The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Incoherence of Liberal Feminism

Posted on | September 23, 2014 | 36 Comments

Laurie Penny (@PennyRed) is a trendy young female British writer who, like trendy young women everywhere, calls herself a “feminist,” a habit that annoys the hell out of actual feminists:

From: “Catherine Brennan” <[email protected]>
Date: October 20, 2013 7:05:21 PM
To: Jason Cowley, [email protected]
Subject: Fwd: Internet bullying
Mr. Cowley –
I am writing because your contributing writer, Laurie Penny, has spent much of her time today defaming me on her Twitter feed. See attached. I am astonished that this is considered responsible conduct for a journalist, especially as she has stated that she plans on writing a “news article” about something related to my alleged conduct (relying, apparently, on a Rational Wiki entry created by Men’s Rights Activists. How credible). I am forwarding this exchange to my lawyer in the UK for further action. Please be advised that New Statesman will be liable for any defamation Ms. Penny prints.
Kind regards,
Cathy Brennan

What did Laurie Penny do that elicited that response? It involved the ongoing radical feminist quarrel with transgender activists over “woman-only space” and, Brennan says, Penny “regularly tweets abusive misinformation about lesbians and radical feminism.”

So there you go.

As always in such arguments, I agree with Cathy Brennan: Real feminism is about radical dykes destroying the patriarchy, which has nothing to do with the incoherent and contradictory noises emitted by silly girls who want to strike a fashionable pose.

Laurie Penny is a “feminist” like David Brooks is a “conservative.”

This is the kind of idiocy “feminist” Laurie Penny writes:

“If you’ve a ladyboner for sexist schmuckweasels,
short hair isn’t going to help, although they might let you
administer a disappointing hand-job.”

Does anybody know what she’s trying to say there? She meant to say that “short hair [for women] is a political statement,” but this blew up into a lot of Twitter squabbling over . . . . well, whatever.

Of course, she’s a victim — that is always the moral of the story for these Trendy Young Feminists: “Waaahh! People hate me!

Feminist author Laurie Penny has been subjected to “a stream of vile sexist and anti-Semitic abuse” as part of a campaign against her book Unspeakable Things, she says. . . .
However in a blog post Ms Penny said she had had “quite a weekend” as she experienced a “predictable sexist troll backlash”.
“In the past 24 hours, I have been subjected to a stream of vile sexist and anti-semitic abuse on Twitter and elsewhere,” she wrote.
“This has become a normal part of my life as a person who dares to write in public whilst being both female and left-wing, but this weekend it’s been particularly full on.”

Let me remind you of McCain’s Law of Feminism:

There are three kinds of feminism:

  1. Feminism that is wrong.
  2. Feminism that is crazy.
  3. Feminism that is both wrong and crazy.

(When in doubt, it’s usually Number Three.)

It would seem that Laurie Penny’s variety of feminism boils down to telling British women, “Vote Labour, because . . . vagina!”

Never mind whether Labour does anything that actually helps women. All that matters is how women can help Labour.

There is no reason why anyone should bother sending hate-mail to Laurie Penny, because she’s nothing but another clever young girl trying to get rich selling books to slightly-less-clever girls who need someone to tell them why they should be left-wingers:

According to her publishers, Unspeakable Things is a “ruthless” dissection of modern feminism and class politics.
“This is a book about poverty and prejudice, online dating and eating disorders, riots in the streets and lies on the television,” it says. “The backlash is on against sexual freedom for men and women and social justice — and feminism needs to get braver. Penny speaks for a new feminism that takes no prisoners, a feminism that is about justice and equality, but also about freedom for all.”

How many “new feminism” books must these clever young girls write before their intended readership wises up to the fact that “new feminism” is nothing more than a marketing hustle? Laurie Penny couldn’t possibly say anything truly new about feminism, because it’s all been said before by women who, like Laurie Penny, hoped to ride the movement to fame and fortune. Their failures are legendary. Shulamith Firestone, for example, published The Dialectic of Sex in 1970, rapidly descended into a maelstrom of paranoid psychosis, and died alone at age 67.

Yeah, baby — “ruthless.”

