"Oh it all makes so much sense now. Those sensible shoes…" Picture: New Statesman
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Exclusive: the long-awaited lesbian Peppa Pig fanfiction

Norman Lamb MP recently critisized the lack of queer representation in the hit children's TV show. But how would it work in practice?

Marriage; tick. Right to adopt; tick. Legal protection from discrimination; tick. Visibility in cartoons about twee, porcine adventures; massive cross. Last week, my niece’s favourite programme, Peppa Pig, was scrutinised by Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb (who, fittingly, sounds a bit like a character off the show himself) for its dearth of lesbian characters. And he’s absolutely right. In the fantastically popular cartoon’s entire cast of misshapen anthropomorphic freak beasts, not a single one of them is an out and proud gay.

So I’ve, frankly, done us all a favour by writing some much needed lesbianism into an episode of Peppa Pig…

***

[Insanely annoying musical intro]

Narrator with “I have a comforting formation of pixels where my penis should be” voice: Mummy Pig Tips the Velvet

Ext. the Pig household, night. An owl is hooting.

Narrator: It’s nighttime. Peppa, George and Daddy Pig are are fast asleep. But Mummy Pig is still awake…

Int. Mummy and Daddy Pig’s bedroom. Daddy Pig is snoring loudly. Mummy Pig looks cross. She nudges him.

Mummy Pig: Daddy Pig… DADDY PIG!

[Daddy Pig wakes up with a start]

Daddy Pig: SNORT. Wha – goodness me, what is the matter, Mummy Pig?

Mummy Pig: You were snoring again.

Daddy Pig: No I wasn’t. I know when I’m snoring.

[Mummy Pig closes her eyes and raises her weird pig hands in an “I give up” sort of gesture]

Mummy Pig: Daddy Pig. We need to talk.

Daddy Pig: Nighttime isn’t for talking, Mummy Pig. You’ll wake up Peppa and George.

Mummy Pig: Well, your snoring hasn’t woken them up, has it?

[Daddy Pig snorts indignantly]

Mummy Pig: Listen, Daddy Pig…

Daddy Pig: What?

Mummy Pig: Are you… happy?

Daddy Pig: As happy as anybody in a bizarre, post-nuclear dreamscape where everyone’s nose is on the side of their head can be. Why?

Mummy Pig: Well, I’m not.

Daddy Pig: Oh. Is it Peppa? Look, yes, we’ve raised an obnoxious little shit. But it’s not entirely our fault…

Mummy Pig: No, it’s not Peppa. Yes, she’s a nightmare and I have no idea how we managed to spawn the living Devil, but that’s beside the point. It’s you, Daddy Pig. It’s us.

Daddy Pig: What do you mean?

Mummy Pig: Daddy Pig. I love you. I love George. I even love Peppa, in a way. But I’ve been dishonest with you for a while. I’m a –

Daddy Pig: Don’t say it, Mummy Pig. Do not sit here and tell me you’re a –

Mummy Pig: Lesbian.

Daddy Pig: Sweet Jesus.

[Daddy Pig starts bawling uncontrollably]

Daddy Pig: [through tears] Oh it all makes so much sense now. Those sensible shoes…

Mummy Pig: Now hold on a sec – there’s only one type of shoe in this universe and we all wear it. You can hardly –

Daddy Pig: [ignoring her] the life-size sculpture of Gillian Anderson you bought on eBay, “for a joke”. Your completely irrational aversion to my hideous, foot-long corkscrew pig penis…

Mummy Pig: [in a soothing tone] Look, Daddy Pig…

[Daddy Pig continues to expel a stream of loud sobs, punctuated by snorts]

Daddy Pig: So is there… is there a woman?

Mummy Pig: [sighs] Yes. Donna Dolphin.

Daddy Pig: So you’re leaving me then? For a dolphin? Does she even live on land? What is this fucked up world we live in where lesbian dolphins live on land? That nuclear fallout really has done a number on us all.

Mummy Pig: We’re in love.

[Daddy Pig jumps out of bed and starts pacing, head in hands]

Mummy Pig: Daddy Pig, I know how hard this must be, but –

[Daddy Pig opens a window]

Daddy Pig: [Shouting out the window] GOOD NEWS EVERYBODY. MY WIFE IS IN LOVE WITH A DOLPHIN. A FEMALE DOLPHIN.

Mummy Pig: [furious] DADDY PIG.

[The bedroom door opens. Peppa and George enter, rubbing their eyes]

Peppa: Why are you crying, daddy? I’m scared.

George: [snort]

Daddy Pig: Children, your mother has something to tell you.

Peppa: Oh, did you tell him, Mummy? About you being a lesbinum?

[Daddy Pig’s mouth drops wide open]

Peppa: Silly daddy. Everyone knows mummy is a lesbinum. Even George worked it out. And the only word he knows is “dinosaur”.

George: Dinosaur, rawr!

[Daddy Pig silently curls into a foetal position on the floor]

Peppa: Mummy, when I grow up, can I be a lesbinum? Boys are yucky.

CREDITS

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

Photo: LYNSEY ADDARIO
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What Happened reveals Hillary Clinton as a smart thinker – unlike the man who beat her

Those asking why she blames everyone but herself for Donald Trump clearly haven't read the book.

