The Land That Time Forgot

When I was a boy, I recall my first flicker of interest in the fairer sex: it was the shapely actress, Raquel Welch, barely dressed as the leading Lady in ‘One Million Years BC.’

In case you’re a radical feminist and are about to faint, allow me to explain. 

I dare say that I wasn’t the only red-blooded lad, to admire the cut of her bearskin.

The film made its premiere in 1966 – the year of my birth and the year that   England (and West Ham) won the World Cup. 

The past, which I once inhabited, was most certainly another landscape altogether. 

Roll forward fifty- seven years and our cultural attitude to women has, to say the least, moved on.

Who’d have guessed that there would be over two hundred genders and that the term, woman, would be replaced by such progressive and enlightened terms as ‘gestational parent’, ‘chest feeder’ or people with a ‘bonus-hole’.

Former England footballer and manager, Kevin Keegan was this week branded an “archaic, nonsensical, uneducated dinosaur” for honesty expressing his opinion that he didn’t much care for women commentating on men’s football. (Soccer, for my American readers)

He made the comments at an event in Bristol to which people had paid to go and see Kevin Keegan and hear his stories and views about football, past and present. 

In comments reported by The Times, Keegan said: “I’m not as keen, I’ve got to be honest, and it may not be a view shared. I don’t like to listen to ladies talking about the England men’s team at the match because I don’t think it’s the same experience. I have a problem with that.” 

I may be joining him in the dinosaur ranks here, but I agree. 

My preference is not to have women commentating and presenting on every football match. 

I don’t mind the odd one or two if they are  likeable and capable but watching sport on TV these days reminds me of being force-fed with Brussels Sprouts as a child: I don’t like it one little bit. 

It’s as if the paymasters of corporate media and sport have decided to go the whole hog and ban men from jobs for which they are eminently well qualified and replace them with, what are to my ears, the shrill voices of sirens, calling us onto treacherous rocks. 

In fact, if I were to invite Odesyus around to my place to watch Match of the Day, I’m quite certain that we would both have to plug our ears with wax. 

I was equally disappointed during the very male-dominated, (men’s) Rugby World Cup, to see a plethora of women rugby player pundits and commentators at each game. 

It grated somewhat, like being being shoe-horned into uncomfortable brogues to attend a wedding which turned out to be full of people I disliked and with whom I was forced to make smalltalk.

There were even fully rugby-kitted women players, demonstrating tactics and the finer points of the laws of rugby at half-time as if we Neanderthals might otherwise have missed the point. 

I’m all for women playing football and rugby, but I can’t say that I would pay a subscription for one of the many sports channels to watch it. Nor would I want to watch it if it was free- which it often is. 

I have occasionally tuned in by accident when the TV guide told me there was ‘England football’ on the box, when in fact, it turned out to be the women’s game. 

When I hear of women rugby and football players then saying that they should receive equal pay, I merely shrug and smile, as one might ruffle the hair of an innocent child who has told you they are going to be a time -travelling astronaut and travel back in time to reverse climate change. 

Unlike my Brussels Sprouts- all things that are forced upon us are not necessarily good for us.

Before you denounce me and cast me into the fiery furnace, or the Lionesses den, please hear me out: 

If I were merely a heathen- an uneducated misogynist – would I have married a strong woman, with a military background and with whom I served as a young police officer? 

(she was, by the way, a great detective and has recently been asked to give an interview about a famous case she was involved in for a television documentary- I am most proud of her!)

Would my 23 year old daughter be an executive on a six figure salary, who in her youth played football in an all boys team and even successfully challenged the Football Association to increase the age at which girls may play mixed football? 

A straw-poll of the women in my own family suggest that our views are not in opposition.

You may dismiss my argument as the equivalent of “but my best friend is gay/ black” etcetera. 

I would contend that I married and produced strong, confident women because I am a strong, confident man and make no apology for it. 

Perhaps we wouldn’t be in such a mess if we accepted our differences and made the most of one another’s strengths. 

That is, instead of taking mean advantage of the good nature of others and revelling in the currency leveraged by one’s perceived disadvantages. 

Perhaps the Herculean acts of self-sacrifice by our forefathers, particularly in the last century, should not be so easy dismissed. 

It is thanks to them that we have been able to enjoy the freedoms that we take for granted and too readily relinquish. 
When we denigrate the giants on whose shoulders we stand, we make of ourselves moral pygmies.
Each generation must make a personal and collective stand to fight the old foe.

I recently came across the following quote from a post-apocalyptic novel by G. Michael Hopf and I think it has some merit: 

“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.”

There are no points for guessing in which cycle we currently abide. 

I am certainly not advocating for a return of the boardroom bully who pinches the bottom of his Secretary and tells her to “go and put the kettle on luv”.

I’m not even saying that men with a man-bun should be held down and shaved. 

There’s nothing wrong with admiring a handsome woman… and I used to be able to say that without thinking of a bloke with a gruff voice wearing a dodgy syrup. 

All I’m saying is that if you want strong women , you should cut men a bit of slack. Don’t forget that strong men are made by strong women. 

My mother was a woman and she had the greatest influence on my life, but my father held sway too, in ways that I only later discovered. 

He had his weaknesses like all of us but he was courteous and a gentleman. He had a great sense of humour. He never complained about his own troubles and triumphed in adversity. 

The battles we face in life strengthen us. Life isn’t fair; it doesn’t treat us all the same. 

But in the words of St. Paul to the Roman church: “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Men and women are not the same, in biology or brain. Our different hormones affect both. 

It is not all about absolute equality in all things but complimentary difference. A marriage or a union of two separate entities capable of creating new life- the most precious gift of all. 

To the men, I say, stand up straight, put your shoulders back and reclaim your inner man. Stand up for what is right and don’t let evil pass unchecked. 

If you still believe that I am a dinosaur then I must insist on being identified as a T-Rex – but you won’t fool the children of the revolution. 

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