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Universities have destroyed feminism Student activists have never understood sex

Student "feminists" are more interested in signs and symbols than changing anything. Credit: David Zorrakino /Europa Press via Getty Images

Student "feminists" are more interested in signs and symbols than changing anything. Credit: David Zorrakino /Europa Press via Getty Images


June 4, 2021   5 mins

In 1989, for the first time, without feeling ashamed or embarrassed, I was able to talk about having never read a broadsheet newspaper or a literary novel. Aged 27, I’d been persuaded by some friends to do an Access Course. I didn’t have a single qualification to my name — I left my sink school at 15 — but these gateways to university were a great way to prepare people like me for a degree course. I loved it.

For my first English literature class, I read Things Fall Apart cover to cover in one evening. I felt liberated: I’d actually enjoyed reading something I’d imagined was outside my comfort zone. With the other students on the Access Course, all of whom had also been to terrible schools and faced massive barriers to learning, I was able to laugh at my lack of general knowledge and poor historical and geographical facts, rather than attempting to cover them up.

Students from the course were guaranteed a place at the Polytechnic of North London (PNL) if we passed. I did, and when I started my degree in Film Studies and Discourse, I was in my element: I had a decade of feminist activism under my belt and there is nothing that cannot be studied through the lens of patriarchy. I was used to watching a film I had seen BF (Before Feminism) and howling at the misogyny in it, which I had once simply accepted and absorbed. My final thesis focused on men in gangs and, within that, the prevalence of sexual violence and abuse against women and girls. It was based on Grease.

The discourse part was less fun. Full of Derrida and Foucault and other incomprehensible philosophers and queer theorists, it flew in the face of my grassroots feminism. Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity had just been published, and I recall being told by one of the lecturers that patriarchy was “performance”. I informed him that rape, domestic violence and other forms of male violence are rooted in the material reality of women’s oppression in relation to men. He responded by saying that perhaps “old-school feminism” needed a revamp.

A seasoned activist, I was used to defending my corner. But it felt like some of the lecturers found it threatening or uncomfortable to teach anyone who was used to engaging with ideas, theories and critical analysis. The staff at PNL were great when it came to class, but not so great at being corrected about feminism. The most amusing example happened during a class taught by the brilliant feminist sociologist Professor Sue Lees, who I believed had misrepresented a feminist law reform campaign I had co-founded the previous year. When I raised my hand to challenge her, explaining who I was, Sue shouted: “No, you are not!” We later became friends and would laugh about it.

One of the male lecturers was a bit trickier. When I quoted Andrea Dworkin in an essay critiquing the male libertarian view of pornography, he was almost frothing at the mouth. He said Dworkin was “monstrous” and, in front of the entire class, accused me of taking a “moralist, anti-sex” approach. I asked if he thought it was a healthy sexual response to masturbate to women being gagged and raped. He declined to answer.

And I remember very clearly, in a class on the so-called feminist sex wars, a debate about sexuality and sexual practice that took in pornography, sadomasochism, and commercial sexual exploitation. On the one hand, there with libertarian “feminists” arguing that all sex is good sex; on the other, anti-male-violence feminist such as myself that ascribed significant meaning to the eroticisation of female subordination, and campaigned to end the sex trade.

“Here we have tension between the pro-sex feminists and the anti-sex neo-feminists,” proclaimed the male lecturer. Glancing down at the suggested reading for the module I saw not one actual feminist text but a load of stuff in praise of pornography.

“It is not ‘anti-sex’ to critique the sex trade,” I told the lecturer. “Making money from women’s pain and humiliation is surely open to criticism?”

At that point, the lecturer began to quote Foucault in French. Today’s universities preach an updated version of this anti-feminism, for example by promoting the view that prostitution is a fine way to earn money, and that speaking out against extreme transgender ideology and commercial sexual exploitation is “White Feminism”.

Meanwhile, in my film studies class, I would often seethe with resentment at being told that depictions of horrific violence against women in Alfred Hitchcock films were merely “symbolic” of men’s fear of female sexuality and that feminists often “missed the point” about “meaning”. Silly girls!

These lecturers probably preferred to work with a clean slate than a person who could express opinions as opposed to simply form them from scratch.

And there were lots of people at PNL who just didn’t care that much. A number of posh kids swanked around, pleased with themselves for rebelling against their parents by not going to Oxbridge. Most of these entitled, arrogant teenagers had flounced around the global south on a gap year before embarking on three years at university. How disappointed their families must have been that they ended up in some grotty polytechnic rather than a redbrick. How proud mine were that I was doing something no one else in the family had been able to.

Still, I would fanaticise about being at a redbrick, channelling Julie Walters in Educating Rita. I wanted to sit in a ramshackle room full of bookshelves and whiskey decanters, with a don wearing a tweed jacket who gave me loads of attention and took my ideas seriously. What I got was a monthly seminar with 19 other students in a room with the paint peeling off the walls. I had always imagined university to be so much more glamourous.

I was at university to get a degree, nothing more, because I thought it might give me more options in the job market. I wasn’t engaged in any social events or clubs because I already had my own tribe, although I once went to the student bar with a friend who promised it would be “a right laugh”. A couple of members of the Socialist Workers Party tried to recruit me, telling me that feminism was a “bourgeois movement” and that if, capitalism was destroyed, women would be liberated.

In 1993, I got what I had come for: a degree. But my battle with those who took exception to my prior knowledge was not over. Two of my final-year essays — a feminist critique of heterosexuality and an analysis of misogyny in the movies — were marked very low. They’d been so heavily edited with red pen that they looked as though a vein had been opened over the pages. I knew they deserved better. My work was externally reviewed and the marks shot up for both pieces. The reviewer commented that the tutors appeared to have marked me down because they disagreed with rather than because I failed to substantiate my arguments.

When I look back on the good things about my three years at university, I think about the working-class single mothers who somehow managed to fit a degree into their hellishly busy and stressful lives. I recall the way in which these women spoke about wanting to feel more confident in the world and get some qualifications that would give them options in the workplace. Like me, they considered education to be a privilege as well as a right.

Polytechnics catered to their communities, offering vocational qualifications, but, during the time I was there, changes to the labour market meant academic qualifications were seen as the best route to a good job, and the government began to turn polytechnics into “new universities”.

And as the number of universities has increased, the focus has shifted even more towards the postmodern horror story known as “discourse”, where the abstract “floating signifiers” are given precedence over scholarship that can be used to make a material difference to the lives of oppressed people. Universities should take a lesson from the now defunct polytechnics, and focus on making higher education accessible to those oppressed people, not just a privileged few.

The rampant elitism endemic within today’s universities has led to “feminist” societies being taken over by dudes sporting man-buns who dictate what feminism actually is to young women. It is no wonder that working-class single mothers in universities have become almost extinct as dinosaurs. Universities need to get back to reality. And it would help if feminism, in its true form, was put back on the curriculum.


