MMM#15: The Queen Is Dead

Queen Elizabeth II has been the Head of State my whole life so it’s strange to think that she is now no longer with us. I naively thought she’d make it to 100 as her mother died aged 101 and her husband died at 99. Since women typically live longer than men, I assumed the odds were in her favour even though I also knew that she was increasingly frail.

Her death comes at a time in the UK when we are facing a cost of living crisis and increasing cynicism towards our politicians and institutions. It’s hard not to think that the Queen’s death coincides with a particularly gloomy period of British history.

However, I did find the 10 day mourning period a welcome respite from the usual news even if some people may have found the media coverage about it to be excessive. It’s no surprise that there are a lot of people who are anti-monarchy and would rather the UK become a republic with an elected Head of State. It is also likely that anti-monarchists hated the displays of grief and pageantry that were ubiquitous earlier this month.

Although I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Royal Family – when Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, for example, I volunteered to work rather than have the day off to watch it – my opinion of them has changed over the years.

I’ve come to the position of preferring a constitutional monarchy over the alternative mainly because I hate the thought of a President Boris Johnson or Tony Blair! The fact that many of the anti-monarchy crowd tend to be devotees of wokeness is another reason to be on the opposite side. Having said that, I know people who have similar views to mine who are also against the monarchy.

Nevertheless, the argument that democratically elected Heads of State can be voted out unlike Kings and Queens doesn’t convince me since the kind of people who want to be elected to political office are often the ones who shouldn’t be there in the first place! Why assume that whoever replaces a bad Head of State will be any better? Monarchs can obviously be tyrants, but in most cases in the modern world they are driven to serve their subjects and try to put their personal views to one side. Whatever flaws the Queen may have had, I believe her devotion to serve the British public was a genuine one.

A blog I follow called ‘Grey Enlightenment’ also argues here that celebrities, politicians, athletes, etc. in the USA inspire devotion in people despite not being elected to any position of power by public vote. This post also notes that, especially in the case of athletes, their high status is partly down to some accident of birth like being naturally good at running and so is not that different to an individual who happens to be born into royalty.

Critics of the monarchy, and the Queen in particular, do not always come from the pro-republic and/or ‘woke left’ though. Some people on the political right have criticised the Queen for not intervening at certain times during her 70 year long reign to try to prevent changes which, to right-leaning critics, have made the UK worse. This is usually relating to controversial subjects like immigration or political correctness.

During the Queen’s time as monarch, the UK went from being a great world power with an empire to just a little group of islands off the coast of mainland Europe that may well splinter even further. The social changes that have happened during this period, whatever their pros and cons, have also contributed to the tension and divisiveness we see today. In this sense, it’s fair to say that the Queen took a decidedly hands-off approach.

However, I’m not sure what the Queen could have done to try to withstand these changes without threatening the institution of the monarchy. After all, during this same period, trust in other institutions like religion and the police also declined, ending what is sometimes called ‘the age of deference.’ The British Royal Family had also experienced threats to its stability earlier in the 20th Century with the abdication of Edward VIII and the overthrow of monarchies in other countries like Russia.

Like everyone else, the Royal Family have had to adjust to a rapidly changing technological world which has completely altered the way humans live their lives and contributed to atomisation. This, to me, is one of the reasons why there is so much tension today as we don’t have many things that we can unite around. The monarchy, or opposition to it, at least provides something to bring people together.

I watched some of the footage of what became known as ‘The Queue’ and saw people waiting for hours to walk past the Queen’s coffin to pay their respects and I was struck by how religious it felt. People from many different backgrounds were clearly inspired by the Queen and it shows that qualities like duty and sacrifice are still appreciated. Whether or not the new King can evoke a similar response remains to be seen.

MMM#14: Defending free speech

The attempted murder of Salman Rushdie earlier this month has given rise to people declaring the importance of free speech which is often threatened by fanatics and extremists, religious or otherwise. The only thing I knew about Salman Rushdie prior to this incident was that he wrote the novel The Satanic Verses which led to the infamous fatwa being placed on him by Iranian ruler Ayatollah Khomeini.

Nevertheless, despite not knowing that much about Rushdie, I admire his courage in remaining a public figure and advocating for free speech despite the obvious threats against him for his work. The fatwa against Rushdie has not only resulted in this recent attempt on his life, but also the murder, or attempted murder, of translators of The Satanic Verses like Hitoshi Igarashi and William Nygaard. If I was in a similar position, I don’t know if I would be so willing to expose myself to such threats even though I know this would compromise free speech.

The importance of freedom of speech is highlighted by the willingness of people to defend other’s right to speech even if they disagree with them. Theodore Dalrymple notes in this article that Rushdie has said things that Dalrymple finds objectionable but still recognises that Rushdie is a “staunch and brave supporter” of free speech.

Although most people recognise that freedom of speech is important, such a stance is not without its difficulties, particularly in the culture war era. Rational centrist types might advocate for a world that is based primarily on logic and freedom of expression but it is likely that societies will never be totally free of taboos no matter how liberal the most powerful countries in the world become.

It’s telling after all that the socially liberal/neoconservative worldview of “making the world safe for democracy” has been met with a pushback by countries who have been occupied by the US and its allies such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The Western values that were offered to these places obviously conflicted with the taboos and customs that are prevalent in the Middle East. Not everybody wants a McDonalds in every street corner and a rainbow flag flying in every embassy. Personally, I’d prefer to live in the West but I recognise that people grow up in different environments and circumstances so will not have the same attitudes as me.

The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine is also in some ways a clash against two different worldviews which could be simplified as nationalism on one side and globalism on the other with the unfortunate Ukrainian citizens caught in the middle of it all. While I don’t want to come across as too sympathetic to the Russian side, it’s notable that any criticism of the Ukrainian government (as opposed to Ukrainian citizens who I have every sympathy with) or the portrayal of the conflict by Western media as biased against Russia will result in attacks and condemnation. Here we see that freedom of speech in the West has its own taboos and heresies.

