Why Do We Believe Such Terrible Things About Men?
In the article ‘Why do we believe such terrible things about men that can’t be true?’, published yesterday in the Telegraph, Neil Lyndon responds to articles discussing statistics that show that one in three women is subjected to sexual violence, and that femicide is a leading cause of premature death for women by arguing that, ‘you have to question the motives of anybody who would write and publish such a transparent fiction’. The basic statistical errors and blatant misogyny that characterize the rest of his argument must raise similar questions about his own writing.
Lyndon asks us to assess the claims made by feminist campaigners, journalists, and the UN according to ‘objective research’ and our ‘own experience and the evidence of [our] own eyes’ before proceeding to demonstrate why he can’t be trusted to interpret either one.
The most objective inaccuracies in his article come in his use of statistics. In assessing whether the claims made about what violence women are likely to experience in their lifetimes, Lyndon consistently uses other figures that record instances of violence recorded ‘in the previous 12 months’ to show that there is a discrepancy between the two. The major reason why this would be the case ought to be obvious – more women will experience violence over the course of their whole lives than will do so within any particular year, but Lyndon presents this as irrefutable evidence that the UN and ONS statistics are a ‘monstrous, ludicrous misrepresentation’ of the facts.
Lyndon’s standards for accepting that violence against a woman has occurred seem to be pretty high, arguably to the extent that he will not believe that violence has occurred unless someone can show him a dead body. He states that because murder is easier to define than sexual violence (or “sexual violence”, as he repeatedly puts scare quotes around the phrase) we ought to consider murder statistics a more ‘reliable guide to the true extent of violence between men and women’.
From the rest of the article it is clear that Lyndon carries over this disbelief of women’s reported experiences into his interpretation of the lives of those around him.
Lyndon asks his readers, ‘How many women have you ever known who were subject to “sexual violence”?’ My answer would fall somewhere between ‘A lot’ and ‘All of them’, but Lyndon says, ‘I have only known two women who claimed to have been raped. Both of them were disbelieved by their own women friends who reckoned the soi-disant victims were making up stories that couldn’t be verified to dramatise their lives.’ The language of disbelief heaped up in these sentences provides a pretty good indicator of some of the reasons that women might not feel particularly comfortable disclosing their experiences of sexual violence to him, and the risks that women take in disclosure more generally.
This impression of Lyndon is strengthened by a very little exploration of his history. He is quoted in Joan Smith’s book Misogynies as having opposed the 1991 change in the law to forbid marital rape, arguing that it was a victory for a ‘totalitarian group’ that ‘insists that male sexuality is actively antagonistic to women’. You might not think that you’d have to be a very totalitarian feminist to see marital rape as actively antagonistic to women, but Lyndon clearly disagrees.
All in all, this article is 1,300 words of misogynistic assertion and innuendo coupled with actively dishonest, misleading, and wildly speculative maths and statistics. From his previous writings it is easy to dismiss Neil Lyndon as an obsessive and ridiculous MRA with an axe to grind. But what is more disturbing is the question of why the Telegraph is publishing this shit.
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Re your comments above, I read his article. It saddened me because it is clearly based on his ignorant and innocent eyes. His article is based on his rose coloured glasses opinion.
He asks, ‘How many women have you ever known who were subject to “sexual violence”?’ because in his world, this probably means rape with a knife. He doesn’t know that quietly forcing a woman to have sex or be sexually humiliated, or forced to perform oral sex or anal sex, or sex with an animal, or an object is a subject which is NOT openly spoken about down the wine bar. We know that these matters produce shame in the victim, they are so traumatic they are ore often than not hidden for years, often lifetimes. He doesn’t have the intelligence to even wonder about this.
The man is an idiot, clearly. He has no clue. Maybe if he worked for a domestic abuse service or followed the police to d/a call-outs or saw the victims in A&E or dental clinics for facial reconstruction, or could peep into the bedrooms of MILLIONS of women world wide, well then maybe he might learn something.
One of the saddest parts about is article is that he is not alone in thinking this way and because of his ignorance, many will nod along and not think of questioning his opinions, thus perpetuation the “myth” about sexual violence.
Actually, one of his comments was so stupid it made me laugh out loud. He said, “I have known women who died prematurely (ie did not reach their full, natural span) through breast cancer, leukemia, road traffic accident, suicide, smoking-related illnesses and drink and drugs; but if I count up the number of women I have ever known who were murdered by men, what do I find?”. He speaks of femicide being the physical murder of women .. but what if women are drinking or drug taking because of sexual and domestic abuse, and die of health related issues ..? We have to consider the causes of the initial problem, he didn’t consider that. What is a woman smokes 50 cigarettes a day because she is dreading her man coming home form the pub/work/football etc ..? His argument is so empty it’s frightening.
And your very last sentence … yup, I agree with you.
Brilliant piece on a very typical MRA response to growing evidence around inequality and VAWG. Lyndon and his fellow misogynists are eagerly expressing old, desperate, and backlash based views. He is clearly demonstrating perpetrator mentality, perhaps we could even call this a form of largescale ‘gaslighting’, “Are you sure you’re not imagining the problem”, encouraging self doubt. The stronger feminists and society become in our reach and understanding on VAWG and inequality the more misogynists/MRA’s will conjure derailments and abuse. When this happens I feel our only response is to turn articles like this at The Telegraph into some means of widespread exposure on men like Lyndon and MRA’s clearly harmful and disturbing approach.
So one individual women-hating male claims ‘‘I have only known two women who claimed to have been raped. Both of them were disbelieved by their own women friends who reckoned the soi-disant victims were making up stories that couldn’t be verified to dramatise their lives.’
This is anecdotal not real research but because Lyndon is male this in itself means whatever lies he utters is the truth!
Furthermore Lyndon utters the same old male lies wherein he claims only men are the ones who can define what does and does not constitute real male violence against women and girls. Men have always narrowly defined male violence against women because it is in mens’ interests to minimalise/deny pandemic male violence against women and girls.
Lyndon wrote this women-hating book – No More Sex Wars – The Failures of Feminism. Proves male journalist Lyndon is the expert on Feminism not us real Radical Feminists!
Lyndon has to deny pandemic male violence against women and girls because like his bros. denial is the last bastion men deploy when they cannot refute the facts.
I wonder if Lyndon would claim racism and homophobia directed at men is non-existent because one or two males claim ‘well I’ve never seen or heard any racism and I’ve never witnessed any homophobia?’
Lyndon is a very clever dangerous male which is why his women-hating article was published in that male owned Telegraph. Men know their malestream media is the most effective method of promoting their women-hating lies because these lies swiftly become mens’ truths!
thank you for responding to this report in the Telegraph. It is frightening that a newspaper would publish something in 2015 that takes us back again to doubting victims of abuse and violence. The DPP made it clear after Saville that abusive men are not stopped because of the myth of made up rape claims and blamed newspapers for perpetuating this myth. I have spent the day thinking about how many women girls and men I have known including myself who have been assaulted and raped. my mother was a primary teacher and had 3 children in her class with mothers murdered by their partners during her career. the UN stats were for worldwide violence too. His argument seemed to be this can’t happen because ‘I don’t know many women who have bee raped-‘ then in the next breath he questioned the honesty of these women and said they ‘claimed’ to have been assaulted. Did it not occur to him that no one would open up to him with this attitude. Just what was the Telegraph doing publishing this?