Of course, as anyone who has ever read The Dialectic of Sex understands, Shulamith Firestone was crazy long before she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I’ve got a copy of her book on my desk, where it’s sitting atop the volume of feminist essays in which Sally Miller Gearhart outlines her lesbian plan to reduce males to 10 percent of the human population. You can say Professor Gearhart is crazy, but you can’t say she is necessarily wrong. If you accept the feminist premise that heterosexuality is both the cause and effect of women’s oppression, then if you advocate a genocidal campaign to eliminate males and convert all females to lesbianism . . . Well, you see, Professor Gearhart’s conclusion follows logically from her premises.

They may be crazy, but lesbian feminists at least have integrity.

“Political Lesbianism is the radical feminist idea that Women can ‘choose’ to be Lesbians, and that such ‘choice’ is a way for Women to escape the shackles of Compulsory Heterosexuality. It enables Women to politically and personally ally with other Women. In effect, Political Lesbianism allows Women a framework to reorder our priorities — it gives Women space and room to maneuver as we navigate the Heterosexual grooming all Women experience. As Feminists, many of us, in exploring our ideas about Woman-hating culture, realize that Lesbianism can bring us to experience deeper connection to and intimacy with other Women, an experience many of us want, need and crave. . . .
“The process of deconstructing the Woman you were groomed to be from girlhood is lifelong and never ending – even for Real Lesbians.
“Thus, we are Political Lesbians and choose to be a Lesbian in a Woman-Hating culture. We choose to love Women and put them at the center of our lives. All Women can do this.”

Cathy Brennan, 2012

“Male sexual violence against women and ‘normal’ heterosexual intercourse are essential to patriarchy because they establish the dominance of the penis over the vagina, and thus the power relations between the sexes.”
Professor Dee Graham, University of Cincinnati, 1993

“Fucking is a large part of how females are kept subordinated to males. It is a ritual enactment of that subordination which constantly reaffirms the fact of subordination and habituates both men and women to it, both in body and in imagination.”
Professor Marilyn Frye, Michigan State University, 1983

“The lesbian is the woman obviously who unites the personal and the political in the struggle to free ourselves from the oppressive institution. . . .
“Proceeding from the premise that women are oppressed by the heterosexual institution, that women are an oppressed class, that from the point of view the man has become (if he was not always) the natural enemy of women, it follows that the continued collusion of any woman with any man is an event that retards the progress of woman supremacy.”

Jill Johnston, Lesbian Nation, 1973

It’s only logical, you see? If “women are an oppressed class,” then heterosexual intercourse “reaffirms the fact of subordination” for women, which is “essential to patriarchy,” and lesbianism is the only way females can “escape the shackles” of male supremacy.

Once you accept the premise that every misfortune or unhappiness any woman experiences is a result of male oppression, if you believe that anything in the world which seems “unfair” is also social injustice, then the feminist syllogism can have but one conclusion.

Radical lesbians like Cathy Brennan are women who have followed the feminist argument to its only logical conclusion. Of course, if you study feminism’s history, many movement leaders were lesbians first and feminists later, but does that distinction really matter? What finally matters is that radical lesbians are at least consistent in their interpretation of feminism’s anti-male/anti-heterosexual ideology. And, occasionally, their radical logic leads them to conclusions that are actually true: Pornography and prostitution are not “empowering” or “liberating” for women, and a man in a wig and a dress does not become a “woman” by injecting himself with estrogen.

Whereas, by contrast, the next time Laurie Penny tells the truth, it will also be the first time she tells the truth.

Cathy Brennan must certainly be glad that Laurie Penny is not a lesbian. If Laurie Penny became a lesbian, homophobia would flourish, because everybody hates Laurie Penny. Or everybody should hate Laurie Penny, and I’m sure everybody eventually will.




36 Responses to “The Incoherence of Liberal Feminism”

  1. M. Thompson
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 6:38 pm

    With friends like Laurie Penny, do feminists need enemies?

  2. DeadMessenger
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 7:05 pm

    I expect silly young women with no chops to write foolish things. But for a publisher to refer to Laurie-Penny-esque writing as “ruthless” is beyond the pale. The first rule of successful marketing is that the message should have at least a shred of credibility to it. If there were any truth in advertising here, it would have had to have been called “gibbering”.