We can also see this in other areas. Would public broadcasters like the BBC, for example, employ a presenter on their TV or radio channels that openly opposed gay marriage, was critical of feminism or expressed scepticism towards other sacred cows like climate change? The answer is very likely no. This is in spite of the fact that many people who work for the BBC would likely be supportive of Salman Rushdie.

It has been pointed out by other political commentators that despite many institutions like the BBC being obsessed with all kinds of diversity, they do not try to promote diversity of opinion. One reason for this may be because the positions that I deemed as impossible for a BBC presenter to openly express (anti-gay marriage, feminism, etc.), would be considered ‘oppressive’ and therefore anti-free speech. That such positions would likely be held by religious extremists is also seen as evidence of their oppressiveness.

Social media sites have the same mindset as broadcasters in blocking or preventing the expression of ideas they find oppressive. An argument used by advocates of ‘woke’ or ‘political correctness’ in support of bans on platforms like Twitter is that these companies are private and so should have the freedom to ban whoever they like. Paradoxically, then, free speech can be used to prevent free speech.

This complex and contradictory aspect of freedom of speech has led me to think that it is not possible to have open debate without some amount of taboo and intolerance, although what this would look like is itself open to debate. Being free to speak and express ideas always appears to lead to some boundaries being set up even if these boundaries have some flexibilities. Even though I believe in as much freedom of speech as possible, the inevitability that certain ideas and thoughts will be discouraged and restricted seems to me to be a realistic observation.

In a sense, the culture wars are not just a battle for freedom of speech, but also over what issues societies should be prejudiced and censorious about. In other words, should we attack or restrict ideas that are thought of as dangerous towards designated victim groups, or against ideas that are dangerous towards Western civilisation?

Considering the intense and difficult debates that Western societies will have to address in years to come, such as how people with completely different worldviews and cultures can peacefully co-exist with each other, the relationship between men and women, and race relations among others, it’s at least a good thing that there are people like Salman Rushdie who will fiercely defend free speech, even at their own risk.

MMM#13: Are Women Being Erased?

Since Holy Pride Month has come and gone, I thought I’d write about an issue that currently dominates LGBT discussions.

Controversy around transgenderism continues to appear frequently in the news: the comedian Ricky Gervais’ latest stand up special included a segment in which he mocked issues such as transgender access to women’s toilets, the Labour MP Stella Creasy gave a bizarre interview for The Telegraph newspaper in which she argued that women can have a penis, the conservative commentator Matt Walsh has released a documentary entitled What Is a Woman? and Jordan Peterson had his Twitter account suspended for a comment he made about the trans actor/actress Ellen/Elliot Page.

The ongoing conflict regarding transgenderism has led some to conclude that women, in particular, are under threat since we seem to be unable to define what a woman is. For example, Brendan O’Neill wrote an article in The Spectator back in 2017 arguing that the word ‘woman’ was being erased from public life.

Similarly, the American conservative organisation The Heritage Foundation wrote about the erasure of women escalating in this piece. However, it has been noted that, since the overturning of Roe vs. Wade by the US Supreme Court, progressives have suddenly remembered what a woman is!

Are we heading towards a dystopia in which nobody can tell the difference between men and women and in which women themselves will be erased as a recognised group altogether? My own feeling is that this is highly unlikely.

While I like Brendan O’Neill’s content for the most part, it should be noted that five years have passed since he wrote his Spectator article and the word “woman” still remains in use in public, although the reader might argue that it too soon to argue against this claim.

A similar accusation is often made towards feminism wanting to erase all differences between men and women. There is truth in this, but I believe it is often overstated. Feminists can put forward the blank slate theory of human nature one moment and then suddenly notice differences between men and women when it suits them to do so. Obviously, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem as there is clearly confusion about how to define the two sexes.

Although I sympathise with many women’s concerns over issues like transgender athletes and the access that men who identify as women may have to female toilets and changing rooms, it should be noted that worries surrounding women and their safety have not exactly disappeared following the rise of the trans movement – #MeToo and the Sarah Everard case being just two examples in recent years.

It is interesting, after all, that even lesbian feminists like Julie Bindel (one of the more independently minded ones, admittedly) are on the same side as Harry Potter author JK Rowling in opposing the excessive claims of the trans rights movement. Again, while I agree with many of the arguments that so-called “trans-exclusionary radical feminists” (TERFs) like Ms Bindel and Rowling have made, my sympathy towards them is limited. This is because TERFs have been happy to push forward progressive ideas when these ideas benefitted women at the expense of men and have only objected to such ideas when they appeared to disadvantage ordinary women.

I have my own conspiracy theory that the trans movement was pushed forward by some feminists as a way to rejuvenate their own movement as many women no longer identified with feminism or, more accurately, considered themselves to be ‘post-feminists’ who had believed that feminism had run its course. The apparent threat of transgenderism in erasing women has helped feminism have a new cause to fight against even if it involves a lot of infighting – although infighting is common in feminism anyway. I’m not saying my conspiracy theory is true necessarily, but it’s fun to think about.

Most of the anger coming from feminists on this issue is likely because they believe their slice of the victim pie has just got a little smaller. I can imagine many of the feminists campaigning against the trans lobby suddenly aligning with them and saying both have a common enemy in straight men and the patriarchy when it suits them.