Julie Bindel is an investigative journalist, author, and feminist campaigner. Her latest book is Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation. She also writes on Substack.

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David Stanley
David Stanley
2 years ago

“The staff at PNL were great when it came to class, but not so great at being corrected about feminism.”
When you say “corrected” do you, in fact, mean that you just presented ideas which were different to theirs? Who’s to say that you were correct and they were incorrect?

Last edited 2 years ago by David Stanley
Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
2 years ago
Reply to  David Stanley

Good point. I was disappointed to hear Julie doing what is so common nowadays, telling others what is the ‘correct’ view of something.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
2 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

Though I had a lecturer who was still using the notes he made when he was a student- well over 30 years before-which he hadn’t updated, so they aren’t the font of all knowledge. I think she seemed to have the right idea, getting a degree was useful to her career. If you think your time at university is going to be a wonderful intellectual experience you might be disappointed.

Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
2 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

If you do a subject like women’s studies, then it definitely won’t be an intellectual experience.

a b
a b
2 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

Surely that is her entire MO, if not her raison d’etre?

John Standing
John Standing
2 years ago
Reply to  David Stanley

Common sense?

Dave Roetman
Dave Roetman
2 years ago
Reply to  David Stanley

Why, everyone is entitled to my opinion!

Nick Baile
Nick Baile
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave Roetman

Oh, very Oscar Wilde! I’ll have to remember that.

Signme Uplease
Signme Uplease
2 years ago
Reply to  David Stanley

It is entirely possible to correct someone if what you’re showing them is facts. For example, the staff may have been incorrect about feminist campaigns, women involved and their actual motivation, dates, etc. So, of course Julie, and anyone, should have the right to correct them on facts around any topic of discussion. Why do you assume so quickly that’s it’s about opinions?

Janet Inglis
Janet Inglis
2 years ago
Reply to  Signme Uplease

Especially when it concerns a feminist law reform campaign that Julie was the founder of. It’s possible to be wrong and entirely feasible that Julie was correct about about a campaign Julie was involved in from the beginning.
And as far as women’s bodies being bought for the sexual gratification of men, is that ever correct?
Interesting that the female being corrected by Julie was able to laugh and a friendship formed.
I’ll bet she’s not a pal of the lecturer who thinks women are empowered when men objectify us to the point of buying our bodies to do whatever they like with.

Trishia A
Trishia A
2 years ago
Reply to  David Stanley

It’s an valid comment. When I switched universities after my biochemistry programme, one of my organic chemistry classes was not credited. In my new university, the organic chemistry teacher was insufferable, constantly adulating Margaret Thatcher’s chemistry career and he did make a lot of science mistakes in his teachings. One could say it was arrogant of me to say I (27 yo) was “correcting” my 55 yo teacher. He was greatly annoyed by me, and so were some of my classmates. He was a lazy teacher. I got 100% at his midterm exam, when no one else did. He came up to me later to shake my hand, literally, and he said he was sorry to have discarded my criticisms, that he had not realised I actually did know the material.
Sometimes, it CAN be said that a student is justified in criticising the teacher. I have been in positions of knowledge authority and been tested by my learners, and we must be able to acknowledge criticism, and enable the other to interject, without ruining the entire process. It is most certainly a difficult balance.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

I know nothing of the raging debate around the modes of feminism the author has so eloquently described here, and am less than qualified to comment. I was about to drop the piece after the third paragraph, when I suddenly notice, yet again, the word ‘Foucault’.

I have seen many pieces recently about people talking about Foucault, or spouting Foucault in some context, about Foucault done wrong, or Foucault done right, and I have absolutely *no* idea what they are taking about.

Seriously, am I the only person left in the world who knows Foucault about Foucault?

Last edited 2 years ago by Prashant Kotak
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I have read a lot of books in my life. Once I picked up a book by Derrida and it was just self-opionated drivel, written in a way that only ‘true believers’ could understand. University lecturers have made their careers by reading and commentating on Foucault and Derrida and there is just no point.

You said it better than I could.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Foucault is to Post-modernism what Marx is to Communism.
Both sub-intellectual charlatans who lived the sort of privileged lives that their adherents and devotees would come to despise others for living.
Both wrote the sort of drivel that secondary school children could pick holes in all day until there was nothing left. Favoured by people who who think themselves thinkers without having done any actual thinking.

Last edited 2 years ago by A Spetzari
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Well said, spot on Sir!

George Glashan
George Glashan
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Foucault is to Tunisian children what Gary Glitter is to Thai children.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Thanks, that gives me some useful context.

Anne-Marie Mazur
Anne-Marie Mazur
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Clearly you’ve never read a single Marxist work. Post-modernism is idealism taken to its logical terminus where materialism is its complete opposite. One scientifically deals with material reality while the other is solipsism. Belief in the myth of the “rule of law” is one of the “right’s” classic examples of idealism. Liberalism (political economy) is where post-modern moronic blibbering springs from as an extension of its pretense. Perhaps you should start by reading and taking notes on Marx’s critique of Hegel’s idealism about the classical liberal political economy and the STATE. Poke holes in that, you intellectual giant, you.

N Millington
N Millington
2 years ago

They don’t know a single thing about Marx, and I say that as someone who isn’t even close to a Marxist.

John Gleeson
John Gleeson
2 years ago

*Shudders*

These people have a deeply unsettling, chilling, cringe-provoking lack of self-awareness. In their divorced-from-reality, delusional minds there are those uneducated idiots below them, and themselves and their creed miles above them intellectually, smugly, grotequely, eternally sneering down.
They have no earthly idea how they really look to others, that they have long been a much-caricatured, much-lampooned laughing stock, and that there are people far more intelligent, wise, logical, realistic, and in touch with reality who see straight through the pretentious, moronic, puedo-intellectual drivel of their favourite thinker, who they ideolize like cult leader.

If I point them to the Alan Sokal affair, it still wouldn’t register. Obviouly Sokal was lampooning far inferior minds to their own.

David Brown
David Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

I can see that, from a 19th Century perspective, Marx’s view that the proletariat would rise against the bourgeoisie might make a certain degree of sense. However, I have read that Marx’s own Marxist group contained only one actual member of the working class, and he was considered too moderate, and lacking sufficient revolutionary zeal to be allowed anywhere near power within the movement, which suggests that even Marx had, himself, come to recognise that it was not going to happen, at least not as he had envisaged.
Revolutions almost invariably come from that part of the privileged middle class.that likes to imagine itself as working class, and oppressed. It is a fraudulent imposture; Lenin claimed to be imposing “the dictatorship of the proletariat”, as though the proletariat speaks with one voice, but offered neither means for that voice to to be heard, nor for its utterances to be acted upon. What was provided, instead, was the dictatorship of the well-heeled, decidedly white-collar, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
That anyone today has any faith in those old snake-oil salesmen says more about the believers than it does about them or his ideas.
As for Foucault and Derrida, I find it hard to imagine that even they could believe the what they wrote, although, admittedly, in the case of Foucault, it does have a reputation for being so impenetrable that he thought that other professional philosophers misunderstood it. I see that as being his fault: when you write a book explaining your ideas, at least others in your own field should be able to follow your argument, and ideally the layman, too, or it fails as exposition.

