James Delingpole recently wrote an article called “Why it’s not sexist to say boys should never play with dolls“. I have to ask: is it just me, or are the James Delingpoles of this world getting more and more frantic in their efforts to shove gender roles back into neat little boxes marked Male and Female?
Because to me, interrupting a group of young women during a discussion of their career plans to ask them if they want to settle down and raise a family… that sounds like the behaviour of a floundering man. Delingpole admits that he did this deliberately in part to undermine their “zappy” headmistress, and then brags about in his article as though he’s scored a point for… well, for who or what exactly is unclear. Whatever Delingpole was trying to achieve by recounting this anecdote, he succeeds admirably in coming across as smug, clueless, priggish and thoroughly out of his depth when confronted by a room of bright young women who expect to enter the world as equals to men.
“Does this make me sound like a complete sexist pig?” asks Delingpole, as though a modicum of self-awareness might make it not so.
Joss Whedon spoke about feminism at a benefit event for an organisation called Equality Now. More accurately, Joss Whedon spoke about the word “feminist”, because this incoherent self-satisfied trainwreck of a speech completely and utterly failed to engage with the substance of feminism for most of its fourteen minute duration.
Quite a few people sent me this video. Most of them were like, “Look! Yay! A famous nerdy dude said some stuff about feminism!” Sorry friends, but that literally could not have been further from my reaction. Jezebel called it perfect (lol and also facepalm). Lots of feminist organisations I follow on Facebook posted it with approving commentary. (Including The Y Factor, who appear to have deleted it since I left a mild comment suggesting it was a crock of shit. Bad form, Y Factor. If you thought it was good, own it and explain why.)
It’s possible that I would have been more on board with Whedon’s speech if I could actually follow it. He starts off describing – in indulgent syllable-by-syllable detail – how “feminist” as a word just does not do it for him personally. Then he changes track and for a while seems to be equating the word “feminist” to the word “racist”, even though those words have nothing in common besides the dreaded “-ist” at the end. After that, he abandons “feminist” altogether and suggests that we need an equivalent word to “racist” for when we’re talking about gender discrimination. Those words already exist, I hear you cry? Sexist? Misogynist? Nah, those words don’t do it for Whedon either because some people are resistant to them, but mainly because he’s too busy trying to introduce his new word which he came up with ALL BY HIMSELF, GUYS. Guess what it is? Wait until you hear this genius stroke! Genderist! People who discriminate based on gender can be called “genderist”! Inspired! And this will achieve… what exactly? I have no clue, and neither does Whedon by the sounds of things, but he really wants everyone to start using it right away.
This post is long, so if you’d prefer, you can just look at the accompanying diagram, which is probably the most succinct transmission of my thoughts on any subject ever to date. But if you want more, there is more.
I’ll irritate most of my friends for saying this, but I’ve always found feminist writer Laurie Penny immensely enjoyable, in person and in writing.
What a thoroughly odd way to start a book review.
I say that as someone who is – or at least was – appalled by practically everything she says. Why “was”? Because I’ve just finished her pamphlet Cybersexism: Sex, Gender and Power on the Internet, and it’s… well, it’s terrific.
Oh I see, it was necessary to qualify that you don’t hate Laurie Penny personally while pandering to your friends who are ready to kneejerk at the very mention of her name, but also make it clear that you are normally “appalled” by her work. Glad we got that cleared up. Carry on.
Yes, all of the old problems are there. There’s a bit too much sodding hysteria, too much is taken for granted and too often
“Hysteria”. Gendered word choice #1. Keep your eyes out, there are a lot of these! Hysteria is a state of uncontrollable or excessive emotion and also an outdated psychological term for a disorder that exclusively afflicted women, because it was caused by disturbances in the uterus (similar to disturbances in the Force, I suppose.) So just to be clear, Penny is not angry, she’s not impassioned and she’s not vehement. She’s hysterical. And not just hysterical, but “sodding” hysterical, because Milo has had to endure this emotional lady nonsense in the past. Moving on.
Oh dear. Over at the Irish Times, William Reville has written a very enlightened article about how letting kids play with whatever toys they want is social conditioning and the equality “agenda” and sex hormones and some other stuff. Honestly, it’s all a bit disjointed. In any case, I’m supposed to be in bed, but as soon as I read this, I got a rage headache and I felt in my bones that the only way to make it go away was a healthy dose of snark. And then I realised, that yes, yes, it is time.
It is time for another Takedown Thursday.
Attention male readers. How would you like it if Michael Noonan introduced a tax on men in reparation for the violence that men have visited on society over the ages?
Well, such a law was proposed by a radical feminist/green lobby in Sweden, where they take gender equality seriously. Unfortunately, I think they are getting it very wrong.
Attention all readers. Just in case you were wondering, this proposed law has fuck diddly squat to do with the rest of the article. However, it was important to shoehorn it in there because feminists (and also environmentalists?) are evil and probably involved somehow.