Sunday, 30 March 2014

How Phil "TARDIS Eruditorum" Sandifer and Jack "Shabogan Graffiti" Graham read my essay, wrote a *very* similar piece that refused to mentioned mine, and then trashed mine


This piece is a summary of some not particularly pleasant treatment I've had from Phil Sandifer and Jack Graham lately.

Here's a comment I left on Jack Graham's guestpost on Phil Sandifer's blog:



This piece makes very similar points to a blog post of mine posted online on the 18th May 2013 (a sequel to one posted on 18 November 2011)

 http://richardhcooper.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/steven-and-women-or-how-steven-moffat.html 

which both Phil and Jack have read. Here is a tweet Phil Sandifer sent me on 21 May last year indicating that he's read my blog post on Moffat and sexism:

https://mobile.twitter.com/PhilSandifer/status/336901436522786816?screen_name=PhilSandifer

[Contents of that tweet: "Right up until I get to the topic of sexism in Moffat's who and violently disagree with @RichardHCooper :)"

It remains the only time he has contacted me or mentioned my blog in any way. (He did go on to write the piece he mentions in that tweet, but it contains no reference to my stuff)

Here's Jack's blogpost praising mine, on the 21st May 2013:

http://shabogangraffiti.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/maybe-some-of-us-belong-in-fields.html

If this newer piece had appeared on Jack's blog, I would have no problem with it, but Phil's site contains no mention of me or my blog, and no links to it. Here's an email I sent Jack when I read the guestpost:

Hi Jack. 
Could you edit your guestpost on Phil's site to add a link to my posts on Moffat? This isn't a dig at you: I ask purely because whilst your own site has been such a good supporter of my work, Phil's makes no mention of me or my blog at all, even though I know from the one tweet he sent me that he's also read my Moffat sexism piece. Also, Phil has considerably more influence and readers than I do. Acknowledging me would mean that no-one reading my blogpost without checking the date would think I had read your guestpost on Phil's and derived from it witbout acknowledgement.
All the best,
Richard

This was Jack's reply: 

Dear Richard,

I've messaged Phil about this, and we've decided that we don't think a link to your essay is called for.  I'd hate anyone to come across your own excellent post and wrongly assume that you'd derived anything from me, so I'll add something to my own post at Shabgraff about the guest post, linking to your essay and acknowledging that you 'got there' before me.  

I did consult your Moffat essays when I was outlining my own guest post for Phil, but (with respect) there was nothing in them that I wanted to adapt which I hadn't already noticed on my own.  

I hope this does the trick.

Sincerely

Jack

None of this is egregious, just bad manners: for example Lawrence Miles's blog and SOTCAA are clearly influences on my blog, the difference is that I talk about and link to them on the blog and Phil Sandifer seems determined to do neither regarding me. As I said in the email, he has a larger following and more influence than I do (this piece has attracted more comments in less than 24 hours than my 2011 piece on Moffat has in two and and a half years). An abiding point here is RBC's comment:  "I think Jack hits on a more incisive line of argument when he writes that "Fetishizing ‘power’ in women characters... isn’t the same as writing them as human beings."" Here's a line from my blogpost: "Unfortunately, a fetish for powerful, sexy women who like cheating people is no substitute for an interest in human beings."

Just to stress, all I would have liked was a brief mention or link. If you don't want to, Phil and Jack, I can't force you, but the next time you "consult" my stuff while you're outlining a piece for a bigger platform than mine, maybe show some courtesy, or kindness to a struggling blogger, particularly if you think it's "excellent".                                                                               

This was Phil's reply to my comment:

I would suggest that perhaps complaining about manners and courtesy while trying to bully people into linking to your blog is ill advised. I don't link to you in my Moffat and Feminism post because I have not read or thought about you since that tweet nearly a year ago. This is because, to be perfectly frank, I found your essay unimpressive. It stimulated no thoughts whatsoever, and I had totally forgotten about it and you until Jack messaged me today. Looking at your piece again, I find it facile and fond of making cheap jokes to cover up the places where you have no actual argument. Though at least it's better than your 2011 post, which is absolutely abominable. 

