Going to hell in a eunuch-shaped handcart.

// 10 November 2009

I think we all know that Daily Failers live on another planet, but this article by Quentin Letts – taken from his fourthcoming book ‘Bog-Standard Britain’ – is so out of touch I was almost sick with laughter. In a gutter. While having an abortion. With my belly hanging rather unbecomingly over my appallingly low waistband. And it’s all Germaine Greer’s fault.

Yes, ladies, it’s ‘first ladette’ Greer we have to thank for binge drinking, casual sex, high heels, violence against women, teenage pregnancies, the breakdown of holy matrimony, the loss of good ol’ fashioned feminine demureness and the prospect of more women dying at sea should a large cruise liner hit an iceberg any time soon:

When the RMS Titanic sank in 1912, a large proportion of the female passengers survived, but 80 per cent of the men on board went down with the ship, doomed by chivalry. They had observed the code of ‘women and children first’ to the lifeboats.

Would that happen today? After the onslaughts of sexual equality, it seems unlikely. Anyone using such a term on a modern-day Titanic would probably find himself rapped on the shoulder by the ship’s diversity champion and told he had uttered a sexist comment which would be investigated by the relevant authorities, just as soon as the lifeboats reached land.

In a nutshell, Letts’ article is the classic ‘feminists made women shag around so men don’t need to bother trying to be nice to them any more and everything’s gone down the shitter’ argument. There’s a whole raft of quotable bollocks to choose from (women drink to try and ‘show how free they are’, anyone?) but my absolute favourite is his take on marriage:

In Shakespeare’s day the gap-toothed country girl offering easy pleasure would later exact her price – the ball and chain of marriage.

Yet thanks to the messianic toil of the equality crowd, marriage has gone down the khazi, discarded by scowling intellectuals as a form of religio-sexual bondage, institutional sexism minted at the altar of a male-run religion.

And so women have been denied the financial and romantic security which came with marital vows. Women’s lib gave men an excuse not to make a commitment and many of them promptly took it.

Because becoming a lifelong domestic and sexual servant really worked to the woman’s advantage, eh? I for one am downright disappointed that I no longer have to pledge my life and my vagina away just to get a bit of late night hanky panky. Damn you Greer! And damn you again for destroying chivalry, the only thing preventing those wild, brutish men from punching me in my alcohol-ravaged face:

Hedonistic? Exciting? Novel? Daring? Germaine Greer’s glory days were all of those. But the loss of dignity they entailed meant that the standing of women deteriorated.

With that, the conduct of men worsened. They no longer felt they owed their female acquaintances any sort of behavioural discount.

Statistics suggest that violent behaviour against women – and even by women against men – has risen. If women were to be treated equally, as Miss Greer demanded, surely it became no worse to hit a woman than a geezer. So certain cavemen seemed to think.

The very notion of being a gent became redundant if men and women were the same.

Like many misogynists, Letts seems to have almost as little faith in men as he does in women. (And like many Daily Fail writers, he has no concept of the difference between a rise in the reporting of crime and an actual rise in criminal activity.)

I almost feel sorry for the man.

Comments From You

Elmo // Posted 10 November 2009 at 9:56 pm

Laura, the fact that his name is Quentin is all the proof we need that he is out of touch.

I think i may have to go and cry now.

Bea // Posted 10 November 2009 at 10:50 pm

ha haa!! I love it, ‘the onslaughts of sexual equality..’ Does he really think he is presenting a compelling, non-sensationalist piece of journalism? He must know that this is bullshit. Surely no-one is going to take this seriously?? Sadly I fear that many a daily fail reader will swallow this down in his armchair and feel reasurred that Germaine Greer is infact the source of all evil.

The Titanic reference is just totally non-sensical. He seems to want to tug at our heart strings for the loss of so many chivalric gents, yet suggests that chivalry is such a grand tradition that it would be audacious to reject or question it. In which era would he prefer the disaster to have taken place?? I am unsure..

Also, it really pissed me off how he describes Germaine’s ‘glory days’ as ‘Daring’. Fucking patronising.

Deya // Posted 10 November 2009 at 11:21 pm

I wonder if the Daily Mail works hard to scour the nation for people with such special abilities as this guy. Note the message he sends to us, the readers, by referring to her as “Miss” Greer. Obviously a genius.

He’s blaming women for violence against women and all mistreatment of women. This very refreshing and original idea has been explored further by the Daily Mail in: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1226157/Vogue-editor-Alexandra-Shulman-asks-boss-hire-woman.html . What a paper. They see to it that we just can’t get enough.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 10 November 2009 at 11:32 pm

Something else I’ve just learned Quentin Letts is an expert on social history. Why? Because Letts claims

‘In Shakespeare’s day the gap-toothed country girl offering easy pleasure would later exact her price – the ball and chain of marriage. …..And so women have been denied the financial and romantic security which came with marital vows. Women’s lib gave men an excuse not to make a commitment and many of them promptly took it.’

