Magazine article The Spectator

Status Anxiety: Toby Young

Magazine article The Spectator

Status Anxiety: Toby Young

Article excerpt

Feature writers aren't often acclaimed for their courage, but Neil Lyndon deserves a bronze plaque in St Bride's. Twenty-two years ago, he wrote a book called No More Sex War in which he questioned some of the assumptions underlying the modern feminist movement. He pointed out that many of the advances made by women over the past 200 years have been made with the help of men and suggested that men should be regarded as allies in the war against injustice, not defenders of the status quo.

Perfectly reasonable, you might think. Not a misogynistic tract, but a progressive critique of radical feminist ideology. Yet that wasn't the way it was received. Almost without exception, the book was reviewed as if it was a full-blown assault on women's rights. It's not an exaggeration to say that Neil Lyndon was hounded from polite society. His career nosedived and he was declared bankrupt. The feminist publisher Carmen Callil speculated that the reason Lyndon was worried about the plight of men was because he had a small penis.

Coincidentally, it was around 22 years ago that the Taleban first emerged as a religious and political force in Afghanistan, but as far as I'm aware no prominent feminists took exception to them. Think about that for a moment. Because a Sunday Times journalist had the temerity to point out that men suffered from discrimination, too -- even though he warmly embraced the doctrine of sexual equality -- he was condemned by virtually every left-wing woman in the country. But when faced with a group of religious zealots who raped, tortured and murdered women who dared to depart from their medieval code of conduct, none of them batted an eyelid. The equivalent, I suppose, would be a group of British Jews in 1938 that campaigned to ban T.S. Eliot's poetry on the grounds that it was anti-Semitic, but ignored the rise of the Nazi party.

This same double standard exists today. On Tuesday, I was invited to sign a petition on Change.org demanding that the Home Office refuse to grant a visa to Julien Blanc, an American 'pick-up artist' who is due to hold some 'seminars' in London. Forget for a second that US passport-holders don't need a visa to visit the UK, the point is that I've yet to see a single Change. …

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