J. Hale
J. Hale
2 years ago
Reply to  David Brown

I also read that Marx treated his proletarian housekeeper horribly. He’d yell at her, force her to redo work, etc. He often couldn’t pay her, and rather than take responsibility, he’d blame capitalism.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  J. Hale

I’ve read that Marx sexually exploited his housekeeper, who ultimately bore him a child he would never acknowledge, although friends and family all made this assumption. The boy was farmed out to foster care while Marx lived and his legitimate children all formed relationships with him afterward. One author said Marx treated the housekeeper like dirt.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
2 years ago
Reply to  David Brown

that part of the privileged middle class.that likes to imagine itself as working class

Being a connoisseur of the Guardian comment sections, i see it happening all the time the Guardianist readership breaking out in Four Yorkshiremen-esque autobiographies trying to out-workingclass one another. Practically all of them in cushy civil-service jobs / pensions, as it transpires from their other comments.
On the note of Lenin though, something i heard via the Swiss grapevine: Lenin, while in exile in ZĂŒrich, mingled a fair bit with the Dadaists, who were a jovial tolerant bunch and didn’t mind having the halfwit around. Lenin was regarded as profusely dumb (“innocent“) and probably quite unhinged, bit like an endearing aspie mascot. So the rumour goes that when he went back to Russia to enact the proletardiktatura, it was that he took all the dadaist ideas at face value and turned them into a political programme, not knowing any better. He probably though all along that the Dada lot were a marxist cell.

Lucille Dunn
Lucille Dunn
2 years ago

Explains a lot

Trishia A
Trishia A
2 years ago
Reply to  David Brown

Great comment. It is a general failure about how we approach discussions about improved conditions to the lower class. The lower class are so traumatised and disempowered, they are usually incapable of advocating for themselves.
The concept of “grassroots” is a fallacy, no matter if on the right or the left. Movements can begin as “grassroots”, then, they either fail, or are co-opted by corporate money. I like my own personal favourite, the French Revolution, which may have been a “grassroots” in it’s early ideas, but it was entirely aristocratic by the time it was making any waves.
Revolutions can only go so far. If the old aristocracy is allowed to live (as in France), or do not escape (as did the Cuban aristocracy), then the revolution will be a failed revolution. A revolution can not succeed with the old guard still present. All activists must consider this.
This is why most social changes are done one, by one, by one, by one, and end up being in truth meaningless, since we humans are so incredibly adaptable to our misery.

Trishia A
Trishia A
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Or what Ayn Rand is to capitalism 🙂

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

No, you are not the only person.
But I an now regretting studying Engineering. Apparently, if I had only read Foucault, I would be able to tell other people how to live their lives.
It would also, stop me worrying about facts; which in the current fact free world would certainly be good for my blood pressure!

Cassian Young
Cassian Young
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Google Foucault American affairs shullunberger for an interesting take. Foucault is increasingly popular on the right.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Cassian Young

The Right? In the USA? Hardly!

J. Hale
J. Hale
2 years ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron
chriswroath
chriswroath
2 years ago
Reply to  J. Hale

It’s behind a paywall!!

Trishia A
Trishia A
2 years ago
Reply to  chriswroath

Here’s a trick to overcome that. You start the page load, then very quickly hit “Select-All/Copy” and paste that anywhere. There is a 1-2 second timeframe to do that before the subscription message comes up.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  J. Hale

You are quoting the NYT’s opinion on the right?

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I’ve only ever read his prologue to Les Mots Et Les Choses, the bit about language. I was totally smitten by it at the time, thinking he’s the best thing since custard donuts, but i never came around reading the rest of the book. I was completely blissfully unaware of his hype and leftist cultstatus at the time, so i was really miffed to learn later on who/what he really is. Still a bit miffed, as i really liked those few pages i’ve read. Maybe i’m just easily pleased..

Last edited 2 years ago by Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
2 years ago

OK, here’s two quotes from the preface what made a lasting impression on me. In fact they are by JL Borges, borrowed by Foucault:

This passage quotes “a ‘certain Chinese encyclopedia’ in which it is written that ‘animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies’. 

also:

‘I am no longer hungry,’ Eusthenes said. ‘Until the morrow, safe from my saliva all the following shall be: Aspics, Acalephs, Acanthocephalates, Amoebocytes, Ammonites, Axolotls, Amblystomas, Aphislions, Anacondas, Ascarids, Amphisbaenas, Angleworms, Amphipods, Anaerobes, Annelids, Anthozoans. . . .’ 

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

I’m more confused than ever. Are these the bits about language you mentioned? I admit the sheer randomness of the words and sentences have something beguiling about them, but they seem completely devoid of any actual meaning. Why were you so enamored of this stuff then? I’ll have to do a quick recce of JL Borges I think.

Last edited 2 years ago by Prashant Kotak
John Montague
John Montague
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

hahaha… “Foucalt about Foucalt”… that has made my morning and I’ll have to use the phrase again in the future. If only we all still had Foucalt ideas about Foucalt!….

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I’ll answer your final question with a straight bat: it’s the people who claim to understand it that you need to worry about, not the ones willing to admit they think it’s nonsense.

Roger Scruton wrote memorably about the “nonsense machine” of Postmodernism in his book Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands. Foucalt get several mentions, alongside Derrida, Lacan and of course Sartre. The worst thing that ever happened to Western academia was putting those unemployable coffee-house clowns into universities and giving them tenure.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Judy Simpson
Judy Simpson
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

There are only three things you need to know about Foucault: everything is a problem; it’s all about power; there are no solutions.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I assume the ‘pervert’ here is a reference to Foucault’s being gay. This is outright homophobia.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

No – I doubt it. If he was just gay nobody would bat an eye.

Janet Inglis
Janet Inglis
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I say Foucault, Foucault!

Trishia A
Trishia A
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

You should watch the debate between Foucault and Noam Chomsky, (on black and white television) deemed one of the most interesting philosophical debates of the time, among liberals and progressives anyway, I don’t know if conservatives paid much attention.
As with all “philosophers”, it’s important to note that the most vitriolic or “passionate” writers are not dealing objectively with the world, but in fact being reactionary to their own horrible upbringing, and their writings are more reflections of their trauma, rather than being objective analysis of society.
In this regard, Ayn Rand and Michel Foucault are very similar. They preach their pain and reaction, while their “philosophy” is not helpful, just reactionary. Michel Foucault was a homosexual raised by homophobic extremely conservative Catholic parents. He had a miserable time of it all. Had he had a happy youth, he probably would never have become famous.
We are our traumas.