  3. RKae
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

    Gee, Laurie, maybe people call you a lesbian as an insult because if, as the radicals believe, lesbianism is a path chosen to strike a blow against heteronormative patriarchy, then it’s a wildly irrational reaction to fantasy oppression.

    In this view, a woman who chooses political-statement-lesbianism is like a nut who makes a nail-bomb to kill random police officers because he is convinced that they are all agents of the Illuminati/Zionist Occupational Secret Government. In both cases, it’s people who have not only fed their brains a steady diet of nothing but slanted, paranoid viewpoints, but are now acting on those viewpoints in an outlandish manner.

  4. RKae
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 8:28 pm

    If there’s anybody more pseudo-intellectual and “college-fed dumb” than a publisher, I have yet to meet them.

  5. Adobe_Walls
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

    Of course they need enemies. All leftwing movements need enemies.

  6. M. Thompson
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 8:35 pm

    True, but I was asking a rhetorical question there.

  7. Jeanette Victoria
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 8:44 pm

    How hard can it be to write yet another insightful groundbreaking book on feminism?

  8. Durasim
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 8:48 pm

    Laurie Penny started a public row with historian David Starkey during a public debate about the Rochdale sexual trafficking scandal in Britain, calling him a “racist” and then accusing him of being a greedy tax evader.

    Starkey didn’t like that and pointed out how she was invited to another debate but then demanded such an exorbitant fee that it had to be cancelled. Then he told her off and said “I will not be lectured to by a jumped-up public school girl like you!”

    Laurie Penny then admitted she did this because she was afraid of the “violence” in Starkey’s discussion.

    Yes, Laurie Penny is quite “ruthless.” Unless some diminutive homosexual academic actually raises his voice and shakes his finger at her.

  9. Adobe_Walls
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 9:14 pm

    Understood, had to be said anyway.

  10. M. Thompson
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

    But then, they do have a Nixonian tendancy to having them.

  11. DeadMessenger
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 9:38 pm

    We should collaborate on one. All we have to do is create a random feminist/lesbian/Marxist phrase generator, which would be super easy, link the phrases together in a manner that would appear profound to a leftist intellectual (whoops, I repeat myself), and we’re done. We could do that in an afternoon.

  12. OldSchoolLibertarian
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 9:50 pm

    She misspelled sammich.

  13. RS
    September 23rd, 2014 @ 10:05 pm

    Penny is a poseur. She’s taken down a peg here.

  14. Hzle
    September 24th, 2014 @ 4:53 am

    Actually quite a nice photo of LP for once.

    She is a troubled lady

  15. robertstacymccain
    September 24th, 2014 @ 5:12 am

    They’re bandwagon-jumpers, that type. They get involved in politics because of their own personal ambitions, and their “ideas” are calculated with an eye toward making themselves heroes to a particular constituency. They are unprincipled chameleons. Look at how, for example, Obama ostensibly “evolved” on same-sex marriage, so that he now condemns as intolerable bigotry the very position on which he was elected in 2008. Obama calculated his own short-term advantage back then in opposing same-sex marriage and, when he subsequently re-calculated, he told a story (the exoteric narrative) which not only served to justify the switch, but also flattered himself for having switched. The distance between what Obama said and what any intelligent person knew to be his real motives (the esoteric rationale of self-interest) was of no consequence to him: He only needed to deceive a majority of voters to get re-elected, and to please the leftist intellectuals who will praise his presidency as a success (without regard to the fact of his failure), in order to achieve his ultimate objectives.

    Thus always the successful sociopaths: They have no conscience and they have no shame.

  16. S&A
    September 24th, 2014 @ 7:23 am

    I think that placard carrier has had a few too many sandwiches.

  17. Jeanette Victoria
    September 24th, 2014 @ 7:39 am

    Got to love those feminists

    Mom Bakes Vagina Cookies For 2nd Graders, Can’t Believe Teacher Has The Nerve To Refuse Them

  18. RS
    September 24th, 2014 @ 9:52 am

    Not a good comment to see at breakfast. Thanks for putting me off my bagel.

  19. Wombat_socho
    September 24th, 2014 @ 10:20 am

    I thought the frosting was unusually tasteful, myself.

