“Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them so much” -Oscar Wilde
Last week, I was entertaining the chilling possibility of Louise Mensch one day becoming Prime Minister. Today, in a surprising twist, Mensch announced she would be resigning as an MP.
For a fleeting second, it felt like today might be the Best Day Ever, starting with a robot comfortably landing on Mars and immediately sending back a grainy photo of its wheels on alien soil, and then the resignation of arguably one of the worst people in politics. But my hand stayed on the metaphorical cork of my metaphorical champagne bottle when I saw her reason why.
To spend more time with her family.
Now, admittedly, this is a highly flexible excuse for quitting and can mean anything from “I want to spend more time with my family” to “I just accidentally destroyed the economy through my sheer incompetence and I’m jumping before I’m pushed” to “I shagged a goat and I want to spare my party the embarrassment”. However, given Mensch’s background, it seems likely that her reasons for resignation lean closer towards the actual wanting to spend time with family end of the spectrum.
And I feel kind of sorry for her over this: her husband lives and works in New York, and she and her three children frequently hop across the pond to be together, until now juggling this with her work as a politician. And of course, living under patriarchy, it was Mensch who had to quit her job to make the move.
Tory feminism has failed Louise Mensch. Even with all of her privileges, she couldn’t have it all.
On Twitter, I asked why Mensch’s husband couldn’t have been the one to quit his job and move to the UK to support his family. While a lot of people agreed with this sentiment, there were two reasons given (mostly by men) that this set-up would make no sense whatsoever.
First was the notion that Mensch’s husband’s job earned more money. Perhaps so, but in the grand scheme of things, the potential career progression for an MP is somewhat better: running a country is arguably better than booking hotel rooms for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even being an MP has a higher degree of social capital than making sure Metallica get on their plane at the right time. For those who believe in representative democracy–and I’m assuming Mensch did–her job was better and more important than her husband’s.
Second is the idea that the kids weren’t his. This is such a grimly archaic view of families that it doesn’t really require much comment, save to say that if this factored into the decision at all, Louise Mensch would do better to get a divorce.
It was patriarchy that killed Louise Mensch’s career in politics, and for that reason I can’t feel as happy as if she’d resigned for other reasons, such as being a chronic liability due to monumental hubristic failure, or as a post-revolutionary head-on-a-spike. Somehow I doubt she’ll see it that way: the lens of Tory feminism refracts these decisions into nothing more than personal choice.