In her memoir Rude, the former Mail Online columnist Katie Hopkins reveals her true self. She does this by accident, because she has no self-awareness, but it is there, on page 233:
It may we’ll [sic] be that by the time you are reading this I will be going through a dominatrix phase… a fierce bedroom warrior, nipples pinched tight by clamps, an orange in my gob, more buckles than a boot store, locked into a metal girdle with only my front bottom on show.
Oh Katie! Don’t you know anything? The dominatrix doesn’t wear the nipple clamps; she doesn’t suck the orange; she isn’t locked into a metal girdle. This is the costume of the masochist.
Once you realise that Katie’s op-ed is the faulty instrument of her unfulfilled sexual longings, it is easy not to mind her politics so much: her snobbery; her loathing of feminists; her description of migrants, in a Sun column as ‘cockroaches’. (I didn’t mind her calling for a final solution on Twitter because she obviously didn’t know what the Final Solution was.)
Her politics are mere projection: she is the outsider seeking sanctuary, she is the woman coveting power. I have always found her anger fascinating — and here is the raw material in Rude, incoherent and disorganised, but present in her accidental prose.
Rude is, essentially, a self-help book from a nutter but there is one immutable truth in it: her epilepsy. She went to Sandhurst, but collapsed on the parade ground, and was expelled from her natural element, which is working-class men screaming at her — the army. Her fits got so bad that her father said that if she were an animal, she would be put down. Three paragraphs in, and what else is there to say?
Not much, and so Rude is a list of things she hates, written in the duplicitous style of a semi-educated ‘just folks’ everywoman who is vastly more irritating than the real Katie Hopkins, or anyone.
She hates fat people because they chose their disability, and she did not. She hates most women — full-time mothers, single mothers, and particularly working-class single mothers (she is lower middle class — close enough to fear the council estate). Men get off more lightly — she only really hates men with ‘micro-penises’, lefties and gingers. She likes a certain kind of working-class man a lot; there is a reverie about an odd-job man, naked under his boiler suit in Lundy, and this passage is, by far, the best descriptive writing in Rude.
Perhaps her real genre is pornography. I sense an urge in Katie for much rough sex — why else would you join the army? — but she is conventional enough to avoid this in life. No functioning woman over 40 can have rough sex with odd-job men in Lundy — and Katie, with her grade 8 in piano, is proud to function. She attempts, rather, to experience rough sex through her columns — which is, if you will forgive me, a hiding to nothing, and is why her political writing makes no sense at all.
For example, she loves strong women —she writes a homage to her cleaner as evidence — and other women over 40, who she names ‘the big boobers’. But she also disapproves of maternity leave, and thinks that ultra-orthodox Jewish women who shave their heads and wear wigs are having ‘a right laugh’. It is gobbledegook, and I am not surprised that some gentlemen columnists want to strangle her.
I suspect that, somewhere inside the construct, she knows that a pathology is not a career. And so she is thrillingly self-destructive. At these times, I come quite close to loving her. She criticises Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail. She pictures Sarah Vine — a Mail columnist, also Michael Gove’s wife — ‘with Mr Dacre’s hand up her back working her mouth, spitting out whatever editorial he wants’. When she claimed a newspaper editor — Dacre again ?— insists his female employees wear high heels because ‘he believes women in brogues are lesbians’, I wondered if Rude was close to her last word, and I was right. Last week she left MailOnline, in that richly suggestive phrase, by mutual consent.