Oh dear. Louise Mensch has been at it again with the Tory feminism. This time, she’s upset about people telling her to check her privilege, displaying a profound lack of understanding of intersectional feminism and the notion of what privilege is and cissexism, all of which she has somehow managed to conflate together because she understands it so little. Also, I think she’s watched The Life of Brian recently. Anyway, for the most part it is the same tedious anti-intersectional twaddle which tends to come from high-profile people who have had their fingers burned by being challenged on some dingleberries they’ve been spouting and lack the basic level of self-reflection to learn from the experience.
However, Louise Mensch has a solution to the problem! She calls for a reality-based feminism, which is basically this:
American feminism gets organised. It sees where power lies, and it mobilises to achieve it. It gets its candidates elected. Feminism here is about running for office, founding a company, becoming COO of Facebook or Yahoo. It is power feminism that realises that actual empowerment for women means getting more money, since money and liberty often equate, and being able to legislate or influence. Hillary Clinton shifted from First Lady to Senator. Before that she was a powerful lawyer.
And by the way, reality-based feminism – where you achieve, try to earn lots of money, run for office, campaign for measurable goals like defeating Sen. Todd Akin – is not a province of Conservative feminism alone. When I think of a true feminist of the left that I admire I think of Stella Creasy MP and her campaign against payday loans. She’s doing something. She ran for office. She got involved in the Labour party. She matters immensely. She will change things.
This is apparently what feminism should be fighting for according to Louise Mensch. The tiny number of high-paid positions which are near-impossible to attain due to material and social circumstances. Forget fighting for not having to live in fucking fear every day, forget fighting to be recognised as a human being, forget fighting for survival. In Louise Mensch’s reality, feminism is about getting a well-paid job, and fighting only battles on the lowest difficulty setting with an easy win guaranteed.
And I suppose it’s good for her that this is the only thing that she needs. Good for her that most of her problem is that people say she’s privileged on the internet, because if that’s her problem, then she really is staggeringly privileged. This privilege has bestowed upon her a staggering lack of empathy and imagination, a lack of any ability to see how impossible her vision is for the vast amount of women.
Louise Mensch thinks that everything she did was entirely her own doing, a shocking degree of egocentrism which most people grow out of by the age of three. There is absolutely no consideration that perhaps she lucked out at the life lottery in order to get where she is. She believes it to be possible to anyone, concluding with a somewhat frightening peek at her ideal future.
The picture at the top is of me at school aged 14. Big glasses, nerdy, feminist, ambitious, idolising Thatcher, and determined to be famous, to be an author, and to be rich. I was at private school my parents couldn’t really afford because I bust my ass and won a 100% academic scholarship. I always believed in myself and I had and have no intention of checking my privilege for anyone. I earned it. I hope the next generation of young women feel the same.
Imagine this future, where women squabble like a flock of pigeons, pecking at the scraps patriarchy chooses to throw us. A future utterly devoid of any solidarity, just women kicking down our sisters, piling their limp forms into a ladder to get that executive position. Imagine a future where we no longer dream of better and hope for better, hope for a change to a society which is inherently oppressive, crying out for an end to capitalism and kyriarchy. We would compete to be the chosen ones and turn a blind eye to continuing violence and horrors, never looking back just ruthlessly making sure that it is never us who are victims. Better someone else. It would be Mad Max in shoulder pads.
And if we won, we would mistakenly believe that somehow we earned it all, which is far better than the truth: we got lucky. If we lost, we would be blamed for our misfortune, our inability to play the game correctly.
It would be quaint, Louise Mensch’s belief that there is a pure meritocracy and that circumstances do not affect it, were it not just the stick that is used to beat us again and again and again.
The current state of affairs has benefited Louise Mensch, and so she does not want to rock the boat and enact any sort of change to the system. This is why she wants to maintain her reality, stubbornly attempting to swat away anyone who reminds her that it a hefty heap of luck supplemented her hard work to get her where she is today. She decries those who are not rooted in her reality.
And yet, by insistent focus on how things cannot change, all she betrays is that she is stagnant, and set in her ways. She is disgusted by dreamers, those of us who see that the system is broken and should not survive, those of us who hope for better. We flow like a small mountain stream, clearer and brighter, while Mensch and her ilk are a set of foetid puddles, unmoving and separate. Will we one day roar into a river, we dreamers? I like to hope so, because I have something Louise Mensch does not: hope and a vision that things can be different.