December 17 2000
Lyndon and the women: what Sunday Times readers think
IF Neil Lyndon was one of the millions of women stalked, raped, beaten and murdered by men each year - two a week murdered by male partners in this country alone - he might really know what it is to be "hounded by hate" (News Review, December 3 and last week). As it is, what he is complaining about is women who have had the temerity to disagree with him, including an ex-wife who - incredibly - wanted custody of her own child. I wonder if she drank that much before she married such a whining bore? Next time William Hague disagrees with Tony Blair during Question Time, can we expect the PM to squeal, "Ooo, William, stop hounding me with hate"?
Surely this is the me-too victim culture gone mad? I'm afraid the reason why Lyndon is not a household name in his chosen profession is far less exotic than a feminist cabal keeping him out; it is simply that he is not a very good writer. In a piece of hate-driven rhetoric such as his, even he should have been able to make a few phrases dance and sparkle. Instead it had all the fire and dazzle of a complaints letter to the Radio Times attached to a lead balloon.
Why has feminism gone unrefuted, when its philosophical foundations are so obviously weak? Lyndon blames the feminists for destroying his already failing marriage, and for his loss of custody of his child - all because he wrote an article attacking them. He obscures a real issue of justice: the rights of fathers in divorce. He wants to engage with feminism, take its arguments seriously, and there lies his error. Every man knows it is pointless to fight a woman: if you lose you're a wimp, if you win you're a bully.
Educated middle-class men soon learn the new verbal rules; we don't say chauvinistic things any more - openly. Feminism is merely frivolous wordplay. Journalistic fashion has favoured women over men for 30 years. Let them twitter. They're still frightened to go out at night.
I was not surprised Lyndon received a trouncing at the hands of his female journalist peers. I have encountered the same closed-mindedness whenever I try to discuss the same issue with my female peers at University College London. I have now been labelled a sexist, male chauvinist etc and I am growing weary of these unoriginal names.
With the current mood of girl power, are we heading for a society where the role of men is so marginalised we are nothing more than genetic code carriers? There was one occasion when the lady I offered my seat to on the Tube blankly refused and ranted at how my action was a sly way of "keeping her in her place".
At the time my reaction was that the only thing which would keep this woman in her place was a backhand across the face. Such a response would not have maintained the gentlemanly act I initiated and so I retreated at the next stop. I think it's time men stood up for ourselves. We should go back to the old code of the gentleman.
Three quarters of the way through Lyndon's extended self-justification (and quite a lot of "poor me"), he gets cross and accidentally reveals himself as the unreconstructed male chauvinist pig he clearly is.
Lyndon's recollections of his disastrous tangle with 1980s feminism show that we do not live in an enlightened society at all. He encountered head-on what others have termed liberal fascism - the tendency to shout down anybody who is churlish enough to criticise or question a fashionable cause. Unfortunately for Lyndon, that hard-nosed credo which he sought to expose has now been distilled into what The New York Times called "bimbo feminism", hardly worth a protest march let alone a fatwa.
Selby, North Yorkshire
I still have Neil Lyndon's original article. He was right to have written about such issues, but he should have published it under a female name. It has always been okay for women to criticise men, but not the other way round.
I can see why Lyndon and his book were treated like this. They expose feminism for the deceit it is. My only criticism of his thesis is that, like so many men, he tries to look on the bright side and hopes he can see light at the end of the tunnel. How wrong could he be? This nightmare will end only when everyone stands up and says no more.
Co Roscommon, Ireland
Feminism is not to blame for the loss of Lyndon's child, the legal system is. At present, because of the volume of divorces, the level of behaviour exhibited by the mother has to be extreme for her to lose custody. The current draconian system of confrontation does nobody any good, especially the children.
North Berwick, East Lothian
Lyndon must have realised that he would once again release the hounds of hell, so full credit to you for going ahead anyway. No doubt the more unreasonable brand of feminist will again oblige by demonstrating a level of sexism the average "lads mag" editor would be embarrassed to be caught in possession of. If he were a woman behaving in the same way, his detractors would characterise him as "feisty" and "outspoken".
Must we really be subjected to Lyndon's paranoid rant about the dissolution of his marriage? I vaguely remember his view on feminism and thought then, as I do now, that it was personal vitriol thinly disguised as crusading journalism.
Copyright 2000, Times Newspapers Ltd.