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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
‘Would Gary Lineker depart if his pay were halved, and would it affect the quality of MoTD?’  

BBC Me – no Archers, and no Fiona Bruce

DJ Taylor
Feeling the heat: David Cameron last week in Lanzarote  

The parable of the PM and the jellyfish

Joan Smith
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit