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Feminist fallacies: Women need to calm down

Feminists will only “chill out” when male violence and harassment is eradicated

“Women need to calm down” is the fifth article in Julie Bindel’s new online column for The Critic, “Feminist fallacies”, which explores modern-day myths about the women’s liberation movement. The fourth article, “Women shouldn’t hate men”, can be read here.

If only us pesky feminists would stop fear mongering all over the shop and chill-out. I mean, telling young women they might get drug-raped during a boozy night out is as bad as telling them not to wear short skirts in case men get the wrong idea, isn’t it?

Blaming feminists that campaign to end male violence for scaring women is as daft it gets. If we were merely banging on about rape and femicide day and night and doing nothing about it, then fair enough. But, aside from the inconvenient and uncomfortable truth that men are responsible for the harm they do to women and girls, we are doing all we can to stop the violence.

When women are murdered, feminists have an irritating habit of kicking up a fuss

There are some that insist they are feminist and blame the likes of me for women being scared of men. Take the trans activist Paris Lees, who insists she is a feminist while seemingly devoting her time to having a go at us. Lees wrote in Vice about a holiday in Spain during which she was “catcalled, sexually objectified and treated like a piece of meat by men the entire week. And it was absolutely awesome.” If that floats her boat, who am I to judge? Even if Lees’s comments were in response to an article by Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, on the prevalence of street harassment and the feminist campaign to eradicate it.

Lees described the feminist campaign to stop street harassment of women by men as “part of a culture that infantilises women and teaches them to be constantly afraid”.

Those doing the harassing are simply the blameless victims of easily offended posh ladies. According to Lees: “There’s a sense of being sullied if an uncouth or lower-class kind of man — a white van man, for example — heckles.” These middle-class women apparently believe that “all men are rapists-in-waiting and that all women are victims-in-waiting.”

Hell. These days, not only are women responsible for the fear that male violence provokes, but we can even be blamed for our own death. Take the case of Sam Pybus, for example, who choked Sophie Moss to death but was not even tried for murder. She “liked it”, you see, and therefore consented to it.

When women such as Sophie Moss fail to get the justice they deserve, feminists have an irritating habit of kicking up a fuss — but how else do we shine a light on how fundamentally broken our legal system is when it comes to protecting and vindicating victims of abuse?

As well as claiming that feminists are to blame for the culture of fear women live under, the slur of “carceral feminist” is bandied about to describe feminists that think it reasonable to expect serial rapists and killers to serve some time in clink.

Apparently, we “victim feminists” spend disproportionate amounts of time focusing on rape, domestic violence and femicide because we believe that men are innately bad and that women are faint-hearted weaklings.

What does scare women? I interviewed a number of 20-odd-year-olds for my new book on feminism. Far more risk averse than their older sisters, and well-seasoned in the popular cultural norms of today when it comes to dating, nevertheless, these women are on constant alert against male violence.

Here’s what they said: “I always put my hand over my drink when I’m in a club or a bar and there are men around,” says Anna, 21, “because I know so many of my friends that have been chatting away, having a good time one minute, to then wake up in bed the next day with blood between their legs and absolutely no memory of what happened.”

“I know I make him angry, and he can get nasty,” says Chloe, 19. “He does this thing where he flicks my face just below my eye, and I keep imagining that his sharp fingernail will cut my eyeball and it’s terrifying. He laughs the whole time he’s doing it, and then all of a sudden he is sweetness and light again.”

We will stop talking male violence when when men stop committing it

“I started to dread being round at his when his mum went out,” says Angie, 20, “because I knew that that would mean he would watch the really violent pornography in the living room on the big screen where it is impossible to escape. I would be sitting there watching women get gangbanged and crying out in pain, and he would be wanking and grabbing at my tits at the same time.”

“I’m a real tough cookie,” says Isabel, 25, “and I don’t like men messing me about, but if ever I get a cab home on my own I always take a photograph of the license plate and send it to at least two of my friends, because if I had a bit to drink who knows what he might do. That Black Cab rapist, John Worboys, he got away with it for years, didn’t he?”

When we demand that male violence against women and girls be taken seriously, it makes a lot of men feel uncomfortable. But to solve a problem it first needs to be identified. So here’s the deal: we will stop talking male violence when when men stop committing it.

Julie Bindel’s latest book, Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation (Constable, Robinson), was published on 2 September 2021.

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