|image of a typical white male troll (I peeked under the nappy) is from here|
Children say the cutest things! Over Christmas one of mine told me that years ago she asked me why I was a feminist. It was on the way to school and I am not a morning person. Possibly she was expecting something about equal pay. Apparently I snapped: "Because men do horrible, horrible things". She was alarmed.
That was bad of me wasn't it? A little sexist? Warping the mind of a young girl. She is now grown up and thinks it's funny. It's probably not in any childcare manual and the right answer would have been stuff about wanting equal opportunities. Or I could have replied that anyone with a brain, man or woman, would see the necessity of feminism. I could have been "inclusive".
Nowadays, saying bad stuff about men is not how feminism conducts itself. We all lurve men. We are all smiley for fear of being labelled man–haters. And what is the result of this people-pleasing, ultra-feminine, crowd–sourced sexual politics? Sod all.
Reasonably sitting around waiting for equality while empowering oneself with some silicone implants does not really seem to have worked wonders, does it ladeez? Postfeminism – as personified by the Sex and the City generation – basically confused sexual liberation with shopping: a mistaken strategy even within its own market-driven terms. So we live on a permanent diet of crumbs from the table. A woman over 50 gets to be on TV! Whoopdiwhoop! It's a victory, sure, but is that all there is? It's time to wake up and smell the skinny latte.
A woman is murdered in Bristol and the response is to tell women to stay at home?! For their own safety. Though no one thinks it's a woman doing the murdering. A curfew on men would be considered a monstrous idea, even though most women live with internalised curfews anyway.
An argument about gangs of men who "groom" young women for sex becomes an argument about ethnicity and faith. Of course, these are issues to be discussed, but the central issue, surely, is the abuse of children. Turning vulnerable young girls into drug-addicted prostitutes is disgusting in any culture. But it wouldn't be a viable proposition if men did not want sex with these children. As with all arguments about prostitution, the one group we rarely hear from are the men who buy sex. The "punters".
I don't like the jargon "sex workers". We are all sex workers these days, unless we are celibate, as we are all encouraged to pursue lifelong sexiness. Most young women are endlessly groomed to be desirable after all. Yet the men who have sex with young, frightened, addled girls choose to do so. Such sex, we are told, is about power. To have sex in a car with a heroin addict is very cheap indeed. It goes on day in and day out, and of course it makes me wonder about male sexuality. As does the use of rape as a weapon of war. To say these things is not to say all men are rapists. But some are. To not say them does not make it stop.
It is as though feminism had to sex itself up to keep itself interesting. We are not hairy man-haters who bang on about domestic violence and abuse. We are fascinating women interested in fashion, relationships and true intimacy. OK, so we have a few little problems like having it all turning into doing it all, and finding a nice guy to do any of it with at all, but look on the bright side! We have got a few more female MPs, our girls are doing well at school and isn't life grand?
Well no. No it isn't. Just as the third way, or triangulation, produced a dire shutting down of political discourse, the triangulation of feminism, the third wave, as it was often called, has produced pitiful results. Part of the problem was that what many American feminists were writing in the last decade was simply superimposed onto British culture. It didn't work. We don't have a moral majority.
To see Naomi Wolf, that histrionic proponent of the third wave, pop up to demand that the women accusing Julian Assange of sexual assault and rape be named (surely they have already been shamed) is a logical conclusion of this deal. It is a dead end. Much of Wolf's work is privileged narcissism dressed up as struggle. The Beauty Myth did not have an original thought in it, but never mind, it remains the only feminist text read by many. Wolf and many of her contemporaries muddled the personal with the political to such a degree it is embarrassing. Wolf was snapped up by the media as she was beautiful – as though feminists couldn't be. Greer and Steinem were lookers, weren't they? Wolf's argument now about the anonymity of accusers in rape trials arrives on these shores a little after the Lib Dems dropped this peculiar proposal, which was never in their manifesto anyway.
Weirdly, this was really the only thing the Lib Dems have had to say about women since being in power. There are valid arguments to be made about not treating rape differently to other crimes. But the police here know many women won't come forward and all are aware of our appallingly low conviction rates.
Still, everyone seems to lose their heads around Assange. I picture Bianca Jagger washing his feet with her tears soon. Wolf actually compared him to Oscar Wilde. The similarity is that they were both in solitary confinement. Practically the same person then?
Of course, Wolf has every right to think what she likes about Assange's accusers – and to change her mind as she did about abortion – but what kind of feminism is she now espousing? I find it very difficult to know.
God, how I miss those troublesome women like Andrea Dworkin and Shulamith Firestone. They may have been as batty as hell but they had passion. And balls. They were properly furious at the horrible things men do to women. Who in their right mind, male or female, isn't? Your mother, your sister, your daughter are being told to stay inside and not complain too much. Take up knitting or vajazzling maybe?
Or take comfort from Gideon's "We are all in this together"? The last election was the most regressive for women I can remember. Women appeared as trophy wives, or not at all. The consequences of that are that this government – this new way of doing politics – is hitting women and children the hardest. Women are suffering most from the cuts that men are making. Just look at the figures.
This makes me very angry indeed. Which I know may increase "visible signs of ageing", but it's way too late now. Feminism has been dumbed down into politeness and party-political promises for far too long.
The backlash is happening in front of our eyes. Recession, of course, leads to reactionary measures and some of this reaction is taking away the few gains women have made. We can take nothing for granted. We need fire in our belly for this fight, not a bleedin' gastric bypass.
Angry Birds is the name of a game about birds and pigs. It is, as everything is now, an app. But I don't want an app. I want a movement.
Angry Birds. I am one. Join me.