I Won't Die for Equality
摘要：The army is slammed for sexism, but do we want a Mum's Army？
Seventy-five years ago all British women were finally given what all British men had been granted 10 years earlier ——the right to vote. First of f the blocks to mark the occasion has been, oddly, the Sun (that same organ, ironically, mostly 'celebrates' women's emancipation with a naked interest in their bulging breasts and shapely bums).
That no one else has yet seemed to notice reflects the fact that the winning side in the equality war doesn't want to waste precious time crowing. They want to get on with dealing the most humiliating defeat upon the remaining enemy: foes such as those employers who pay women less than comparable men; the corporations with an all-male hierarchy at the top; and of course the men who tiresomely persist in sexist words or behaviour.
Like the military. A report last week slammed the Army for sexism, complaining that women are called 'girls' ——quite different, the authors said, from referring to the troops as 'our boys'. 'Boys', it seems, is a good, encouraging, matey kind of word. 'Girls', by contrast, is derogatory and demeaning. This was only to be expected, the authors pointed out, from an institution that enjoys 'partial' exemption from equal opportunities legislation ?nbsp;and thus can exclude its 'girls' from some direct combat positions. How chauvinist can you get?
But hold on: do women really want to turn Dad's Army into Mum's Army, a posse of latter-day Amazons braving the front line, cheek by jowl with their male counterparts? We don't want to stand beside the boys and fire rifles into the whites of Iraqi eyes. Nor are we gasping for a chance to be blasted to smithereens by a cluster bomb. I may not be crazy about being called 'girl', but that doesn't mean I want to be mowed down with the 'boys' in the killing fields.
Yet this kind of job-equalising ——if Jack can do it, Jill sure as hell can do it better ——has long been cherished by social planners, feminist or not. For decades, men-only enclaves gave women their battle cry: let me in there! The xclusion zone in those days ranged from smart clubs, manual work, the Church of England and the armed forces.
Now it has shrunk to a few moth-eaten armchairs in clubland; the golfers' paradise——the Royal and Ancient Club of St Andrews; the Roman Catholic priesthood; and front-line combat.
The head of the Stock Exchange is a woman, female plumbers are growing in numbers (including that Oxford graduate, Nicola Gillison, who made headlines recently because she ditched her consultancy job for a mole wrench), and one in 12 of the Army is female. As for women lorry drivers, that should be no surprise. Women drivers have such a sterling record that insurance companies now offer cheaper premiums in return for the promise that no man will come anywhere near the four wheels of their car.
Given such progress, only rabid equalisers would argue that they cannot rest until women have the right to be wind bagged by some old geezer reading Horse and Hound by the fire; or risk death or a war wound through their rightful place on the front line.
Social engineering that fixes men and women in the same post, at all costs, makes no sense. As the foreigner chewed his dumplings at some dire Intourist restaurant in the Soviet Union, his (or her) surprised gaze might alight upon the workers outside in their drab overalls. Who were those stocky muscular figures clambering up the scaffolding with buckets of primrose yellow paint to freshen up the crumbling facades of the surrounding buildings? Women. Who was heaving the garbagecontainers into the dilapidated rubbish truck? Women. Who was shovelling up the piles of dirt and grit left in the melted snow by the side of the road? Women.
And what of the Israeli army, which believes women sabras as well as men should face enemy fire? That idea has proved a disaster ?nbsp; with men behaving suicidally to protect the women, casualties mounting, and the government now considering legislation to keep women away from the front. It's been a dire tale in the American military too, with physical strength tests rigged to accommodate women soldiers who with the best will in the world cannot throw a hand grenade to a safe distance.
There's nothing wrong with a handful of super-tough modern-day GI Janes being hooked on Jane's Guide to Extra Lethal Infantry Weapons, or wasting their weekends playing war games; the modern military needs women to boost its flagging recruits, and if supply now matches demands, I am sure we can all rest more easily in the shadow of the Axis of Evil.
But a woman does not need to be in the firing line to feel as good as a man. That is an equality too far.