3.6.12

SHJ, IFOS, AND THE FEMINISATION OF UFOLOGY


With books on Spring Heeled Jack by Karl Bell and Mike Dash in the offing - see HERE - the owing account of his visits to Manchester and district should be of interest. The description bears some considerable similarity to the illustration below, taken from a typical 'penny dreadful' of the period. The story demonstrates that over a hundred years ago people were already projecting images from the mass media into ambiguous stimuli. This account is taken from the Manchester Courier of 4th February, 1886:

 "A Manchester Ghost Scare: The superstitious and credulous of Stretford, Gorton, Cheetham Hill, and other suburbs of Manchester have lately had much reason for the exercise of their imaginative faculties. Nightly, for several weeks, unprotected women been attacked by some individual who has not been detected. The operation of the so-called ghost appears to consist of a jump out of some secluded corner or over hedge into the roadway: he seizes his victim, whom lightly shakes, and afterwards runs away. The unwelcome visitor attired in a covering of skin, with two horns the top of his head.

"Robbery does not appear to be the object of the 'ghost.' as no person been relieved of any property. Evidently the depredator is a person of considerable activity, as has shown remarkable alacrity in running away on a few occasions. Various rumours, of course, are afloat. It is said the so-called ghost, who, in some districts, has obtained the name of 'Spring-heeled Jack', has wagered that he will disturb the districts for six months without detection, and that a part of the programme is to walk Market-street at 11 o'clock each night. As some terror has been created among women and children, it hoped the police will soon make the acquaintance of the offender."

Speaking of the mass media, some time ago I commented on the role of mass market publications, especially men’s adventure magazines in the publication of 'true' stories of the paranormal, mainly UFOs, mystery animals and amazing adventures in the sort of places where only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. Many UFO and Fortean figures such as Donald Keyhoe, Ivan Sanderson and of course John Keel wrote for them. Doug Skinner has a long list of them on his John Keel celebration website. One that I remember from later times was Saga which was also noted for its adverts for body building courses that would make the girls drool after you, and X-ray glasses! (Presumably the latter would be unnecessary if the former was successful!)

There were a range of gender neutral magazines such as Fate and Prediction, of which the last survivors might be Fortean Times and Paranormal (if the latter still exists). I note however that nowadays many of these tales appear in women’s 'confessional' magazines, alongside stories such as “Evil Hubby Sacrificed my Pussy to Satan” or “Wicked Dad Made Me Eat my Own Toes”. This seems not just to represent a feminisation of the paranormal, but a projection of the feminine as weak and vulnerable. Quite different from the feminist icons of past times such as Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson.

It is not therefore surprising that a recent survey of ‘women in ufology’ found most were either abductees or abduction researchers, another part of the cult of the victim. I offer the suggestion that ufology might be dividing into the separate 'masculine ufology' centred on tales of crashed flying saucers and conspiracies, and 'feminine' ufology centred on abductions.




I note that postings on the UFO UpDates discussion group are now claiming that the often quoted figure of 95% of UFO reports being IFOs is an urban legend. There is no way they can pretend the figure is much lower, based on three early years of Project Bluebook. The most reliable recent figures are from Allan Hendry’s “UFO Handbook” (1979), based on cases submitted to CUFOS via the police. This gave out of 1,281 cases which could be analysed, 1,168 (91.2%) were IFOS, 18 (1.4%) near IFOS, 50 (3.9%) were problematic, 25 were “good” (1.95%) and 20 (1.6%) were “excellent”. Even without lengthy on-site investigation the proportion of IFOS is at least 91%, no doubt with such detailed investigation that figure would rise higher, so the 95% looks entirely reasonable. That is on a sample which has already had some filtering, the figure for reports in the press looks even higher. I believe Jenny Randles gave a figure of 98% for the cases she investigated.

It should also be remembered that when Hynek and the Hendry re-examined the Bluebook Files, their proportion of unknowns was even lower than the Blue Books own estimate.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous5.6.12

    [comment - part 1]

    What is this 'cult of the victim'?

    Do Travis Walton, Antonio Villas Boas, Whitley Strieber, that Australian guy with the one blond hair belong to it?

