She didn't follow Suit
Updated: Mar 24, 2020
The Calçotada - a curiously quaint, Catalan tradition that takes place every Lent, it is centered around the Calçot: a scallion that is chargrilled, stacked and served plentifully, ready for friends and family to meet, strip it of its slippery casing and consume in a way which is social, sloppy and undeniably suggestive.
It proved to be the perfectly phallic backdrop for an unprovoked patriarchal musing:
‘What I don’t get about feminism, is that women only ever complain about not having representation in the highly paid, senior professions, you (I was the only woman at the table) never talk about the other jobs you do have representation in, why don’t you celebrate that more?’
Having spent my early twenties in the notoriously male-dominated and bullish world of broking, I am more than familiar with this sort of inflammatory, eye-roll inducing comment. Wind-you-up sexist chat was part of the deal, but it was playground stuff, smutty, harmless, and easily batted away. However, the uninvited musing was re-mused, so rather than spending the next 15 minutes perfecting my skills on the porron (google it, also suggestive) I instead tried to politely point out why his question was, quite frankly, a load of guff.
In hindsight, watching me lop off the end of my leek was bound to cause a stir in the male psyche, and whilst I can’t recall any similar outbursts over bangers and mash, I came to the conclusion that the wine, and/or his perceived culinary castration, had momentarily morphed my friend into a misogynist.
But afterwards, I gave quite a lot of thought to the insinuation that women should be happy with what they’ve got, and should refrain from encroaching on, or threatening, the high-ranking positions dominated by men. But nah, I thought, in this wonderfully woke world of ours? No one actually thinks that?
A few weeks later - the mainstream media and swathes of the public were horrified to learn that the Duchess of Sussex, the not-to-be-trusted home wrecker we always knew she was, had realised our worst fears. In the most sinister of moves, the royal temptress had convinced Harry to leave their (let’s face it) rather flimsy duties as Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in pursuit of the absurd idea that they could have a more substantial life both professionally and personally. Mainstream and social media burned with the sort of outrage usually reserved for the most heinous of crimes. Prince Andrew’s unfortunate association with a child sex ring could finally fade into insignificance as we focused on the more shocking royal scandal.
Over the last few years, I have found the treatment of Meghan as fascinating as I have flabbergasting. The palpable suspicion of her authenticity in my eyes reaching its most abhorrent when she was criticised for the ‘annoying and staged’ way she cradled her baby bump. ( If your late-night 2am brains instinctively kick in to protect your chips from circling vultures, I reckon it’s just as natural and normal a reaction to protect your unborn child from a predatory paparazzi.) However, unjustifiably, Meghan was viewed with suspicion, painted as a status-hungry Hollywooder, a threat to Harry, and his relationship with the Royal Family.
MEGXIT. The nation’s fears were confirmed. “Meghan has ruined Harry’ blazed throughout social media, with Meghan’s own father declaring that ‘Harry needed to man up.’ Yes, Harry must put a stop to this absolutely hideous disregard of our favourite narrative, that it will be the woman who compromises her happiness, her career, her sanity.
‘The Guilty Feminist’s’ Deborah Francis-White once again puts it perfectly... ‘(Women) have had empathy trained into us, we are always thinking about it from men’s point of view. What if I make him feel emasculated, what if this turns nasty? We are always, men, thinking about it from your point of view. Empathy has been drummed into girls since we were small. Everyone has to like you, or someone might hurt you.’
Meghan and Harry have simply revealed the dangerous consequence of rebelling against this patriarchal notion (and let’s be clear, this is about the patriarchy, if Harvey Spector had whisked away a Royal Princess, no one would give a shit) and the deep-rooted societal belief that if a woman is brave, spirited and ambitious, if she says no, challenges, or offends a man that the man must ‘man up’ and put her in her place.
With almost four women a day being murdered in America by their partners or former partner, and one out of four women in America being the victim of rape, ‘manning up’ only becomes a euphemism for extreme violence, psychological control, or another brutal consequence. ‘‘Someone might hurt you...’’
In Meghan’s case, the brutal consequence was that of a complete and unforgiving character assasination.
So before we continue to tell an emerging generation of females that they can have unfettered ambition, we ought to deeply scrutinise and criticise the public’s opinion that Harry’s empathy has been weakness and Meghan’s strength, manipulation. If we don’t, then we should at least be honest, and direct our daughters towards the malevolent small print at the bottom of our claims which says: ‘Girls, you can of course have unlimited ambition! (Just not if it’s at the expense of a man’s. (Calçot))’