Pussy Riot: whose freedom, whose riot?

Recently there has been lots of noise around the arrest of three members of Pussy Riot, a Russian anarchist female punk band. The media almost unequivocally represented them as the modern heroines of our time, fighting for freedom, democracy, sexual liberation and peace against a dark and ruthless dictatorship (articles are to be found in the NYT, Le Monde. The Guardian, etc.) Feminist groups all over the Western world are sending links and petitions to “free pussy riot”, and demonstrations have even been organised in support of the group by big institutionalised organisations such as “Osez le féminisme” (dare to be a feminist).

Now while I support without ambiguity the liberation of Pussy Riot’s members, it’s worth pausing for a minute to ask ourselves, as radical feminists, what the political dynamics are here. Why would Western media denounce so passionately the repression of feminists in Russia, when it usually only diffuses information that supports male supremacy and patriarchy? Feminism has long disappeared from any malestream media, except when journalists can turn it into male masturbation material, that is pornify either our suffering or our resistance to it. What’s going on here?

Before learning more about the case, the first thing that made me frown was the fact progressives were hailing Pussy Riot as the “new feminists”, despite that their name is fairly insulting to women. It is certainly not apolitical, since we are in a context in which pornography has deeply colonised our movement and the only groups that the media presents as feminist are those that either insult us or reclaim the very instruments of our subordination, that is, male sexual violence, PIV, pornified femininity and all the associated harmful cultural practices. These tactics of destroying the meaning of feminism form part of a general worldwide backlash against women.

I found it suspicious that Pussy Riot was getting so much media attention, even for pseudo feminist standards. You can measure the degree of feminism of an action by how men react to it, and if men collectively cheer and celebrate it, then you can be pretty sure there’s something wrong about it, or that it doesn’t somehow support our liberation from men. And as far as I can recall, even the slutwalks didn’t get as much coverage or public appraisal. What was it that men liked so much about Pussy Riot?

Well, under closer inspection I discovered that the high level of coverage was related to – though indirectly – promoting men’s right to women’s sexual subordination and the pornification of our movement. The arrested women actually form part (and are victims of) a mixed anarchist group called “Voina” (meaning “war”), founded in 2007 by two men called Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolaïev, who regularly engage the women in extreme and degrading women-hating pornography as part of their public “political stunts”. Some of Voina’s men have actually already been incarcerated in 2011 for hooliganism – which is punished for 7 years of prison in Russia, but their bail was paid for by an artist named “Banksy” four months after their imprisonment. (More information can be found here and here)

Included in their anti-government actions are a “public orgy” in the national museum of biology in a room full of stuffed bears, where several men anally penetrated their female partners in a position of submission, including one heavily pregnant women, as a metaphor to “bugger/fuck Medvedev”. “Medved” means “bear”, hence all the stuffed bears – this was meant to be symbolic, artistic and revolutionary according to the activists. Here the male anarchists literally used women as dead bodies or receptacles through which to make a political point to other men. Violating women as a means to offend other men is nothing else but an age-old patriarchal mechanism – behind which the intended target are us, for men to bond over our annihilation.

Another planned stunt in the name of “sexual freedom”, inspired by extreme forms of pornography such as zoophilia/ necrophilia, includes a member of Pussy Riot masturbating with a dead chicken in a supermarket under the watch and camera of the anarchist males, after which she inserts the dead chicken entirely into her vagina and hobbles with the chicken inside her out of the supermarket. This is how the male members themselves describe their act of “liberation”:

“How to Snatch a Chicken: A Tale of How One Cunt fed the Whole of the Group Voina… in honor of their hero, a 19th century political philosopher/prisoner, Voina’s president’s wife dubbed “Vacuous Cunt With Inconceivably Huge Tits,” smuggled a chicken out of a grocery store in said “Vacuous Cunt…” [the journalist comments] : First, the troupe searched for a large and fresh enough chicken. Then, the store isles and CCTV cameras were blocked by the members of the group holding up banners with “FUCK WHORING YOURSELF!” smeared on them in I-don’t-want-to-know-what. The blockade allowed Vacuous Cunt to promptly stuff and smuggle the poultry out of the store, which was then presumably cooked and eaten.[1]

