Tuesday 22 April 2014

Woman's Hour

The radios in my car, my office and my kitchen are tuned to BBC Radio 4. I love it because, despite all the repeats and the fact that every time I’m driving the sodding Archers manages to elbow its way in, I get to hear all sorts of wonderful things I would never otherwise choose from the schedules. Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time is always fascinating, as is The Moral Maze. Every now and then I catch Any Questions and sometimes even Any Answers. And if I remember, I like to cook along to the comedy slot at half past six every evening.

One of my serendipitous guilty pleasures is Woman’s Hour. It’s like pausing outside an open window during a Women’s Institute coffee morning and hearing snatches of conversation about topics you never even knew existed. Yesterday, as I was driving through the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside, the chatter was all about haute couture and looking pretty. This is as it should be and three cheers for the little ladies, I say.

At least they weren’t worrying their pretty little heads about gender equality issues – unlike one little girl’s complaint about McDonald’s Happy Meals. Dismayed at the apparently sexist slight of asking an eleven year-old child if she wanted a girl toy or a boy toy she wrote a stern letter in which she asked if it would be legal “to ask at a job interview whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job?”  Well silly, of course there are daddy and mummy jobs and always will be; you can’t expect mummy to catch the spiders can you? Just as you can’t expect daddy to give a toss about wedding planning. I’m sure she’ll grow out of it once she starts Secretarial College, or Nursing School.

Now I’m all for a bit of feminism, me. The world needs ‘the fairer sex’ because otherwise we’d never have curtains or fresh bed linen. So it was refreshing to hear that all is well and Jenny Murray and friends were happily discussing lovely clothes, just as they should. I’d far rather the girls spent their time chattering about proper feminist issues such as embroidery, hair, aromatherapy and horoscopes but over the years I’ve seen a disturbing trend towards an altogether uglier side; I wonder if you’ve noticed it too?

Every now and then, marauding metaphorical gangs of angry, stocky, short-haired women, makeup free and wearing sturdy boots, crop up in the media to further a frightening agenda of what can only be described as Scary Feminism. Like drunken gangs of losing football supporters the best way to deal with their threatening behaviour is to ignore them. Just close those pretty curtains and make some more tea until they’ve moved on. Chat about kittens and knitting and you’ll soon feel so much better.

What the scary feminists simply don’t understand is that the matter of gender roles has long been settled. You can always go off and make a spectacle of yourself by rejecting tradition if you like but in the main we all know how it should be. Men make all the big decisions in the world, such as whether we send space probes to Mars and how we tackle climate change. Men decide on important international affairs, such as foreign policy, quantitative easing and whether to spend £100billion to build a brand new giant national train set. These are matters women need not worry about.

Imagine letting her choose the curtains?

Women should stick to the little decisions. Such as: where you will live, how many children you will have, what you will eat, wear, drive and watch on TV… Where you will go on holiday, when you will go to the doctor, what furniture you will have, how the house will be remodelled, who your friends will be, how much you will drink, which parties you will go to… Where and when you will retire, how much time you will spend in your shed, what goes where in the garden… Gender equality, dear? Trust me, I listen to Woman's Hour - we haven't a chance.

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