I love (loved) Benedict Cumberbatch. I wouldn’t go so far as saying I’m a ‘Cumberbitch’, but I am certainly a big fan. His Sherlock is fabulous. And I have actually taken the time to re-watch his appearance in ‘Parade’s End’, which is a big time commitment, let me tell you.
But today our relationship has been strained to breaking point by this nauseating image of the lovely Benedict wearing a ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirt. (As previously sported by such notable heart-throbs as Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, though not, to his credit, by David Cameron).
— ELLEUK (@ELLEUK) October 27, 2014
Oh Benedict, what are you doing? Are you, talented actor and beautiful man, really signing up to this politicised nonsense?
And let’s be honest about this, feminism IS political. It’s not just a fluffy endorsement of equal rights for men and women. What you’re actually doing is endorsing the shrill, quite possibly man-hating and definitely left-wing values of The Fawcett Society, the beneficiary of this campaign, which though it claims to speak for women, certainly does not represent me.
Their policies include quotas for businesses (and the cabinet), a greater regulatory burden for small businesses (dressed up as extending the ‘right’ to flexible working) and awful lot of opposition to ‘austerity’.
Did Cumberbatch look at these policy proposals before pulling on the t-shirt? Or did he too fall for the lazy and fashionable notion that feminist male = sexy, modern man. Amidst his sexy, smouldering photoshoot, Cumberbatch declared himself a feminist. I only wish it were a joke.
Is it too cynical to suggest that maybe, just maybe, Cumberbatch saw an opportunity to capture the adoration of women and took it? Too big a boost to his personal brand to miss, the actual meaning of the campaign an irrelevance.
How have we allowed feminism to become a signaller of decency and – you must be joking – sexiness? Cumberbatch clearly thinks this is an attractive look and judging by the ridiculous comments on Twitter, it is for some women. But speaking for myself – and I suspect, a silent majority of the ‘oppressed sisterhood’ – there is almost nothing less sexy than a man who boasts of being a feminist.
Men who think they will grab my attention with their ‘feminism’ are really just a bit sad. I much prefer men who are smart and principled, standing up for what they believe in rather than sheepishly following this crowd of angry and self-entitled women. Even worse, so often these men present themselves as heroes fighting a battle against their own interests long after the important battles for women have been won.
The very best men don’t buy in to this feminist rubbish, apologising for their ‘privilege’ and trying to cut a deal to boost my position. Be a thinker and a leader, not a brow-beaten sop. Talk to me about the economy and liberty, not ‘women’s issues’ (I still don’t know what this means).
Earlier this week David Cameron came under fire for refusing to wear the same t-shirt. It is lazy for Elle, the magazine using feminism to sell more copies, to say it is ‘a shame’ and ‘does not bode well’ for some men not to call themselves feminists.
I’m not a feminist – this tends to make feminists really angry – and writing as a woman I can assure you that I do not need men like Cumberbatch to be my advocates. It strikes me as a little odd that this movement that says women are just as good as men (or better, depending on who you listen to) is now saying it needs men to give it helping hand.
I wish that people would stop saying they’re a feminist without thinking about what that really means. You can believe in equality between the sexes without signing up to all the extra bullshit feminism comes with.
And Benedict, if you really love women, please stop patronising us whilst meekly following in the footsteps of a few feminist women. Just be a man about it – I promise I’ll love you for that!