By Ben Pensant
As a resident of Newcastle there’s nowt you can teach me about drunken women I haven’t already learnt while being snapped having a piss behind a bus-stop by a pair of rusty harridans in tight pink training bras screaming ‘put it away, man, I’ve seen bigger chips!’. And as if Geordie women weren’t already responsible for more death, destruction and unwanted pregnancies than Godzilla and Jude Law combined, the city has also become a magnet for the greatest scourge on society since Charles Romley Alder Wright arose for breakfast in 1874 and declared to his wife and butler: ‘Darling, as delicious as this morphine is, it lacks moorishness. Bring me my Penguin Book of Acids at once, Pennyworth!’.
Yes, I’m talking about hen dos. And as grizzled professional feminist Suzanne Moore pointed out in The Guardian last week, the problem with women who indulge this demeaning tradition isn’t just their habit of holding up taxi queues, threatening bus drivers or stabbing gay men in McDonald’s while dressed as Pocahontas. No, the problem is society has forced these women to do it. Which makes Suzanne awfully cross.
Because unless you’re one of those apologists who believe most women get married because they want to and have hen dos for a laugh it’s abundantly clear these unthinking idiots are only getting hitched because the patriarchy told them to. And like most modern feminists Suzanne can’t just say that she personally has no desire to spend time with her pals drinking cocktails, taking funny shaped-tablets and crying. No, she has to tell anyone who does that they’re selling out the sisterhood by having the nerve to enjoy themselves. Who do they think they are? Men?
‘The threat that women’s liberation would destroy the nuclear family has been neutered, matrimony re-packaged as an experience we all must enjoy’ bemoaned Suzanne, stressing that despite all the equality and freedom western women enjoy today they are still being forced into pretending they want to get married. Even the ones who aren’t. Because modern feminism has no time for women who make their own minds up. And you can’t just say that you personally don’t care for the nuclear family and would rather not get married; you have to be committed to ‘destroying’ it so nobody else can. And as ever, it’s those dumb working-class morons who think Naomi Klein designs knickers who are lagging behind. But we can’t expect the subtle nuance and rank hypocrisy of modern feminism to be grasped by dumb witches who’ve never had a month on the sick because a man mentally abused them by holding a door open. Just look at the state of the poor sluts who ruined Suzanne’s seaside stroll.
‘I recently witnessed the opposite of sex. It was in the rain and cold, where bedraggled women, tiaras askew, traded insults with a gang of belching men’. Grim stuff, and the real tragedy was that not one of these women even wanted to be there: ‘No-one’s heart was in the blurred innuendo’ she lamented, scolding ‘the compulsory fun that must be had before some willing victim is offered up to the gods of matrimony. This last night of freedom must be publicly and expensively enjoyed’. Through clever use of words like ‘compulsory’, ‘victim’ and ‘must’ Suzanne summed up the modern malaise in which women are strong-armed into marriage by pig-headed partners, their unthinking friends forced to join them on a weekend break where they all pretend to have fun eating chips in fairy costumes while wishing they were at home watching Andre Dworkin interviews on YouTube.
In fact, the only good thing about a hen do is that inevitably one of the group will kick some bloke in the knackers. But even that tends to be somewhat hollow as a boot to the testicles is all every man deserves for enabling the misogynist society that threatens these uneducated check-out girls with death if they don’t conform. And judging by the yo-yo knickered lushes joylessly draining cocktails every weekend in Newcastle it’s a knocking bet that any misandry points earned from violently assaulting men are cancelled out by the fact that at least one of the others will end the night with two cocks in her mouth.
Hence Suzanne’s diatribe against people who think differently to her: ‘Surely the popularity of the hen do is a sign of how we are regressing?’ she asked, ignoring the implausibly sexist idea that it might just be a sign that lots of women like having a laugh with their mates. She then decried the way hen dos have been ‘sold to women as essential’, illustrating that being a feminists these days in no way stops you from generalizing women as blind consumers who will do pretty much anything if Hello! magazine tells them to.
