My comment sections of choice are those in the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian, mainly because there’s always someone to disagree with. For your Telegraph reader I’m apparently so far to the left on a clear day you can see Vladivostok, but for most Guardian readers I’m a snivelling little Tory-supporting crypto-fascist who should have been strangled at birth if not even earlier. I, of course, like to think I am neither, but now that life is in colour and perception is everything and truth is subjective, who knows, perhaps I am both.
On both papers I find I am almost always in a minority on whatever topic is under discussion. Both papers have their share of nutters. Here are, satirised at first, then the real thing, the kind of comment you can find daily among The Chosen of both moron wings. First The Guardian: ‘That fucking bitch Thatcher, she should have been raped, then burnt, then hung. I’m GLAD SHE’S DEAD!!!’ Although I invented that, it is pretty damn close to what various idiots did come out with when Margaret Thatcher died a few years ago.
Then there’s the kind of garbage which very often appears in the Daily Telegraph comments sections (and this is pertinent to the rest of this entry and all three are direct quotes): ‘Newsflash: Why would any sane man with a life and a career want to become "involved" with a feminist. We have much better options. There doesn't exist an attractive feminist who is height/weight appropriate (not fat)’, ‘Feminists don't have boyfriends. They just have pet chimps’, and ‘Quite. What sort of man would ever want a relationship with a “feminist”? To paraphrase a feminist adage — mankind needs feminism like a fish needs a typewriter.’
At our most recent election here in Britain, I was roundly abused in the Guardian comments section for suggesting that Labour would not win an outright majority and that Ed Miliband — leader at the time of the election — would be soundly beaten in the polls, one way or another, and would no longer be leader 24 hours after the polls had closed. (When I suggested to a friend and colleague a week or two before the May 7 poll that not only would the Tories not lose, but they would, for one reason or another, gain an overall majority of about four or five seats — I used the phrase ‘grease through’ — he bet me £5 I would be proved wrong. Well, up to a point I was — the Tories greased through with an overall majority of 12, not four or five, but I still collected my £5.)
My most recent comment section spat was yesterday and today, responding, as were others, to a very silly piece in the Daily Telegraph by a women writer who admitted that although she overcame the loneliness which besieged her when she first move to London by eventually finding a boyfriend, she felt she had betrayed feminism by ‘depending’ on him for company.
Writers, unless they are ‘celebrity writers’ such as the Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn who are paid fabulous sums for merely farting on paper and have final say on everything that appears under their byline, are staff writers or minor freelancers, and they have no control at ll over what headline is given to their piece.
So the writer of this very silly piece had to put up with the headline ‘Finding a boyfriend cured my crippling loneliness, but left me feeling a bad feminist’ to which was added the sub-head ‘Actress Rachel Weisz has revealed that she spent much of her twenties feeling “lonely”. Rebecca Reid applauds her for exposing the isolation that hits so many women in Britain’.
In this case I doubt whether she objected to the headline as it pretty much summed up what she saying, but often it doesn’t and a ‘good’ headline will be used, deemed ‘good’ not because it encapsulates and sums up the feature it heads succinctly, but because whoever is top of the editorial food chain either thought it up and/or thinks it is good.
My reaction and the substance of my first comment was to berate Reid and her piece for implicitly suggesting they should, at best, keep their feelings to themselves and, at worst, in the interests of feminism and the sisterhood utterly deny that they are lonely. But — an important ‘but’ — I went
on to point out that such an obtuse attitude was only symptomatic of the whackier (and usually Western) feminists and that they did their cause of promoting greater gender equality a bad disservice by saying such silly things. Here is my first entry in full:
‘ “Initially I was irked by Weisz’s confession. How could she say that she wasn’t a full and complete person before she was in a relationship? (She’s now married to Daniel Craig). What message does that send to independent young women?” In a nutshell, the writer manages to sum up the insidious seam of corruption which runs through our feminist commentariat.
The subtext is: 'Even if you are feeling dogshit and utterly bereft, lie through your teeth and deny any such feelings because we want young women to be empowered'. OK, Ms Reid, goes on to say she moved away from that position, but it still doesn't mask the feminist rulebook which is blighting the lives of so many women, young and old, who feel they are somehow 'letting their sisters down' by feeling - for God's sake! - vulnerable and weak.
Well, quite apart from the fact that every man reading this will - if he is honest - admit that at some point in his life and perhaps quite often, have felt 'vulnerable, lonely and weak' - I know I have especially when I was younger - every woman is entitled to feel whatever she feels without some feminist stasi breathing down her neck and reminding her she should feel 'empowered'. I am a regularly listener to Woman's Hour (it can be very interesting and informative) but there is a consistent pseudo-feminist theme running through many items which lays down the law on what women can and should feel or else they are letting down their gender. But honesty, unadulterated honesty should be at the heart of every belief, and that is all-too-often absent in some - I stress only some - “feminist” preaching.’
