Why David Cameron really is worse than Voldemort

We've seen a lot of so-called progress in the last few years - but when you really look at the facts where women are concerned, it looks like we may be going backwards.

It’s a strange beast, progress. Like sitting on a train in a tunnel, unsure whether you’re moving or not, it can be hard to get one’s bearings. Sometimes, you might even be going backwards and not realise it.

The quest for women’s rights is a bit like sitting on that train, and quite frankly, it’s not so much of a suped up supervoyager (when nature calls, these high-tech, high-speed Virgin trains now genuinely have toilet robots which tell you ‘hilarious’ jokes about what you can and can’t flush), than it is like something from Arriva Trains Wales. It’s filthy, it crawls along at a snail’s pace, and it only ever takes you as far as fucking Crewe.

We’ll stop with the engine analogies lest someone mistake us for enthusiasts, but there is a point there. The assumption that we’re always moving forwards, slowly throwing off shackle after shackle of patriarchal norm, isn’t actually the case. We’re not saying that things are so bleak that we’re all at risk of becoming 1950s housewives, poised to re-don our pinnies, set our hair, and get cracking on the pavlova - not quite. To our grandmothers, progress looks like the Great British Bake Off (men! In jumpers! Making giant pouffy meringues! And loving it), but if things could, you know, jog on a bit, then that would be ace.

Thing that happened: An Indian American Woman won Miss America

But that’s progress, right? Well, ish. Say what you want about Miss America (OK, we will: it’s an outdated, steaming shit of an event which has women flouncing up and down in bikinis like tap-dancing barnyard animals and pretending that they’ve ‘always had a passion for world peace’), but this is a triumph for diversity, and the fact that an Indian medical student won the crown represents the melting pot that is the United States of America. Hey, maybe it even shows the American Dream in action. Right?

Well. As the comedian George Carlin quoth, it’s called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. And there seem to be a hell of a lot of sleepy racists out there. Some feminists were this week confused as to what they should be more angry about: the fact that Miss America exists in the first place, or the deluge of racist abuse that aspiring doctor Nina Davuluri received on winning (clue: both are rubbish). Questions as to whether Davuluri was ‘American enough’ to be Miss America of course completely ignored the fact that everyone in that mass of a country was an immigrant once, bar of course Native Americans (FYI, the first Native American winner was in 1926. They didn’t even let black women compete until 1970.)

Thing that happened: Playboy published a party guide that was all about consent

But that’s progress, right? It would have been incredible had it been real, but it was the work of a group of anti-rape culture college hackers (the same guys were responsible for tricking everyone into believing that Victoria’s Secret had brought out a line of anti-rape ‘panties’ in 2012). Labelled the ‘Playboy 2013 Top Ten Party Commandments’, the document poses as a student’s guide to good sex which, ‘Playboy’ says, involves ‘asking first’. Hugh Hefner even declared himself a feminist in a mock question-and-answer session.

Unfortunately, Playboy still exists, and it’s busy concentrating on things other than sexual consent. Things like announcing that Kate Moss is to model nude for its cover to celebrating its fortieth birthday, hosting parties for disappointing Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman (we thought better of you, we really did), and invading Gymboxes around the country with its ‘Playboy Bunny Bootcamp’ and new form of BMI (‘Bunny Measurement Index’ – vom). Apparently, the Playboy brand is still set to be a part of our consciousness for a very, very long time. What the hell, 2013?

Thing that happened: France has moved to ban child beauty pageants

But that’s progress, right? As probably the best response ever to a row with Vogue magazine which saw the fashion rag dress up a bunch of ten year olds in tight clothes and heavy make-up, the French Parliament voted ‘non’ to creepily dressing kids up like their own Barbie dolls. The bill protects the under-16s from not only appearing in the pages of Vogue with peacock feather eyelashes, but also from being marketed child-size products from the sexy adult world, such as padded bras and high heeled shoes.

Unfortunately, as you can probably deduce from the whole Miss America charade, beauty pageants for ‘adults’ (let’s face it, teenagers) still abound everywhere. And anyone who’s sat down to a relaxing session of ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ knows that the government in the US and UK haven’t been quite as enlightened as France.

Thing that happened: Theresa May was appointed to David Cameron’s cabinet as Home Secretary, one of only four women to hold one of the Great Offices of State. The cabinet boasts three other formidable females, and has benefited in the last few years from the voices of enthusiastic female MPs such as Louise Mensch.

