From hashtag to witch hunt #MeToo

It’s now just under a month since the #MeToo hashtag took off. Amongst my friends this happened shortly after someone moved from a bit dodgy to violence. The initial idea that people post if they had been subject to assault or harassment to show how wide-spread the problem is, had (in my opinion) merit and caused some interesting discussions. I posted a somewhat lengthy “#MeToo” myself, as like quite a few people of both sexes I’ve been on many sides of “#MeToo”. I’ve been assaulted (not seriously), harassed and taken advantage of but I’ve also not always been quick to spot when my attentions weren’t welcome, had false accusations made about me quietly behind my back and I’ve not got involved when I probably should have to stop things. None of my experiences did me any lasting harm thankfully and just taught me to be more careful and to avoid some people – also if you are a teenager about to go out cycling for the day and get asked to come into work as an emergency remember to take a change of clothes. How one reacts to such events is down to the individual and what they’ve been taught. I’d been mainly taught that as a man I should just suck it up and anyway I couldn’t be sexually assaulted/harassed. The views in universities in the mid-90’s with regards to men’s desires being coercive and invalid has done me far more harm. Of the things that happened to me I wouldn’t have classified them then as I would now, and if I used current ideas of harassment then the list of what I’ve both experienced and done would be far longer. I’ve seen this change in attitude in what’s considered acceptable amongst my friends within our own group and by and large that’s been a good thing we’re a more considerate bunch because of it.

This change in attitude makes judging past behaviour very difficult, the past is indeed a foreign country even to those of us that were there. It gets even stranger when other people insist that something you experienced was something other than what you experienced it as. Despite all of this I think the initial desire of the “#MeToo” tag to illustrate how wide-spread experiences were was a good thing. But of course these things drift, past behaviour gets reinterpreted through the haze of memory, ever smaller things get counted so that people can jump on the band wagon to get attention or write an article ( like this one) and so forth. The claims have to become ever more inflated to keep getting attention and to make the headlines. After all “he touched my knee and I wasn’t fussed” doesn’t normally make for much of a story. Then hot on the heels of #MeToo came the self-flagellation of men promising to do better, confessing their sins and asking forgiveness for unspecified past misdeeds #Idid #Iwill.

With such a febrile atmosphere on social media the time was ripe for yet another Westminster scandal – a leaked document of vague hints and allegations of MPs doing utterly normal things. just imagine MPs looking at legal porn or having consensual relationships with people! The horror! Burn them! As other people have observed listing such mundane things among more serious allegations both Jonathan Pie at Westminster.

Hopefully it goes without saying, though these days if you don’t say it you’re in trouble, that rape and assault are serious offenses and in no ways acceptable. Not all unwanted interactions are preludes to violence. Though of course it gets wearing not knowing which ones might be so one can easily start to see every interaction as a potential source of violence especially when the media mainstream and social is pumping out a relentless message that a clumsy come on is the same as assault or will lead to it. It’s as though the attitudes from the mid-nineties universities have risen from the dead and escaped into the wider world. Social pressure to get people to improve their behaviour is a good thing, by and large, and used to be called manners (so terribly old-fashioned). Casting all men as offenders or will-be-offenders doesn’t help that, the people who will listen to such messages by and large have probably already heard them and try to be polite – those that need to learn how to behave aren’t going to pay attention to even the wittiest hashtag or vice article. Those that listen will either end up assuming that any interaction is a mine field and best avoided or you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, those that aren’t listening aren’t listening. Ironically as I type this a friend of mine is dealing with a perfect decent and friendly chap not understanding why they don’t want a particular photo on-line. They acquiesced but there was a failure of manners and understanding. You can almost start to see the appeal of chaperones and rigidly enforced codes of manners except that didn’t work so well last time, it’s almost as if some sort of mutual middle ground were needed, that maybe treating people as homogeneous blobs rather than individuals is a bad idea. Of course being of the wrong gender by current mores I shouldn’t speak about this no matter how it affects me or those around me. So here’s someone of an acceptable gender on the subject:
“Belittling the real, devastating crime of rape doesn’t do real, devastated victims of rape any good, either. In fact, as with all the shoots of the monstrous Triffid, New Puritanism, it is strangling compassion and blinding empathy.”

I don’t know what the answer is a lot of my friends feel unsafe which is bad, people should feel safe going about their normal lives and normal human interaction shouldn’t be a mine field where an ill-judged comment can cost someone their job. Perhaps turning down the hysteric reporting and stop treating a wink or scarcely brushed knee as being anything like assault it might help make people feel safer. Perhaps it might even make it easier to deal with the actual problems that remain, as at the moment if “assault” can be anything from a brushed thigh to rape it’s impossible to react properly or gauge the problem being dealt with. People are complex, social problems more so – who knew – but one thing that’s fairly certain puritanism and witch hunts have a really bad track record.
Anyway here’s a debate among people far more erudite than me.

