Failed Labour ‘Politician’ and online social justice warrior Jessica Asato recently took part in the witch-hunt against Protein World (archive here). More recently she has joined in with mob online condemnation of a lawyer as ‘sexist’ for complementing someone’s appearance. Shame Asato herself is no stranger to privilege and political incorrectness. Your Inquisitor calls on moderate cultural libertarians to join the online debate she helped to start in order to set matters right.
Condemning allegedly ‘sexist’ remarks by a respected lawyer. Labour ‘politician’ Jessica Asato remarked that, “I would rather be complimented on my achievements than my face” (archive here). The comment echoes Martin Luther King’s famous quotation, dreaming his children would, “[…] not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character […]”.
The remark is typical of Asato’s narcissistic and self-absorbed conduct – but if Jessica wants to be judged by her achievements and character rather than her appearance your author is only too happy to help.
The topic at hand was a spat between barrister Charlotte Proudman (@CRProudman) of Mansfield Chambers and Alexander Carter-Silk of Brown Rudnick. In summary, Carter-Silk complemented Proudman on her Linked-In photograph. In response to this, Proudman responded, doubtless reasonably and proportionately, by taking offence and then trying to publicly shame him on Twitter under the hashtag, #CallOutSexism. It is the kind of hashtag just begging for someone to share anime. Lots of anime. Proudman is still using the tag #CallOutSexism but others have now moved on to #GenderEquality and #StandProud. They could benefit from happy cartoons too.
Telegraph writer Radhika Sanghani (@RadhikaSanghani) rapidly wrote a thoughtful criticism questioning the disproportionate response for a trivial, well-intentioned remark. Rather than just demand an apology, or make a formal complaint to the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority, Proudman had taken matters into her own hands with a public shaming campaign.
As a Human Rights lawyer, Proudman is of course familiar with the right to a fair hearing but she justifies the online lynch mob by claiming, that, “Widespread,casual,demeaning behaviour directed towards women is a form of social policing, gender control & a hidden form of social violence” (archive here).
Not all women of Twitter were impressed. Immediately below a female twitter user responds, “he said your photo was nice. As a woman I actually find your behaviour offensive. Get off your high horse”.
The issue of proportionality is important. At an event not so long ago, a fellow attendee mistakenly believed that I was Jewish and made a series of discriminatory, anti-Semitic remarks. Perhaps I should have complained. But would it have been ok for me to take a sledgehammer to his face? Burn his house down? Whip up a flash mob? I imagine the Metropolitan Constabulary would have taken a dim view.
The idea that women are uniquely hounded by comments about their appearance is ridiculous. Exactly the same happens to men – it is no more than human nature – Asato’s former leader Ed Miliband spent the whole General Election campaign being mocked over his looks and manner, judged on his suitability for his job on appearance – the Huffington Post ran a piece composed entirely of ‘Funny Ed Miliband Photos’.
Your author digresses – back to Jessica. I first met Asato in the early noughties as a young Labour Student – for way back then your author had not yet seen the light of Conservatism. Even at that early stage, Jessica had accomplished things that set her apart from her peers.
