Stuart Maconie’s The Boys Aren’t Back in Town brought together some of the most outspoken, bright women in media who are all Northern, all living in London, and all with strong opinions.
The panel was made up of Maconie’s friends/ idols – a new generation of modern feminists: the new twitterati – if you will. I love Stuart Maconie (BBC radio 6) and I loved what he was trying to do by organizing this event at the British library on Friday night for a discussion of all things feminist, but sadly it didn’t really come off. It wasn’t Maconie’s fault at all – he did the best he could by interviewing each woman on the panel and trying to get them to stick to the agenda but three of them at one end of the table were just interested in downing their wine and giggling like school girls while competing in who could shout the loudest. Moran, Laverne and Dent (particularly the latter) were all very loud, brash and annoying and Dent seemed completely implausible: she argued the importance of feminism in the modern world but then completely undermined her case by constantly using her sexuality to try and detract from the others. And if that didn’t work she just got mouthy. ‘I’d just give him a punch in the face’ she said about a male colleague and the middle-class audience tittered politely and thought she was great.
The audience too troubled me. It was mainly made up of white, middle class women – the sisterhood in fact but some of them were more interested in which shoes the members of the panel were wearing and who had the nicest maxi dress. They didn’t really feel like my kind of people.
They also ignored the important fact that a lot of misogyny damages men as well as women. At one point Moran and Laverne claimed it was like ‘Loose Women’ – which it was a bit. Like that show it started to indulge in a bit of good old male bashing which I think, kind of misses the point. You left the event feeling sorry for posh, white men (not a type I normally have sympathy for, by the way) because they got so attacked by this rabble.
Barton and Sawyer were articulate and brilliant but the softly-spoken Barton kept getting shouted down by the three drunkards at the end of the panel. I’m all for having a good time but I don’t want to pay to watch rich women get drunk at my expense whilst claiming they are the working-class heroes who have struggled to get to where they are. Don’t hark on about where you’ve come from for two hours and how proud you are of being a Northern woman when we know some of you are leaving to go to China Whites with your designer handbag and your rabble in tow.
Caitlin Moran – whose book I adored – argued that twitter was the new female form – a place where women can converse and chat with the world without being judged by their appearance. I like that idea but I also think there is a lot of other more important stuff you could be doing than just ranting on a social networking site. She also predicted that in the future ‘the whole world will live on twitter.’ Yeah, good point Moran – maybe you could go and take Laverne and Dent with you and then the rest of us can carry on living in the real world which doesn’t come with pa’s, personal shoppers and nannies. These are successful women who have done well and I applaud them for that – but don’t lecture us from the pedestal of your elite set, claiming to have the moral high ground on everything when you actually have the power to change things for the good.