Sarah Vine's worthless piece on the nobelist row sullies the name of feminism
Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine has a cover story in today’s Femail supplement of the paper titled ‘March of the feminist bullies’.
The piece concerns the resignation of Sir Tim Hunt as honorary professor at University College London after calling women working in laboratories a ‘distraction’. In a speech he said:
“Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.”
The piece is illustrated with a picture of a giant foot in a high-heeled shoe crushing a man in a suit with a briefcase. This depiction of the power dynamic at work may surprise readers of the paper’s women’s magazine.
Ms Vine writes that, following Prof Hunt’s remarks: ‘Immediately, like vultures over the desert, the harpies began circling’:
“It’s days like these that I despair of my sex. Of the stupid, pampered, spoilt women who have nothing better to do with their lives than whinge and whine about utterly trivial items of entirely innocuous cack-handedness by slightly inept men who have no intention whatsoever of offending the Sisterhood, but who, entirely by accident, end up getting it in the neck.”
As is common with these pieces, Ms Vine doesn’t name a single feminist, or identify which groups or schools of thought she is criticising. The piece is therefore essentially worthless, except as a case study in how the press tries to sully the name of progressive movements.
When she finally lists what she thinks women ought to be campaigning about, Ms Vine writes:
“And when it comes to the real sexism that exists in society — the battle for equal pay, under-promotion of women and, yes, a shortage of women in laboratories — those people are less likely to get involved and lend their support.”
Who are ‘those people’? We are left to guess.
And the Daily Mail has not spent much ink covering ‘the battle for equal pay’, leaving the paper open to at least the same criticism as Ms Vine’s phantom ‘feminists’.
The point Vine does a brilliant job of missing is this: the assumption of the remarks, basically shared by this piece, was that romance in the workplace should be blamed on the presence of women.
This would make the men helpless and without agency, simply responding to being near a woman regularly. (It also overlooks same-sex romance, but leave that aside for now.)
The problem is not, as Ms Vine would have it, Professor Hunt’s ‘inability to grasp the latest nuances of the PC lexicon’.
It’s whether woman should have an equal role in the workplace, considered as professionals first, or whether we should allow a return to the time when being female was an obstacle or disqualifier for certain jobs.
How is a young student expected to make a free decision about what career to choose if men in authority say she might cry if they let her in their club?
The idea of women leading men astray has a long tradition. It has its cultural origins in the book Ms Vine’s husband, justice minister Michael Gove, is so keen on promoting – the bible, the first real story of which blames women for the ‘fall of man’ and all subsequent human suffering.
It survives to this day, with Orthodox Jewish men in London’s Stamford Hill refusing to let women drive cars, apparently hoping to keep up with their Muslim counterparts in Saudi Arabia.
If Ms Vine is going to lament feminist’s negligence over ‘Islamic State militants raping 12-year-old girls in Syria, […] sex slavery in India,[…] female genital mutilation here’, she would do well not to promote the same ancient misogyny.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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