It has been a quiet time in the Old Doom Bar. The automated milking is operational, the wild life has gone to ground and the weather discourages outdoor activity other than a quick check on the sheep and cattle. As inhabitants of a west coast borderland we feel particular sympathy for the folk of Cumbria bashed again by the weather.
Nonetheless, we are encouraged to believe ‘tis the season to be merry. Hence one evening us ‘boys’ (as the women call us) shared a relaxed evening of general chat and banter in a safe space.
Tyson Fury’s accession as world heavyweight boxing champ was good news for boxing fans and patriots – although sadly for many, pugilism has become unfashionable. Despite the sport’s absence from main terrestrial TV the BBC has creditably put Mr Fury on its Sports Personality of the Year candidate list. Regrettably for his standing with the bien pensant his remark that ‘women’s place is in the kitchen or on their back’ has not gone down too well and the Beeb is under pressure to de-platform him. Well, they haven’t so far although having been stripped of his title by the IBC may give them cause and he has been defended on the slightly dodgy grounds that he has had no media training, comes from a Traveller background and is just a boxer; although you can see where the defence is coming from.
Such revanchist and anti-feminist thinking is of course anathema to all decent blokes. I mean’ said one of our group ‘why only on her back?’ We laughed politely if guiltily but on firmer ground, we agreed that Oscar Pistorius’ recent conviction for murder had been a justified conclusion. Although we were astonished he could sit around for months in his luxury home while his cheeky appeal on constitutional grounds could be heard. There was no question he should be denounced as a cad, coward and bounder regardless of his leg problem.
On a more general political front we were amused by the Little Red Book episode at the time of our Chancellor’s autumn statement. Someone (a prospective Councillor) had a copy of Mao’s thoughts. In the light of Tyson Fury’s comments he provided an antidote to our glib jesting about female roles and quoted from the magazine Women of New China July 20 1949. In it, Mao had written the exhortation ‘unite and take part in production and political activity to improve the economic and political status of women’. This seemed to pithily summarise everything the feminist movement and Iain Duncan Smith have been urging and legislating for.
It does strike any thoughtful male that women have a pretty good case for resenting men. Never mind historic male hegemony and the fancy stuff about patriarchy. Day to day it seems women have to segue round the entrenched differentiations and attitudes that however innocently meant confirm their gender’s status.
BBCs Woman’s Hour is persistent in its portrayal of women as victims. A recent crusade has dealt with the menopause and whether menopausal women should be given special consideration in the workplace. A female contributor to the discussion observed that given the variability in impact of this physiological process, singling it out would merely confirm male prejudice. Our male forum agreed we had no idea about whether the women in our lives had been through it or not. Either this ignorance was due to our thoughtlessness or our wives fortitude or that maybe, for most women it was a non-event other than the relief of not having periods.
As someone said: ‘If we’re so bad, why aren’t all women lesbians?’ We agreed that if we were women, we’d be lesbians given men’s poor behaviour and general slobbiness compared with more agreeable female attributes. It was late in the evening. A couple of the group had to get out in their boat and haul lobster pots despite the weather; and there had been a sheep rustling outbreak so others were sharing an overnight farm patrol in the Landrover.
We’ll be meeting again the Sunday before Christmas for pies (baked by our landlord host) and carols. The girls will of course look lovely as always.