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Alpha females who play at being little women
Multi-millionaire film star Gwyneth Paltrow is in no position to tell us how to manage family life.
By Jemima Lewis
Being annoyed by Gwyneth Paltrow is the very definition of pointlessness – like railing against the existence of death, or buying anti-cellulite cream. Yet at times it’s impossible to resist.
The multi-millionaire film star usually doles out impractical lifestyle advice through her website, Goop. But this week she gave an interview to the fashion magazine ''Harper’s Bazaar'', in which – while posing slinkily in a zephyr of lace – she offered her views on how to manage family life.
Any advice to women that contains the clause “This may not be feminist, but…” is bound to be shonky – just as anyone who claims that some of his best friends are black is certain to be a galloping racist. Sure enough, what follows is an appeal for women to get back in touch with their inner homemaker.
Paltrow claims to have put her own career on the back-burner to be at home with her two children and put dinner on the table when her husband gets home from work. “I want to maintain my marriage and my family, so I have to be here when he comes home,” says the modest little Hausfrau.
The fact that Paltrow remains one of Hollywood’s highest earners, with a £6million London home, a rock star husband and enough domestic staff to run a small developing nation is irrelevant. In fact, the current vogue for old-fashioned wifely domesticity appears to be nowhere more popular than among hugely successful alpha females.
Hence, Kirsty Allsopp – TV star and property guru – opines on the importance of always putting your man first; while Louise Mensch – bestselling author, MP and self-styled successor to Mrs Thatcher – advises us to dress up and look good for our husbands, as “an act of love”.
It’s as if, having secured their position at the top, they want to play at being little women, like Marie Antoinette pretending to be a peasant farmer.
In the real world, it isn’t wives and mothers who need to start putting their families first. We already do: 41 per cent of mothers in couples work part-time, compared to just 4 per cent of men. A husband who pulls his weight at home is every bit as crucial to a happy family life – yet when was the last time you saw an article in GQ on the importance of getting home for bath time?
When it comes to politically correct beer pumps, I’m with Kate Green. The Labour MP raised an objection in the Commons after noticing a new beer on sale in Parliament’s Strangers’s bar. Called Top Totty, it has a pump plate featuring a cartoon of a pneumatic blonde in a bikini and a pair of bunny ears. It has now been removed from sale.
This is seen in some quarters as an example of political correctness gone kerr-azy. But what ought to trouble us more, surely, is that a smallish, family-run Staffordshire brewery should think it reasonable to use such porn-lite branding. Images of naked women are now such a ubiquitous part of mainstream culture that we hardly question them anymore. It’s only when they pop up somewhere unexpected, like a dusty parliamentary bar, that their casual vulgarity gets noticed.
If you ever worry that we are becoming too American, take a look at Michelle Obama’s latest TV outing. The First Lady appeared this week on Ellen DeGeneres’s chat show, during which her host challenged her to a push-up competition. Mrs Obama promptly tossed aside her jacket, dropped to the floor and did 25 push-ups, while DeGeneres struggled to keep up. Tradition also dictates that guests on the show must do a dance with their host. Mrs Obama managed to pull some funkier moves – but still. Can you imagine Samantha Cameron agreeing to get her groove on with Graham Norton?