Sarah Ditum

Barbie’s world: the normalisation of cosmetic surgery

39 min listen

This week: Ahead of the release of the Barbie movie, Louise Perry writes in her cover piece about how social media is fuelling the cosmetic surgery industry. She argues that life in plastic is not, in fact, fantastic. She joins the podcast alongside the Times’s Sarah Ditum, author of the upcoming book: Toxic: Women, Fame and the Noughties, to

How the war on Roe was won

When did it become certain that American women’s abortion rights would fall? The Supreme Court’s ruling that ‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start’ was leaked almost two months ago, so the formal release of the judgment yesterday is bitter but hardly a surprise. Certainly, Donald Trump can take a lot of the credit. Somehow,

Spectator Out Loud: Robert Hardman, Meirion Thomas and Sarah Ditum

23 min listen

On this week’s episode, Robert Hardman reads his cover article on the quiet radicalism of Queen Elizabeth II (00:50); J. Meirion Thomas reads his article on the ‘total triage’ system that is leaving patients unable to see their GPs; and Sarah Ditum reads her review of Sandra Newman’s new novel, The Men. Presented by Angus

A flawed utopia: The Men, by Sandra Newman, reviewed

The problem for feminism is men. Not, specifically, in the sense that men are the source of women’s problems, although the statistics do tend to point in that direction. Feminism’s men problem is that, despite all this, women like men. Love men. One of the lessons of second-wave experiments in separatism is that the idealised

First love: The Inseparables, by Simone de Beauvoir, reviewed

‘Newly discovered novel’ can be a discouraging phrase. Sure, some writers leave works of extraordinary calibre lurking among their effects — Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman, say. Other books, though, would have done as well to stay lost. Did the world really need to set eyes on Harper Lee’s first draft of To Kill a

Lucy Ellmann is angry about everything, especially men

Is Lucy Ellmann serious? On the one hand, yes, very. The novel she published before this collection of essays was the Booker-shortlisted Ducks, Newburyport, which relayed the internal life of an Ohioan mother of four via a single sentence across 1,000 pages. Her publisher tells me that between the proof and final publication of Things

Joan Didion’s needle-sharp eye never fails

Most collections of journalism are bad. There are two reasons for this: one is that they are usually incoherent and the other is that they are, perversely, far too coherent. The pieces are pulled from their original contexts — newspapers, magazines — and thrown together with others they have no relation to beyond a common

The banality of Matt Haig

It doesn’t seem like a bad time to be Matt Haig. He’s written multiple bestselling books, including the reputation-making memoir Reasons to Stay Alive about his own experience of severe depression. His latest, The Midnight Library, is proving impossible for everyone but Richard Osman and JK Rowling to knock out of the bestseller charts. There’s

No, Ben Bradley: we don’t need a minister for men

Happy International Men’s Day! Sorry I’m late by one day, it’s just that I don’t really know what it’s for. I mean, yes, I’m grateful for its existence on International Women’s Day whenever someone says ‘Ah, but when is International Men’s Day?’, and I can reply: ’19 November’. But even then, it basically spoils a

Claire Messud helps us see the familiar with new eyes

The title of this collection of journalism is a problem. Not the Kant’s Little Prussian Head bit, which, though opaque, is explained in the text. It’s from Thomas Bernhard’s novel The Loser and is quoted by Claire Messud in the title essay: ‘We study a monumental work, for example Kant’s work, and in time it

The sexism of the conversation about cleaners and Covid

I don’t have a cleaner. Admittedly, whether I do or not isn’t really relevant to the argument I’m about to make. But quite often when you talk about cleaners, you’ll get a reaction like this: ‘That lazy, dirty Karen, she should clean up after herself instead of farting out columns while someone picks up around

Patti Smith had a bad year in 2016

In the Chinese zodiac, 2016 was the year of the monkey, a trickster year full of the unhappy and the unexpected for Patti Smith. It starts badly at New Year: ‘Some guy with a greasy ponytail leaned over and puked on my boots.’ Then it gets worse, private tragedies and political shocks drawing Smith into

The Old Vic’s gender-neutral toilets leave women worse off

This article appeared briefly on the Stage website before it was unpublished following ‘strong responses’ online. Here, with Sarah’s permission, The Spectator republishes her piece: If you need to confirm that we live in a world built on men’s terms, take a look at the toilets in any public building. The chances are that, while