Similarly, I take Jack at his word that although he read your piece he was not in fact influenced by it, and that he had come to the same conclusions you did on his own. This is because, quite frankly, you do not actually say anything that hasn't been said by dozens of other critics within the extremely large body of work that has been written on Moffat and feminism, a body of which your single essay is a very, very small part.

This was Jack's reply:

Richard, if you want to accuse me of plagiarism, don't be coy. Come right out and say it. Don't pretend to be complaining about bad manners.

The bit you cite sounds similar, no doubt. Shall I spend 5 minutes on tumblr finding 50 people who said pretty much the same thing, in pretty much the same words, ages before either of us?

I acknowledged two people from whom I took specific points that wouldn't have been in the essay if they hadn't mentioned them to me. I didn't mention you because... well, you've already reproduced the text of the email I sent you in which I explain that.

People who have read both our essays will know that there's loads in mine that is nowhere to be found in yours (I don't recall you mentioning neoliberalism anywhere) and, likewise, loads in yours that is nowhere to be found in mine. There are points of similarity where we both go through some matters that are now pretty much 'common currency' on the internet.

I enjoyed your essay at the time and said so publically. As you mention, I devoted an entire post on my own blog to saying how much I liked it, quoting from it approvingly, and linking to it.

And, unlike you, I've never written for Salon. 

Phil subsequently sent me this tweet:

I'm not sure there's a polite way to falsely accuse someone of plagiarism.


Before I respond to these points, here's a breakdown of the similarities:


From Mine: There's much emphasis on who she is, how often she's met the Doctor, what role she will play in his future, but is there really a character there?[ ...]  there a single reason to care about her? What has she done except shoot people, flirt in a way that Moffat seems to think evokes Lauren Bacall but comes across like someone's drunken aunt at a wedding, and occasionally claim to be an archaeologist? (2011)
She's got poisonous lipstick, her all-time fantasy is a threesome with two Doctors, her last words before regenerating are "I'm concentrating on a dress size" , she promises that she's "a screamer - now there is a spoiler for you!" and her reaction to meeting the Doctor for the first time (from her point of view) is "you never said he was hot!" The "bickering" between the Doctor and River is excruciating because it's little more than the stage directions "they bicker" and "they flirt" [...]
This isn't a character, but a soulless collection of gender and TV reference points (2013)

 From Jack's:
Who the hell is River?  She is an assemblage of gender essentialist tropes and wisecracks. When does she ever – beyond, arguably, her first appearance – behave like an academic or a scientist?  When does she ever display anything resembling erudition or intellectual curiosity?  When does she ever do or say anything to show or engender love?  Admittedly, the Doctor seems to be sexually aroused by the way she shoots people… which is just charming.  In ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’, she is incarnated as Mels, a character we’ve never seen or heard of before, and plonked unceremoniously into the story out of sheer, brazen convenience.  She stalks Amy and Rory (her unwitting mother and father) for years, pretending to be their friend, all because of her pre-programmed monomaniacal desire to get to the Doctor.  She regenerates while “concentrating on a dress size”.  She spends the rest of the episode obsessing over her hair, clothes, shoes and weight.  River’s instability is finally conquered by the love of a good man.  This seems intensely hostile and patronising.  If that isn’t what was aimed at, then somebody is a very bad shot.  

From mine:
 In the extraordinary two-part Comic Relief special Space/Time - surely the most masturbatory piece of Doctor Who ever broadcast - we hear that she only passed her driving test because she wore a short skirt, and then the combination of that same skirt and a glass floor causes Rory, working at the controls below, to crash the TARDIS. As a result, we end up with multiple Amy Ponds. Instantly, we have a gag about Rory hoping for a threesome, the revelation that Amy finds herself attractive, and its accompanying punchline that Rory finds this exciting

From Jack's:
There’s even a ‘comedy’ episode in which Amy is said to have used her sexuality to pass her driving test (tsch, these women drivers!), is split into two people and literally fancies herself, thus providing lesbian fantasy fodder for the men around her. [...] The rest of the ostensible laughs come from Rory staring up Amy’s skirt… because it’s hilarious to violate her privacy without consent!