Last edited 2 years ago by Trishia A
Bill W
Bill W
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Your last line is very funny.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
2 years ago

“there is nothing that cannot be studied through the lens of patriarchy.”

That is possibly true – but the point of a well-rounded education is to have a choice of lenses. I can’t remember where I first read it (it might have been on Unherd) but an apposite saying is “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.”

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago

Exactly.

I have read several articles by the writer, and each time I feel that she does not offer an opinion to be considered, or advance an argument for engagement.

Rather, she repeatedly bludgeons the reader with a single, rigid viewpoint; a viewpoint that does not extend much further than her (often unhappy) personal experiences.

A bit of a Poor Jenny-One-Note.

UnHerd can do better than this.

Lizzie J
Lizzie J
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

I can see your point of view. I think she’s a classic polemicist (like Liddle) and as such really makes me think about where I stand on big issues.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Lizzie J

Thank you, and maybe you have a point.

You mention Rod Liddle, whose writing I enjoy. The difference seems to me, though, that Liddle typically couches his pieces in language that cheerfully invites the readers to smile (at him, and at the readers themselves, too) when he advances decided views. Even if his position is on a serious matter, he seems to want the readers to join with him in a bit of a laugh.

I don’t feel that encouragement to laugh when reading Julie Bindel.

john D
john D
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Is this the same Rod Liddle that was found out posting racist drivel on a Millwall fan site. How cheerful he is indeed

Dominic S
Dominic S
2 years ago
Reply to  john D

That is a misrepresentation of what he actually said.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Fred, it’s Maslow’s Hammer; Douglas Murray used it in Unherd in an article about the Sewell Report.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
2 years ago

I get the impression that Ms Bindel was a nightmare as far as her tutors were concerned.
But really, I’d like to know what if Foucault and Derrida ever made or designed that contributed to our society. Did they build anything, create any technology, devise any communications system, or vaccine, or medical intervention? If not, why are young people being diverted into studying their introspective garbage rather than learning something useful?

Last edited 2 years ago by Tom Fox
Toby McInnis
Toby McInnis
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

It sounds like you have a problem with the Humanities in general, not these two specific philosophers.
No, neither of those people ‘made or designed’ anything, but both contributed useful systems of analysis.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

They are the most destructive forces in post war society.

Geoff Cox
Geoff Cox
2 years ago

The question is – are women on average happier now than they were 50 years ago? If not (and I occasionally see studies that say they are not) you wonder what it has been all about.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Cox

They weren’t happy, it was men’s fault, they were given what they wanted, they’re still not happy, and that’s men’s fault too.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

The true revolution in the West will occur when men finally wake up and realize that making women happy is not their sole purpose in life.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brian Dorsley
Eloise Burke
Eloise Burke
2 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Cox

I, a woman, am happier than I was 50 years ago.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Eloise Burke

Aging and the acquisition of experience and insight is a wonderful thing : )

anonisignup
anonisignup
2 years ago
Reply to  Eloise Burke

Anecdotal and could be age dependent rather than causally linked to feminism.

alex bachel
alex bachel
2 years ago
Reply to  Eloise Burke

Then you would appear to be in the minority of women.

Micheal Lucken
Micheal Lucken
2 years ago
Reply to  Eloise Burke

A lot of people say they feel happier than 50 years ago. Not least I suspect because they have learned to accept themselves as they are rather than agonising over how they appear and what others think of them. A more appropriate measure would be do women who are 50 years younger than yourself feel happier than you did at that age. A number of studies seem to suggest that people generally report more anxiety depression and unhappiness than when the questions were asked going back decades and it appears more so for women.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Cox

Women can be so neurotic today, especially on the left and in urban areas. They are just tough to communicate with. It goes beyond the usual ‘feelings’ that need to be expressed, as there’s now now a thick slathering of political ‘virtue signaling’ that makes many of then intolerable to deal with.

Last edited 2 years ago by Cathy Carron
John Jones
John Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Cox

From the studies I’ve seen, women are more anxious and depressed than ever, perhaps because being freed from the “patriarchy” actually means giving up female privilege. There used to be a saying: women always worry until they get married, while men never worry until they get married. That’s because, in the past, men took on the legal responsibility for their wives and children. Women, on the other hand, could end a marriage yet still receive alimony- the only contract where one party was legally required to fulfill the terms while the other party could renege.

Now feminists who believed in 1980 that “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” and who decided to prioritize career over marriage are alone and childless. Younger women have replaced them as the object of male desire, so even sex is missing. Now they have discovered what men have always known: no one can have it all. It was never the “patriarchy” holding women down- it was always men holding women up.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
2 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

A great comment, John.

John Jones
John Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Thank you.

Eloise Burke
Eloise Burke
2 years ago

I am very old and in the seventies I was a radical feminist. I have to say that I did not understand any of this – what it was describing and what point it was making. Feminism seems to have morphed, maybe several times, since the seventies, and I don’t know what it means now.
I no longer believe what I did as a “radical” feminist in the seventies. I was young then, and I had just read Susan Brownmiller’s “Against Our Will,” and Germaine Greer, and furthermore I was in law school. I burned with indignation then, but over the years it has dropped away; maybe from becoming independent; practicing law on my own. As a lawyer I never experienced the slightest discrimination on account of sex. I now have no resentment against men.
Life is not easy, but by God, it’s instructive.

John Standing
John Standing
2 years ago
Reply to  Eloise Burke

To understand how you were turned against your own menfolk you must first understand the ethnic antecedents of Critical Theory.

dcbatlle
dcbatlle
2 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

Critical theory isn’t “ethnic”.

John Standing
John Standing
2 years ago
Reply to  dcbatlle

Yes it is.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

Feminism is a direct result of capitalism; the market requires women’s labour and taxes outside the home more than in, women therefore are having to compete with men for jobs status and money, the majority simply cannot do that.

So competitive women have developed a strategy to give themselves a powerful advantage over men to ensure they can compete with them, albeit in their own rather underhand way. That is feminism.

This is not understood by the majority of young women who call themselves feminists, the movement is unconscious to a large extent, it’s a psychological response to the circumstances that capitalism and neo-liberalism have created. It does’nt matter how much we argue and put forward logical arguments, as long as the stressful social conditions remain that cause some women to feel feminist anxiety and rage, feminism will continue to play a part in our society.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

You have a mind that reminds me of a straight-jacket.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

That’s just an insult not an argument.
Try forming an argument instead.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

I am not trying to form an argument that you might want to engage with. And I wasn’t trying to insult you, so I apologise if that is how I came across. I was simply describing the impression that you made upon me.

