James Delingpole says You Know It Makes Sense
Apparently I’m in the doghouse. It’s because of a piece I wrote in Tatler which asked the question: ‘If you had a boy and a girl and could only afford to educate one of them
privately, which would you choose?’
All other things being equal, I foolhardily argued, it should be the boy.
This is the kind of article guaranteed to grab the attention of the termagants’ website Mumsnet. And so it came to pass. Friends kept forwarding me links to the discussion going on about me,
in much the same kindly, helpful way they email links to unpleasant reviews of my books I might otherwise have missed. But I’m afraid I was too squeamish to investigate. If the Mumsnet
harpies are capable of eviscerating a prime minister just because he has chosen the wrong kind of biscuit, imagine what they’d do to the kind of antediluvian Male Chauvinist Pig who thinks
boys are superior to girls.
Actually, though, I don’t think boys are superior at all. In any case my argument was purely hypothetical — like a less extreme version of those hideous dilemmas you sometimes read
about where the car falls into the river and the parent has to decide which of her two children to save from drowning. What happens in reality is that the situation resolves itself for you. You
grab whichever child is nearest; or perhaps, whichever one is most likely to struggle without your help. You certainly don’t tread water for a while as you mentally calculate: ‘Well, on
the one hand the daughter’s more likely to ensure me regular access rights to the grandchildren. But on the other the son’s more likely to buy me a nice retirement home.’
In our case, what it came down to was that Boy was struggling at his C of E primary school, while Girl, as yet, wasn’t. As is often the way in the state system, the thicker, naughtier boys
were grabbing most of the teacher’s time and Boy had started coming home saying things like: ‘I wish I was stupid.’ A friend suggested he apply for a scholarship at a brilliant
prep school called Papplewick. Boy got it, with a bursary, and that’s the reason he’s being educated privately while Girl currently isn’t.
Does this mean that I now cheerfully brag to all my male friends over cigars and port: ‘Well at least I’ve got the Boy sorted and that’s what matters. The Girl will just have to
fend for herself’? Of course it bloody doesn’t. Not a schoolday goes by when I’m not tortured by the woeful lack of rigour in Girl’s curriculum, by how relatively little
sport she gets to enjoy, by my horror at seeing academic potential every bit as great as Boy’s being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and anti-elitism and child-centred
learning. If I had the money, Girl would be off to private school like a shot.
All that said, I do still think there’s a grain of truth in my troublemaking thesis, as I shall be explaining next month at Roedean, whose jolly, on-the-ball headmistress has invited me up to
dinner so as to train some of her sixth-formers in how to deal with sexist pigs. Ceteris paribus, I’m going to tell the pouting lovelies, it really does make slightly more sense to give a boy
a private education than a girl because boys are more likely than girls to be their family’s breadwinner.
There are other reasons too, like the fact that boys generally need more the sporting activities that private schools provide and state schools often don’t, and are more likely to suffer in
the feminised environment of the PC state system where to be male is now often considered a pathology. But the main one, definitely, is that girls have wombs and boys don’t, and that thereby
hangs all the difference in the world.
I’ve never read this argument better explained than by Rod Liddle in the famous Spectator essay which began: ‘So — Harriet Harman, then. Would you? I mean after a few beers,
obviously, not while you were sober.’ Rod made the point that no matter how many well-intentioned efforts are made to skew the market through Harmanesque ‘anti-sexism’
legislation, women’s average pay rates will always lag behind men’s because that’s the way they choose it. They’re more likely to work part-time; they’re less likely
to slog away at a job long enough to get to the very top salary levels. Not because they’re lazy or less competent or because of our phallocentric culture’s glass ceilings but because
once they have babies eternal wage slavery doesn’t have the appeal it once did.
Note that word ‘choose’. It’s something boys don’t enjoy to nearly the same degree. There are exceptions, of course; always there are exceptions. But in the main boys
don’t have the option of being able to use their looks and wiles to snare a rich husband. Nor, though our government seems determined to change this with its silly paternity legislation, do
boys get to quit the rat race so they can improve their ‘work-life balance’. Boys are in it for the long haul, it’s a fact of life, and because of this, and the responsibilities
that go with it, it surely makes sense to do whatever you can educationally to give them that breadwinning edge.
I worry about the way women have been taught by feminism to look at the world. It seems to involve far too much time being tortured by how unfair it all is, and far too little time accepting that
within that unfairness there are at least as many upsides as downsides. I don’t want my daughter to feel this resentment; I don’t want those nice Roedean girls to feel this resentment.
I want them to grow up sufficiently happy in their skin that they can read an article like my one in Tatler, shrug their shoulders and go ‘Yeah. And?’
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated October 2, 2010