The misogyny of the alt-Right.

Comments about Green MP Golriz Ghahraman by ACT MP David Seymour on a reactionary radio talk show, and the threats that followed and which the Police deemed serious enough to merit a security detail for her, got me to thinking about how grotesquely disturbed the Right is in its present form. Seymour, supposedly a Libertarian, calls Ghahraman an “menace to freedom” because she wants to tighten legislation on hate speech (which, unlike protected offensive speech involves the incitement to or support for violence against others). His smear is a deliberate incitement to the alt-Right extreme and an implicit call for censorship, an irony lost on him.

The radio host that he was talking to, Sean Plunket, is a man with serious issues when it comes to women. His track record on gender matters is wretched, so Seymour’s comments gave him room to vent more generally on the subject using Ms. Ghahraman as a foil. What is disturbing is that, as readers may know, violent extremists are surrounded by enablers and accomplices, that is, those who simply look the other way when perpetrators plan and prepare for violence or those who in one form or another, passively or actively help perpetrators in the lead up to the commission of acts of violence.

In that conversation Plunket played the role of enabler while Seymour moved from enabler to accomplice because his dog whistle did in fact, provoke the alt-Right scum to crawl out from under their keyboards in order to heap vicious, often violently sexualised misogynist abuse on the Green MP. Seymour has denied being responsible for the threats made against her, which is akin to Donald Trump saying that he has nothing to do with Russia or the rise in attacks by white supremacists since he took office.

That got me to thinking about a core belief structure of the alt-Right and their white supremacist kin: misogyny. Now, I am no psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist, but one thing is pretty clear: this crowd hates women.

In the case of people like Seymour, it seems that this hatred is born of unrequited lust. Ms. Ghahraman is attractive, smart, and self-assured to the point of being “stroppy” (or as a senior male professor once said to my wife when assessing her suitability for an academic career, “precocious”). But she would never be seen in the company, much less succumb to the courting, of the likes of David Seymour because he is simply a loser who has risen above his proper station in life, one who’s social interaction skills are on a par with the greesy-palmed and pimply 14 year olds that inhabit private schools and believe Ann Rand is “hot.” Boys like these like to bully girls who deep down inside they really, really like but from whom they cannot attract a sideways glance. That is why they get mean. For his part, Plunket projects the image of a guy who has been through a bad divorce or two and/or who has been turned down more than few times in spite of his relative fame and wealth. He is pissed off with women in general, and particularly the mouthy ones who disagree with him yet get to make decisions that affect us all.

We should remember that the misogynist streak pervades the alt-Right, here and elsewhere. It has led to the rise of the so-called “Incel” (involuntarily celibate) culture that has produced several murders of women by blue-balled freaks who think that all of their frustrations and disappointments in life are due to the fact that women will not recognise their genius and consent to having sex with them. Some do not even care about consent but still cannot get laid. This leads them to believe that women are the root of all evil and responsible for the decline of traditional culture, at least when”traditional” refers to a patriarchical white male hierarchy calling the shots over everyone else and enjoying the benefits of their status as Alpha males. These are the type of people to whom Seymour was whistling and for whom Plunket provides a space in which to be safe and comfortable in their views.

If one looks at the common denominators amongst the alt-Right, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists and assorted other denizens of forums like 8Chan and 4Chan (which, incidentally, as of yesterday are still viewable in NZ and which continue to have long threads about the “accelerant” characteristics of the Christchurch killer’s actions), there is more than racism, bigotry and xenophobia at play. There is also an unmistakable hatred of women and loathing of what they supposedly represent. Terms like “pussy,” “cuck” (as in cuckold), “wench,” “slut,” “bitch” etc. compete for space with homophobic slurs in the alt-Right discourse. In fact, I am surprised that Seymour and Plunket were able to control their urges to indulge in a few sexist slurs of their own with regard to the Green MP.

