Left wing papers and feminist commentators are raging against yesterday’s news that the UK’s second female Prime Minister will again be a Tory.
“Don’t confuse the Conservatives’ embrace of female leaders with feminism”, declared a column in the Guardian. “A Tory leadership race between two women is not a feminist revolution”, read the heading in the New Statesman, describing the Tory leadership contest as a “panicked pound-shop Thatcher tribute band contest”.
The hard left, Corbyn supportive VICE magazine gave both candidates a “0/10” “feminist rating”, and concluded: “So who wins? Well not women, that’s for sure. Or anyone, from the looks of it.”
You know what women's liberation doesn't look like? A choice of two right-wing, anti-woman leaders who happen to be female. #ToryLeadership
— Laurie Penny (@PennyRed) July 7, 2016
With Michael Gove being eliminated from the race to be the next leader of the Conservatives yesterday, we learnt that both the UK’s first and second female leader would come from the right wing of the Tory party.
It’s been more than 25 years since Lady Thatcher became the most senior politician in the country. The Labour party and Liberal Democrats, however, which both preach endlessly about women’s liberation and the ‘glass ceiling’, have not even come close to elevating a woman to the top job.
The Liberal Democrats, whose eight MPs are all white men, even resorted to promising all-women shortlists if those MPs do not stand again in 2020, in a seemingly desperate attempt to right the perceived wrong.
The Conservative women, however, have all made it to the top on merit alone, with neither Mrs. May, Mrs. Leadsom nor Mrs. Thatcher ever claiming to be a victim.
To discredit and dismiss their success, therefore, the feminist establishment rallied today to argue that they are the “wrong type” of women.
“Neither Andrea Leadsom nor Theresa May are the figureheads anyone with a scrap of interest in women’s freedom would choose… The fact of being female does not mean a leader will deliver for women,” wrote Laurie Penny in the New Statesman.
'Tory feminist' is a silly oxymoron & doesn't exist.
— Lady Amelisandra (@MandaUtopia) June 20, 2016
Ms. Penny’s argument was, essentially, that right wing women are not women at all.
“Theresa May has a staggeringly right-wing record on immigration, has been involved in the deportation of refugee women fleeing rape and violence, and voted to cut abortion rights. Andrea Leadsom is a right-wing religious fanatic who did not vote for gay marriage,” she wrote.
Adding: “The country has yet to recover from Margaret Thatcher’s manicured massacre of our social fabric and yet we have somehow already forgotten that The Man can be a woman.”
She also insulted the candidates as merely “left over after all the men running for Tory leader backstabbed and blustered themselves out of the running,” adding: “In times of upheaval, women are invariably called on to clear up the mess the men have made.”
The Guardian, too, insulted Mrs. May and Mrs. Leadsom, writing: “A few lucky women have made it to the top, although fewer than probably should have done if we really did live in the meritocracy the Tories love so dearly.”
They only made it to where they did because “they took the same shape as the male leaders before them in order to fit the mould – anti-women policy positions included,” the author claimed.
@Anoushka_ To be feminist you have to be on the political left or you are anti-equality and anti-working class
— Julie Bindel (@bindelj) July 21, 2015
The idea that true women and feminists can only think one way is not new to left-wing identity politics, and it echoes the way the left puts ethnic minorities in boxes, assigning them views according to their biology.
Journalist Brendan O’Neill took to Facebook to mock the notion. He wrote:
“We need more women in politics! Oh, but not Andrea Leadsom, because she doesn’t like gay marriage. Or Gisela Stuart, because she is anti-EU. Or Kate Hoey, because she got on a boat with Nigel Farage. Or Thatcher, because she was a capitalist. Or libertarian women, because they think Page 3 is okay. Or white working-class women, because they voted against the EU even though it guarantees their rights, I mean how dumb can you get. We need more women like ME in politics!”
— chris g (@chrisg0000) July 7, 2016