Potemkin’s gay bar

The Gruniad is reporting that a new development must run a gay bar for at least 12 years. So in an age where discrimination on the grounds of sexuality is illegal, a developer is being forced to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality. But has been demonstrated time and again only some forms of discrimination on the grounds of sexuality incur the ire of the powers that be. That however is by the by, the article claims that queer bars are closing at an “alarming rate”, which whilst it doesn’t specify what that alarming rate is one must assume that it’s substantially higher than the 29 pubs a week that the entire pub trade is seeing. It might be worth noting that the venue that has caused this bizarre planning requirement it located in the borough of Tower Hamlets. Now it could be a complete coincidence but Tower Hamlets has a rather high proportion of Muslims 38% compared to the national average of 5%, and adherents of Islam aren’t known for their propensity for frequenting bars gay or otherwise.

The BBC does make a stab at asking “Why are London’s gay bars closing”. Which raises the possibility that there’s less need for queer specific bars as people are more tolerant these days, and there are dating apps. However such a narrative isn’t allowed to live for long, before it switches quickly back to talking about the community need, and how there is still demand and that people are fighting back to save their bars. However much like many other campaigns to save community bars none of the actions being taken seem to actually involve the very simple idea of : drinking in them!

Bars and pubs have been closing across the board as demand falls: because younger generations are drinking less generally and people have less spare money. This is always going to hit venues with more specialist and thus smaller client bases harder than more open venues. So if your favourite venues are closing down you realistically have two choices:

  1. Drink in them, and get your mates to drink in them so they make more money and can stay open
  2. Start petitions to force other people to pay to keep them open for you whilst you drink else where

One of these will work long term, the other will keep the venue open as a parody of itself unable to adapt. The developers taking over the site of the Joiners arms, will have to keep a queer focused venue open for 12 years even if no one uses it. Subject to some sort of inspector to make sure it’s queer enough, but based on what criteria, does it have to be all drag queens and bears? What happens as queer and mainstream cultures cross and merge and inspire each other as they’ve always done? What trends count as queer enough? But so much simpler that people sign a petition to force other people to fund a social venue they may never use, rather than spending their own money to actually support a venue and keep it viable. So here we have the tragedy of community venues closing due to social changes and financial pressures repeated as the farce of state controlled discriminatory, fossilized loss making Ptomekin bars. All alternative and underground cultures are facing the same problem just ask a goth what they think of the changes to Camden. Now being queer isn’t the same as being a mod, rocker, psycho-billy or mettaller – but wanting to drink in a specific type of bar is. Many historic pubs have been lost to only the tears of the people that actually used them, and self pitying articles of people that liked to talk about how they would or did use them – without having set foot in them in years.

The simple inescapable truth is that if a venue matters to you, the only way to keep it it to use it, and spend enough money in it that it remains viable – anything else results only in state maintained theme parks which won’t be used either by the people that used to support the real venue or those that wrote mournfully about the decline of a “much loved” historic venue.

Breaking : Just 3D print it – lose again

#SadFace

Image by Loubie

News just in Ryan Simms and the other cockwombles over at Just 3D theft have lost another court case. This makes the score 2-1 against Just 3D idiots and the one they won was basically by a very bizarre default and is being appealed. Which rather makes their previous missive to me even more ludicrous.

The highlights of todays order include such gems as :

  • The judge determining that Loubie did indeed hold copyright to her model, despite Ryan Simms claims otherwise. Which unless I’m much mistaken means by implication the judge just ruled that Just 3D Theft did in fact steal other people’s intellectual property
  • 3DR are just as unqualified as Just 3D Theft to publish a legal opinion, but if Ryan D. Cockwomble can publish his opinion on copyright issues, then so can anyone else even if they’re ‘ using somewhat “unflattering” words‘.
  • Just 3D Theft lost revenue for breaking eBay’s policies, but presented no evidence as to what policy they broke, and can’t demonstrate that 3DR’s article had anything to do with it
  • No one knows why eBay shut down just 3D print, it might be due to Loubie’s complaint, but no evidence has been presented to support any reason

I’m obviously summarizing from a position of blissful ignorance of American law. Anyway the tone of the whole judgement is rather lovely and it’s not that long, so go read it yourselves.

Ryan D. Cockwomble may of course choose to appeal the two cases he’s lost so far, he’ll at least be back in court once more to fight the appeal case against Stratasys. Given Just 3D Maroons track record with reality and evidence so far I’m not holding out much hope for them prevailing in that case or any appeals they choose to bring.