In Defence Of… Brendan O’Neill (ref @CCriadoPerez )

Posted: August 11, 2013 in Feminism, misandry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,


The Liberal, Feminist, Chattering ‘Twitterati’ love to have a bete noire. It’s quite easy to see why people such as Michael Gove, Liz Jones, Ricky Gervais or Melanie Phillips have become monsters ‘right thinking’ people love to hate. Those individuals can be justifiably called ‘reactionary’ or ‘offensive’ or racist sexist whatever ist is important to the liberals at the time. But sometimes the mob goes for somebody a bit closer to home, and that can be quite an interesting spectacle.

Brendan O’Neill is a favoured target of ‘lefty’ bile. The Telegraph blogger, and Spiked editor is regularly wheeled out for the ‘good guys’ to make an example of and to throw metaphorical rotten fruit at. A few choice phrases have been used to describe Mr O’Neill on twitter: ‘cunt’, ‘idiot’ and ‘nutjob’ all feature quite heavily in the twitter ‘criticism’ of Brendan and his work (click on images to enlarge):




What has the writer and commentator done to deserve such opprobium? Well, something that I’ve learned from bitter experience is unforgiveable, and even more so coming from a man. Brendan’s crime is simple: he consistently and coherently challenges feminist dogma.

Back in 2011, Brendan’s Telegraph piece questioning campaigns against ‘Online Misogyny‘  gained the wrath of feminists across the internet. He wrote:

‘Leaving aside the question of who exactly is supposed to do all this “stamping out” of heated speech – The state? Well, who else could do it? – the most striking thing about these fragile feminists’ campaign is the way it elides very different forms of speech. So the Guardian report lumps together “threats of rape”, which are of course serious, with “crude insults” and “unstinting ridicule”, which are not that serious.’

In the light of recent events and recent arrests for tweets his words are as relevant now as ever. At the time I agreed with his observations, adding that I thought feminists’ ‘fragile’ response to nastiness online is accompanied by hypocrisy whereby they dole it out as much as anyone. That too has been borne out in the last couple of weeks. And O’Neill’s most recent piece about the current moral panic over ‘twitter trolls’ is as good as anything I’ve read on the topic.

Not unlike me, O’Neill has been met with as much if not more fire and brimstone than any ‘right winger’. Because, having been involved in ‘left wing’ Politics ( leaving aside what any of us from that background may think of the RCP) Brendan and I know of what we speak. His comments on feminism don’t come from a ‘women should get back in the kitchen’ ignorant and out of date point of view, but from an educated informed position of mixing with feminists over a period of years.

When he went head to head against one of the feminist women at the heart of the recent furore over ‘online abuse’ on R4s The World Tonight, Brendan destroyed the opposition and won the argument. Before going on the show his debating  partner and screecher extraordinaire, Caroline Perez was gung ho, branding O’Neill an ‘idiot’:

After the show had aired, and she’d lost the battle, she admitted her performance was ‘pretty rubbish’.

But feminism is a powerful dogma not due to the logic of its premises or the articulacy of its followers. Victim Feminism, that O’Neill has successfully pulled apart is fuelled by identity politics and presenting women as ‘weak’ and ‘oppressed’ by men. Therefore, criticising feminist women is perceived as ‘oppression’ or ‘misogyny’. Caroline Perez has used the same terminology, and a number of times on twitter blocked or even threatened to have her (‘misogynist’ men) detractors arrested! Whilst I agree with those who’ve pointed out men can be on the receiving end of nastiness online, the men are victims too line employs ‘victim feminism’ s faulty positions, just applied to men.

I don’t agree with everything O’Neill writes. I do identify with him and admire him for his refusal to play any kind of ‘victim card’, and for his willingness to take on one of the most sacred of sacred cows in the milieux in which he moves – feminism. By having and winning arguments with feminist women he’s not likely to lose his bete noire status. But he’s impressed this ‘troll’. Kudos.

  1. I have to say I’ve been watching this online bullying stuff with horror, I find little (well nothing really) to disagree with you about here, it’s precisely the mixture of “rape threats” with “people being a bit naughty on the internet”, the fact that people’s twitter flamewars are front-page news as well! And it is striking how they’ll latch onto a name and turn it into a hashtag, whether they approve or not it’s having a banner or a head on a stick that’s important, a proper noun that becomes topical that everyone can agree on a priori.

