Saturday, 29 October 2016

Calling out misogyny

On Saturday 22 October a number of friends were involved in the counter-protest against fascists who had organised the first 'White Lives Matter' demo in Margate. Following a recent operation I wasn't able to attend, but I followed the event carefully on social media. The hijacking of the fascists' #WLM hashtag by those opposing them was very effective and was even covered in the Washington Post. Protestors turned the hashtag into We Love Margate and posted pictures and reasons to love the town.

I was really shocked to find the picture below (of a friend and key local anti-racist campaigner) tweeted by Canterbury-based photographer Graham Mitchell using the #WLM hashtag There was nothing wrong with the picture - the campaigner in question looks determined which is a reflection of her character. She's one of the best people I know and is a an superb organiser and activist. So I was angered to see that the caption Mitchell had put on the picture (a close-up of her face) was "Not by the hairs on my chiny (sic) chin chin".

I tweeted Mitchell to ask for clarification.

There was no response so I kept asking:

I even sent him a message via his website. On 23 October shortly before 1pm I sent this,

"Dear Graham,

I have been trying to contact you via Twitter. I am seeking an explanation of a picture you tweeted of a colleague of mine at the anti-fascist mobilisation in Margate yesterday. I can't attach it here but it was a close-up of a woman's face and the caption is "not by the hairs on my chiny chin chin". I am at a loss as to how to explain this other than as a comment on that women's appearence, which would clearly be misogynistic. I am giving you an opportunity to explain and/or apologise before I take this matter further. Kind regards, Bridget Chapman"

I've given Mitchell ample opportunity to explain the caption on the image that he tweeted. Since he has chosen not to respond I have to assume that the intention was to make a misogynistic comment on a woman's appearance.

In making such a comment Mitchell is aligning himself with the fascists. They too are obsessed with making derogatory comments on the appearance of women. 

Here's the thing, we may have to put up with this crap from fascists who, by definition, are poor excuses for human beings, but we shouldn't have to put up with such comments from members of our community.

It's shameful that Mitchell felt able to put out such a comment on his business account. He clearly feels there's nothing wrong with doing so. I'd remind him that among the many local anti-racist campaigners are marketing professionals, advertising executives, fellow professional photographers, graphic designers, people who work in PR, etc. There are many people in our group who may be his customers in the future, and there are certainly many people who influence decisions within the Kent community. If he can't behave appropriately and apologise then we will make sure we bear that in mind when choosing which local photographers to use. 

Misogyny isn't OK and we shouldn't have to put up with it.