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Equality is never needing a haircut: Leading Article

Why, implored Henry Higgins almost a hundred years ago, can't a woman be more like a man? Oh, could the good professor only have hung around for another century, what delight the week's news would have brought him. Women are indeed apparently becoming more like men. They are going bald.

Hair loss is afflicting growing numbers of women, notably high flying, stress-addled executives, announced Hair International magazine. A support group for balding women receives no less than 300 letters a week. "We hear," it revealed, "from barristers and lecturers whose hair is falling out. It is devastating." And not content with getting their teeth into trousers and losing their hair, women - according to last week's Panorama - are taking to hitting people, too. If other reports are to be believed, hard-working girls are also drinking and smoking and swearing like, well, like the boys.

It is odd that we hear only about undesirable traits being appropriated. Ought we to detect a nasty backlash - revenge against sappy misses for stealing jobs from the boys? Before we know it, a well-orchestrated conspiracy will let it be known that women have developed a taste for reciting tedious sports statistics, refusing to ask for directions when plainly lost, and purchasing soft rock anthem compilations for the car. Alas, the truth may prove more banal. What host of shining manly attributes exists for women to poach? Perhaps we will read soon that women are taking the rubbish out more often. Or waxing the car. The list does not go on and on.

We can but hope that men extend the same generosity of spirit that women have exhibited towards hair loss. Only when men have learnt to call female baldness sexy, or an effect of surplus virility, will we be less alarmed if women start emulating them.