This is not really what I wanted to do for my next post, but forgive me – this is so offensive that I cannot let it go.
Royal Baby gets born – great! It’s a boy. From the minute I heard the news I could imagine the feminists on every kind of alert to find evidence of sexism in people’s reactions. I imagined them scouring articles in every right-wing newspaper they could find, keeping their eyes peeled for ‘patriarchy’ stuff; you know, very important feminist work.
Sure enough, within a few hours, this is flying around Facebook and Twitter – as reported by the delightful Jezebel:
Female journalist makes reference to the fact that Kate has fulfilled the historical duty and ambition of royal consorts by producing a male heir and happens to use the phrase ‘Kate is brilliant [for having a boy]’. She is branded a moron. I am sure that if she had been male the choice of insult would have been much worse.
Now, this already annoyed me. Anyone with an even moderate knowledge of European history is aware of the huge significance of the birth of a male heir – wars have been fought over it, kingdoms lost, dynasties overthrown, not to mention families and nations torn apart. Not only that, but thanks to the highly poplar Tudors and their reproductive issues, the idea of a princess or queen’s fertility and ability to produce a son is also one of the most romanticised aspects of royal history. Why should a journalist fail to draw attention to this? The fact that the law of succession has recently been changed cannot erase any of the past – much as feminists would wish it to. Kate has never put a foot wrong in her quest to be the face of tradition – surely the ironic fact that even her body appears to be ‘on her side’ is worthy of comment? And taking offence at the phrase ‘Kate is brilliant’ …seriously? Does anyone really believe that a woman can control the gender of her baby? Imagine the baby had been a girl – I doubt there would have been any shortage of Facebook or Twitter posts along the lines of ‘well done Kate – great day for feminism!’ But who would have commented on this, or complained that it was unfair and discriminatory? Nobody.
I was waiting for someone to say something along the lines of ‘what a shame it wasn’t a girl’ to prove my point. And then who goes and does it? Jezebel. The exact source that responded with vitriol when someone dared to admit that there might be historical reasons to be happy that the child was male:
Now, by my standards the contents of this post aren’t actually sexist – I don’t have a problem with people pointing out that ‘the idea of a brand new princess seems more interesting’, but if judged by feminist standards the whole thing stinks to high patriarchy heaven. Yes, the article is tongue in cheek, but would any joking be tolerated if the shoe were on the other foot. Not to mention the fact that the article implies that everyone ought to have felt some natural ‘feminist impulse’ to want the baby to be a girl – now who wants this child to serve their own social purpose?
What bothers me is the hypocrisy of it. The sheer hypocrisy, double standards and self-righteousness of a publication which claims that women should not be treated differently because of their gender to then go and produce material that smacks of every kind of awful female stereotype; bitchiness, jealousy, superficiality, inconsistency – you name it.
Frailty, thy name is Jezebel.