Books: Second Thoughts: Not too crazy for you: Neil Lyndon wrote No More Sex War (Mandarin, pounds 4.99) in a blazing rage

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The Independent Culture
AFTER 20 years of intermittent study and thought and three years of occasional journalism on the subject of feminism, I wrote most of this book in a furious burst of application over eight weeks in September and October 1991. Living on my own in a rented cottage, sleeping short hours on couches and eating like a rat from tins and old loaves, I wrote or rewrote three-quarters of the book's 80,000 words in 60 days. In eight hours on the last day, 7,000 words flew together on the computer screen, an ethereal synthesis of earlier drafts and notes which dictated itself faster than I could type. Most of that chapter was junked on second thoughts.

When I look at the book now, I wonder at the explosive energy I was given in those weeks and at the blazing rage I contained. Some chapters read as if somebody else had written them, somebody I faintly know. This feeling reminds me of a line I once heard that Ralph Vaughan Williams said after a recital of one of his works: 'I'm not sure that I like it: but it is what I meant to say.'

It still is. The arguments I assembled and the case I advanced have survived the most pharisaical twisting and battering directed against any book or author in my memory. I am certain now that they are true. In the years of preparation for the writing, I suspected that the intellectual fabric of feminism was shoddy. I had not known that it was derelict. My book was a radical, egalitarian and libertarian philippic which assaulted the central, essential propositions and assumptions of modern feminism. Throughout an archaeological and literary dig, conducted largely with impersonal and abstract tools of language, I argued that feminism had fostered a poisonous and reactionary historical misprision of our age, especially of the changes which had occurred in the social position of women and of men's place in the family.

Of the hundred or so reviews and feature articles which were published about the book and me, fewer than 10 included any of my main arguments; fewer than five discussed the case which I had advanced as a whole. The keening and constant answer given by feminists and their followers was that I must be less than happy or incomplete as a man, a funny response from people who wish to do away with 'traditional gender stereotypes', as they say.

The memory of the honking Gadarene panic which the book started makes me laugh now. It is nice to have put the wind up the dowdy skirts of such a drab orthodoxy. My only regrets are that I never found a more teasing, more artful title; and that I was sometimes respectful in tone towards feminism. If ever that fire lit upon me again, I should not be so polite.