(Image: Concord Monitor via AP/Elizabeth Frantz)

Any skilled bullshitter knows that, in order to effectively hoodwink people, you sneak the bullshit into a truth sandwich. Presumably Sydney Morning Herald columnist Parnell Palme McGuinness also knows this, because over the weekend she blamed “boomer feminists” for rape culture.

“Rape culture” (yes, in scare quotes) she says, “is a consequence of boomer failure to review the progress of the revolution.”

She got a couple of things right. We are in a transformational feminist moment. And it is entirely correct to point out that the spoils of female empowerment have not been evenly distributed. But those morsels of truth are not enough to disguise the rot within.

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Let’s review.

Bullshit #1: It takes a special kind of internalised misogyny to blame boomer feminists for rape culture. As though feminism is some sort of corporation that failed to meet its KPIs.

Feminism was, and is, a work in progress — an ever-evolving movement that is railing against the status quo and rallying for change.

Saying that feminism didn’t save every woman is like blaming Luke Skywalker for Han Solo’s death without mentioning the Galactic Empire.

Bullshit #2: The next instalment of codswallop is McGuinness arguing that feminism meant some women “went from being chattels to commodities”.

It’s quite hard to digest that word salad. Did women go from being owned to being traded? Did they become fungible?

Bullshit #3: On we wade through the mire, to McGuinness’ claim that the sexual revolution “swept away … centuries of tradition about the right and wrong way for men and women to interact”.

It was a simpler time when those centuries of tradition made it legal for a man to rape his wife, when those centuries of tradition made it commonplace that a woman was considered responsible for her own rape, when those centuries of tradition made women chattels. Or commodities. Or whatever.

McGuinness did say she was “not sorry to see more of [these traditions] go”, but complains about the “void” left behind. Hm. It’s so all so complicated now that women (theoretically) get to say “no”!

Bullshit #4: “Thanks to the birth control pill, women and men can be free of the biological consequences of sex. But sex still has consequences we are looking for ways to express.”

Here’s one of the lovely things about today, thanks to feminism (and medical science): sex doesn’t have to have consequences. Sex can just be a frolic. Thanks to the birth control pill (and other devices) women can control their own fertility and can enjoy sex that is consciously uncoupled from procreation.

Sure, talking about consent can be complicated. But is it really more complicated than the “centuries of tradition” when no one talked about consent at all?

Bullshit #5: This is next-level steaming guano. McGuinness laments that once women had access to birth control, marriage rates dropped, and more women “forwent” children. And then lamented the lack of those children.

Let’s try the counterfactual. McGuinness suggests that giving women freedom, control over their ovaries, and the right to not get raped (even within marriage) meant that some women didn’t have as many kids as they might have liked.

What’s the other option? That women should be forced into marriage and procreation, denied birth control, and that somehow they would be happier?

Bullshit #6: McGuinness laments the backlash against the Me Too movement. She points to a US study that found some men are more reluctant to hire women because they fear false accusations of sexual assault. And another that found people are just as concerned about false accusations as they are about actual assaults.

Most people would interpret that as proof companies need more women in leadership, more education on consent, more breaking down of big swinging dick cultures. And they would point out the rarity of false allegations. But McGuinness sees it as an indictment on women.

Silly women, complaining about men raping them. Don’t they realise that other women have sons and might not like the suggestion that their sons might be rapey?

What a crock. Those studies show the need for more feminism, not less.

This abhorrent, multi-layered baloney has been served up just as tens of thousands of women prepare to take to the streets to voice their anger about all the ways in which women are infantilised, minimised, raped, assaulted, ignored, dismissed, gaslit and more.

There’s no hiding the fact it’s a shit sandwich.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit1800RESPECT.org.au.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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