Perhaps it is a little infuriating to watch footage of Jeremy Corbyn – not exactly a diamond in the rough world of politics – potentially calling the Prime Minister a “stupid woman”. It’s even more infuriating to watch him vehemently deny that he uttered the words, instead claiming that he said “stupid people”, in an effort to save his skin against the accusation of misogyny. But is it really all that terrible if he did indeed throw such an insult at Theresa May? How many people would actually disagree with her? The feminist movement uses social media to circulate and endorse statements such as “end all men”, so do we feminists really have a leg to stand on? Stupidity exists in all genders, and unfortunately it just so happens that our female Prime Minister’s recent attempts at leadership epitomise the word.
The fight for gender equality is obviously a fight to which I am unequivocally dedicated. I’m a woman – it would be foolish of me to turn my back on a movement that is explicitly fighting for my own rights. But, in spite of this, I’m also not averse to the fact that sometimes women are stupid, just as men are sometimes stupid, too. All genders are sometimes stupid. We’re destroying the planet and doing nothing about it, for goodness sake – of course there are some stupid people around.
So, let’s talk about Corbyn muttering “stupid woman” under his breath. This was an insult aimed at a woman who has lead the Conservative Party through a truly disastrous term in British politics. The Tories lost their parliamentary majority in 2017; a multitude of her ministers have resigned over her handling of Brexit and her leadership of the party; she has claimed on live television that “there are boy jobs and girl jobs”; and then there’s her Brexit deal which, last time I checked, doesn’t seem to be going down very well.
Of course, a phrase like “stupid woman” is bound to grind the gears of anyone interested in feminism. But we have to stop assuming that any adjectives, which are spoken by men and followed with the word “woman”, are intended as descriptors of all women everywhere. Tory MPs were remarkably quick to start throwing around accusations of sexism from the Labour leader, which considering a shameful 20 per cent of their parliamentary representatives are female, seems a little hypocritical. Even the Daily Mail is criticising Corbyn for his slip of the tongue, a newspaper which made its stance on feminism clear by publishing a piece on “Legs-it”, establishing a competition between Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May for the best legs.
Political correctness should be observed to a certain extent, especially by figures like Corbyn who live their lives in the limelight. But when the protocols of Prime Minister’s Questions dictate that the Labour leader can’t throw a relatively fair insult at his disastrous opponent, we might need to stop and consider whether we’ve taken it too far. Theresa May is being stupid and, if I had to sit back and watch the person who beat me to the top spot, destroying the stability and reputation of the entire country, I would be more than tempted to call her stupid, too.