Hello Again Stephen,
When I requested engagement on our issues, I did not mean "I shall talk in my most erudite, passive aggressive, dismissive way, and you shall listen while I tell you how wrong you are again". Ahh "Silliness" - It's all too silly to contemplate, so you shall expound and tell us women how silly we all really are for being upset. Ahh yes, another man tells us how the discussion on sexism should go.
You claim that you were putting this idea of female sexual repression out there as such: "I had fondly imagined that in a free and open society one might be allowed to play with such ideas in a reasonable spirit of debate". Surely one such as yourself should understand the rules of the debate: that each side gets to speak their piece and the other side rebut.
However, what has gone down here is not a debate. You said your piece in a forum which was a one sided conversation, and when women/feminists/pesky media finally got a chance to respond in the forums they have, you flounced from the debating table, opened up the opposition to attack, denigrated the forums in which we have to respond, and positioned yourself as the victim.
Yes, we understand the media is a nasty wee beasty who will twist words and seek attention using a person's good name. I am critical of the media on a daily basis for such bottom feeding behaviour. However, it is disingenuous for you to write paragraphs acknowledging this and the status of celebrity in today's society, then turn around and say you are "Just a nobody whose opinion is worth no more than anyone else’s". No matter how twee, sweet and humble you posit yourself as, there comes a time where you must own the responsibilities of celebrity, with the power and privilege that come with it.
So, you were "simply taking a thought for a walk", as if struck by the thought on the spur of the moment and your tongue got carried away with your brain. Strange that you've taken this same idea for a walk on previous occasions:
Regarding your disengagement from media and avoiding reading about yourself, that's fair enough - engaging on every little thing would get tiring and hurtful, and who wants to be told they're a moron on a daily basis, without basis. But this is not a little thing, and refusing to engage on it makes it even less littler. You chose your own forum in which to respond, your own safe space, which is also fair enough, but by refusing to read what was written and asked of you (intelligent engagement with people who know something about female sexuality) you have no sense of what troubled people so much beyond the vague concept that "people were upset, and when they're upset they're angry, it's so silly to be angry and I don't engage with silly and angry people". Goodness, that sounds very much like the Tone Argument. You're intelligent Stephen, I thought you'd be beyond having Feminism 101 explained to you.
"I suppose I might have to find a way to avoid saying something monumentally stupid that finds its way back to Britain." I am in New Zealand. The person you opened up for a Twitter dogpile is from New Zealand. You talk to the world, yet you make out like this is some quaint little Fleet Street ruckus, a storm in a British teacup. For someone who has been a major early technology adopter and one of the biggest Twitterers, this is another disingenuous leap.
"All they have to do is ignore me". Ah another derailing cry from the fingered misogynist. I know the big, bad "m" word can be frightening, but you know what Stephen? Own it. Women have ignored sexism for far too long, and silence condones. If no one is willing to speak out about sexism, how will it ever be solved?
"I admit that I do have a sometimes disastrous tendency, when asked a question, to answer it, often jokingly, or in the interests of ventilating a new thought that has struck, or more or less as the mood takes me but certainly too much without any consideration of the possible consequences." Good good, we're getting somewhere - yes, we all have brain farts. But a sexist joke is still sexist, and still hurts. However, not once in all the times that you have spouted this nonsense have you framed it as a joke or some comedy spiel. The above video seems to be in a serious tone, and the quote from the article that stirred this debate (ahem) were taken in a serious manner by the journalist. My comedy meter is not broken - I'm still not going to laugh when someone jokes "Women, eh? Aren't they just frigid, marriage and baby hungry shrews?"
"I am not, after all, a politician who has to weigh every syllable and its chances of giving offence." No, you're not a politician, but dammit Stephen you're a human being, and human beings of every type, politician or no, should weigh their words carefully regardless, to save harming other people. Basic common human decency. Honestly, is that so hard?
"It simply isn’t my business to pronounce on something that I know nothing of and I’m sorry if the very idea of my even touching on the topic is deemed offensive, inappropriate and outrageous by authorities on gender issues, if such authorities exist." Goddamit Stephen, it's passive aggressive bullshit like this that really gets my goat. Of course you're allowed discourse on topics you may not be so learned on, but don't be so put out if we come back at you claiming a little more expertise and wishing to engage on the matter in a different manner. If such authorities exist? Are you really saying women are not the authority on their own gender or sexuality? Men can be learned on gender issues too if you take the time to listen. This is not listening - this is sneering at our frustration.
In the end, you play the Oppression Olympics and victim cards. We are very much aware of the homophobic bullying, and we're on your side with that. It's disgusting, and should not be tolerated. But we're feeling bullied here too, especially by you with your insistence on non-engagement and non-apology. You're feeling "spanked with a fly whisk"? How about women feeling slapped in the face every single day by the patriarchy, told they have no right to their sexuality, that it belongs to hetero men? How can we be effective allies to you if you're blocking us in such a fashion.
I'm glad that you see your words were "ill-judged", but my guess is not because you feel sad you hurt some of your fellow human beings - it's because you were pulled up and your privilege shown for what it really is. Hey, I recognize what it's like to have your privilege pointed out. It hurts. It sucks. But Stephen, it's not your precious feelings that need saving here.
Not once did you give a decent apology in your response. In fact, it amounts to the standard, sigh-inducing non-apology that the discriminated against get every single fricken' day - "I'm sorry you were offended". I see you recognize your prejudices too, and I'm not asking you to grovel, just a recognition that you have a ways to go to unpick where these prejudices are coming from and that you are willing to try.
And if you're not willing to at least try, then I'm sorry Stephen we can't be friends any more. Because I expect better of my friends. Perhaps you should consider a leash for that thought of yours if you decide to take it out for a walk again.
ETA: Since people are selectively seeing only this blog post - and not even the whole thing it seems - here is my original open letter to Stephen Fry, and the article that sparked the whole debate.