Kevin Myers: Like any other ideology, imposed regardless of reality, Malignant Feminism caused misery and chaos
Forty years on, this week, from the publication of Germaine Greers's 'The Female Eunuch' and you can take your pick of the headlines that tell you of TFE's consequences for women, or indeed, lack of them. "Stringfellows lap dancer was women's rights officer" is one deeply enjoyable example: "Padded bras for girls, 9, on the shelves at Asda" provides a different vision, one of a dis-infantalised and sexualised childhood-hell.
As a good little lefty and sympathiser of feminism, I once tried to read TFE: I found it trite, undergraduate bilge. My few proto-feminist braincells withered and died shortly afterwards when I was told by a young woman-television producer from Foxrock: "Being a female in Ireland is like being a black in Soweto."
Feminism is, of course, like socialism or Christianity -- an ideological piece of string that is as long as you want it to be. Most of what we might call the Benign Feminist agenda was already being implemented across Europe before TFE was published. Ireland, of course, was not yet in the EEC and barely in the 20th Century. Legal equality for women here was not really achieved by any political agitations of the Irish feminist movement, which seemed largely content to get headlines and celebrity for a couple of individuals. The famous condom train of 1971 was not followed up on by any further or riskier actions. Both the Labour Party and the trade union movement were, quite scandalously, opposed to equality of pay: it was finally imposed by the EEC Commissioner, Paddy Hillery.