Because dumb women are literally buying into this heinous cottage industry every week, and you can bet not one of them re-read SCUM Manifesto first to check it was okay with a dead schizophrenic from the 60s (clue: it’s fucking not). As well as crass expenses such as sex-toys and naked gay waiters, Suzanne has no time for the rampant materialism of ‘hotels and flights for those who can afford it, handcuffs and angel-wings for those who can’t’. Brutal stuff, particularly the way her wonky view of hen dos comes straight from Rita, Sue & Bob Too and ignores the fact that most women – even idiotic working-class ones – tend to get through the whole sordid process without an L-plate or flavoured condom in sight.
But like the horror of drunk women being a bit lairy, it’s the handcuffs and angel-wing crowd who really get Suzanne’s goat: ‘It could all be posher and involve a flight, a spa and a row over wedding favours but this is England’ she sneered, her message clear: I’d rather you didn’t go on a hen do at all but if you must then at the very least take in an art gallery.
As she clarified: ‘Yes, I’m here to be the bad fairy, the full feminist killjoy’, just in case anyone mistakenly though she was one of those fun-loving, good fairy feminists we read so much about. Y’know, those sell-outs who believe feminism is about freedom and equality rather than telling stupid women what to think. But Suzanne’s main bugbear is how the rise in hen dos has coincided with a rise in women not relying on deluded media flunkies like her to tell them how oppressed they are.
‘Hen dos didn’t really start here until the mid-80s and really got going in the 90s. This is exactly when feminism became devalued’. As you can see, Suzanne isn’t concerned about the parts of the world where non-Western women have to deal with slightly more oppression than wondering what Germaine Greer would think if she saw you sipping champagne in a Jacuzzi; she’s too busy trying to find someone to hold responsible for her movement’s failure to teach silly women what’s good for them. Because feminism’s decline couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the sneering, hectoring articles like Suzanne’s.
She concluded by re-asserting her maverick status: ‘I am well aware that to question marriage as an institution marks me down as some kind of throwback’. Indeed, though not so much of throwback that she supports the original feminist intentions of achieving empowerment and independence. No, the only kind of empowerment Suzanne appears interested in is empowering other feminists to look down their noses at women who don’t think like her. Which is why she is so out-of-step with prevailing wrong-think, despite the fact that plenty of women in the real world share her disinterest in marriage. They just don’t feel the need to tell everyone else they should share it too. The selfish cows.
Much like those women who get married because they want to. Or rather, because society makes them believe they want to. As Suzanne rages, the institution of marriage is ‘really about the transmission of property’, which is news to everyone who got married because they were in love. But Suzanne’s not here to indulge cod-romantic drivel; she’s here to rail against ‘the re-packaging’ of love, sex and romance as ‘experiences that are compulsory and fairly uniform’, re-iterating for the umpteenth time that the institution of marriage is forced upon women without their consent and all weddings are joyless, identikit affairs designed to prop up the patriarchy.
So agreed New Statesman writer Sarah Ditum, who leapt to Suzanne’s defence on Twitter, deploying familiar feminist tactics like straw-man arguments, ad hominem attacks and ignoring everything her opponent says. Predictably, Suzanne was attacked BTL by self-hating women and privileged white males using boneheaded logical fallacies – such as personal experience – to dispute Suzanne’s theory that women only have hen dos and get married because society makes them.
And it was on these points that Sarah took to social media to defend her colleague, deflecting criticism of Suzanne’s piece with the confidence, composure and smug hysteria of a young Owen Jones batting away criticism of Venezuela. And like Owen when prompted to comment on that socialist utopia today, Sarah deftly avoided awkwardness by abandoning thread when asked a question she couldn’t answer.
So when it was put to Sarah that lots of women have hen dos and get married because they, like, want to, she shot back: ‘Thank you for this amazing insight into the female brain’, discrediting her opponents vile, misogynist and demonstrably true claim by virtue of the fact that he has a cock and balls.
When it was pointed out that this was actually an insight into the normal people Suzanne spent a whole column sneering at, Sarah countered brilliantly: ‘How dare political writing ever do anything but shower the world in validation?’. Brave words from a woman complaining that a column she likes isn’t being showered with validation, and ones that slyly ignore the fact that there’s nothing ‘political’ about arguing that women don’t know their own minds. Indeed, chauvinist icons like Oliver Reed and Josef Fritzl were doing it years ago and no-one called them ‘feminazis’.
