Sarah Sands: Men are being wrongfooted by the new feminists

Share
Related Topics

The Time columnist Nancy Gibbs noted last week the taunting, muscular rhetoric coming from female Republican candidates. Christine O'Donnell told her opponent to "get your man pants on" after he raised a constitutional point. Sharron Angle, who campaigns with a .44 Magnum and a pick-up, tells her rivals to "man up". Heroine of the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, accuses President Obama of lacking "cojones" on immigration policy.

Gibbs suggests the crude talk is partly a response to the violent sexism directed at them. An inflatable sex doll lookalike of Sarah Palin is on sale. Gawker, the Manhattan gossip and news site, has just dredged up old and ugly allegations about O'Donnell's sex life. After years of legislative intervention on how to deal with women, the victims are starting to take matters into their own hands.

It is easier to give as good as you get if you live a frontier life, preferably on horseback. Money and comfort subdue women and emasculate men. A new National Theatre production of Ena Lamont Stewart's play Men Should Weep is a vivid portrait of Thirties life in Glasgow tenements. Its inspiring women take care of everything and exist in a state of proud and, often, witty exhaustion.

The same tough, coping women were Hillary Clinton's core supporters in her unresolved election defeat. The women working double shifts and doing all the childcare. These are the dog-tired, wary, lippy, virtuous waitresses and nurses who have provided Oscar-nominated roles for US actresses. They have what Clinton disciples call "testicular fortitude".

Women such as Palin have upended traditional notions of feminism. Liberal feminists have regarded the home as a place of imprisonment, suggesting women have no power or dignity without a public role.

The Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson wrote an elegiac piece last week about the disgraceful lack of obituaries for women: their domestic heroism goes unrecorded, their support for their husbands invisible to the outside world.

There's nothing invisible about Palin's home life. The women of "testicular fortitude" bring their domestic qualities right out on to the political stage, Palin even balancing a baby on her arm during campaigning. Instead of the meek martyrdom of motherhood, Palin has made maternal love an object of ferocity and awe.

Nick Clegg explained on Desert Island Discs that he was on borrowed time, so far as his wife was concerned. No wonder he can bear the fury of betrayed Lib Dems. It's milk pudding compared with the Spanish wrath of Miriam Clegg as her husband misses another child's bathtime.

Sharp-tongued, tough-minded women are disturbing to men. The male knows how to be chivalrous to attractive submissive women and how to be respectful to serious, humourless ones. The bright but bad-tempered ones are a problem.

How should men behave, for instance, towards the News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, who can turn from charm to steel in the same sentence? She can storm into the Independent offices to harangue its editor-in-chief and bollock MPs over their pathetic complaints about News of the World alleged phone-tapping. But she playfully takes the name of her husband, Charlie Brooks. Like Palin, she bigs up "the first dude" while unmanning the rest.

Men have had it easy from middle-class feminists. See how they manage the new kind, who don't care at all about playing nicely.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions