Books: Second Thoughts: Not too crazy for you: Neil Lyndon wrote No More Sex War (Mandarin, pounds 4.99) in a blazing rage
Saturday 14 August 1993
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.
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