Sexism, Sonia and Sock Puppets

9ab540eef8ae05c0440a247f9596592bCurrently in Australia, cialis a noted foreign policy adviser breakfast television host is at the hub of what now passes for “controversy”. You’ve heard this story, or a similar one, before. Some normally mild, not-terribly-astute servant of mass culture says something more than mildly bigoted. Persons who are the target of this bigotry are, very understandably, distressed. First on social media and then in press, they, and their allies, seek to reason with the bigotry.

Before the matter accelerates into a big fast nothing (it always does) good people see an opportunity to discuss aggressions faced every day. They mean very well. They make their case in a positive spirit. They even invite bigots ‘round for tea. Thanks to the renewable resource of optimism, they believe they can take a moment from the mass culture and use it to throw some sunshine on society’s darkest impulses.

Except, of course, that enlightenment never occurs. We believe we are “shining a light”, but what occurs is a much deeper obfuscation. I won’t write here about the false revelation electronic media inevitably bring us, as I want to make another, simpler point. I’ll just offer one of the better critical descriptions of mass culture I have ever read: it behaves like “psychoanalysis in reverse”. (Adorno, for the curious baby wanker.)

I want to be very clear before I recommend silence in matters like these, I’m not expecting silence. If I were a person, especially a woman, with Islamic heritage or faith, I would never shut up about bigotry. I mean, how does anyone deal with this shite?  People who are clearly sexist tell me that I am oppressed by my brothers. People who are clearly idiots tell me that my choice to worship is idiocy. People who have faith in an empty sausage like Trump tell me my faith is empty of everything but evil. People who I KNOW have heard me and my fellows apologise for terrorism, even though it had nothing to do with me, say “Muslims never apologise for terrorism”. People who have sought canonical rulings from their own church keep screaming “Sharia Law!” And, FFS, then they send me a YouTube of that intolerable vacancy, Sam Harris.

I’d be Malcolm X-ing the shit out of everyone if I were Muslim.

So, if you are a Muslim reading this, please know I do not expect you to quit your reasonable speech.  I know shutting up would not be physically possible for me were I in your hijab and, frankly, how so many of you stay so sane in the face of bigoted insanity makes me occasionally wonder if the prophet, Peace be Upon Him, didn’t have some good stuff to say. Well, I have actually read your holy text, but I can’t say it grabbed me. I’m more of a Capital lady. But, we’re cool, right, you and me? I fucking totally affirm the right to your beliefs, which have never caused me or my mind-bogglingly dumb nation harm, and you should totally fucking expect this. Because, we do prance about in the west, don’t we, boasting we’re the most tolerant civilisation ever to be upchucked by history.

In short, you are behaving a whole lot better than I would. I do not request nor expect your silence.

You non-Muslims allies, though. You might want to think about zipping it in this case. Or, at least, not responding to every critique of your critique. Because, back to the plot, what happens after you reasonable people get upset (as you are justified in doing) is that fans of bigotry poke you. And then, the conversation turns to ash with a half-dozen turds writing tedious but influential opinion pieces about “my right to have an opinion” (notably, without actually bothering to form an opinion) and then, a few people on the anti-bigotry side get, apparently, so upset, they begin to say dumb shit which emboldens the bigots and gives them opportunity to say “see, I TOLD you our bigotry was justified”.

Now, I know this is a version of the bad playground advice your mum gave you: just ignore the bullies. This is, as I understand it, no longer official playground policy, probably because it doesn’t really work. But, in this curious era, the bullies are very often best ignored. Because sometimes, they’re not real bullies.

As I watched the Sonia Kruger matter unfold on social media, I noted the creation of dozens of new Twitter accounts. About half of them are devoted to supporting ultra-nationalism, and the other half to opposing it. All of them mention Sonia Kruger.

I am pretty sure these are sock-puppet accounts. Their reliance on almost identical and identically misspelled “argument” is a tip off. Their hyperbole, never as funny as 4chan, is similar. It’s generally centred around women’s reproductive parts. I do not wish to link to these accounts nor do I wish to repeat their substance, which I find unfunny and distasteful. But, ugh, there’s a lot of stuff about enforced sterilisation of Muslim women on one side, and then stuff about brutal rape of the television host on the other.

The function of the anti-Muslim sock-puppet accounts is to make progressive persons angry enough to say something stupid, and “newsworthy”. The functions of the “anti-racist” misogynist bile is to make progressive people angry with each other. I want to focus on this second category of sock-puppet and urge you not to “call them out”.

I have seen accounts created in the last half hour currently threatening the television host with rape. These represent leftist Australians like IS represents Muslims. To be clear for the hard of thinking: that is, not at all.

What they do represent is a new trend of manufactured misogyny which serves conservative ends by undoing the left.

A “softer” version of this can be seen in the Clinton campaign. As anyone with a calculator knows, former candidate Bernie Sanders is far more legitimately “left” than Hillary. In order to make Hillary appear progressive, especially to the large number of young voters who found her financialisation and foreign policies offensive (they are offensive), the idea of the “Bernie Bro” was exaggerated by Clinton campaigners.

Now, I have no doubt that a candidate like Sanders who attracted crowds and donors of historic volume also attracted a few fuckwits. I am certain that a few of them were sexist fuckwits. But, this handful of men were used, very effectively, as camouflage for Clinton’s aggressive conservatism.

