There was supposed to be a debate on abortion last Tuesday at Christ Church, Oxford. Brendan O’Neill and Timothy Stanley were the scheduled debaters.
That fact by itself fills me with a great cloud of weary irritation. If you want to stage a debate on abortion, why the fuck ask two men to do it? What is the point? Why is it of more interest or significance to hear what two men have to say on the subject than it is to hear what two women have to say? Why just always ignore and jump over women as if they weren’t there, even when talking about things that affect women directly in a way they don’t affect men? Why do that? It’s not as if Brendan O’Neill is such a brilliant thinker or so original or reflective that no one else will do. On the contrary, he’s shallow and highly predictable.
People protested, the debate was canceled, O’Neill is now preening himself on being a martyr for free speech. (What I said – predictable.)
Have you met the Stepford students? They’re everywhere. On campuses across the land. Sitting stony-eyed in lecture halls or surreptitiously policing beer-fuelled banter in the uni bar.
Oh look, a dog whistle. “Banter” is code for sexist shit-talking and harassment.
I was attacked by a swarm of Stepford students this week. On Tuesday, I was supposed to take part in a debate about abortion at Christ Church, Oxford. I was invited by the Oxford Students for Life to put the pro-choice argument against the journalist Timothy Stanley, who is pro-life. But apparently it is forbidden for men to talk about abortion. A mob of furious feministic Oxford students, all robotically uttering the same stuff about feeling offended, set up a Facebook page littered with expletives and demands for the debate to be called off. They said it was outrageous that two human beings ‘who do not have uteruses’ should get to hold forth on abortion — identity politics at its most basely biological…
Oh shut up. That objection shouldn’t be brushed off as “identity politics.” It is objectionable for men to talk over the heads of women about whether women should have particular rights or not. I think once the debate was scheduled it shouldn’t have been canceled, but I also think it shouldn’t have been scheduled in that form in the first place.
Last month he encountered other “Stepford students” who thought he was wrong about lad culture and rape.
One — a bloke — said that the compulsory sexual consent classes recently introduced for freshers at Cambridge, to teach what is and what isn’t rape, were a great idea because they might weed out ‘pre-rapists’: men who haven’t raped anyone but might. The others nodded. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Pre-rapists! Had any of them read Philip K. Dick’s dystopian novella about a wicked world that hunts down and punishes pre-criminals, I asked? None had.
He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, and I can hardly believe what I’m reading. Seriously? If his objection had any merit there should be no driving education, no health education, no disease prevention education, no safety training, no anticipatory instruction of any kind. Yes, students should be taught that consent is required for sex even if they haven’t raped anyone yet, because not everyone understands that consent is required. That’s not some dystopian horror. But then, again, O’Neill isn’t a young female student, so he doesn’t have to worry about young male students who like to drink beer and engage in “banter” and don’t grasp the point that sex without consent is rape. It’s no threat to him, so he’s free to have a cavalier attitude about it, and sneer at people for whom it is a threat.
Heaven help any student who doesn’t bow before the Stepford mentality. The students’ union at Edinburgh recently passed a motion to ‘End lad banter’ on campus. Laddish students are being forced to recant their bantering ways. Last month, the rugby club at the London School of Economics was disbanded for a year after its members handed out leaflets advising rugby lads to avoid ‘mingers’ (ugly girls) and ‘homosexual debauchery’.
Horrors. What a terrible world it will be without leaflets advising lads to avoid ‘mingers’ (ugly girls) and ‘homosexual debauchery’. (“Minger” is a pretty harsh word for “ugly girl,” by the way, given that “minge”=female genitalia. Google says the source is unknown, but it seems impossible that the two can be strictly separated.)
I’m deeply tired of people like O’Neill, people who are relentlessly callous and indifferent about threats to the free participation of people who are not like them.