Sunday 25 September 2016

Where have all the savvy, strong women gone?

Published 11/10/2015 | 02:30

UN headquarters: Fatuous folly from UN women
UN headquarters: Fatuous folly from UN women
Pop's favourite ginger: Ed Sheerin

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the UN is the worst organisation in the world. It's a Third World talking shop where tin pot dictatorships and genocidal maniacs get to pretend they're credible members of the human race.

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Let's put it this way, Saudi Arabia was recently appointed chair of the UN Human Rights Commission - case closed, as far as I'm concerned.

Their latest exercise in fatuous folly comes from 'UN Women', which has come up with a truly inspired idea - censoring the internet to "prevent cyber-violence against women".

They want individual Governments to: "Supervise content and its dissemination... cyber-touch is recognised as equally as harmful as a physical touch."

Um, no it's not. In fact, only a mad person would ever suggest such a thing and under normal circumstances they would be openly mocked and ridiculed in the street.

But we don't live in normal circumstances. We live in a climate of moral panic and a sort of electronic reefer madness which allowed one of the contributors to the report claim that being told "you suck" on Twitter constitutes an act of "hate and violence".

Perversely, the report even draws a comparison between online rudeness to domestic violence, which only manages to insult women who have endured actual abuse.

Let's be clear once and for all - someone being a jerk to you on Twitter is not the same as being victimised in real life. But in a culture increasingly obsessed with conferring a moral weight on people who claim to be victims, a UN report can claim that a cyber-touch is the same as a physical touch without anyone tapping them on the shoulder and pointing out that such a claim is quite obviously bogus and profoundly dim-witted.

I was reminded of this ridiculous report when another mini survey appeared the other day detailing the problems suffered by female Irish journalists. Some of the comments were as predictable as they were depressing. For example, one of those surveyed spoke of how she had been hounded on Twitter 16 times in one hour by a particularly nasty troll.

That's undeniably unpleasant and something I can relate to from my own experience, but the question that wasn't asked was a simple one - why didn't she just block the troll?

I'm not in any way diminishing the emotional pain and fear felt by someone who is getting flak on Twitter... actually, I am. Because as enjoyable and useful as Twitter can be, it is essentially an online asylum where the inmates get to shout at you. The trick is to laugh at them or ignore them or block them.

But that rather simple and undramatic approach doesn't fit into the current victimhood narrative, which sees otherwise strong women collapse in the face of abuse of from some hairy-palmed, socially-inadequate loser who will never achieve what they have achieved.

Where did all the strong women go? When did smart, savvy professional women become such whining, delicate little snow drops?

A recent Pew survey found that while men and women were just as likely to experience online abuse, women were twice as likely to be upset by the experience and that's fair enough - to a point.

I'm not saying such abuse is acceptable or should be just considered banter. I had one guy who used to graphically inform me of the numerous ways he wanted me to be violently raped, so I can understand the irritation caused by such communications.

But there are ways around it without playing the victim card or calling for Government censorship.

Post Charlie Hebdo, journalists now live in world where they can be killed for a cartoon, so it's hard to sympathise with any journalist who wants to be 'protected' from being called fat.

Honestly, is Mary Kenny the last sensible woman in Ireland?

There's a thought...

Honestly, everyone's a critic these days...

In 1988, when The Satanic Verses was published, there were protests in British streets, with effigies and books being burned and the word 'fatwa' was introduced to the English-speaking world.

It was the first time people had taken to the streets with impunity to openly call for murder and was a victory for the mullahs which undoubtedly emboldened them for the kind of violent protests we now see on a regular basis.

The author, Salman Rushdie, has been invited to give a talk at next week's Frankfurt book fair, even though there are still plenty of people who would quite like to make a video of them cutting his head off, but at least Iran has stepped forward to calm potential tensions. Well, maybe not.

Once the regime discovered the shocking news that the writer had been invited to a book festival, they immediately demanded he be dropped from the list - or face a boycott.

According to deputy culture minister Abbas Salehi: "Officials chose the theme of freedom of expression, but they invited someone who has insulted our beliefs."

Of course, freedom of expression isn't very free if you're not actually allowed to express yourself and the Iranian threat is like ringing a dinner bell for jihadis who want to make a name for themselves.

But this is a missed opportunity for the Iranians. After all, if they'd said they wouldn't go because they thought he was the most ridiculously pretentious writer in the English language, I would have joined their protests.

And what a happy meeting of mind that would have been. Oh well, maybe some other time...

Call me, Iran. You have my number.

BTW...

So, farewell then, 'Shag a Ginger' night, you were just too insensitive for this world.

The news that a nightclub in Donegal had launched a promotion dedicated to promoting sexual intercourse with people of a Titian persuasion was greeted with fury by plenty of people, most hilariously, local priest, Fr Lorcan O'Searcaigh.

Fully embracing his inner Fr Ted, the good priest, who rang modern Ireland's one true God, Liveline, to complain about the event, even went so far as to contact the gardai to claim this was "an act of bullying".

Now, I imagine the cops in Donegal have slightly more important issues on their plate, what with, ya know, burglaries and station closures and not having any cars and so forth.

But I was genuinely tickled by the garda who explained to Fr O'Searcaigh that: "This is not a criminal matter, it's a civil matter."

I have this image of the last three cops in Donegal giggling as one of them spoke to the priest and tried not to say: "That would be an ecumenical matter!" before hanging up and laughing like a drain. The event went ahead, with the new name 'Kiss me, I'm ginger!".

Somehow, that actually manages to sound even more offensive.

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