From mine
The characters [used to serve] as proxies for the younger viewers. It's difficult to see how Amy can do this in moments where she's asking the Doctor to "sort her out" in the bedroom scene at the end of Flesh and Stone, let alone how Jenny can do the same in the scene in The Crimson Horror where she strips off her coat to begin kung-fu and as the camera leeringly pans along her leather catsuit in slow motion, Matt Smith does an erection gag with his sonic screwdriver.

From Jack's:
 It is a mark of how little genuine respect is shown these characters that her unveiling as a ninja in ‘The Crimson Horror’ is just that: an unveiling, with the camera panning up her legs, clad in tight leather for the benefit of the male gaze.  Oh look, we’re back at the sexism.


From mine: There is no aspect of Amy's character that is not defined by that male construction we call femininity. The five threats she faces are pregnancy, the abduction of her baby, the loss of either of the men she loves, infertility, and the idea that it's presumable that the man she loves will reject her for that infertility. Controlling these subplots are the same prejudices that lie behind soap operas - Am I still a woman if I can't have children anymore? Will the man I love reject me for it? Is it my fault? My Baby - don't let them take my baby!

From Jack's
The show repeatedly reduces Amy to the roles by which patriarchy constructs femininity: girlfriend, fiancĂ©e, wife, mother, ex… [...]

In Moffat’s show, women are overwhelmingly defined by their traditional gender roles or bodily functions.  

From mine: the first Doctor Who story with an all black guest cast (Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS) portrays them as an unscrupulous bunch of thieves

From Jack's:
  There’s the sheer privilege-blindness involved in making the first all black guest cast in Doctor Who play a bunch of fools who need to be captured and threatened into moral behaviour by the Doctor,


From mine (2011)
The very first episode of Moffat's reign, The Eleventh Hour, ended with the Doctor defeating alien opponents by reminding them who he was, a bizarre moment of creative hubris Moffat previously succumbed to in Forest of the Dead, his last episode for Davies's version.

From Jack's:
There’s the hubris of having the Doctor frighten away enemies by touting his reputation.  

Mine: Moffat's sense of what goes on in the head of a young woman and any ability with logical characterisation he may have had left take a nosedive in Let's Kill Hitler. Amy and Rory's baby has been kidnapped, but it's revealed that they've already known her all their life in the guise of their best friend Mels, who now regenerates into an adult, which Moffat genuinely seems to think resolves that particular "missing baby" cliffhanger. There's no point shouting "where's the baby - isn't someone going to try and rescue the baby?" at your TV screen as I did - Amy and Rory have let that go now, as have actors Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill (as I've said before, the fact that the version of Amy left alone for 36 years in The Girl Who Waited never mentions it makes a mockery of anyone still claiming this is a show with any sense of emotional consequences or human resonance. (2013) 

 Even Amy's loss of the baby, abducted not long after birth, turns out to carry no emotional weight. Amy and her husband Rory go through whole episodes barely mentioning it, including the episode The Girl Who Waited where we meet a future Amy abandoned for 36 years: clearly post-natal depression isn't a factor in Moffat's universe. That this is supposedly because they've met River as a grown-up and know she'll survive is an extraordinary indictment of just how little interest in character motivation Moffat has, making a nonsense of the recent defence by one of his writers, Gareth Roberts, that the show was only a challenge for viewers to follow because of its "emotional complexity". (2011)

Jack's: Yes, it might be an admirable thing to show a woman who, having been violated with an unwanted pregnancy and birth, only to have her baby stolen from her, were shown as living past such trauma and refusing to allow it to define her… if we were ever given any real sense that the experience had been traumatic for her.  It might be objected that this complaint amounts to asking for more concentration on the rape and the trauma.  But I didn’t want to see SF rape on Doctor Who again at all!  Even so, given that Steven Moffat made the unforced artistic/business choice to put SF rape in there, I’d have much preferred to see some indication that the victim found it more than slightly and briefly unpleasant. 

Both mine and Jack's pieces also bemoan the Doctor's "tight skirt" line about Clara in Nightmare in Silver, point out that the Doctor's reactions to River shooting the Silents seems like "arousal" and make the point that sexist views of women are not made better just because they are presented with admiration.


