In the same way as it may be hard to believe that humans share more than 60 per cent of their DNA with bananas, you may struggle to get your head around the fact that Piers Morgan and I have an awful lot in common.
He’s a multimillionaire, with a social media following greater than the population of many countries. I am not. He’s hosted Good Morning Britain since 2015, published eight books and shot to fame in the US as a judge on America’s Got Talent. I have not and I did not. But when it comes to our fundamental ideology, our mindset, our ethos, if you will, pompous Piers Stefan Pughe-Morgan of Sussex and I are a perfect match. We’re both deeply entrenched feminists.
He just won’t admit it.
For the benefit of the fortunate few who don’t spend their Monday evenings vacuously scrolling through Twitter, let me explain. Morgan unleashed a tidal wave of fury earlier this week when he tweeted out a picture featured in The Sun of Daniel Craig – most millennials’ second-favourite Bond and a supreme embodiment of unadulterated manliness – sporting a baseball cap, sportswear and a “papoose” (or baby sling) with his tiny infant presumably slumbering, kangaroo-style, inside. The army of haters took issue with Morgan’s comment on the snapshot, in which he dubbed Craig, who appeared to be out for a stroll in New York, an “#EmasculatedBond”.
Ironically it was Morgan’s use of the word “papoose” that captured my attention to start with. But when I asked the Twittersphere whether anyone knew the term, and Piers himself replied, I descended down the rabbithole and became engrossed in the true scale of the spat.
It seemed that Morgan had once again done what Morgan does best: he’d succeeded in angering the vast majority of liberal, progressive women with even the vaguest social media presence – and many men too.
In feeble response, Morgan said afterwards: “I just expressed a genuinely held opinion that papooses are emasculating, embarrassing & unnecessary – and the virtue-signalling world’s gone bonkers.”
You see, I too am enraged by anyone who tries to crush a new father’s paternal pride. It’s vulgar. There are few things more heartwarming than a glowing parent – mother or father – taking their newborn sprog out into the world, strapped to their chest for protection and comfort. But I actually believe that those preparing to crucify Morgan for what appears to be relentless misogyny are missing the point entirely.
Head over to Twitter now and you will see that scores of papoose-clad dads have fired back, posting pictures of themselves. And (aside from the obvious privacy concerns around publishing pictures of children on the internet) why wouldn’t they? Show me a new father who wouldn’t want to emulate the effortlessly cool yet touchingly paternal style of one of Hollywood’s most suave and ruggedly handsome men? Take my word for it and observe sales figures of papooses (papoosi?) over the next few weeks. If there was such a thing as a papoose stock, I would invest in a big way.
As for the women, Piers succeeded in mobilising them too. A chorus rang out across the internet from females endorsing male papoose-wearers. It’s no secret that women are attracted to men who are comfortable with their genders and sexualities, so comfortable that they proudly carry their babies around hands-free. Now, thanks to our favourite rouged-up broadcaster, everyone knows that. It’s a triumph for equality.
So, Piers, I know the future success of your career relies on your ability to keep your image as lippy troll and pantomime villain untarnished. But now that you’ve done your bit for parental equality, you’d be perfectly safe to out yourself as a feminist. We’re all in this together. It’s a safe place. We won’t even make you wear a papoose if you don’t want to. (As you progress through your 50s it might be a tad taxing on you back anyway.)
I myself love my papoose. In fact, I wrote the majority of this comment while my daughter napped in it, strolling through the park. Trust me, at least for the first few months of your baby’s life, it’s like a cheap, unconditionally trustworthy nanny, only you won’t be constantly worried that it might go off traveling.
Over the summer, my husband carried our then 10-week-old up a mountain in the papoose. He managed to lose her sock but as far as I’m concerned his masculinity remained very much intact.
I do have one final question for Piers, though: why on earth did you call it a papoose in the first place? My spellchecker annoyingly keeps autocorrecting it to pappardelle. My Twitter enquiry about its meaning on Monday night invited people to clog up my inbox with pictures of porpoises, grapefruits and one particularly smug-looking daddy moose. Many angry Americans berated me for not knowing the eponymous hip hop artist. Apparently I’m a musical ignoramus.
Piers. Couldn’t you just have used the word “sling” or “baby carrier”? If you’d have refrained from showcasing your knowledge of Native American terminology, you would have saved us all a lot of hullabaloo. And your feminist secret would still be safe.
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