Jul 21

Gransthread on Kenneth Clarke’s overheard opinion on Theresa May.

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A ‘bloody difficult woman’. Compliment or Insult?

Gransthread on Kenneth Clarke’s overheard opinion on Teresa May.Recently Kenneth Clarke was overheard calling Theresa May a ‘bloody difficult woman’. So – insult, or a compliment?


I can’t claim to see inside anyone else’s head, but it was reported as an insult or if one is kind, an observation.


This is a label that has been directed towards me rather often, sometimes behind my back. Well usually, but I have ears like a bat, or a witch as some might say.

Without a doubt I take it as a compliment, because I feel I have earned such an accolade.


Why? A sense of self is hard fought for, and the confidence to stand one’s ground,  when societal or peer pressure is urging one to shut up, and go with the flow, is a precious commodity.


It doesn’t make for an easy life, though, because it equates to putting one’s head above the parapet, but I thought I’d ask around for the opinion of other women across the generations.


Tracy Baines, one of our most successful short story writers, who has three grandchildren, and looks ridiculously young, or is it that she knows some magic elixir says:


‘Depends who is calling me difficult. I think older women are called difficult and younger women are labelled Prima Donnas or drama queens. When I was younger I would have seen it as detrimental but now I think it’s an asset. It’s said by men and women who don’t like it when you are not a pushover. Bring it on I say.


So today I asked a girl who is quite the other end of the spectrum, a mere fourteen. Meg said:


I would take it as a compliment. I have a right to an opinion, and though I listen to the opinions of others, if I disagree I will say so. I know I need to make sure I have a reason for the way I think, but in the end, I have a right to transfer my thought into words, even if others don’t like it.


Another, a mother, said:


I do think men and women have different attitudes. Women are more used to placating others, so tend to keep their opinions to themselves, or subsume their actions into those which will make few ripples. I think they then feel increasingly frustrated by this and as they get older they realize that they have earned their place in the world, and increasingly will not necessarily toe the line just because it is inconvenient for someone else.

So, where are we with this? Perhaps being what is classed as difficult disturbs the status quo? If so, let it. Change is usually good except for the lazy, the scared or the narrow minded.


So, a firm decision from across the generations that to be called bloody difficult is a compliment. As Tracy Baines says: bring it on and more power to our elbows.
Any opinions amongst our Frost Magazine readers?
Would love to hear them at frost@margaret-graham.com