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As I See It... (9 May, 2006)

9 May, 2006

Photographer and the WomanWomen will never be able to rise to the occasion!

I cannot now recall what sparked off a feminist train of thoughts in my innocent little mind, but I suspect that it was an article in TIMES ONLINE dated 14 April 2006. entitled :

I may be a Miss, but you can call me Madame by Jane Shilling

It starts : “Shocking news from across the Channel — and I don’t mean the rioting youth, but the fact that French feminists are agitating for the abolition of the title of Mademoiselle. As my colleague Adam Sage reported this week, an organisation called Les Chiennes de Garde (so difficult to translate into English the precise nuance of this moniker — “The Guard Dogs”, as it was rendered in the report, doesn’t quite convey the miasma of female menace, while “The Guard Bitches” is troublingly unidiomatic. Oh well, you get the idea . . .)”

“Before embarking on my own theories, let us return to our feminists, one of whom, Emmanuele Peyret, wrote in the newspaper Libération that “the insidious passage from Mademoiselle to Madame is so painful that we may as well begin by being called Madame straight away, in the cradle”.

Let me truthfully make it clear at the very beginning that I am not a misogynist. But it certainly inflames me when I behold a beautiful woman wearing a man’s garb, whatever the circumstances, except of course acting a part on the stage. You can therefore imagine my sense of disgust when I saw a young, attractive woman sit down to a dinner table of great elegance dressed in a pair of drab trousers and a plain shirt. Not even a necktie, if you please. What was she striving to prove? That she was different from the other three ladies present? That she certainly was! She was also a disgrace to her sex, and an embarrassment to her hostess. Just another wild woman one sees around everywhere these days... But her differences from the others could surely only have been for eccentric or sexual reasons? I longed to drag her out of those dreadful male clothes and slip her into a Dior gown! I sat down in anger. I had grown up in a different and delightful world, where ladies were expected to do their best with their faces and coiffure, in well chosen gowns or sarees, adorned with the quality and quantity of jewelry which their husbands could afford. “Rich, not gaudy”.

During my childhood in Calcutta, I went to a school for boys only, and most of my friends and cousins tended to be male. In that scenario girls were strange creatures, who kept their distance, and we boys were happy to live that distance undisturbed. By the time I was ready for underpants I had learned from a pair of classmates at school what the facts of life were at that stage of my general progress towards adolescence.

When I grew up I found that young unmarried women were addressed as, or referred to, as Miss So and So. Married women were Mrs, especially if European, and wore a plain golden ring on their left hands. These were married women, supposedly not to be trifled with. That constituted the family : father, mother, and children.

The rest of society might decide to stand on its head, but the family remaind attached and solid in its home. Thus it continued for centuries. But now, suddenly, it is all askew, sordid, and ugly. A gentleman may approach a lady and introduce himself, and she may reply “Barbara Hastings”. “Miss? …” the man asks, encouragingly. The hopeful man receives a frosty stare, and a totally undeserved reproof : “And what has my matrimonial status have to do with this ordinary chance social encounter, may I ask?”

In my really angry reveries I have placed myself in the insulted man’s shoes, given Barbara Hastings a venomous look, leaned forward and spat out, sotto voce, the words : “I was wondering whether it might prove profitable to suggest that if we go on from here to my flat, we could enjoy a bottle of wine and some amazing sexual intercourse, you coarse, flea ridden little bitch!” And swagger off, Feeling wonderfully triumphant. I have delivered such snubs (more or less) in many parts of the civilised world, in the remote past, always master of the situation, but Antrobus calls me a liar!

A man walks up to an attractive woman at a wedding reception and says : “My name is Buzz. Are you married, by any chance? I don’t see a ring on your finger.”

The woman blurts out : “I’m a single parent with a small boy, but I have a biological husband, Bob, who works at Selfridges. Why the interest?” Buzz flees in terror!

What it all boils down to, in the final analysis, is this – Women must be regarded and dealt with as equal with men, or even superior to them. Of course this is absolute rot, but women have cleverly made themselves seemingly indispensable to the opposite sex in so many spheres that they seem to have come to stay. Look how far they have come. Consecrated priests in the Anglican Church. Perhaps one day we shall have an Archbishop of Canterbury, who has to sit down in order to pee! Her Britannic Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Relations is nowadays a female. Some will argue (myself included) that anything would be better than Jack Straw! This move by Tony Blair Highlights the scarcity of capable men in the Labour ranks to handle such a top job. What will happen when Tony runs out of women?

It would take a vast amount of time and be so very tedious to give examples of all the things women do in order to be like men. What women seem to regard as unimportant is the pathetic attempts they make to appear as a man. The physical and biological differences make the matter far too grotesque for discussion.

This is an old joke. Sober scholarly Frenchman muses and exclaims : “There is so much difference between a man and a woman...” Excited youth : “Vive le difference!”

How would this joke play these days of same sex love, and - same sex marriage?

I once watched a documentary video cassette of a nudist camp in the south of England. Whole families, apart from solitary enthusiasts, romping around gleefully, absorbing as much sunshine and vitamin c to store up against the nasty winter. The members of this happy community were totally nude. I did not see even a wristwatch! Males and females of all ages mingling without embarrassment or unhealthy curiosity. And I suddenly realized that in such circumstances of nudity, no matter how sexually excited a woman may become, how much she might seethe with desire within, hardly any manifestation of all this lust would not be visible externally. But, in the case of a man . . . ! !

Richard Brinsley Sheridan was once cornered by two determined ladies at a salon in London, and one of them asked him in an aggressive way : Mr Sheridan, please tell us - “what is the difference between a man and a woman?”

Seeing no route to safety and security, the great man removed his silken snuff handkerchief from the left sleeve of his coat, waved it eloquently in the air, and replied : “Madam, I cannot conceive!” But if the scientific gossips are to be trusted, men will one day bear babies. On that day, unicorns will prance in Piccadilly Circus, and angels sing in Belgrave Square. . . .

I was once attacked in a similar way by two ladies at a party, who were slightly tipsy. “Tell us, oh worthy columnist,” one of them aggressively demanded, “are you, or are you not, in favour of Women’s Lib?”

I too saw no chance of escape, but within me old volcanoes of resentment and anger began once again to boil and bubble.

In my most patronising manner I replied in icy tones : If Lib is an abbreviation of Liberation, the answer is flatly NO! If however Lib is an abbreviation of Libido, then, well . . . O.K!

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