minority of men. Again, 6 per cent is still too high, but knowing that 94 per cent of men are not actively hurting women should be a relief if we are worried that our male family members and friends might be part of the problem.

Furthermore, and this is another silver lining in an otherwise god awful subject, sexual violence has plummeted over the past 23 years. If we were ever engulfed in rape culture, we have certainly evolved into a culture of anti-rape, proven both statistically and through our collective common sense.

Rape is a disgusting act that should be vilified and punished in the strongest terms possible. Be proud to know you live in a society that understands this, and while the gender warriors drown you in a hyperbolic narrative that demonizes an entire gender, just remember that rape culture is what they have used to brand their mission.

Rape culture isn’t a factual reality. It’s marketing. Almost all of us know right from wrong. We don’t need a hero cookie, but perhaps now is a good time to stop drinking the rape culture Kool-Aid.