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antifeminism misogyny MRA oppressed men threats violence against men/women

Amanda Marcotte on the Thomas Ball suicide, and MRA haters

Amanda Marcotte, feminist blogger and Friend of Man Boobz, has been taking a lot of shit from MRAs – and I mean a LOT of shit – for a comment she made here on the Thomas Ball suicide.

As you may already know, Ball burned himself to death outside a New Hampshire courthouse. In a lengthy manifesto he wrote shortly before killing himself, he portrayed his suicide as a protest against a corrupt family court system, and went on to argue that MRAs should quite literally assemble some Molotov cocktails and “start burning down police stations and courthouses.” (You can read the whole manifesto here.)  Despite his calls for violence many MRAs have hailed him as an MRA martyr.

Marcotte, in her comment here, suggested that there might have been other, more personal reasons for his suicide – namely, the desire to hurt his ex-wife:

I’ll point out that setting yourself on fire is an extremely effective tool if your goal is to make your ex-wife’s life a living hell, and if your anger at losing control over her overwhelms all other desires. Which is common enough with abusers, who will ruin their own lives and their own shit and turn their children against them in an effort to hurt the woman they’ve fixated on.

One MR blogger declared this comment “pure feminist evil”; a conservative blogger compared Marcotte to the Beast of Babylon.  Still other MRAs resorted to assorted variations on the c-word.

Marcotte has now responded to this, er, “criticism” with an excellent post on Pandagon. As she points out, correctly,

suicide and threats of suicide are common tactics used by abusers to hurt their victims. Abusers dramatically self-destruct all the time in their desperation to control and hurt the objects of their obsession.  There was just recently a big story about this, in fact: Jason Valdez of Utah, who had a long criminal record that included domestic violence, held a woman hostage in a hotel room for 16 hours and kept updates about the situation on Facebook. He eventually committed suicide.

The notion that suicide can be a hostile, aggressive act designed to hurt other people is hardly a controversial one, whether the person committing suicide is male or female. Threats of suicide are often used to manipulate other people; suicide itself can be an act of revenge.

Marcotte goes on:

Apparently, I’m supposed to pretend that suicide isn’t a disruptive, selfish act in many cases (especially when the suicide victim commits it in a public and destructive way), and that people who do it, while yes victims of their own mental health problems, are also thinking that they’re going to make everyone pay for not indulging them.  In fact, not only is this true in Ball’s case, but he spelled it out in his suicide note.  The “make the bastards suffer” theme of his note is the reason that wingnuts are supporting him.

But you don’t have to take her word for it. Read Ball’s entire manifesto, to the end, and ask yourself if this man is an appropriate “martyr” for any political movement.

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Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

In b4 thread becomes unrelated clusterfuck! Man, if you don’t get in the first 30 comments on these things, you’ve got no chance of catching up…

But this seems self-evident to me, and it also seems like something the MRAs wouldn’t want to deny. If Ball’s suicide is supposed to be a blow against the forces of family court… I mean FYMYNYSM–then don’t you have to acknowledge that it was intended as a blow?

If it’s nothing more than the sad desperate act of a sad desperate individual, then it loses most of its impact, even for their side.

ithiliana
9 years ago

I admit one of my first thoughts was that I was glad Ball had not killed his children which a number of men have done (and yes, women have killed their children too, I don’t deny it) in similar situations.

Holly: If Ball’s suicide is supposed to be a blow against the forces of family court… I mean FYMYNYSM–then don’t you have to acknowledge that it was intended as a blow?

If it’s nothing more than the sad desperate act of a sad desperate individual, then it loses most of its impact, even for their side.

As we say in fandom, there you go applying Earth logic again! Tsk!

But yes, +10000000000000.

I also liked Amanda’s note about how there’s all this hatred among white conservatives for the “sneaky” suicide bombers if they happen to be Muslim! And yet, the praising to the skies for white men who are committing terrorist acts never seems to strike any of them as hypocritical.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

Also: I’m determined not to post about MRAs any more on my blog. It makes it sound like they’re this big legitimate movement–maybe even an actual challenge to feminism–instead of about a hundred Internet trolls.

