Monday, April 15, 2013
Why dull, dumpy, divorced men are the new sex gods
I think Rachel Johnson exaggerates a lot below but colourful ways of putting things are her birthright, of course. She is the sister of Boris Johnson. I must admit however that when my wife left me when I was 49, I did have some rather good times subsequent to that, despite being an "egghead" -- JR
According to solicitors, couples have rushed in droves to divorce ahead of the cuts to the £2 billion legal aid budget that came in this month.
May – when the wedding season traditionally gets going – is around the corner, but this year we seem to have fewer weddings and a funeral on Wednesday – and a lot of accelerated divorces.
Meanwhile, Tom Cruise reportedly told German TV last week that he never expected to be divorced at 50 (a comment he later denied making). But I can’t worry about Cruise. He’s a fun-sized movie star and, like many men, he can arise phoenix-like from the ashes of his marriage.
The ones I worry about are the ex-wives, who often can’t.
For where I live, there must be five available, attractive and lively divorced women to each available – if ever so slightly dull – divorced man. It wouldn’t matter if he was a wife-beater, serial killer or had sex at Premier Inns with strangers he met online: the male of the species is still a trophy guest and the woman, generally, isn’t.
As my husband [Eton-educated journalist Ivo Nicholas Payan Dawnay] jests, if we ever split up, I would join the ranks of predatory females in their forties, flicking my blow dry in desperation as I trolled the internet for a mate, whereas he, handsome and with all his own hair, would be a total catch at sixty.
Indeed, he would never have to cook a meal again, he reckons, so swamped would he be by competing invitations. All he would need to do is coast majestically through the remaining ocean of his life, like a large whale, opening his jaws for female plankton only when he felt like it.
This problem is endemic. There is even a column in a national newspaper called The Plankton, ‘written by a divorcee at the bottom of the sexual food chain’, which tells you all you need to know about the different value society places on single men and single women.
Wherever you live, a nice, normal ‘extra man’ is a semi-mythical creature of rare report, like a snow leopard in the mountains of Bhutan, whereas a nice, normal single woman is often just excess baggage.
Now, for some reason (divorce), a few more male singletons have suddenly been released on to the market, which is causing great excitement among local hostesses. One – nice, normal, ie not Tom Cruise – came to ‘kitchen supper’ last week so I had an opportunity to test out my husband’s theory.
‘Frank,’ I asked (not his real name. He started sweating with panic during our exchange that I would use it). ‘What’s it like, you know, OUT THERE?’
‘Vibrant,’ Frank said, glugging his red wine. ‘Go on,’ I said, pouring him more.
‘Well, what happens is, you meet someone and you jump into bed with them immediately, and then, if you like them .... um ... you try to find intimacy afterwards.’
This may be too much information for you but it wasn’t enough for me. ‘You mean you have sex with people you’ve only just met?’ I shrieked. I am old-fashioned that way.
‘Yes,’ Frank said. At this point a student listening said: ‘The middle-aged dating scene sounds exactly like the first year at Edinburgh.’
But this doesn’t work both ways. As I’ve observed, if you’re a newly-single man, you’re a prime cut of Fresh Meat. But if you’re a newly-single woman, of the same vintage, you’re ‘not wanted on voyage’. But back to Frank’s sex life. ‘Do you do it a lot?’ I asked.
‘I could do it every night if I wanted to,’ he said.
Why is this? Well, all the obvious things. A man who is reasonably presentable, and not actively psychopathic, has his pick of women of any age. Women generally have a more limited range to choose from (their age and older). As poor Ms Plankton has written, ‘all I want is a companionable, kind, age-appropriate person who can string two words together, is largely heterosexual and preferably doesn’t live in Auckland.’
But the real rub is, divorced women aren’t just short of social capital, but actual capital, too. According to the LSE’s Professor Stephen Jenkins, who’s conducted a major study on the financial impact of divorce, men on average get richer after splitting up and women get poorer. The ex-husband’s income goes up by around one third, while the ex-wife’s drops to one fifth of its previous level. The women who survive divorce best, he says, are those who are either in paid work or who find a new partner.
This must explain, then, why many divorced women are still so keen on what Mrs T called the ‘weaker sex,’ and why men are so sought after. It’s a case of supply, demand, and dosh too.
‘So, what sort of women do you meet?’ I asked Frank over pudding. “Divorced women my age. Younger women, singles .... but they’re even more frightening,’ he added. ‘Why?’ I asked.
‘Because they want to get married,’ he replied, with a little shiver.
It does seem to appear that my husband has a point, which is annoying.