First of all, to respond to Jack's claim, I'm never coy. If I thought I'd been plagiarised I'd say so and I'd use that word. When I said "None of this is egregious, just bad manners" I meant exactly that : it was thoughtless of someone who had read and admired my stuff to post a piece making so many of the same points on a website with considerably more influence and readers with no reference to me or my site, just as it was mean of Phil to refuse to put in a reference. There's no law against it. It's just shoddy behaviour which people who have yet to find support for their writing are hugely vulnerable to. Both Phil and Jack seem to feel pre-emptive action is needed, desperate to use the word plagiarism before I do and to counter criticism of their actions with accusations (in this case that I make "false accusations of plagiarism" and "bully people" into linking to my blog)

To stress another point I thought I'd emphasised in the email and the comment, I would have had no problem with this piece whatsoever if it had appeared on Jack's site - I wouldn't have expected a mention, given that he had already linked to my sexism piece elsewhere on his site, and that he links to my site on his "blogs I follow" list. I was puzzled that he responded to my email by adding a third link to my blog on his own: firstly, what's the point when you've already got two online links to it up and running, and secondly, why not put the link on your piece on Phil's site? (Surely the fact that Jack has no problem with linking to it from his own site proves there's no reason not to link from his guestpost on Phil's? To repeat, Phil's site has more influence and readers than either of ours [DECEMBER 2015 UPDATE:  Jack's blog, including all of his old blog posts such as the ones linking to mine, has now been incorporated into Phil's, which is something I guess]). All I can do is write this blogpost pointing out it isn't cricket.

Phil and Jack's claim that the similarities can't be anything other than coincidental because even though they read the piece before hand they personally know it had no  influence upon them, Jack's reminder that not everything in his piece is covered by mine and vice versa and Phil's rather desperate claim that after sending the tweet he'd totally forgotten the piece until my email and then, upon reading it, found it to be wholly without merit are textbook examples of responses to allegations of similarity, plagiarism or refusal of acknowledgement which have traditionally fooled no-one. It doesn't matter what you thought of the piece, whether it contains parts you didn't use, how much you added of your own or that you personally can vouch for yourself in not being influenced by it: if you read the piece and publicly acknowledged it at the time, refusing to make a single reference to that piece while posting your own on a blog with more readers is, frankly, below the belt.

What I hate most about this is not Phil and Jack's taking points I'd made and regurgitating them to a wider audience without so much as a nod, and the loutish way Phil has responded by sneering at my work (although if "absolutely abominable" and other example- free scattergun insults are the best he can do I clearly don't need to fear him as a future critical opponent) but the way Phil and Jack have tried to put the onus on me instead to either make a formal accusation of plagiarism or back down.

Anyone reading Jack's piece and mine can reach their own conclusions about how the latter did or did not influence it (something which wouldn't have been necessary if Phil and Jack had included a single casual reference to my site, but which would have been impossible if I hadn't blogged about this and I hadn't left a comment on Phil's site), just as people can judge for themselves whether someone who's read a piece can deny that it had any influence on a subsequently-written piece of their own that makes many of the same points.

Anyone can also judge for themselves whether the briefest mention of my blog post ("I didn't think much of this piece by Richard Cooper" would have been fine, just something to let people know the thing exists) would have harmed the integrity of Sandifer's site, and indeed whether acknowledgement is essential to any community, even that of Doctor Who bloggers which Phil and I, however much he wishes otherwise, share membership.

(Update,  December 2015  - I've since noticed that in February 2015, Phil Sandifer posted the following exchange on his Tumblr account:

Anonymous asked: [..] did you actually steal Richard Cooper's essay, or was that just a coincidence? - 
[Sandifer's reply] I like to think that if either Jack or I were to for some reason start plagiarizing, we’d steal from something better than Richard Cooper’s essay. 

Jack reblogged this on his own tumblr, which is especially hypocritical given his earlier claim to have liked my essay.)