I’ve seen a few people wondering why transgender issues appear to affect women more than men and why women seem to be in more danger of being ‘erased’. It is often concluded that misogyny is the answer. However, there are other reasons that can explain why transgenderism has affected women rather than men, such as:

  • Since men are, on average, physically stronger than women a man who identifies as a woman is perceived as more of a danger in an all-female space.
  • Women arguably have a stronger sense of identity than men so any issue that encroaches on female spaces will be considered a bigger deal. Even an issue that could affect male identity, e.g. a transman who is pregnant, will be seen as more of an issue that affects women for obvious reasons.
  • In some ways, femininity is more flexible about boundaries than masculinity as it is easier for women to cross boundaries defined by sex than it is for men. For instance, women have entered previously male-dominated spaces more frequently than men have entered formerly female-dominated spaces (notwithstanding the current transgender controversy). Similarly, women are more likely to be bisexual than men who typically identify more as either heterosexual or homosexual. Therefore, the current transgender issues are possibly a reflection of this flexibility in femininity working against women.
  • Male identity has already been made vulnerable by feminism – e.g. women moving into spaces which were once exclusively occupied by men – and this remains so regardless of transgenderism, which will also have some effect.

Our obsession with transgenderism is disproportional to the actual number of people who identify as trans or ‘non-binary’ in the same way that people often overestimate the number of people who are gay. This article suggests that 1% of people in the UK recognise themselves as transgender which amounts to slightly over 600,000 people although that estimate may be inaccurate since no everybody will be identified. Notice that ‘identify as’ is not the same as ‘are’.

In other words, although 600,000+ people is a lot, this is miniscule compared to the 60 million+ population of the UK. Even though these numbers appear to have increased, they are still comparably small. Similar findings are likely in other countries of comparable or larger populations. It’s possible that the pro-trans rights lobby would use this argument to deflect any criticism against them by accusing opponents of overreacting so my point here is in no way to dismiss the concerns women have about all of this.

Even in this age of supposed “gender fluidity”, most of the teenagers and young people I encounter are still recognisably male or female even though there is probably more who identity as “LGBT” or what the comedian Dave Chappelle calls “the alphabet people.” On the other hand, I am aware that there has been a concerted effort to push trans ideology on children at a younger and younger age.

But if the number of transgender people is so small, why are public figures such as Labour leader Keir Starmer unable to answer questions like “what is a woman?” The mealy-mouthed response from such politicians is indicative of their well known tactic of not answering a question directly. On the surface, it is obviously absurd that there are people who can’t answer a question like what a woman is but I believe the issue is not so much that they don’t know, but rather that they don’t know HOW to answer that question. It is similar to a child asking their parent “where babies come from”: the parent knows the answer, but not necessarily how to explain it.

Politicians, mainly on the Left, are caught in what the South Park character PC Principal would call a “PC pretzel” where they cannot give a definite answer without upsetting a certain group of people. There is also an element of ‘having your cake and eating it’ about all of this as I’ve noticed articles about pregnant women using “women” and “pregnant people” almost interchangeably as a way of covering all bases to avoid any controversy.

For all of the concern about not being able to identify women and women being erased, it should be noted that the obsession with women’s issues in the media has never gone away. For example, a recent drama appeared on TV called Maryland which was yet another lamentation about male violence against women.

At the heart of this controversy appears to be whether we can define ‘man’ or ‘woman’ in purely biological terms or on individual terms.

I could be too charitable here, but I imagine their encapsulation of “what is a woman” would look like this:

  • majority – adult who is biologically female (cis)
  • minority – adult who is intersex/not biologically female but identifies as such

A man who feels like a woman trapped in a man’s body may believe he is truly a woman even though biologically he’s not. While this could be seen as taking philosopher Rene Descartes famous statement “I think, therefore I am” way too far, in our age of all-inclusivity, even these minority cases are included in the group ‘woman.’ In this sense, Stella Creasy saying that a woman can have a penis – if a man genuinely believes he is really a woman born in the wrong body – has some logic if you define ‘man’ and ‘woman’ as terms that can be applied depending on how you perceive yourself,. but you have to do a lot of convoluted thinking to get to that point. Even if you don’t agree with the explanation I’ve offered here, it makes more sense than the incoherence spouted by the people interviewed in Matt Walsh’s documentary, which is reviewed here.

At best, we can say that human are made of two sexes, male and female, plus a grey area where trans and intersex people (such as those described in Carole Hooven’s Testosterone) occupy and whose numbers, as already pointed out, are few and far between.

In these circumstances, we have to weight the concerns of the majority group – so-called ‘cis-gender’ women – with the minority of those men, who for medical and/or psychological reasons, identify as women.

I think eventually Labour and other Left-leaning parties will have to take a clear position on this as they will lose support and votes if they continue to be ambiguous.

I’m willing to hold my hands up and admit I’m wrong if the dystopian, genderless society does come to pass, but for now I believe that reports of women’s erasure have been greatly exaggerated.

MMM#12: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Although it’s a little belated I thought I’d write briefly here about the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial which ended a few weeks ago and featured prominently in the news.

I looked at the news of the case only occasionally while it was ongoing rather than following it live as some people have done but I was interested by the amount of sympathy that was directed by many towards Johnny Depp, a man, over Amber Heard, a woman, which was in contrast to many cases of relationship conflict which tend to portray women in a more positive light.

Despite this being the age of culture wars and stark divides between people on a variety of issues, I was struck by how many people, regardless of their sex or political leanings, seemed to support Johnny Depp over Amber Heard. Who would have thought it would take a case like this for a consensus to be reached?

Of course, there were a few people who sided with Amber Heard and many more who were indifferent to the case and wondered what all the fuss was about.

I’ll admit that I was more on Johnny Depp’s side partly due to believing he had been a victim of the #MeToo hysteria but also because I have watched and enjoyed some of Johnny Depp’s films whereas the only Amber Heard films I knew were The Rum Diary (where she met Depp during the filming) and Aquaman and I’ve seen neither of them. Bias is always a danger in a case such as this as you can inadvertently mould facts to favour or disfavour whichever person you happen to be for or against.

Nevertheless, I understood people who took a more neutral position and thought both Depp and Heard were as bad as each other. Johnny Depp, given his excessive drug taking, is far from perfect and appears to be a poor judge of character. Who’s to say he won’t fall into another dysfunctional relationship?