Which of these PMs sacked the most miners? (Clue: It wasn't Lady Thatcher)... The amazing facts that make a mockery of the rabble who want to wreck her funeral
As ever, it was Winston Churchill, our greatest of wartime Prime Ministers, who put it best. ‘I am ready to meet my Maker,’ he wrote, but ‘whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.’
There will be many who will be thinking that the sentiment could equally apply to Lady Thatcher, albeit for different reasons. Her achievements were primarily about economic policy, and therefore remain the object of bitter controversy.
But while Wednesday’s funeral will be a solemn send-off for a Prime Minister who we can at least all agree transformed Britain, rather than a day of national mourning for the passing of a war hero, let us also hope that the country is allowed to judge her on her actual accomplishments, uncontaminated by her opponents’ propaganda.
Judging by some of the recent coverage, Thatcher’s enemies have successfully spread a series of damaging myths about her. Many of these sound plausible, and are even accepted by some of her supporters, but few stand up to proper scrutiny.
Take the myth that Thatcher was deeply unpopular. The truth is that she won 43.9 per cent of the vote in 1979, 42.4 per cent in 1983 and 42.2 per cent in 1987 – landslide results of which contemporary politicians can only dream.
Yet her defeated opponents, such as Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock, are rarely described as ‘divisive’ or ‘toxic’, even though they were routed on Election night and were demonstrably far less popular.
Today, Thatcher’s opinion polls are even more spectacular. YouGov finds that she is deemed the greatest post-1945 Prime Minister, and that 52 per cent of the public believe she was a great or a good PM. Yes, many hated her – often with an intensity that defies rational analysis – but many loved her.
It has also become fashionable to blame one of her greatest triumphs – the sale of council homes to tenants – for today’s horrendous housing crisis and long waiting lists.
Britain’s social housing sector was almost Soviet in size before Thatcher’s right-to-buy scheme was introduced, accounting for a third of all homes. Yet today, even after the sell-offs, it is a little-known fact that it remains much larger than in most other countries – worth up to a fifth of the total. That’s more than Denmark, Sweden, France, Finland, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia, Germany and Italy.
Yet these countries clearly do not all suffer from the same problems that we do. There is no reason why the State should own the homes in which it houses the poor. The UK’s insufficient supply of homes is directly attributable to the fact that the Thatcherite revolution sadly left untouched the post-1945 planning system, one of Britain’s last bastions of socialist thinking.
We need the private sector to build more homes to make sure there are enough for everybody, at affordable prices, not hark back to a dystopian vision of the government as a super-landlord.
Modern anti-Thatcherites tend to dislike coal mining for environmental reasons. But that doesn’t prevent them from hypocritically pinning the demise of a once great industry on her policies.
That, too, is nonsense: the industry had been in crisis for decades, crippled by excessive costs and international competition. Far more miners lost their jobs in the Sixties than in the Eighties. No government, be it Labour or Tory, could afford to keep propping up unviable mines indefinitely.
The slow demise of coal mining has been a tragedy for many communities, and the cause of much suffering. But more mines were closed during Harold Wilson’s two terms in office than in Thatcher’s three – and yet he remains a Left-wing hero.
What her detractors still cannot accept is that Thatcher’s supply-side reforms may have been painful but they worked.
Tax cuts encouraged work, reduced inflation and made it easier for business, and a new generation of entrepreneurs began to create jobs. The UK soon started to close the gap with the US and eventually overtook France and Germany in terms of national income per person.
Our economy grew by 2.07 per cent annually in the Seventies and 3.09 per cent in the Eighties, before expanding by 2.77 per cent in the Nineties (when Thatcher’s legacy remained largely intact) and by 1.77 per cent in the 2000s, when it was wrecked by Gordon Brown. Manufacturing production rose 7.5 per cent during her time in office (demolishing the myth that she destroyed British industry), while services boomed.
Of course, manufacturing’s relative importance declined – but the same shift happened in every developed economy. Partly because of the credit crunch, manufacturing output performed far worse during the Blair-Brown years, ending slightly below the levels seen at the end of Thatcher’s time in office.
Britian's economic rebirth was fuelled by spending restraint and mass privatisations. Total expenditure rose modestly in real terms, partly because of higher spending on the NHS, but the rate of increase was kept below that of the economy, ensuring that the State’s overall grip was substantially loosened.
Public spending fell from 44.6 per cent of national income in 1979-1980 to 39.4 per cent in 1990-91. Entire chunks of the economy – including British Telecom and BP – were moved into the private sector, transforming loss-making bureaucracies into world-class firms.