The president is presumably Oleg, and the woman in question, apparently his wife – a situation which would qualify as domestic abuse and sexual slavery given the level of violence, women-hatred and humiliation directed at the women involved. The woman is reduced to a corpse to be ‘stuffed’ in the most degrading and insulting way. No woman would desire such things as inserting a dead chicken in her vagina in public were she not under heavy control and terror. Also of note is the fact that one of their children was brought to this stunt, visibly no older than four. Sexual exhibitionism in the presence of children may also qualify as child sexual abuse. How deeply has women-hatred sunk into men’s minds, that they are incapable of imagining a riot without it being a by-the-book copy of a gonzo porn film? Here again, we see men instrumentalising women and using sexual torture of women as a means to communicate a political message (which if not totally vacuous, communicates nothing other than their hatred of women).

Perhaps the most saddening action of all consisted in filming one of the women naked, covered in cockroaches, meant to be understood as “sexy”. The association of women to filth and parasites to be eliminated couldn’t be clearer. This is women-hating, genocidal propaganda at its most dangerous form. Voina’s men give the world to see where women’s place must be, even when fighting against authoritarian regimes: head down, underneath men and fucked by them.

Now what does this mean for us, what can be understood from the media’s silence about Voina’s pornographic exploitation of women, when all the attention is focused on promoting Pussy Riot as our modern heroines? The effect and intent is political. While all the public eyes are set on the Russian representatives of the state and religion as the ultimate fascists, dictators and machos, we are made to forget that the primary oppressors and tyrants of these particular women are the men closest to them, that is, Voina’s men and their use of pornography to demean, oppress and enslave their female comrades. They are their everyday police, the fascists and colonisers breaking the women’s resistance, occupying their souls, sentencing them to public humiliation and subordinating them through sexual abuse. We are made to forget that these women are doubly victimised: first victims of the violence by the men of their own group, they are then punished and held responsible for the abuse committed against them.

By holding Pussy Riot as examples of resistance, being silent about the pornographic violence and denouncing the state and religious authority as the only oppressor, it follows that the media is complicit with the men from Voina. It protects the anarchist’s individual impunity, and more generally, furthers all men’s interest in promoting rape and women-hating propaganda. It also prevents women in general from identifying men’s sexual violence and the harms of the penis as the primary agents of our oppression. It distracts and disgusts women away from feminism. What kind of dignity and respect for our movement can women have if the only models of resistance given to us by the media are those to be seen by millions of men as humiliated, soiled and degraded in this way? Even the most brave and valiant women, who fight bare handed and alone against Putin and the religious authority, must be shown by men to the world as surrendering and conquered.

If we want justice for the women imprisoned and to show true solidarity, we need to not only denounce the injustice by the Russian state, but also denounce the violence by the men from Voina. We need to recognise and openly denounce the pandemic levels of sexual violence present in most male-centric leftist or anarchist activist groups, whereby women are often pimped by the men of the group for pornography or expected to submit to extremely violent or degrading acts in the name of “sexual freedom”. What counts for these men is to fight for men’s total public access to women, especially militant women, because it really serves to put all women back in line. The weapon of mass destruction against women is the penis and this is why all men are focusing on making Putin look bad while they say nothing about the bastards of Voina.

For our sisters, for all women, we need to say out loud that this is not feminism.

— republished with permission from Radfem HUB

[1]http://www.animalnewyork.com/2010/voinas-latest-action-is-fowl/ (Warning! Pornographic still image included in this link.)

SPLC follows up on MRA concerns, finds them ‘ridiculous’ and ‘willfully obtuse’

Today, in what might best be described as a hilariously disinterested gnat-swatting aimed at the tirelessly annoying MRAs generally and Paul Elam specifically, the Southern Poverty Law Center has issued a followup to its earlier expose of the violent Men’s Rights Movement.

Journalist Arthur Goldwag writes for the SPLC’s Hatewatch blog that the inclusion of the MRA movement in the most recent edition of the SPLC’s quarterly publication “The Year in Hate and Extremism” (Issue 45, Spring 2012) “provoked a tremendous response among men’s rights activists (MRAs) and their sympathizers.”

