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Friday 12 June 2015

Brendan O’Neill Eats Himself

The Daily Mail’s Sarah “Vain” Vine was the inadvertent warm-up act yesterday, regaling readers withMarch of the feminist bullies! As a Nobel professor's hounded from his job for 'sexist' remarks, Sarah Vine says it's part of a deeply disturbing trend … Sir Tim Hunt has resigned from his post after sexist 'joke' backfired … John Inverdale and astrophysicist Matt Taylor have also suffered backlash … Sarah Vine asks: Are feminists overreacting to 'silly' behaviour?”. That would be another of those QTWTAIN, then.
And for whom was she warming up? Yes, here he comes, clickbait contrarian supreme, it’s Brendan O’Neill, using the platform given him by Spiked, so named because it should have been, to discuss “Feminism And The Turn Against Enlightenment … The new feminism is the gloss on the West’s loss of faith in itself”. This is, we are told, “the first in a new series of spiked essays on the burning issues of our time”.

Feminism is a “burning issue of our time”? Isn’t it, rather, a fact of modern life? Not, it seems, for O’Neill, who detects something sinister as he tells, in sombre tones, “Things have gone so far that when British PM David Cameron refused to pose in a t-shirt that said ‘This is what a feminist looks like’, he got flak. So entrenched is the new feminism that, now, not being a feminist can land you in hot water”. Yeah, whatever.

Now, this “essay”, for which read “even more tendentious contrarian waffle than usual in one of Bren’s posts”, goes on ad infinitum, and indeed ad nauseam. But O’Neill’s PR have helpfully provided a summary. This tells us that “O'Neill argues that the rise of the new feminism is best understood, not as a fresh uprising or an independent movement, but as the gloss on Western society's own collapse of faith in itself”. Do go on.

The new feminism, with its calling into question of what one feminist author refers to as ‘reason’s diktat’ … not because of its newness or profundity, but because it is currently the best lick of paint that can be added to the West’s own jettisoning of its old values” [my emphasis] “This internal collapse has enabled, O'Neill argues, the feminist-led undermining of core Enlightenment ideas, such as scientific inquiry, universal legal rights and even the notions of knowledge and reason themselves, all of which have been rejected as ‘male’, and therefore toxic, constructs”. Oh just f*** right off.

But he’s serious (well, for some value of “serious”): “The new feminism has moulded itself around the decay of Enlightened thinking... Rational politics becomes cold maleness; the pursuit of knowledge, especially in the scientific realm, becomes tantamount to rape of nature; and rigour and reason in the world of justice are redefined as an ‘ideology of neutrality’ that demeans victims”. Any scientist not in Smash advert mode right now?

Let’s just cut to the conclusion: “The ‘male’ values being attacked are really the universal values of reason, autonomy, progress and truth - values that both men and women need, and deserve. Forget the ‘sex wars’. We don’t need new feminism, nor do we need a new men’s rights movement. We need men and women to come together to challenge the illiberalism and backwardness of the modern West, which is so often expressed in new-feminist terminology. That is, we need humanism”.

Yes, Brendan O’Neill has truly eaten himself. Behold the new post-bullshit bullshit.


keith said...

Anyone with a passing acquaintance with the Enlightenment would know that its philosophers spent considerable time questioning the notions of knowledge and reason without a feminist in sight. And 'feminism undermines science' is really conspiracy quackery.

The Spike crowd have a lot in common with the Breitbarters. A group of people who believe in free markets and meritocracy but their own lack of success (being paid to write propaganda articles doesn't count) leads them to lash out at those they believe have prevented their brilliance from shining – feminists, lefties, ethnics, Campaign for Real Ale, anti-smokers, climate change scientists – rather than criticise the structures of society or, in proper right-wing fashion, take responsibility for their own failures.

It is a sort of PC version of what Fromm argued about the Nazi hierarchy.

June Russell said...

I thought the article was very funny, if a little prolix. With a little polishing it could make a passable 'banter' style stand-up routine.