Since suffering a burglary, EMMA JONES has turned detective to get her belongings back. But when she receives a WhatsApp message things take a dark turn.
‘Women are coming, it’s a sea change, a tipping point, a paradigm shift.’
Eric ‘always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-life’ Idle rejoices. But I’m confused.
Astoundingly, the Monty Python hero is not talking about Kim Thong One’s Big Ass Summit at the White House, where Kim Kardashian talked about prison reform. This is her latest campaign. Her previous one was of course the appetite-suppressant lollipop one.
No, Eric is referring to recent feminist victories such as Rose McGowan’s #Metoo crusade and the abortion referendum victory in Ireland. In some of Ireland.
Diane Abbott chipped in: ‘Bodily autonomy, and the right to choose, has always seemed like the fundamental feminist issue.’
No one can deny it’s a debate of high intellectual ideals, dominated by the big guns of politics and showbiz.
I look at my phone.
A stranger’s dick pic pops up on my WhatsApp.
While its positively charged positioning tells me it is on trend, the unsolicited intrusion reminds me about the gulf between high ideals and the grim reality.
The abuser-cum-perpetrator is a petty-criminal claiming to have got my computer, stolen from my home in a burglary I wrote about in these pages last month.
The feminist paradigm had suddenly shifted off-kilter.
I switch to the Woman’s Hour podcast, in search of a better steer?
Jenni Murray is doing a feature on a new word that has hit the headlines: sextortion.
It’s a cyber crime.
Yes! Like the man on my iPhone?
But the policeman on the radio from the National Crime Agency says that actually the main victims of sextortion are men.
The Anti-Kidnap and Extortions Unit explains that the preferred hunting grounds of the sextortionist are porn and hook-up websites.
Turns out it is predominately dopey internet-porn surfing types who fall prey to this type of entrapment. Scientific surveys apparently show that this demographic is overwhelmingly populated by the XY genotype. Imagine.
The copper says: ‘Yeah, I think they are more socially active on websites, of some kinds, and I think that the lure of that attractive female talking to them, engaging with them, is the obvious answer, I think.’
It is a nice way of saying: ‘They went looking for it, found it and got more than they bargained for.’
The men using these websites, looking for company, are lured into performing on camera, by sexy women, they came to meet.
The images are recorded by the blackmailer, who then threatens to send the pictures to friends and family, unless significant amounts of money are paid.
I feel sorry for these men.
But what about me?
I didn’t go looking for the pervert who assaulted my WhatsApp. I didn’t pay to see him to get off.
The dick pics man is attempting to coerce me.
He’s showing me pictures of his penis, and asking me to reciprocate (though he does not call it that). Then, he says, he will return my stolen things. Or tings.
It is straightforward erectile extortion.
And, to top it all, he wants me to rate the size of his manhood.
I’m not stupid – so, of course, I won’t cave in to either of his demands.
But he has given me a insight (a small one I should say, since I sensed you were wondering) into the new and interesting ways, in which a few nasty men are using the power of social media to exploit women.
But going back to Woman’s Hour – what of the women being used to procure the sextortionable self-videos?
You can bet your bottom Bitcoin, they won’t be getting the lion’s share of the action.
No – that’s goes to the African and Filipino crime bosses, according to the policeman.
Perhaps, if the sexting deviant on my phone was a celebrity, I’d be able to exploit this situation myself, and expose him as Deptford’s Weinstein – or sell the pics to The Sunday People.
Sadly, nothing about him – including his drug-addled face, stash bag and hoodie – suggests he would make it past the first round of Britain’s Got Talent.
So, are men who think they can exploit women suddenly going to start regulating themselves to behave more respectfully?
Will those who are enlightened then also stop trying to regulate our vaginas and our wombs?
In America, I don’t see it coming any time soon. While it’s true that woman-harming pensioners in Hollywood are being written out of the script in one corner, woman-damaging legislation is being written into the statute books in the other.
The Republicans and Donald Trump – The Leader of the Free World and of unregulated perverts everywhere – are stripping away women’s abortion rights in the real world. Just as Trump promised to.
The much-heralded new dawn does not break – and instead women’s rights are regressing.
The Supreme Court just declined to hear an appeal of a circuit court decision that allows an Arkansas law to take effect that restricts access to abortion drugs.
When that law (requiring Arkansas clinics to contract with named doctors) is implemented the direct result will be doctors, fearing the repercussions of clinical abortion – i.e. getting shot at – will refuse to perform them and women will live with the consequences of unwanted pregnancies.
And Trump has introduced a domestic ‘gag’ law that means doctors in clinics (like those serving the poor) that receive Federal subsidies are banned from discussing abortion options with their patients.
And 33 states in the US have anti-abortion trigger laws. As soon as the Supreme Court reverses Roe v Wade (the 1973 decision which made denying access to abortion unconstitutional), then state laws outlawing legal abortion (but of course increasing back-street abortion) will go ahead.
The Supreme Court is finely balanced. It is reckoned that if one or more of the rather ancient liberal judges dies or retires and Trump is able – with a senate majority – to replace him or her with a conservative judge, then Roe v Wade is in trouble. That is why people joke darkly that the most important feminist agent in America is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s physician.
At least here in this country we could lead the way. It would be good to see the momentum from the referendum result in Ireland harnessed to extend to the rest of the UK where women’s rights have been subordinated too long.
Abortion law in Northern Ireland is governed by the 1881 Offences Against the Person Act. Yes, 1881.
The last time there was an attempt to modernise the law in Northern Ireland, it was a proposal to implement the 1967 Abortion Act in the Province. As modernisation goes, that is still the wrong century but only 50 years behind the times. The chosen vehicle was the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in 2008.
Despite support from the British Medical Association, the Family Planning Association, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and enthusiastic women and long-standing campaigners in Northern Ireland it didn’t work. Not because MPs voted down Abbott’s amendment. But because the then Leader of the Commons stopped the House even debating Abbott’s amendment. Who was he, this misogynist-in-chief? Nope – New Labour’s feminist-in-chief, Harriet Harman.
In this weird, mixed-up world of new radical feminism we are left harnessing our hopes to female celebrities instead of politicians to deliver change.
Who ever thought the feminist struggle would hinge upon the success of a porn actress called Stormy Daniels?