23 Jun 2008

Stonehenge - and a lovely weekend in Hampshire

I was utterly appalled by Stonehenge - apart from the fact that it rained (honestly!) the crowd were atrocious. A lot of football hooligans clearly out for a free party and a chance to drink in a sopping wet field and get into a fight and not a weird druid type in sight. There were women walking around in states of near complete undress plus I even saw some people having S.E.X on the grass. Why are the only things anyone remembers about the 60s the most embarrassing bits? Surely the Women's movement aimed for higher purposes than the right to get one's white bits out in front of a lot of strangers. Plus my Range Rover got utterly covered in mud, a nightmare!

Still, the weekend was saved as on the way back from the 'Henge I had the good fortune to pass through Hampshire, my spiritual home and time for a visit with my dear old Aunt Lilly. We had a fine lunch, ale and lamb and stuff, and settled down to reminisce about the Women's movement and to plot our future course.

Now Aunt Lilly was one of the original suffragettes in the late 1950s. She even wore trousers before other women in 1965. She also invented the academic discipline of gender studies (this has been contested by some jealous admirers - can't be helped!) and perhaps queer theory too - although she told me she couldn't be too specific, she was quite spun from 1961-8.

Here is an excerpt from a very forthright pamphlet on the subject of gender theory which she authored in 1962. It signalled a break between herself and the less inspired so-called Feminists of Petersfield and its environs ("The WoMampshire Chapter") who were not able to appreciate her provocative approach to 'gender normativity' (a term she coined). See what you think...

Why Can't a Man be More like a Woman? Lilly Rider-Sharp (Old Athene Press, Pe'ef, 1962)

If it is not rather daring for a woman to accept chivalric displays of etiquette from men, instead it may be rather daring if she comes to expect it. Or, more bluntly, demand it.Most men are not by nature generous, polite, selfless or considerate - all of those qualities we find in excess in that relic of times past, the gentleman.

These are traits unique to a method of civilisation, that is, culturing. They work against the grain of inclination, fraying the nerves and testing the patience as men force themselves to act against their own interests or to locate their interests elsewhere, vicariously experiencing comfort through the comfort of another (usually a stranger). And what is more provoking or more presumptuous to a man not schooled in the art of manners to be accosted by a woman, asked to relinquish his small joys and petty comforts, to be asked to move from the seat of a bus like a second class citizen or to hold a door open like a bellhop?

When one's full instincts demand one blusters forth boorishly, what an agony it is to lash down the spirit like a tarpaulin in a tempest, put a cap on the will and pander to the niceties of simpering women?
Women! I call on you to not fail to demand the small allowances etiquette affords us until men have neglected all of their many grand privileges. And what is more, it is only by forcing them to play out the tired conventions of their gender roles and act against their instincts because of but one thing - the socialised dictates of their sex - will they come to see how vain and false are the Womanish responsibilities they force upon us!


  1. men cant be women. Its fact . it can never happen.

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  2. Sometimes men can become women, actually and legally. I cannot pretend that I fully understand the anatomical implications of such delicate surgical work, but we have all seen Nadia from Big Brother. She is definitely a she. Isn't it nice when men decide to reach across and join the sisterhood?