I respect what you do here, David; it’s a niche blog and it can be fun (or sort of exhausting) to read, but I think that mainstream feminist blogs in general should just ignore these guys. Of all the real threats and challenges out there in the world, they’re… gnats. Loud, obnoxious, and ultimately powerless and meaningless gnats. They don’t deserve attention.

You want to know the real reason Ball’s suicide wasn’t some kind of MRA victory? Besides the fact that it was horrible and it proved nothing except his own mental problems? Because Ball, like most people on Earth, had probably never even heard of the MRAs.

I think it’s important to keep that in perspective.

filetofswedishfish
9 years ago

Holly- that was where I was all weekend. No way I can catch up here unless I spend the whole time on the thread.

Also, I can offer a data point here to support Amanda- My dad used to frequently threaten suicide and self harm to hurt my mother, my sister, and I. It garnered him attention in the process. Now, pops had some serious issues with depression, which needed treatment. But he was fully cognizant of what he was doing, too.

Ami Angelwings
9 years ago

@Holly that’s how I feel too… is it rly worth the effort to rant about conspiracy theorists? o_O I mean I could have post after post after post about the crazy things certain trans-exclusionary rad fems say too (I think I have 2… and about 2 for MRAs too xD ) but what would be the point? :3

besides MRAs see feminism, and women in general as being just white straight cis abled and middle class : we alrdy have way too much of a focus on that in feminism in general sometimes… and this is just keeping the focus on that :

Ami Angelwings
9 years ago

says the girl who made the magic cards xD I know xD. I just find the whole worldview to be hilarious and absurd and I like satirizing things :3 (also making magic cards) but I dun rly see a point in needing to “refute’ what they say or nething xD Sometimes it’s rly hilarious tho… XDD

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

Ami – I think it’s okay to do on this blog, where it’s the entire raison d’etre, or however they say it in Franceland. It’s a mockery blog with a very specific target. But I’m leery of MRA-mockery leaking out into general feminism blogs. That’s making them look bigger than they are and giving them attention they don’t deserve–when they’re treated as a threat on par with people who have actual political power.

Ami Angelwings
9 years ago

@Holly yeah that’s what I meant :3

Papr1ka
Papr1ka
9 years ago

I can definitely relate to what Marcotte is saying. In high school, I dated a girl who would often threaten self-harm and/or suicide to get her way and in order to keep me from breaking up with her. It took me several months to work up the courage to end the relationship.

The point is, self-harm can be a powerful means of control in a relationship, whether it is actually committed or merely threatened. Self-harmful behavior does not only hurt the person who is doing it, it hurts everyone who loves or cares about them. Especially when one is being blamed for another person wounding themselves.

Ion
Ion
9 years ago

But I’m leery of MRA-mockery leaking out into general feminism blogs. That’s making them look bigger than they are

Well, I don’t think you have to worry about that. On most feminist blogs, an MRA (or really anyone who disagrees with the official party line) will receive a torrent of abuse and be banned in short order. The only time MRAs get any attention in those places is when they’re being smugly mocked, kind of like here.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

. On most feminist blogs, an MRA (or really anyone who disagrees with the official party line) will receive a torrent of abuse and be banned in short order.
Good. Troll control is important.

Tabby Lavlamp
Tabby Lavlamp
9 years ago

Ion, the way to avoid being mocked is by not saying stupid, mockery-worthy bullshit. If the MRAs stop setting themselves up for it, we’d have to move on to other things.

Ion
Ion
9 years ago

Yep, it’s a beautiful tool when you don’t like dissent or being questioned.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

Ion – Dissent and questioning are things that can only happen after the obvious, hateful, few-but-loud trolls have stopped shitting up the discussion.

For example, feminists are currently divided over the Slutwalk movement. Some (such as me) feel it’s an important blow for sexual freedom. Others feel it’s cheapening feminism or projecting a sexualized image of women.

Neither of these groups can get a word in edgewise when some dickbag is yelling “HURR SLUTS HURRR WOMEN R DUM DUM EVIL LAZY SLUTTTTS” in the comment section.

Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
9 years ago

I disagree with Holly. MRAs aren’t nearly at the level of feminists, but they’re out there. Mostly on the Internet, but not entirely. And there are a LOT on the internet. It’s on the way up. I’d be quite surprised, for example, if Ball hadn’t at least read and been sympathetic to MRM rhetoric.