It was encouraging to see women speaking out against Heard and the assumption that they should believe her because she was female although this may have been motivated by their fondness for Johnny Depp. Whilst looking at responses to the trial online I stumbled upon a woman who goes by the name ‘Colonel Kurtz’ (I’m aware that’s the character Marlon Brando played in Apocalypse Now), who has made videos defending Johnny Depp and, more controversially, the musician Marylin Manson who has been accused of sexual abuse by his ex-girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood.

I was particularly interested by this 1 hour 45 minute video that Colonel Kurtz made over a year ago in which she analyses a number of Amber Heard interviews to explore Heard’s possible psychological problems. This video also features the very creepy looking Elizabeth Holmes who was behind the Theranos scandal. Later I retweeted Colonel Kurtz’s tweet noting that people’s interest in Amber Heard was partly because Heard represented the reality of false accusations by women (in Kurtz’s opinion at least) against men which had been denied by the media.

The idea that psychologically damaged women could use #MeToo to peddle false or exaggerated accusations of abuse by men was not something many journalists were comfortable with. It was amusing to see the mainstream media contort themselves into trying to make Amber Heard the innocent victim being bullied and harassed by online trolls which was illuminating in how reporting is driven by narratives instead of facts. At the time of writing, Amber Heard has continued to portray herself as the victim in public appearances following the verdict being ruled in Johnny Depp’s favour.

That being said, there was an element of a media circus being created to air the couple’s dirty laundry for the audience’s amusement and for us to observe how messed up Hollywood celebrities really are. On the other hand, the broadcasting of the trial did show the benefit of being able to observe a legal dispute between a man and a woman which allowed the public to see how both parties presented themselves rather than having to rely on potentially biased accounts by the media. I believe that most of the support that Depp received was down to him coming across as more genuine than Heard as well as having a far more competent legal team.

The Depp/Heard trial can be compared to other ‘he said, she said’ trials for more serious offences like rape. In discussions over how to handle rape prosecutions, there is often a debate about whether accusers should be allowed to be anonymous while the accused is named or whether both or neither side should be given anonymity.

I used to think that both the accuser and accused should be given anonymity but I’ve started to think it would be better if neither party was anonymous since it allows a neutral observer to decide for themselves who they think is telling the truth. Inevitably, there will be people who instinctively side with one person over the other but it seems better than allowing such controversial cases to occur behind closed doors. I doubt the suggestion that anonymity should not be allowed in rape cases will gain much traction though since the old excuse of “this will prevent victims from coming forward” will be argued by the growing number of people who seem to think “accuser” always means “victim”.

If the Marylin Manson case features prominently in the news, it will be interesting to see if there is a similar reaction to what has occurred with Depp vs. Heard. However, since Manson is not as well known or as well liked as Johnny Depp, I don’t believe the same amount of support will be present.

If there is one positive outcome to the Depp/Heard trial, I think it is that a lot more people, whether they are men or women, have become more sceptical about #believeallwomen and #MeToo.

MMM#11: Force Makes the World Go Round?

Since the news is currently dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I thought I’d write down some of my own thoughts about it. I am by no means an expert on either Russia or Ukraine; nor am I an expert on many of the events that led up to this moment. I was born just over a year after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, which signified for most people the end of the Cold War and the fall of Communism, so my knowledge about the conflict between the East and West, as well as the Soviet Union, has always been after they had ended. Of course, we may be entering a Second Cold War where the threat of nuclear annihilation emerges once again in people’s minds.

I’ve been very interested in historian David Starkey’s analysis of what is going on in Eastern Europe. He has recently started a YouTube channel, which he may have created because of his own “cancelling” after making some clumsy comments about slavery, where he talks about various events in history and has given his own perspective on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Even if you don’t agree with everything David Starkey says, I recommend checking out his channel.

In this video, Dr. Starkey argues that the West’s problem with dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin is that we think “that everybody should have exactly the same values as a nice, sensitive, woke, public schoolgirl aged 16.” In reality, there are many different perspectives from our own. Although the media believes that Putin has gone mad and is losing the conflict, David Starkey argues:

“Putin is intelligent. He is informed. He is a careful, strategic thinker. He knows what he’s doing. And he’s prepared himself to do it.”

David Starkey

This does not mean that Starkey likes Putin, as he says:

“I certainly think he’s bad. At least, he’s bad according to our values.”

Like a lot of people, David Starkey compares Putin to Adolf Hitler but this comparison, in Starkey’s case, is for a particular reason:

Mein Kampf said exactly what Hitler was going to do, and why he was going to do it. In a series of speeches, over the last two years, Putin has said exactly what he is going to do in Ukraine, and… why he’s going to do it.”

The main point of this video is that, according to Starkey, Putin sees himself as a Tsar who wants to emulate Russian historical figures like Peter the Great and Catherine the Great who conquered the fought over land that would become Ukraine. If Ukraine is to undergo “decommunisation” or “denazification”, this is to be achieved, in Putin’s mind, by “reabsorbing Ukraine into the Russian Empire.” The West doesn’t understand this because:

“Putin, unlike us, understands power. Power, and the role of force. We thought we could dispense with it. He knows you can’t.”

David Starkey makes this point further when he notes Putin’s response to a journalist asking him how could a good country actually declare war:

“Why do you think if you are good, you can’t use force? Goodness implies the possibly to defend yourself.”

Vladimir Putin

To Starkey, until recently, everyone in the West would have agreed with this statement. He makes a similar point in this GB News interview with Mark Steyn:

“We have lived in a myth since the Second World War… Broadly speaking, we haven’t had big wars because… we imagined, we in the West, that we didn’t need force. That force was nasty…”

David Starkey

In another GB News interview, with Nigel Farage, Starkey says:

“The reason that we’ve had the Liberal World Order is because the World great power, America, was prepared to fight. Let’s be honest, America is no longer prepared to fight.”

Less and less money has been spent on defence and more has been spent on “welfare, health and pensions.” Force, for David Starkey, is necessary to maintain the freedoms and beliefs we share in the West but, he believes, we have foolishly discarded this idea.

