Posts Tagged ‘Brendan O’neill’


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.

I found myself agreeing with almost the entirity of this article by Brendan O’Neill in the Telegraph, about the ‘female bloggers’ and their campaign to ‘stamp out misogyny’ online. Especially this paragraph:

‘According to the Guardian, these campaigners want to stamp out “hateful trolling” by men – that is, they want an end to the misogynistic bile and spite that allegedly clogs up their email inboxes and internet discussion boards. 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. If I had a penny for every time I was crudely insulted on the internet, labelled a prick, a toad, a shit, a moron, a wide-eyed member of a crazy communist cult, I’d be relatively well-off. For better or worse, crudeness is part of the internet experience, and if you don’t like it you can always read The Lady instead.’

I would add to Brendan’s article that feminist women, though, are also capable of ‘coarse language’ and ‘hate speech’, some examples of which I gave in my last post on this issue.

Indeed, a relatively high-profile feminist blogger, stavvers, has called O’Neill himself some nasty things, most memorably: ‘a dangerous weeping syphillitic chode’

This ‘hate speech’ on the part of feminist women does not negate O’neill’s points. Rather it shows the contradictory nature of their position, and even the hypocrisy of their claim that they want to ‘stamp out’ misogyny and hate speech. I think, really, they want to stamp out criticism of feminism and debate. This is borne out by the cries for tougher moderation on blogs and newspaper fora, and for the end to anonymous commenting online that have followed the articles by ‘female bloggers’ about their plight.

There is something else I have noted about this distressing discourse. One of the key arguments from the feminist female bloggers, is that men don’t receive rape threats but women do.

But the whole point of contemporary feminism, we might be forgiven for thinking, has been to show how men, and only men, are capable of and guilty of rape. And women, and only women are able to be victims of rape. In UK law, ‘rape’ only occurs when a penis is inserted into an orifice without consent. So it is rather clever and manipulative to take the fact that women don’t threaten men with ‘rape’ as an example of the specific misogynist abuse women receive from men, when this is done in a context where men cannot even be acknowledged as victims of rape at the hands of women.

Well done feminists!

Another slight of hand is where they say that they can predict the criticisms of their campaign and their twitter hashtag #mencallmethings – ‘whatabouttehmenz’? ‘womencanbenastytoo’ etc . But just because a criticism is predictable it does not mean it is not valid. And I say, once again, no, seriously, what about the men?

You know what. Even if this was a case of men being misogynist across the internet, if men are the ‘perpetrators’ of sexist online abuse against women, wouldn’t it be worth talking to them and trying to understand where they are coming from, in order to try and stop their behaviour?

As Mark Simpson has pointed out on a number of occasions, even when men are the subject of a discussion, whether it be positive or negative, they often are denied a voice. Who is silencing whom?

As far as I am concerned these feminist female bloggers and journalists do not want an end to misogyny in the form of online abuse. Because without it they would lose their special victim status. And this latest cacophony of wimmin shouting at men, is all about maintaining that status.

Your cries are falling on deaf ears here, ladies. I have heard it all before.