Laurie Penny’s moral equivalence

Laurie Penny

Today we’re continuing our study of 29-year-old British columnist Laurie Penny, who, in half a dozen books, innumerable articles for The New Statesman and The Independent, and countless lectures before rapt audiences around the world, has bravely raged against the evil Western capitalist patriarchy that has kept her enchained in oppression as a woman throughout her difficult life – from her upbringing as the daughter of two very affluent attorneys, through her years at a posh public school and at Cambridge, right up till now, when she’s experiencing professional mega-success but has had to endure the cruelty of online persecution and abuse (read: people disagreeing with her on Twitter and Facebook).

Cologne, New Year’s Eve

Yesterday we began looking at the column Penny wrote last January about the mass rapes in Cologne. Her basic point was this: when Western men or conservatives or whoever criticize mass rape by Muslims, they’re stealing “feminist rhetoric in the name of imperialism and racism.” Lots of men, she reports, have been calling on her to condemn Muslim violence against women. But this is the best she can do: when it comes to patriarchal brutality, “there’s not a country or culture on earth that won’t have to take a long, hard look at itself.” Hey, it’s our old friend again – moral equivalence. “I stand,” she adds, “with the many, many Muslim, Arab, Asian and immigrant feminists organising against sexism and misogyny within and beyond their own communities.” But, as she’s been taught by her far-left feminist mentors, it is not the white woman’s place to speak out against the brown man’s misogyny.

koln9She dismisses the idea that it would help to improve controls on immigration into Europe. “That fits in,” she writes, “with the shibboleth that only savage, foreign men and hardened criminals rape and abuse women.” But this is a straw-man argument (a species of rhetoric that is common in Penny’s work): nobody has ever said that “only” foreigners and criminals rape and abuse women. More: “As usual, white supremacist patriarchy only concerns itself with women’s safety and women’s dignity when rape and sexual assault can be pinned on cultural ‘outsiders.’” Again, there’s that ridiculous “only.” All this, of course, is a smokescreen thrown up by a pampered Western woman who’s comfortable bashing the “white supremacist patriarchy” – including the police and soldiers who guard her while she sleeps – but who’s too pusillanimous to face one stark, simple fact: namely, that rape is far, far more prevalent in the Islamic world than it is in the West, and that to import armies of Muslim men into Europe without careful vetting them is to invite a terrifying upsurge in European rape statistics.

penny10Penny goes even further – disgustingly so. She accuses the white men who express concern about Muslim rapists of doing so because they’re turned on sexually by the idea of it. It doesn’t seem to occur to her that these men may worry about the fate of their wives and daughters and granddaughters in an Islamized society where unveiled infidel females are considered legitimate targets of sexual assault. But to understand their worry would involve a sense of realism and responsibility that Penny utterly lacks.

“The point,” she says by way of summing up her rant on Cologne, “is that misogyny knows no colour or creed.” And stupidity, we might add, knows no gender.

More tomorrow.

Laurie Penny and the Cologne rapes

re:publica 2013
Laurie Penny

This week we’re studying the oeuvre of Laurie Penny, a young firebrand who, despite being a benificiary of British upper-class privilege, has made a successful career of standing at lecterns and scolding Western society – and, especially, Western men – for oppressing her as a woman.

When it comes to genuine sexual oppression in non-Western societies, however, Penny does the usual far-left shuffle. In other words, while she’s quick to condemn Western men as oppressive patriarchs, she refuses to criticize honest-to-goodness Muslim patriarchs – the guys who beat and rape their wives, who subject their daughters to FGM and deny them an education, and who make sure that none of the women in their lives enjoy the kind of freedom that Penny has enjoyed every day since she was born.

Cologne, New Year’s Eve

Take Penny’s response, back in January, to the mass rapes in Cologne, Germany. Her angle, as articulated in her article’s subhead, was as follows: “Why can’t we always take sexual assault as seriously as we do when migrants and Muslims are involved as perpetrators?” Which is a slick way of instantly turning from a very real problem, rooted in dramatic cultural differences, to a B.S. issue. The fact, of course, is that in the West, rape is taken very seriously indeed: it is reported by women, prosecuted in courts, punished by imprisonment, and looked upon with repulsion by all decent citizens. Under sharia, however, rape is not only permitted but, under certain circumstances, required; in most Muslim countries, rapists enjoy a degree of legal impunity and social acceptance unthinkable in the West.

koln3But Penny doesn’t want to go there. Instead she pretends that Western authorities always treat rape with indifference. For her, the government of Cologne’s suggestion that women should dress more modestly is not a sign of irresponsible cultural relativism and of a cowardly refusal to stand up for Western values, but just another example of what she describes as a Western habit of blaming women for rape. An then she offers this:

The attacks in Cologne were horrific. The responses – both by officials and by the armies of Islamophobes and xenophobes who have jumped at the chance to condemn Muslim and migrant men as savages – have also been horrific.

koln4For, you see, conservatives (meaning, apparently, anyone to her right – i.e. pretty much everybody) never care about rape except when the perpetrators are Muslims. Only then do they get worked up, using rape as an excuse to bash Islam. She neglects one minor detail: there is no case in modern history of hundreds of Western men committing mass rape in the center of a major city. This, whether Penny likes it or not, is an imported phenomenon – imported from a society where women really are oppressed, and where there really is something deserving of the name of rape culture.

But no, she’d rather serve up inane statements like this:

You know what has never yet prevented sexual violence? Unbridled racism.

More tomorrow.