The joy of discovering that six women from Greenpeace scaled the Shard in London on Thursday, to protest against Arctic oil drilling, was dwarfed only by the news that Toby Young had taken to Telegraph blogsto denounce the protest as sexist. According to Young, the activists were trying to shock by having women do things that require physical strength and are thus “implicitly accepting that women are the weaker sex”.
Honestly, sometimes I don’t know what feminism would do without the guidance of men like Toby Young. I bet Emmeline Pankhurst is gazing down from heaven as we speak, thinking: “If only some bore had been writing disparaging blog posts during our campaign; we might have got a lot more done.”
Anyway, it turns out the Telegraph isn’t the only medium to transmit the sexist observations of men who’d got wind of the protest: Vice magazinealso reports a Twitter user’s concerns that the protest had deprived the activists’ husbands of breakfast. Picture, if you will, a tearful man watching the Shard on the news while hopelessly attempting to fry an egg. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Meanwhile the Evening Standardponders whether the activists had heard that the Shard’s restaurant is a popular place for marriage proposals: “Perhaps the Greenpeace protesters scaling the building this morning were just latter-day Juliets looking for a Romeo.” Of course they were. I frequently press myself against the glass of 30-storey offices, screaming “LOVE ME!!!” to the men working inside.
I haven’t spoken to the women who took part in the protest (though if any of you are reading this, I want to buy you a very big drink), but I’d like to offer a theory as to why all six climbers were women. You see, social justice campaigners tend to be aware that we are living in a world where women are not equal to men – a patriarchy, if such a term isn’t too frightening for any sensitive souls out there. Campaigners usually accept the fact that men dominate public discourse and women don’t really get a look in. Unfortunately, they also realise that, left unchecked, social movements can also fall into this trap.