Magazine article The Spectator

Real Women

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Women

Article excerpt

Singular life

I read that Glenys Kinnock is back in the front line of politics - that is, gender politics. For her victim she has chosen the unlikely figure of the unassuming Delia Smith.

Mrs Kinnock has accused Ms Smith of being out of touch with `real women'. `Real women'? What is a real woman? I always thought it was one who wore a frilly apron in the kitchen and stayed at home bringing up a burgeoning brood. What, for that matter, is an `unreal woman'? One constructed as the result of artificial cloning? Someone who has had a sex change and used to be a man - like the 18th-century Chevalier D'Eon who spent the first 30 years of his life as a male and the next 40 as a female. (The Chevalier D'Eon was one of the first well-known spies, incidentally. James Bond became Jane Bond.)

But, no, according to Mrs Kinnock a real woman is one who doesn't cook. Ms Smith says `to keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes'. Mrs Kinnock retorts, `Real women buy Smash and keep it in the cupboard for a year.'

Delia also says, `When catering for an evening dinner party, calculate food portions and timings a week in advance, so that you are not rushing on the night.' Mrs Kinnock retorts, `Real women drop into Marks & Sparks on the way home that evening and buy everything in packets.' Good gracious, what a cat fight. It makes the war in Afghanistan look like, as it were, small potatoes - though without an apple, of course.

No one is a greater admirer of Marks and Spencer's than myself. The assault on their clothes is unwarranted and unfair. Last week I walked into a restaurant wearing a brown suede dress. `Where did that come from?' my girlfriend asked. `Prada?' `No,' I replied, 'M&S.' Many of their outfits are far more appealing than those designed by the great goof Alexander McQueen, god of the fashion pack.

Marks & Sparks aside, Mrs Kinnock is just too, too out of fashion. She is behaving like one of those old-style Labour wives who used to resemble the leaders of Soviet tank corps. Doesn't she realise that cooking is the new black? I'll bet Mrs Blair cooks for her family at home - even though her sister-in-law Lauren Booth once caught Tony making Marmite sandwiches.

But the point is that more and more women are going back to the kitchen. This is not out of some Stepford Wives sense of feminity but because they have discovered what women have known for years. …

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