Magazine article The Spectator

A Feminist Upbringing Is Fine - If You Want to Become an Engineer or Chairman of the Tory Party

Magazine article The Spectator

A Feminist Upbringing Is Fine - If You Want to Become an Engineer or Chairman of the Tory Party

Article excerpt


Female models, responsible for draping themselves over new cars and appearing in their underwear in advertisements to promote this year's British International Motor Show in Birmingham, would describe as `out-of-date' and 'pathetic' the government's stereotyping of women into becoming politicians. It follows the case of Miss Estelle Morris who was browbeaten into becoming secretary of state for education when she would obviously have been happier reclining across the bonnet of the new Mini.

Nonetheless, `out-of-date' and 'pathetic' was how Mrs Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, in an interview, described those girls. She called for more women engineers in the car industry. But the models would take the view that Mrs Hewitt's attitudes go back to Miss Germaine Greer, and early 1970s feminism. Women have moved on since then. They want to spend a few years having a good time with Latin American polo players, Old Etonian wine merchants, and the occasional plebeian Formula One driver. Then they intend to settle down in their early twenties and have babies with a rich, idle, preferably titled landowner - instead of becoming design engineers in Coventry, as their mothers would have done before them.

Mrs Hewitt thinks all that is unnatural. Perhaps it is - compared with the restricting way in which she was brought up in the 1960s. In those days a girl was supposed to aspire to a degree in environmental studies at a plate-glass university, leaving her books only to participate in sit-ins to prevent Thatcherite historians from lecturing on the Soviet Union's responsibility for the Cold War. There were few other opportunities open to women.

Inevitably, Miss Morris eventually decided that she hated being secretary of state for education, and resigned. She had been ruthlessly exploited by men, notably the Prime Minister, in an antiquated attempt on their part to curry favour with a feminist-dominated society. A trim 50-year-old, with a pleasing personality, it is not too late for Miss Morris to take up modelling.

Another case is that of Theresa May, the Conservative MP. Mr Ben Macintyre, the Times's parliamentary sketchwriter, described how she looked in the Commons this week: `Theresa May had dressed for the occasion as d'Artagnan's Mother, with red handbag, red jacket with epaulettes, shoes sharpened to red rapier points, red lips and slightly red eyes.'

This suggests that the girl is a born pole-- dancer. Her natural habitat is leaping on to tables at Stringfellow's before groups of noisy, amiably tipsy, male City traders. Yet a feminist upbringing has fitted her only for such work as chairman of the Conservative party, babbling for more women on shortlists, and losing her party thousands of votes by chattering about the Tories being the nasty party. Our daughters deserve better than this.

Doubtless the liberal Establishment -- and the rest of the Establishment, if there is now any other kind - is right constantly to tell us how to equate Islam with antiWestern violence or terrorism. But we are also being bullied into denying our own civilisation.

In an attempt to be decent about Islam, officialdom and its spokesmen are in danger of overdoing it. They are forever telling us that there was a time, comparatively recently - the Middle Ages or possibly the Dark Ages - when Islamic civilisation was more advanced than Christendom or the West. …

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