It is not just the alt-Right/white extremist extremes that voice such views. Perusal of the comments pages of supposedly Right-Centre blogs regularly turns up variations on misogynist themes in spite of attempts at “moderation,” and Plunket is not the only prominent media commentator who gets to indulge, even if in “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” fashion, a few jabs at females in order to make a point about weakness versus strength (which almost inevitably such opinionating comes down to).

Of course, many if not most women in positions of authority are the subject of misogynist attacks. Equivocators for Seymour like Paula Bennett (now calling for the names of the Parliamentary rapists apparently mentioned in the report on Parliament’s toxic work environment) will try to draw false equivalences by saying that they too were the subject of sexualised attacks, conveniently forgetting that people like Bennett are attacked because of their hypocrisy and nasty policy positions more so than being female per se, and are not in need of security protection an any event. Fellows like Seymour and Plunket will claim that they have (had) plenty of female friends and partners so they cannot possibly be misogynists. This omits one basic thing: the attacks on Ms. Ghahraman are based on who/what she is more so than anything that she does, so regardless of the marital status or physiology of the critic, such attacks are gendered at their core. Even Judith Collins knows that much.

The real issue is that deep inside the abuse of Ms. Ghahraman lies male insecurity–that of sexual rejection and a loss of masculinity. People like Seymour hate women like Ghahraman because they cannot have her and never will, which they fear is a public sign of weakness on their part. This frustrates them immensely, and because they have neither the intellect, looks or social skills to attract such women, that frustration has no place to go other than onanistic rage. Beneath the smirks and the boy’s banter is a deep abiding fear of not measuring up.

That, more than any ideological difference, is what is at play here. So the next time that you hear or read attacks on Ms. Ghahraman and women like her, take a moment to reflect on why, exactly, critics take issue with them.

20 thoughts on “The misogyny of the alt-Right.

  1. “one who’s social interaction skills are on a par with the greesy-palmed and pimply 14 year olds that inhabit private schools and believe Ann Rand is “hot.”

    I had to put up with exactly those types at private secondary school. My folks thought it was a good idea at the time to send me there. Same goes for Auckland Grammar et al that are state schools but think they’re Eton.

    I’ve tweeted about Umberto Eco & Laurie Britt’s writings on the early warning signs of neo-Fascism:

  2. Stick to international relations and security Pablo, subjects on which you are able to productively contribute. This is just a rant.

  3. James:

    Sorry to disappoint you. I feel that I should be free to tackle other subjects even if done polemically.

  4. Of course you’re free to do what you want with this blog, but the more polemic you get the narrower your potential audience will become too.

  5. Ha Ha! It is pretty narrow as it is. Be that as it may, I sincerely believe that the alt-Right is centrally driven by misogyny, and that NZ not only is not immune from the phenomenon but is in many ways emblematic of it. Hence the post.

  6. @James: Pablo has always been clear that as long as commenters are informed and civil they can say what they want.

    I think it isn’t asking much of us to extend him the same courtesy?

  7. Thanks Gorkem.

    It is all good with James. He is a valued commentator who has contributed good insights here. We just differ on the appropriateness of the tone of this post (it is unclear to me if he disagrees with the substance).

  8. Surely being controversial within the bounds of civilian decency is a good thing?

    Think of the consequences if not…
    No questioning, no freedom or expression of thought
    … Geez what a tedious life we would live

  9. Society doesn’t deem it immoral to call Golriz a menace to freedom. That Seymore is accused of hate speech and not economic vandalism such that his predecessors encouraged, Don Brash, Rodney Hyde, Richard Prebble, Roger Douglas. But hey, let’s add this new wrong to the list.

  10. Yes indeed Sam. We must not overlook the economic sins of Seymour’s ilk. But we must not dismiss the misogyny that also is a pillar of the alt-Right, nor the fact that his dog whistle about Ms. Ghahraman was an incitement to violence against her.

  11. Pablo doesn’t have to “stick to his knitting.” A male (or female) who refuses to bystand, enable or ignore mysogynistic speech and action will have the support of many, some without the platform that Seymour enjoys and exploits. I wonder how Seymour would have fared in a refugee camp? He should be in awe of her!