Last edited 2 years ago by Terry Needham
Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Fair enough.
I’m up for any argument though so do feel free to have a go.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

The apology was genuine. I anticipated a wry grin. I admit to having misread people before.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

It’s fine Terry, I accept your apology.
No hard feelings.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Scott Carson
Scott Carson
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

As opposed to a bent one?

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Just want to add, in case I am misunderstood, that there many fine (and not so fine) women in public life who are not feminists, who do not find it necessary to blame men for everything they don’t like about the world, who have never heard of ‘the patriarchy’, but who get on living their lives having fun doing whatever it is that brings that about for them – work, sport, travel (once upon a time), studying, friendships, family etc.
They/we are everywhere.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Dennis
Dennis
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

The market place is just a metaphor for individuals selling/buying goods and services. It can’t exert power over anyone. If women are getting paid to become feminists then that is because there are people willing to pay for it. Capitalism doesn’t tell people what they should value as it has no values itself. Dysfunctional sociopolitical movements have existed in all economic systems. (Mao cultural revolution for example.)

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Dennis

Interesting point, but is “the market” a metaphor really? is it not the name used for the original place in all our towns and cities where buying and selling took place, used now in the modern world to describe an expanded version of exactly the same thing ?
And is it not our human creation ? without us “the individuals”, there is no market, and we definitely exert power.
Women are not being paid to become feminists, that is not what I meant.
Many women who work in the public sphere are not feminists. What I said was women’s labour away from the domestic sphere has become increasingly a requirement of the capitalist system, yet they must still reproduce and somehow run a home as well. That is very stressful. Add in the stress and insecurity of the breakdowns of marriage as an institution + the family + old supportive communities, and human females, (and males undoubtedly) will react psychologically in their distress.
My argument is that some women – feminists – react to this situation with aggression towards men, they have rationalised this aggression with an ideology we call Feminism.
It is divisive and destructive. It is not the answer to the problem.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
J D
J D
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Very good point Claire. In recent times I’ve heard a few arguments stating that feminism has flourished because capitalist systems have wanted it to. More workers, more tax, more consumer spending. For years I had thought it was driven by angry ideology that bullied governments into accepting it. Then I followed the money.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

Students from the course were guaranteed a place at the Polytechnic of North London…when I started my degree in Film Studies and Discourse, I was in my element

Whoever said the worst kind of poverty was poverty of ambition had it dead right.
“Fillum Studies and Discourse”?! Norf Laandon Poly? How is that a degree?
Thank Gawd they have to pay for their own rubbish degrees now!

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Never forget that ‘Norf Laandon Poly’ is the Alma Mahler of oneJeremy Corbyn.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

What with the obsession with Corbyn here. He’s old hat.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
2 years ago

Everything about Corbyn is ever more old hat but he does carry the astonishing icon of showing off the then nymph like naked Abbot, still on his bed, to his visiting comrades which is a wonderful graphic of the fun and juicy youth we all once had at our disposal.

John Lewis
John Lewis
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Careful Jon,

I’ve been put on the naughty list for my light-hearted scepticism about that particular degree course.

I guess the mods are taking the word “Unherd” literally today.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Lewis
Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

A few paragraphs down and the polytechnic system (as was) is praised for offering relevant, vocational courses. Hmm!

Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

They don’t have to pay for them. The taxpayer loans the money. Then when they graduate with useless degrees in women’s studies they either work in academia, where they blame everything on men, work for the Guardian, where they blame everything on men, or end up as slacktivists or public sector apparatchiks.

Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
2 years ago

Julie may complain that universities have ruined feminism but she may reflect on how feminism has ruined universities and much else besides.

John Standing
John Standing
2 years ago

As an incredibly handsome, tall, naturally aristocratic and wealthy man, I can honestly say that I have never met one of these … what did you call them? … feminists?

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

The world can be a great place for some of us.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

That’s odd, as it’s mostly upper class women who spout feminism. I have my suspicions about self description on the internet, though.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
2 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

I can identify with this while most everybody else can only want to!

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay Gatward
Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
2 years ago

Can I just check, because this is a difficult area. On the assumption that Julie Bindel did not choose the picture at the top of the article, would she think that it is “empowering” or “degrading”?
Is the answer different when it is viewed through the lens of patriarchy?
Perhaps we could have a caption contest : my offering is “feminists putting their brains on display.”

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

Yes, a rather strange choice of picture, but very pleasing to the eye nevertheless. Perhaps the girls featured have just burned their bras and are shielding their eyes from the flames.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

But what’s with the tape on the breasts?

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
2 years ago

“Choice, choices”. Men look for fertility in women and this pic has brilliant choices. It is a delightful and detailed hugely visual activity. Women look for power in men which is hugely more complicated and harder work but necessary because they only have a few eggs and each one a serious investment. It is the opposite in men, to them their ammo appears limitless. So they each mature with different instinctive behaviour inherited from thousands of successfully fertile generations. Has a compromise in attitude been typical for success, anyway culture conflicting with instinct is the root of deep unease and that is where feminism is.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay Gatward
John Jones
John Jones
2 years ago

Exactly right. Feminism flies in the face of evolution.

john D
john D
2 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

Idiot

Amy Malek
Amy Malek
2 years ago

Finally:. I thought said photo was the elephant in the room!
I thought perhaps it was normative in some sense to which I (in the US) was not privy.

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
2 years ago

Well I agree about the toxic grip of the French Postmodernists on the Universities. It’s a plague that has only got worse. I’d much rather argue with a radical man-hating Feminist than with someone who denies objective reality. Unfortunately the former are treated like pariahs and generally cowed into silence.

Last edited 2 years ago by Simon Newman
Toby McInnis
Toby McInnis
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Newman

Genuine question: have you ever read any of those French Postmodernists for yourself? Because this idea that they ‘deny objective reality’ is just not accurate.
My sense is that an awful lot of people (both in the public eye and the general population) simply regurgitate this idea without having actually read Derrida. Or, perhaps more importantly, having read Heidegger or Saussure.

John Gleeson
John Gleeson
2 years ago
Reply to  Toby McInnis

Genuine question: have you ever read any of those French Postmodernists for yourself?”

Excuse me while I gag. They ALL ask this question about their intellectual leaders, from Marx, Adorno, Chomsky to Foucault or whoever, as their opening gambit – without fail.
It’s anything but genuine.
The insinuation from these intellectual narcissists being that if people had actually read them, they’d love them like they do. Provided of course they had the high level of intellect required to understand them. And anyone who says they have read them and failed to buy in like they have lack, obviously.

It’s a sorry delusion that will always plague humanity.

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
2 years ago
Reply to  Toby McInnis

It does not really matter what the original texts say. What matters is how their adherents behave.

John Jones
John Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Newman

Most man-hating feminists do reject objective reality. That’s how they became hate-mongers in the first place.

andrew harrison
andrew harrison
2 years ago

I was at university to get a degree, nothing more, because I thought it might give me more options in the job market.

