Category Archives: harridans

Harpies and harridans demand removal of ‘bitch’ from the OED

Dalrymple reports that

30,000 people—I was tempted to write harridans and harpies, but there must have been some emasculated men among them—have petitioned the Oxford University Press to remove words such as bitch, in the meaning of unpleasant female, from the Oxford English Dictionary as being derogatory of, and offensive to, women.


A decayed strumpet; one that is half whore, half bawd. ‘The nymphs with whom you first began, Are each become a harridan.’


A monster, rapacious and filthy.


‘His vices, like so many harpies, craving for their accustomed gratification’; ‘The harpies of taxation’; ‘My mother-in-law, the grasping, odious, abandoned, brazen harpy’; ‘Woman, altogether of the harpy breed.’



Applied opprobriously to a woman. ‘Ulysses looking sourly answered, You bitch!’; ‘An extravagant bitch of a wife’; ‘Call her prostitute, bawd, dirty bitch’; ‘You are a son of a bitch’; ‘I’ve been bitch-fou ‘mang godly priests’; ‘Jove, thou art going a-bitching’; ‘Such marriage is very unlawful lechery and plain abominable bitchery’; ‘The roguery of their lawyers, the bitchery of their paramours.’

A world in which no one is responsible for anything

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 00.05.44Telephoning a newspaper for which he has been writing for some years, Dalrymple is forced to listen to an automated answering announcement. It is made

by a woman with a terrible nasal whine, the kind of voice that is increasingly chosen for public announcements in Britain and nowhere else in the world.

The voice says:

Switchboard is very busy today.

Dalrymple comments:

Switchboard has been very busy today for several years. The lie is in the today, with its implication that other days are different. They never are. But if taken literally, it might be true that switchboard was very busy today as every day (because of an inadequate system, say). This is an admirable example, from a phenomenological perspective, of telling the truth and a lie at the same time, and in the same words.

The voice,

half-slut, half-harridan, requests callers not to ask for the e-mail addresses of individuals working at the newspaper.

This is because, the voice says,

we will not be able to help.

Dalrymple remarks:

No doubt there is a good reason why e-mail addresses should not be given out incontinently. The world is full of maniacs. But ‘not able to help’ confuses unwillingness with inability and encourages a world in which no one is responsible for anything, where there is no distinction between can’t and won’t.

Web of the Cultural Revolution

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 08.45.15

(by Rowlandson)

The spider needs its prey to live

Dalrymple writes:

When a Nobel prize winner can be hounded from his university chair by the harridans of the internet (or any other self-constituted group of fanatics), the outlook for freedom of speech is not good. The West, having undergone its own Cultural Revolution, has taken up the baton of Maoist self-criticism.

What was Professor Sir Timothy Hunt’s wrongdoing? During a speech at a luncheon for women scientists, he remarked lightly, ironically,



Let me tell you about my trouble with girls…things happen when they are in the lab…You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry.

Hunted down

Such is the modern thirst, writes Dalrymple,

for moral or political outrage, which is the tool of the mediocre to bring about their revenge upon the gifted, that words are now taken in the most literal sense and given thereby the worst possible interpretation. The mediocre wait to take offence as a spider awaits its prey in a web; the spider needs its prey to live, the mediocre their offendedness to feel a sense of purpose to their lives.

Struggle session

Struggle session

Red guards of the internet

Professor Hunt was forced to resign

by what in effect was a witch hunt, or a lynch mob.

Dalrymple points out that

science doesn’t need women, it needs scientists, just as art needs artists and literature needs writers; whether they are men or women is irrelevant. There is no female science any more than there was Jewish or bourgeois science, of late unhappy memory.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 08.52.07Heresy

It is not truth

that is the aim, but power. That is the purpose of propaganda in totalitarian regimes: to force starving people to acquiesce to the proposition that they have never eaten so well.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 08.53.27It is

a totalitarian demand that a cell biologist, in order to be able to work at all, should subscribe to the current political orthodoxy, whether it be right or wrong. It is constitutive of these times in which diversity is claimed as the highest good that there should exist a demand that everyone should think alike or at least not utter heresies in public.


The aim, says Dalrymple, is that of Newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-Four:

that certain things should not only be unsayable but unthinkable.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 08.49.25


The harridan-and-harpy wing of British politics

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 15.02.04 An article reflecting the views of such people is read, or endured, by Dalrymple. It is about ‘gender inequality’ in politics and society, and is both

dull, as all such articles are bound to be,

and impoverishing of the English language. However, the virtue of the article, to be found in the London newspaper the Observer, is that it lavishly furnishes Dalrymple with opportunities to indulge what he describes as

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 14.59.45one of the most delightful of emotions,

viz., righteous indignation.

The article irritates our man intensely, finally reducing the doctor-writer to

impotent rage.