Monday, 24 February 2014

From One White Salon Writer to Another: An Open Letter To Michelle Goldberg From Across the Pond

Dear Michelle Goldberg
With this piece, you've made a lot of white people feel vindicated. There are a lot of white media bigshots on Twitter, here in Britain as much as in America, with loyal coteries of friends and sycophants (mostly white, mostly in the media), and they are not happy that so many female, gay, black or transgender voices won't shut up and just accept that they -  the former -  are leftist, feminist and non-privileged no matter what anyone says to the contrary. (I've written about them here) They've got their own ideas about feminism - not tweeting for a single day as a stand against misogyny, getting Russell Brand onboard, getting more women on banknotes, banning page 3 but not the rest of The Sun, complaining about the misogyny on Celebrity Big Brother - and they're not happy that so many feminist tweeters and bloggers, many of them not white and not cis-gendered, simply won't shut up.

Several of your supporters are making absurd claims that your piece is "balanced" and "thoughtful". To you and them I simply ask how you can say that about a piece in which minority voices are reduced to figures in a "perpetual psychodrama" and demonised as guilty of "slashing righteousness" and a "Maoist hazing", which says that Mikki Kendall "sounds warm over the phone" but also "obsessed", and which uses a line as spectacularly clueless as "now, it's true white people need to make an effort not to be racist, but...". When you feel the need to remind yourself of something as vital as that halfway through the article as if it were an afterthought, and then move on to something you consider more pressing before you've even finished the sentence, then it might be time to consider your priorities. Here's another point at which you describe a problem vastly more important and destructive than the one you have chosen to dedicate an article to: "Clearly, there’s some truth here: privileged white people dominate feminism, just as they do most other sectors of American life." That actually sounds like a hell of a lot of truth to me, and a grim truth at that, but once again you can't let that stand, and quickly follow it with a caveat: "That doesn’t mean, though, that social media’s climate of perpetual outrage and hair-trigger offence is constructive." Perhaps the biggest lesson we can take from this is to make sure whatever occupies the sentence before the "but" "nevertheless" or "however" cuts in is not more important than your preferred subject. "I'm not racist but..." is very popular among racists.

As for your argument that radical feminist discourse can sometimes be ludicrous: that seems to be the same false equivalence so often used to denounce "political correctness" over the past few decades, here in Britain as much as in the USA. The latter worked by pointing to someone using a daft phrase like "dimensionally challenged" as proof that political correctness had gone mad, the former works by pointing to someone claiming that a phrase like "night of a thousand vaginas" is exclusive as proof that feminism has gone toxic. The latter movement, for all its mistakes, fails to qualify as bad enough to suggest a return to the days of (to take my country as an example) "NO COLOUREDS" signs in lodging-house windows, the mocking of black children by teachers  and slogans like the one the Conservative Party used for the 1964 Smethwick General Election campaign -  "if you want a nigger for a neighbour vote Labour" - to say nothing of the hideous days of segregation in your own country. Similarly, the catalogue you offer is hardly bad enough - let alone "toxic" - to suggest a return to the days when black, gay and transgender people were denied public voices would be preferable. You yourself point out "women of color, trans women and other people who feel silenced can amplify one another’s voices, talking back to people with power in an unparallelled way," but then of course we reach the "that doesn't mean" part, and you turn your back on that important point.

Those voices are still being shouted down by those with power -  those with with a fanbase, or a media career. Just look at what's happening around you. Your article appeared at the same time as this appalling tweet from Amanda Palmer:

As ever, this was then followed by Palmer describing critics of this tweet as "haters". Meanwhile, Cathy Brennan, a transphobic bigot who outs transgender people to their families, has been conducting a hate campaign against Sophia Banks, attacking her business with fake reviews, misgendering her and using sock puppet twitter, blog and Storify accounts such as  @NameTheProblem, @Name_Problem and @FeministRoar to post online abuse,  as a result of which she has been  facing the prospect of homelessness. Transphobia is not even recognised as a major concern by many prominent media-friendly white feminists, with virulent transphobes such as Julie Bindel, Suzanne Moore (who posted these tweets of filthy bigotry and still refuses to apologise for them) and Germaine Greer unchallenged and allowed prestige as cultural commentators in a way that would clearly not happen if they felt the same animosity towards other minorities.

