The Dim-Post

June 17, 2016

Gender and political assassination

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 10:32 am

The murder of Jo Cox made me think about the attempted assassination of US Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and the murder of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and made me wonder if, with the gradual increase of women in democratic politics, whether a disproportionate amount of political violence is now directed at women politicians.

 

38 Comments »

  1. Have you been reading today’s Herald?

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11658124

    Of course we have no idea if today’s tragedy is related at all, but the language of violence and misogyny is a daily staple in “political” discussions online – even in supposedly mainstream forums.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 17, 2016 @ 11:30 am

  2. I think it’s a truly horrible thing. Echoing what @Sammy has written; I am often disturbed by the form that criticism of Paula Bennett takes. I struggle to think of a male MP who is talked about the same way. We also have a history of it; no one thinks twice of saying personally abusive things about Jenny Shipley, or even foreign politicians like Margaret Thatcher.

    Comment by Robert Singers — June 17, 2016 @ 11:51 am

  3. @Robert Singers,

    What, has Helen Clark (sorry, Hulun Klark) slipped your memory?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 17, 2016 @ 11:54 am

  4. It does seem disproportionally low. Of 31 political assassinations Wikipedia lists for Pakistan only 2 were of women.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 17, 2016 @ 12:01 pm

  5. I am often disturbed by the form that criticism of Paula Bennett takes.

    Why, has someone put up a billboard comparing her to Mugabe or something?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — June 17, 2016 @ 1:15 pm

  6. @Andrew my experience of people’s attitudes towards Clark has been more along the “Aunty” Helen lines; possibly because I’m not a “pounchy townie” and spend the majority of my time in a solidly red neighborhood – you know with working class people (think South Dunedin). The comments that I’ve heard about Clark that you probably wouldn’t heard about a male politician where about her relationship to Heather Simpson. I mentioned Shipley because you’d think that sixteen years later people may have started talking about her if she was a human being but apparently not.

    Comment by Robert Singers — June 17, 2016 @ 1:21 pm

  7. It’s a great pity that Jo Cox met this fate – poor lady

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 17, 2016 @ 1:28 pm

  8. “I mentioned Shipley because you’d think that sixteen years later people may have started talking about her if she was a human being but apparently not.”

    Fixed that for you Robert:

    “I mentioned Shipley because you’d think that sixteen years later people may have started talking about her”

    Anyway, comments above are correct, while Paula Bennett is truly reprehensible, gendered criticism is not ok, wasn’t OK with Helen Clark, isn’t ok now.

    Comment by Michael — June 17, 2016 @ 4:05 pm

  9. The Guardian did a retrospective of attacks on MPs, and Cox is the first woman to be attacked.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 17, 2016 @ 5:11 pm

  10. Although they were counting the IRA’s attempt to kill Thatcher with a bomb in her hotel room as a different type of attack, which is debatable.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 17, 2016 @ 5:15 pm

  11. “@Andrew my experience of people’s attitudes towards Clark has been more along the “Aunty” Helen lines; possibly because I’m not a “pounchy townie” and spend the majority of my time in a solidly red neighborhood”

    I can’t be bothered diving into the muck to prove anything, but if you go back to before the 2008 election the I’m fairly certain I’ve come across much much worse and highly mysogynistic comments than that, about Helen Clark, in the sewers of Kiwiblog and Whale Oil, which from memory were both tacitly (if not actively) happy to provide a place where those views and language could be reinforced and repeated. I’m sure there was plenty of informal repetition in public places, pubs, board rooms, etc.

    Comment by izogi — June 17, 2016 @ 5:17 pm

  12. So when you are rude about a female public figure, it’s mysogeny. What is it when you’re about a male public figure. “F*ck Trump”, etc.

