CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Clare Mackintosh: The grateful dread

PUBLISHED: 11:36 03 July 2018

#MeToo (c) nito100 / Getty Images

#MeToo (c) nito100 / Getty Images

This content is subject to copyright.

‘Be loud and proud, and don’t be ashamed of being a feminist’

I don’t remember when I became a feminist. It might have been when I realised the girls at my grammar school did home economics instead of Latin, or it might have been when I discovered my grandmother had been required to leave her teaching job once she was married.

Either way, by the time I joined the police, fresh out of university, I was what is so frequently (and so disparagingly) referred to as a ‘raging feminist’. “Actually, it’s PC,” I’d say politely, when prefixed with WPC. My tutor was aggravated by such unnecessary feminism. “The ‘W’ makes it easy for control room to despatch female officers if there’s a job involving…” he searched for an example... “a lost child,” he finished, triumphantly. Apparently possessing breasts and a vagina by default made me a better parental figure than being a father of four.

The police – by the time I joined – did at least offer equal pay and conditions, regardless of the shape of one’s genitals, and by and large I enjoyed my career without significant discrimination. I accepted that sexism was often a generational issue, forgiving the “here, let me carry that heavy baton for you” offers that came from a chivalrous place, not a sexist one. I bit my tongue when a Charlbury town councillor apologised for not offering me a cup of tea because the wife isn’t here to make it. I was a committed feminist, but a quiet one. And then Me Too happened.

A dozen allegations of sexual harassment at the hands of men in power became a hundred, became a thousand. Women, finding strength in numbers, shared their #MeToo moments, and encouraged others to do the same. It was – it is – a revolution.

So obvious and so necessary does equality seem to me, that although I concede that not all men feel the same, I always assumed every woman was – by some sort of genetic default – a feminist. Who wouldn’t want equal pay? Equal status? Who wouldn’t want their daughters to be treated fairly? And, once accepting such views, who wouldn’t advocate women’s rights in order to achieve such equality? Oh, how naïve…

At a conference recently, I was in the audience as a successful woman was introduced by the male presenter as “someone I’d like to snog”. I heard the ripple of unease around me; the exchange of glances. Did he really just say that? I saw the appalled look on the woman’s face as she took to the stage, her professional achievements exchanged for her physical attributes in one casual sexist remark. I was shocked and angry enough to complain, and glad when it was taken seriously. A printed apology, an agreement that what was said had been unacceptable. Over and done with.

And yet… There was a backlash. Not from men, but from women. It was a joke, a bit of fun, a compliment, these women said. Jealousy, one concluded. Any woman over 50 should be grateful for the attention, said another. Grateful? I have never felt grateful for attention from anyone. Not in my twenties, when I was confident and nubile, or in my thirties, when I was tired and stretch-marked. I am not grateful now, in my forties, and I will not be grateful in my fifties. If men are attracted to me I hope it is as much for my brain and my sense of humour as it is for my lips and my legs. If they’re not, then I am highly unlikely to feel I’m missing out.

Ladies, have some self-respect. Maybe you don’t want to call yourself a feminist. Maybe you think (erroneously) it’s impossible to be a feminist without also knitting your own sanitary pads and plaiting your armpit hair (neither of which activities would make you a bad person). But do you really believe that your contribution to society is less important than a man’s? News flash: it isn’t. Ladies, be loud and proud, and don’t be ashamed of being a feminist. And never, ever, be grateful.

Clare’s third novel Let Me Lie, published by Sphere, is out now and is a Sunday Times Number One bestseller.

For more information or more from Clare Mackintosh, visit her website or follow her on Twitter! @claremackint0sh


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Cotswolds are abundant with picture perfect locations ideal for a ramble. Gather loved ones, wrap up warm and blow away the cobwebs with one of these winter walks in the region

Read more
Monday, December 10, 2018

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

Read more
Monday, December 10, 2018

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hundreds of participating National Lottery-funded visitor attractions across the UK are saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket, including a number of venues in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

“We’re looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town.”

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

“Faringdon upholds old-fashioned values through its traditional shops, personal service and shop owners who go the extra mile to make their customers feel at home.”

Read more
Friday, November 23, 2018

Home to some of the country’s most breathtaking architecture and picturesque gardens, the Cotswolds boasts plenty of beautiful stately homes you need to visit. We pick eight special locations that are made even more magical during Christmas time

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search