But that’s progress, right? As an organisation that has never been particularly friendly to women yet brought us the first female Prime Minister, feminism’s relationship with the Tory party has always been ambivalent. And while enough Conservative supporters have brought up the four women in the cabinet with us as proof that the historically misogynistic state of Tory Towers is ‘improving’, it’s, well, four women. Four women who aren’t exactly flying the flag for women’s rights. As @Sophia_Phan pointed out on Twitter recently, even Voldemort had more women in his cabinet. We’re not outright saying that therefore David Cameron should get a tattoo saying ‘Worse than Voldemort’ across his neck, but in the event that he did come to this fully autonomous position, we’d be fully supportive.

On the bright side, Mumsnet’s survey into the political affiliations of women shows us deserting the Tories in our droves. Most of us would rather vote Labour, whose shadow cabinet is a lot more female-friendly (and has therefore been given the affectionate term ‘Millie’s Fillies’ by the Daily Mail.) Cameron take note: we can and will vote with our feet.

Voldemort's cabinet. Female friendly? Image: Getty

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and Holly Baxter are co-founders and editors of online magazine, The Vagenda.

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The footie is back. Three weeks in and what have we learned so far?

Barcleys, boots and big names... the Prem is back.

Another season, another reason for making whoopee cushions and giving them to Spurs fans to cheer them up during the long winter afternoons ahead. What have we learned so far?

Big names are vital. Just ask the manager of the Man United shop. The arrival of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger has done wonders for the sale of repro tops and they’ve run out of letters. Benedict Cumberbatch, please join Carlisle United. They’re desperate for some extra income.

Beards are still in. The whole Prem is bristling with them, the skinniest, weediest player convinced he’s Andrea Pirlo. Even my young friend and neighbour Ed Miliband has grown a beard, according to his holiday snaps. Sign him.

Boots Not always had my best specs on, but here and abroad I detect a new form of bootee creeping in – slightly higher on the ankle, not heavy-plated as in the old days but very light, probably made from the bums of newborn babies.

Barclays Still driving me mad. Now it’s screaming from the perimeter boards that it’s “Championing the true Spirit of the Game”. What the hell does that mean? Thank God this is its last season as proud sponsor of the Prem.

Pitches Some groundsmen have clearly been on the weeds. How else can you explain the Stoke pitch suddenly having concentric circles, while Southampton and Portsmouth have acquired tartan stripes? Go easy on the mowers, chaps. Footballers find it hard enough to pass in straight lines.

Strips Have you seen the Everton third kit top? Like a cheap market-stall T-shirt, but the colour, my dears, the colour is gorgeous – it’s Thames green. Yes, the very same we painted our front door back in the Seventies. The whole street copied, then le toot middle classes everywhere.

Scott Spedding Which international team do you think he plays for? I switched on the telly to find it was rugby, heard his name and thought, goodo, must be Scotland, come on, Scotland. Turned out to be the England-France game. Hmm, must be a member of that famous Cumbrian family, the Speddings from Mirehouse, where Tennyson imagined King Arthur’s Excalibur coming out the lake. Blow me, Scott Spedding turns out to be a Frenchman. Though he only acquired French citizenship last year, having been born and bred in South Africa. What’s in a name, eh?

Footballers are just so last season. Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane can’t score. The really good ones won’t come here – all we get is the crocks, the elderly, the bench-warmers, yet still we look to them to be our saviour. Oh my God, let’s hope we sign Falcao, he’s a genius, will make all the difference, so prayed all the Man United fans. Hold on: Chelsea fans. I’ve forgotten now where he went. They seek him here, they seek him there, is he alive or on the stairs, who feckin’ cares?

John Stones of Everton – brilliant season so far, now he is a genius, the solution to all of Chelsea’s problems, the heir to John Terry, captain of England for decades. Once he gets out of short trousers and learns to tie his own laces . . .

Managers are the real interest. So refreshing to have three young British managers in the Prem – Alex Neil at Norwich (34), Eddie Howe at Bournemouth (37) and that old hand at Swansea, Garry Monk, (36). Young Master Howe looks like a ball boy. Or a tea boy.

Mourinho is, of course, the main attraction. He has given us the best start to any of his seasons on this planet. Can you ever take your eyes off him? That handsome hooded look, that sarcastic sneer, the imperious hand in the air – and in his hair – all those languages, he’s so clearly brilliant, and yet, like many clever people, often lacking in common sense. How could he come down so heavily on Eva Carneiro, his Chelsea doctor? Just because you’re losing? Yes, José has been the best fun so far – plus Chelsea’s poor start. God, please don’t let him fall out with Abramovich. José, we need you.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 27 August 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Isis and the new barbarism