The Twain Shall Meet – Julian Eldridge

This article is a companion piece to Men are from Earth, Women are from Earth by David Baldelli.

I could be tempting fate but by the time you read this England might have reached the World Cup Final. (STOP PRESS – They didn’t). You mean you didn’t know? There were no excruciating daily press conferences with coach and captain ending every ten o’clock news. No wives and girlfriends monopolising your favourite tabloid front page. No cross of St. George flying over next doors garden or worse covering the entire frontage, including the first floor windows, at no. sixteen? I’m sorry, did I say The World Cup? I meant to say The Womens World Cup.

Now I’m an unreconstructed football fan. Liking footy is a bit like my East London accent. It might not be my most attractive characteristic but I’m never going to lose it. But this was never going to be about the beautiful game.

I’ve always been uncomfortable with feminism as the exclusive property of women. I think of myself as a feminist. No, I never got to burn a bra or throw flour bombs during a Miss World ceremony but I can say one thing without exception. I wouldn’t need to positively disriminate in order for half of my all time top peoples list to be women.

In the interests of domestic harmony my Jayne would have to be at the top. Of course I’m biased but a more complete human I’ve yet to encounter. Oh yes, the three beautiful daughters would feature highly in the rankings, but to move on from these most personal of predudices, pass me the hammer and I’ll do my best to smash that glass ceiling.

My upbringing in the fifties and sixties marinaded me in certain accepted gender roles. There were manly qualities and there were womanly qualities and to all intents and purposes nair the twain did meet. I arrived at adulthood comfortable in what was a largely chauvinistic masculinity. Then I had kids.

Without wishing to state the obvious, things change when you start a family. I hope I rose to the occasion but you’ll have to contact my ex and my two eldest for confirmation. I don’t ever remember railing against my new domesticity. Did I successfully get in touch my female side or was I just waitng for an excuse to embrace it? Who knows? But contemporary with these events was a growing womens rights movement and the struggle for equality which continues today.

The question for me is how do we complete the process? If there really is a battle of the sexes, have we reached a ceasefire or a lasting peace?

I’m being very careful here not to trivialise the issue. The mistreatment of women at it’s most barbaric is a daily reality for far too many and it is for men to stand against men here. A reluctance to do so at every available opportunity smells of aquiescence.

C’mon guys. Look what we’re missing here. There can be no better future of any worth until we shuffle our bums along the benches of control and make way for the gentler (more competant, empathetic, better organised and all round more capable) sex.

If you need examples, arguably the most progressive and talented parliamentarian of our times; Caroline Lucas; the most convincingly principaled party leader of late; Nicola Sturgeon; the best tennis of Wimbledon so far; Heather Watson v Serena Williams; the twentieth century Conservative prime minister everyone can name; Margaret Thatcher. Okay. I’d better stop while I’m ahead.

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