Katie Price stuttered and mumbled her way through the 10-minute speech
Glamour model and media personality Katie Price took part in a debate at The Cambridge Union Society last Thursday. She was on a team with Charlotte Vere, founder of think-tank Women On, and Anna Stansbury, an Economics student. They opposed the motion: the only limit to female success is female ambition.
Proposing the motion were Liz Jones, a Daily Mail columnist and former editor of Marie Claire, author Steve Moxon and Rachel Johnson, editor of The Lady.
The debate attracted a huge audience, Katie Price forgot some of her lines and the motion was defeated with just 39 ‘Ayes’ to 497 ‘Noes’. So far, so unsurprising. But what really shocked me was the press reaction following the debate.
I left the Union on Thursday evening feeling truly disappointed, not because the debate was poor, but because I really wanted Katie to do well. I always had a feeling that she was quietly intelligent, and I’ve watched enough reality television to know that she is capable of speaking well in public.
Something seemed to happen on Thursday night that threw her. Katie stuttered and mumbled her way through her 10-minute speech, appearing to deliver it not to the chamber but to her mum. But the worst part of the speech was when, about four minutes in, Katie seemed to give up on debating and asked the audience for questions about her personal life, showing not just a lack of respect to those who had prepared speeches, but demonstrating that she didn’t know what she was arguing at all.
It’s not that Katie wasn’t interesting, or that her work ethic isn’t admirable. And I’m aware that debating at the Union is nerve-wracking as I’ve done it too. Rather, I’m saying that she wasn’t a great public speaker, and she opted to concentrate more on giving an account of her life rather than engaging in a genuinely interesting debate about feminism.
Imagine my surprise then, when I woke up on Friday morning to find that every newspaper and magazine that reported on the debate took the line ‘Katie Price WINS debate at Cambridge Union Society,’ implying somehow that Katie had out-smarted the proposition. Technically the opposition did receive more votes, but that wasn’t because Katie excelled at debating, as every headline I read implied.
The opposition’s victory was largely down to the fact that the motion was phrased in such a way that it would have been impossible for them not to win (who can honestly say that the only limit to female success is female ambition?), and the fact that Charlotte Vere and Anna Stansbury were very eloquent and engaging speakers.
The simple fact is: Katie wasn’t totally comfortable debating at the Union. She was oddly charming, and she was undoubtedly a popular speaker, but she certainly didn’t achieve the kind of academic victory that the papers were so keen to tell us she did. Surely the fact that Katie Price – a woman who is followed around by cameras for a living – crumbled under the pressure at the Union that night is interesting. Whether that says something about Cambridge students or something about Katie is a separate question, but it’s one that we shouldn’t be afraid to ask. It would have been more interesting to see an honest account of the evening’s happenings in Friday morning’s papers.
Why weren’t the papers honest? Why is it that we are so desperate to see Katie Price emerge as some kind of feminist icon? I suspect it’s got something to do with the fact that we admire her tenacity and the fact that she’s a self-made woman. But these things ring true regardless of whether she’s a good debater. Which she isn’t.
I guess – as Katie herself has often pointed out – you can’t believe everything you read in the papers.Tagged in: cambridge university, debate, jordan, katie price
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