I’ve been racking my brains to think what I might have in common with Kim Jong Un and Piers Morgan. But apart from owning a spectacularly tiny penis, I simply cannot think. Certainly, when Kim is getting it in the neck for having one of his ex-girlfriends executed by firing squad to please his wife, or whenever Morgan is being criticised for being just the worst thing ever, I never find myself seized with some sudden hormonal urge to rush to their defence on account of the fact that we’re all part of the Brotherhood.
Maybe, though, we’re missing a trick. Maybe we chaps of the world could enjoy so much more leeway if only we showed a bit more male solidarity. ‘Of course I had to nuke Seoul. It was a pitiful cry for help against the oppressively fluffy global matriarchy which for years has made light of men’s innocent love of phallocentric symbols, weapons of massive destruction and total eradication of our enemies,’ Kim could plead — sure of a unanimously sympathetic response from at least the male part of the global media. ‘Of course I’m a dick. I’m a man and men are meant to be dicks. What are you: sexist or something?’ Morgan need only say — and every male’s heart would burst with pride at possessing the same number of ‘Y’ chromosomes as magnificent, brave, outspoken, righteously victimy Piers.
No. I think, in fact, such an approach would be very, very silly. As silly, say, as campaigning to have someone put on a banknote not because they’re our greatest novelist but because they wore a frilly bonnet and empire-line dresses rather than tall hats and britches; or choosing parliamentary candidates on the criterion of their having breasts; or trying to destroy the career of a football writer, not because he’s rubbish at his job — not that you’d know because you’d never even heard of him before — but purely because you’ve chosen to take offence about something he has written about your sex which is true but not nice.
The football writer’s name is Tam Cowan and he was recently suspended as a BBC radio commentator following complaints about a sexist column he wrote in Scotland’s Daily Record on women’s football. Fir Park — home ground of Motherwell — had just played host to an international women’s football match between Scotland and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Cowan japishly suggested that it ought to be ‘torched’ in order to ‘cleanse’ it after ‘this turgid spectacle’.
Now I’d happily concede that it wasn’t the kind of deft lightness of touch that would have had me rushing to renew Cowan’s contract. (Especially not the crass joke about ‘little snatches’.) But then I’m not a Scottish tabloid editor and I don’t care about football, so it wasn’t aimed at me, whereas with its target audience — male Scottish football fans — I expect it went down rather well. When it wasn’t being studiedly offensive, after all, it expressed a sentiment with which few sports fans could honestly disagree: ‘Face it, folks, nobody cares about women’s football.’
I only got to hear of the story because it was artificially escalated (Ralph Miliband-style) to the point where the Radio 4 newsreader Alice Arnold was heard to declare that if Cowan had substituted ‘black people’ for ‘women’ it would have been ‘pretty shocking.’ Yes, love, I’m sure it would. But a) Cowan didn’t write ‘black people’, b) he was clearly exaggerating for effect in a column headlined ‘And now a message from the Dark Ages’, and c) who do you think you are, Alice Arnold anyway — a free individual undefined by and independent of your race, class, gender and sexual orientation or just another generic identikit female?
What depresses me about modern feminism is just how few women seem to realise how badly they’re betraying themselves. I’d expect it of a certain type of antediluvian Guardianista: they’ve got to scrape a living somehow. But when I see bright, funny, clever, generally free-spirited women I respect playing the same game, it makes me fear for the future of the human race.
Take Julia Gillard’s repeated attempts to distract from the fact that she was one of Australia’s worst-ever prime ministers by playing the sexism card. ‘I invite you to imagine it,’ she said. ‘A prime minister — a man in a blue tie — who goes on holidays to be replaced by a man with a blue tie.’ Thanks to investigations by the Weekend Australian, we now know that this was part of a concerted, deliberate and cynical strategy. Internal briefing notes from 2012 — peppered with hand-written notes from Gillard — show her campaign team trying to put a wedge between her political rival and his female voting base, essentially by seeking to position Gillard as the caring, nurturing alternative to Abbott’s unreconstructed Neanderthal.
Effective low politics this cultural-Marxist championing of special interest ‘victim’ groups may be — we’ve seen Cameron engaging in similar antics with his recent ministerial tinkerings — but morally and intellectually I find it indefensible. Sure there are parts of the world — the Umma, for example — where there remains much to be done to redress the injustices done to womankind. But in the liberated, post-1970s West? I don’t think so.
Like any devoted father of both boys and a girl, I’d always fight tooth and nail against any world which favoured the former over the latter. But I’ll fight equally hard against a world where the opposite rules apply, which is why I’m putting my balls on the line now with this column. Some women get it: Victoria Hislop, for example, in her recent declaration that women-only book prizes are an ‘anachronism’. Most don’t. As one who adores women as much as he loathes feminists, I find this state of affairs a deplorable pity.