Save me from the unctuous superiority of men who call themselves 'feminists'
In the end, it’s the hypocrisy that gets me, because misogyny, whether it comes from the political left or the right, has the same debilitating consequences for women in that it takes us right back to a place many of us hoped we had left far behind.
And of course it was shocking to hear Laurence Fox on a national television channel – even if it is GB News – literally reduce a woman’s professional abilities to whether he or any “self-respecting male” would want to take her to bed. Never mind what she might think, but then, that’s a whole other rant about patriarchy, power, and self-delusion.
But who was actually surprised by Fox?
What do you expect from a self-proclaimed “anti-woke” campaigner with a Twitter bio that reads “trans lesbian of colour”, and whose whole raison d’être is to shock in the name of freedom of speech? That’s Fox’s currency. It was his value to GB News. And he delivered in spades. On the clickbait, on the outrage, on giving voice to the abhorrent and the deranged, and hopefully he has also delivered on his own demise.
But spare me the self-righteous chest beating of the so-called progressives who, so hijacked by their own strait-jacketed position on sex and gender, have been unable to similarly hit out at the misogyny creep that has already led to a mounting escalation in (and acceptance of) abuse of, mainly, middle-aged women simply wanting their concerns to be heard.
Save me from the unctuous superiority of men who call themselves “feminists” with the hashtag
#notallmen who can now jump on this bandwagon simply because it’s more palatable for them to moralise about misogyny when it comes from the right rather than having the introspection and self-awareness to check their own left-leaning male privilege.
Save me from the sanctimonious preachings of the likes of Billy Bragg – once a darling of the socialist left whose protest songs were the soundtrack to my own angry youth in the 1980s – who, in his efforts to be so trans inclusive, has managed to run a sexist, ageist, misogynistic commentary directed at gender-critical feminists who have been threatened with violence, and that can be summarised simply as thus – ‘you asked for it, you dressed for it, you like it’.
Remind you of any other sexist tropes, ladies?
And save me from the piety of the likes of the former Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, who gleefully tweeted about Fox with a simple “Busy day @GBNews. Sound of penny belatedly dropping…”.
Is a man of Rusbridger’s high intellect seriously blind to the hypocrisy of criticising GB News for giving a platform to Fox when he enabled the likes of Russell Brand? Rusbridger literally gave Brand a seat at the Guardian’s editorial top-table. He gave legitimacy to him in print while an in-conversation event, chaired by the equally myopic Owen Jones, gave Brand a Guardian endorsement to espouse his odious views.
Brand was feted by the left. Readers of Prospect magazine, now edited by Rusbridger, a publication that “empowers you to explore solutions to complex issues and challenge existing ideas”, voted him the fourth greatest of the world’s leading thinkers of 2015. Brand was invited to guest-edit the New Statesman (he joked that he would rename it the Nude Statesman). The then leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, appeared on Brand’s YouTube channel on a show called ‘The Trews’ before the 2015 general election – which incidentally, he lost – in a cosy interview that Miliband said was to try and encourage young people to vote.
Considering recent allegations, Miliband now, unsurprisingly, says he regrets the appearance, but says, “hindsight is a wonderful thing.”
But you don’t need hindsight to see what is right in front of you. Brand was named ‘Shagger of the Year’ for three years running by a national newspaper. Rumours were rife about his sexual proclivities and his own stage show was telling in what he said about himself. It wasn’t as if Brand’s type of misogyny was unknown, but it didn’t matter because he was ‘one of the tribe’ – a brother of the left. And partisanship, as we all know too well, is a powerful tool in being able to justify the unjustifiable.
So well done all you men of the left, in your belated condemnation of misogyny that was always there in plain sight.
And good on the first minister, Humza Yousaf, for lending his leadership to the censure of Laurence Fox. But I also expect to see warm words turned into action and not just hear platitudes being voiced when it is politically expedient.
Let’s see some solidarity with the women hounded, threatened, and harassed by masked mobs. Let’s see police arrests, not warnings, issued to men who assault women in a country that professes to have a zero-tolerance approach to violence against women and girls. Let’s see misogyny being urgently tackled in law, in the same way that other crimes of hate have already been legislated for – and not leave women, as always, waiting at the back of the queue.
And I, for one, would want to see leadership from the first minister when it comes to tackling the well-publicised abuse, harassment, and threats of sexual violence made to women in his own party for expressing gender-critical views, because what better example of leadership on misogyny than getting your own house in order?
Being a woman should never have been allowed to become a wedge issue. But what was more depressing about last week’s GB News debacle was the sharp reminder that no matter how far women think they have travelled in terms of equality, there is always some infantile man ready to remind you that it still boils back down to the ‘but would you shag her?’ argument. It’s exhausting.