MRAs around the world apparently whined, complained and flooded the SPLC with letters demanding that the SPLC retract its statements, or alternatively, that it also investigate radical feminists as a hate group.  How either action — particularly the latter one — would prove that the MRAs were innocent, legitimate, nonviolent politickers (and didn’t hate women) was not made clear, but one is certainly left with the impression that the MRAs aren’t that smart, or alternatively, that they are well-versed in the political arts of misdirection and sleight of hand.

Or possibly both.

For his followup piece, an investigation into whether the MRAs’ accusations against radical feminists are true — specifically, that there exists a global radical feminist criminal conspiracy to commit worldwide violence against boys and men (all 3.5 billion of them) — Goldwag interviewed Baltimore lesbian activist Cathy Brennan, apparently asking her whether she personally hated men, and what she thought of Valerie Solanas’s SCUM Manifesto.

Of course, even if true, individual admissions of man-hating, and what anyone personally believes about one 40-page booklet — even if it’s positive — are not highly probative of radical feminists’ political position, or indicative of radical feminists’ political power and standing to carry out acts of global violence, including gendercide against boys and men.  (Hint: we have no such power or standing.  Because patriarchy.)

Goldwag’s investigation did reveal that some feminists “say hurtful things about men,” and that some feminists do “hate men,” but he ultimately concludes that there is no feminist conspiracy to commit any crime against men, let alone a global conspiracy to commit widespread acts of violence against males — all 3.5 billion of them — as the MRAs had reported in their letters to the SPLC.

Goldwag also noted — correctly — that while the MRAs are fantasizing about imagined or future acts of gendered violence against boys and men, there is a current, existing, real-life war being waged by men against girls and women, or what the Economist has dubbed a “Worldwide War on Baby Girls.”  Global acts of gendercide do exist, but they are perpetrated against girls and women to further patriarchal interests, not against boys and men to further women’s interests.

In the end, Goldwag correctly concludes that to characterize radical feminist dialog — even our private conversations where, presumably, the worst of the worst uncensored man-hating might be found — “as a well-developed plan, as Elam and his colleagues do, is not only ridiculous, it is willfully obtuse.”

Indeed, ridiculous and willfully obtuse would seem to be a fair representation of the MRAs claims about women and feminists, and, surely to the chagrin of the MRAs, the SPLC’s previous statements made about the Men’s Rights Movement were not retracted.

Interestingly, this investigation, such as it was, into the aims of radical feminism and various unrelated radical feminist forums doesn’t even appear to have been important — or revealing — enough of anything to warrant inclusion in the SPLC’s upcoming quarterly publication.  Instead, the article was published on the SPLC’s blog, and will presumably move further and further down the page until it disappears entirely.

Meanwhile, the MRAs have earned what they ultimately received — a prominent expose of their virulent misogyny and acts of egregious violence perpetrated in the name of their movement, permanently documented in an esteemed, real-life publication that will be around forever, which the SPLC expressly stands behind, and which has not been and will not be retracted.

And that, as they say, is that.

French feminists protest abrogation of anti-sexual harassment law

Men usually make the law for themselves, and apply it at their whim. They especially decide not to apply them when it comes to the laws that were written at feminists’ demand to protect us from male violence.  And when they find out that they can’t skip the law so easily after all, well, one of the guys only has to lift a finger to change it or get rid of it, so to reestablish unconditional impunity.

Since a French law against sexual harassment was passed in 1992 (modeled on the US law that was pushed through by Catharine MacKinnon) the European association against sexual violence against women at work (AVFT)[1], based in Paris, has been relentlessly fighting for the past 20 years to get the law redefined because it didn’t do justice to victims and was almost useless in punishing the abusers. Cases were almost systematically dropped, the law was generally used as a way to downgrade greater crimes or offenses such as rapes or sexual assaults and the imprecision of the law allowed its application to be very restrictive, which made it difficult if not impossible to recognize most of what constituted sexual harassment in the first place (in particular verbal “propositions”, comments on body, demeaning sexualized language, non-verbal actions such as mimicking sexual acts, imposing pornographic images and physical gestures such as touching the hair, legs, waist, or imposing massages, etc.)[2]

Now, former secretary of the state and former MP, Gérard Ducray, after being condemned for sexual harassment in 2011 (in fact a sexual assault downgraded into sexual harassment by the court), unhappy about being punished for what he called “attitudes of seduction”, has appealed the decision of the court and showed up to some of his pals at the constitutional council (C.C.)[3] to demand an immediate abrogation, on the grounds that the imprecision gave way to unjustly condemning “admissible flirting”[4].  His demand was judged serious enough to be transmitted to the C.C. in February 2012.

