JANET STREET-PORTER: Memo to women MPs: you can’t be a clothes horse AND a feminist!
Feminist: Louise Mensch wants to be taken seriously
Am I convinced by talk of a new, Right-wing brand of feminism Tory MP Louise Mensch & Co. say they’re on our wavelength, but I have my doubts.
How can any woman so obsessed with how she’s photographed, and what she’s wearing, relate to what ordinary women want
Yesterday, a picture of Louise in her Corby constituency appeared in The Observer. Her hair tied back, she wore a severe, black, no-nonsense shirt-dress, hands resting artlessly on a stern leather handbag.
Above her head, a formal portrait of her icon, Maggie, looked down. The message Louise projected was as subtle as a billboard — Look at me, just like Maggie, I am in control.
No, Louise, the only person in control is the next photographer queuing to take your picture because you’re more glamorous than Theresa May or Baroness Warsi, co-chairman of the Tory Party and the UK’s first female Muslim minister — two Right-wing politicians who deal in real power, not power-dressing.
If Louise Mensch wants to be taken seriously as a feminist, then posing in an expensive Dolce & Gabbana leather skirt like a dominatrix, as she did in GQ magazine last month, was a rum way to get her message across.
GQ isn’t aimed at women, and few of her female Corby constituents would be interested in a glossy mag that costs 3.99 and whose next issue promises ‘Sex myths exploded’, along with a Victoria’s Secret underwear model on the cover.
Louise sold a large number of chick-lit novels before becoming an MP in 2010, but she left university to work in the press office of EMI and then the marketing department of Sony Music.
As someone who spent five years with a rock musician, I can vouch that the record industry does not rank feminism a top priority.
More from Janet Street Porter…
JANET STREET-PORTER: Bisto, booze and my secrets to happiness this Christmas
The sheer lunacy of women refusing to look their age
JANET STREET-PORTER: The mouse that ate the High Street
JANET STREET-PORTER: It's time for us oldies to take a stand!
BEHIND THE SCENES ON I'M A CELEBRITY: Who cares about the celebs I'm having a scream in the jungle
Working from home sends you bonkers (and I should know)
JANET STREET PORTER: The women who are letting the rest of us down
Never mind girl power for royals… what about the rest of us
VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
A few months ago, Louise was coy when The Guardian asked if her enviably tight complexion was the result of cosmetic surgery. She refused to confirm or deny that she had help in maintaining her firm jawline.
Fair play — every woman is entitled to secrets. But when you waffle on about dressing to please your husband, you start to sound a bit desperate.
She’s said she was misquoted, but why answer personal questions in the first place Her husband is a rock millionaire who lives in the U.S. and whom she tries to visit regularly — again, not a lifestyle most working mums can connect with. We find it hard enough to visit relatives in the North, given the price of train fares these days, let alone hop on a jet and cross the Atlantic for a bit of nooky.
I’m not buying this fantasy about a new Tory feminism — Nadine Dorries tried to get stricter controls imposed on abortion clinics recently, although her proposals were defeated in the Commons.
More importantly, female Tory MPs haven’t persuaded David Cameron to impose quotas on the number of women in boardrooms either.
Claiming that Maggie is your icon should also sound alarm bells — Mrs T was a formidable leader, but she was no friend of women. She wasn’t the slightest bit interested in equality, but individual freedom.
These new Right-wing feminists are highly-paid MPs, enjoying considerable expenses. I’d be more impressed if female MPs from every party set aside issues of dogma and rhetoric and worked together to ensure women in the UK are valued, fairly paid and given the same chances as men.
Deep down, I think Louise Mensch is only interested in one thing: her career. Is she any different from Maggie
Diane Abbott is no fan of mine (since I dared to comment on the hypocrisy of a Labour MP who represents working-class Hackney sending her son to an expensive private school), and whenever I appear on Andrew Neil’s This Week on BBC1, she gives a look as if a nasty smell has invaded the studio.
Why does she spend so much time tweeting when she could be working for her constituents Now she’s in trouble with cabbies for tweeting that black people find it hard to hail a taxi. A sweeping generalisation.
I made a telly series working as a cabbie, and discovered a fantastic ethnic mix were learning The Knowledge. They’re hardly going to be turning fares down, are they Think before you press the send button, Diane.
I've got metal fatigue
Let her music speak for itself: Singer Amy Winehouse
Britain is blighted by pointless statues to the famous. Recently Maggi Hambling’s clunky metal seashell commemorating Benjamin Britten at Aldeburgh was desecrated yet again and will cost thousands to restore.
Her seat where you can ‘chat’ to Oscar Wilde near Trafalgar Square is another redundant eyesore.
These men were geniuses, poorly served by second-rate art — their work is their best epitaph, not a chunk of bronze.
The same is true of Amy Winehouse, but her dad is in talks with Camden Council about erecting a statue in her memory outside the Roundhouse in North London where she performed her final show.
As Amy spent most of her time the worse for wear in pubs around Camden, I would have thought a bar stool more appropriate. Please let her music speak for itself.
Just before Christmas, Sophie, Countess of Wessex stopped in Bahrain on the way back from accompanying her husband on a ‘morale-boosting’ trip to our troops in Afghanistan.
Twenty-four hours later, she arrived home with a couple of early Christmas gifts, two fabulous sets of jewellery from her hosts — the same rulers who allowed a pro-democracy protest in Bahrain to be dealt with so violently 40 people were killed.
I hope Sophie plans to auction her bling and give the proceeds to charity. That should suit her because it involves very little physical work.
According to the Court Circular, Sophie has carried out roughly 191 official engagements in 2011, compared to Princess Anne’s 568 and the Queen’s 370.
Sophie is a mum, but one who lives in cocooned luxury and who seems to spend her time keeping her head down. Even her entries on the official royal website haven’t been updated since 2008!
Great Dane with a lesson for Dave
Great Dane: Sidse Babett Knudsen, who plays Birgitte Nyborg
I was an early fan of The Killing and now Saturday nights are sorted for the next four weeks with the start of Borgen, an engrossing new Danish thriller on BBC4.
Instead of Sarah Lund tracking down murderers in her chunky sweater, we have the battle of the Birgittes.
Birgitte Hjort Sorensen plays a sexy young TV reporter covering the political crisis, as the leader of the Moderate party Birgitte Nyborg (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen) manages to become Denmark’s first female Prime Minister after a split election and attempts to form a coalition government.
The frantic scenes of wheeling and dealing will seem eerily familiar to UK voters, but the key difference between the way these fictional Danes run things and what happened here is that women have been given 50 per cent of the ministerial jobs in Borgen. Let’s hope Dave is watching.
The Towie twins
I don’t have a pet, or kids, but I could easily find houseroom for the only cute person in The Only Way Is Essex, Harry — he of the incomprehensible accent, non-existent muscles, creamy layer of foundation and inverted chest.
Harry reminds me of those other telly cuties, the meerkats: a large head on a stick-like body, swivelling eyes and even bigger ears.
Spot the difference: TOWIE's Harry bears a striking resemblance to a meerkat
I interviewed (if that’s the correct expression for attempting to chat to an alien) Harry on Loose Women last week as he tried to ‘promote’ TOWIE’s exercise DVD.
If he did a real workout, Harry would snap in two. He’s a most unlikely gym buff.
Series four of Towie will start soon, and another three are planned for 2012, so we’ll be seeing a lot more of this 17-year-old.
Harry wears twice as much slap as me and has already admitted to a spot of Botox in preparation for his panto debut in Woking.