Janet Street-Porter used her Monday Daily Mail column to consider what women in the public eye are doing to draw attention to how women are losing out.
“More than a million women are unemployed and 700,000 are stuck in part-time jobs, when many desperately want (and need) to work longer hours and earn more… you’d expect the sisterhood to stick together and rise up in protest.
“Wrong! Instead, a bunch of high-profile women who should know better spout self-obsessed drivel, displaying a jaw-dropping lack of compassion. Whatever happened to feminism? Equality? The rights we fought so hard for?”
What does seem to have happened to the only sisterhood the Daily Mail thinks is worth paying attention to is that they seem to be making excuses for having it all.
There’s Kirstie Allsop (the right honourable) who drives a tough bargain with estate agents, makes jam from scratch then tells us of course it was never expected she would go to university. Louise Mensch/Bagshawe happily admits she took drugs (and inhaled) in her 20s yet still gathered together enough brain cells to write chick lit and become a Tory MP (wait…). Now Mensch busies herself dressing up for her husband of 3 years. Successful journalist and news reader Emily Maitlis is happy to give the impression she’s never heard of holding down the keys Ctrl Alt Del and instead a polite man is always ready to do so.
But really, apart from maybe the Ctrl Alt Del thing, which is just odd, why shouldn’t these women have outside interests and discuss them? We don’t say Gyles Brandreth lets his side down by acknowledging a fondness for teddy bears. No one despaired when Alan Coren insisted on going straight home to his wife after work.
Perhaps these women should be using the attention they have to highlight the plight of other members of their sex, yes. But by chastising them when it’s the Press who can’t mention them without referring to their weight, shoe collection or baking skills is part of the reason why young women don’t care to identify as feminists. It suggests there’s too many Puritan style rules to follow.
Feminism is all about choice. If you choose to dress up for your partner, then really that’s your business. If you want to sneakily get someone else to do a bit of your work for you then by all means look a little lost by the computer. If you want to make jams and preserves then subscribe to Bust magazine who are leading the feminist crafty movement.
Fortunately the Daily Mail back on track today thanks to Anne Diamond. It’s not that no one has noticed Dawn French has lost weight, but until Dawn French releases a statement about healthy eating and hula hooping I think we can hold off the patronising open letters warning her of a backlash if news of an undercover gastric band gets out. Apparently you can never be too thin or fat for someone to comment upon you, whatever your other interests might be.
*I admit, that sentence is paraphrased.