Today I wish to address the issue of ‘gender equality’ and in doing so acknowledge that my views may not make me universally popular. There’s nothing I can do about that …
The context is (or are) two articles that appear upon the website of The Independent newspaper today.
I give you:
Sue Mott on the subject of THE 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN IN SPORT
Nigel Morris on THE ‘EQUALITY’ IMPACT OF REDUCING THE SIZE OF THE COMMONS
I’m acutely conscious as I set off that anyone who begins a piece with the disclaimer ‘With respect …’ or even ‘I’m not prejudiced, some of my best friends are [whatever], but …’ runs the risk of being accused of having exactly the opposite views to those he is professing to hold but I’m going to do it anyway.
It so happens that I love the company of women and am all in favour of people of either sex going as far in any area of human activity that their talents, drive and ambition make take them.
I also understand and accept that sometimes the task of far-sighted politicians, campaigners and administrators is to anticipate the way that society is evolving – or indeed, in terms of improving the way it is going – and, by utilising all means at their disposal, give it a nudge in ‘the right direction’.
My gripe is with the conceit that sometimes inevitably accompanies such campaigning.
The truth is that by definition not everyone who comes up with a novel idea or concept, or a possible improvement in how society operates or works, is going to be correct.
Yes, there’s an argument that if you think back one hundred years, there are innumerable ways in which modern society is better and fairer than what went before – let’s just mention racial and female equality, human rights, homosexual rights, disabled rights, universal sufferage, all systems of human welfare supporting the vulnerable and weak … just for starters.
Furthermore I admit that some – indeed probably all – of these advances were achieved in part by campaigning, ‘tough love’ commandeering of the media and imposition by legislation sometimes against the tide of public opinion as it then was.
The truth is that – in my view – too often ‘the chattering classes’ and do-gooders are trying to impose rationality and order upon things that, left to their own devices, go against human instinct and life as it is lived. If you like, they’re even trying to interfere with the ‘natural selection’ and ‘survival of the fittest’ principles upon which not just human beings but the entire world of living things work. Is this how it should be?
Yes, it’s wonderful that the standard of women’s sport at elite level is probably now improving at a faster rate than probably any time in history. Plus that ‘opportunity’ is now a watchword. Plus that in growing numbers of sports women are attracting greater funding and sponsorship income than ever before.
But let’s get real. For the most part – except perhaps in those played or participated in exclusively by women – at sport women are inferior to men. When team games rely upon organisation, speed, strength and sheer guts or effort, the top female players are those that by stature, shape, core strength and attitude are most masculine. Whether it is track & field, soccer, rugby or cricket, the women’s version of the game will be inferior. Admittedly, there’s a certain novelty value to watching it (“That’s not bad, for a female”), but the simple reason that men’s sport attracts infinitely more revenue at every level is that, taking the use of performance-enhancing drugs aside, people want to watch the very best that – in this day, in this place – a human being is capable of.
Furthermore, whilst some of these ‘equality’ advances are all very well in principle and theory, the fact is that they’re being fought for on behalf of a tiny minority of elite, articulate and very vocal women.
It is no surprise to me that, three years after the London 2012 Olympics took place, its much-fabled ‘sporting legacy’ – a huge plank in the bid pitch to win the right to host the Games – is dribbling away, with ‘participation’ numbers going backwards.
Frankly, the Olympics legacy was always pie in the sky, ‘feelgood’ sounding, hot air. It served its purpose (winning the bid) but now things are gradually going back to normal. And ‘normal’ is the vast majority of women having no interest whatsoever in sport – they’re too busy living life, bringing up their kids, trying to hold down a job, whatever. It’s a jungle out there. You can, of course, impose some theoretical ‘improvements’ from on high in your white-linened ivory towers, but when life as it is really lived clashes with supposed ideals, there’s only one winner.
The same goes for House of Commons representation. Yes, in theory, in a perfect world, maybe the ratio between male and female MPs should be roughly 50:50, but to impose that, or seek to do so, is crazy. If most women have no interest in participating in politics, you cannot make them take part. Either that, or you impose quotas and end up with a significant number of inferior-standard MPs who are there because of the quota – as I said before, wanting to do something (no matter how avidly) doesn’t necessarily give you the right or talent to achieve it.
If the argument that the Commons cannot be reduced in size because it might hold back the cause of gender equality is to hold sway, I’d make another case. Why stop at women? Why not insist that there are a certain quota number of gays in the House of Commons, a certain number of disabled people, deaf people, blind people, left-handed people, educationally-sub-normal people … I’m not over-egging it here, just suggesting that – extrapolating the theory – the number of each should be broadly in line with the proportion of people in these categories as exist within the population as a whole.
Give me strength!
One day the world as we know it will end not because of global warming or an asteroid arriving from outer space per se, but simply because the do-gooders have been allowed to overdo it, leaving the human race too soft, too weak in mental strength, too ‘everyone’s a winner’ to respond with sufficient decisiveness and dynamism to deal with some potentially Earth-changing crisis.
Without much effort I can foresee a world in which one day the economies and standard of living of people in Europe – particularly Britain – gets overrun by the economies of the far-more-hard working Far Eastern and Indian sub-continental nations.
Part of the reason for this will be that we’re far more pre-occupied with giving everyone the right to do and have everything in some la-la hippy-happy ideal world of our theoretical imagination than in making things happen in this real one …