    I’m no libertarian, but slightly right libertarian bloggers are the only ones I’ve seen come close to accuracy on Laurie Penny for instance (my god, she’s ubiquitous, that woman, and has more autobiographies than most people have hot dinners). But, getting back to our topic, I’ve seen some pretty vile misogyny directed from your “fragile victim feminists” towards Liz Jones, Melanie Phillips, Anne Widdecombe, Nadine Dorries. It’s not just “critique” or “disagreement”, it’s like they’re a priori evil, sometimes with quite graphic physical descriptions of them – if it’s from plastic surgery and it’s a right-wing woman than they have carte blanche, apparently. And with dudes, like your examples show – they just yell “idiot idiot idiot bigot!!!!” and so on. Like Christopher Hitchens when he wrote about women and humour, and he had a point, but I remember some comedienne guest-blogging at Feministe going on a sassy tirade (trying to prove him wrong with her blistering hilarity, a risky tactic at best) making fun of his impotence and weakness. He had terminal cancer at the time, so that was in pretty questionable taste.

    I’m also seeing all these articles about “what makes young men turn to internet trolling” – and for fuck’s sake, who said it was men???!! Because women would be somehow incapable of this?? I’m sure a lot of the more vicious trolling comes from women, and to be honest I can hardly blame anyone, when I read these fragile ladies I’m tempted to come out with the most violent stream of invective I can possibly muster. They’re claiming to speak for women who are fed up, etc, etc, but they are setting the cause of sex equality back 150 years, they are neo-victorians, it’s like women are too fragile to take someone calling them a bit of a poopyhead on the internet, while it doesn’t matter if they utter the most vile passive aggressive nonsense ever, because they’re cloistered in the weeporium, tearing their blouses over the War On Women.

    Plus, twitter. Come the fuck on. Used to be you kept your internet flamewars to yourself, cause that shit’s so silly. Twitter was meant for chicks to exchange like party planning info and gossip and stuff. What was wrong with that? It’s like with Pinterest – they gotta go sticking Rosie the Riveter and Feminist Majority slogans all over places women might be having fun and human beings might be relating to each other – remember when you pin that wedding cake? That cake is raping you! Same with your panty drawer in the morning, that’s raping you too, particularly them frilly numbers, it’s ok to wear them, as long as you remember Rosie the Riveter, as long as you’re aware of this anti-union poster from the 80s that is somehow a symbol of feminism that is doing an impotent fistpump thing. I mean, if anything, swearing at Liz Jones and Melanie Phillips must be like swearing at themselves in the mirror these days. Is there really anything to choose between them? The so-called “women’s liberation” side already use all the tabloid hysteria language, they already deny that nice ladies could ever have the kind of sex drive that would lead to pornography use, or would ever be rude online. Plus they’re presented as these sassy strongwomen – and I’ve never met a “young new wave of feminists” type, on the internet or off it, that I couldn’t eat for breakfast. With all due respect to them, and some of them are quite nice people, they’re some of the wispiest, most passive, most fragile people I’ve ever known. They couldn’t take the lives of most women. A day receiving abuse in a call centre? Heck, they’re more likely to dole it out, but they’d collapse in tears and call the police after the first phone call. Which is kind of the point I think.

  2. swampcapybara says:

    Just looking at Brendan O’Neill’s blogs on the twitter bullying stuff – there’s a bit of a tory slant on his conclusions, which I’d expect since he is after all blogging at the torygraph, but they’re certainly well-observed, like the stuff about who has time to tweet for instance, or the kind of thought-vomitorium the internet has become, which is certainly more accurate than “oh it’s a public forum for exchange of ideas and protest and social change we must make it safe for women cause we poor dears cannot bear being told our bum looks big”. Does it take a right-wing thirty-something dude to say it? Because, you’re not allowed to be nuanced on the internet left, or you’re instantly suspected of *being something*. Whereas, someone like Brendan O’Neill, there’s nothing to suspect him of being, it’s all there on the cover, so, you know, their jabs do nussing. In his place, and assuming I kept my own – far left – political position, but making some of the points he’s making here, I would have to out myself then have the burden of proof that I’m not a closet misogynist, an experience I think you’re not unfamiliar with yourself (I remember your spats with a Ms Clarisse Thorn for instance). So he’s like an impervious punching bag to them. I dunno if he sheds much of a tear over it, to be honest.

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