Thursday, 27 January 2011

My response to Giles Coren

Today, Giles Coren has written a shockingly whiny anti-women article at the Mail (I know - an anti-women article at the Mail? SHOCK OF THE CENTURY).

The article is entitled "So why is it all right for women to be sexist about MEN?". It starts off by making a few hyperbolic predictions about what will happen in the aftermath of the Sky Sports sexism fiasco, but quickly descends into "Waaahh! I hate everything with a vagina! All women are lying whores!".

Here it is, with my responses in red.

The two Sky Sports presenters who were caught on tape making disparaging remarks about women earlier this week are a pair of daft old duffers, and no mistake. It is important for me to say that first, before I get to the business in hand. I'd go with something a little bit stronger than 'a pair of daft old duffers' here. 'Nasty, vomit inducing bigots' maybe. Never mind though.

Andy Gray and Richard Keys are a couple of dull, flabby, middle-aged football bores and are just the sort of doddering old clowns you would expect to relax off camera by swapping ancient prejudices and poking fun at women — in this case a female linesman — for not understanding the offside rule. Yep, with you here Giles - but, for the eight zillionth time, the term is ASSISTANT REFEREE. Kudos on not using the utterly reprehensible 'lineswoman' though.

You shouldn’t pass unflattering remarks about women behind their backs because it is not a well brought-up thing to do, and they needed to be told. I would never do it myself. Not because I am a feminist, but because I am a gentleman. What's wrong with being a feminist? Given that in its modern usage, it merely denotes someone who is in favour of equality for men and women? Oh, that's right - there's still the rest of the article to explain why you're not a feminist.

But while Gray has now been sacked, I don’t expect that will be the end of the matter. No, neither do I. I expect we'll have a lot of whinging little issue-laden misogynists writing stupid and hypocritical columns about it.

We will hear an endless shrieking to ‘kick sexism out of football’; a PE teacher will be fired for telling his goalkeeper to ‘stop crying like a girl’; and a hapless League One manager will be deported for describing a fight between players as ‘handbags at dawn’. Uhm. OK. Firstly, what is actually wrong with wanting mainstream football to be less sexist? I'll do you a favour and ignore the use of the word 'shrieking'. The rest of this paragraph is as ludicrous as it is hyperbolic. I highly doubt that even a PE teacher stupid and backwards enough to use such a pathetic phrase would get fired for it - they'd probably just get told to stop being such a moronic 70's throwback. (LOVE the assumption that all PE teachers and goalkeepers are male, by the way). The same goes for the hypothetical manager.

There will be the endless apologies, public soul-searching and self-flagellation. And as usual the rest of us men will be expected to atone as a sex for a couple of remarks by two fat, superannuated fools on the telly, and to grovel for forgiveness with every snivel and cringe of our waking lives. Well, yes. Gray and Keys should issue a proper apology. Not that I'd believe one word of it, but it might force them to realise that they can't live their lives like it were a Benny Hill sketch. I can't see why all men should be expected to atone though, or that they will. Us feminists are a teensy bit more mature than to lump all members of the opposite gender into one stupid stereotype. This might be something you'd like to try yourself.

Not that that’s anything new. To be a man in this country is constantly to have to apologise for oneself and to be ever so very careful about every sentence we speak or write which contains any reference at all to members of the opposite sex. Really? You've failed miserably at this then, given some of the horseshit that you come out with in this article.

While at the same time, and this is the shame of it, we ourselves are fair game for women. While sexism from men is the outstanding social crime of the modern world, women can say absolutely whatever they like about us. Hm. Not sure I'm with you on this one. Mainly because it's the same load of rubbish that always gets trotted out by people who have no arguments left in defence of misogyny.

For make no mistake: sexism is alive and well in this country and applauded in all quarters — as long as it is practised by women. And they are allowed to say the most terrible, terrible things. See above.

Only last week, for example, Jo Brand, the newly crowned Best Female TV Comic at the British Comedy Awards, was on Have I Got News For You and replied to the question ‘What’s your favourite kind of man, Jo?’ by saying: ‘A dead one.’ Oh, how the audience fell about. And the other contestants, all male, chortled away too. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that the reason Jo Brand was crowned Best Female TV Comic is because she's practically the only bloody female comedian allowed on TV.

