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Alastair Campbell Debates Feminism With His Daughter: ‘I’ve Never, Ever Done Housework’

Former Labour spokesman Alastair Campbell, 61, and his daughter Grace, a 24-year-old filmmaker and activist, made headlines last week when she called in to a radio show he was hosting to reprimand him for calling women ‘birds’. We got them in a room to talk feminism, porn and ironing...

GRACE: Are you a feminist?

ALASTAIR: Yes, in that I absolutely believe in equality of opportunity. You say I’m a ‘patriarchal feminist’ but, in my defence, a lot of that is societal and upbringing.

G: Even if women are powerful outside the home, they’re still expected to do all the housework, too. That’s changing, but not in our household.

A: I don’t have an inbuilt objection to doing things 50-50 but it’s true, on the housework front, I’ve never, ever done it.

G: Mum [Fiona Millar, a writer and campaigner] told me she once asked you to mow the lawn and you said, ‘If I wanted to mow the lawn, I’d be a gardener.’

A: That’s true. And I’ve never used an iron. Once when I’d been travelling and my shirt was creased, I did say to a woman who worked for me: ‘This sounds pathetic but I don’t know how to use an iron, please can you do it for me?’ But I would have said it to a man, too!

G: I can’t remember my brothers once doing the washing up; it was always me and Mum. You’d go and watch the football.

A: By the way, I don’t think I have called women ‘birds’ for a while.

G: You do with my brothers. My brother Rory says it a lot and I’ll say, ‘What was it, an eagle, a pigeon?’
A: There’s a double standard. Loads of women these days say, ‘Look at that hot guy.’

G: But there’s a time and a place and sometimes men bring that kind of talk into inappropriate situations where women feel vulnerable.

A: I agree. But I’ve noticed a change. It doesn’t happen every day, but getting propositioned by women happens more than it used to. At an event, a woman literally tried to get me into a hotel room. If there was a role reversal, that would be horrific.

G: When all the stuff about Westminster’s #MeToo came out, I called you and said ‘I hope nothing’s going to come out about you,’ but I know you’re not that person.

A: No. I am flirty, but I’d never want anyone to feel uncomfortable.

G: It’s a scary time to be a man, especially for those that are in the public eye. Everyone has to be more careful, but that’s a good thing, because women are safer from being harassed.

A: Grace has made me aware of issues I didn’t know about. For example, young guys watching pornography. I’m not pretending I haven’t watched porn, but I had no idea how much there is, and the impact it’s having [on relationships].

G: This new wave of feminism is really exciting. I’m happy we’re discussing the relationship women and men can have within it. We shouldn’t exclude men from the debate.

Grace is the founder of feminist activist community _The Pink Protest____._