  12. Pablo … In my world Ghahraman has the right to say what she believes just as Seymour has the right to criticise her … it’s called free speech and unless someone is actually inciting violence then they can say what they like and be judged accordingly.

    Don’t have much time for either of these two clowns. As for your descriptive of Seymour … ouch.

  13. Hi Veteran.

    Nice to see you slumming over here. Send my regards to Tom.

    I am not a particularly big fan of Ms. Ghahraman given some of her misrepresentations in the past (then again, how many politicians do not embellish or fudge their resumes?) In terms of specific areas of disagreement, I believe that on issues of intelligence and security she is clearly out of her depth. But then again, within the Green caucus, compared to what? I also have serious differences with her on several aspects of foreign affairs and international relations. But in terms of promoting human rights and equal protection under the law, I think that she is doing fine, including her calls to tighten laws on hate speech.

    Seymour strikes me as a buffoon. But what prompted the post was that his “enemy of freedom” remark is taken directly from the alt-Right script of accusations used against ideological opponents, often layered within a broader tissue of vulgarisations. That phrase was clearly a not-so-subtle invitation to intimidate her. It worked, at least in terms of galvanising a bunch of fellow losers to hurl misogynist threats at her from the confines of cyber space. Hopefully it will not work at intimidating her and instead will produce a backlash in her favour (and in the security authorities’ response).

    What is most concerning is that many parts of the NZ Right, including but not exclusively ACT (supposedly a Libertarian outlet), have adopted alt-Right memes, narratives and rhetoric. The moment when that rhetoric moves from spouting the usual BS about race, ethnicity, gender and religion to inciting or inviting attacks on another–however quiet or sublimated that entreaty may be–is the moment when those using such language lose the cover of protected offensive speech and move into the realm of hate speech. Seymour skirts the line between the two, perhaps deliberately. Not sure that anything Ms. Ghahraman has said (perhaps with the exception of remarks about Israel and the US military) come even close to rising to the level of Mr. Seymours disgraceful utterances.

    As for my characterisation of him–just taking the mickey in a sharp way.

  14. Pablo … thank you for that. As I said, I put them both in the same basket. Ghahraman, a purveyor of shonky cv’s and, as you said, out of her depth on intelligence and security matters. But she still has the right to say what clearly she believes. The electorate will judge her and hers accordingly.

    As for Seymour and he’s a boy chasing a headline … any headline. I guess that comes with the territory of being alone and not overly wanted. But you can’t market yourself as a libertarian one day and the next attack someone for exercising their right to free speech.

  15. Your post is a fair comment. I am puzzled by those who are vexed about it.

    Please do not put up a post about the weather. Certain people will be bound to comment about your ability to do so.

    Someone will be offended. (Sigh!)

  16. To be perfectly honest I am uncomfortable calling Seymour a racist, or bigot, or misogonist, or fascist and so on because I’m afraid that when it comes time to mater about it these words may not mean something to some one with a real proven record as in some one who wishes to reenact blasphemy laws or sigragation laws and so on. Misogony means something and we shouldn’t leave to the KKK’z of the world to define the kiwi character or policy. Having said that I believe Golriz has lost the hate speech debate, that there is no stomach for reviewing hate speech laws.

  17. Seymour will say and do things to attract attention to himself (the hers do it as well).

    Politics is about shameless self aggrandisement: which is not necessarily a bad thing. It is the underlying (interesting word) philosophy/policies that matter.

    Seymour has to rave and rant. Interesting that his latest effort is rather thoughtless.

    Desperation and recklessness can inspire extremism.

    It is the underlying philosophy /policies that matter.

    Seymour may well find that he is more isolated than he already is.

  18. Well I disagree Peter. New Zealand has a constitutional monarchy. After 1990 the government budget has risen steadily above $40 billion to $82 billion. In that time New Zealand from to now has been unable to produce a hardline decipline terrorist. Kiwis are just so comfortable they can’t even muster enough emotion to look angry let alone transform into a terrorist.

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