Women have a responsibility too.
Women have a responsibility too.
Of course, the murder of Sarah Everard is deplorable and terrible beyond what words can describe and it goes without saying that women should not live in fear of sexual harassment on the streets. But I wonder whether enough attention is being paid to the men who perpetrate these acts. These are mostly males too dysfunctional to find partners and lead normal sexual lives, living in a society that is obsessed with sex. Yes, we need more laws. But laws only take you so far, they certainly can’t tame so rampant a beast as sex. There are laws forbidding domestic sexual violence, but it is still happening on a large scale. During lockdown women were being murdered by male partners at the rate of three a week. How terrible is that? Perhaps you will remember that Lucky Jim, when more than usually maddened by the university in which he worked, used to put on his Sex in Ancient Rome face. I wonder whether even in ancient Rome domestic murders were running at three a week. Perhaps we all should put on a Sex in Ancient Rome face and look in the mirror.
Could anything be more dreadful than domestic violence culminating in murder? Why aren’t we as appalled at this as we are at child slavery? Of course, of course we are appalled. We are models of appalledness.. But had we even heard of many of the women killed by their partners or husbands last year on the list (it took twenty minutes to read it) that Jess Phillips read out in Parliament? The harassment of women on the street is rising from a society that has degraded and exploited sex – and which of us has not connived at it? It is at this level that we need to think about the problem and women themselves can do a great deal to ameliorate it, for they themselves connive as much, perhaps more, as anybody else.
What does it do to a man already out of control who cannot find a sexual partner when he sees beautiful naked women on tv having full sexual intercourse in the most casual way (within the parameters of modesty set by the industry of course, just missionary no kinky stuff) with a man she has only just met? Women will say they have to take off their clothes and perform sex acts or otherwise they wouldn’t get the parts. I think this is sophistry. If actresses went on strike they would bring the industry to heal in no time, because the entertainment industry needs clothed women more than it needs naked women. Look at how almost instantaneously so powerful a mogul as Harvey Weinstein collapsed as soon as the me-too movement started. Help me somebody, I need therapy, cried Harvey. Maybe it’s all of us that need the therapy.
Keep your clothes on while on tv and films ladies, otherwise you can hardly be surprised if you find Harvey rampantly ready at your door. We need to go back to the days when all we saw was Mike Baldwin putting on his tie in the morning and his nightly covertings were all left to the imagination, for does not Coleridge tell us that the imagination is a more vivid organ than that of sight? Page 3 girls have gone, but some of the tabloids are still full of almost naked women. What would you say the ratio of articles expressing extreme concern about climate change to almost naked women is in the tabloids? A hundred to one? A thousand? Ten thousand? Lustful men are being fed a relentless daily diet of images that can only whip up their already all too lively libidos. So glad none of this applies to me, of course, pure as the driven snow me, but I do just find a hidden corner of myself that laments the departure of the page 3 girls, much as I now realise that the lubricious invitations of near naked women inviting us to imagine them naked (see Coleridge) leads in some cases directly to the domestic violence.
(Once at Paddington waiting for a train while I was a housemaster at a public school I bought a copy of The Sun (a thing I rarely do as I disapprove of it on moral, aesthetic and syntactical grounds) and was just ogling the Page 3 girl when (Horror!) I felt a tap on the shoulder. Heavens! It was a former pupil in my house baying enthusiastically and already drooling for a long talk about the good old days. It was a tight spot. I thought fast. I rapidly canvassed in my mind the possibilities of saying “How much wiser this young woman would have been if she had elected to become a nun” but immediately rejected it as it might be taken as evidence of even greater depravity (extremes do meet in this area). So I fell back on “tsck tsck what is the world coming to?”. I recommend this as the interlocutor is forced either to agree or to admit they belong to an inferior class of person holding morally reprehensible views. It worked like a charm. “Do you remember that time when…” Oh Relief! “Well yes, the dear old house still there much as you left it I’m glad to say”.)
Keep your clothes on, ladies, if you don’t want women to be harassed in the street.
Women will say they have a right to dress as they want to. Indeed they have, but if you wander in a safari park full of hungry lions do not be surprised if the lions attack you. I don’t see many calls for further modesty on the feminist websites but as I don’t peruse them that diligently perhaps I am wrong. Everywhere sex is being exploited for money one way and another, I’m certainly not wrong about that, and you get what you deserve. None of this is to say that the women aren’t quite right to demand more protection from the law. I’m backing them all the way. Me too. But they can do more to help themselves.
Was not the sexing of humanity in the beginning the first and holiest of God’s gifts to mankind? We seem to have forgotten.