We often discuss girl-on-girl crime in these parts, which is to say that we condemn baseless bad-mouthing of a woman based on her appearance or her gender. But what we don't always point out is the idea that well-argued criticism is not the same as crime. This is not a motherfucking kumbaya circle, people. Which is why I have no problem with what Slate describes as the "torrent of abuse, contempt, and sheer loathing" that is being directed towards Cherie Blair for her apparently abhorrent memoir, Speaking for Myself. What does bug me is that Slate scribe Geoffrey Wheatcroft feels the need to point out that "as with the deadliest assaults on Hillary Clinton, which came from female stiletto heels, the most brutal denunciations of Cherie were from women." Immediately after, he quotes a Daily Mail critic. Come on: That's like saying the worst insults on Clinton came from a female Fox News anchor! Women need to be able to critique other women without it being described as some alpha female cat fight based on jealousy or other, free-floating insecurity.
Despite that misstep, Wheatcroft does point out an interesting double bind that the wife of a very powerful man faces:
Just as, without her husband's name, Hillary might be a candidate for president of Vassar but not president of the United States (to borrow Maureen Dowd's phrase), so too a little-known barrister named Cherie Booth might be invited to address legal conferences for what's called an honorarium (Latin for 'not much') or to write books for modest sums, but she would not pick up $150,000 for three U.S. speaking engagements or pocket $2 million for her memoir. As columnist Catherine Bennett has said, what Cherie likes to think of as her 'enlightened self-assertion' always 'rested on a very traditional foundation: her husband's career.'
It's a minefield for any woman to tackle, but Cherie doesn't really acknowledge her privilege — whether it be through her husband or their collectively earned wealth — at all. She describes herself as a "socialist" but has two homes worth a combined $14 million, according to Slate. She judges Princess Margaret "a stuck-up old slapper" but then discusses her own randy youth, sleeping with three men simultaneously (one of whom was future husband Tony).
And worst of all, Cherie doesn't seem to care that her husband brought England into the Iraq war based on questionable evidence. She blithely dismisses Tony's detractors, writing, "If Tony tells me, as he does, that if we don't stop Saddam Hussein the world will be a more dangerous place, then I believe him, and in my view you and I should be supporting our men in these difficult decisions, not making it worse by nagging them." See? Cherie deserves the heap of criticism she's getting from people — despite their gender.