Alice Jones: Women deserve much more than mere patronage


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The Independent Online

Ninety-three years. That's how long women have had the vote for in Great Britain. Not that you'd know it.

When it comes to politics, women are still treated as a rare species to prod and peer at through a microscope. I don't mean the female MPs, who are busy skipping around in concocted sisterhoods (the "Milifillies" being the latest, execrable, coinage) running their portfolios of silly shoes, putative facelifts and frustration.

Rather, I mean the "female voters", that elusive prey currently being stalked by party leaders who have just noticed a woman's vote is worth exactly the same as a man's – equality, eh? – and therefore must be hunted down, post haste, with talk of magazines, multi-tasking, childcare and stuff.

This week, a prime haul of these "female voters" (What would they look like? Do they have hair? Do they bite?) were rounded up and penned in a BBC studio in Manchester to talk about "politics". Or Sam Cam's stripy top, or Jennifer Aniston, should the conversation falter.

"Sixty Tories and not one testicle between them!" crowed Jeremy Paxman, incredulously.

It's marginally better than "Sixty Tories and they've all got breasts!" But only marginally.

The puerile mood didn't improve. The poor captive dears were then forced to watch a bizarre JCR cock fight between Bojo and Paxo (if they're going to act like schoolboys, then I shall use their playground names) in which they giggled, pawed at one another's expensive suits and talked about tennis and who was cleverest. It was pretty unseemly.

When the "ladies" were finally allowed to speak, there came a debate so eye-gougingly vapid and pointless, it made a Theresa May speech sound cogent.

Newsnight was apparently responding to complaints that there aren't enough women in its audience. David Cameron is desperate to boost approval ratings for the Coalition, which have fallen to 25% among women (8% lower than among men) in the last year. Both leaders and BBC should realise, though, that patronising, ghettoising flurries of attention, which treat women as a monolithic minority, are not the way forward.


Skyfall. Roll it around your mouth a bit, like the smoke from a fat Cohiba. Drink it down, like a swig of stiff martini. Why? It could be the title of the next James Bond film. The internet is buzzing after a company working for Sony Pictures was spotted buying up all manner of web addresses featuring the word.

If it is to be the name of Bond 23, it will join the elite ranks of the single-word title, though on first glance, it lacks the drama of Thunderball, the glamour of Goldfinger or the suggestiveness of Octopussy. It sounds more like a sub-Spielberg apoco-blockbuster.

And if, as rumoured, Adele ends up writing the theme tune, at least she'll have an easier time finding rhymes for Skyfall (Eyeful? Firewall? Awful?) than Jack White and Alicia Keys did with the baffling Quantum of Solace , a phrase marginally harder to crowbar into song than the word orange.


It can be hard to keep up with fashion, so it's pleasing when something you've had in your wardrobe for eons becomes the new black.

This time, it's pyjamas.

Dispatches from the catwalks of Paris fashion week suggest that the sub-duvet slouch is the must-have silhouette of the season.

Stella McCartney based her spring-summer 2012 showcase this week on fatherly paisley and polka dot pjs. In New York, Alexa Chung's new collection included a palm-tree design satin suit intended as streetwear. And on the red carpet, candy-striped drawstring and pastel piping, accessorised with heels and clutch bags, are fast becoming de rigueur for attention-seeking starlets.

Students, devotees of Noel Coward and Julian Schnabel must be feeling very smug. And this weekend I'm sure I'll enjoy my lie-ins and lazing on the sofa all the more, swaddled in the warm, winceyette glow of knowledge that I'm doing it a la mode.