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U2’s Bono Named Woman Of The Year

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Glamour magazine is so hard-stretched to find enough worthy female candidates for its Women of the Year shortlist that any progressive male with a decent track record of philanthropy is now in with a shot of winning the prize

Meanwhile, back in SJW-land, life goes on as normal… Glamour magazine has named Bono as one of its Women of the Year.

Now, parents can tell their daughters that one day they too can grow up to be Bono, that designer stubble-sporting, wraparound sunglasses-wearing crooner. Though of course in the age of identity politics, this was always self-evidently the case – it simply involves standing up, declaring that “I identity as the lead singer of Irish rock band and celebrity philanthropist U2” and then demanding that everybody else bow down and play along with your delusion, lest they be accused of intolerance or oppression.

But of course Glamour magazine is doing this to make a Worthy Point, and so we must all nod our heads at their little stunt and murmur “how provocative and brave”.

Christiane Amanpour gushingly writes in the magazine:

When humanitarian and rock icon Bono learned that he was being honored by Glamour as the first-ever Man of the Year, he called his wife of 34 years, Ali Hewson, to give her the news. “I asked did she think I deserved it. She wasn’t sure,” Bono tells me with a laugh. “She said I’ve work to do!”

U2’s front man has no doubts. “I’m sure I don’t deserve it,” he says. “But I’m grateful for this award as a chance to say the battle for gender equality can’t be won unless men lead it along with women. We’re largely responsible for the problem, so we have to be involved in the solutions.”

I’m on Glamour’s side: I think Bono is the perfect choice for this first-time honor because, now 56, he’s been trying to do good for as long as he’s been making music. I first met Bono, born Paul David Hewson, in Sarajevo over New Year’s 1996, shortly after peace accords ended the Bosnian civil war that November. It was the first time in four years that the guns were silent and the people of that beautiful city could celebrate by taking to the concert halls and cafés. I got pulled into a crowded car one night, heading for a party, and there was Bono. Our two-decade humanitarian friendship was launched.

And while my friend has sold 170 million albums and won 22 Grammys, what I admire most about him is his extraordinary talent for tackling problems that seem intractable—and making mighty and measurable gains. It’s not every superstar (or, for that matter, statesman) who can bring about $100 billion in debt cancellation for 35 of the world’s poorest countries, or persuade the U.S. government to pony up the largest contribution ever for lifesaving AIDS drugs in Africa, as President George W. Bush did in 2004.

Now Bono has created Poverty Is Sexist, a new campaign specifically aimed at helping the world’s poorest women—those who survive on less than $2 a day. “Women bear the burdens of poverty,” Bono says, meaning they are far less likely than men to have access to food, clean water, education, and health care; laws in many parts of the world don’t protect them from sexual violence or allow them to own the land they work. By establishing Poverty Is Sexist, Bono is making it clear that powerful men can, and should, take on these deep-rooted issues.

Poverty is sexist? Give me a break. By this alarmist logic, anything impacting men and women differently is inherently sexist, and therefore in need of immediate corrective action by government or other actors. Pregnancy? Utterly outrageous that women are left to bear the burden alone. Money should be poured into womb transplant research and artificial gestation technology so that men can either be surgically forced to bring 50 percent of new life to term themselves, or all of humanity can outsource the job to technology in the name of equality.

Real, grinding poverty – better thought of as the absence of wealth – is debilitating and responsible for nearly all of Beveridge’s famously identified Five Giant Evils. It should be tackled on that basis, not devalued and politicised by slapping an additional identity politics label onto poverty, as though calling it names will make it go away.

But a man winning an award designed for women?

The Telegraph’s Radhika Sanghani is unconvinced:

Glamour’s editor-in-chief Cindi Leive, tried to justify the decision: “We’ve talked for years about whether to honour a man at Women of the Year and we’ve always kind of put the kibosh on it. You know, men get a lot of awards and aren’t exactly hurting in the awards department. But it started to seem that that might be an outdated way of looking at things and there are so many men who really are doing wonderful things for women these days.”

Yes, there are. And none of these men who do “wonderful things for women these days” become women themselves by doing so.

Sanghani continues:

I know these decisions come from a good place. The UN’s appointment was probably meant to be a symbol to raise awareness, while Glamour referenced the #HeForShe movement as part of their reasoning for choosing Bono – saying gender equality will never be achieved unless privileged white men get on board.

Yet underneath the humour (see Tweet embeds for the best Bono jokes going around today) there is an uncomfortable feeling that no woman was good enough for the position. That Glamour couldn’t find a tenth inspiring woman deserving of the award, while the UN couldn’t find another Emma Watson to make empowerment appealing to the masses. Even Bono, gets it, telling the magazine: “I’m sure I don’t deserve it.”

There you have it; straight out of the 2016 Woman of the Year’s mouth – a man doesn’t deserve to have an award celebrating women. Who would have thought it?

I am less confident that these decisions come from a good place.

When Caitlyn Jenner won Glamour’s Woman of the Year award last year, at least the former Bruce Jenner made the effort to physically transition from male to female and begin living as the latter before being given her award. But those who worried about excessive fluidity in gender identity didn’t realise how quickly things would develop. Fast-forward just one year and now one might find oneself publicly declared a different gender just for doing a bit of charity work.

Together with some other individuals from my old firm, I once spent a day re-painting a community centre for elderly residents in east London, and another day teaching employment and job-searching skills to young NEET (not in employment, education or training) teenagers. Does that entitle me to be named as a contender for either Septuagenarian or Disadvantaged Kid of the Year?

We can trace this kind of stunt back to Bill Clinton – he who spoke of “super-predators” and did as much as anyone to promote mass incarceration – being lauded as the “first black president” back in 2008.

At one time we could dismiss stunts such as this from the Congressional Black Caucus as isolated incidents. But we seem to have reached critical mass with this phenomenon where it is now considered hip, edgy and provocative to deliberately misgender people, both as a way of generating controversy to keep public attention fixed on something increasingly irrelevant (print magazines) and to further undermine the idea of biological gender altogether.

This is becoming ridiculous. It is one thing for grown adults to declare that they wish to identify as a different gender – to which the polite response should be to comply with their request, no matter one’s personal stance on transgender issues. But it is another thing entirely for the media to start bestowing new gender identities on unwitting people as a signal of approval of their actions.

Gender is innate, and means far more than simply being a pat on the head for good work, even for a lifetime of charitable service. If U2’s Bono actually wants to be a woman, there is a clear and well-trodden path laid out for him to do so and many people will light the way with glowsticks and strew it with petals.

But assuming that he does not in fact want to become a woman, Bono should demonstrate real respect for women by refusing to participate in this insidious game, and decline the Glamour award.

 

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Top Image: Rene Romero, Wikimedia Commons

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