Sarah then went for the jugular, pointing out that as a married women she is uniquely placed to speak for the millions of married women who aren’t her: ‘Since I’m married and agreed with the column perhaps you could stop presuming to speak for me’ she blasted one agitator, before deploying razor-sharp sarcasm to burst this mansplaining buffoon’s bubble: ‘No, you carry on, I’m sure that you can speak for married women much better than me, a married women’.
Which crystallised the dignified beauty of identity politics in one glorious sentence. Because everyone is defined by whatever group liberals put them in: you speak for one, you speak for all. That if you asked three different women their thoughts on marriage there’s a good chance you’d get there different answers is of no relevance to Sarah: the feminist angle is all that matters. It’s bad enough self-hating women defying icons like Suzanne but it’s downright micro-aggressive to have bloody men going around disagreeing with educated females too. I’m also fairly certain it’s a hate crime. So well done, trolls: you’re criminals now as well as manspreading mind-rapists.
Luckily, like a latter day Dorothy Parker, Sarah’s barbs just kept on coming: ‘I don’t know why we bother opening our mouths, it’s much easier to wait for a man to tell us what we think’ she scolded. Because in reality it’s easier to wait for Suzanne to tell women what they think. In fact it’s imperative: as she pointed out, most women – especially Brexit-voting ones – can’t be trusted to formulate their own opinions on something as damaging as marriage. And if role models like Suzanne don’t make up their empty minds for them there’s every chance they could end up radicalised by self-hating media Uncle Tanyas like Ella Whelan, Laura Perrins or Bianca Gascoigne.
Not that Sarah is at risk. Because despite agreeing that women only have hen dos and get married because society forces them to, it’s clear that this only applies to those less educated, less middle class, less virtuous than Sarah. And those daft enough to disagree with her about it only have themselves to blame when they are exposed as privileged buffoons for making the simple point that not everyone who gets married does so against their will.
Not that Sarah was arguing against that point. Indeed, she spent most of her Twitter ‘debate’ accusing her opponent of arguing a point he quite literally wasn’t: ‘Your point is you think choice preserves institutions from critique. It’s actually a very bad point’. It certainly is, especially when the person she accused didn’t actually make that point, instead cloaking their reactionary defence of the institution of marriage in the seemingly standard view that most women aren’t idiots. But modern feminism long ago reclaimed hypocrisy as a virtue, hence Sarah happily accusing someone of arguing that the institution of marriage should be protected from critique despite the fact that the person she accused never once mentioned the ‘institution’ and in their own words ‘couldn’t give two shits’ about it. It’s refreshing that while Sarah doesn’t believe in preserving marriage from critique she’ll still happily have a pointless conversation on social media preserving a Guardian column from it.
And with that she was off, ignoring her white male opponent’s request for evidence that he said the institution of marriage should not be critiqued. Because proof is no match for feelings, dammit, and when someone as educated as Sarah has the feeling that a male’s opinion isn’t worth as much as hers because he doesn’t have tits and a fanny then she’s usually right.
Much like modern feminists, who as well as sharing Sarah’s smug, hysterical debating technique, will also happily align with institutions far more dangerous than marriage if there are intersectionality points in it. Hence the exciting events of the last month, in which feminists all over the world struck a blow against misogyny by showing solidarity with religious conservatives who believe women should be covered up unless their bare arms force men to rape them.
So we had the Swedish government, who vowed to stand up to sexist oaf Donald Trump but happily bowed, curtsied and donned hijabs at the behest of the Iranian theocracy. And who could forget the anti-Trump protesters supporting oppressed women by lauding an item of clothing that oppresses women, in particular the German lady whose T-shirt boasted ‘Hijab is Empowerment’? Naturally, she didn’t specify whether the hijab was empowering for the woman forced to wear them or the men who force women to wear them. But here’s hoping her plain-talking sets a precedent for pointless rallies still to come, perhaps even influencing those idiots who invade coastal towns with torn veils, rubber truncheons and inflatable bell-ends. Can you imagine the unbridled joy of stumbling across a hen party in matching purple T-shirts declaring ‘Burqa Is Liberation’, ‘Stoning Is Social Justice’ and ‘FGM Is A Feminist Statement’?
Even Suzanne would raise a glass of cheap fizz to that.