‘Romantic security which came with marital vows’ ah I think Letts was referring to men’s entitlement of conjugal rights wherein once married a wife could not refuse her husband sexual access to her body – marital rape was not marital rape because until late this century the law deemed a husband could not be charged with raping his wife – because she was his sexual property.

Ah those old, old golden days when men could rape and commit other forms of sexual and physical violence against women because you know it was right for men to use violence in order to keep ‘uppity women in their subordinate place.’ Letts also knows nothing about the Foundling Hospital founded in the 18th century by Thomas Coram because he wanted to help women who had children out of wedlock and were condemned by patriarchal society as ‘deviants.’ The fathers of course remained invisible because it was always the woman’s responsibility. Coram did not condemn these women but Letts of course knows nothing about women’s social herstory.

Letts also doesn’t know that for centuries women once married were deemed to be the husband’s property and that only when a woman was widowed could she regain her own property if she was in the fortunate position of owning said property. Widowhood was for many women the first time they experienced any freedom because no longer were they the property of their fathers/brothers or husbands but independent in their own right. But it was only women who were middle class or belonged to the nobility – poor women irrespective of their marital status did not have any property or sufficient money to lift them out of poverty. So it is more complicated than Letts’ simplistic claims.

During Shakespeare’s time a large number of women who today would be classed as middle class owned their own businesses and it was not unusual for women to be jointly responsible for operating what we would now term businesses which were then skilled crafts. Only with the rise of the middle classes due in part to the industrial revolution and changing working practices were middle class women deemed to be ‘too fragile’ to manage businesses or even to jointly manage their husbands’ businesses. Whilst some did it was seen as not ‘quite respectable.’

As regards the law – women’s rights were meagre to say the least and there are innumerable documented cases involving male sexual violence against women and this includes Shakespeare’s time wherein men charged with these offences were routinely acquitted. Reason was because it was women’s fault for ‘provoking men to commit sexual and/or physical violence against them.’ Some things still haven’t changed that much since ‘provocation’ is still seen as a reasonable justification when men murder their female/ex-female partners.

Letts claims women are now as equally as violent as men but once again he only demonstrates his ignorance of the facts. Violence continues to be disproportionately committed by men against women not women against men. But if one views every act of female violence against men as ‘deliberate violence’ wherein the injuries sustained against men are as serious as injuries men inflict on women, as well as ignoring the fact women who commit violence against male partners do so in self-defence, then of course claims women are equally as violent as men will appear to be true.

Chivalry – another term used to reinforce men’s domination over women. Chivalry is fine when it is about opening doors for women but chivalry is not about treating women as full human beings but rather as ones who are either entitled to ‘men’s chivalry’ which is about reducing women to passive things, or else women are classifed as ‘deviant’ and hence treated with contempt or subjected to male sexual violence, because ‘she brought it on herself.’

depresso // Posted 10 November 2009 at 11:48 pm

I love how marriage goes from “the ball and chain” to being discarded down the “khazi” in the space of a sentence. The Daily Mail should really patent whatever it is they give to their writers that allows the dissonance to burn so bright, and consider marketing it as a prescription drug. For those that wish to suffer paranoid delusions of grandeur.

Shea // Posted 10 November 2009 at 11:59 pm

Oh I love this.

“In Shakespeare’s day the gap-toothed country girl offering easy pleasure would later exact her price – the ball and chain of marriage.

Yet thanks to the messianic toil of the equality crowd, marriage has gone down the khazi, discarded by scowling intellectuals as a form of religio-sexual bondage, institutional sexism minted at the altar of a male-run religion.

And so women have been denied the financial and romantic security which came with marital vows. Women’s lib gave men an excuse not to make a commitment and many of them promptly took it. ”

That doesn’t even make sense for Chrissake!

And so trapping men into marriage with sex was a very good thing in Quentin’s book?

Also had to laugh at his vulgar misogynist terms: “slapper”, “fat faced tramps”. Sounds like Quentin is bitterly resentful of the beautiful young women drinking and shagging — as far as possible away from him!

Really he got a book published?!?! Really ?!?!?

Mind you the comments section surprised me- there are a fair number of highly rated comments slating his article for the misogynistic drivel it is.

Janis // Posted 11 November 2009 at 6:26 am

What a complete and utter plonker. Why is crap like this still able to be published in what in some circles passes for a daily newspaper? Why is it acceptable to foment hatred of women like this?

And for pity’s sake, what has good manners got to do with feminism? Why are the two mutually exclusive? I don’t get that.

Aimee // Posted 11 November 2009 at 8:51 am

This is so ridiculous it’s funny.

Lindsey // Posted 11 November 2009 at 9:28 am

“And damn you again for destroying chivalry, the only thing preventing those wild, brutish men from punching me in my alcohol-ravaged face”

I think I just snorted coffee ;)

childerowland // Posted 11 November 2009 at 9:29 am

The Titantic ‘argument’ is so ridiculous: Women should be subordinate to men for their entire lives and in return, in the incredibly unlikely event that they find themselves in a life or death situation in which only a limited number of people can survive, women’s lives will be given priority. Wow, what a fair bargain!

