04 Nov

The Ladies Misbehaving

Michael White is that rare – perhaps unique? – thing: a lefty with a sense of humour. His political articles and sketches in The Guardian have been making me laugh for decades. But this week Michael was not joking.

He was a guest on BBC Radio Four’s The Media Show, hosted by Andrea Catherwood and of course the subject was the “inappropriate behaviour” of the naughty MPs and so many others that Andrea wondered if to our concept of institutional racism we should add  institutional sexual misbehaviour. This was when Michael roughly interfered with the feminist, politically-correct prejudices of the BBC.

He said that inappropriate sexual behaviour was not exclusive to men but that “Clever, attractive young women can play the power game too.”

Outrage was swift and violent. Andrea expostulated – which is a polite way of saying she went into full bollocking mode: “D’you mean to say these women are at fault?”

Good grief! Didn’t Michael understand that he was talking on the BBC where it is an article of the severest dogma that women can never be at fault?

No, he didn’t understand or, brave man, he didn’t care. He said, “I’m going further than that. I’m saying women too can be predators.”

He spoke the truth – however unacceptable to the politically-correct establishment. We were given an example only this week of a woman prominent in society exhibiting inappropriate sexual behaviour. Kenneth Branagh reported that Dame Judi Dench had exposed herself to him backstage. Poor Ken, I understand he’s still receiving counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder!

Moreover, Michael didn’t merely speak the truth: he spoke the universal truth that there have always been women sexual predators. I don’t suppose they read the Bible much at the Beeb, but they might make a start with the story of those two randy young tarts the daughters of Lot who got their father drunk and took advantage of him: “And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine and we will lie with him” (Genesis 19: 31-32).

Well, if they haven’t read the Bible, surely they have glanced at bits of bawd in Chaucer and Shakespeare – to say nothing of the misconduct of some of the Borgia ladies. I won’t get on to the psychopathic predations of such as Rosemary west and Myra Hindley.

Even nice girls have been known to lay hands unseemly on men and boys

My first job out of school was in a textiles warehouse in Leeds. My bosses wanted me to gain experience and advancement in the trade, so they sent me on a week’s course to the cotton mill in Barrowford, near Nelson in Lancashire. Here I came across a most unladylike custom. When a new lad, aged fifteen, started at the mill, the girls would leave their looms and shuttles, womanhandle him into the ladies and black his balls with boot polish.

I rush to add that I don’t think even Andrea Leadsome in all her fury at Michael Fallon would have bent so low as to smear the former defence secretary’s scrotum with a coating of Cherry Blossom

Quite posh girls have been known to misbehave. In my late teens I worked in the stats office at the Ministry of Labour. In those days before computers, all official letters and documents were typed by young women specially employed for the task. I would be sent down from the third floor to the typing pool on the first floor, there to enter on a scene so intimidating I nearly dropped my documents and ran straight back up the staircase, In the scented haze, thirty or forty miniskirted nubile females sat at desks in ranks. When a man opened the door, the clattering keys would cease and the timorous visitor, if he was a handsome – or even a passable – man would be ogled and whistled at.

At my theological college I quickly learned to heed a word of warning concerning the lecherous assistant cook and housemaid, “Don’t let yourself get talked into shelling peas with Celia!”

Sexual misconduct has always gone on and it always will even if Mrs May  passes a Bill for the Abolition of Original Sin. So let’s ditch the shock and mock horror and get on with the serious business of running the country.

I am just a little concerned to know whether Michael White got out of that BBC studio alive 

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