    Jenny Shipley? That’s reaching a bit: Michael’s correction seems about right. But Sarah Palin?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 17, 2016 @ 5:32 pm

  13. I suggest you read the guardian (uk ) it gives a list of all mps murdered in the uk since 1979
    This lady is the first female all the rest were male.
    Why do Green Party supporters see gender in every thing

    Comment by Graham — June 17, 2016 @ 6:27 pm

  14. @izogi: I’m not saying it doesn’t\didn’t happen. I just don’t go to the sort of places that it happens. Also the millennials I talk to have a view of Clark that is largely divorced from the actual history, but then again ask most Gen Xers about Lange and I suspect you’ll find the same disconnect.

    @Clunking Fist: Trump and Palin are American politicians. The United States of America is a different country to New Zealand. Their political system isn’t even a democracy comparable to NZ. New Zealand political discussion doesn’t directly include either of them. Sarah Palin wasn’t elected to office, and if Trump is elected the American King it’s not likely to have much impact on our country. Does that help you with your question?

    Comment by Robert Singers — June 17, 2016 @ 6:33 pm

  15. I think the gold standard for the last 25 years is the abuse that John Key has received – the fuck John Key chants by rather drunk students led by Kim Dotcom (dead to the irony of course of a German leading abusive chants about a PM of Jewish descent), the jackass singer who wrote the song threatening to sexually assault Key’s daughter and the posters of Key in a Nazi uniform that were common in Wellington last year. There you go, I’ll see you and raise you…..? The longstanding abuse of Nick Smith in the House by Labour MPs about mental illness oblivious to the reality that when one of their own suffered similar problems and, like Smith. recovered, the other MPs of all parties stayed well away from the matter.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 17, 2016 @ 7:06 pm

  16. Bennett is especially disliked because she is a hypocrite. Louise Upston is to my mind more conservative, and I personally dislike her views more than Bennett’s, but Bennett is a case of a former welfare beneficiary who wants to deny others the same help she received. I can’t respect that.

    Comment by L — June 17, 2016 @ 7:58 pm

  17. @Tinakori
    You really need to read what you wrote again. Because for every grievance you have about someone getting verbally abused, you are abusive and demeaning in response.

    That’s the bigger irony,

    Comment by mjpledger — June 17, 2016 @ 9:14 pm

  18. Graham,

    Do you mean this article?

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/16/jo-cox-attack-latest-serious-assault-mps

    That was of MPs attacked since 1979, not necessarily murdered. Of the 7 listed, 5 were killed (prior to Jo Cox).

    So Jo Cox is 1 of 6 killed. The question is: is that out of proportion to the representation of women in British parliament? Given that we’re going back go 1979, looks like it is:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-32601280

    Comment by Steve — June 17, 2016 @ 9:48 pm

  19. @Steve: The average % of women elected in Parliaments from 1979 is 14.6%. The % of female MPs who were murdered is 1 in 6, or 16.6%. If that’s sexism in effect, it’s an extremely modest effect. (And really, there’s no reason why we should only be counting MPs killed, not MPs attacked, since sexism might lead to more attacks, but it’s hard to imagine it leading to more effectiveness in those attacks)

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 17, 2016 @ 11:54 pm

  20. @Tinakori

    We have done this before, and all of your (deliberate?) mis-remembering won’t make any difference to historical fact.

    But, one more time – yes, plenty of stupid people say nasty things, whoever is in power. The question is: are they on the fringe, or are they at the centre, legitimising the abuse?

    It was the leader of the National Party (Don Brash). It was the National Party pollster (David Farrar). It was the ACT caucus (John Boscawen). It was a deliberate link between Helen Clark and fascism (see the placards) and dictators (see the billboards).

    Last time I invited you to name any similar office-holders who had dome similar things, in Labour or the Greens. You did not respond.

    The invitation is still open.

    (For the record, the worst I can recall was a disgraceful “Shylock” comment by an obscure Labour candidate, who was immediately disowned. If Labour or the Greens had any truck with anti-Semitic attacks on John Key, they would be roundly and rightly condemned. Again, you are invited to point out where this has happened. If not, stop smearing. Please).

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 18, 2016 @ 12:50 am

  21. I don’t think there’s a clear pattern, apart from males killing females. But one would think there might be something given it’s men that most often display stalker behaviour. But I think that political violence and socially isolated men is a complex phenomenon.