We can see, sadly, similar tactics currently playing out in the UK. While Angela Eagle and other pro-war, pro-austerity “New Labour” representatives have yet to convince us that Corbyn is sexist (they’re trying) they’ve done a pretty good job of presenting him as an anti-Semite. The message, by a very conservative part of British Labour, is that Corbyn, an actual anti-war, anti-austerity socialist, is not as progressive as we think. Look, he hates Jews, etc. And Eagle won’t shut up about how Corbyn has created uncivilised conditions. This is a woman who supported the uncivilised invasion of Iraq.

If you create the idea that someone who opposes you is vulgar, you get to hide your own vulgarity. And I am seeing that play out, rather crudely, on social media today.

I don’t know which Australian right-wing organisation has learnt so much from the Eagle and Clinton campaigns, but I can just smell today that it’s one of them. Look. I am not a fan of Chomsky and I loathe conspiracy theories, preferring always to think that the mass produces its own irrationalism. But, this is very Chomsky. It’s such manufactured dissent.

I have counted many new accounts apparently opposed to racism, but apparently in favour of gang rape. I suggest that open border advocates aren’t generally known for their threats of brutal sodomy. I suggest that whether sock-puppet or “genuine”, “leftist” socmed misogyny should not be “called out”, but avoided like the toxin it is.

Honestly. Please stop “calling out” performance hatred. The only kindness you’re doing is to News Corp. If Team Rupert hasn’t reported already on the faux-accounts making vile threats as “evidence” that the left is crazy, it soon will. “Look. People who like Muslims also want to do our Dancing with the Stars hostess in the bum.”

The right, as we have seen in the US and the UK, are losing ground. After forty years of their supply-side malarkey, young people feel, very keenly and correctly, that they have been cheated. Very few on the right can actually preach “trickle down” convincingly any more. The right has lost the skill of explaining its economic bullshit. But, it’s become very good at AstroTurf outrage.

If you are truly of the left, do the revolution a favour and dismiss the ultra-trolls we see this afternoon as fiction as divisive as financialisation.

Of course, a small number of anti-racist persons may also be big fans of femicide. Even if real, they are beyond your reason. So, zip it.

I know this is difficult. I often think about “calling out” the men who threaten to rape my dusty old arse etc. But, it’s important to resist. Block and report hate speech, if it helps. Then proceed to your own productive speech. Do not engage with these fake trolls.

Unless, of course, you enjoy helping out conservatives. In which case, just cut out the middle-man and join the IPA.

Fuck the right. Fuck their serfs who mine the seam of our *actual* ethics and try to rob us of this wealth.  Be strong. Know that strength comes from evolving your thought with your comrades. Weakness is speaking into a vacuum.

Finally, to my Muslim comrades: I apologise for the mass atrocities of violent politicians against those of your faith. These extremists do not represent me or the best of my western heritage. Sorry. I really am.

 

 

 

6 comments for “Sexism, Sonia and Sock Puppets

  1. Chris Richards
    July 19, 2016 at 1:18 am

    I appreciate the fact that everyone has an opinion, no matter how odious it might seem.

    But come on, people. It’s Tina fucking Sparkle.

  2. Lina
    July 21, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    This is just plain and simple wanking.
    Go work on a soup kitchen or something worthwhile

    • July 30, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      What is not worthwhile, Lina? An attempt to decode the mechanism and function of racist media for a few interested people? You were not obliged to come here. This was not imposed on you. And, frankly, I think the instant you spent dismissing, without analysis, the thing that was written could have been better used in a soup kitchen.
      Jesus, people. Criticise by all means. But criticise something.

  3. August 26, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    I was following you with great interest. You were making so many valid points and then you steered off track to Clinton and Sanders and lost me. I find the whole Left Right discussion very dated. Helen, your piece is hardly a reasonable analysis. It s basically your rationale for silencing a view contrary to your own.

    • October 2, 2016 at 1:24 am

      And what apparatus do I have to “silence views contrary to my own”? Am I Queen of all media or just a left-wing writer of very modest prominence, in this case writing shit on her blog.
      It’s okay that you find the “Left Right” discussion very dated. Off you pop to more modern sites, then. Those that overlook a distinction that has been in existence for nearly two centuries.

  4. Bab
    October 23, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    I agree with most of this, but particularly the criticism of those who insist on engaging with mindless sock-troll scum on the internet, as if they think they can harangue them out of existence. Its a waste of perfectly good Youtube comment space that could be more productively used for ads promising to pay me $1873 a day for masturbating in front of my laptop.

    Also seen this countless times at demonstrations, where each side obsessively records the other with smartphones hoping to bait at least one of the crazies on the other side to go postal and hopefully smear everyone else in attendance with vile rhetoric. Its actually surprisingly easy and effective. Even a “Save the Whales” protest can attract one or two people who might be motivated by anti-Japanese sentiment. Ask a few baiting questions, get the request you desire and upload it to Facebook. Then turn the fan on and toss the bag of shit in the vague direction of the ceiling.

    I dont know if the anti-Corbyn/anti-Sanders red-baiting tactics would work here. I think having compulsory suffrage changes things in that politicians dont have to serve up as much red meat to their supporters to get them to the polls because they are legally obliged to turn up anyway. Apparently Sanders’ candidacy was sunk primarily because poor people don’t vote in primary elections, rather than simply having been white-anted by the Democratic party establishment (although of course he was).

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