The thing about the Titantic is that a lot more people would have survived if more lifeboats had been provided and more people had got into the lifeboats that they had. So the men weren’t ‘doomed by chivalry’ so much as ‘doomed by poor planning in the event of a disaster’.

And so women have been denied the financial and romantic security which came with marital vows.

Except that thanks to ‘women’s lib’ women don’t have to depend on men for financial security anymore! As for ‘romantic security’, does he really believe that married men never have affairs?

sianmarie // Posted 11 November 2009 at 10:19 am

what a prick. i mean, i always knew he was a prick, but really.

if we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times – women are not to blame for domestic violence, the person who does the violence is responsible. no one in their right minds thinks equality means the equal opportunity to hit anyone you like. do people really belief this crap!

hmm, i expect they do.

and what is all this bullshit about marriage! marriage is apparently the ultimate goal for a woman and the only way to get security, and we feminists have screwed that up for women? puhlease!

oh man i am so sick of this bullshit being peddled as publishable work (i am a much better writer than letts – where is my publishing deal!) and i am in such a foul mood today i don’t even have the energy to laugh at the idiocy.

Ria // Posted 11 November 2009 at 12:52 pm

Ah, I love the smell of blithering witlessness in the morning- or early afternoon at this stage.. young Letts forgets himself, tragically!

Juliet // Posted 11 November 2009 at 1:39 pm

You REALLY have to wonder how some people get paid for their writing. Or maybe not, because it’s too bloody depressing.

Laura, you are much braver than I am. The second I saw that headline and photo, I thought, Oh no! Do not go into that dark and terrifying place.

Anna // Posted 11 November 2009 at 1:42 pm

“The teenager who gives birth to a couple of bastards”

Can we complain? Can we? Please?

Lara // Posted 11 November 2009 at 3:06 pm

This is probably one of the best things I have ever read. And not least because it’s written in some weird parodic Ye Olde English (the funny antiquated bits of Cloud Atlas meets the ‘and we were all very drunk’ guy from the Fast Show ).

I wonder why the Mail have decided to use Germaine’s name as the headline pull, as she only seems to feature in about a third of the article? He goes on about bloody haircuts for another third. Is it purposefully contentious? Surely it would have been better titled as ‘arbitrary things that inexplicably irritate some no-mark posho’?

Denise // Posted 11 November 2009 at 3:48 pm

As childerowland points out, a lot of men – as well as ‘third class’ female passengers and children – on the Titanic were doomed by the lack of lifeboats, not self-sacrificing notions of chivalry. At the inquiry into the disaster many men (including crew members) were condemned for putting on women’s clothing in order to get into lifeboats. And the most famous survivor of the disaster was a man, Bruce Ismay, the owner’s son.

But hey, you wouldn’t expect hard facts and documented evidence to get in the way of this particular piece of vile, misogynist crap. Or wonder if the author just might have any moral dilemma about it being completely inappropriate to use a disaster in which hundreds of people died as an analogy for the vile, misogynist crap. Every time I think the Daily Hate can’t get any worse, they still surprise me.

I think there is something seriously wrong with the psyche of a nation which even tolerates this crap being printed.

Denise // Posted 11 November 2009 at 3:57 pm

AND a lot of wives decided to stay on the doomed ship and die along with their husbands.

Sorry to harp on about the Titanic when there’s so much else, but I think it is an absolute disgrace that Letts tries to deny and twist the facts of a tragedy to fit his disgusting misogynist rant.

Amy // Posted 11 November 2009 at 5:14 pm

Lol @ how he keeps bringing Germaine Greer into his little life story.

More female hatred by the daily mail – according to my American friend, the Mail is famous for its misogyny overseas.

The first step for UK feminism is to take it down :)

Sarah // Posted 11 November 2009 at 6:01 pm

Just btw, It’s eunuch, with two U’s.

Kiri // Posted 11 November 2009 at 7:02 pm

I would expect nothing less from the Daily Fail. Lovely dissection, Laura.

Laura // Posted 11 November 2009 at 8:01 pm

Ack, thanks for pointing that out Sarah, I was rather sleepy last night.

Hannah // Posted 11 November 2009 at 10:28 pm

This was truly vile from beginning to end, although i’m not quite sure what point he was trying to make with the bit about shaved heads at the end – really bizarre. I think we can conclude that the only women he likes exist in some fantasy timewarp.

Emilie Crouch // Posted 3 December 2009 at 11:48 pm

I’m *so* glad someone else picked up on this bloody awful article – it had me ranting for the next few days to anyone, whether they were listening or not. In fact, I was so outraged that one wit in my seminar group now calls me ‘The Violent Feminist’. Think I might get that put on a t shirt…

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