The real extent of the fall in public spending under Thatcher is masked by the recession of the early Eighties as the UK was weaned from sky-high inflation. Spending rose to a peak of 48.2 per cent of national income by 1982-83, the economy battered by soaring unemployment, before embarking on a dramatic decline.
The peak-to-trough reduction in spending was a remarkable 8.8 per cent of national income, though this was exaggerated in the last couple of years by Lord Lawson’s cheap money bubble.
Another reason for the rebound was that tax rates were slashed. Some point to the fact that total receipts increased from 33.7 per cent of national income in 1979-80 to 34.9 per cent as proof that she wasn’t a real tax-cutter. That is nonsense. She raised value-added tax, but her massive cuts to income and corporation tax were hugely significant.
The increase in the tax take was caused primarily by the rebound in economic growth.
Thatcher made many mistakes, of course, but most of her critics’ arguments have little basis in fact. She saved the economy and country from terminal decline and transformed British society for the better.
She was a truly great Prime Minister, the peacetime equivalent of a Churchill. If there is any justice, that will be her epitaph.
Even an angry feminist can see that women can't "have it all"
But with no evidence she seems to think that a society could be devised in which they could. That both a career and childrearing require constant, obsessive attention and that "no man can serve two masters" she seems to forget.
Sad to see her so full of anger. I know lots of happy ladies -- all with children.
The angry one (Clementine Ford)
Without a doubt, one of the most intellectually bereft concerns of modern society has been the question of whether or not women can have it all. Posed repetitively and endlessly, in mawkish op eds and hand wringing television segments, it involves middle-class and mostly white women (a demographic in which I sit firmly) attempting to tease out the threads of an entirely useless concept with the regularity of a studiously high fibre diet.
As a query, 'having it all — can even we?' is perpetuated as the most pressing and central concern of feminists today. So vital is it to the Woman Question that I was surprised it didn't come up on Q and A's special lady fest earlier this week (although that may be because the panellists were forced to address the age old quandary of whether or not the sinister motivations of feminism have resulted in men no longer being able to open doors for women — binders and lobbies, full of women just trying to get out!)
Drew Barrymore, a woman of strength and vitality who overcame childhood trauma to succeed in a culture with far fewer happy endings for girls with tales similar to hers, weighed in on the topic earlier this month in an interview for People.
“It sucks when you've worked really hard for certain things and you have to give them up because you know that you're going to miss out on your child's upbringing, or you realise that your relationship has suffered," she told People magazine at a conference on Thursday. For her, that has meant giving up directing projects in favour of spending more time with her baby.
Barrymore gave birth to her first child six months ago, which in tabloid terms means she's officially 'made it'. Never mind the fact that she crawled her way out of drug addiction to become a respected actor, producer and director. Never mind that she's parlayed her considerable clout into other business pursuits, or that she has a vested interest in combating the devastating effects of poverty .
It's abundantly clear that women — particularly the middle class, pretty white ones — aren't considered to have ascended to the status of accomplished human being until they shuck off that amateur mantle of 'woman' and become mothers. And it's here in this meaningless vacuum where the principal pursuits of feminism have become warped, degraded and made reprehensible in their navel-gazing glory.
A hierarchy of oppression needn't discount the validity of less threatening concerns. But the pernicious fixation on whether or not women can maintain professional careers rather than simply jobs (because the woman working out of necessity and not career ambition lacks that privilege of choice which has become the bugbear of women with greater means) while also wringing every last drop of the supposed joy that comes from rearing children is almost startling in its circular self indulgence and privilege. The question of whether or not women can 'have it all' steadfastly ignores the fact that many women can't and don't even have anything, let alone enough capital to begin staking their claim on the rest of the pie. To therefore witness the endless debate of this ridiculous question, as if it's the final frontier in the pursuit for women's liberation, is an exercise in mind-numbing stupidity and one that I'd argue actually reinforces regressive and limited stereotypes of women.
I'm not even really sure what 'having it all' is supposed to look like. Is it being enabled to have a meaningful, satisfying career and a family to go home to at the end of the day? Because that seems to take a rather limited and stultifying view of the complexities of human existence. For a supposedly feminist preoccupation, it ignores the diverse interests and realities of large proportions of women and those for whom children and/or career were either undesirable or an impossibility. According to this definition, as a child-free, unmarried woman in her early 30s, I would appear to fall rather short of having much of anything at all. But as someone rapidly coming to terms with the idea that the children I've been taught to want may not actually form part of my desires at all, I feel so much closer to having the kind of life I want without them — having 'it all' on my terms — than I surely would with them.