My comment apparently seemed to sum an broadside against feminism in general, and I was applauded by ‘Misandry’ who replied: ‘Hardly “some’... As you said, it's pretty much consistent no matter what flavour of feminism you listen to.’ (NB You might be familiar with the word ‘misandry’, but I wasn’t and had to look it up and discovered it meant — in some dictionaries
— ‘man-hating’, in others ‘dislike of, contempt for or ingrained prejudice against men’, the implication being that ‘feminists’ are wholesale ‘man-haters’.) It was then I realised that my views of ‘feminism’ and ‘feminist’s who are campaigning for a far better deal for women had been and were being wholly misinterpreted.
So I replied: No, I shall stick with ‘some’, because as far as I am concerned a rebalancing of the relationship between the genders is long overdue. Get a little further away from the comfort zone we call The West i.e. Africa and Asia, and the lot of a great number of women is appalling. Don’t think me a wuss when I mention female genital mutilation, the SOLE purpose of which is to ensure women do not enjoy sexual intercourse.
Here in the West, of course, in Britain and other European countries women are still paid less for doing an identical job to their male workmates, and I can think of no rational explanation for that. So there is a great deal of scope for “feminism” at [sic] there are a great many of feminist activists who have my whole-hearted support and best wishes.
Their task is, however, made a great deal harder, not least because of the male antagonism they often elicit, [by a kind] of feminist lite, one which has all the trappings of ‘the struggle’ but is essential vacuous, the kind I describe in my first post. It lays down the law on women, chastises them if they don't follow the feminist rules, and - ironically - in many of its demands seems to want to transform women into some kind of alternative guy.’
That was when it — the shitstorm (© Angela Merkel, Germany’s Federal Chancellor, Bundeskanzler) — all started and I found myself in a minority of one, valiantly trying to defend my position against what seemed like a horde — though in the event there were no more than four or five — berating me for supporting what they viewed as a ‘vile doctrine’ and described me as a ‘mangina’ and ‘neckbeard virgin’ (that’s another one I had to look up).
One in particular, his moniker was ‘Dogglebird’, told me as part of his university teaching he instructed a ‘critical discourse analysis (CDA)’ and went ‘It’s not my main specialism, but it covers such as poststructuralist feminist Julia Kristeva, as well as some other contemporary feminist writers. From that, I have had to read quite a bit of feminist writing as background to teaching CDA and supervising extended essays and MA dissertations.’
Sounds grand, though when you put it together with some of the other bollocks he was coming out with, you have to wonder. For the record, I would never describe myself as ‘a feministç or a ‘new man’, though only because I think labels are pretty counter-productive, are essentially meaningless and are apt to derail most discussions. (‘Well, it depends what you mean by “feminist” ’, someone might respond, but once any discussion is sidetracked into establishing definitions, we are already heading up a blind alley.) What I would and shall confess to is my horror at some of the lives many — it will be many millions — of people are forced to live merely because they were born as women.
What muddies the ‘feminist’ debate considerably is that the iniquities some women still suffer in the ‘civilised’ West — being paid less for doing exactly the same job as a male colleague, being ‘touched up’ by male strangers, being, as a matter of course, expected to do all housework as a ‘duty’ almost pale into insignificance with the horrors other women face: being denied schooling in Taliban Afghanistan and having no social life outside the home unless accompanied by their husband or a close male relative, risking gang rape in India where the authorities, always male, choose to turn a blind eye because the victim was ‘just a woman’ or rape victims being stoned to death for ‘adultery’.
I pointed out such examples in my many entries and responses to other posters commenting on Ms Reid’s story, and in reward got ever more abuse. And I was given example after example of supposedly ‘feminist’ whackiness: it really doesn’t help the feminist cause one iota when ‘radical feminist’ come out with such claims as ‘all men are rapists’. Or, as quoted by Dogglebird, ‘I feel that
“man-hating” is an honourable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them’ and attributed by him to Robin Morgan, editor of Ms. Magazine.
Then there’s this, again quoted by Dogglebird, this time from a Valerie Solanas: ‘To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.’ (Valerie Solanas, as I’m sure you all know, but I didn’t, is or rather was an American radical feminist writer who is best known for the SCUM Manifesto as well as the attempted murder of artist Andy Warhol (Wikipedia’s entry).
That last, the fact that she tried to bump of Warhol rather dates her and, more to the point, means Mr Dogglebird is rather scrabbling around for examples to discredit feminism, i.e. he strikes me as a tad desperate for ‘evidence’ to substantiate his outlandish prejudices (yet he claims he teaches ‘aspects of feminism’. I wonder just how even-keeled is the information he passes on to his eager students.) From where I sit, women the world over are fighting an uphill battle to get a rather better deal out of life after many, many centuries, if not millennia of eating shit.
Yes, I’m sure if you disagree, you could come up with chapter and verse about why the current dispensation is as it should be and all is well in the world. But if that’s the case, don’t bother me with your views unless you can come up with a copper-bottomed case. Which I doubt you can because I doubt to the point of complete conviction that anyone can.