The AVFT, which intervenes as civil party for hundreds of victims of sexual harassment every year, knows for a fact that the exact opposite is true: the law has been more helpful in protecting the harassers than the victims. Also, Marilyn Baldec, delegate for the AVFT, warned that “the immediate abrogation would result in the nullification of all procedures in course while creating a judicial void for the victims and guaranteeing total impunity for the harassers”.[5]

So, what did the constitutional council decide to do? Well, abrogate the law! The decision took force last Friday, May the 4th.

The clique (er , C.C., aka the “sages”) who stood up like one single man to support their poor persecuted pal: not many women in there.

What a highly specialized, competent judicial European-level organization never achieved in twenty years of lobbying and in the name of thousands if not millions of women, one single man, in less than a year and after being condemned for sexual harassment – managed to abrogate the law, just because he said so. No years of lobbying, no endless demonstrations needed!

Now, although this outcome may have been predictable, you can bet that many of us feminists were furious. This meant a backlash in 20 years in terms of protection of women from male violence at work and also meant sending a grand message of impunity to all harassers and abusers of France.

This is what the news represented for some of the victims who now face an abysmal judicial void: (testimonies collected by the AVFT)[6]:

“We talk about license to kill, well – this is a real license to hunt”

“What’s sage about them apart from the title?”

“What am I going to do now, I’ve lost everything. My harasser is strutting about since this morning, I’ve just understood why, it’s horrible”

“This is revolting”

“I feel emptied; I came to France because I thought women were protected here”

“I’m not revolted, I feel sick, I’ve been fighting 5 years for nothing”.

“I think there are no words to define what this judicial void means to me, we think things evolve at least a bit but then we get a massive slap in the face with this violent backlash, long live France, I’m sorry for myself and for all women”

“This judicial void makes me feel dizzy”

“I’m ashamed of my country”

“It’s as if nothing existed, everything is nullified”

“It can’t be possible!! So then what? Are we clearly saying to men, to bosses etc, come on guys grope me it’s allowed by the law”

“I have a feeling of hate and revolt, it hurts, it’s a whole part of my life that’s going to vanish, I might as well do justice by myself, I had to put up my own business and work for myself so to avoid men, I’m shocked, I don’t know what to say anymore, it really hurts”

“I’m not well, I’m panicking; he must be having fun with his friends right now”

“I was on the verge of suicide”

“All my money has gone in this trial which will be cancelled”

“I imagined him jubilating, it was unbearable”

“It was the end of one hell and the beginning of another”

Immediately after the abrogation, the AVFT and other organizations (World March of Women, Femmes Solidaires and the National Collective for Women’s Rights (CNDF)) called for a demonstration the following day, Saturday March the 5th in Paris at 11 am. Around 300 feminists gathered that morning. Just before the end of the demonstration though, the group was still so full of anger that they decided to march off to the nearest police station to file a complaint against the president of the constitutional council, Jean-Louis Debré, for the motive of deliberately putting victims in danger and disrupting public order. Four women representatives of the organizations went in the police office and meanwhile they could hear the others waiting outside, shouting slogans against rape at the entrance of the police station.

Here’s a video of the women coming out of the police station brandishing a copy of the complaint: it was all very moving (video in French):

A copy of the complaint can be found here.

While as a radical feminist, one can debate as to whether asking men to ‘please stop raping and please write laws so you could stop raping’ is an efficient way to bring down men’s dominance over women, collective acts of revolt that directly attack a powerful man in a powerful institution in the name of thousands of women and against men’s sexual violence are inspiring and invigorating.  It sends the hopeful message that feminism hasn’t completely been requisitioned by men and their slutified, perverse repackaging of patriarchal ideologies they relentlessly promote to women through their media.

