I would rather watch flies buzzing around a light bulb for two hours than Formula 1. At least the flies sometimes change direction and don’t jet off to Monaco as soon as they’ve finished. They just die, instead — an infinitely preferable denouement. The drivers used to die sometimes in Formula 1, which provided a modicum of interest on Grandstand of a Saturday afternoon, but that’s been excised from this thing which still gets called a ‘sport’ and seems to be run by nonagenarians and sleazebags.
So the news that Formula 1 is banning ‘grid girls’ rather passed me by. It had never occurred to me that the pouting chicks hanging around the tracks were paid to be there — I thought they were just the usual trollops who gather wherever handsomely remunerated young men are competing against one another, like dung beetles around a pillar of golden horseshit. Much as the young ladies who pursue, with great determination and avidity, footballers simply because they are footballers and are often later disappointed to have been treated as mere chattels and not properly valued for their very real identities as vibrant women. Groupies, they are called elsewhere.
I once mingled with the players after a pre-season friendly between Aldershot, then bottom of what we now call Division Two, and my team, Millwall, of the Championship. They all had their chicks with them. The Aldershot girls were rough as hell — basically rat-faced mingers to whom someone quite unqualified had stapled large plastic approximations of breasts, many of which hung out of their dresses in a baleful and vaguely threatening manner. The Millwall lasses, meanwhile, were several notches up the evolutionary scale and some — especially those appended to our highly paid forwards — were quite attractive. A sexist observation, of course, but nonetheless true.
The better you are at football, the more presentable the babe you’re likely to pull. The more money you earn, or the more powerful you are, the more attractive the woman you cop off with will be. This is as true in big business or politics as it is in football or motor racing or any other pursuit you care to mention. If you’re the President of France, no matter how hideous you are, you might punch above your weight and end up with Carla Bruni.
As we have seen. And yet the converse is not remotely true: men do not throng around the changing rooms at Wimbledon in an attempt to pull Serena Williams. The truth is men do not automatically find successful women attractive, nor will most successful women satisfy themselves with a white-van driver, no matter how hunky he might be. Work out why this is so and we might slowly gravitate towards an explanation for this thing which is bedevilling us right now: the man and woman thing.
Anyway, no more voluptuous phew-what-a-scorcher grid babes at Formula 1. Scantily clad women no longer ‘reflect modern-day societal norms’, according to the suddenly po-faced and PC monkeys who administer this dire activity. Nor are there many chick drivers. Indeed, only a handful of women have competed in Formula 1 and between them they have managed to win, over 60 years, exactly half a point in all of those tournaments. Why? Perhaps this is down to institutionalised sexism, sure. But might there not be another more basic reason?
We know from the stats that women drivers tend to have more car accidents than men, but far fewer fatal car accidents, i.e. at speed. There seem to be differences in our spatial awareness abilities, too, according to quite a few studies. Here’s a cheap joke: instead of making the women drive fast around the track, just make them park. I’d watch that. Yet despite these jibes, women are better drivers than men, for the simple reason that they are less likely to kill you.
The point I am trying to make is that there are differences between men and women, on average. Many and complex differences. Some feminists will insist those differences are learned, rather than innate. Although how one can learn to be useless at parking is to me mystifying. But either way, those differences are there, are they not? We are not quite the same. Equal but different.
The bandwagon trundles along with its entourage of properly clad cheerleaders and retinue of liberally minded village idiots. The latest to clamber on board are the builders, the construction workers, long renowned for wolf whistling in an imbecilic manner at women passing by — something which annoys some women when it happens and annoys others when they have grown a bit older and it suddenly stops. The UK Construction Week annual bash has banned exhibitors from using women who are making an exhibition of themselves by having attractive features and not many clothes. They had been criticised last year for utilising babes in hotpants or swimwear to sell roof tiles. (Why would you wear that stuff when you’re up on a roof, nailing down shingles? Get real.) There is a weird literalism at large. The organisers told exhibitors: ‘Consider the mix of staff you have on the stand (gender, age, ethnicity etc). Do they represent the diversity of your company? And if not, be prepared to explain why not.’
Explain to whom? And for what purpose? The exhibitors wish to attract attention and, from history, they know precisely the way to go about doing this. Women with not many clothes on. But this is no longer acceptable to a small number of people who will not be attending the UK Construction Week annual bash and have no interest in buying roof tiles. Very few women work in the construction industry. Very few men are speech therapists or midwives. There are reasons for this disparity which are nothing to do with sexism.