Ladies, what happened to sisterhood? Sisters, what happened to helping each other out?
Forget those pasty-faced men squabbling over the keys to No 10, if we're ever going to take our rightful place running the Western world, we're going to have to learn to do something about female misogyny. It's been a century since Emmeline Pankhurst fought for votes for girls, we can now try our hands at almost every job on offer, so why do ambitious women still feel the need to sure up their position by thwarting other chicks?
An ambitious woman will often scamper as high up some corporate ladder as she possibly can, then dig her pointy heels into the hopeful hands of other ladies reaching for the rungs below and watch with cat-like indifference as they flop to the ground. There's talk of equality, there's Harriet Harman, but just this week, for instance, in perhaps the two most important fields, dominated by men, we've seen shameful examples of women really screwing it up for their sisters.
First there's Corporal Tilern DeBique, the woman who has taken the Army to court for suggesting she should show up to work on time. Tilern (SexyT to her online pals) won her case against the Army and asked for a vast and excitingly specific sum in compensation for her hurt feelings: £1,142,257. Not £1,142,258 you understand: that would be greedy. Just £1,142,257. Tilern was yesterday awarded only £17,000 after a rare burst of sanity from the employment tribunal, but the real damage, the damage to future generations of hopeful female soldiers, was already done.
Tilern's really cocked it up for future girls. It took decades, centuries, of patient chipping away to crack the male consensus that women shouldn't go to war, and now SexyT has handed the old boys back all their tastiest prejudices on a plate. You can bet your bottom dollar that deep in the bowels of St James's club-land there's another, new consensus being formed: "Between you and me old fellow, I knew this would happen. What's the point training up women when they'll just leave to breed? Ladies will never understand male solidarity, what?" Tilern's case is not a "landmark" sex discrimination case, it's just an excuse for a recruiting sergeant to think very hard before signing up any girl again.
Then there's politics, that other former gentleman's club, which still only grudgingly lets girls in. There they all are, the current crop of parliamentary candidates, all posing for glamour shots in Grazia magazine: six Labour lovelies; six Cameron cuties and five of the most reasonable-looking Lib dames. Most of them are bright girls on the record saying noble things like, "looks don't matter". So why did they leap, all 17 of them, at the chance to stand around flashing tactical cleavage ensuring that looks do matter for generations to come? The pictures themselves are riddled with the subtle signs of secret misogyny: hotties at the front; larger girls doing that awful side-ways stance designed to minimize hip width and maximise embarrassment. It's survival of the fittest.
So why did they do it? Why not just say no? One PPC who posed for the even more horrible "Tory totty" Tatler shoot, late in 2008, justified it on the grounds that the more glamorous she looked, the more likely elderly male donors were to give money to her campaign. Way to go girlfriend! Divert that cash from other, uglier comrades. Really make the most of your Oxbridge degree. I suppose it's just a low-rent version of the same game that SamCam and JenBrown play with their on-trend army jackets and Zara shoe-boots: two women who both earn more than their noisome husbands, conspiring to ensure that clever girls are judged by their shoes.
The other awful truth of course is that Grazia isn't read by men, it's read by women, so in a way we're all part of the problem, demanding that high-flying girls caper and preen in exchange for votes. It's almost as if we want to see them fail...
Time to say goodbye
Good girl, Erin. Get out, get out as quick as you can. "Friends" of Mr and Mrs Tiger Woods say that Erin's spitting tacks about her husband's ad for Nike, the one in which he listens to his dead father's voice saying, "I wanna find out what your feelings are, Tiger, and did you learn anything?" She thinks it's cheesy and she's right, but the reason she should hot-foot it, is that it smacks of dangerous psychosis as well. Some life coach has clearly convinced poor Tiger of that pernicious Hollywood myth: suffering makes you stronger. With every sign that he isn't yet a tougher Tiger, (the Masters for instance) Tiger becomes angrier and more painfully confused.
When in doubt, bring on a celebrity
Don't you love the Tories? I do. They're just so lovably predictable. The Thursday night debate was a debacle, for the entirely foreseeable reason that Nick Clegg was involved (he didn't have to be) and neither Dave nor Gordon had remembered until too late that they'd have to suck up to him, (in case of a hung parliament).
So, what do Cameroons do when faced with the possibility of bad press? Yes, that's right! Wheel in a C-list celeb. Which is why yesterday we had to watch in horror, squirming, as DC joshed with the singer-songwriter Gary Barlow at the launch of some hastily thought-up schools music initiative.
"I felt I was a member of Britain's worst boy band last night," laughed winsome Dave, "so it's nice to be on stage now with a member of Britain's best." Great! So that's sorted. Another disaster avoided. Bravo Cameroons. Gordon Brown: Take that!
*I feel for all the cross travellers stuck in airports while the volcano, Eyjafjallojokull, blows its top, but isn't it oddly wonderful not to have any planes in the sky? At first I barely noticed, then, gradually, it seemed first alarming then exhilarating. It's as if a constant background noise, one you dislike but have grown used to, has been suddenly switched off, leaving lovely silence.
At Waitrose on Wednesday evening, I stood patiently in the queue with an armful of Lemsip Max strength. I have a houseful of flat-mates with head colds who fall on both sides of the Lemsip flavour divide: some mew pitifully for blackcurrant, some for the original lemon, so I took six boxes in total to the check-out. But: "Sorry," said the little ginger boy on the till. "You're not allowed that much Lemsip" Not allowed? Why? "It's in case you're trying to kill yourself," explained Ginger. "Waitrose doesn't want its customers to commit suicide." Well no, I don't suppose Waitrose does – but is it really their job to stop us?
And even it were up to supermarkets to keep citizens from self-harm, has anyone, in the history of humanity, ever tried to end it all with Lemsip? I wanted to tell Ginger that it'd be more useful for Waitrose to stop selling bleach, on the grounds that people really have used it to murder. Or maybe biscuits, in case some desperate fatty chokes on them. I didn't though. I just smiled and thanked him for thinking of me.