In 2014, in London, 307 men reported being raped to the Metropolitan police. Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty
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A male rape charity has had its funding slashed to zero. Where are all the outraged men?

A vital service for men who have been affected by sexual abuse has lost funding, and yet so-called “Men’s Rights Activists” are still more interested in bringing feminists down.

Survivors UK is a UK charity with over 20 years of experience in listening and helping male survivors of rape and sexual abuse. The charity offers both individual counselling and group therapy services for victims and they provide training to professionals and organisations working with male rape survivors. Recent government statistics estimate that 75,000 men are victims of sexual assault or attempted assault and 9,000 men are victims of rape or attempted rape every year. Yet, despite the figures, dangerous stereotypes still persist that men can’t get raped and we can’t seem to break the taboo around the subject.

Survivors UK are trying to change that. In 2014, in London, 307 men reported being raped to the Metropolitan police – an increase of 120 per cent from the 2012 figures. In July last year, after a review of victim services in London, it was made one of the four priority areas for the mayor to remedy with the application of the £15m funding in his control to improve services for victims. In 2015, in London, Survivors UK’s funding has been slashed to nothing.

I am outraged and we all should be. Survivors UK run a vital service for men who have been affected by sexual abuse and if it shuts, this will affect countless men in London. But perhaps what makes me angrier is that so few men and men’s rights activists (more commonly known as MRAs online) have condemned this. I’m always being told that feminists don’t give a shit about issues like male rape or suicide. In fact, our detractors contend, feminists don’t give a shit about men. In case you missed the memo, feminists hate men. At least that’s the impression that we get from anti-feminist men and MRAs, mostly active on the web where they moan about men being oppressed because obviously, being a man is so hard these days.

Yes, there are issues that predominantly affect men like homelessness and suicide, but surely it’s a no brainer that both men and women suffer in our patriarchal society – one that prizes masculinity and expects only three things of women: to get married, get fucked and have babies.

However, Paul Elam, the founder of A Voice for Men, disagrees and told the Huffington Post that “the problem we see is a culture that puts women first in so many ways and men last”. Men’s Rights Canada launched their controversial “Don’t be that Girl” campaign, which said that women often make false rape accusations because they feel guilty for having one night stands. And on Return of Kings, when commenting on the statistic that 90 per cent of women know the perpetrators in rape cases, a contributor wrote that “a man looking to rape someone would not pick a target who could identify him to the police”. The focus from men’s rights activists seems to be on false rape accusations by women (which are far and few) rather than helping male victims of sexual violence.

The reality is that MRAs are a group of misogynists who spend their time on the internet saying things that simply aren’t true or attacking women. The Southern Poverty Law Centre describes their activism as “dedicated to savaging feminists and in particular, women”. MRAs do not really care about men. They resent feminists not only because their campaign to get rid of Page 3 denied them their daily wank at the breakfast table, but also because every step forward in achieving gender equality, where women are not a subclass of fuckable objects, is a disadvantage in their eyes. And sadly, their resentment towards the fight for the liberation for women does not actually make any difference to the men they are trying to help. I’m sure than men who genuinely believe in gender equality must be fed up with their rhetoric that the reason why men are “suffering” is because of women.

For instance, on “The Rights of Man”, Skimmington writes that all-women shortlists for political selections mean that “men are banned (in Labour’s case) from standing for Parliament solely because they are men”. I guess I didn’t notice the men who are MPs for the Labour Party. Paul Elam once wrote on “A Voice for Men” that drunk women were “freaking begging to be raped”.

It seems that if men and MRAs aren’t writing, and let’s be honest, complete bullshit, they are attacking women. Men’s rights activist and founder of Justice for Men and Boys (and the women who love them), Mike Buchanan, has accused the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, Laura Bates of lying because she talks about sexism and the disproportionate effects it has on women compared to men. He also gives out “awards” to feminists for “lying”. Men on the internet can send the feminist campaigner, Caroline Criado-Perez online abuse detailing how they want to kill, mutilate and rape her, interspersed with complaints about the inequalities that men face and how men are neglected. But do we see them taking any action?

Since the funding for Survivors UK was cut, Michael May started a petition calling for proper funding for men’s services. Since he started it, another one was initiated by Andy Keene asking that the Diversity and Equalities Officer of Goldsmith’s University be sacked. Bahar Mustafa created an event and asked that men did not attend because she wanted to create a safe space for black and minority ethnic women. That petition had over 23,700 signatories compared with the just over 3,900 signatories of the Survivors UK. It’s hard not to draw conclusions about the relative weight given to these two issues from this.

The idea that the world doesn’t revolve around men’s needs is inconceivable for MRAs, and that is why they try and get women to shut up, painting misogyny as the righteous option in the process. Men’s rights activists forget that the feminist fight for equality will benefit us all. As Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project has said, “It’s not about men against women but people against prejudice”.

Survivors UK are a male rape charity that has lost all their funding. Please sign their petition here to get their funding reinstated.

June Eric-Udorie is a 17-year-old writer whose writing has appeared in Cosmopolitan and the New Statesman among others.

GETTY
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The view from Google Earth is magnificent - but there's a problem

Google Earth is spectacular - but it can give a misleading impression of the planet and the threats we face from climate change. 