Life is What You Make It
Life is What You Make It
9 years ago

It’s going to be interesting watching the direction the MRM is heading with the bullies they have leading the charge now. The MRM leaders who have emerged are going to destroy what credibility others have worked so hard for in no time. They may be more well-known than they are now, but not in a way that will be favorable to them.

Ion
Ion
9 years ago

But I’ve seen more than one guy who was actually quite articulate and polite being labeled a troll, attacked, called names and ultimately banned on feminist blogs simply because he held his ground and kept answering back. In one case, the blog owner finally said something like ‘a man shouldn’t be posting here, this is a space for women’s voices’ and banned him. Whatever, her blog, her rules, I guess. Just saying it’s kind of pointless to say “troll control is important” when you get to decide who the trolls are, and they are whoever you don’t like.

Ion
Ion
9 years ago

As an aside, I’ve never liked Amanda Marcotte much. Although she’s a good writer, and I sometimes even agreed with her points, there’s always an underlying nastiness, with hints of contempt for men, that makes me uneasy. Even her post on The Good Men Project supposedly providing guys with dating advice as an alternative to PUA methods had a sneering, mocking tone. So yeah… unpleasant.

Rosie
Rosie
9 years ago

Somehow I think I would have noticed if 25% of the women and children in the United States were homeless. Just to put that out there.
I am entirely confident that this man was an abuser. He shows no empathy for victims, and acts like the horror of living without a man is worse than the horror of living with a man who beats you and/or your children. This absolute denial of the reality that many people are in danger as a result of domestic violence is the type of attitude which enables violence to occur. What an asshole.

Bee
Bee
9 years ago

Re. troll control: Have you never been to an MRM blog? They’re even worse, in my opinion. I tried commenting on one of Roissy’s posts once — not to disagree with him, even, but only to add something to the conversation that he had conveniently left out, and he wouldn’t post it. Coward.

I agree with Amanda’s basic point about Ball. I said it at least two or three times on that thread, but even though we can’t know exactly what he was thinking right before his suicide, if he did consider it at all he absolutely must have known that the people who would be hurt most by his death and his suicide letter were his ex-wife and his 14-year-old daughter. Either he wasn’t thinking even that clearly, he didn’t care, or that was his goal. Hard to say.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

Ion – I don’t agree with making a comment section single-gender, but I do think there’s some value in feminist-only discussion spaces.

If you’re trying to run a cat blog and talk about cats, and someone keeps barging in asking why you aren’t talking about dogs and sharing their feelings on dogs–it’s not hatred to ban that person. It’s not even necessarily an anti-dog thing. It’s just making room to have a civil discussion about cats, uninterrupted by people who aren’t interested in cats and have no desire to learn about cats.

Spaces where dog people and cat people can talk together do exist… and they seem to be where the dog people show their true colors.

I think the metaphor has broken down but you get my drift.

cynickal
cynickal
9 years ago

But I’ve seen more than one guy who was actually quite articulate and polite being labeled a troll, attacked, called names and ultimately banned on feminist blogs simply because he held his ground and kept answering back.

Keep answering facts with stupid and of course you’ll get banned.

That being said, I’ve seen thousands of women routinely passed over for promotion and when they finally get thier day in court they are told “You can’t possibly know what you’re talking about because there is a clause in Walmart’s HR handbook that says discrimination based on sex is forbidden. QED your little lady brains aren’t being discriminated against, you’re just not good enough to ever be promoted.”

Crap, I’m feeding the trolls and off topic.

@Holly, the MRA movement as it stand “Officially” may be a minority, but it’s a consistent thread that weaves through most of those who accept that women are not real people.

I’ll agree that calling them out empowers them, because they thrive on victimhood. But I believe there are enough cases of parallel evolution of this kind of hateful thought that it needs to be exposed for the harm it does to everyone.

Johnny Pez
9 years ago

Because Ball, like most people on Earth, had probably never even heard of the MRAs.