This is a fascinating point, particularly if we consider the hysteria that surrounded some of Donald Trump’s actions when he was President. Trump’s forceful behaviour was thought by many in the mainstream media to be increasing the likelihood of war. In actuality, although Trump wasn’t perfect, during his Presidency there were attempts at negotiations between the West and potentially dangerous leaders like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un and no escalation of conflict in other countries. Compare this to what has happened since Joe Biden became US President.

As the main focus of this blog is issues relating to men and women, it’s worth asking whether the increase of women in the public sphere over the past few decades has led to a de-emphasis on force, defence and power and more emphasis on personal well-being and non-violence. I’ve written elsewhere that I disagree with some of the assumptions that have been made about women’s effect on society – mainly the idea that women have excessive empathy and compassion which can be detrimental (see here for more detail), but it’s still possible that women’s influence has had some effect.

Nevertheless, the importance that societies may or may not place on force is not restricted to differences between men and women as it can divide many thinkers, regardless of sex. Thomas Sowell has written about the contrast of ideas that has divided many intellectual figures over centuries, of which the use of force is only one of them, in his great books A Conflict of Visions and Intellectuals and Society.

In some ways, the conflict in Ukraine is another battleground in the ‘Culture War’ which is dividing the West. People in the UK, US and Europe waving the Ukrainian flag and banning anything relating to Russia could be seen as examples of virtue signalling and cancel culture given that they don’t require much effort to do. There has also been pressure on large corporations like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola to suspend their activities in Russia without taking into account that this may backfire if Russian people feel they are been bullied and choose instead to rally behind Putin. I’ve also noticed that we are now supposed to write Ukraine’s capital city Kiev as “Kyiv” and other Ukrainian cities like Odessa are now written “Odesa” which I initially thought was a typo when I first saw it written this way. This is presumably to show how cultural, sophisticated and understanding we are in our solidarity with Ukraine.

It’s true that there has been almost universal support for Ukraine and universal condemnation of Putin’s actions, but, as David Starkey has described, there is still debate over the causes of this war and what Vladimir Putin and Russia want to get out of it. In the media, for example, Ukraine has been presented as a free, progressive, liberal democracy with a heroic leader in Volodymyr Zelensky whereas Putin is portrayed as a insane tyrant who has attacked Ukraine without provocation.

Alternatively, there is little attention paid to how the Western world, and NATO in particular, has contributed to Russia’s actions or the corruption in Ukrainian politics. As Peter Hitchens, in his Mail on Sunday column, writes:

“I know that our policy of Nato expansion – which we had promised not to do and which we knew infuriated Russians – played its part in bringing about this crisis. I know that Ukraine’s current government, now treated as if it was almost holy, was brought into being by a mob putsch openly backed
by the USA in 2014. I know that the much-admired President Zelensky in February 2021 closed down three opposition TV stations on the grounds of ‘national security’…I know that the opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk was put under house arrest last year on a charge of treason. Isn’t this the sort of thing Putin does?”

Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday

I don’t support Putin or what is happening in Ukraine but neither do I think the West is entirely blameless. Part of me wants Putin to succeed in his invasion, only because I think that things might be worse if he fails and attempts a more extreme option, such as potentially using nuclear weapons. The suffering of Ukrainians may be worse if the West pushes Ukraine to resist against the odds. If we are not willing to use force ourselves, why should we expect others to?

I have no idea how the war in Ukraine will play out but I agree with David Starkey that we cannot understand our enemies unless we understand how they think.

MMM#10: All You Have Is Now

All of the self-help type stuff I’ve written on this blog is as much for my own sake as anybody who chooses to read it. I’ve always been obsessed with self-improvement and productivity even though I’ve often failed at both of these things. At the end of last year, I set myself some targets to accomplish during this year such as posting at least twice a month and writing at least five book reviews. Even though it’s only the first month of the year as I write this, I feel like I may not be able to achieve most or all of these targets! This is one of the problems with planning for the future as it’s hard to tell what will happen when the future becomes the present.

It we consider the years 2024 or 2025, which are only a couple of years in the future (thus dating this post fairly quickly), it can seem like they are filled with endless potential and possibilities. When they come around though the same issues that face us in the present will emerge and whatever thoughts and plans we had about it will become limited. It’s true that a lot can change by then, but we still have the then-present to contend with.

The psychologist Jordan Peterson has developed a self-authoring program which allows people to plan out their life in the future as well as write about the past and present. This program has apparently helped many people to achieve their goals and reduce anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with planning for the future but there may be drawbacks to this approach too. You could potentially set yourself up for a fall by setting targets for a later date because you don’t know what may happen to you between now and that later point. It’s also possible that you frustrate yourself if you don’t manage to achieve the goals you set for yourself. You also don’t know what your situation may be in the near future as your mood can change depending on the circumstances.

Depending on your temperament, you might worry more about the future than other people and become fixated on accomplishing something by a certain date at the expense of other things. If you fail, then your worries were for nothing.

Since we only live in the present, it’s important that we focus on what we’re doing now as well as paying attention to what we hope to do in the future. Why waste time worrying about what you haven’t done or had wanted to do if nothing comes of it anyway? Could whatever you happen to be doing right now be done better? While focussing too much on the present could lead to short term thinking and instant gratification, I think if you look at what you’re doing now as well as look at what you’ve achieved and what you hope to achieve, you can maintain your productivity. In short, you should try to look at the past, present and future but remember that you only live in the present.

I’m still going to try and achieve the goals I set for myself, but will also try to focus on the present and not dwell on the future too much since the future will turn into the present very soon.

MMM#9: Patriarchy Under the Knife

A recent study appeared in the news which claimed that women were more likely to die when operated on by men than by women whilst there appeared to be no differences when either men and women were operated on by women. The study, conducted by the University of Toronto in Canada, analysed data from 1.3 million patients and found that women were a third more likely to die when operated on by a male surgeon.