  20. Wombat_socho
    September 24th, 2014 @ 10:24 am

    Laurie Penny is a frequent butt of jokes and mockery at David Thompson’s blog, along with the expanding cast of loony Labourites at the Grauniad.

  21. Squid Hunt
    September 24th, 2014 @ 12:15 pm

    I find it funny that feminists claim to be fighting objectification and yet constantly melt themselves selves down to what they claim is their pure state: A vagina. Same with gay people. They don’t want to be defined by their sex, but they always seem to always lead out with their identification as gay.

  22. Historian Erupts: ‘I Will Not Be Lectured to by a Public School Girl Like You!’ : The Other McCain
    September 24th, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

    […] Penny (@PennyRed) was the subject of an item here yesterday because of her quarrel with lesbian feminist Cathy Brennan, an argument that highlights the […]

  23. Steve Skubinna
    September 24th, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

    The thing to remember about crazy people is that they do follow a relentless logic. It’s an insane logic that might be inaccessible to sane persons, but it is there and none the less demanding.

  24. Steve Skubinna
    September 24th, 2014 @ 2:47 pm

    Why reinvent the wheel? All the work has already been done. Just grab a dozen existing books on feminist theory, cut and paste randomly, and submit to a publisher.

  25. Steve Skubinna
    September 24th, 2014 @ 2:49 pm

    Her mistake was in explicitly naming the cookies. She should have called them “Georgia O’Keefe Cookies” and it would have nee fine.

  26. Steve Skubinna
    September 24th, 2014 @ 2:49 pm

    Was it tuna flavored frosting?

  27. Steve Skubinna
    September 24th, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

    Happens every time. Women who refuse to be viewed as sexual object always – always! – adopt as their symbol a vagina.

    Reminds me of the old Onion article: Area Woman Tired of Men Staring at her Implants.

  28. Hzle
    September 24th, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

    Well anyway feminism pretends to be many things – sometimes it pretends to be an academic subject or approach. That really is funny.

    It also oft-times masquerades as an ideology, or as a set of rational arguments.

    Many of us attempt to logically refute these arguments, but we’re bound to be disappointed by how little effect reason has on feminism’s adherents, because they are as usual responding to rhetoric

    Some women are also half-conscious of the fact that doing this sort of politics gives them a certain power. But many think they’re supporting a great cause – so it’s not all as cynical as you say. Even Laurie might believe that at some level – but I think she has other emotional issues. But don’t we all?

  29. Spox Jen Psaki Backs Bush | Regular Right Guy
    September 24th, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

    […] The Incoherence of Liberal Feminism […]

  30. theoldsargesays
    September 24th, 2014 @ 10:16 pm

    Why go through all that cutting and pasting when they can just use the handy Feminist/Lesbian/Marxist Phrase Generator?
    As you said , the work’s already been done. The younger generation of feminists have obviously been using one.
    Probably available on Amazon or a late night infomercial.

  31. theoldsargesays
    September 24th, 2014 @ 10:19 pm

    She looks and sounds like she could use a good smacking around. (By another woman of course!)

  32. theoldsargesays
    September 24th, 2014 @ 10:21 pm

    And I previously thought that I’d eat anything.

  33. theoldsargesays
    September 24th, 2014 @ 10:22 pm


  34. Facepalmer
    September 24th, 2014 @ 10:42 pm

    And then she eat it.

  35. Hzle
    September 25th, 2014 @ 10:59 am

    Agreed – excellent blog. Hidden treasure of the blogosphere

  36. Hzle
    September 25th, 2014 @ 4:24 pm

    This “objectification” thing is one of the most dishonest parts of feminism (a very hotly contested title)

    Yes men quite often choose a partner or mate based on visible qualities. We’re programmed to do that (and not by “gender stereotypes” or “social constructs” either)

    But do women choose mates? Yes they do. OF COURSE they do. Do they ever appear ruthless or selfish about it? Er, noooo never. No man ever feels that he’s simply a source of money and muscle.

    No objectification ever happens the other way round. Never happens….

    Note that I don’t particularly blame women for choosing the best scenario for their needs. But it seems rather one-sided to blame men for doing the same