Perhaps more importantly, and this is where radical feminism can and should be used to inform any pro-woman political platform, the use of explicit language detailing the horrors men perpetrate on women and the consequences of this to girls and women — and eschewing euphemisms and male-centric issue framing that fail to name the agent of harm — is known to create mutual knowledge, which leads to collective power to challenge dominance.

Together we can confront male power and make it fun, and using the principles of radical feminism, specifically explicit language, we might actually be successful in challenging male supremacy.

[1] http://avft.org/index.php: Association Européenne contre les Violences faites aux Femmes dans le Travail.

[2] http://avft.org/article.php?id_article=627, “Sexual harassment, the law will change”, press release by the AVFT, May 2012

[4] http://www.avft.org/article.php?id_article=623: “sexual harassment: 20 years after the law, the offense could be abrogated”, April 2012, a press release by Marilyn Baldec, delegate for the AVFT.

[5] http://www.avft.org/article.php?id_article=623: “sexual harassment: 20 years after the law, the offense could be abrogated”, April 2012, a press release by Marilyn Baldec, delegate for the AVFT.

[6] http://avft.org/article.php?id_article=631 « the judicial void makes me dizzy: reactions addressed to the AVFT », May the 5th, 2012.

Violent gender extremists attack feminist Germaine Greer, call it ‘glitterbombing’

GayExpress reports that the violent vigilantes known as “The Queer Avengers” have physically attacked feminist elder Germaine Greer in real life by “glitterboming” her, allegedly in retaliation for Greer speaking and writing about the effect of transpolitics on women and feminists.  Hmm, in real life violence in retaliation for lawful and non-violent speaking and writing.  That sounds about right!

According to GayExpress, “glitterbombing”

has gained prominence internationally as a way to highlight transphobia and queerphobia. A glitter bomb is a lightning fast protest where activists will approach a famous person and cover them in a shower of glitter. Republican politicians at rallies are a regular target.

Republican politicians may indeed be a regular target, but as we can see here, being targeted for glitterbomb attacks is not just for delusional homophobes and conservative gender religionists anymore!  (If it were, the Queer Avengers would have to seriously consider glitterbombing themselves).

No, it seems as though any disagreement with transpolitics whatsoever, for any reason, will make you a target for in real life violence by trans activist gender-extremists.  Even where you are a non-conservative non-Republican, speaking about feminism and advocating for the legal rights and full recognition of the humanity of girls and women around the world.

Now I ask you: why might that agenda in particular be at odds with the trans or “gender queer” agenda?

And what group of people seem almost (ALMOST!) genetically predisposed to committing violence against women, and perpetrating violence generally, including violent retaliation against people they don’t agree with, historically, cross-culturally, and around the world?

I’m waiting.

Image from here.

Southern Poverty Law Center Names Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) as Hate Group

In its latest quarterly publication “The Year in Hate and Extremism” (Issue 45, Spring 2012) the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, names Men’s Rights Activists as a hate group, citing the MRAs’ — alternately known as “Father’s Rights Activists” — virulent misogyny, spreading of false anti-woman propaganda and applauding and even encouraging acts of domestic terrorism and extreme violence against women and children, up to and including murder.  In the same issue, the SPLC reports on the activities of other hate groups with headlines such as Georgia Militia Members to be Tried Later this Year in Movement’s Latest Murder Plot; Son of Holocaust Memorial Shooter Discusses Family History of Racial Hate; and Animal Rights Extremist Camille Marino Calls for Violence.

For those not in the know, the SPLC

is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.[…]  The SPLC was founded to ensure that the promises of the civil rights movement became a reality for all. Since our founding in 1971, we’ve won numerous landmark legal victories on behalf of the exploited, the powerless and the forgotten.

Our lawsuits have toppled institutional racism in the South, bankrupted some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist groups and won justice for exploited workers, abused prison inmates, disabled children and other victims of discrimination.

