The (Un)whole Woman: Why Louise Mensch’s Resignation Puts The Boot Into Modern Feminism

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Noted Tory Louise Mensch has announced that she is to step down as MP for Corby and East Northhamptonshire. Her reason? She can no longer balance her political work with her family commitments. Reaction to the news has been unfavourable to say the least. You can almost hear the collective sigh of feminists nationwide, a lingering cry of resignation as the final boot is stuck into the movement.

For decades now women have been trying to ‘have it all.’ Some say it's impossible. Some say it’s the only way. There are some who think it all depends on the woman. It's a complicated debate which has raged since the 1960’s and which will probably continue to rage for a long time to come. In today's modern, affable, generally equal society, there is still no right answer. So has Louise Mensch emptied the feminist ‘suggestion box’ and thrown its contents into the office shredder?

Mensch has used an age old, patriarchal excuse to quickly and quietly explain away what in fact appears to be another shrewd career move. Speculation over the MP’s resignation is rife with some suggesting that the decision is down to money; Mensch stands to make more financially with a move away from politics. Her plan to relocate to New York with her family has brought suspicion, with many assuming that she will quickly join Rupert Murdoch’s state-side media empire, and continue to make money as a public figure.

Supposing that there is some validity to this, Mensch’s resignation forces us to confront another ugly truth. It is not the fact that the MP has seemingly been forced to choose between her work and her family that is the problem, it is the notion that she would rather use this tired excuse than admit to a potentially lucrative, non-altruistic financial change. And here we have the real crux of the problem, and the real reason why we should perhaps feel sympathetic towards Mensch’s situation. Fair or unfair, as a female politician Mensch is seen as a standard-bearer for the women's movement. As a result her motives are scrutinised in a totally different way to those of her male counterparts. Society’s insistence on building powerful women up to be ‘superhero’ figures of the feminist movement has resulted in individuals like Mensch being forced into yet another gender trap.

How difficult it must be for women like Louise Mensch, trying to figure out which decisions will earn the least contempt. A successful female choosing to climb off her pedestal in order to make more money as a media hack, it goes against our vision of women as sweet, caring, and ultimately self- sacrificing. And here we finally have it! Those tired old clichés, that view of ‘woman’ as the servant, the unselfish martyr type, those things are still there. We simply call them something different now. By daring to live as a ‘successful person’ rather than a ‘successful woman,’ Louise Mensch has shredded her pass to the feminist after-party. By refusing to act as a representative for ‘women who want it all,’ Mensch has been cast out. Fair?  

Samantha Hames

I'm Sam! I'm quirky, chatty and immensely energetic. My greatest loves include; books, reggae music, cheese, Jack Daniels and David Lynch. I'm due to graduate in just over a month, and hope to kickstart my writing career as soon as possible. To put it cheesily, writing is my calling. :)

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