Iiiiiiiiiit’s Brendan! Pissing on Caitlin Moran this time, but recycling his stupid trope about how contemporary feminists are just like Victorian women passing out on the drawing room floor.
Remember when feminism was about The Sisterhood? About women clubbing together to stick it to The Man, patriarchy or whatever they were calling the system that kept them in a state of social subjugation?
Those days are gone. Today, if Caitlin Moran’s wildly successful feminist tract How To Be A Woman is anything to go by, feminism is less a universal club and more a bitchy sorority, made up of well-connected women like Moran who consider themselves better, more spiritual and more “real”, than other women, than lesser women, than what the Victorians might have called “fallen women”.
Cute how he gets the word “bitchy” in there, innit. The whole thing is fantastic – feminism is bitchy, and upper class, and Victorian. And what a ridiculous claim, too, when any kind of reform is based on thinking that X is better than Y. O’Neill considers himself better than Moran, doesn’t he, or else he wouldn’t have written all that nonsense. Then there’s the fact that Moran is the oldest of eight children who were raised on the dole, so how O’Neill gets to pretend she’s a toff looking down her nose is beyond me – except that he’s notoriously shameless.
Moran is a columnist for The Times, Britain’s newspaper of record, where she is paid a fortune to titillate that paper’s largely Tory readership with tales of her countercultural antics.
Says Brendan O’Neill, who is a columnist for The Telegraph.
…in essence, How To Be A Woman is one long countercultural boast, one big fat advert for the author’s superior tuned-in outlook on life and culture in contrast with the outlook of “yobs”. So where, for example, most men and women are obsessed with keeping themselves fit, plucked and preened, Moran says she prefers to be chilled out, to live “like it’s 1969 all over again and my entire life is made of cheesecloth, sitars and hash”. The book is full of such contradictorily ostentatious claims to coolness.
Says Brendan O’Neill, who makes almost no claims that aren’t contradictorily ostentatious.
Moran’s chief contribution to feminist thinking is to argue that porn brainwashes women as well as men. Where 1980s feminists fretted like latter-day Victorian chaperones over the power of porn to turn men into rapacious beasts, Moran panics over its transformation of women into slavishly hair-free freaks.
Says Brendan O’Neill, panicking over all the things he dislikes about Caitlin Moran and contemporary feminism.
Does Moran think she’s being radical when she says women are driving themselves nuts keeping themselves hair-free and dolled up and when she depicts working-class women’s sexuality as something peculiar, possibly even dangerous? If so, she couldn’t be more wrong. Because both of those ideas are carbon copies of the sort of waffle promoted by respectable lady writers in the Victorian era.
Those long-dead snobs also fretted over women’s obsession with prettification. The 1857 book Etiquette for Ladies said: “It is not too much to say that women in general, from a dread of falling into coarseness, neglect a good deal the care of their health.” Today it is rad feminists like Moran who fight the “dread of falling into coarseness”.
Also, just like Moran, decent Victorian ladies looked upon working-class women’s sexuality as more animalistic than their own. As Elizabeth Langland put it in her book Nobody’s Angels: Middle-Class Women and Domestic Ideology in Victorian Culture, in the Victorian era “women of the working class became vested with a dangerous sexuality, and middle-class women… became the guardians of spirituality”. Moran, with her practiced rock-chick style and her constant railing against saucy mass culture, very clearly sees herself as a modern-day “guardian of spirituality”.
Now we can see where the title How To Be A Woman comes from: Moran’s book is, at root, a new etiquette manual for ladies, an instruction from on high, from far outside the Sea of Bullshit, about how women should speak, live, shave and fuck. Moran’s treatise confirms the unstoppable backward march of feminism into the snobbery, sexlessness and censoriousness of the Victorian era.
Says Brendan O’Neill, doing his usual showily “contrarian” act by straining a ludicrous comparison past the breaking point. His rant confirms his unstoppable march into complete systematic shameless bullshit.