Call me old-fashioned, but I hold to the view that there are certain natural, instinctive and inevitable facts of life.
It is the case that some people are naturally more talented at specific things than others – and I don’t wish here to get into complications such as the ’10,000 hours’ rule of practice, whereby some believe that concentrated training and effort can make anyone acceptably competent at absolutely anything, or indeed everything.
For example, I’m hopeless at languages, singing and playing a musical instrument – plus, well, just about anything else you’d care to mention.
However, in my view, this doesn’t give me the right to complain that others, possessed of greater natural ability than me, have an unfair advantage – or indeed, that I’ve been unfairly disadvantaged and therefore need to be compensated for it.
Similarly, it’s perfectly understandable that someone who is more attractive, outgoing, charismatic, or even simply fun to spend time with than (for example) I am may well have a wider circle of friends – and quite possibly, generally, also come across more and better opportunities in life.
Because … er … that is life.
One relevant example is women in sport.
You can take your pick of specifics – but tennis, the game I follow, is a good case in point.
That’s why Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournakova have earned more money from the sport than most other elite female players – and you could argue that Kournakova was never an elite lady.
Please don’t tell me that every female athlete alive doesn’t try to make the best of themselves. However, if you’re a gorgeous girl, you’re likely to have a head start in terms of getting noticed, going up the rankings and, ultimately, becoming a ‘brand’ that might endure even long after you have retired.
There’s nothing anti-female in this comment, for the principle applies equally to men.
Whilst being the very best still counts for much if not most, it certainly doesn’t hurt a chap’s bank balance if he also happens by chance to resemble and move like Bjorn Borg, David Beckham, Rafael Nadal, Usain Bolt or Muhammad Ali … rather than say, for example, Charles Laughton or Big Daddy.
I suppose it’s a product of the fashion and beauty businesses as much as anything else, but women are often pigeon-holed as being obsessed by looks – their own, as well as others. It is a matter or record, for example, that most adverse viewer comments upon female television newsreaders’ hairstyles and clothes choices come from other women, not men.
That’s why, sometimes, in my view, the general bleatings about the lack of recognition for women’s sport – apparently grounded in politically-correct angst at gender equality discrimination – are to be taken with a pinch of salt.
I’m not denying that instances of men defining sportswomen solely by their looks don’t happen, and don’t offend. I’m simply saying that in this imperfect world (the fact is that) talent and looks are not necessarily dealt out equally or fairly … and we should all just ‘get over’ it.
Speaking of which, here’s an article that appears today on the website of THE GUARDIAN