Ever thought of plumbing? Now thats a feminist

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

“The rampant elitism endemic within today’s universities has led to “feminist” societies being taken over by dudes sporting man-buns who dictate what feminism actually is to young women. ”
You offer no proof for this contention, and sadly deep-seated bigotry and rabid misandry do not qualify as evidence. Yet.
And given that six in 10 higher education professionals are women, surely even you cannot dispute that your feminist sisters may have been instrumental in driving this development.  
Yet typically you blame men.
Either way, credit for struggling through Judith Butler’s “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity“, which is unequivocally the worst-written book I have had the misfortune of reading.
Yet on other issues, your hero Ms Butler is more lucid, commenting that “understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important”.
She also states that in her view, Hamas and Hezbollah qualifiy as “left” because “they oppose colonialism and imperialism.”
How does a feminist support a movement which is banning women from travelling from Gaza without permission from their husbands, and which advocates the death penalty for being gay?
Does imprisoning the women of Gaza now qualify as “left” and “progressive”?
Weird friends you have, Julie.

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
John Standing
John Standing
2 years ago
Reply to  Eddie Johnson

There are no feminists. There are only victims of neo-Marxism who spout misandry because they are weak and suggestible.

John Lewis
John Lewis
2 years ago

If the gerbil had a degree there is a fair chance it would be Film Studies and Discourse with submissions predicated on the systemic oppression suffered by the non-binary gerbil community.

I wouldn’t be in the least surprised to see the gerbil as a future contributor to Unherd.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  John Lewis

Does anyone know what

I informed him that rape, domestic violence and other forms of male violence are rooted in the material reality of women’s oppression in relation to men.

means? Specifically, what does “rooted in the material reality of women’s oppression in relation to men” mean, and how does it connect with the first part of the sentence?
It sounds like something Julie had read somewhere, thought it sounded intelligent and so repeated it as often as possible without understanding it.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
2 years ago

Universities need to be downsized, localized, some turned into craft colleges; funding needs to be diversified; less academic graduates more apprentices; less automatic mobility; more integration with place and community https://sdp.org.uk/sdptalk/a-localist-model-for-higher-education/

Paul Sorrenti
Paul Sorrenti
2 years ago

why on earth should someone who couldn’t be ar$ed with reading even a broadsheet or any form of literature until the age of 27 be given “more options in the job market”?

There are many people who grow up with no books at home, with parents who don’t/can’t read, and a school that doesn’t engage it’s pupils with the joys of reading. And there are many people who aren’t financially comfortable enough to go to university simply for the educational aspect, to gain a Kreisler-sanctified degree in 14th Century German poetry or whatever it might be. So ‘why on earth’ shouldn’t someone, at the grand-old age of 27, try to get better options of the job market with a degree? Would you ban all those with a similarly poor childhood education from adult education? Sounds a bit . . . oppressive, that

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Sorrenti

The main critique surely is that Julie failed in her studies because she demonstrably did not learn to think, and still can’t. She went in order to tell her polytechnic lecturers what they ought to think, she came out with her prejudices, sexism and bigotry intact and unchanged, and she’d like to be in a position of telling lecturers what to think today, too.
This seems about par for the course for an 80s poly, but it absolutely should not be mistaken for a university education, nor should Julie be regarded as a proper graduate. What a polytechnic was ever doing offering psychobabble courses like hers – as opposed to useful things like plumbing or painting and decorating – courtesy of the taxpayer is another question still.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Sorrenti

You may have missed the part that the author was 27 years old at the time. That’s approaching middle-age. People develop agency (the mental capability to make personal choices) by adolescence. So did she, as she was apparently very engaged in feminism long before she took that Access Course. It’s just that she developed no interest in academia, but in a certain political ideology (feminism) – nothing wrong with that per se, but a university is the wrong venue for pursuing her chosen interests.

And there are many people who aren’t financially comfortable enough to go to university simply for the educational aspect

Do you realise that you’re replying to someone who grew up dirt poor, is still dirt poor, and never went to university? I was born / grew up in the soviet bloc, and the communists took everything from my family in the 1945/46 takeover. I never made it to university, as it wasn’t exactly easy access if you weren’t from the “approved” (prole) background and esp. if you didn’t hide your contempt for the regime. Only thing i had growing up was the abundance of books because my mother spent every penny of her meagre wage on books, art, classical music. So my job prospects and future was determined well before i was born – 20 years before i was born, as i’m only a few years younger than Bindel. By the age of 15 i had a very strong interest in 14th century poetry and various other things, knowing full well that it has sweet effall bearing on my future job prospects.

Would you ban all those with a similarly poor childhood education from adult education? 

Are you saying that all those with a poor childhood develop no interest in learning? That’s terribly, condescendingly, oppressively elitist of you, apart from it being completely untrue.

Last edited 2 years ago by Johannes Kreisler
Paul Sorrenti
Paul Sorrenti
2 years ago

No, I certainly didn’t intend to promote that message. I’m referring to people who do have an interest in learning, and there is still much to be learnt without books. I just don’t see why we should give up on 27 year olds who want to improve their prospects, on the basis that they haven’t previously been readers. I of course knew nothing of your background. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like growing up where you did. I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone who grew up in a genuine communist world, and it’s shame we’re not having this conversation down the pub so I could bore you with questions about it and become enlightened a little. One thing we we have in common though is a fantastic momma. It’s hard to imagine where we’d be without them

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Sorrenti

Thanks for your reply and sorry if i came across a tad too harsh (i happen to do that a lot online).

 there is still much to be learnt without books.

Depends. What happened to me was that i realised early on that i’m a maker, not a thinker. Maker of material objects; which involves a loth of “thinkering” of course in the process, but i’d be deeply unhappy if i was confined to an academic life without making material objects with my hands for a living. (Or at least doing physical labour).
But 1989 was still pretty much before the internet, and i find it hard to imagine how it can (could have been) be possible to learn things without books – unless of course you had a host of educators and masters at your disposal, in person, to learn from.

Paul Sorrenti
Paul Sorrenti
2 years ago

Absolutely. If you don’t have books in your life hopefully you at least know someone who has profited from them. But if we go back even further than the pre-internet days, to the pre-book days, there would have been people who still, one way or another, quenched their thirst for knowledge by seeking new skills and wisdom through word-of-mouth. I wonder though, is that thirst-for-knowledge itself a privilege we learn from some role-model we were lucky enough to have in our lives?
One thing’s for sure, If I could go back in time I would definitely invest myself in a course that respected the making of material objects over theory. And that’s perhaps a lesson you can learn without a book

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Sorrenti

the pre-book days” wow serious BC time

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Sorrenti

Seems this whole comment thread got deleted while i was typing a reply, see if this gets through–

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Sorrenti

Firstly you seem confused between “couldn’t be ar$ed” and lack of access.

