Mail chauvinism: the last bastion has finally fallen

Share
Related Topics
FEMINISM: an apology. In recent years we may have inadvertently given the impression that feminists are a load of frustrated, man-hating lesbians. Readers did not perhaps appreciate that terms such as "dungarees", "hairy legs" and "dykes" were intended as affectionate teasing of some outstanding woman, such as Germaine Greer, for whom we have always had nothing but the warmest respect. When we wrote of "drab, humourless, bra-burning women's libbers", it was of course from a position which recognised, and empathised with, the appalling restrictions associated with traditional female roles.

We are proud to recall that feminist writers have always received attention in our literary and features pages, especially if the authors were young, American and attractive. If we had the teeniest reservation about some of the good ladies' campaigns, such as the one to get rid of "sexist" language, it was always expressed with the greatest good humour - a feature about "personhole covers", which appeared in these pages in 1982, immediately comes to mind.

Even our articles about "wimmins' committees" on Labour councils and the slogans in magazines such as Spare Rib - smashing title, by the way - were never intended as anything but a respectful acknowledgement of a movement whose importance in the history of the world can never be over-estimated. So committed are we to this view that we have invited the leading feminist writer, Mr A N Wilson, to explain the significance of feminism to those readers who may have been misled by our tongue-in- cheek approach in previous editions of this newspaper, from 1967 until - er, yesterday.

Under the headline "Old duffers who breathe new life into feminism", Mr Wilson reveals that "the feminist revolution of the past 20 or 30 years has been one of the great steps forward in the history of civilisation, comparable to the ending of the slave trade". He exposes a cruel world in which "women who were not the object of crude sexual attention were regarded as jokes and bores". He reminds us that "Germaine Greer was absolutely right all those years ago when she wrote The Female Eunuch, arguing that men hate and fear the opposite sex".

He names the evil men behind this conspiracy, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the MCC - who, only last week, were forced to retreat into "their pathetic little all-male worlds of men's clubs and sport", as he deftly characterises them. So seriously do we regard this issue that we are proud to lay aside our traditional rivalry with other newspapers, including the Sun, and endorse its denunciation of the ECB as "disgraceful". We are also in total agreement with the Mirror when it excoriates men who "live in the past where women were there just for sex and acting as servants".

Make no mistake: sexism, especially when it is exposed at the heart of England's national game, is no laughing matter. On tomorrow's leader page, Mr Wilson will continue his analysis of female oppression with a hard-hitting article on why we should oppose compulsory circumcision for cricket-playing single mothers living on benefit. Don't forget! A woman needs the Daily Mail like a fish needs a bicycle! (Note to sub-editors: can you ring up one of the girls and check I've got that right? Cheers.)

OF ALL the problems of modern life, I have to admit I've never worried much about whether ballet dancers are getting the right diet. To be honest, I have no idea what they should eat, although I assume they aren't in the habit of wolfing down a triple cheeseburger with fries before a performance of Swan Lake. So I was surprised, to put it mildly, that English National Ballet is to spend part of its grant of almost pounds lm from the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to set up a professional development programme to advise dancers on nutrition.

The programme will also help dancers to cope with strains and injuries, and offer training for other careers when they leave the ballet. This is all very laudable but why does it have to be paid for by charitable donations? I've never understood why so much money has poured into a fund which is in effect run by a quango, whose aims include keeping alive the memory of the 20th-century personality we are least likely to forget and whose beneficiaries are a ragbag of causes with no discernible connection other than the fact that the Princess approved of them. (Not enough to leave money to them in her will, but that's another matter.)

By chance the fund's announcement of its first round of grants coincided with a desperate appeal from Richard Hambro, chairman of Macmillan Cancer Relief. The charity, which sends specialist nurses to look after people with cancer, is pounds 500,000 short of the money it needs to meet the demands on its services. Other charities are in similarly difficult situations. With their income from donations already dented by the National Lottery, they now find they cannot compete with the immensely popular, if somewhat unfocused, Diana fund.

Of course the Leprosy Mission, which also received money, does important work. But donations are being made to the fund by people who don't know, and appear not to care, whether their money is going to be used to save lives or benefit less urgent causes. This says more about people's need to feel a link with the Princess, no matter how tenuous, than it does about the compassion we are supposed to have espoused in the aftermath of her death.

"COMPASSION lite" is the pithy phrase coined for this kind of giving - a commentary on the way we've come to expect everything to be served up in a harmless, anodyne form. Last week produced an even stranger example, when we were warned that a huge asteroid is hurtling towards the earth, threatening a collision similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. We were told to expect tidal waves, the destruction of whole continents, but not until 2028. More to the point, it will probably miss us altogether. So we get to indulge our fantasies of death and destruction, safe in the knowledge that they aren't going to happen. "Armageddon lite", I think we might call it, and it's certainly relieved my pre-millennial tension for another week.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - West Midlands - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - Yorkshire & Humber - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Embedded Linux Engineer - C / C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A well funded smart home compan...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore
 

People drink to shut out pain and stress – arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?