The Independent’s cesspit of misogyny

Beware. If you have high blood pressure already, do not read this. My attention was drawn to the Indie’s commenters by looking at the online coverage of slutwalk. To say i am aghast at reading stuff that wouldn’t be out of place in the worst bits of the Sun doesn’t do this justice. Here’s a selection of what got past the moderators:

Referring to a picture of a woman in chains, used to illustrate the article, John writes:

“The above picture is kind of surreal. But it is not. It is the picture of a wh0r3 asking for patronage. Ind3cent people attract ind3cent people. And when they do get patronage, not from the people of their chosen, they cry rape!!!”

Ian says: “It is good to see men starting to react against all this feminist silliness”

Nuzenite adds:

“Right, that’s it. I was against the burka until I saw those ugly dogs on that march now I am all for the ban. All lesbians and feminist must wear the burka by law. It won’t stop rape but it will stop men turning the other way.”

Faizal, who claims to be from South Africa tells us:

“Anastasia Richardson you obviously haven’t been raped. Come here and ask the woman how they dress after being raped. Please, please don’t play with fire. It seems you people in the West have time to play games.”

Ian is back again:

“Women’s main attraction is the offer of sex, without sex, women would be only good for slaves or even food. Rich men seek attractive trophy wives. Western women have become the most unpleasant human beings ever to have lived on the earth.”

Or there’s this one from Firozali: “Why do not these people wear simple clothes like we used to wear in 60s? Because the cash is pouring in if you show your boobs and the hips swing.”

Even some of the superficially supportive comments have a sting in the tail. F’rinstance: “Of course the ladies have a very good point but modesty can make a woman just as or even more beautiful rather than justifying slavery to fashion”

John241 obviously bears a grudge:

“A society that confiscate, …yeah..forcibly take possession of or rob a man of the proceeds of his lifelong toil in favour of a woman, just because the man want out of a marriage he no longer find comfortable, creates a sense of entitlement in women.”

And a lovely bit of victim-blaming from StimParavane: “It is about time women took responsibility for the sexualisation of society, or would you argue that the level of sex crimes committed has nothing to do with it?”

Still, this march – compared, in one of the few comments that the Indie appeared prepared to ban, to a load of dogs – is no more than a “bunch of silly girls with too much time on their hands”.

Or as Ken Jackson explained “young, idealistic, immature, teenage college students”. Thanks for the compliment, Ken…but I’m still a 50-something middle-aged lady (as were many of those I marched alongside).

And whose comments appear to be under review, presumably on the grounds that they upset the sensibilities of the Indie’s ever-so-delicate readership? Er, Carmen Rose-Locke, who at times seems to be the only voice raised in protest against this onslaught of vicious misogyny.

And possibly my own. At least, my comment, which can be seen here, is no longer visible on site to me.

Time, perhaps, to think again about the Indie.



13 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Paula said,

    “young, idealistic, immature, teenage college students”

    45 .. professional with a PhD.. divorced parent of a 21 year old currently attending university.. and on the march on Friday in Manchester which gathered similar “excusing men for violent assault and abuse” comments in the local press.. yes really “young, idealistic, immature, teenage college students” eh? We have a very long way to go.. maybe locking up rapists for 60 years or castrating them might make a better point than blaming the victim and then using that victim blame as an excuse to continue the attitudes which cause it.

  2. 2

    Stace said,

    I just skimmed the comments there – wow… And not in a good way!

    I’m just speechless!


  3. 3

    Miss Dennis Queen said,

    Look at the other news coverage. Comments everywhere on slutwalk are similarly nasty. what this is does is expose how much bad attitude is out there – this is not related to the Independent specifically. I don’t really understand why you are blaming them. this is what society we live in… this is why we’re protesting jane!!

    for example one of the threats manchester slutwalk received was that someone was going to come in order to rape us. when he was asked if he thought he was funny he clarified that no, he intends to attend and rape. We have contacted police about this person.

  4. 4

    Miss Dennis Queen said,

    if moderation of comments is not following house rules, then this is an internal website matter best dealt by talking to moderators of comments, not blaming the publication which I think tries pretty hard not to be sexist. 😦 i think it’s bizzarre that you get upset when people make sweeping state,ments about The Mail and then write a piece like this!? It just looks like you’re annoyed because they (unlike the mail who you’ve done features for) didnt name you in an article so you’re looking for something to attack them for.

    • 5

      janefae said,

      er…same as i said on Facebook. I respond when i find out about stuff. My attention was drawn to the piece by the issue of getting stuff wrong, which i have picked up on. I am not enthusiastic about how they are dealing with my raising the issue, since it is not so much in the initial mistake that organisations are to be condemned (because we all make mistakes) but how they respond when a mistake is identified. Right now, the Indie is doing very badly on that front.