 

Google Earth wants you to “get lost” in its updated interactive map. Collaborations with new media partners mean you can now climb Mount Everest, swim with sharks or visit Afghanistan with Zari the purple muppet. No, really:


Source: Google Earth

Yet as Trump slashes support for the science behind satellite imaging, is Google’s emphasis on spectacle leading us down the wrong path?

Google Earth's new look all starts well enough. Opening the new site on your browser takes you to an image of a blue earth floating through the blackness of space. Back in the 1970s, similar images taken from the Apollo space missions helped kickstart the modern environmental movement. As the astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle put it: “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.”


Source: GETTY and Google Earth

And it gets better. Enter a destination in the search bar and you are greeted with the option to link directly out to the Wikipedia page: nerds of the world, rejoice! 

A guided tour from NASAearth is also on hand for anyone whose nerdery is in need of a prompt: “Geostationary satellites in geosynchronous orbits. Greenhouse gases and global warming. Glaciers... going, going, gone,” says the Bob Dylan-esque entry on its "ABCs from Space".

You can then choose to orbit your landmark of choice in 3D. And let’s face it - who doesn’t want to glide around the top of Mont Blanc, pretending to be an eagle? It’s almost as good as the BBC’s actual eagle-cam

But then it hits you. This is no soaring eagle, buffeted by wind currents and having to constantly adjust its flightpath in the face of real-world obstacles. This is a world surveyed at a safe and sanitising distance. Tourism for the Trump age – focused on providing “a consumption experience”. Certainly it is the opposite of “getting lost”.

In fact if anything has been lost or downplayed, it is the principles of scientific enquiry. The program is littered with human choices. Local versions of Google Maps, for instance, have shown different national borders depending on where in the world you log in. And while new, open-data imagery from America's Landsat 8 program is helping bring many regions up to date, other high-resolution imagery comes from commercial providers, such as Digital Globe. And as this Google 'help' page implies, there are issues of time-lag to face. 

You can’t even be sure what you’re looking at still exists. In 2015, Bolivia’s second largest lake vanished - a combination of climate change, El Nino, and irrigation withdrawal caused 2,700 square kilometres of water to evaporate into a dry salt pan. (It has not recovered, and seems unlikely to do so.) Yet on the new version of Google Earth the lake is still a healthy green:


Source: GoogleEarth

The much lauded film clips from the BBC’s Planet Earth II are similarly short on context. As I've argued before, David Attenborough's latest TV series did little to explain the stories behind the spectacle – there was no mention, for instance, of the arctic anthrax outbreak which caused thousands of reindeer to be culled, nor the role of climate change in worsening locust swarms. 

Finally, the new update actually shows you less of the world than it did before. Gone is the “Historical Imagery” tool that allowed you to see how a place had changed through time. Now, the Citadel of Aleppo in Syria is only visible as a bombed-out ruin. A surreal street-view reveals two women cheerily taking a selfie – with debris all around and their legs spliced out of shot:


Source: GoogleEarth

So why do these omissions matter? Because they take users further away from the evidence-based approach of earth science. It turns out that satellite images on their own are of limited use when it comes to quantifying change. Instead researchers must turn the raw pixels into numbers, which can then variously represent everything from forests to cities, glaciers and farms.

As Dr France Gerard at the UK’s Centre for Hydrology and Ecology explains, this process enables us to live in a better managed environment – be that by measuring air pollution or the impact of fertiliser on soil. The centre's landcover map, for instance, has been mapping British land use since 1990. Similar methods allow Sam Lavender’s company to provide Ugandans with a Drought and Flood Mitigation service, as part of the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme.

Sadly, the need for public engagement has never been more urgent. Brexit and austerity have cast doubt over important projects in the UK. While in Donald Trump’s America, funds for earth monitoring are set to be slashed. Two missions already under the knife are PACE, a spacecraft set to track global ocean health, and CLARREO, which would have produced highly accurate climate records. Trump has also called for the earth-viewing instruments on the DSCOVR satellite to be turned off. Phil Larson, a former space advisor to President Obama, describes this decision as “baffling”.

So what can be done to reverse this trend? Experts I spoke to believe that collaboration is key. With government programs being squeezed, the earth monitoring industry may come to rely increasingly on the trend towards smaller, commercial satellites. These are great for increasing the quantity of data available but their accuracy needs to be constantly checked against the data from the larger and more reliable state-launched equipment.

There’s also still more data out there to share. As Bronwyn Agrios from Astro Digital points out, many countries have been gathering region-specific data – which could, in future, be made open source. “The neat thing about space is that there’s no border,” she concludes.

To help this process, Google Earth could do far more to raise public awareness of the science behind its special effects. Yet at least in one way it is already on the right path: its own new range of collaborations is impressively large. As well as the BBC, you can take interactive tours with The Ocean Agency, the Wildscreen Arkive, and the Jane Goodall Institute – all of whom put conservation up front. The Goodall journey to Tanzania’s Gombe National Park even describes the use of satellite imagery to measure conservation success.

 

More links with other citizen science projects around the world could turn the program into something truly ground-breaking. If it can incorporate these, then desktop-tourism may yet save the planet from Trump. 

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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