Amanda seemed to be making the point that Ball knew all about the MRM, and his interactions with it contributed to his decision to kill himself and make his suicide a public spectacle.

ithiliana
9 years ago

ANd does it really need to be said that what might an outside male viewer who is not a feminist sees as “articulate and polite” may be perceived by feminists who have had to deal with all sorts of polite crap all their lives as derailing and as a waste of time? Context, people, context.

ithiliana
9 years ago

Argh: “what might be seen by an outside male viewer”…..lost in the syntax!

Surfagirl
Surfagirl
9 years ago

Marcotte is lying about it on her site, claiming that the protest was against domestic violence laws when its actually about the ten years of dealing with the family courts that were charging him more than he could afford having lost his job under the threat of violence – men in costumes with guns and cages, prison is day in day out violence.

Also

Andrea Yeates.

casual observer
casual observer
9 years ago

I don’t think Amanda Marcotte is particularly hostile or sneering; I just don’t think MRAs are used to women talking to them like that.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

Johnny Pez – Ah. Although he certainly touches upon plenty of their talking points in his manifesto, he never uses any of their keywords specifically–never refers to “men’s rights” or “father’s rights” or even “anti-feminism.”

Still, if he was one of them, that makes it even worse. What kind of badge of pride is “we found someone who was angry and in pain, and we nurtured that anger and pain until he killed himself”? If they were a legitimate organization that’d be grounds for an internal investigation, not self-congratulation.

Bee
Bee
9 years ago

You want to know the real reason Ball’s suicide wasn’t some kind of MRA victory? Besides the fact that it was horrible and it proved nothing except his own mental problems? Because Ball, like most people on Earth, had probably never even heard of the MRAs.

I agree with the first two sentences, but I’m not sure about the last one, Holly. I’d like to agree with it, but there’s a lot in his suicide letter that strikes me as coming from someone who’s been indoctrinated in the MRM martyr narrative. A lot of it sounds like it’s coming from … I dunno, maybe WTF Price or … GL Piggy.

“Twenty-five years ago, the federal government declared war on men. It is time now to see how committed they are to their cause. It is time, boys, to give them a taste of war.”

“The King of his Castle is no longer allowed into his castle. A feminist name Pence who wrote that was absolutely giddy at that outcome.”

“Feminists had always claimed that when women took over, we would have a kinder, gentler, more nurturing world. After 36 million arrests and 72 million evictions what we got was Joe Stalin.”

“Men are demonized and the women and children end up as suffering as well. So boys, we need to start burning down police stations and courthouses.”

“Apparently, some women like to have sex with men. But men are barred from the property. Suddenly, that 15 year boy two doors down starts looking real good. It might even be fun breaking in this new meat. So this woman driven into insolvency by the push for domestic violence arrests now finds herself charged as a pedophile because someone barred men from her world.”

I mean, I don’t know for sure. But the MRM sure seems invested with making the men it attracts feel like victims in every way possible — from their sex lives to the office to the lawbooks. It definitely wouldn’t surprise me if Ball had read some MRM blogs. His letter indicates that he did a lot of research around VAWA and statistics about domestic violence, so he definitely could have run across it. Even if he did, though, there’s still the issue of the MRM using the fact that they were able to influence a vulnerable person with mental problems to end his life in a horrible and painful way. And then use that “victory” to influence other people to do the same. What an awful thing to be proud of.

Bee
Bee
9 years ago

Ah, and I should refresh more often. Sorry!

Kyso K
Kyso K
9 years ago

Wait, his suicide letter paused to wax tragic over the plight of broke women driven to statuatory rape because their (or some random) man was arrested for DV? All I know about psychology I learned from television and true crime books but that seems more than a little fucked up to me.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

Now I’m honestly curious how many MRAs there are. Here’s my absolutely-no-evidence totally random uninformed guess:

-Self-identified active MRAs: It really seems like there are very few of these guys, but they just don’t stop posting. If you read men’s rights blogs, the same small handful of names just keep turning up like bad pennies. I’d guess that really serious “activist” (i.e., loud on the Internet) MRAs number under 500. Tops.

-MRA blog readers, community lurkers, sympathizers, and other “marginal” MRAs: Clearly they’re out there, but at the same time, it’s not something you run into in real life or even in non-gender-wars Internet spaces. Random guess: maybe 5000?

