Because I am a woman with a voice, because I am a woman who uses that voice at times to make feminist statements, apparently I deserve to be mutilated and raped. Jess Phillips #Everywoman
In her (sort of) biography #everywoman, Jess Phillips identifies her abusers largely as being representatives of two modern day identity politics tribes, specifically ‘men’s rights activists’ (or MRAs) and ‘Corbynistas’ from within her own party.
I’ll consider the slightly complicated relationship with her socialist comrades elsewhere but for now lets stick with the first wave of ‘offenders’ who, after all, have been blamed for her two biggest twitter storms.
MRA’s are a pretty maligned, marganalized and easily mocked group of individuals. If you search for a definition in google you’ll find some fairly uncharitable descriptions but Wikipedia offers a fairly balanced overview:
The men’s rights movement is made up of a variety of groups and individuals who focus on numerous social issues (including family law, parenting, reproduction and domestic violence) and state service provision (such as education, health, social protection and access to justice) which men’s rights advocates say discriminate against men.
Ironically, albeit unsurprisingly, WRAs (or feminists) and MRAs don’t play well together and Jess is no exception, rather ungenerously describing them as people who ‘holiday in nowherseville‘, ‘do naff all to help with men’s issues’, ‘sit in their pants spewing hate,‘ ‘blaming women like her for their failed dreams and insignificance’.
Unsurprisingly people who have any sympathy or understanding for the MRA perspective tend to think that Jess Phillips is a unscrupulous chauvinistic bigot who is entirely comfortable with using her position to silence the voices of people she doesn’t like.
A couple of days after the Back Bench Business Committee Incident (and triggered largely by an article in the Daily Telegraph written by someone who could be perceived to be an ‘MRA’), Jess Phillips began to experience a significant level of criticism on twitter and elsewhere.
Having observed and analysed the interaction on twitter, I think it’s a bit of a lazy stereotype to pigeonhole all of her critics as ‘MRAs’ but, even though there was evidence of a relatively diverse population, it is certainly true that her critics were united in their disgust at the site of a Member of Parliament trying to shut down a debate in such a arrogant and dismissive manner.
In fairness to Phillips, she had just spent the previous five years working for an organisation that won’t have a man about the place but given her extremely unguarded and frank outburst on the notion of lobbying MPs to do something about the male suicide epidemic, things could have worked out very differently for her if it hadn’t been for some very timely allegations about a “huge torrent” of social media abuse.
Because, certainly based on her own very broad definition of MRAs, Phillips is herself an advocate for men’s rights, even if she’s not a very good one.
It’s in her job description.
For a Member of Parliament with two degrees (including one in Public Sector Management), Jess Phillips can sometimes be extremely ignorant.
Image credit & Quotations: Jess Phillips / Penguin / Hutchinson Fair Use (Copyright, Designs and Patents Act): Criticism, Education & Parody