The Na­tional Trust is on to some­thing with these pa­per bags

The Guardian - G2 - - News -

For­give my seem­ing an an­gry fem­i­nist for a mo­ment – even if that is what I am – but many bad news sto­ries have some­thing in com­mon: the in­volve­ment of pow­er­ful men. There’s Bol­sonaro, Trump and Ka­vanaugh, of course, but also David Cameron, the man re­spon­si­ble for the Brexit sham­bles, who has such a sense of en­ti­tle­ment that he now, out of bore­dom, says he quite fan­cies be­ing for­eign sec­re­tary.

Which is why I am fail­ing to get het up about the Na­tional Trust, which got in trou­ble this week for cov­er­ing up paint­ings and sculp­tures of men at a stately home in Northumberland as part of a cel­e­bra­tion of the role of women.

The pho­to­graphs of busts of men with bags over their heads made me laugh. It wasn’t sub­tle and they looked ridicu­lous, of course, but why not have a bit of fun with his­tory?

“To cover up por­traits of men so they would not of­fend ladies was just ridicu­lous. Stat­ues had white bags over them. Peo­ple were baf­fled,” wrote one vis­i­tor to Crag­side, miss­ing the point some­what, and com­pound­ing my amuse­ment as I imag­ined the scenes.

It’s not that the pres­ence of these memo­ri­als to pow­er­ful men is of­fen­sive, it’s more that they are ev­ery­where: cov­er­ing them up serves to high­light just how min­i­mal fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion is in the arts, as in other ar­eas.

This is why I would love to see this scheme ex­tended to men in pol­i­tics and the me­dia. How much Arts Coun­cil fund­ing could I net with a pro­posal that the so-called gentle­men of Westminster don pa­per head-bags? Could we get one over Piers Mor­gan? This could be the start of a rev­o­lu­tion – and I’m all for it.

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