The delusion they all seem to buy into is that these blasted feminists, blacks, and gays will shut up if they shout them down. What exactly is your article trying to say? That black people should be less "obsessed," as you describe Mikki Kendall? That they need to put more effort into creating a welcoming atmosphere for white people? Sometimes I wonder if Martin Luther King were alive today, would he face a generation eager to remind him he'd catch more flies with honey? Would James Baldwin face demands to be "more constructive"?

Also, if you don't want to come across as a bully, then for God's sake stop skulking in Mikki Kendall's Twitter timeline. If you must withdraw from debate and stay silent for days on end rather than face up to what you've written, then suddenly popping out of nowhere to post a tweet accusing Mikki Kendall of bullying complete with incriminating snapshot and vanishing into the fog again is not classy behaviour. Hit-and-run tweets suggest you don't have the courage of your convictions.

  But your piece will continue to be adored by white people with media clout and their white supporters. Many of them are the same people that thought not tweeting for a single day would be a good way to take a stand against the online abuse of women, and were then outraged when a bunch of damned insolent feminists, women of colour, gays and transgender people thought this fatuous and self-serving and dared to say so.  "#Twittersilence" as it was called was devised by Caitlin Moran, also quick to retweet approval of your piece, who suggested that asking whether there should be women of colour in Lena Dunham's Girls was "as dumb as asking ABBA "why aren't one of you black?".  In that same interview she explained her responsibility towards representation of women of colour in TV shows thus:

 If a woman of color was allowed to make show as funny and honest and daring as Dunham’s — wandering around slightly overweight, naked, spreckled with acne, and talking about abortion, I’d be pitching a fucking massive feature on that to the Times, too. And I wouldn’t ask that writer why there were no white characters in it, just like I didn’t ask Dunham why there were no people of color in ‘Girls.’

The kind of journalist who can refer to our occupying a world in which women of colour are not "allowed" to make high-quality TV shows (and who makes the classic racist's mistake of thinking white and black are interchangeable terms) without wondering  whether that is what she should be investigating or writing about rather than what Lena Dunham has achieved in the representation of "slightly overweight" naked white people with acne talking about abortion is the kind your piece has empowered. It is my fear that this will become the voice of a generation, and it our responsibility to prevent this (incidentally, no prizes for guessing what Caitlin Moran's TV comedy series Raised by Wolves - just commissioned following the broadcast of a pilot -  is about). This was her astonishing response to the George Zimmerman verdict. Is it so hard for you to imagine how it might feel to read that if you were black?

 Other people who have retweeted your piece include Moran's friend and ferocious defender, the lauded TV writer Graham Linehan -  who suggested those wanting to see women of colour in Girls should "make that show - let Lena write hers", speaking for many who consider themselves on the Left but don't want to go to any pains. Helen Lewis, formerly a subeditor and sometime features commissioner on the UK's right-wing Daily Mail and now deputy editor of UK's left-wing New Statesman, retweeted your piece, and has just reused your hideous term "toxic" as an umbrella word for feminists who won't play ball. Her own patronising attitude towards commissioning writers of colour can be seen in this selection of her tweets:

Thanks Sam, I read that yday. Horrific case. I've commissioned an Indian writer on it for the NS.

 Find me one male commissioning ed who commissions as diverse a range of feminist voices as me.

Reassured to know that if I fall under a bus, there are a dozen people on Twitter who seem sure they know how to do my job better than I do.


In fact, it's very selfish of me to keep it when if they had it, the whole world would be a perfectly equal wonderland of rainbows.

[after being asked why she can't "cover a broader range of topics with a broader range of writers" after publishing a piece by the contributing editor about her own hairstyle] Cool. Can you give me a million pounds to spend?

Suggest you point critics to our Wellcome Trust Scholarship, too - set up specifically to encourage emerging BME writers

 If any WOC wants to write about the politics of their choices re: hair, am on Helen @ newstatesman co uk




Are people criticising it? Argh. Was a genuinely meant offer. Want to do everything I can to increase media diversity.
Think some of my critics feel that I should be perfect. Clearly, I'm not & never going to be.
It's a lot easier to understand once you grasp that I am Satan himself.
It just keeps...getting...worse. Only thing that'd improve it is a mushroom cloud in the background at the end
One of those days where you think, "why do I even bother?". Please send gifs of animals and badly written poetry.


