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    Misrepresenting feminists

    by Rumbold on 12th July, 2009 at 8:28 pm    

    Feminists usually have a hard time of it. Their views, often nuanced and well-argued (even if one disagrees with aspects), tend to be distorted by those who want to make a cheap point at the expense of an easily-stereotyped group. Such a case occurred when Minette Marrin framed the scientific breakthrough in the creation of sperm from cells against a backdrop of cheering feminists:

    “If men are no longer needed for producing sperm, perhaps they are no longer needed at all — that was the suggestion humming in the media and the blogosphere last week, often rather nastily disguised as humour, with lists of ways in which men are worse than useless. Misandry — the dislike of men — is a powerful force.”

    Well, as a reader of some of the leading feminist blogs, I cannot recall seeing anything. I don’t doubt there was the odd piece, but it soon becomes clear that this assertion was simply a way to launch a general attack on the ‘feminisation’ of society:

    “With the feminisation of the media and of education and with decades of so-called positive discrimination favouring women, we have seen a growing female triumphalism.”

    Having not actually produced any evidence for her initial claims, she goes on to praise the ‘good qualities’ of men, which suggests that only men can have these qualities. The underlying suggestion is that you cannot be a feminist and like men, because feminists must all be man-haters.

    And finally there is this gem:

    “It will not have escaped many readers that talking to a man is different from talking to a woman: it is precious in its own, different way.”

    It’s like writing an article in order to combat misogyny, then filling it with praise for a woman’s housekeeping skills.

      |   Trackback link   |   Add to   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Sex equality

    15 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Sunny — on 12th July, 2009 at 8:30 pm  

      Heh. That last line is gold Rumbold.

    2. Rumbold — on 12th July, 2009 at 8:31 pm  

      Thanks Sunny. I like Minette Marrin at times, but this was just cringeworthy.

    3. Scots Tiger — on 12th July, 2009 at 8:50 pm  

      What men need to tell wimmin is that no sane male cares what wimmin wear on their trotters so long as they don’t show up in carpet slippers

    4. asquith — on 12th July, 2009 at 8:52 pm  

      As I never tire of saying… it serves you right for reading The Times in the misguided belief that it would be anything other than total shite.

      Re: feminist blogs, I like Pandagon myself. They are dead funny.

    5. Jo — on 12th July, 2009 at 8:58 pm  

      (puts head in hands and quakes gently)

    6. Colin Brown — on 12th July, 2009 at 10:02 pm  

      Does anyone know, if feminism can flourish in the Islamic world as it has in Western society?

      Here’s some light-hearted video research on the subject:



    7. Cath Elliott — on 12th July, 2009 at 10:27 pm  

      Funnily enough, possibly one of the worst pieces that appeared about the sperm non-story, aside from Tanya Gold’s nonsense in the Guardian (not sure where she stands on feminism….) was this ridiculous list in, erm, the Times:

    8. Cath Elliott — on 12th July, 2009 at 10:30 pm  

      Oh, and thanks for the link Rumbold :)

    9. Amrit — on 12th July, 2009 at 10:32 pm  

      Rumbold. This article is MUCH APPRECIATED.

      I second Cath - I began to read that Times thing, and then gave up because it was such utter shite.

      Cath - I think Tanya is a feminist whenever it suits her (i.e. when it’s lucrative) to be, judging by her stuff in the Guardian…

    10. dave bones — on 13th July, 2009 at 2:03 am  

      Yeah there was a time in the 80s that some feminists were going well over the top with the “All men are rapists” stuff. Like the crazys in the SWP some of these girls sexuality was way too politicized. This chick is obviously reacting to her experienece of that.

      Its not really offensive what she is saying, I just thought this war was fairly much over and done. I rarely meet lesbians these days who are man haters. We had one down here a few years back but her lesbian friends were telling her to wake up and snap out of it.

      This writer is just a bit dizzy. Men are better than women at composing music? More playful and more inquisitive? She is just a bit stupid isn’t she.

    11. halima — on 13th July, 2009 at 2:24 am  

      Good article , Rumbold. I don’t read the Times - unless it’s the travel section.

      But you raise an important point. These days we raise feminism if we want to score cheap points at women or social change. Not because we’re interested in the fundamental issues that might be discussed.

      Some might argue that science of this kind is a breakthrough (leaving aside the scientist in question was female), but society isn’t quite ready. I remember reading that great novel by Margeret Atwood , ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ which was also about the future and fertility. Women are always a subversive bunch , but at least we can keep them domesticated because they’ll always need the other sex for pro-creation…

      I guess for people who are irreligious such breakthroughs should be welcome news. It disrupts any conservative views of ‘man was put on earth to make babies’ and it actually extends the possibility of raising above our natural capabilities and potential- defying what is possible and isn’t.

      What a rare thought - if we dare to accept it.

    12. persephone — on 13th July, 2009 at 9:32 am  

      ” ‘feminisation’ of society ”

      I see this in the same light as the ‘islamicisation’ of society - making something sound all pervasive, overriding all else and so threatening. Personally I think the term feminist is outdated & damaging

      I saw this as a scientific discovery rather than linking it to anything else

      As to Minette Marrin - I have not come across her and her trite article makes me feel that I have not missed much

    13. Rumbold — on 13th July, 2009 at 9:58 am  

      Thanks everyone. Cath, thank for pointing out those two articles- it seemed to be only the newspapers (as opposed to the blogs) that produced those silly lists. Says a lot really.

    14. Don — on 13th July, 2009 at 9:59 am  

      For another example of journalists misrepresenting studies with a feminist angle, try here.

    15. persephone — on 13th July, 2009 at 10:10 am  

      Another bit of research has also made the association that the women most likely to be mugged are those who go out, overtly carry a handbag and wear high heels.
      Talk about encouraging muggers.

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