I’m not saying it wasn’t funny. I’m just saying we live in a world where the thorough-going awfulness, uselessness and superfluity of the male sex is such a given, that a frontline television comic can get big laughs by saying she’d prefer it if we were all dead. Firstly: IT WAS A JOKE. The humour derives from expecting one answer and getting another! Ha-bloody-ha! Secondly: Jo Brand's comedic persona is that of a misandrist, it's hardly fair to compare that to the real life personas of Gray and Keys.

And I’m trying to imagine a world in which I am on that show and they say, ‘What kind of women do you like, Giles?’ and I reply: ‘Dead ones.’ I just don’t think it would get the same laughs, do you? No, probably not. Mainly because I'd be terrified you were serious, given the tone of this article.
A note on misandristic (or should that be msandristic?) humour though - it's usually seen as more acceptable because institutional sexism on the part of women towards men is not and has never been a problem in society, but vice versa is.

Here’s another of Jo Brand’s (excellent) gags. ‘What’s the way to a man’s heart? Straight through the chest with a kitchen knife!’ Again, not unfunny. But predicated on the idea that killing men is hilarious. Whereas killing women, as we all know, is a very serious affair and not to be joked about. See earlier points on Jo Brand's comedic persona, how the humour is derived and misandristic humour please, I'd hate to have to repeat myself.

It’s not just Brand, it’s all women. ‘What do you call the useless flap of skin attached to a penis?’ they joke. ‘A man!’ they all reply, and clink their chardonnay glasses and chortle till dawn. How on earth did this get to be OK? That's some.... really broad stereotyping there. Like, wow. Also, given your earlier point about Gray and Keys relaxing "
off camera by swapping ancient prejudices and poking fun at women", am I to assume that this is what all men do? Because, y'know, every member of a gender must behave exactly alike? 

I'll tell you how. It is because pretty much from birth women are schooled by their mothers to deride men. They are sugar and spice, we are slugs and snails. I'm pretty sure that rhyme has been kicking about for a bit now. My mum didn't teach me to hate or deride men, she taught me to hate and deride idiots, irrespective of gender.

They are reflective and sensitive, while we run around kicking balls and shouting. And then as girls push towards puberty their mothers take them aside and tell them: ‘Boys are only after one thing!’ I think trying to mock gender sterotyping by indulging in gender stereotyping is just a teensy bit flawed, really.

The great lie. All men want is sex. Not so. If anything, it is women who think only of having it off. Girls on average lose their ­virginity much younger than boys and have more sexual partners in youth. OMG THE HORRIBLE GIRLS ARE GETTING LAID!!!! Seriously though, no. It's not true that all men want is sex. It's also not true that all women want is sex (I mean, just a second ago you were talking about how all we think about is being mean to other women - pick a ridiculous stereotype and stick to it please). Girls tend to lose their virginities earlier because they tend to have older boyfriends. So what if girls have more sexual partners? It hardly proves that they "think only of having it off".

As a teenager, I was ­terribly shy about sex and yet girls were trying to do it with me all the time. I used to run, literally run, from their bedrooms when they tried it on. And yet women are allowed endlessly to harangue us with our supposed lechery. Oh boo-fucking-hoo. You didn't want sex as a teenager. So what, this is supposed to prove that all women are lecherous whores?

And the prejudice festers. Harriet Harman says that men caused the banking crisis, and the ­harridan legions nod their heads. ‘If women ruled the world,’ they cry, ‘there would be no wars.’ No, bankers caused the banking crisis. Yes, most bankers happen to be male, and the risk-taking behaviours that caused it are stereotypically male. Given your definition of the "harridan legions" is pretty much "any woman not as misogynistic as I", I'd happily be a proud member - but I don't agree with that.

What nonsense. Women are far meaner, more brutal, aggressive, small-minded, jealous, petty and venal than any man. I'd consider this article to be an excellent example of all these attributes. I'm not even going to waste my time pointing out how utterly pathetic this sentence is. You can't say "we have to apologise for all men but we're not all like that", and then start saying all women possess the same bad characteristics.

If women ruled the world ­countries would be invaded because ‘she’s always been jealous of my feet’ and because ‘she looks down on me for going out to work’.
Yes, because our teeny tiny wee brains can only focus on shoes and personal vendettas. Politics? Best left to the men while we bake cakes and simper at children, we simply couldn't handle it. Yeah, newsflash, dickhead - a lot of countries are governed by women, and have been for some time now. Number of wars started over lipgloss? Zero.

Millions would die, torture would increase. If women ruled the world there would be carnage. See points above about stereotyping whole genders and female leaders.

