Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Trouble with Feminists

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Trouble with Feminists

Article excerpt

I'd call myself a feminist, so I'm happy to note that feminist commentary, at least online, is becoming fairly easy to spot. You don't need to read the arguments--you can just scan for SUDDEN OUTBURSTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS, AS IF CROSS, BUT IN A CUTE WAY. This is often accompanied by anthropomorphising the commentary (this column often finds itself, as if by magic, rooting through the fridge at 3am), together with affectedly "boisterous" descriptions of sex (I've been known to shout, "Give it some welly!" when in the throes), talking to groups as if they were individuals (oh, men, why are you like this?) and fun references to gin and/or cake.

Now, there's nothing wrong with showing your tribal colours--or writing influences--but the problem comes when a group fetishises certain buzzwords to such an extent that they override reason.

A few weeks ago West Mercia Police launched a Safe Night Out campaign. a poster advising women how to avoid rape. A number of feminist websites, including the F-Word, picked up on it. A prolonged and angry Twitter barrage followed, during which F-Word followers asked repeatedly why the message wasn't "Don't rape" or "Rapists are the ones to blame", rather than "Don't get raped".

The campaign caused West Mercia Police to take down the posters and apologise.

The F-Word had been keen to emphasise that nothing excuses rape (and of course they're right). But there's a difference between excusing rape and lowering the risk of rape. A number of things can reduce risks of rape--and these are worth knowing about.


Do we really need to couple every piece of "avoid being a victim of crime" advice with the rider "also, don't commit crimes, crimes are illegal, and if anyone's to blame for crimes, it's definitely the criminal"? …

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