Magazine article The Spectator

Fights of the Femenists

Magazine article The Spectator

Fights of the Femenists

Article excerpt

When it comes to sheer nastiness in public debate women are now more than equal to men.

Naomi Wolf's Vagina is not an organ so significant it needs italics; it is a book, and a catalyst for a swiftly assembled feminist lynch mob. In the New Statesman , Laur ie Penny wro te, 'Naom i Wolf's Vagina is crassly attention-seeking. . .

It's upsetting to see a prominent feminist having what can only be described as a dramatic public meltdown.' She had another go in the Independent : 'Claims that the vagina is "not only co-extensive with the female brain but also is part of the female soul" are frankly offensive. . . today's young women deserve better.'

In the Times Janice Turner complained that Wolf had 'medically unnecessary major spinal surgery' to restore her vaginal orgasms.

'You can, it seems, ' wrote Turner, 'bring down the patriarchy with a Rampant Rabbit.' In the Evening Standard Anne McElvoy wrote, 'It takes a lot to put me off feminism, but one more book from Naomi Wolf might just do the trick.' There was more bad news for Wolf as she hawked Vagina around town - a poor review in the Guardian , a slap from Jenni Murray on Women's Hour and, eventually, a request from Rod Liddle to be invited to all of Wolf's parties anywhere in the world, at any time, without notice.

That we should waste time attacking Wolf Vagina when there is so much else to do, for is a sentence any of these women could, and should, have written. To say that we should fall on each other's writing as carcasses to be chewed is to ignore the way the media affects our culture. Show me a woman who joins the struggle because Janice was hilariously sarcastic about Naomi and Laurie got two columns out of it and I'll show you a white line round the corpse of feminism. The pay gap, so glibly reported by Liza Mundy in The Spectator last week as 10 per cent, is 20 per cent if you include part-time workers, rising to 27 per cent in the private sector and 25 per cent in the South East. . The idea that women are 'the richer sex' is adorable but untrue, unless your sample pool is Jemima Khan and her hairdresser and you therefore really believe that there will be 'quotas for men' in boardrooms within a generation.

There is mass female unemployment (up 160,000 since 2009, while for men it's down by 30,000), growing female poverty as welfare is cut (most British carers are female) and, around the world, we have ordinary violence and a comprehensive assault on women's reproductive rights. The answer is not to abolish Naomi Wolf because she wrote Vagina. We need an army.

Are the women attacking Vagina guilty of the same crimes they attribute to Wolf - snobbery, monomania, not paying attention to the Things That Matter, Which Do Not Include Your Minge, Naomi? Newspaper columnists accusing each other of elitism and attention-seeking is a game that will always end in stalemate. Ideally, women who define themselves as feminists should want the same thing; more of everything for women - money, orgasms, sweeties, books about vaginas. If Naomi Wolf wants to write a love letter to her vagina, or earlobe, or knee, I will applaud her. Wolf is a hot, rich feminist with great boobs, and her cares are those of the hot, rich feminist with great boobs. Better orgasms are not a terrible thing to want, even if there is more to want; of course Vagina is niche.

Feminists love to fight, because many of us are writers, neurotics, professional screamers and builders of straw men. Good columns are rarely fair; I doubt Naomi Wolf daydreams she is our leader, as Janice Turner wrote, and I doubt Wolf 'won't be able to rest easy until all of womankind has heard her gospel and has started having sex that is not just pleasurable, but worthwhile', as Zoe Heller wrote, with a murderous italic, in the New York Review of Books. …

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