-PUAs (an also misogynist, often intersecting, but separate phenomenon) seem much more numerous and much more successful in getting into the mainstream media, and even they don’t show up that much in real life. I’m guessing they’re into the low tens of thousands.

But like I said, those numbers are direct from my ass. I’d almost want to do some sort of survey, but I don’t know how to ensure honest answers.

Aerik
Aerik
9 years ago

As if the /r/mensrights obsession with marcotte weren’t enough, there is now a post up trying to get marcotte “fired” from all the websites where her blog posts are mirrord. As if she has full-time employment at salon and alternet. They apparently don’t understand how internet blogging works.

Sometimes outside of one’s home website(s) (pandagon, feministing, feministe), the employment scheme can be more like submitting short stories to a science fiction magazine. Sometimes more like regular employment. They haven’t researched into how it’s going for Marcotte, however.

http://www.reddit.com/r/MensRights/comments/iakn2/activism_opportunity_lets_get_amanda_mercotte/

And inside this “activism” piece, there is of course a lie about Marcotte. They claim she was “fired by John Edwards’ campaign for being too sexist”. This a blatant lie, hilariously debunked by the very wikipedia article also included in OP’s post. Marcotte resigned from the campaign b/c she wasn’t allowed any activity other than defending herself from Bill Donahue’s supporters. It had nothing to do with her alleged sexism, or her own behavior at all. She wasn’t fired at all, much less for sexism.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

Aerik – At least it’s an attempt at actual activism, kind of, sort of.

But it ties into my very biggest problem with the MRA… Do they ever do anything that’s actually pro-man, rather than anti-woman?

It never seems to occur to them to get a man published (erm, in the alternate universe where there’s a shortage of that), instead of a woman fired.

Life is What You Make It
Life is What You Make It
9 years ago

Ball mentioned the “boys in the Father’s Movement” in his rant, and later referred to “boys” when he was telling them to burn down police stations and courthouses. Considering he seems to be part of the Father’s Rights movement, he surely knew about the MRM, but he didn’t mention them and he didn’t seem to do what he did for them either.

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

So yeah… unpleasant.

Oh my God, you’re right! I forgot that a woman’s primary role in life was to be pleasant. Never mind that

she’s a good writer, and I sometimes even agreed with her points

Ami Angelwings
9 years ago

@Holly I’ve always wondered about that… when they bring up the “well you are treated like this, and we’re treated like dirt!” or etc… I can never tell cuz they dun tend to follow up, whether they’re saying therefore women and everybody else should be treated badly too? Or that they want the treatment we supposedly get? o_O

theLaplaceDemon
theLaplaceDemon
9 years ago

@Holly – “Also: I’m determined not to post about MRAs any more on my blog. It makes it sound like they’re this big legitimate movement–maybe even an actual challenge to feminism–instead of about a hundred Internet trolls.”

I worry about this. I mean, I don’t have a blog, but I worry about feminist blogs sort of blowing them out of proportion because they’re such an obvious target, even if they’re small and ultimately not a real threat to feminism…I worry that an increased online MRA presence due to feminist blog attention will get mainstream media attention, and make it seem like a bigger thing then it actually is.

But at the some time, I worry about some vulnerable kid wandering onto the internet, finding MRAs, and, in the absence of a loud counter-argument, decide that THIS must be the reason s/he is so unhappy. Someone (was it Pecunium? can’t remember) brought this up over the weekend – if there isn’t someone pointing out that someone’s conspiracy theories are off the wall, the absence of that criticism can also look like validation… So I dunno. Not sure there’s a good answer for that one.

(which is not to criticize your decision – your blog is fantastic MRA posts or not, it’s just something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately)

chocominties
chocominties
9 years ago

In high school there was this slightly creepy kid in my homeroom. He found out we had some stuff in common and wanted to chat online. Fine.

He did some other fairly creepy things and my mom (who is prone to overreacting a LOT) told me that you can’t continue talking to stalkers because it gives them fuel to keep stalking. So I stopped talking to him suddenly. But was still in homeroom with him, which was fucking awkward. (Homeroom was the same for 4 years, but he was a year younger so I only had to deal with the awkwardness for almost 3 years …)

Well, as you might imagine, I got a LOT of, “if you won’t talk to me, I’ll kill myself!!” A lottttt.

