Liam Mullone

Liam Mullone

Like it or not, Dapper Laughs is what a feminist looks like

by Liam Mullone

So, a year since his television show was cancelled by feminist outrage, that horribly sexist comedian Dapper Laughs (aka Daniel O'Reilly) has come out as a feminist. This has, of course, made Britain's liberal twitterati furious all over again. My Twitter feed is full of it because, in case you hadn't got the memo, all comedians are feminist and we all hate Dapper Laughs as a matter of policy.

O'Reilly's Damascene conversion to feminism should come as no great shock, since the current wave of feminism has no apparent bars to membership. After first-wave equality and second-wave cock-lopping and third-wave slut-walking, feminism has now settled into a swampy dotage where support is compulsory and the objectives utterly nebulous. We all know that it's important, but as soon as someone asks whether it's OK to work in the sex industry it all kicks off. And it's so hollowed-out that a man who made his name by yelling unpleasant things at women from a passing car can probably find a home in it.

About a year ago there was a bit of a Twitter meme among my comedy friends that went along the lines of "So you agree that men and women should be paid the same wage for the same work? Congratulations – you are a feminist". Or there was one with a picture of a pretty lady in a white coat that said "So you didn't just assume she works on a beauty counter? Congratulations – you are a feminist." It came on the heels of the 'This is what a feminist looks like' T shirt, which had the same problem as those 'porn star' T-shirts in that, legally, hideous people could wear them if they wanted. Feminism was conflated with simple open-mindedness. And it was given away to people who never asked for it, like the last U2 album or the Ask Jeeves toolbar.

By the reasoning of the 'congratulations' meme, if a man came down on just the right side of the human/orc divide (yes I know, it's a spectrum not a binary) then he was issued with feminist papers and told where to stand. Didn't being a feminist used to mean something? Didn't it used to suggest that you had struggled, and argued, and - if not spoiling Derby Day for everyone - at least ruined some cosy, unexamined ideas? Didn't there used to be scars to suffer and a price to pay?

Well, the truth is, women DO pay a price for being feminist. But the cost – once imposed by the White Male Establishment in hairy-arsed lezza jokes - is now levied by the caucus of liberal thought.

Women in the public eye are, thanks to this indefinable but all-pervasive feminism, slaves to the fact that they are women. No sooner had Caroline Criado-Perez interviewed Dapper Laughs than Abi Wilkinson, the journalist who claimed Dapper's scalp when his TV show was cancelled, told her that she had let the side down. And dozens of right thinking feminists agreed, tweeting that Criado-Perez, having become such a heroine during the women-on-banknotes Twitter storm in 2013, had now provided a platform for rape. Or had committed an act that was, in itself, tantamount to rape. You know, the way women sometimes do when they interview a minor comedian without thinking it through.

I understand that, sometimes in life, we are all called upon to represent an idea greater than ourselves. Like if you're a really good pole-vaulter, and you're asked to go to the Olympics to represent Britain you'll say "OK fair enough; the UK taxpayer has funded my pole-vaulting; the NHS has picked up the tab for all the times I missed the crash mat, I AM really good with a big stick. So I am happy to represent Britain AS a pole-vaulter but PURELY AS A POLE-VAULTER; thanks for asking me. If it works out I may later represent other big ideas, such as Magner's cider or crisps. "

The point is, you should get to choose what you represent.

Nobody EVER asks women if they want to represent all the other women who have ever lived. As Eleanor Tiernan has pointed out, "Male comedians are never expected to produce work or conduct themselves in such a way that empowers other men to get into stand-up." But get born with a vagina and you're expected to share the stage with your entire gender. You now represent ALL women, and they represent you. There are meetings on the internet. Constant, interminable, sweary meetings.

Liberal thought today seems to believe in a commonality among women in the media, as if these women were the village green where women can graze their womanhood on some pre-industrial commons, and where anyone misbehaving on the village green is taking a diabolical liberty. Like Page 3 girls. We can't stand them, can we? What do they think they're doing? Oi, Lucy Pinder, put your tits away. Those are everyone's tits. Those tits belong to WOMANKIND and we don't want you putting them about! Except they're not. They are entirely Lucy Pinder's tits and Lucy Pinder's business.

This assumption of sisterly commonality is coming from the same people who insist that women's bodies are their own. Most of us agree that women's bodies must be kept sacrosanct from rapists, abusers, extremist pro-lifers and unpleasant governments who won't let them have untaxed tampons. But defending womanhood against antediluvian ideas in far-away places such as, um, Ireland and here, is easy. What about the awful stuff liberals are doing to women?

The very best thing about being a man (and, I won't lie, there are THOUSANDS of brilliant things) is that all your mistakes, all your bad decisions and your stupid ideas – from buying a crap car to posting articles on Chortle even though it never works out very well - are your own to make. You'll only be called a 'typical man' these days if you do something Andy Capp would have regarded as inconsiderate. It doesn't matter. The Realm of Men lies quite undisturbed by me no matter how much of a fucking moron I am. But when a woman – any woman – says something bold or different or scandalous or odd, then it's either 'Nice to see a woman making a woman stand for women who want to womenise the womanly whatever' or 'Isn't it bad enough that men are unwomaning women's woman-things without a WOMAN doing it for them?' This sort of reductive nonsense used to come from the right; from what Andrea Dworkin would call The Patriarchy. Today it comes almost entirely from people who value gender solidarity above freedom.

Feminist men are the worst. Men pay nothing – absolutely sod all – for membership of the New Feminism. Maundering, freeloading, tosser-bearded liberal men get to self-declare as feminist, with all the kudos and cool vibes and Facebook likes that brings, with not one aspect of their habits or their lifestyle or their thinking examined. We're all dicks. Yet feminism is desperate to sign us up. At the time of the "Congratulations!" meme I wrote this for Chortle, explaining that all men who didn't agree with hunting women on horseback, even during the season, should identify as feminist.

The article was linked with the tweet 'Liam Mullone thinks more men should identify as feminist' And then retweeted. And retweeted. It's still being retweeted by people, mostly men, who haven't read it and probably went straight back to having a wank having satisfied their need to disseminate their urgent platitudes. At this point I realised that the problem of feminism is insoluble even in sarcasm.

So here's the thing: Of course I want women to be paid the same, and work the same hours, and to have free sanitary ware, and abortions according to the terms of the UN Council on Human Rights, and I think that anyone who yells at women from a passing car is just appalling. More than this, I think I've just about got to the point where I can see two women on a comedy panel show without thinking a) This is madness or b) Yes! We are winning and this time the King's horse is going down! Because they're just people. Individual, unimpeachable people doing weak pre-written jokes about the news. Exactly the same as men do.

If, as a feminist, you disagree with this… well that's probably why you're now cyber-marching alongside Dapper Laughs. Because you made feminism as obligatory as it is meaningless. You let him in.

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Published: 7 Nov 2015

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2005

Big Value Comedy Show Late


Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Liam Mullone: Health + Safety


Edinburgh Fringe 2008

Liam Mullone: In A Dead Man's Hat


Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Liam Mullone: Game Over


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