      As for the comments: my reaction is BECAUSE they are in the Indie. There is a presumption, i think, that some papers’ readerships might be a little less misogynistic than the readerships of others: that maybe the readers of the Grauniad or the Indie are a bit more progressive. I know that is generalisation and likely to prove wrong. But still, i am aghast at the standard of response to the Indie. Its BECAUSE the Indie aspires to higher standards that these comments are not remarkable, but ever so slightly noteworthy, in a way that similar in other papers would not be.

      And as for the Mail: you said it yourself. Its a newspaper, subject to very similar commercial pressures to other newspapers. It has an agenda that you and i might not always agree with and i don’t much like the tone/content of its political reporting over a range of issues. But its not SO MUCH worse than others. Its not like 90% of the press are saints and the Mail is the single devil in the pack. IT gets it (very) wrong at times. It also sometimes gets it right.

      So when people come out with sweeping generalisations, which include the Mail’s political affiliations in the 30’s and the presumption that their political agenda will always trump commercial considerations, i’d like to see evidence. Not generalisation.

      Basically, i expect better of the Indie than this, which is why i picked the issue up in respect of them. (I never have high expectations of regional press). I don’t see the Mail as anywhere near the “best” in its politics, reporting or anything else: i just don’t see it as being as bad as some seem eager to paint it.


  5. 6

    I think it is worth noting that in the internet age commenters on newspapers’ websites are not ‘readers’ of each papaer in the partisan sense, as they are with the paper versions.

    Anyone can comment on any web forum.

    I think this article shows a lack of understanding of how the internet works!

    • 7

      janefae said,

      semi-fair. i’d say there are commenters that travel from page to page, paper to paper. Equally, though, there are hard core ones, who approximate to a paper’s readership.

      But its a fair observation you make and i was sort of thinking about related stuff whilst out shopping just now. Basically, what the internet does seem to spawn is a bunch of people all talking the same subjects to one another and strenuously agreeing. That is suggested to be great in some areas, where it allows new movements to come together around abstruse topics that might never have been possible once upon a time: and its a problem in areas like paedophilia, where people who might ordinarily have just been lone abusers now manage to get together with other abusers to egg one another on and do stuff far wore than they would otherwise.

      Anyway, thinking about this and related comments, it set me wondering whether the comments pages on newspapers (and blogs) aren’t performing the same function, but in spades.

      Sure: in the pre-internet days, some guy might have uttered equally revolting opinions down the pub. But it would be rare for one guy to be exposed to and see re-inforcement for the whole range of misogynist views on parade here.

      Dunno. Though i don’t think i’m quite as naive as you think i am. 🙂


      • 8

        I don’t think you are naiive at all. It just sounded like you were talking about ‘old media’.

        As for the ‘cesspit’ of misogyny I am afraid we differ strongly over the perception of this phenomenon. My interpretation is partly to do with how contemporary feminism tends to express itself in crude, misandrist terms, and how many men are just not accepting this version of them as men, as people, anymore. I write blogs, one which critiques the Guardian and I have entered into discussions with men who you may perceive as misogynist trolls, who I find very intelligent and clued-up about gender, and some of the poisonous aspects of modern feminism – Feminism 2.0 as I call it.

        Yes there are some idiots and some nasty commenters who hide behind anonymity, but that is true everywhere online. And women do it too. The nastiness on some feminist blogs is just unbelievable.

        So we are coming from very different angles on this.

  6. 9

    This is about comments on the positove article, I assume? Have you seen the piece in the Indy today by one of their writers? It is incredibly offensive:
    In other news, thank you so much for coming up to speak on Saturday 🙂

    • 10

      janefae said,

      that’s fine…ugh! yes (of the Alibhai Brown piece). And yes: the comments related to the positive piece in Sunday’s Indie.

      Wanted to crop a line as well…which i will do in a mo.



    • 11

      Sabine said,

      That piece was quite independent of style, grammar, spelling and content.

      Is that author real? The same suggests otherwise: the alibi brown in the staff.

  7. 12

    janefae said,

    Interesting. Have now chatted with one of the journos on the Indie – and HE was shocked by the level of misogyny on the comments to his piece. So something was obviously up at the weekend. Possibly a suitable subject for further investigation.

  8. 13

    Thank you for mentioning me 🙂 I was very frustrated reading those comments, but was compelled to fight for what I believe in. I am heading over there now to reply to any rude comments left after my departure.

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