But I still didn’t talk to him.

And … he didn’t kill himself.

So yeah. Creepy dudes like to do that. Even when they’re 14. And he continued doing this (to a friend of mine too, about her and about me … right). No clue if he’s offed himself yet, but he managed to knock a girl up so his whiny DNA got passed on anyway. I can just imagine the kid, “mommy, if you try to make me eat my peas I’ll kill myself!! I will!!!”

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

As if the /r/mensrights obsession with marcotte weren’t enough, there is now a post up trying to get marcotte “fired” from all the websites where her blog posts are mirrord. As if she has full-time employment at salon and alternet. They apparently don’t understand how internet blogging works.

Boy, I wish it was possible to fire someone from the Internet.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

Laplace – Now that I really think about it, the best people to criticize MRAs aren’t feminists. They’re obviously tempting targets for us, but that plays too much into the image the MRAs are desperately trying to create, where feminism and the MRM are equal and opposed forces, where feminism is for the needs of women and MRA is for the needs of men. And I worry that feminist criticism of MRAs can fall into furthering this “gotta take your side in the gender wars!” thinking.

The best person to criticize the MRA is someone who can come off as a moderate, uninvolved, not invested in feminism but just in common sense. (And, sadly, it really does have to be a man.) Someone who can say not “this is wrong because women are historically oppressed people who are every bit as capable as men,” but who can say “this is wrong because it’s silly and stupid and these guys aren’t achieving anything.”

I think that even if it has less intellectual content, an “everyman” critique of MRA would hold a lot more water with discontented men and the MRA-curious than a feminist critique.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

(and just as this is getting interesting and relatively troll-free, I have to go. curses!)

Life is What You Make It
Life is What You Make It
9 years ago

One thing, of many, I think is interesting about this siuation is this from the Wikipedia page they made for him which is also on the new website they made for him.

“B. Order Respondent to be confined in the Cheshire Country House of Corrections until such time as he has paid Ms. Ball the full amount of the 50% of medical expenses due for the period May 9, 2006 through APril 6, 2011, in the amount of 2,062.19.”

http://thomasjamesball.com/

They claim he couldn’t pay his children’s medical bills because he had been unemployed for the past two years and didn’t have the ability to pay. In reality, he had been refusing to pay his share of his children’s medical bills for FIVE years, even when he did have a job, so it doesn’t seem to have really been about his inability to pay, but that he did not want to pay his share of his children’s medical bills.

And with 21 years of Army service, wouldn’t he be receiving a retirement income?

Won’t it be sad if what his children remember most about him is that he killed himself to get out of contributing to their medical care? His refusal to go to counseling in order to see his children may also be a part of his legacy with them. He sure made some bad choices.

Life is What You Make It
Life is What You Make It
9 years ago

@Holly,

“The best person to criticize the MRA is someone who can come off as a moderate, uninvolved, not invested in feminism but just in common sense. (And, sadly, it really does have to be a man.) Someone who can say not “this is wrong because women are historically oppressed people who are every bit as capable as men,” but who can say “this is wrong because it’s silly and stupid and these guys aren’t achieving anything.””

It wouldn’t matter. They’d just call him a feminist or a mangina and write attacking posts about him for a long time. Anyone who doesn’t agree with them is going to be attacked.

Sarah
Sarah
9 years ago

Really, I think David’s blog fills in the niche of critiquing the MRA movement really well. It’s not an explicitly feminist blog, though it is strongly tied to the movement, and it does everything tongue in cheek. I think the overly serious critiques of things, while valuable, are often off putting to new comers.

And the link I was trying to post last night, but was apparently completely unable to handle was: http://elusivewapiti.blogspot.com/2011/05/logically-challenged-slutwalkers.html

It’s a particularly wrong and hateful screed against the Slutwalkers by Elusive Wapiti.

And people who threaten suicide as a means to manipulate people absolutely drive me nuts. I try to as supportive as possible to people who are suicidal, but that particular manifestation of it just elicits such a strong, angry reaction from me. I’m really not sure why.

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