The SPLC’s approach to monitoring, and toppling, hate groups is three-pronged, with the SPLC tracking the activities of hate groups and domestic terrorists across America and launching innovative lawsuits that seek to destroy networks of radical extremists; using the courts and other forms of advocacy to win systemic reforms on behalf of victims of bigotry and discrimination; and providing educators with free resources that teach school children to reject hate, embrace diversity and respect differences.

In the current issue, the SPLC dedicates three feature articles to exposing, exploring and monitoring MRAs.

In Leader’s Suicide Brings Attention to Men’s Rights Movement, SPLC reporter Arthur Goldwag describes the self-immolation of MRA Thomas Jefferson Ball just outside a family law courthouse, an act that was intended to be and has been subsequently embraced as a call-to-arms of American MRAs and misogynists who feel slighted by the American family law courts, which often delve deeply into accusations of sexual, physical and emotional abuse within families, where the family or “private sphere” has historically been men’s private domain, where they were allowed to terrorize and damage women and children with impunity, and where men could historically let themselves off the hook for financial support just by leaving town, denying paternity, or worse.

In what was also an act of domestic terrorism by Ball, where he committed an illegal act that was dangerous to human life and was apparently intended to intimidate and coerce both civilians and the government, this self-immolation by the leader of the Worcester branch of the Massachusetts-based Fatherhood Coalition was also apparently a declaration of war against the family court system and against women and children:

In a lengthy “Last Statement,” which arrived posthumously at the Keene Sentinel, Tom Ball told his story. All he had done, he said, was smack his 4-year-old daughter and bloody her mouth after she licked his hand as he was putting her to bed. Feminist-crafted anti-domestic violence legislation did the rest. “Twenty-five years ago,” he wrote, “the federal government declared war on men. It is time to see how committed they are to their cause. It is time, boys, to give them a taste of war.” Calling for all-out insurrection, he offered tips on making Molotov cocktails and urged his readers to use them against courthouses and police stations. “There will be some casualties in this war,” he predicted. “Some killed, some wounded, some captured. Some of them will be theirs. Some of the casualties will be ours.”

Predictably, the manosphere, the name for organized online MRA hate groups, largely supported Ball and sympathized with his persecution complex and feelings of male-entitlement and woman-hatred:

Ball’s suicide brought attention to an underworld of misogynists, woman-haters whose fury goes well beyond criticism of the family court system, domestic violence laws, and false rape accusations. There are literally hundreds of websites, blogs and forums devoted to attacking virtually all women (or, at least, Westernized ones) — the so-called “manosphere,” which now also includes a tribute page for Tom Ball (“He Died For Our Children”).

Only weeks later, the manosphere responded favorably to the mass-murder of 77 people by Norweigian MRA Anders Behring Breivik, who railed against “divorce on demand” and sounded the misogynistic dog-whistle to aggrieved men around the world:

This kind of woman-hatred is increasingly visible in most Western societies, and it tends to be allied with other anti-modern emotions — opposition to same-sex marriage, to non-Christian immigration, to women in the workplace, and even, in some cases, to the advancement of African Americans. Just a few weeks after Ball’s death, while scorch marks were still visible on the sidewalk in Keene, N.H., that was made clear once more by a Norwegian named Anders Behring Breivik.

On July 22, Breivik slaughtered 77 of his countrymen, most of them teenagers, in Oslo and at a summer camp on the island of Utøya, because he thought they or their parents were the kinds of “politically correct” liberals who were enabling Muslim immigration. But Breivik was almost as voluble on the subjects of feminism, the family, and fathers’ rights as he was on Islam. “The most direct threat to the family is ‘divorce on demand,’” he wrote in the manifesto he posted just before he began his deadly spree. “The system must be reformed so that the father will be awarded custody rights by default.”

The manosphere lit up. Said one approving poster at The Spearhead, an online men’s rights magazine for the “defense of ourselves, our families and our fellow men”: “What could be more ‘an eye for an eye’ than to kill the children of those who were so willing to destroy men’s families and destroy the homeland of men?”