    The particularly vile misogyny aimed at Clinton this year and in 2008 by liberals as well as conservatives is deeply disturbing but the connection between that very public anger and the actions of violent individuals isn’t straight foward, if it exists at all.

    I have noticed though once again the pattern of the Left and Right very quickly trying to make mental health the battle ground for their agendas.

    Comment by NeilM — June 18, 2016 @ 7:36 am

  22. @Sammy while you may be right that there is no obvious link between Labour and Greens and anti-Semtic attacks on Key, they’re also remarkably silent on the subject for parties who profess to be moral. We also don’t know the true involvement of Green “activists” in the defacing of hoardings in the last election as it was never investigated by the Police.

    Comment by Robert Singers — June 18, 2016 @ 8:39 am

  23. Like Tinakori, you choose to see only what you want to see.

    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11627167

    This isn’t hard. It isn’t “whataboutery”. It’s simple. Somebody, somewhere will be saying/doing something nasty on the net every day, and it’s not Labour/Little’s role (or National/Key’s) to find every troll. It is their job to a) maintain decency in political discourse themselves, and b) to act promptly on every incident for which their own party is responsible.

    You can decide for yourself if that has happened. There was a book about it, you know (names like Ede and Slater might ring a bell …).

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 18, 2016 @ 9:35 am

  24. Quite a few male politicians have been assassinated too!

    More women in male dominated politics surely means a greater risk of being attacked. I’m not sure that violence against women is disproportionate.

    Comment by Ross — June 18, 2016 @ 9:59 am

  25. The Guardian did a retrospective of attacks on MPs, and Cox is the first woman to be attacked.

    Does that mean that attacks on female MPs are disproportionately low?

    Comment by Ross — June 18, 2016 @ 10:01 am

  26. Robert Singers: “Trump and Palin are American politicians.” Err, yes, and Jo Cox was British.
    “Sarah Palin wasn’t elected to office” Err, yes: she was Governor of Alaska. I suggest you watch the vid, it’s only short, and it’s a bit of fun seeing a reporter get their arse handed to them on live tv.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 18, 2016 @ 10:08 am

  27. “and Cox is the first woman to be attacked”
    Apart from the Brighton bombing attack on the Conservative Party, which you could argue was an attempt on M Thatcher?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 18, 2016 @ 10:10 am

  28. “(For the record, the worst I can recall was a disgraceful “Shylock” comment by an obscure Labour candidate, who was immediately disowned. If Labour or the Greens had any truck with anti-Semitic attacks on John Key, they would be roundly and rightly condemned. Again, you are invited to point out where this has happened. If not, stop smearing. Please).”

    I can see how it might be hard to catch the subtleties from such a high horse Sammy, but I think the references by Labour MPs and supporters to Key only being a money trader certainly qualify as an anti-semitic dog whistle. Granted, it ain’t the full on Shylock but its close enough. I also notice your studied avoidance of the comment about Nick Smith. Do you think the extreme attacks on Key hurt less because they were not – thank god – made by a Labour leader? All the splenetic but, but, but, but….doesn’t really cut the mustard.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 18, 2016 @ 6:05 pm

  29. …but I think the references by Labour MPs and supporters to Key only being a money trader certainly qualify as an anti-semitic dog whistle.

    This is plain silly. Sorry, but it is.

    Comment by Flashing Light — June 18, 2016 @ 7:49 pm

  30. @ 18

    Ortvin,

    > “The average % of women elected in Parliaments from 1979 is 14.6%. The % of female MPs who were murdered is 1 in 6, or 16.6%. If that’s sexism in effect, it’s an extremely modest effect.”

    Maybe so, but the way Graham presented the absolute figures implied (as Ross took the same point later) that if anything attacks on women were disproportionately low. That seems not to be correct.

    There’s really not enough data to be statistically meaningful. Maybe that should be the take away. But if we must draw a conclusion from the available figures, it’s not the one Graham seemed to be suggesting.