Similarly, I know many women of means, age and opportunity who are also child-free (I'm a feminist, after all — my phone book is filled with the numbers of witches and sorceresses) and have not suffered for it. For them, the question of 'having it all' never included the fundamental pursuit of work/life/family balance that is assumed to be innate to our gender. I also know single mothers for whom the idea of balancing career and family is less an aim than a pipedream. And speaking of single mothers, there are more women still who would view the concept of 'career' as a middle-class luxury — who are caught now in the grips of poverty due to a lack of options and a lack of government support. For these women, the daily concerns of their autonomy and dignity have rather less to do with whether or not they can continue to work as CEOs, senior account executives or small-business owners and rather more to do with whether or not they can put food on the table.
Cast your mind further to women in the developing world. The ones for whom 'choice' when it comes to family extends to which child gets to wear clothes or go to school (usually the boys), and who are denied the opportunities to control their fertility and therefore family sizes because of a lack of institutional support, medical options or funding. Or the women who travel from the Philippines to work as domestic labourers for the wealthy families who more often than not pay them a pittance, are denied labour rights and who may see the children, parents and extended families they're working tirelessly to support only once a year. Spending any more than a few seconds trifling over whether or not an uneven distribution of housework prevents women from achieving true liberation seems like an insult.
Gendered oppression shouldn't be a system of competitive comparison — being able to identify greater atrocities committed against women in certain sectors of the community or the wider world shouldn't negate other instances of oppression, even if they're less immediately threatening. And there's absolutely no doubt that women everywhere, from Karachi to Kew, are expected to shoulder the burden of the domestic load. But positioning this argument of 'having it all' as the last bastion of equality neglects to understand exactly how few women in the world have close to anything at all.
Under our current model of supposedly post-feminist society, can women have it all? No. Why not? Because a) we're not living in a post-feminist society and the systems of patriarchal oppression that have historically exploited women as resources are still very much in operation across much of the world; and b) the matter of women's liberation is still thought to be a concern for them alone, with the demands that any efforts to secure it be done not just independently of men but with the absence of impact on them entirely. The question therefore isn't 'can women have it all?' but 'how are women systemically denied equality and who's benefiting?' Gender inequality wasn't created by women and their unreasonable ambitions. It's vital that we shift the focus of women's oppression back to its beneficiaries rather than perpetuate the kinds of meaningless conversations that imagine these things are perplexing problems for women alone to solve.
Capitalism and poverty are two of the greatest contributors to the oppression of women in the world today. Focusing precious time and energy on examining whether or not a small proportion of those women are enabled to participate freely in the system that expressly shackles the rest of them seems to me to be entirely missing the point.
What's the difference between the women below?
Smoking and ageing. Both pix are of Glenda Jackson, a former filmstar, presently a Labour Party member of the House of Commons and a Thatcher hater. No woman would smoke if she knew how many wrinkles it would earn her in later life. Jackson is now in her mid 70s.
Australian airline stays halal despite social media uproar
Qantas is weathering an attack on social media over its decision to ditch food containing alcohol or pork on its European flights through Dubai.
The decision, made out of respect for Islamic beliefs, follows the new partnership between Qantas and Emirates that came into effect on March 31.
Some of the less offensive comments on social media included the airline being referred to as "Al-Qantas" and "the flying Mosque-a-roo". "No pork or pork products, announcements in Arabic, no alcohol … who owns Qantas?" asked one user.
Qantas said on Tuesday it would not change its decision, despite the barrage of negative responses, many of them racist and some calling for the airline to be black banned.
It said alcohol was still being served on flights, but not used in food preparation.
"Our inflight catering reflects the cultural and regional influences of the international destinations that we fly to," the airline said in a statement.
Despite the pasting on social media, a spokesman said the reaction from passengers flying the route had been "positive".
The menu, written in Arabic and English, includes chicken and fish in economy, while business passengers are feted with lamb cassoulet, chicken schnitzel and even a mezze plate that the menu says is "inspired by Emirates".
"The feedback from customers on-board has been fantastic … we do have a good reputation for the quality of our food, compared with other international airlines."
However, the airline had to moderate comments on its Facebook page. "In line with our social media policy we have removed some of the inappropriate comments," the spokesman said.
Qantas' menu changes are nothing new. For years, the airline has flown to Jakarta without pork or alcohol in its inflight meals. It is common practice for airlines flying to such destinations to do the same. Those airlines include Emirates, Etihad, and Virgin Australia.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.