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14 July 2016

May, Merkel, Clinton: Welcome to the Bermuda Triangle of powerful womanhood

And let us not overlook the new trend in politics for lesbians in high places.

By Eleanor Margolis

Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton walk into a bar. They do shots of Goldschläger (Merkel’s idea – she is hilarious) and plot the destruction of the male race. The barman bemoans this joke’s lack of punch line and May removes one shoe and jams a kitten heel into his skull. He falls, face first, onto the bar, May’s leopard print shoe lodged in his forehead like an L.K. Bennett ice pick.

Without wanting to piss too vigorously on everyone’s tulips, I find it hard to believe that, in these post-Brexit, post-maturity times, the growing number of women in power (as conspiracy-theorised in many scenarios not unlike the one above) is anything more than a happy coincidence. After the crowning of Theresa May as our new supreme android comptroller, or something, Jon Snow asked Nicola Sturgeon – on Channel 4 News – if women are now stepping in because men have messed everything up. Really, only a celebrated male journalist could ask an equally celebrated female politician such a patronising question. Men. What are they like? Hurling this country into a centrifuge of despair and not even deigning to put their be-skidmarked boxers into the laundry basket. Better send in the ladies, am I right?

But if we are to believe that women in politics are having A Moment, I’d like to take some time to appreciate the slightly smaller but not insignificant moment being had by lesbians. Lesbians have been having moments, on and off, since around the turn of the twentieth century. Fashion moments. Sports moments. Shocking the nation by kissing on Brookside moments. Conspiracy theorists may consider May, Merkel and (please, for the love of God) the next President Clinton to be a Bermuda Triangle of powerful womanhood. Conspiracy theorists with more niche interests may consider Angela Eagle, Ruth Davidson and Justine Greening (who, last year, became the first cabinet minister to come out) to be a dark, although quite loosely linked, triad of lesbians in high places.

Eagle’s Labour leadership campaign branding may well look like something off a box of sanitary towels, but this is probably the closest a gay person of either gender has got to being the national leader of a mainstream UK political party. Which is either really great or utterly depressing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably leaning more towards “utterly depressing” but, at the same time, it’s about time besuited women started pushing the lesbian agenda in Westminster. Davidson, of course, is already leader of the Scottish Conservatives and is quickly winning hearts and minds as “that one Tory everyone actually quite likes”. In many ways, it feels wrong to reduce anyone in politics (or elsewhere) to their sexuality. But, while particularly tightly-wound US right-wingers make Hillary Clinton out to be some sort of closeted mega-witch, Brits tend to hate the likes of Eagle because she’s a woman, not because she’s a lesbian. Which is quite beautiful in a fucked up way.

Having said that, Eagle was branded a “treacherous lesbian” in one of her more recent death threats. I can only hope that she manages to take this as a compliment from – I’m guessing – a virgin in his late fifties with carpal tunnel from spending every waking hour either penning death threats or furiously wanking to a portrait of Kim Jong-un. The kind of person who, in all seriousness, serves as a reminder that homophobia and misogyny are not just right wing problems.

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If I were Eagle, I think I’d own my treacherous lesbian-ness pretty fast. 

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