National Treasures

In some kind of hell-hole of popular culture meets deranged far-right astro-turf indymedia, The Spectator writes:

“Former Tory MP, borderline national treasure, and now Celebrity Big Brother contestant Ann Widdecombe is the common sense feminist icon we should all get on board with..”

Widdecombe, sharp-eyed readers will recall, is the formers Prisons Minister who insisted that women prisoners should be manacled to their hospital beds while giving birth. As a feminist role model she’s probably up there with Meghan Markel.

Because she too has been recently held-up, rather confusingly as a feminist icon. After liberal feminists stopped off from (quite rightly) campaigning against the “Princessisation” of girls culture, it seems more than a bit weird to celebrate Meghan Markel. Yes she’s not a porcelain caricature from English aristocracy but … that’s about it. You can’t be a Feminist Princess.

Equally, I’m confused about Justine Greening’s recent elevation.

Sophie Walker of the Women’s Equality Party (and erstwhile of this parish ) writes of the shambolic reshuffle:

But should we really be looking for equality in a cabinet of contempt?

In a government that has the repugnant Esther McVey, a Food Bank enthusiast really going to be the place for gender balance?

I’m confused.

Justine Greening isn’t an icon to rally around because she’s gay or “Northern”. In the context of the most insidious punitive Conservative Government in living memory, this sort of lifestyleism isn’t helpful.

Reuters reported: “Losing the only lesbian minister in the cabinet threatens what May hoped to be the narrative of her reshuffle: that she was ushering in a new, more diverse team to counter accusations that the Conservative Party is out of touch.”

Oh dear.

But I’m not the only one who’s confused.

After Oprah’s inspiring Golden Globes speech poor Ivanka tweeted:

 

So: no you can’t be a Feminist Princess, you are not a ‘common sense feminist icon’ if you advocate shackling other women to their beds, and no you can’t paper over the cracks of austerity and neoliberalism by posturing and … someone please tell Ivanka …

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  1. Robert says:

    “You can’t be a Feminist Princess…”

    Sorry, but I beg to differ. Hanging out with girls from roughly age 4 up to 14 (an occupational hazard of parenting) has taught me that
    a) Girls are extremely interested in princesses (as well as fairies, mermaids, witches, and all other female archetypes) and
    b) Girls are extremely keen on feminism.

    So if you tell girls that feminism means they can’t be interested in princesses any more, the message that sends is that being a feminist inevitably means being a bossy, self-righteous bore (otherwise known as a “parent”).

    Feminist princess icons from popular culture include Leia (despite the bronze bikini), Pocahontas (who teaches her man about the value of ecological balance and cultural tolerance), Anna (who celebrates sisterhood and girl culture), Arwen (who out-stealths and out-rides her man in the first LOTR movie — not, of course, in the original Tolkien books), Princess Mononoke (wild girl extraordinaire)…

    I could go on, and probably would, except that now I have to go and play a board game.

    As for Ann Widdicome, f*** her and the horse she rode in on.

    1. Jo says:

      @ Robert

      Hopefully”girls” will read The Fellowship of the Ring and meet the real Arwen rather than make a feminist icon out of her for deeds she didn’t carry out.

      1. Robert says:

        We could go into a debate about the realness of the original Arwen versus the film version. Both are fictional after all, aren’t they? Personally I am a bit of a stickler for authenticity, and was really annoyed that they left out Tom Bombadil and the Scouring of the Shire, but what can you do? Both stories are out there in the culture and we have to deal with them.

        However, I am sorry to say that LOTR and even the Hobbit have been rejected as reading material because they don’t have any good female characters.

        PS. Why do you put “girls” in inverted commas? Is there something wrong with that word now?

  2. Robert says:

    Not sure what happened to my comment…

  3. Fay Kennedy says:

    Sorry Robert as an ancient feminist I would be happy to see the end of princessdom and everything it represents. Time for new role models please.

    1. Robert says:

      Hi Fay

      Yes, that is what I would have said before becoming a parent. I have learned better: you can’t choose what children are interested in, you have to try and find positive images to counter the negative ones.

  4. SleepingDog says:

    In the olden days, Britain only had around thirteen treasures, but I’m sure we have space for more, especially if we have a clear-out of the loot-vaults of the British Museum. Hmmm, perhaps the mythical Bed of Widdicombe, whose power was that any pregnant woman who lay upon it was magically ensnared? Erm, the Tiara of Meghan, which casts a glamour so that any who view the wearer projects their own biases upon her? The Hamper of McVey? The Trap of Ivanka? The Figleaf of Greening?

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