    Let's rewrite a sentence of yours :

    "It is not therefore surprising that a recent survey of ‘men in ufology’ found most were either abductees or abduction researchers, another part of the cult of the victim."

    Does the substitution of the word 'men' for 'women' give any idea of the uselessness of your original sentence and its premise? (Not to mention sexism.)

    And what is this 'survey'? Who undertook it? For what purpose?

    In most spheres of human life, women generally tote the burden of carrying, interpreting, making sense of, assimilating, salving, the emotional aspects of both male and female experience. Women are charged with bringing empathy, compassion, and understanding to especially shocking or worrying occurrences.
    There is an age-old pattern of men disowning emotions and leaving all that 'nonsense' to their womenfolk. Whilst men get on with the exciting, adventurous, 'scientific' and thus 'more important', 'real' things.

    This pattern often turns into 'blame the victim' which often means 'blame the distaff'.

    Equally chronic is the pattern that ensues: women struggle with men's disowned or projected 'nonsense' - which of course impacts on all of us - then battle for recognition of the negative phenomenon and the heavy emotional toll it takes on all of us, male and female alike.

    When the old guard die off, the phenomenon and its impact are eventually understood and accepted as having their bases in reality...and then other men come along and set up institutes and hospitals etc. to deal with the problems (whilst becoming preeminently important themselves).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous5.6.12

    [comment - part 2]

    E.g. Domestic abuse is one area that springs to mind. For generations untold, a shunned phenomenon, something that women imagined, something that women 'deserved', something that they could only talk about in whispers behind their hands, between themselves, anecdotally: rather like a latter day equivalent, the 'women's confessions' magazines you mention.

    Abuse has always been disowned by the abuser and blamed on its victims, whilst the 'neutral' bystander has, tacitly and shockingly, ever taken the abuser's side against the victim until the weight of evidence has forced the bystanders to get to grips with the abuse.

    Now, of course, 'tackling domestic abuse' is a $multi million, mainstream industry which is mostly run under the auspices of male direction. It's more than evident that the early activists though were women and that they too were pilloried as 'victim cultists', who somehow got their kicks from being weak and vulnerable. Note though that these 'weak and vulnerable' women prevailed despite all the brickbats - and provided the sound basis for the mainstream industry which now benefits us all to some degree or other.

    Now, I have no opinions either way about the reality of the 'abduction phenomenon': I simply do not know enough. Certainly, a few highly credentialed men have taken an interest. Some highly credentialed women too have similarly staked their careers in this field.

    There certainly appears to be something afoot. Whatever’s going on, it's hardly good science to base opinions on a review of niche, tawdry rags, an unreferenced survey, and ill-informed ideas about what constitutes weak-and-vulnerable.

    Let's not forget that the media’s primary interest is manipulating stories concerning human experience for financial gain. Create a sub-genre and the appetite for consuming such and bingo! you've got a steady, if tawdry, income stream. Stephen Spielberg et al have done exactly that with massive success.

    So, in this abduction research field, as in other explorations of human experience, it may be as well to reserve early judgement about gender. Still less should one leap to negative labeling and segregation by gender. The reality is that we simply do not know enough about 'ET abductions'.

    Until we do, then flimsily based suggestions are very unhelpful and at least superficial.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous21.6.12

    I noted Elsie Conner's new blog article about you at http://outofdarkness601.blogspot.com/2012/06/what-would-ellen-ripley-say.html and wanted to share a post I saw there since it is apparent Magonia is indeed anti-female:

    "Thanks for addressing these concepts, misconceptions and mislabeling of females. Your blog is a powerful reminder of how far humans still have to go before equality even among the sexes is achieved. When one looks at the world and then at so called first world countries, the UK and the US are closer than they realize to treating women and girls the way Islam treats women and girls. Perhaps this reflects England's heavily dominated Islamic cultural influence over males such as those who publish Magonia. They have no respect for females whether they are involved in UFO studies or not. Being silent about topics such as this is what does the most damage of all. Kudos for speaking out and doing so with such a powerful voice. You have shed light into one of the dark corners of our culture."

    Magonia people -- you should be ashamed of yourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous13.5.14

    linda c murphy = elsie conner = outofdarkness601.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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