Deluded feminists divide us and imperil basic freedoms
Women have achieved much of what they wanted, but now the grievance-mongers have taken over, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards
This is a "trigger warning". Reach for the smelling salts, victims of the patriarchy. I intend to be offensive.
For the benefit of challenged readers, here is the Urban Dictionary's definition of the term: "A phrase [whose] purpose is to warn weak-minded people who are easily offended that they might find what is being posted offensive in some way due to its content, causing them to overreact or otherwise start acting like a dipshit."
I mentioned on Facebook, last week, my amusement that my IRA-sympathising Twitter critics had moved as a body from one hymn to another. These people cannot grasp that I subscribe to the adage: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me." Instead of calling me an "ugly old c***", they've taken to explaining that I'm deranged, crazy, mad, should be committed and so on. So my comrade Nick Cohen, the doughtiest of doughty fighters for free speech, posted the comment: "That's outrageous. You are not that old."
That, touchy feminists, is what is known as a "joke".
I did not have hysterics and flee to a safe space, which is defined by that same dictionary as "a place where college students can go if they have been subjected to ideas that differ from the progressive narrative. These safe spaces have pillows, soothing music and an understanding, sympathetic staff."
Nor did I report Nick to the police and demand he be silenced. I laughed.
It has been one of the joys of my life that mutual respect and easy friendship between men and women, which was unusual in Ireland and Britain in my youth, became a norm in these islands. My younger friends are unselfconsciously at ease with the opposite sex, and mutual teasing is a part of that. All this is undermined by the tiny minority of women who are helping the struggle for equality to mutate into the assault on free speech that is modern feminism.
In my lifetime, with the help of many sympathetic men, in the West, women achieved equality in education, employment, pay, marriage and pretty well everything that mattered. There were no issues outstanding that could not be worked through with persistence and goodwill.
And then, the grievance-mongers and seekers after victimhood took over, and, inevitably, academics got involved and made everything worse with intellectually contemptible theories and jargon.
I was watching this coming in the early 1990s, when I wrote a satirical crime novel, set in Cambridge, called Matricide at St Martha's: it involved a lethal row over a large bequest to the college which some fellows wanted spent on a Centre for Gender and Ethnic Studies.
The book's unapologetic opponent of political correctness explained in a speech to students: "For my generation, female liberation was about casting off the shackles imposed on women by society and rejoicing in the freedom to be human beings. It is therefore with alarm that we have seen the trend on the campuses of America, and even here, toward the pursuit of victimhood: I believe our job is to escape it, not pursue it.
"I want St Martha's to be a college in which liberated women follow their stars, not one in which feeble throwbacks to the Victorian era whimper about hurt feelings, bitch about political correctness and act like frightened virgins if a man touches them without a pre-witnessed contract."
That was 21 years ago. Since then, as they squabble about nonsense, the new brigade of self-styled social-justice warriors have become ever more indoctrinated and crazed. Infected with the modish concept of the interconnectivity of race, capitalism and gender, and ill-informed and intellectually incurious, they hunt in packs for evidence of oppression, demanding complete conformity and screaming for the silencing of anyone who would challenge them.
Their chief allies are equally illiberal and touchy gays, lesbians, transsexuals, members of ethnic minorities and so on, as well as the totalitarian left and wimpish university administrators who cave in to demands for censorship.
Consider the No Platform policy, as exemplified here: "Birmingham City Students' Union is an environment that promotes multiculturalism and equality, racists and fascists should not be provided with the opportunity to speak to an audience at any Union event. Nor shall any Union officer share a platform with any known racist or fascist at any event where they are invited to speak. Birmingham City Students' Union promotes itself as a safe space and is active in campaigning against all forms of discrimination".
It goes without saying that racists and fascists are very broad terms and, these days, include those who - like the legendary feminist Germaine Greer - consider that undergoing sex-change surgery doesn't make you a woman.
Cardiff University students launched a petition to stop her speaking in Cardiff on Women and Power in the 21st Century: Kellie Maloney, once a boxing promoter called Frank, believes she should be "dragged into court" and "punished".
On campuses, with war being waged on "lad-ism" and wild allegations being made about rape-culture, men are becoming frightened of challenging women, lest they are accused of harassment, discrimination, sexism or God knows what.
A Cardiff student called David Sherratt explained last week why he is part of MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way): "I'm genuinely too scared to go near a woman, just in case. At university, I'm made to feel like a rapist all the time."
And in the workplace, men are nervous that saying the wrong thing might lead to a complaint or a lawsuit.
Listen, you social-justice warriors, you need to get a sense of perspective and (trigger warning) man up. The West is now in a war against Islamists - violent fundamentalists who would enslave all women and murder all those they consider deviants.
Men, women and the transgendered should all be standing up to this terrible threat together: for most of us, our main weapon to challenge this toxic ideology is through the freedom of speech they hate.
Chuck that away and the barbarians really have won.