The ranks of the ‘dissident feminists’


Sir, – Larissa Nolan (“Why I have joined the ranks of the ‘dissident feminists’”, Opinion & Analysis, October 12th) has written an extraordinarily polemical and ill-informed piece on why she opposes “modern feminist ideology”, which, she claims, is out to emasculate men and seek advantage over them.

Having counted myself a feminist since the late 1960s and having numbered many feminists among my friends and acquaintances, I have never heard one of these women (or men) saying, “I hate men. Off with his balls”, a sentiment Nolan ascribes to “modern” feminism.

Most feminists would struggle to give a definition of “feminism” that goes beyond that offered by Rebecca West when she said that, “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist when I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute”.

This difficulty in coming up with one definition arises because there are many feminisms. Any serious critique of “feminist ideology” would need to recognise the existence of “feminist ideologies” and then specify which feminist ideology they are talking about and who is advocating it.

Otherwise the reader has no idea what the writer is talking about and she is free to promote, to serve her own rhetorical purposes, this fiction that “modern feminism” has been hijacked by threatening man-haters.

And please, in a week where we are hearing more about the behaviour of Harvey Weinstein and at a time when we are embarking on yet another discussion of abortion rights, spare us the “we’ve come so far we should be doing victory parades in the street”. – Yours, etc,


School of Psychology,

Trinity College Dublin,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – It was unfortunate that Larissa Nolan’s call to arms for “dissident feminists” appeared on page 14, three pages after readers could inform themselves at length on the sexual misbehaviour and oppression of Harvey Weinstein.

It would be nice to think that everything in the gender-garden is lovely (in the West at least) but as the New York Times has revealed, women are still treated as pieces of meat to be used and abused even in these so-called enlightened times. The battle isn’t over, girls – it’s barely just begun. – Yours, etc,


Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.