A lesson in feminism for Alastair Campbell
PUBLISHED: 07:50 07 June 2018
Rachel Moore enjoys Alastair Campbell's on-air dressing-down - by his own daughter.
Any man who insists he’s a feminist most likely isn’t.
It’s like people who tell you they act with integrity; if they have to tell you they do, chances are they don’t.
Any man who truly believes in gender equality doesn’t need to say it.
Many men are feminists without even thinking about it. They don’t need the label, or to spout it for credibility. It’s in what they believe and how they act.
There are no blue and pink jobs in these men’s worlds; he does what needs doing, just like she does.
It feels like more men are insisting that they’re feminists than women, like a box to tick on their CVs.
Women are swerving the ‘F’ word because of its stereotypical man-hating 30-year-old connotations. Years ago, a friend was asked in a job interview if she was a feminist, by another woman. She was anxious it would be seen as a negative thing, so she fudged the question. She didn’t get the job.
When I asked her, a woman clearly in favour of equality on all levels in every way, why she didn’t simply say what she believed in, she said she feared being labelled.
Better a label than jobless. It’s not a trick question. How can anyone view anyone in favour of gender equality as anything other than balanced, fair and right?
So when Tony Blair’s old story spinner Alastair Campbell was debating his feminism on his LBC radio show – standing in for Nigel Farage, if that wasn’t bad enough – his own daughter called in to shoot him down very publicly.
Putting himself up as a feminist exposed him to be pulled down. But the alpha male – can there be an alpha male feminist? - could never have figured it would be by his own flesh and blood.
His daughter Grace, brought up in one of the most political London homes of the 90s, where kitchen debating, challenging and calling to account was as natural as opening a packet of frozen peas, didn’t think twice about calling him out about his posturing.
It was what she had been brought up to do.
Point one, she said, to be a feminist, he had to stop calling women “birds” – who didn’t snort and chortle at that one, Alastair? Point two, he had to “unpick” certain behaviours to “truly be a feminist”.
Car crash radio for him as she ploughed on, much to the glee of listeners.
If not shamed enough by his film-maker writer 24-year-old daughter, pointing out that women can’t be birds because “women can’t fly”, she took it to a new level and criticised him for not doing jobs around the house.
More snorts as Campbell shrivelled. According to Grace, he uses the age-old male get out of anything domestic card, pleading, pathetically, ‘I can’t.”
“Instead of saying you can’t,” shot Grace,” just learn how to.” Like women have to. Being “impractical” to avoid domestic work is not an option for women, so isn’t for men either.
I was waiting for her to accuse him of the classic male line – “I’ve emptied the bin/hovered/changed the beds/filled the dishwasher… for you.”
It’s like men who say they’re “babysitting” or having to do “child care” for the day. A mother never says “I’m doing the childcare today”, so why should it ever be different for a father? It’s called parenting.
As Campbell squirmed, Grace instructed him to educate himself if he really wanted “to properly be a feminist.”
To see her off, he told her to “stop nagging me”. Classic non-feminist – schoolboy – error, using the very word men use against women exposing they are anything but feminist. Men never accuse men of nagging. It’s a word men use to and about women who ask them to do something they don’t want to do.
He squirmed but he should have been proud. He got what he had worked for – an outspoken, confident, principled woman brought up to challenge and hold strong opinions.
Now he can learn from her.