Now that Theresa May is prime minister, and if Hillary Clinton wins the US presidential contest in November, we will, for the first time in history, have two women leading two of the most powerful countries in the world.
Their rise to power is being painted as a symbolic victory for women everywhere. We are supposed to take some vague, vicarious pleasure in the fact that May and Clinton have risen to the top, despite their lack of Y chromosomes. Never mind the fact that neither of the two women espouses a strong and coherent political philosophy of any kind. Nobody knows their principles, passions, ideas… and yet we’re expected to support them.
Despite what their cheerleaders and obsequious hangers-on would have you believe, this isn’t a great moment in history. Neither May nor Clinton has challenged the status quo in any material way. Indeed, May’s first speech as prime minister seemed to be a laundry list of trite political sentiments:
‘David Cameron has led a one-nation government, and it is in that spirit that I also plan to lead… That means fighting against the burning injustice that, if you’re born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than others. If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white. If you’re a white, working-class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university. If you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately. If you’re a woman, you will earn less than a man. If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand. If you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home.’
The speech lacked authenticity. It was as if a social-justice bot had trawled the internet for the most politically correct phrases it could find and then inserted them into a speech in random order. There was nothing original about it at all.