This reminded me of a similar news story that appeared a while ago about a study that suggested that patients in general were more likely to die during operations carried out by men rather than women. The conclusion drawn from this earlier study was that women were better surgeons than men and it was necessary to increase their numbers in light of this. As you might imagine, there were a number of triumphant response articles written by feminists either highlighting female superiority or bemoaning the gender imbalance in this area of medicine. Feminists will accept sex differences if it suits their narrative to do so.

The reaction to this recent news has generated a similar response. Researchers from the study itself even suggested that male surgeons might “act on subconscious, deeply ingrained biases, stereotypes and attitudes” as well as suggesting that men and women’s differences in communication style might also have an effect. It was also suggested that the solution to this apparent issue was to train more female surgeons so that the gender imbalance in surgery would end and there would be fewer female deaths.

Presumably, the idea that there might be ways to improve male surgeons’ performances to decrease the number of deaths, if this is indeed an issue, was never contemplated since this wouldn’t fix the male dominance in surgery. This was because the issue the media – and, it seems, some of the researchers themselves – were primarily concerned about was not the safety of patients during operations, but the idea of ingrained sexism in the medical profession.

Hannah Fearn, writing in the i newspaper, argues that the reason behind this disparity is because women have a constant awareness and fear of male power and authority:

“Every interaction between a man and woman in our society is coloured by this imbalance – and the relationship between male surgeon and female patient is the most extreme of these scenarios.”

Hannah Fearn

Earlier in the article, she also claims:

“Medical misogyny is already well documented in Western societies. In the UK, the “belief” barrier that many women need to hurdle before female pain is taken seriously inside the NHS is staggeringly high.”

Hannah Fearn

If this quote is to be believed, it would appear that the NHS is ignorant of women’s healthcare needs due to being too male-dominated. This is despite the fact that this recent government mandate to improve the NHS states it will improve outcomes for major diseases (page 20) by providing screening for cancers like breast and cervical which predominantly/exclusively affect women without listing any male-specific types like prostate or testicular. Similarly, the mandate states it will reduce maternal mortality and support women in senior leadership roles, alongside those who are black, Asian, etc. (pages 20-21).

It would be interesting if the Toronto study had found the opposite result of more male patients dying when operated on by women than men. I can imagine in this scenario either the news being buried or explained away as something like men making poorer health choices.

Alternatively, Tom Utley, writing in the Daily Mail, expresses scepticism to some of the conclusions drawn from this study in an article describing how statistics in general can be misleading and used to make any point you want to make. Whilst conceding that women may be better at communicating than men – I have my own thoughts about that, but I’ll leave that for another day – Mr. Utley writes:

“a far more plausible explanation is that the most experienced consultant surgeons – those entrusted with the most dangerous and life-threatening cases – are chiefly men. In fact, in Britain 86 per cent of consultant surgeons are male. Meanwhile women, who for all sorts of reasons (mostly to do with child-rearing) tend to be less experienced with the scalpel, are generally left to concentrate on the simpler operations. So it’s no wonder if male surgeons have a lower success rate.”

Tom Utley

While admitting to not knowing why there was no difference in male patients, Tom Utley argued that there were other factors to consider before we could conclude that women were better surgeons than men. I’m inclined to agree with him. One possible factor is the different life expectancies of men and women. Since women tend to live longer than men, there is a greater chance that patients of an advanced age that are operated on are predominantly women. Since older people are more likely to die during an operation than younger people, this may be why women are more likely to die during surgery. It’s also likely that men are the majority of surgeons who operate on elderly patients. It would be ironic if this was the primary explanation!

While I don’t think this study was conducted with the aim to challenge the so-called patriarchal field of medicine, any mismatch between the sexes which may affect women is inevitably jumped on as being down to men and society as a whole not taking women seriously even though the opposite is usually true.

Whatever the truth behind the study, it made me think about this Weird Al Yankovic song which parodied a well known Madonna hit and made it about a hapless, incompetent surgeon which is probably what feminists think the medical profession is like.

MMM#8: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

As another year flies by, it’s common for people to reflect on what they have done over the past 12 months and ponder what they plan to do in the coming year. These plans usually get derailed and abandoned pretty quickly but I think it’s still a good thing to do if only to see how you have progressed over that period of time.

In tribute to Vention MGTOW, who died this year, I’m going to do what he once did and look back on what I’ve done this year with this blog and my plans for the future.

Overall, I’m pleased with what I’ve done with the blog in 2021 as I’ve got to grips with some of the features on the site to make it more accessible and presentable. Hopefully I can improve on this next year. In the first year of this blog, I struggled to write posts but this year I’ve gradually found ways to produce content on a semi-regular basis.

Although this year seems to have gone by fairly quickly, it does seem a long time since I wrote about the George Floyd incident and the rise of Black Lives Matter back in January. Since then I have made a video, written a book review and began writing shorter posts so I can update my blog at least twice a month.

My hope next year is to build on what I’ve done during 2021. While you should never make promises you can’t keep, here are some of the things I’m hoping to achieve by the end of 2022. If I can remember, I may write a post in 12 months’ time analysing how well I did:

Regular posts

Since I started this blog in 2019, I’ve had several periods where months have passed and I haven’t posted anything. My target next year is to post at least twice every month. Some months may be more productive than others but hopefully whatever content I post will be of interest to whoever stumbles upon it.

More book reviews

I’m quite pleased with how my review of The Ape That Understood the Universe turned out even though it was a lot longer than I planned. I split it into three parts to avoid giving the reader a large dump of text to slog through assuming they stuck with it.

I have a few books I want to read and write about and I’ve nearly finished writing a review of one of them. My target next year is to read and review at least five books. I’ve finished one book and I’m currently reading another so I may be able to achieve this. At most these should be in three parts but I’m trying to limit the length of them. I know I don’t have to outline in detail the entire book!