Secondly “better options of the job market ” – with that degree – you have to be kidding me.

ps My degree was in Chemical Engineering – full of facts and hard work.

mark taha
mark taha
2 years ago

I have no time for feminists and know Julie Bindel as the woman who wants to persecute for men for paying prostitutes for sex in purely voluntary transactions.

John Standing
John Standing
2 years ago
Reply to  mark taha

Bindel’s activism also falls squarely within the ethnic aspect of feminism’s intellectualisation and practik.

john D
john D
2 years ago
Reply to  mark taha

Purely voluntary? Tell that to the thousands of women trafficked around the world to be raped 10 times a day. You have no idea what voluntary means

Dave Roetman
Dave Roetman
2 years ago

I kept expecting the punchline, the kind when the author ruefully admits that the preceding paragraphs described youthful foolishness.
Thanks for the laughs.

Hilary Davan Wetton
Hilary Davan Wetton
2 years ago

I can recognise this description very readily. But the problem with the narrative is that it polarises a rather subtle issue: we are in the middle of seismic social change and it is actually very hard to navigate. And EXPECTING men to fulfil a Feminist’s worst fears does encourage women to look for troublr where it is not always intended. Everything works better if you try to see every difficult situation from the other person’s point of view before you attack it. Current debate very seldom allows this.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

I have no idea what this article is about and have even less interest in finding out.
Nice tits though.

N Millington
N Millington
2 years ago

When I look back on the good things about my three years at university, I think about the working-class single mothers who somehow managed to fit a degree into their hellishly busy and stressful lives.

You’ve always been a bit too self involved and myopic, Bindel, but this absolutely takes the bloody cake.
I’ve watched the transformation of women into feminists over time, and it’s almost entirely driven by late school and university peer pressure. You are romanticising your past, and you are doing so to make a point about the present.
You were those kids. You were just as stupid, just as short sighted, just as ignorant and just as self centred as they are now. Pretending that because you are an old guard lesbian that you somehow knew better when you were young is the height of arrogance, not to mention some of the absolute guff you’ve spewed into public discourse during your time at the Guardian and other organs.
For the record – going to university to study Film and Discourse is not and never will be a degree you go into for the intent of pursuing a career.

Last edited 2 years ago by N Millington
objectivityistheobjective
objectivityistheobjective
2 years ago

“Two of my final-year essays — were marked very low. They’d been so heavily edited with red pen that they looked as though a vein had been opened over the pages.”

After reading your article, it is easy to see why. This was a poorly written article. There is no prevailing thesis. It comes across as a b***h-fest against anyone who challenged or contradicted you in University. You see the world through such a narrow lens that you miss so much of what is real or true. Not everything is framed through patriarchy and oppression. And the views of professors at University do not represent what every male in the world thinks or believes. You make gross generalizations about others yet take offense when others do that to you. There was no overarching point to this article, and based on your article, I question how you ever managed to get your degree in the first place.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago

Anyway, cannot read any more articles now without paying, so I may as well say, in case my distaste for being manipulated over the right to comment wins, that this platform really is quite good. Good content, and worth my time.

Trishia A
Trishia A
2 years ago

I hate this game of having to not click links, for fear capping my reading allotments. I read from several dozen different sources, there’s no way I could pay for all of that. So I’ve resorted to reacting to titles and leads. Which is terrible, and we always accuse people of “you didn’t read the article”, but social media leads us to all these articles we know will be good reads, but we can’t read it all.
Maybe editors will notice that and create titles and leads that are less clickbait, and more reflective of the article as a whole? I bet not.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago

I became interested in feminism because I was challenged to take an interest following a ferocious row with a younger female relative.
That sounds like an excuse for being interested, and in some ways it is. If I were a feminist I would not trust any man who professed an interest in feminism. Why? Because I am a man, and I know about men, and I know we will construct any narrative, and any identity, we imagine will increase our chances of a leg over (that’s why your male lecturers got their knickers in a twist about so-called sex-negative feminism – much more chance of a bunk-up with a sex positive feminist).
The last book I read (apart from some unreadable dirge I gave up on half way through) was Pornography and Silence by Susan Griffin. I do not have a broad frame of reference for feminist literature, and after all I am something of a stranger in that strange land, but it really had an impact on me. Along with the Female Eunuch I would recommend it as essential reading not for women so much as for men.
We don’t have to be too involved (and it is a kind of trespass, I think) but we can benefit from exposure to the arguments and even change a little. The world does need us to change a little, because 99 percent (surely, at least) of the violence in the world is our doing.

Last edited 2 years ago by Kremlington Swan
Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
2 years ago

What makes you think reading feminist literature will change anything? It is drivel written by fast-life history strategists who crave male power but who are condemned to womanhood. Men are violent and always will be due to our evolutionary history. I could equally say 99% of men are not violent. Does not mean you can change that 1%.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago

Because it changed me. I have no idea why I was carrying around with me a set of sexist (even misogynist) attitudes, but I had pretty much the full set. They haven’t gone, either.
People think you can just get rid of certain attitudes, but they have the immutability of any ingrained habit.
No, the change is in the knowing that these attitudes have no foundation.
I always recommend The Female Eunuch to any man. If you read it you won’t feel superior any more, but you will understand a little better.

But if you’ve read it and found it lacking, then it obviously had nothing to say to you. I only know it turned on a lightbulb for me and made some things comprehensible that had hitherto appeared incomprehensible.
I also recommend Pornography and Silence to people who don’t mind being challenged.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

You are mistaking cause for effect in making your point about violence. If you could somehow remove violence itself from the world, you would have made no change to any of the reasons violence exists in the first place.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

How so? I understand violence quite well. I understand that men are violent because they relish the sensation, just as they (we) relish any other heightened sensation.
Men who are habitually violent are addicted to the sensation it affords them.
I am not an endocrinologist, but it would not surprise me to learn that a function of the male hormone is to produce an appetite for violence. Maybe it has an evolutionary function, this appetite. Sometimes the sensation which ought to be reserved for the special circumstances which legitimise it is sought out by an individual. I think that in some way `I do not understand the craving for sexual sensation is mixed in with the craving for the sensation associated with the performance of a violent act. . That is not hard to imagine as a possibility when you think of all the violence there is in pornography.
We should call that what it is: perversion. Perversion of a normal function.

The bottom line is that the violent person craves a certain sensation.

Last edited 2 years ago by Kremlington Swan
John Jones
John Jones
2 years ago

Do some reading on female leaders. I might change your mind about how much violence women are responsible for.

Or investigate the statistics on female abuse of children. Or the research on domestic violence, which shows that females attack their partners as often as men.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

I don’t dispute that at all. However, in general, men are violent and women are not.

Of course, that does not make women saints. I have found women are habitually manipulative, for example, in a way that men simply are not. Normal men, that is. Narcissists of either gender are so manipulative they know of no other way to be – it is almost their essential being.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
2 years ago

Some men are violent. The far majority isn’t.

