The National Trust is on to something with these paper bags
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.