And what sort of an insult is it anyway to suggest that most women don’t understand the offside rule? It’s true, for a start. Most women don’t. And most of them declare it proudly. It's an insult to suggest that a PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANT REFEREE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THE OFFSIDE RULE BECAUSE OF HER GENDER. So what if some women don't? They're not being paid to.

Most of them use football as an example of one of their favourite gags, the one about how men never grow up, about how we’re all just children — most often manifested in the one where a mother-of-two says ‘I’ve got three children’, you raise an eyebrow, and she nods towards her husband. Hilarious. Yes, it's not funny. Hardly excuses Gray and Keys though, does it?

And nor are men, in this female narrative, merely puerile, aggressive and underdeveloped. They are hypochondriacs, too. "female narrative?" Oh yes, because all women think exactly alike, despite all hating each other.

‘He’s got a touch of man flu,’ say the ­womenfolk and titter. But what nonsense is that? It is women who make a big fuss about mild ­discomfort, not men. Again, MASSIVE GENDER STEREOTYPING ALERT.

I have never had so much as a cold in my life, nor claimed to. I even suspect sometimes that the whole palaver about the pain of childbirth is a conspiracy to ride roughshod over men. Damn! He's onto us! Coren, when you can push a pool ball out of your urethra, we'll talk about this again.

My own mother, a ­consultant anaesthetist herself, has always claimed that giving birth was a breeze but that she pretended it had been painful to build bargaining chips with my father. Which means all women are horrid liars! Yeah, we've all been pretending childbirth was really hard so our devoted, but idiotic husbands would buy us some new shoes!

You look at shows like Loose Women and you wonder how on earth they get away with the ­terrible things they say about men. I went on once and it was horrific. I wanted to die.

No male-hosted show could treat women the way those outsized harpies treat men. I'll refer you to my thoughts on Loose Women here

I don’t especially want to throw my hat in with Dominic Raab, the slightly bonkers Tory MP who has called for an end to legislative ­discrimination against men, but there is no question that women today have it all. I'm struggling to believe this hasn't just been published for the sole purpose of winding me up.

They retire younger and live longer to such an extent that minor inequalities in pay levels are obliterated when you consider whose money pays for those 25 years of retirement. And it just isn’t fair that they are allowed to be so vile about us. Except legally, men and women retire at the same age, because of a little thing called equality. Look it up, you might like it.

I suppose, in a way, British men are like white people were in Nineties South Africa or young Germans after the Second World War.

We are expected to go through a period of atonement for the sins of our fathers. To be treated worse than we merit because of crimes previously committed in our name: in this case the crime of feeding, protecting, loving and nurturing women in accordance with our biological imperative. I swear that above you were talking about how all men had to apologise for two bigoted idiots. Now you ALL do those things for women? I tell you now, the second I let a man feed and protect me according to his biological imperative will be the same second you see four skeletal horsemen cantering over the horizon.

They don’t want that any more. They want to be linesmen. And so we have to let them tell us endlessly how they wish we were all dead. Yeah, stupid, horrid women, wanting equal rights and all that rubbish!

If that’s not off-side, I don’t know what is. I can explain it with two pepperpots and a pea, if you want?

By the way: check out this absolute victory for women's rights from Quentin Letts for more feminist lulz.


  1. Ok, a few fair points I don't entirely agree and I'll go out on a limb here and ask: Have you ever watched loose women? Grey and Key's have nothing on them!

  2. As one female feminist to another, you need to chill. A large part of Coren's writing is a conscious effort to cause controversy, and from a lot of your comments it seems as though you've completely missed that. In his columns for The Times, he often takes the piss out of the DM, and I think the piece published today was fantastic - purely because the target audience of the DM is more likely to agree with the many generalisations he came out with, and the way I read it he was mocking them.

    You also fail to notice when he uses the past tense when you say "Now you ALL do those things for women?". According to Coren, they DID all those things, not DO. And historically speaking, he is correct.

  3. Yes, I have had the misfortune to see it. I wrote about it in the post about Gray. There is a link in the text, but I'll repost it here:

    "Yes. Loose Women is horrible. It's a foul programme, and yes - I do think it's unacceptable and should be stopped. The fact that bosses at a different TV channel haven't fired them doesn't mean that Gray shouldn't be fired though. That's like someone saying they shouldn't be prosecuted for a crime in England because the same activity is not a crime in France.