Privately educated Asato was at that time engaged to Howard Dawber – a wedding announced on their website – a thing so gauche, so inappropriate, so egocentric that even the Guardian Diary mocked it on no less than three occasions ,  and . (Archive here, here and here) –
“[…] we are directed to howardandjessica.com, a site created by Bell Pottinger director Howard Dawber and Social Market Foundation researcher Jessica Asato – bold pretenders, on this evidence, to the title of most nauseating New Labour couple – to celebrate their forthcoming marriage […]”
[Note the domain was subsequently abandoned and its new owners are quite different]
“[…] After being convinced to join the Young Fabians,” the tale goes on, “Jessica made hints that she wanted to go out for dinner … Just seven hours after meeting each other they felt like old friends, and as they parted Things Can Only Get Better drifted from an open window through the warm night air.” Mm. A natural discomfort break now, I think […]”
“[…] Valentine’s day 1999 and Howard’s proposal to Jessica is accepted. “They kept the engagement secret,” we learn, “until it was announced by Peter Mandelson MP at the Young Fabians annual party conference reception in Bournemouth.” Naughty Mandy. “Earlier Peter had launched The Doorstep Challenge – 200 Ways Britain is Better Under Labour, Jessica and Howard’s first pamphlet written together.” Is this love’s young dream or what? […]”
Alas the dream began to unravel almost immediately as the couple were forced to take down their “Our Story” page by abusive messages. The Guardian went on –
“[…] “To all the people who helpfully wrote abusive emails,” begins a statement from the couple, dramatically abridged here, “I’m afraid you have been victims of our sense of humour. You have all missed the point.” One and all, would you believe. […]”
And on –
“[…] The last stragglers to be persuaded of Howard and Jessica’s commitment to homespun romance will be silenced by details of the guest list. A lucky invitee, keen to remain anonymous, calls to say that both Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson have been asked to the wedding. Whether either will attend or are even close personal friends of the couple is something we are unable to discover […]”
And in a third instalment noted –
“[…] Is this the Jessica Asato,” asks a reader, “who stood for chair of London Young Labour recently and, despite a glitzy campaign, lost to an unknown sixth-former from Barnet, leading her to cry and husband- to-be Howard to storm out in disgust?” Yes, but if you can’t spot the intentional irony we despair of you. […]”
Jessica was elected to the Board of the London Regional Labour Party, a role she held until 2004, according to her LinkedIn account and then she moved on, eventually becoming ‘Acting Director’ of Progess – the Blairite faction of the Labour Party described by the Guardian recently as ‘marginalised’, from 2008-2010.
When David Miliband famously stood for election against his own brother Ed, Jessica was appointed his ‘Social Media Lead’. David famously lost – then Ed took his Party down to a historic defeat.
Shortly after their victory in 2010, the Conservative-Liberal Coalition held a referendum on whether to introduce the alternative vote. Jessica was Director of the ‘Labour Yes’ campaign in support of the change. The result? 67.9% No, 32.1% Yes. The Daily Mail reported it as, “The day […] the people of Britain held the liberal elite to ridicule”.
From 2011 to 2014 Asato was political advisor to Dame Tessa Jowell before trying to stand for Parliament herself in the 2015 General Election and losing. Your author was amused to note that in true New Labour style, there is only one comment on the contact page of her personal website (archive here) – and tha comment is blank.
Jessica’s early indiscretions during her first engagement were unimpressive, but young people make mistakes. Sadly, the ‘howardandjessica.com’ website was by no means the last error of judgement.
In 2012 the Islington Tribune pictured Ms Asato photoshopped into a “Where’s Wally” outfit after she was accused of failing to attend committee meetings or constituency surgeries (archive here).
Instead of attending Remembrance Sunday in her council constituency, Asato marked the event in Norwich Cathedral, “Moving service at the Cathedral,” she twittered “My phone doesn’t do justice to the colours of the sun streaming through the glass.”
Little hint Jessica – constantly prating on about your fairytale bourgeoisie life is unlikely to endear you to members of the Party of Envy.
All of which brings us to the present day and to recent events. Asato recently complained of a constituent who told her how to dress – considering it appropriate to reveal his name online (archive here) for the Twitter mob. The letter complained of was sexist – it is no business of Mr Reynolds how much or little of her breasts she chooses to display.
However, Jessica Asato’s complaint would have had more sting had it not come less than a fortnight after she decided to er … support a ban on revealing, ‘sexist’ ads on the London Underground (archive here).
Today Asato was joining the hue and cry after Alexander Carter-Silk (archive here). When challenged by a Norwich resident, she invited him to read a sinister SJW site, everydaysexism.com, which allows people to post incidents of alleged sexism – including ‘minor’ incidents – what others call ‘micro-aggressions’.
