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Sisters making a boob by bullying us into equality

By Fionola Meredith

Forget 'Let It Go', the vapid self-help anthem from the Disney movie Frozen, the Christmas song that'll really make you want to boke is Now's The Time. It's been released by No More Page 3, the group that wants to ban boobs from The Sun newspaper.

This painfully earnest song, packed with joyless preachiness and butt-clenchingly inane lyrics - "There's a world of women out there and you could embrace us all/But you focus on the body parts and miss the person's soul" - will really get you in the mood for some seasonal do-gooding. Because there'd be no greater present for the world at large than a t*t-free Christmas, right?

Of course, I'd be happy to see the half-naked "stunnas" vanish for good. Page 3 is a hopelessly old-fashioned institution which is an embarrassment to the Murdoch press. But on the scale of injustices against women, global or local, it ranks pretty low. And it looks as tame as the crossword page in comparison to the hair-raising stuff freely accessible elsewhere.

The song itself even acknowledges this, kindly informing male readers that "you can get your porn online". So any kind of misogynist perversion is OK if it stays safely in its proper place on the internet, where any curious schoolboy with a smartphone can find it, but we must prevent grown men from seeing the perky mammaries of Faye from High Wycombe, in case it turns them into slavering sex-beasts.

This is what's wrong with feminism today. It's got dumb, and then dumber still. Too much emotion, not enough logic. Too many shrieking twitter-mobs, not enough independent thinking. Too much crying victim - or even defining certain women as victims, against their will - not enough genuine empowerment, according to individual outlook and choice, not ideological diktat. Too much reliance on simplistic sloganeering, at the expense of in-depth analysis.

Remember those self-righteous T-shirts, made by impoverished women in sweat-shops in Mauritius, with 'This is what a feminist looks like' printed on the front, to be worn by politicians, with a pious yet proud expression on their faces? Or what about those awful little madams from America, the "potty-mouthed princesses" who swore like troopers to jolt the world into realising that sexism is really, really bad? It went viral and was hailed as a popular feminist breakthrough, when really it was nothing more than a canny marketeer's strategy for flogging 15 dollar T-shirts to hipsters who want to flaunt their social conscience.

All of this merely annoys me. But what really scares me is the lurch towards intolerance, prescriptivism and censorship that the feminist movement has taken, in company with their fellow so-called liberals.

A recent radio debate, on the Nolan Show, between well-known feminist commentator Kate Smurthwaite and solicitor Luke Gittos, brought this home. The topic was footballer Ched Evans the convicted rapist, and whether he should be allowed to return to his club, Sheffield United, having served his sentence. Smurthwaite should have shone - she had some great arguments on her side, such as Evans' continued denial of his guilt, as well as the terminal damage to his status as a role model to young fans.

Instead, she indulged in the most hysterical and aggressive display of intolerance I have heard for some time, consistently shouting down Gittos as he tried to put forward a moderate liberal case for Evans' rehabilitation. After repeatedly threatening to hang up, she eventually did. It was a perfect illustration of the fanaticism that has infected the feminist movement, which is every bit as repressive, paranoid and punitive as the die-hard religious variety.

Smurthwaite shrieking that "the man is speaking, the woman must be silent - well, I'm sorry I don't play that game", while refusing to let Gittos get a word in edgewise, would have been funny, if it wasn't so depressing.

Closing down views which we profoundly disagree with - such as pro-choice campaigners did recently at Oxford, where they were successful in cancelling a debate about abortion, organised by a pro-life student group - is not the way to a brighter, more equitable feminist future. You don't brow-beat or frog-march people into enlightenment, just as you don't win them over with trite songs about the dangers of bare boobs.

If feminists want to win the war, they're going to have to be a hell of a lot smarter about the battles they choose, and the way they fight them.

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