A piece in today’s Times:
At a debate last week about the MeToo movement, the human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy observed that after the flood of allegations of male sexual assault and misbehaviour a backlash was always inevitable.
It turned out that I was the backlash. I was seconding the motion that MeToo had “gone too far”. Unfortunately my team-mate who was supposedly proposing the motion, the veteran feminist Germaine Greer, had decided that MeToo had not just not gone too far but hadn’t even got off the starting blocks. So against Germaine, Helena and her seconder, Sophie Walker of the Women’s Equality Party, as well as a majority of the 1,000-strong audience, I made what felt like a lonely case.
In essence, I said that while some powerful men had reportedly behaved shockingly badly and even criminally towards women, the MeToo movement was demonising men in general and had exhibited disproportionality, complicity and hypocrisy. Oh, and vanity, narcissism and arrogance too.
So you can see I held back. For their part, Helena and Sophie made a passionate case that women were victims of men. There was no acknowledgement that both men and women might sometimes be victims of each other. There was no recognition that women might bear a measure of responsibility for some things that happened to them. Instead, women were presented as entirely passive “fodder” for sexual use and abuse.
Yet in Hollywood some women have profited hugely from their sexualised image. Among those who say they were sexually assaulted, some had not only placed themselves in compromising situations, not only kept quiet about the alleged assaults but continued to enjoy stellar careers and friendships over many years with the men they now say attacked them.
In Britain, so many men have now been falsely accused of rape that the Crown Prosecution Service has opened an inquiry into every case of rape or serious sexual assault to find out how many more men it has wrongly put on trial. The MeToo crowd make no mention of this. They complain instead of the injustice done to women by a rape conviction rate that’s too low. By what conceivable measure, though, is this “too low”? Only according to the MeToo mantra that all women claiming rape are telling the truth and all men accused of rape are guilty. This inverts the presumption of innocence and leads directly to gross injustice against men whose lives are destroyed by false allegations. Yet the MeToo crowd can’t see this at all because, to them, women are solely the victims of injustice at the hands of men.
Sophie Walker actually claimed that we were living in a patriarchy. Britain has a woman prime minister, a woman home secretary, a woman director of public prosecutions, a woman head of the Supreme Court, a woman running the Metropolitan Police. Political parties have all-women shortlists. Education has been feminised through collaborative coursework and the denigration of competition.
For many women, men have been reduced to little more than sperm donors and walking wallets. They have been told that all the characteristics or roles they value so highly such as valour, leadership or breadwinning are dangerous, pathetic or demeaning.
All this is apparently irrelevant. Declared Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, QC — a member of the UK legislature, principal of Mansfield College, Oxford and former chairwoman of the Genetics Commission, the Power Commission and the British Council: “Power is coded male.” Should one laugh or cry?
There are indeed women who really are powerless and institutionally victimised by men. Yet no MeToo movement has sprung up to protest against their oppression. What is the feminist reaction to women victimised by Sharia, subjected to female genital mutilation or “honour” killings or stoned to death for adultery? Silence. What is the feminist reaction to the Iranian women ripping off their headscarves and putting their lives on the line to get rid of the clerical regime that tyrannises them? Silence. What is the feminist reaction to the poor white girls of Telford or Rotherham who have been pimped, raped and enslaved by mostly Pakistani-heritage Muslim gangs? Silence.
Instead, the great protest against their own alleged victimisation and oppression is being mounted by women in the West, the most free, most independent, most educated and most wealthy women in the world today and in the history of the human race.
Back in the Nineties, I had begun to realise that, far from sharing my concern to defend the vulnerable against abuses of power, feminists and other so-called progressives were actually on the other side. This drift into heresy had been noticed. A note was pinned to the noticeboard at The Guardian newspaper where I then worked. “She may be a woman,” a female colleague had written there about me, “but she isn’t a sister.”
At the debate, Baroness Kennedy said it saddened her that women were part of the backlash against MeToo because that made them “part of the hegemony that holds the status quo in place”. I suppose that was me too.
I’m sad that Helena Kennedy was sad about me. I’m much more sad, however, about the injustice, gender-hate and sub-Marxist claptrap that now passes for “feminist” thought — a betrayal of the cause of women everywhere.
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