Debate: The Only Limit to Female Success is Female Ambition
Culture Editor JOE BATES sees feminism triumph in the form of Katie Price. Bet you never thought you’d read that!
‘Debate’ is a euphemistic term for what transpires in The Union most Thursday evenings. Debate implies argument, cogency, discussion. Thankfully, last night’s debate contained little of these tedious formalities. As its strange roster of stars suggests, the debate was pure theatre.
Liz Jones opened the evening with brutal tirade against women. It started inauspiciously enough with a captivatingly honest tale of her own rise through that ‘most sexist’ industry, Fleet Street journalism.
But her self-deprecation lost its charm when it was coupled with such choice lines ‘I believe women prefer domesticity’. For Liz, women just don’t try hard enough. They don’t have the guts to sacrifice their comfy home lives for the hard graft of the office. In fact, she was ‘not surprised women don’t get to the top. I’m surprised they have jobs at all.’
It is an indication of the feeble quality of the proposition that this was not the most extreme comment of the evening…
Charlotte Vere kicked off with a good distinction, highlighting the tendency to focus on board room and politicians rather than low and average paid women. But from there, her speech went rather… odd. She dismissed the idea that ambition was important, and focused instead on resilience, direction and self-belief.
But it was all rather confusing. Perhaps it was my failure, but I was quickly lost in a mass of rhetorical questions and pretty platitudes. Her speech ended with a question ‘What is really holding back women?’ that she had perplexingly failed to answer.
Then came the two most amusing speeches of the night: ladies and gentlemen, I present the mad scientist and the glamour model.
Steve Moxon, often described as a ‘male rights activist’ (really), did his best to impersonate a very poor quality science lecturer. A bewilderingly structured, fast-paced, unexplained slide show rattle through a series of sweeping, sexist generalisations.
It was really a very amusing affair. I don’t think there are many audiences who would heckle with cries of ‘What are your sources?!’ but this was one. Graphs with no scales, points with no attribution, papers presented with no seeming link to anything around them – it was a masterclass in contrarian, obscurantist pseudo-science. (If someone with actual science knowledge wants, they can check it out.)
In what must have been deliberately staged as ‘contrast of the year’, Katie Price was next up. She was incredibly straightforward, a breath of fresh air after Mad Moxon. Her confessional style combined self-deprecation – ‘I am not intelligent’ – with an astonishing confidence that borders on arrogance. She quickly abandoned her notes, instead taking a series of very flattering questions from the audience. Jordan had won over her audience – her combination of steely defiance and guileless honesty was, frankly, charming.
Which made Rachel Johnson’s decision to patronisingly attack her the most obviously stupid move of a fairly stupid proposition. Faced with boos and hisses, her enjoyable anecdotes of a privileged world felt more than slightly flat in context. Her arguments were by far the strongest on her side, but her unlikability saw this self-confessed ‘cougar’ lose her claws.
Last up was a student substitute, Anna Stansbury, who offered the best arguments of the evening combined with a nice line in brutal shoot-downs. Dealing impeccably with heckling from the proposition and the floor, she inspired at least three clap-and-cheer moments in the course of her speech.
This debate was only going one way, whoever had spoken. But the numbers showed a truly crushing defeat of the motion. For the ‘Ayes’ – 39. For the ‘Noes’ – 497. Not only that – the ‘Ayes’ had managed to drop 148 votes of the course of the evening, with a massive swing to the opposition.
So long as those with anti-feminist tendencies contrive to be so incredibly unlikeable, I am sure the rights of women will remain safe from their influence.
To read The Tab‘s report on Jordan at the Union, click HERE.