The phrase conflates mental illness with a political viewpoint. To some minds this is discriminatory language – mental health stigmatisation as reprehensible as saying ‘nigger’. To others – cultural libertarians like myself – it is a harmless turn of phrase – like casually complementing someone on a well turned out professional photo.
@Jessica_Asato is a politician used to a now (thankfully) dying leftist consensus where she and others could target opponents with impunity. Your author wrote this article in part to introduce cultural libertarian and watchdog movements like #GamerGate and #NotYourShield into the debate as part of the wider cultural libertarian movement.
Please do share your views about Asato on Twitter and let me know what you think?
RIGHT OF REPLY RESPONSE FROM JESSICA ASATO
In accordance with journalistic ethics your author approached both Charlotte Proudman and Jessica Asato. Both read the email and Asato responded, whilst Proudman did not. Asato asked for extra time because of her childcare responsibilities and as a responsible journalist the Witchfinder granted this request.
Your author finds Asato’s comments deeply disturbing and lacking in self awareness. She helped organise hashtag campaigns to shame others but the ironically complains of a “call to arms” campaign against her. Whilst her comments are epically TL,DR your author has, after careful reflection, decided to publish them in full. The below contains many unfair allegations against the author and the cultural libertarian movement. I consent to the publication of the below comments only on this blog and reserve all rights in respect of publication elsewhere –
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment on your blogpost.
First of all, I would like to put on record that I am proud to have spent much of my time on campaigns designed to bring about a fairer, more socially just world. Even if I have failed, as the saying goes, what hasn’t killed me makes me stronger.
You make an error when you say that I complained about a constituent who criticised me for dressing inappropriately. It wasn’t a constituent – it was a member of the public in 2009, who wrote to me after an appearance I made on the Daily Politics. You also seem to suggest that tweeting this letter (in reference to similar comments a female MP received) was at odds with a campaign I supported to ban sexist advertising on the tube. My choice to wear what I think is appropriate without men leering or calling me ‘sluttish’, and opposing advertising which encourages women to conform to unhealthy body images, is perfectly consistent – it’s about being free to choose, and for women’s bodies not to be policed.
I am also proud to use the very little impact I have on social media to highlight how sexism is all- pervasive in our culture and contributes to women’s lack of confidence. Many people ask why women still have such poor representation in elected chambers such as Parliament or our town halls. I believe it is the fear of being publicly shamed, as you seek to do with your post, which forms one of the main barriers to women’s participation in public life.
Mary Beard, who is no stranger to people commenting on her appearance, gave a speech which I hope you will read on the public voice of women through history. In it she says, “it doesn’t much matter what line you take as a woman, if you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It’s not what you say that prompts it, it’s the fact you’re saying it.” She argues that right from the start of Western literature, women who have tried to speak in public have been silenced.
By calling out a senior lawyer because of a sexist message he sent, Charlotte Proudman was not only venturing into male territory, she was challenging it. In so doing, she has brought a slew of mainly male voices belittling and undermining her right to comment. I find it worrying that you refer to the excellent website everydaysexism.com as sinister. You do seem to have a real problem with women voicing their opinions in public and calling out sexism.
I believe that what you are seeking to do is to initiate a barrage of abuse, when you say that you have written your blogpost “to introduce cultural libertarian and watchdog movements like #GamerGate and #NotYourShield into the debate as part of the wider cultural libertarian movement”. It’s a modern day call to arms against pesky women who dare to voice their opinion in public. It is ironic that you have an issue with those who call out sexism, but defend the right of sexists to shame those very people who do. Well, we won’t stop and we’ll keep fighting for equality for men and women.
Finally, I take issue with you saying that I used the term “loony lefty” in a discriminatory way. I did not. I was saying that it was the first time someone had used that term to define my OWN politics. I take mental health awareness seriously, and I try to ensure I do not use terms inappropriately. The Time for a Change campaign has produced a helpful guide if your readers are interested in helping, rather than hindering people with mental health problems.”