    > “…there’s no reason why we should only be counting MPs killed, not MPs attacked, since sexism might lead to more attacks, but it’s hard to imagine it leading to more effectiveness in those attacks”

    If so, the figures from the Guardian list seem to go even more against the point Graham was making, as we should count the attack on Thatcher, which makes it 2 of 8 instead of 1 of 6.

    Comment by Steve — June 19, 2016 @ 12:19 am

  31. @Steve: I was really addressing Danyl’s idea that women seem to be more likely to be attacked.

    If we count the Thatcher attack it gets up to 25%, but I’m doubtful if we should – it seems questionable that the IRA wouldn’t have tried to assassinate Thatcher if she were a man.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 19, 2016 @ 1:45 am

  32. Do you think the extreme attacks on Key hurt less…

    Poor Tinakori, copping every insult to his idol as if it was a size 12 boot to the goolies.

    Comment by Joe W — June 19, 2016 @ 2:26 am

  33. “The average % of women elected in Parliaments from 1979 is 14.6%. The % of female MPs who were murdered is 1 in 6, or 16.6%.”

    Shouldn’t the numbers also be weighted for the portion of women in parliament at the time of each attack? Every murder until this one occurred prior to 1991, during which the portion of female MPs was much lower than 14.6%. According to this PDF I dug up with Google, the portion only hit 10% in 1997.

    I’m with Steve in thinking that maybe there’s not much useful statistical significance here, or it’s dubious at best. There would be higher quality info from looking at the individual situation and motivation of each attack. eg. Maybe Thomas Mair was always going to try and attack and kill MP over the referendum, but did he have a bias towards attacking a female MP for some other reason? Did other attackers have a bias towards selecting male MPs that had nothing to do with their cause? (Totally possible, even if still for sexist reasons.)

    Comment by izogi — June 19, 2016 @ 8:04 am

  34. “I’m with Steve in thinking that maybe there’s not much useful statistical significance here, or it’s dubious at best. ”

    I agree, the numbers are so small compared to the overall group that statistical noise is likely to override any genuine relationship. But again, it was Danyl who originally postulated some kind of relationship between the gender of MPs and their being targetted, so I’d submit that any criticisms about the statistical insignificance of the sample group should be aimed at the initial hypothesis, not at the people trying to disprove the hypothesis within the parameters originally set.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 19, 2016 @ 11:04 am

  35. The thing about the Jo Cox case was that she was an opposition MP. From what I saw of the other English MPs killed from the wikipedia page was that they were all government MPs, and often in cabinet – the attacks were on the powerful and about how they wielded that power

    Jo Cox had very little power, being in opposition and I assume not very high in the ranks.

    Comment by mjpledger — June 19, 2016 @ 5:21 pm

  36. @mjpledger: You are correct, but the last two serious attacks were on opposition MPs. Although both survived, I’m not sure that is a crucial difference. (And in the 2000 attack, one of the MPs’ aides died)

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 19, 2016 @ 7:45 pm

  37. What Danyl’s list does highlight is the different ways in which men nurture murderous grudges.

    Comment by NeilM — June 20, 2016 @ 8:19 am

  38. As a woman, a feminist, and an occasional political writer, I’d say that trolling of women has increased over the past decade.

    The casual acceptance of verbal misogyny on the internet leads into the validation (in the minds of misogynists) for the kind of physical manifestation of that misogyny that results in political assassination as it’s apex predation.

    The rise in rape (another form of violence, intended to control women by fear – “look what happened to her, don’t be like her if you want to be safe”) is also indicative of the way women’s voices are being silenced, unless we appear in an advert for some pointless cosmetic product, or simpering alongside “the presenter (male)” on the TV news show.

    It was interesting to scroll down the responses in this thread, to see how few women’s voices are here.
    Danyl, you might like to think about that, next time you ask a similar question.

    My own experience of directing a question in a public forum only to women, was that the men who frequented that public online specs objected to being cut out of the discussion, & massively trolled the post immediately.
    Rather ironic when the topic under discussion was why misogynist trolling requires good moderation policies in order for women’s voices to be heard….

    Comment by anarkaytie — June 20, 2016 @ 9:23 am


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