We're quaking in our boots
Do women have the killer instinct? Should we be allowed to fight in combat on the front line? [Didact: NO.]
A new report says women should be allowed to go into battle on the ground alongside their male counterparts.
A Channel 4 news item on the topic on Friday evening centred on the fact the equipment women would need to carry on their backs would be too heavy for us poor dears to cope with. They should film a segment outside Tesco this afternoon.
Newscaster Cathy Newman had in the studio a former officer, Major Judith Webb, who is against women being able to kill other human beings on the front line, and who said ‘there is nothing wrong with being equal but different’ and that a woman would not be able to carry an injured man to safety.
In favour of female armed combat was Brigadier Nicky Moffat. I was struck by how immaculate and smart they were; when Cathy Newman interjected, ‘Some women are pretty butch though’ I was shocked by her rudeness – how much more appealing were these two former officers than the average female office worker or politician, bra straps showing, hair akimbo, intent only on gossiping and drinking latte.
I was surprised that what I thought was the inevitable argument against women being put at risk – ie, the fact we can be mothers – didn’t raise its head during the TV debate.
I remember the furore in 1995 when a mountaineer, Alison Hargreaves, died on K2, and she was universally condemned for being so selfish, given she had two children. But surely we know by now that fathers are just as important to their kids.
My feeling is that of course women should be able to fight in combat. Men need to be scared of us. [Didact: You really think that hardened mountain fighters like the Taliban or the Pesh Merga are going to be impressed by a bunch of literal Nancies in kevlar body armour and combat bras?]
A ruling allowing women on the front line might have a trickle down effect, empowering those of us in the civilian workplace to stand up for ourselves, demand equal pay, and an equal shot at promotion.
Also in the news last week was the fact that Jennifer Lawrence, surely the main draw to any film she is in, and an Oscar winner, earned much less than her male co-stars. This revelation alone made me want to unsheath my bayonet. What century are we in?
But of course we are always going to get the fuzzy end of the lollipop, even up against the least talented of men (I was once on a ship in the Thames along with 400 Navy personnel, and trust me, the men were weeds, the women Amazons).
We are always going to be paid less, be disrespected, sidelined.
Want some examples? How about the fact that only a decade ago, on a Left-wing broadsheet that employs workers’ champion Polly Toynbee, I was paid just £100 a week to write a column; I paid my cleaner more, and she was also the recipient of my beauty freebies, which meant she had the most radiant skin in all of Dalston.
But of course I accepted that £100, because I felt grateful. I didn’t value my own talent. [Didact: Must... resist... no... cheap... shots...]
Which is why, instead of reading some feminist bible that is all about whether or not we should wax, we should be reading the small print of our employment contracts, and planning our retirement.
Women are certainly tough enough to kill, and with their bare hands. I think the proviso is we have to care about the issues we are fighting for.
In a grain market in Ethiopia, I was all set to fight 400 men, who wouldn’t even take the load off their mules’s backs to let them rest in 40-degree heat. I had to be restrained by the NGO worker. [Didact: This is her idea of an example of female toughness???]
Working on a daily evening tabloid a decade ago, I complained about the fact I’d been at my desk since 4.30am, and had to wait until after the editor came out of a restaurant that night before I could go home; she wanted ‘options’.
It was a job that made the invasion of Iraq seem like a walk in the park. The male deputy said to me, ‘Oh, don’t be so pathetic.’
Would he have said that to, ooh, I don’t know, Giles Coren?
We need to be much, much tougher. Complain more. Stand our ground.
So, come on girls. Grab those machine guns. Let’s blow these suckers out of the water!