The Mail on Sunday
Keep talking amongst yourselves guys,you’re the only ones listening
MAYBE women would have thicker skin if we weren’t advised to exfoliate at every opportunity. Men, I guess, have the advantage of growing rhinoceros hides because it is, well, manly. It’s also a valuable qualification to put on your CV, apparently, if you haven’t got a face for television and have to work in radio. I kid you not.
Ceri Thomas, the producer of Radio 4’s Today programme, explained that though there were more women on BBC television news, there were fewer on Today because it’s a very difficult place to work. He added: ‘ The hide that you need, the thickness of that, is something else.’
It sure is. But never mind the epidermis – it’s the early mornings that would bother me. Not that any of this is exactly news: Bloke recruits other blokes shock. Boss bloke thinks women aren’t blokey enough. Bloke would employ more women if they just didn’t act like women.
Still, if your desire is a female version of John Humphrys you must live in a constant state of disappointment. When the Paxman-Humphrys confrontational style of interviewing is the only one to aspire to, then many men, never mind women, will never measure up.
Indeed, as I watched yet another unbelievably awful all-male discussion on Newsnight this week featuring John Prescott, Eric Pickles and Chris Huhne, all talking over each other nonsensically, I wondered what had happened even to the idea of the token woman. You know, that vague nod at equality or courtesy. This Election seems to have banished that horribly ‘politically correct’ idea altogether, so it all feels like being trapped in some nasty pub where the only women are those serving drinks.
Women seem to me to be increasingly absent from the proceedings in any meaningful way. The leaders’ debates are three men interviewed by three other men. Female voters are
WILL we grow to love Anish Kapoor’s arterial metal ‘helterskelter’ Olympic tower? I love Kapoor but why does Chicago get his beautiful shiny silver bean Cloud Gate and New York an enormous Sky Mirror while we get this knotted oddity? Is he trying to tell us that London is an inherently twisted mess? Possibly. addressed constantly as wives and mothers, or as part of ‘hardworking families’.
Sam and Sarah are the stylish guarantors of their spouses as super-husbands. We are told that the Election is only about the economy and cuts and so a certain machismo abounds: who will be hard enough to cut?
The current mood is inherently conservative, with a small c. It’s not simply business as usual but more regressive than ever.
The style of debate considered most crucial remains adversarial. The chancellors’ civilised exchange was deemed a love-in. We know that confrontations often do not produce answers but are merely showpieces, just as we know the average punter is appalled by the boorishness of Prime Minister’s Question Time.
Certainly women can be just as boorish as men. We will all miss Ann Widdecombe, won’t we?
Having more women more visible in this Election may make politics seem slightly more relevant. So why is the opposite happening? At a time when the political class is under attack, why does it retreat into what it knows best? The selfperpetuating boys’ club.
This is as true of Labour as it is of the Tories. I am sick of men telling me what plays best with women (Sarah calling Gordon a hero, Sam and her overpriced bags) as though we are all the same and deeply superficial.
There are some interesting female candidates for all parties, but clearly not one female broadcaster of enough stature to interview the party leaders or their Treasury spokesmen. What does this say to young women watching except: ‘This is not the place for you.’ Still, the men have done such a spectacular job of running things, haven’t they?
One of the disadvantages of thick skin is a lack of sensitivity. It amazes me that the political class and the broadcasters can earnestly discuss the causes of political disengagement and miss this obvious one. We have moved beyond the token woman to what? Precisely zilch women?
So keep talking amongst yourselves, guys. You are the only ones listening, after all.
THE Male Brain? According to Dr Louann Brizendine, when a man gets angry, ‘the man’s “good judgment” circuits, the frontal lobes, go offline as he reacts to the source of his frustration’. So men have machines for minds do they? That go on the blink? In which case the best thing is to turn them off and on again. And if this fails, bash them a bit.