Hillary Clinton is smug, entitled, dislikeable, hawkish, boring. She was unable to beat a terrible Republican presidential candidate. Why doesn’t she just shut up and sod off? Bernie would have won, you know. Sexism? There’s no sexism in opposing someone who left Libya a mess and voted for the Iraq War. Also, she had slaves.

This is a small sample of the reactions I’ve had since tweeting that I was reading Clinton’s memoir of the 2016 campaign. This is one of those books that comes enveloped in a raincloud of received opinion. We knew the right hated Clinton – they’ve spent three decades furious that she wanted to keep her maiden name and trying to implicate her in a murder, without ever quite deciding which of those two crimes was worse. But the populist candidacy of Bernie Sanders provoked a wave of backlash from the left, too. You now find people who would happily go to sleep in a nest made out of copies of Manufacturing Consent mouthing hoary Fox News talking points against her.

One of the recurrent strains of left-wing criticism is that Clinton should apologise for losing to Trump – or perhaps even for thinking that she could beat him in the first place. Why does she blame everyone but herself?

Perhaps these people haven’t read the book, because it’s full of admissions of error. Using a private email server was a “boneheaded mistake”; there was a “fundamental mismatch” between her managerial approach to politics and the mood of the country; giving speeches to Wall Street is “on me”; millions of people “just didn’t like me… there’s no getting round it”.

Ultimately, though, she argues that it was a “campaign that had both great strengths and real weaknesses – just like every campaign in history”. This appears to be what has infuriated people, and it’s hard not to detect a tinge of sexist ageism (bore off, grandma, your time has passed). Those who demand only grovelling from the book clearly don’t care about finding lessons for future candidates: if the problem was Hillary and Hillary alone, that’s solved. She’s not running in 2020.

Clinton marshals a respectable battalion of defences. Historically, it is very unusual for an American political party to win three elections in a row. The Democrats (like Labour in Britain) have longstanding problems with white working-class voters outside the big cities. Facebook was flooded with fake news, such as the story that the Pope had endorsed Trump. And besides, Clinton did win three million more votes than her Republican rival.

Added to which, it is now hard to deny that Russia interfered heavily in the US election, with Trump’s approval – “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he told a press conference in July 2016 – and perhaps even with the active collusion of his campaign. The next Democratic candidate will have to reckon with all this.

The election outcome would have been different if just 40,000 voters in three key swing states had flipped, so there are dozens of potential culprits for Clinton’s loss. But perhaps one of the reasons that many in the US media have been so hostile to the book is that it paints them as such villains. Even now, it is common to hear that Clinton “didn’t have an economic message”, when a better criticism is that no one got to hear it.

In their mission not to be accused of “elite bias”, the media desperately hunted for bad things to say about Clinton, when none of her offences came close to the gravity of a totally unqualified, unstable man with no government experience going on a year-long bender of saying mad shit and boasting about sexual assault. In both the primary against Sanders and the general election, she was treated as the obvious next president, and held to a different standard. (Incidentally, there is surprisingly little criticism of Sanders in here; she credits him with helping to write her policy platform.)

The book is at its best when it reflects on gender, a subject which has interested Clinton for decades. She calculates that she spent 600 hours during the campaign having her hair and make-up done, as “the few times I’ve gone out in public without make-up, it’s made the news”. She writes about the women she met who were excited to vote for a female president for the first time. She mentions the Facebook group Pantsuit Nation, where 3.8 million people cheered on her candidacy. (Tellingly, the group was invite-only.)

Yet Clinton was never allowed to be a trailblazer in the way that Barack Obama was. That must be attributed to the belief, common on the left and right, that whiteness and wealth cancel out any discrimination that a woman might otherwise suffer: pure sexism doesn’t exist.

The narrative of the US election is that Clinton was deeply unpopular, and while that’s true, so was Trump. But where were the interviews with the 94 per cent of African-American women who voted for her, compared with the tales of white rage in Appalachia? “The press coverage and political analysis since the election has taken as a given that ‘real America’ is full of middle-aged white men who wear hard hats and work on assembly lines – or did until Obama ruined everything,” she writes.

Clinton faces the uncomfortable fact that whites who feel a sense of “loss” are more attracted by Trump’s message than Americans with objectively worse material conditions who feel life might get better. That is an opportunity for the left, and a challenge: many of those Trump voters aren’t opposed to benefits per se, just the idea they might go to the undeserving. Universal healthcare will be a hard sell if it is deemed to be exploited by, say, undocumented immigrants.

Yes, What Happened is occasionally ridiculous. There’s a section on “alternate nostril breathing” as a relaxation technique that a kinder editor would have cut. The frequent references to her Methodism will seem strange to a British audience. The inspirational stories of the people she meets on the campaign trail can feel a little schmaltzy. But it reveals its author as a prodigious reader, a smart thinker and a crafter of entire sentences. Unlike the man who beat her. 

What Happened
Hillary Clinton
Simon & Schuster, 494pp, £20

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

This article first appeared in the 21 September 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The revenge of the left