In the second article, Men’s Rights Movement Spreads False Claims about Women reporters Mark Potok and Evelyn Schlatter outline the most common anti-woman propaganda used by American MRAs to incite misogynist rage, encourage further violence, and to garner sympathy for their alleged mistreatment by women and the court system in cases of divorce and custody disputes and even cases involving criminal charges of stalking, rape, and murder.  For example, MRAs often cite false statistics about the incidence and prevalence of female-initiated sex-crimes and abuse against male victims, claiming that the situation is at least as bad for men (if not worse) when the research consistently shows that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of abuses such as rape, intimate partner rape and stalking, and that women are overwhelmingly the victims.  Unsurprisingly, the research also consistently shows that when men are raped, it is almost always by other men, and not by women.

MRA hate groups are also consistently rageful — and untruthful — when disseminating false and debunked statistics regarding “false rape charges”.  From the article:

THE CLAIM Close to half or even more of the sexual assaults reported by women never occurred. Versions of this claim are a mainstay of sites like Register-Her.com, which specializes in vilifying women who allegedly lie about being raped. Such claims are also sometimes made by men involved in court custody battles.

THE REALITY This claim, which has gained some credence in recent years, is largely based on a 1994 article in the Archives of Sexual Behavior by Eugene Kanin that found that 41% of rape allegations in his study were “false.” But Kanin’s methodology has been widely criticized, and his results do not accord with most other findings. Kanin researched only one unnamed Midwestern town, and he did not spell out the criteria police used to decide an allegation was false. The town also polygraphed or threatened to polygraph all alleged victims, a now-discredited practice that is known to cause many women to drop their complaint even when it is true. In fact, most studies that suggest high rates of false accusations make a key mistake — equating reports described by police as “unfounded” with those that are false. The truth is that unfounded reports very often include those for which no corroborating evidence could be found or where the victim was deemed an unreliable witness (often because of drug or alcohol use or because of prior sexual contact with the attacker). They also include those cases where women recant their accusations, often because of a fear of reprisal, a distrust of the legal system or embarrassment because drugs or alcohol were involved. The best studies, where the rape allegations have been studied in detail, suggest a rate of false reports of somewhere between 2% and 10%. The most comprehensive study, conducted by the British Home Office in 2005, found a rate of 2.5% for false accusations of rape. The best U.S. investigation, the 2008 “Making a Difference” study, found a 6.8% rate.

And in Misogyny: The Sites, the SPLC highlights a dozen popular MRA websites and blogs, documenting examples of the “astounding” woman-hatred espoused by MRA hate groups.

Of course, the women and girls who have been targeted by woman-haters and misogynistic hate groups both recently and over the years might not choose the word “astounding” to describe known reality, and what has been a raging online and in real life war against women for years, any more than any other targeted group might be “astounded” by organized hate groups who regularly disseminate political propaganda and incite class hatred and even violence against them.  What might be “astounding” however is that the MRAs have not previously been exposed and actively monitored by a nationally renowned civil rights organization before, when they clearly meet the criteria of “hate group” and deserve to be monitored and even prosecuted when the facts warrant it, like any other hate group.

Until now.  And monitoring and prosecuting American hate groups is what the SPLC does best:

Fighting Hate in Court

In the early 1980s, SPLC co-founder and chief trial counsel Morris Dees pioneered the strategy of using the courts to battle organized, violent hate groups. Since then, we have won numerous large damage awards on behalf of victims of hate group violence. These cases are funded entirely by our supporters; we accept no legal fees from the clients we represent.

Among the groups shut down by crushing jury verdicts in SPLC cases are the White Aryan Resistance, the United Klans of America, the White Patriot Party militia and the Aryan Nations.

These cases have made the SPLC and Dees reviled enemies of the extremist movement. Our headquarters in Montgomery has been the target of numerous plots by extremist groups, including a firebombing that destroyed our offices in 1983. Several dozen people have been sent to prison for plotting against Dees or the SPLC.

Anyone wishing to donate money or other resources to the SPLC can “donate now” through their website, or by mail or telephone.

Please note that you may make charitable contributions to the SPLC and specifically earmark the funds toward individual projects, including the one monitoring the MRAs.  Just make a note of the project for which you wish to earmark your contribution at the time you make the donation.