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Hold on a minute, ladies!

Here’s another blast on the trumpet against ‘the monstruous [sic] regiment of women’ [origin, out of copyright by now, John Knox 1558].

At the risk of outing myself as am antediluvian male misogynist stuck in the 1950s, I couldn’t help noticing overnight two examples in the media that typify what I regard as the ludicrous degree to which PC brigade, feminist and sexual equality lobby now dominates public consideration of relations between the genders.

Here’s what I’m referring to:

hollandFirstly, a young lady named Zara Holland – until very recently the reigning Miss Great Britain – has apparently been stripped of her title by the competition’s organisers for having heterosexual sex on an ITV reality TV show called Love Island.

See here for a link to a report on the story penned by Olivia Blair that appears today on the website of – THE INDEPENDENT

Here I’m prepared to swim against the tide of ‘right on’ PC-correctness and put my head above the parapet to express the following points:

On the subject of the defrocked Miss Great Britain Zara Holland, it seems to me that the rush of social media commentators not just to defend Ms Holland but attack the organisers of the Miss Great Britain competition for their attitude and decision is strange to the point of absurdity. I’m referring to the general defence ‘sex is natural and what people do, how can you criticise her, still less strip her of her title – get over it!’ that features in many of the comments.

Hang on. Okay, you can hold to the view that as a matter of principle beauty competitions de facto denigrate women and pander to male sexist views – but then, even in 2016, hundreds of young women around the world fall over themselves to enter competitions such as Miss Great Britain, Miss World and Miss Universe.

In my view, tolerance in such things should prevail. I wouldn’t ever bother to watch elite swimming races or WWE wrestling myself but I accept that some people love these activities and I would never ban them from being given television exposure. Each to their own, I say – and in my book that goes for both those who hate the very idea of female beauty competitions and indeed those who delight in organising or entering them.

Coming with the territory of organising an annual beauty competition is presumably the expectation that the winner will undertake publicity promotions in her new capacity and act as an ambassador for the event over the next twelve months until her successor is crowned.

As night follows day, it is understandable that anyone entering a competition would do so on some sort of contractual terms that will include a commitment – should any specific contestant be so lucky as to win the title – that she will not only undertake a schedule of appearances etc. in promoting the event but adhere to a standard of personal behaviour (or at the very least ‘do nothing which would bring herself or the competition into disrepute’) during her reign.

You’d hardly expect different, frankly.

So – in the case in point – Zara Holland, the current Miss Great Britain, agrees to take part in (what I assume is) some form of reality television show called Love Island, for which as I understand it brings young people together in order to see what might or might not develop as regards attractions and perhaps also relationships.

I’m a little hazy on the details, but at some point during the show’s run, Ms Holland and a male contestant ended up in bed together – or maybe it wasn’t actually in bed together, but anyway (the point is) they had sexual relations of some sort – I’m not even asserting that it was full sexual intercourse.

On one level, I can understand the ‘What’s the big deal?’ angle – but, on another, I can also see the Miss Great Britain organisers’ point of view.

If the winner of what you maintain is a wholesome competition for young women [and okay, let’s acknowledge that some feminists would deny to the death that such a competition could be described as ‘wholesome’ by definition], it’s a reasonable expectation that you wouldn’t particularly want your ambassador for the next twelve months to have sex on a reality television show … or indeed, were it to happen, to be convicted for fraud, attempted bank robbery and/or do any number of other anti-social and/or illegal acts which might thereby ‘reduce the standing of your competition in the eyes of the average right minded individual of any gender travelling on the proverbial Clapham omnibus’.

JuvikThe second example to which I referred above is that of a high school student in America named Kaitlyn Juvik, who has given an interview to The Guardian newspaper explaining how and why she and her friends organised a ‘No Bra Day’ at her school.

See here for a link to said self-explanatory piece (‘as told to Sam Levin’) on the website of – THE GUARDIAN

Here I am unrepentantly conservative in my response.

Although I’d acknowledge what Miss Juvik is saying – i.e. that as a matter of principle it is to some degree sexist for even a female member of staff to tick her off for attending school without wearing a bra – especially apparently on the stated basis that it might ‘distract male teachers or pupils’ – by the same token I feel there’s plenty to be said in support of the other side of the argument.

Firstly, most schools – or at least most schools I’d ever have considered sending my kids to – have dress codes to which they expect pupils to adhere. For girls, these might include stipulations as to the acceptable lengths of skirt and so on. They might even include rules the wearing of underwear, e.g. bras.

In my opinion, rules are rules and it’s an aspect of school discipline that rules have to be adhered to – if only on the basis that, if you ignore or transgress a rule (and that doing so attracts a certain sanction if you are caught) – then, as it were, the one follows the other, and what’s wrong with that. [‘If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime’].

The idea seemingly being peddled by Miss Juvik and her supporters – that somehow underwear, in this case a bra, is an optional item for female students, and that being forced to wear one is somehow a transgression of a young lady’s human rights (or even an unfair imposition placed upon females by the male-dominated world) completely defies logic in my view.

There’s a time and a place for everything. Young ladies – or even older ones – can dress completely how they like if, for example, they’re out on the town for a night of fun and visiting a succession of nightclubs. But there are places in which wearing something demure, sophisticated or ‘neutral’ are required, expected or necessary. That’s how life is. Education is not only about academic matters – part of it is about helping young people to prepare for living in the great wide, wonderful world out there after one’s schooldays (and even student days) are over.

Progress is inevitable. Many aspect of human progress – scientific and social – are worthy and beneficial. However, there are also fundamentals that have always been part of human society and always will.

Breaking down barriers is one thing. Destroying common beliefs and conventions – just for the sake of it – is another.



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About Arthur Nelson

Looking forward to his retirement in 2015, Arthur has written poetry since childhood and regularly takes part in poetry workshops and ‘open mike’ evenings. More Posts