Sex, pardon me, gender as a political persuasion

A woman was a sphinx without secrets to Oscar Wilde. God’s second mistake to Friedrich Nietzsche. Someone who’d rather be right than reasonable to Ogdon Nash. Then physiologists took over and described a woman as someone with XX chromosomes.

These days the first three definitions would be widely regarded as frivolous, condescending, possibly fascistic. And the fourth one isn’t just insufficient but quite possibly wrong.

For example, feminists never accepted that, say, Golda Meir, Jeanne Kirkpatrick or Margaret Thatcher were women, even though they manifestly satisfied the chromosomal requirement. Granted, if pressed, feminists would agree that the three politicians were indeed female, but only technically speaking. However, they fell short of the only definition that matters, the political one.

All three only got to be regarded as women posthumously, when they could promote the feminist cause by being female after all and could no longer hurt it by not being feminists. When still alive, they simply didn’t qualify for the cherished minority status (in case you didn’t know this, women are a minority even though there are more of them – go figure, as Americans say.)

None of the three was a victim; two of them were perceived to be rightwing, possibly fascistic; all three were bellicose towards what we’re mandated to believe are oppressed minorities; two actually led their countries to war. Against this background, the seven children the three non-women had between them would be regarded as annoying factual irrelevancies that always seem to interfere with really crucial considerations.

It is from this sex, pardon me, gender angle that the legacy of Lady Thatcher is being evaluated by so many. She may have been the most popular prime minister of the 20th century, but that’s unimportant. What really matters is that she is the sole female prime minister, even if she only became a card-carrying woman at death, having before been a reactionary, possibly fascistic affront to all progressive personkind.

Yesterday I was served, to accompany my morning coffee, a demonstration of this tendency by Sky News. Commissioned to comment on the deceased were two young women, each holding the mystery title of Women’s Editor, one at the Telegraph, the other at the Guardian.

Now I can understand, indeed welcome, a woman Editor, but a Women’s Editor? Especially at the Telegraph? Whatever next? By inference the two papers pursue a separate editorial policy aimed at women, which is nothing short of chauvinistic if you ask me. Possibly even fascistic.

Before the two young women opened their mouths I made a satisfied mental note that ours was better-looking (not being blessed with a public office, I shan’t do an Obama and apologise for this disgraceful, possibly fascistic remark). Then again, she wore horn-rimmed spectacles and, contrary to Dorothy Parker’s assertion, I do, or rather used to, make passes at girls in glasses.

Alas, the fanciable editor immediately let the side down by being conspicuously less well-spoken than her leftie counterpart. When a conservative journalist uses the glottal stop and a socialist one doesn’t, you know it’s the end of the world.

However, the two ladies immediately went on to prove that such notions are hopelessly obsolete, lamentably ill-informed and possibly fascistic. For, in spite of any divergence of appearance and diction, their grasp of political realities in general and Lady Thatcher’s legacy in particular was remarkably similar.

Both female persons remarked approvingly on Lady Thatcher being a successful woman, indeed politically the most successful one in British history. Then the Guardian person suggested that, though successful in having become prime minister at all, Margaret Thatcher failed miserably in the main mission of her life, that is of bringing more women into politics.

I must admit that I never realised this was Lady Thatcher’s aim in life, and neither I’m sure did Lady Thatcher. But the Guardian female person backed up her assertion with hard evidence: a risible 22 percent of our MPs are currently women.

If I expected a counterargument from her Telegraph counterpart, I didn’t get one. She agreed mournfully that this lamentable statistic did prove that Lady Thatcher had failed. And why was the statistic so lamentable and the failure so conspicuous? Because, explained the well-informed editor of our conservative broadsheet, our House of Representatives should represent, meaning faithfully reflect, the demographic makeup of the electorate.

That she clearly doesn’t understand the meaning of parliamentary representation didn’t make me gasp with horror – she is a modern person after all, so what matters to her is undoubtedly not what she understands but what she feels. But even in our educationally disadvantaged times, one would expect someone holding a high post at a major national newspaper, especially a conservative one, to know that the lower chamber of our Parliament is called the House of Commons, not of Representatives.

Perhaps my ear had deceived me, and the lovely bespectacled pundit was actually American? For the next minute or so I concentrated on how she spoke, rather than what she said. No, it was all there, the glottal stop, the odd dropped ‘h’ – the female person was not only British but identifiably London, or at least Estuary.

Perhaps then Lady Thatcher, may she rest in peace, did fail in her life’s work, in some way. But not in the way the two silly girls meant.


P.S. I had already posted this comment, when Glenda Jackson, formerly a hideous actress and now an even more hideous Labour MP, declared in the House of Commons (Representatives?) that Lady Thatcher was ‘a woman, but not on my terms.’ Miss Jackson’s terms are of course defined both politically (see above) and aesthetically, by ill-advisedly posing nude for the film camera. Lady Thatcher falls short on both criteria. Thanks, Glenda, for helping me make my point.    







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