More videos (eventually)

I spent a lot of the early part of this year making a video which I posted onto YouTube where I read out my post about Laura Bates’ book Men Who Hate Women. For my efforts, I’ve received two dislikes (before YouTube took away that option)! I’m not too bothered about that because it was just an experiment in video making.

Like this blog, I don’t have a clear plan what I want to do with video content but it’s something I’m interested in doing. My target next year is to make at least two videos although I’m not sure what the content of those videos will be. It may be into the latter part of 2022 before I can achieve this given how long it took me to make the first one.

And other things

As well as writing about men’s issues and politics, I want to write about other things that interest me like TV and film. Some of this will be related to men and politics, but may be more general as well. I still want what I’ve done so far to be the main focus of this blog though.

A bigger audience?

Blogs aren’t exactly the most popular medium to spread ideas or information on the internet so I never expected to have an audience. At the moment, I know one person who reads my blog (a big thanks to femgoggles whose blog can be viewed here) but I’m interested in increasing that next year. If I can get another person reading I’ll have doubled my audience! I’m not too concerned as I enjoy what I’m been doing but it would be nice to get some more people interested. I could have made more of an effort by using social media but I’m trying to limit how often I go on sites like Twitter.

Overview

Book of the year: it’s the only book I wrote about this year so it’s Steve Stewart-Williams’ The Ape That Understood the Universe. I disagreed with some of the author’s viewpoints but I think he wants to be objective and open-minded. Overall I liked it and found it informative.

Post of the year: Thoughts on ‘Toxic Femininity’– one of the reasons I started this blog was to express my thoughts about certain topics that I didn’t think were commonly expressed elsewhere. I don’t claim to be a brilliant or original thinker but I figured that some of the things that I’ve written may chime with what other people have thought about.

In this particular post, I wrote about my disagreements with Freya India Ager’s Aero article ‘Social Justice Culture and Toxic Femininity’ which was widely circulated and discussed. I found the article because of femgoggles and he later linked to my post which I appreciated.

Reader of the year: despite some stiff competition it’s femgoggles!

I’ll end this post and this year by reposting some of the video links that appeared on my blog. Have a happy new year.

  • My YouTube video – a little basic but it is what it is.
  • Vention MGTOW’s summary of 2018: from ‘RIP Vention MGTOW’ – this video was my favourite of Vention’s and inspired this post in a way. From the beginning of 2019 and shortly before his cancer diagnosis, Vention talks about keeping a journal and doing summary of 2018 along with other aspects of his life.
  • Mitchell and Webb sketch about Jesus telling his followers the story of the Good Samaritan – from ‘Thoughts on ‘Toxic Femininity”. Jesus’ emphasis on the goodness of the Samaritan as a ‘weird curiosity’ makes me think of the way people talk about ‘healthy masculinity’
  • Two videos by ‘The Glass Blind Spot’ – the first is his video about the gobby feminist MP Jess Phillips in my post about anonymity and the tragic death of David Amess and the second is about how Doctor Who was infiltrated by SJWs from ‘Who’d be a male role model?’
  • Song from South Park about safe spaces – it’s a few years old now but is still relevant today – from ‘To be anonymous or not to be anonymous?’

MMM#7: The Day Shall Come

Looking back on this year, one event that happened to me in the summer sticks out more than any other: I was almost made redundant as I was told that the department I had been working in for a few years was closing down and me and my co-workers would have to compete for other jobs in the building. I managed to get a role in another department as did most of my colleagues but some other people I had worked with and known for a while decided to leave. The news completely shocked us at the time and for a little while I was having to consider finding another job. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, I was fortunate that I could still go in to work and not have
to wear a facemask all day so I had a false sense of security about my job and could not imagine this bombshell hitting me.

It got me thinking about how we are often complacent about the stability and constancy of our lives and also how we assume we are in complete control of our circumstances. I was briefly stripped of that complacency when I discovered that a decision made by people I’ve never met completely upended my life for a couple of months and I didn’t realise that I was so vulnerable.

Of course, a risk of redundancy is nothing compared to other sudden and unexpected news that people are forced to deal with. Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s difficult to imagine how you would react if you were told you had a terminal illness or if a friend or family member died without any warning beforehand.

Of the job vacancies that were available, I ended up getting the one nobody really wanted and so effectively drew the short straw. At the time, I was understandably a little annoyed that I ended up where I had but it was wisely pointed out to me by others that it didn’t have to be forever and I could eventually find somewhere else to go.

I thought about these lines from Bob Dylan’s famous song The Times They Are A-Changin’:

The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast
The slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be past

In other words, fortunes and circumstances change and my unhappiness would not last forever if I just got on with it and was proactive. Fortunately, it turned out my new job was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be and at the moment I’m satisfied with where I am so my initial grumblings were completely unnecessary. This shows that we can experience unexpected good outcomes as well as bad ones. It would still surprise me though if I knew at the beginning of this year where I’d be at the end of it.

Similar to the idea I put forward in another post about comfort being a false god, we should be wary about being too complacent and assume our contentment will last forever. Another mantra of sorts I came up with during this period is ‘the day shall come’. This basically means that there will be a day at some point in the future that will completely change your life in some way, maybe only temporary, maybe permanently, and likely in such a way that you didn’t expect. This can sound ominous and unnerving as it suggests that there will always be bad news around the corner but it could be that things suddenly improve when you are suffering and in a dark place. Thinking about this can help you prepare for possible bad times to come but may also reassure you that the bad times won’t last forever.

Overall, what happened to me was only a minor occurrence even though I didn’t expect it but there will be tougher times that I’ll have to deal with some day. In some ways, I’ve returned to the complacency I had before all of this happened but at least I had the experience to remind me to expect the unexpected.

The day shall come. Watch out for it.

MMM#6: Who’d be a male role model?

