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Some Clarity on Dapper Laughs

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HOW CAN CARDIFF UNIVERSITY BAN DAPPER LAUGHS FROM PERFORMING? THAT'S CENSORSHIP?

Cardiff University's student union have every right to choose who performs on their premises. He has not been censored. He is free to perform anywhere that wants him to perform. That is the right of any venue and a right we all have. If I had a man knock on my front door saying, "Excuse me - do you mind if I go to the toilet on your living room floor?" I don't have to say "Sure, I'll wait in the kitchen." In the same way, Cardiff University's Student Union don't need to invite someone who wants to crap on all their female students. If Britain First approached Cardiff and said, "Can we hold a white's only disco in your union?" the union doesn't have to say yes and they are not censors for exercising their freedom of choice.

HOW CAN YOU BAN HIM FROM TV? THAT'S CENSORSHIP

Dapper Laughs show wasn't banned. His series ran for it's full length on ITV2. The channel decided they won't recommission a second series. That is not a ban and to argue this is a way to reframe the debate and shift things from the true discussion about misogyny that should be taking place. A TV show not being picked up or recommissioned happens every day. This is no more an act of censorship than Gok Wan's Baggage not getting a second series or Don't Scare The Hare. The channel have weighed up many factors and decided they won't recommission Dapper Laughs on the Pull. In this instance it's because it's come to their attention that the show they have made is misogynistic and degrading to women. It's a shame the show's makers couldn't see that before hand. No one has an inalienable right to be on TV. Dapper Laughs can advocate domestic abuse and sexual predation if he wants to. A TV station is under no obligation to give him a platform to do so.

BUT WHAT ABOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

Again, your question is misplaced and it's an unhappy attempt to shift things from the true discussion about sexism and misogyny that should be taking place. Countless women are explaining eloquently and patiently about the issues affecting them and you can't even listen to their concerns at face value. You have to stifle their voice and make this debate about something else.

Moreover, free speech is a red herring here. No-one is saying Dapper doesn't have the right to say any of the things he says. But anyone suggesting that men and women who find Dapper Laughs abhorrent should sit back and let him say and do whatever he wants without any response appear to be the real people with an affinity for stifling free speech.

In fact, they actually appear to misunderstand the nature of free speech, democracy or the history of how human beings evolve ideas - namely - one person says one thing - another person says something in counterpoint. As a result ideas evolve and develop. In the tussle between ideas and values the better ideas and values will hopefully win. That's what's taking place here. An exchange of ideas. Dapper Laughs has not been censored or banned. He is free to articulate his ideas and values in any public space, on the internet, on any media that will have him or any venue that wants to hear him. His freedom of speech has not been taken away from him any more than yours has. Have you been censored because right now you don't have an ITV2 show? Grow up. Stop being disingenuous and stop doing everything you can to stifle the voices who would like to have a legitimate discussion about misogyny, abuse and sexual harassment.

BUT WHAT ABOUT DAPPER LAUGHS?

What about the woman whose picture he posted on Facebook saying she was obsessed with him and needed to "finger herself" and invited his fans to bully her? What about the woman on twitter who he invited his fans to abuse and then proceeded to favourite tweets that included sentiments like, "some bloke has given her a right hook. Her fucking jaw is all twisted, like her soul. Lmao", "I hear she got attacked by some bloke, she said are you going to rape me, no fuck off your to ugly". What about the woman journalist he invited his fans to bully who then received a torrent of misogynistic hate? What about the women he harasses and publicly degrades in his vines? What about grow the fuck up what kind of world do we live in where the pity and concern is for the poor boy who has been the abuser and the bully and not the women who have had to put up with shit? This was even the closing sentiment of the presenter conducting a Channel Four news debate last night. The spirit of Ched Evans lives on.

POSTSCRIPT

I never called for Dapper Laughs to be banned or censored. I never signed the petition to cancel his show. For me it has always been about a battle for values taking place - between those who think sexism should be confronted and those who are either sexist or happy to allow sexism to exist. I unapologetically think that the value of defeating sexism should win and that giving publicity to positive narratives surrounding gender is conducive to that battle.

What I've learned from all this is that a million reasons can be thought up to justify doing nothing in this world and to allow crap to continue to happen. Some of this comes from an internal voice: "Don't do this, you'll feel silly, it's embarrassing, don't get egg on your face, what if you're wrong, it could affect your work, let someone else do it, no one will miss me from the debate, I don't want conflict, I don't like confrontation, people will have a go at me, I don't want the headache, some of my peers might not agree with me, I'm putting myself out there."

And then there are the voices of others who argued the erroneous freedom of speech issues I discuss above or who tried to argue that expressing a point of view on something is somehow pompous or self-regarding. In most instances all but one of these people offered any solutions or alternative ideas on how to combat misogyny and for the most part it felt like they were justifying their own inactivity. They literally concluded, "What can you do?" The result is they justified doing nothing even when admitting there was a problem and that people were suffering.

This is what I've learned and my final thoughts on the topic:

There are very few easy choices in life. For the most part we only have difficult decisions to make. The nature of a difficult decision means that there are pros and cons on both sides. You have to show some leadership and make a choice rather than dither into inactivity. Very few decisions will be 100% "clean" - but you have to make a choice and then act - accepting that the potential good of your action outweighs the potential negative.

In this instance I was aware of how my motivations could be misrepresented and misconstrued - but I felt strongly enough and had enough conviction in my mind to make me swallow my butterflies and speak up. I wrote an open letter to ITV about the show. I didn't expect much interest outside of a small circle within the industry. The most I hoped for was that maybe some individuals in TV might read it and add misogyny to the list of things they'd keep an eye out for in the same way that they would with racism and homophobia.

The article ending up being seen by a million people and a huge discussion about sexism and misogyny has arisen not just from my piece - but from the many others that have been written. These discussions have played out in the national press and on TV and radio. I'm told the article helped encouraged the students behind Cardiff University's campaign to decline giving a platform to a performer espousing misogyny on their student campus. More articles and attention sprang up. This led to tens of thousands of people signing a petition against Dapper's show - which though I didn't sign or endorse - did expose thousands of people to some very eloquent articulations on sexism and how to combat it. Those who signed that petition may feel the buzz of "victory" and will be not only more informed but inclined to speak up again in the future. The charity Shelter ended up raising a ton of cash for the homeless because they took a position on the issue. Two good causes now getting publicity - help for the homeless and combating sexism.

Social media became awash with people challenging and explaining the many shades of sexual harassment to those who didn't get it. Many people still don't get it but those who do have got better at articulating themselves and have perhaps won others over. A group of comedians signed a statement speaking out against misogyny in comedy. This was picked up by the national press exposing people to yet more positive gender narratives. All in all, a ton of people did a ton of stuff in the name of confronting the normalization of misogyny.

As I say, although few actions in life are 100% perfect, I believe that in the jostle between pros and cons, more good has come from people taking action in this instance than if they had erred on the side of doing nothing.

You will still get smart arses who say, "Ooh - now that Dapper Laughs is gone has sexism disappeared!" - a smug, contrarian position of wannabe aloofness - trying to justify in their own mind that it's okay for them do nothing to try and bring about positive change in the world. All I would say to them is, I'm glad you recognize sexism still exists. Seeing as you do and you are clearly bothered by it - go and do something about it - otherwise you're full of shit.

So that's that.

Oi Oi!

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