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Battening down the hatches

During the course of the last seven days there have been two media stories that have highlighted the gulf that exists between men and women.

Firstly, there has been the news that those campaigning on both sides of the EU Referendum debate are being urged to address their ‘women’ problem because, apparently, there are over one million more women than men eligible to vote and – as a group – women generally are most likely to still be in a ‘Don’t Know Yet’ frame of mind. Why should this be? Well, again apparently, this is because women are far more prepared than men to admit that they haven’t yet made up their minds, or indeed haven’t yet heard a sufficient weight of argument either way to enable them to do so.

Second – and quite separately – over the weekend came a report that, when it comes to the increasingly popular practice of online shopping, up to 40% of items purchased are ‘returned’. It came as no surprise to me that, when it came to female shoppers, 63% admitted that they had returned at least one item within the last six months.

In my experience it is a fact of life that most women positively enjoy shopping whilst men, generally, do not. I reach no conclusions about any aspect of life in consequence of that truism – I simply note it. It doesn’t make women any less, or more, able to reach the top in any profession than men. It doesn’t naturally lead to any negative assumption about women. It’s just a fact – let’s all ‘get over it’, indeed let’s celebrate it.

equalityHaving registered the above, (as a man) I nevertheless recoil from those proponents of sexual equality – almost always women – who take the broad brush approach that since the human world consists of roughly 50% men and 50% women, the fact that every establishment of power and influence in the world does not contain 50% women is a fatal flaw that urgently needs to be rectified, if necessary by direct positive action.

Whilst accepting that ‘lack of opportunity’ is a potential obstacle to progress for all humans, and that true equality will only be with us once nobody ever again feels the need to campaign to achieve whatever equality (or quota) is decreed as desirable, I will only feel comfortable accepting lectures from pro-women campaigners on the subject when they are also campaigning equally hard, for example, to ensure that traditional ‘women only or women friendly’ careers are equally open to men.

In other words, when pro-women campaigners are criticising the bodies administering the career recruitment, training and development of midwives for not ensuring that at least 50% of their profession, at all levels of seniority, are men.

Or that at least 50% of all prison officers in female prisons are men.

Or that a rule is introduced that at least 50% of lawyers operating in the fields of divorce, family law and children must be men.

Or that, on the board of any female-dominated commercial business (even say one started by four female friends coming down from university together that specialises in producing and marketing high-quality lingerie) at least 50% of the directors must be men.

After all, fair’s fair. True equality is true equality. Isn’t it?

manAnother fact of life is that – as a general rule – the most able people, irrespective of where they started from (whether a privileged or disadvantaged background) or indeed their gender, end up becoming the most successful.

If they have a bit of luck and apply themselves with determination, that is.

It’s a jungle out there.

At least in theory there is no more justification in someone complaining that they’ve been discriminated against because they’re a woman, or disabled, or black, or working class … than someone else complaining that they’ve been discriminated against in life on the basis – I’m creating an example to make my point here – that they could easily have been as successful and rich as Sir Richard Branson, but for the fact that they were too (1) unintelligent; (2) unlucky; (3) lazy or lacking in determination and application; or even (4) shy to be able to network with prospective business contacts as well as he did … and therefore please could some higher authority arrange for them to be rendered as wealthy and successful as Branson in order to rectify this obvious ‘wrong’ that has been dealt them?