Despite my more recent posts, I’ve tried not to respond too much to current events partly because news moves on very quickly and often by the time I’ve written about something, it’s no longer prominent in people’s minds. Inevitably, a hot topic of one week or month will disappear soon afterwards and anybody who discusses it after some time has passed will find there’s a very limited audience for it.

However, I couldn’t resist writing about the controversy over the comments made by the MP Nick Fletcher during a discussion inspired by the recent International Men’s Day. Nick Fletcher pointed out the trend in recent years of notable male characters in films and TV shows such as Doctor Who, Star Wars and Ghostbusters being replaced by women which, in his opinion, left men with only characters like Tommy Shelby from the show Peaky Blinders. Since Tommy Shelby is a criminal figure compared to the more universally good characters like Luke Skywalker, Mr. Fletcher believed men and boys were being exposed to largely negative role models rather than positive ones which he felt influenced them to commit crimes. As you might imagine, this prompted a hostile response in the usual places.

Most of the attention was directed towards the MP’s comments about Doctor Who since this is the most prominent role that was mentioned whereby a woman had taken on a traditionally male character as opposed to replacing an existing male character with a new ’empowered’ female one. The headlines that followed Nick Fletcher’s comments suggested he had said a woman playing the Doctor in Doctor Who had led to young men committing crimes resulting in him releasing a statement clarifying his points. The fact that Mr. Fletcher also made comments that ticked the politically correct boxes such as that it was a “wonderful thing that girls’ football is on TV, it’s terrific that female tennis stars are starting to be paid as much as their male counterparts” wasn’t enough to spare him from the vitriol that he received.

Ever since the actress Jodie Whittaker took on the lead role in Doctor Who, there has been tension amongst fans of the show over its direction and the writers’ insistence on presenting politically correct storylines and content. There was an understandable feeling that a male (albeit alien) character that a lot of people had looked up to for years was being replaced by a female to satisfy certain people’s political agenda. It’s also possible that the decision to present a female Doctor was a way to boost declining viewing figures as there’s only so many times you can watch the Doctor encounter and defeat Daleks and Cybermen. Nevertheless, I’d stopped watching Doctor Who long before Jodie Whittaker got the part so I wasn’t too bothered at the time when she was announced as the new incarnation of the Doctor. I was never as into the show as much as other people were maybe because, growing up, it had disappeared from TV and I was in my early teens when it was revived so I didn’t have the same nostalgia for it. One day I might check out the original series though. However, I’d recommend watching The Glass Blind Spot’s video here in which he investigates the background behind the casting of a female Doctor.

The replacement or marginalisation of male characters in place of female ones is obviously not restricted to shows like Doctor Who as it can be seen in other established franchises like the already mentioned Star Wars as well as James Bond and Mad Max. James Bond seems to be particularly despised by feminists and SJWs because he is not only a male lead character but a rather masculine one as well which is why he has been gradually neutered in the Daniel Craig films.

I’ve always been fascinated by popular culture and its impact and influence on society so the discussion this news prompted drew my attention. A book I’ve mentioned before called Spreading Misandry explores, amongst other things, how men have been portrayed in popular culture in films and TV shows and I hope to write about it more in the future. The book’s authors, Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young, argue – in both this book and their other books about misandry – that men need to have a role in society that has three key components:

  1. It is distinct
  2. It is necessary
  3. It is publicly valued.

Mr. Fletcher in his speech argued that phrases like toxic masculinity vilified men and made them feel worthless which, on top of presenting men and women as interchangeable and disappearing portrayals of positive male figures in the media, shows that societies are not fulfilling these requirements.

One argument against the supposed lack of male role models in society that has being put forward by many people is the reverence that Marcus Rashford, Gareth Southgate and the England football team as a whole have received for their conduct and performance during Euro 2020 and in their political campaigning. While they all may be perfectly nice men, they have been lavished with praise partly because they’ve ‘toed the woke line’, so to speak, on issues such as ‘taking the knee’ for alleged racial injustices. If Gareth Southgate, or any of the England players, came out and said something like ‘toxic masculinity is a stupid phrase’ or ‘Black Lives Matter are an extremist organisation’ then the admiration and goodwill the media has given them would disappear very quickly.

Like many of us, Nick Fletcher was guilty of presenting a valid point in an unclear and clumsy fashion which allowed people to attack or deliberately misunderstand his point of view. Finding characters like Tommy Shelby appealing does not necessarily mean that young men will turn to crime, which, as others have pointed out, is caused by many different factors which are social, cultural and even biological. On the other hand, young men raised in environments where crime is a normal part of life who have no positive role models to aspire to will look at criminal characters as appealing for simply reflecting their own life.

In one chapter of Spreading Misandry, the authors reflect on an incident in the early 1990s whereby the then-Vice President of the United States Dan Quayle criticised the show Murphy Brown for its portrayal of single mothers in a way that he felt undermined fathers, resulting in predictable outrage from the media. Quayle was accused of reading too much into what was just a TV show or not knowing fact from fiction. The authors respond:

“Shows such as Murphy Brown are not the direct cause of single motherhood, either in the ghettoes or anywhere else. Nevertheless, they legitimate what many have already accepted in others or even decided to do for themselves. Few people, if any, have premarital sex after learning about it from sitcoms on television. But many feel no qualms about doing so, because, according to these shows, everyone’s doin’ it. And hey, if everyone’s doin’ it, how can it be wrong? In short, there is nothing trivial about popular culture.”

‘Spreading Misandry’

Young men who only see negative male role models will have similar feelings.

Nick Fletcher is the MP for Don Valley in South Yorkshire and seems to be one of the ‘Red Wall’ Conservative MPs who were elected in traditionally left-leaning Labour seats in the 2019 General Election. Being from Yorkshire myself, I’m pleased that there are MPs around here like Nick Fletcher and the Shipley MP Philip Davies that are willing to speak out on issues affecting men. Hopefully when the next election comes around he’ll be able to keep his seat, if only to spite the people he’s annoyed.