 I think this tweeter put it best:

Can Helen Lewis ever just once commission women of colour without sounding like Mrs Slaveowner? Don't answer that

Lewis is not averse to kicking down: a few months back she tweeted a link to an inoffensive blogpost while saying it "represents everything that is wrong with a certain strand of feminist blogging" and she's also twice Storified an argument with a woman of colour, which is tremendously useful in gathering other white media personalities to ridicule a  black blogger for her damned insolence.  She worries that people don't realise "what having 300k followers must be like." She falls hungrily on whatever insulting name for those uppity women of colour, feminists or trans-women anyone can think up. Which brings us to another retweeter of your blog who was just waiting for it to come along: Glosswitch, another New Statesman contributor, who delights in thinking up new names - smugsexualmisogofeminist - with which to label her critics (Gia Milinovitch is adept at this too - she prefers "pygmy"),  and has now reached the stage of siding with vicious trolls (here she is conversing with one of Cathy Brennan's sock puppets). Then there's Caroline Criado-Perez, a Guardian writer popular with many of the aforementioned  for her campaign to get more women on banknotes, who explains her views on why feminism can't quite stretch to transgender experience and activism thus:


Isn't it nice that she remembers to acknowledge "we should not deliberately hurt trans women", before getting to the "but" of the kind your piece relied on. She thought your piece was "nail on head."


Other people eager to circulate your piece include Ross Wolfe, who can be seen revelling in his ability to annoy women of colour here  , and it's only a matter of time before it's found by Gia Milinovitch, who similarly has been trying hard to lay down the law about the nature of sex and gender to transgender people, who to her rage won't shut up and agree with her, even though she's repeatedly pointed out it's indisputable scientific fact and, most hilariously, that it earned a Richard Dawkins retweet, so why dispute it?. Rebecca Reilly-Cooper, who Lewis recently commissioned to write a piece on misogyny in Celebrity Big Brother as her New Statesman debut,  and whose idea of debate is to link to an intersectionalist-baiting  article by Wolfe and then post a request to be "unhooked" from any discussion, will probably love it too (other low points include this extraordinary, borderline transphobic conversation with Glosswitch, and this tweet which actually pays homage to this notorious moment of white blinkeredness. ) They'll love your piece. Hell, the thing was even retweeted by Hugo Schwyzer.

Oh. As I was finishing this letter, I just noticed you retweeted Glosswitch. Meanwhile another New Statesman contributor, Sarah Ditum, has with great enthusiasm (is it me or is there a real thrill-of-the-chase about all this? A desire to humiliate these cocky little bloggers in front of as many influential people with media platforms as possible?)  hosted this piece by Guardian writer Jane Clare Jones which argues that attacking an individual rather than a structure is never justified (the nadir comes when she quotes someone being rude to Piers Morgan with the expectation that we would sympathise with Morgan). This piece by Meghan Murphy - focusing its ire on a single blogpost in which the author had dared to lose her temper and say she hated a bunch of white people in the media - moves a step on from terms such as misogofeminists, smugsexuals, pygmies and toxic twitter feminists by branding women she finds rude "misogynists", and I fear this will catch on.  Both pieces use yours as a touchstone. The former Tory MP and all-round right -wing nightmare Louise Mensch has tweeted the following to Helen Lewis's critics:

you are not only misogynists, you are losers. @helenlewis is sixty times more feminist and woman than you

We are both white, but you don't seem to see that as something that carries a responsibility with it. I could never write one of those "racism is bad but" sentences you seem proficient in. You have broken a vital  rule not just of journalism, but of being a citizen in an world of injustice and inequality: you kicked down instead of up. For this you'll get much praise. Please consider whether it is worth it.

Richard Cooper

(Michelle Goldberg's only response:

https://mobile.twitter.com/michelleinbklyn/status/438442929640579074?screen_name=michelleinbklynmichelleinbklyn)