    A further point to make about Loose Women and other examples of 'female sexism' is that it's usually seen as more acceptable because institutional sexism on the part of women towards men is not and has never been a problem in society, but vice versa is. It's like why we can have groups like the Metropolitan Black Police Association, but not the Metropolitan White Police Association (Philip Davies, take note)."

  4. @Muffinfacegirl : The reason I object to him writing things like this, especially in the DM, is because the blithering bigots who take that paper seriously will take what he writes seriously - whether it was tongue in cheek or not. He's pouring fuel onto the bonfire and making people side with Gray and Keys by making them sound like victims of overt-feminism.

  5. There seems to be quite a glaring parallel between Coren's anti-women rant and the "whites are a persecuted minority" lies of the BNP, EDL and all the other right-wingers out there.

    It's no surprise that the article appeared in the Daily Mail, a newspaper that when it's not too busy hating women (something it's outdone itself on recently) fills the rest of its pages peddling the same tired old 'persecuted whites' bollocks that is always happening just over there, where you can't see it - but it's definitely happening, oh yes, just you wait, it will hit [insert sleepy middle class village here] any day now and you, precious white reader will be 'swamped'.

    Simply replace the various cultural stereotypes here with any other and you have exactly the same disgusting prejudices at work. Swap Jo Brand with 50 Cent to justify using the N-word, swap Loose Women with BBC Asian Network to claim that it's unfair not to have a media aimed at white people. Not that I'm holding up Loose Women as a fine example of feminist progression (nor Fiddy as a representative example of black culture), but it does seem to be the example de'jour this week.

    While racism to anyone with more than a couple of braincells is quite clearly abhorred in mainstream society (though not nearly enough, but I'm talking comparisons here), sexism is considered fair game, either overtly in this case, or less obviously throughout the rest of society. I say less obviously, not because it's unseen, but because the objectification and belittling of women (and continued enforcement of stereotypical gender roles) it is all too often considered perfectly regular behaviour.

    Sure Coren may be parodying himself, but there is a fine line between satire and just being a dick. Look at the Clarksons, Al Murrays and Frankie Boyles of this world and while they may (or may not) be aware of their persona, and playing it up for comic effect, the audience is all the time buying into these prejudices, and feeling that it is acceptable.

  6. muffinfacegirl: This article is indeed typical of Coren - although I disagree that there is anything whatsoever "fantastic" about him. He couldn't care less who he offends as long as he continues to draw in money for old rope. He's a spoilt brat and yet another example of a "son of" who has got where he is because of his fathers name rather than any real talent of his own. The point that Chis makes is absolutely spot on; there is a fine line between parody and being a dick, Coren crosses it constantly.
    Picking up on the point about men feeding, protecting, loving and nurturing - well they may have done that with baby birds that had fallen out of their nests, but I haven't seen much, history speaking, in support of that being the case with their women folk.
    Final point, no, a question, to Mr Coren, - if women really are "... far meaner, more brutal, aggressive, small-minded, jealous, petty and venal than any man" why aren't there more of them playing in the football league?

  7. I quite like Coren - I think he can a witty and entertaining writer (not as much as his dad, but that's asking a lot). So I'm prepared to cut him a bit of slack. But now and then, he does say something stupid. And this is one of them.

    I'm not sure exactly what he was up to with this. He seems a bit tongue in cheek to begin with, and it looks like it may be a good article, but then it turns into, well, something you'd expect to read in the Mail. I don't know if he was aiming at his audience or what.

    I'd say some of your criticisms are over-egging it. I don't think he's saying there's something wrong with being a feminist, just that there's other reasons not to behave as Keys & Gray did (ones that would have more chance of getting through to your typical Mail reader). I don't think he does believe all women are sex-obsessed - more using his experiences as a counterexample to the complaint that that men are. BUT... I don't think you slightly misrepresenting him is any great injustice, given you were responding to HIS ridiculously over the top whine in the first place. He started it.

    I don't know why he wrote it, in the Mail of all places. I'd hoped for better from him. The daft bugger.

  8. It's like Privilege Denying Dude made flesh!

    Spot-on deconstruction of this loathsome tool's delusional self-pity. Yeah, Giles, middle-class white men truly are the world's most oppressed species. Lucky you've got your domination of every major sphere of society to cheer you up really, isn't it?

    As for this being 'a conscious effort to cause controversy' - does that somehow make it OK to write offensively ill-informed drivel? 'I was just winding you all up!' strikes me as about as convincing a defence as 'It was just banter', and it's also telling that both are a very short step from the classic bully's refrain, 'Can't you take a joke?'.