John Jones
John Jones
2 years ago

Again, the evidence does not support your view that “in general, men are violent and women are not.”. That’s just sexism.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with ‘sexism’, which was an adaptation of ‘racism’ co-opted by feminists in the 1960s, another useful tool/weapon in their cause.
If men and women are different (I think they are) then what is wrong with sexism ?

Having said that, I disagree with Kremlington Swan, I think men and women are equally capable of violence, women are less able physically to act it out but they can instigate it, as well as encourage and support men to act it out on their behalf, and they do, and always have.
That is why ‘the patriarchy’ theory is such utter nonsense, men and women have different types of power and both s e xes have created our societies and nations.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
dcbatlle
dcbatlle
2 years ago

“These lecturers probably preferred to work with a clean slate than a person who could express opinions as opposed to simply form them from scratch.”
The modern indoctrination centers we call “universities” teach you what to think, not how to think.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
2 years ago

Your story highlights for me what isn’t always understood and recognized as danger: the point at which theory hijacks lived experience and therefore the need for vigilance and the courage to respond appropriately. Thank you.

a b
a b
2 years ago

I wanted “…a ramshackle room full of bookshelves and whiskey decanters, with a don wearing a tweed jacket…”
Red brick” – did you mean ‘grey stone”?

Trishia A
Trishia A
2 years ago

Great article, I also sometimes wish to study feminism, but the criticisms of university feminism are very clear on how futile that would be!
Best line:
“I asked if he thought it was a healthy sexual response to masturbate to women being gagged and raped. He declined to answer.”
Really that says it all. Young adults today are having much less sex than the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and that’s because this post-modernist BS has not only ruined feminism, it has ruined sex for a great many people.
Turns out, the sex-pos crowd have ruined sex. Who’d a thunk!

Last edited 2 years ago by Trishia A
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

“I had a decade of feminist activism under my belt and there is nothing that cannot be studied through the lens of patriarchy.”
Has anyone been able to tell if she’s being self-deprecating here or actually believes this?

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

I understand feminism from the view of sociologist Georg Simmel. He wrote a hundred years ago that women would change the public square to suit a more feminine sensibility.
But I realize now that women don’t like the public square, because, as the author demonstrates, women cannot understand someone that thinks differently from themselves.
Actually, women want to destroy the public square, and I think that would be a pity.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago

Is the pornographic image at the top of this article really necessary?

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago

You’ve led a sheltered life if you think that is pornographic.
Alas, all it does for me is regret my advancing years.
He paid for it, of course, but I do understand why Faust made his pact.

Last edited 2 years ago by Kremlington Swan
john D
john D
2 years ago

An awful lot of fragile snowflake men commenting here trying to justify their misogyny with pseudo intellectual rubbish.
It’s really not a good look. Saying “I love women but I can’t abide feminism”, is only one stop away from “I’m not racist I have black friends” on the dickhead metro line

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  john D

‘Fragile snowflake men’, ‘misogyny’, ‘pseudo intellectual rubbish’, And another word that you got away with but in my case is ‘awaiting for approval’ (sic). A lot of ad hominem attacks in just two sentences, yet curiously lacking in any kind of substance or argument. How about making a grown-up contribution to the discussion? Please remember this isn’t twitter.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew D
Madeleine Morey
Madeleine Morey
2 years ago

Thank you, Julie, for an excellent article.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
2 years ago

A baffling number of misogynists on Unherd

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

Is that because they don’t agree with you?

Serena Dee
Serena Dee
2 years ago

No, it’s because they’re expressing clear hatred of women.

John Standing
John Standing
2 years ago
Reply to  Serena Dee

We love women unreservedly. We hate that neo-marxism has made bitter, de-sexed “wimmin” of them.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Standing
Rick Sharona
Rick Sharona
2 years ago
Reply to  Serena Dee

Men-can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

John Jones
John Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Serena Dee

Can you provide some examples?

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

Just thinking aloud: I half wonder if many of those here, who appear to be so misogynistic, are simply trying to make sense of that which is indeed baffling. I have never met the sort of people who populate this article, and I don’t want to.

John Gleeson
John Gleeson
2 years ago

Misandrists, too

Madeleine Morey
Madeleine Morey
2 years ago

Less baffling if you imagine you’ve accidentally found yourself in the saloon bar of the Fox and Hounds circa 1968.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

I remember that evening so well.
Pity we never found time for breakfast.

Gavin Stewart-Mills
Gavin Stewart-Mills
2 years ago

I enjoyed the article greatly. The main thing I took from it being, here you have (3 decades ago!) an early encounter with the woke elite, in this case male academics, who felt entitled to lecture Julie on what feminism represents. This “we know better” arrogance is now endemic in the academic left. And the SWP bores trying to lecture Julie that feminism was bourgeois, are little different to today’s intersectionalist loons.

The irony is that the left – leaning Uni elite types are, and always have been, at least as misogynistic under their right-on surface as anyone else. Spend a day working in the arts or the music business and you’ll see the biggest male chauvinist relics it’s possible to imagine.

Serena Dee
Serena Dee
2 years ago

There are and they’re never censored even when their comments are nothing more than personal insults. It’s the reason why I won’t buy a membership. I enjoy the articles will not be in the same club as these people. The hatred for women who aren’t passive and submissive, those of us fighting to improve our lot in a misogynist world, is overwhelming in these discussions.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Serena Dee

Not all antifeminists 😉
I identify as one myself, but I have nothing but respect for people like Julie Bindel or Cath Eliott (even if we totally disagree). Moreover, I am hardly the only one – see Simon Newman, above. Women like Jill Filipovic Jessica Valenti, now, that is another matter…

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Filipovic and Valenti are awful, aren’t they.

Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
2 years ago
Reply to  Serena Dee

Pah, “misogynist world”. Women have it all now. And if a pesky man dares to disagree with or displease them they can play the sexism card or turn on the tear taps and get everyone’s sympathy. Feminism is Satanic evil, preventing us from building a Christian society.

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
2 years ago
Reply to  Serena Dee

Did a man hurt you?

dcbatlle
dcbatlle
2 years ago
Reply to  Serena Dee

You sound bitter. Maybe that’s the type of women most men don’t like.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

Well as there are a significant number of feminists who take issue with much of what Ms Bindel writes and says (hence her frequent de-platforming by women’s groups), does this epithet “misogynist” also apply to them?

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
Mark Preston
Mark Preston
2 years ago

Big accusation there. Now how about some supporting evidence?

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago

Maybe, but please don’t treat anti-feminism and misogyny as one and the same. It’s like those people who deliberately conflate Europe and the EU. Just as I love Europe but don’t love the EU, I also love women but don’t love feminism (though it appears the word has as many meanings as people who use it).
Lots of love!
Andrew