Friday, September 13, 2013
I'm single at 50. Why? Men hate me being brainier than them, says KATE MULVEY
A lot of smart women think as does this lady. I know, I seek out brainy women and that is what they tell me. But they do mostly end up forming relationships and getting married anyway. How come? Just by following basic rules of human relationships -- in particular by listening, considering others and not being boastful.
An example of what I mean by that: I am basically a literary person and so have a large literary vocabulary. But most of the time I don't use those words because it would only be showing off and would make me less well-understood. The lady below seems to see towards the end of her article that she was being a show-off a lot of the time so perhaps there is hope for her late in the day.
The smartest lady I know uses her brains to understand and get on with others. She keeps her conversation to whatever level suits the persion she is talking to. With me she will talk about Belisarius and Justinan while with others she will talk about the difficulty of finding what you want in the supermarket. As a result she is also the most popular woman I know. She shows that brains can be an advantage socially, not a handicap
It was amusing when she and I were an item. We would go to some arty or intellectual event and people's faces would light up all around the room as she entered. Our entrance would be almost like a royal progress with people greeting her on every side. She would always introduce me immediately as "Dr Ray" but all I had to do in the subsequent conversation was to nod and smile. I thought that was ideal. I am not much of a conversationalist so was pleased to delegate the social maintenance to someone else!
We are still great friends. She now has a most devoted partner, a man of exceptional character
Three months ago I went to Italy with my then boyfriend, Philip. As we were checking into the hotel, I struck up a conversation with the receptionist in Italian (just one of the five languages I speak). But while I was enjoying myself, chatting away, it became clear that Philip most certainly was not.
He shuffled from foot to foot, muttered something under his breath and rolled his eyes like a stroppy teenager.
Then in the lift he turned on me. 'I was wondering when you were going to let me join your conversation,' he snapped. I tried to laugh it off but I knew this was the beginning of yet another argument.
'You always have to be the star of the show,' he continued in our bedroom, as he began to systematically work his way through the mini-bar. Apparently I was argumentative, a know-all and an intellectual snob.
What had I done? It should be depressingly obvious. I had dared to dent his fragile male ego. By speaking in a language Philip didn't know, I had managed to make him - a successful writer, ten years my senior - feel small. How selfish of me to embarrass him in public with my linguistic prowess!
Like so many of the men I've dated, it was clear he expected me to play second fiddle to him at all times. It wasn't the first time we had rowed about such things. One night, we ended up arguing over a BBC4 documentary on the origins of jazz. When he became annoyed that his attempts to outsmart my knowledge on the subject failed, he started singing loudly, to drown me out altogether.
But the pointless fight over the receptionist was the straw that broke the camel's back. Needless to say, our year-long romance didn't last long beyond the flight home.
I was reminded of our contretemps last week, when research in the APA Journal of Personality and Social Psychology confirmed what I'd always suspected - that men simply can't handle it if a woman outshines them. According to the study, rather than bask in the reflected glory of a partner's success, men feel worse about themselves.
'A lot of men feel threatened if a woman outshines them,' says Professor Sandi Mann, psychologist and author of Hiding What We Feel and Saying What We Don't Feel. 'It harks back to cavemen days, when men had to provide the resources. If a woman is too intelligent, a man subconsciously thinks she's taking over his role.'
For me, this is stating the blindingly obvious. I've lost count of the times men have rejected or insulted me simply because I was brighter, wittier or cleverer than they are.
They have called me 'intimidating', 'scary', 'difficult' and 'opinionated'. Translated, that means: 'You are too clever and I don't like it.'
An older male friend - supposedly tired of me dominating dinner-party conversation - even wagged his podgy finger and told me I would never get married because I was too confident and demanding.
Then there was my dalliance with the criminal lawyer who, whenever we went to a party, criticised my hair, weight and choice of outfit before we set off. He was so terrified I might outshine him socially, he made sure I felt as bad as possible before I'd even got out of the door.
'As far as I'm concerned, a dinner party isn't complete without a bit of an intellectual tussle during dessert'
I'm convinced that the reason I'm still booking a table for one instead of settling down with a significant other is not because I'm a year off turning 50, but because men are so threatened by my intelligence.
I might have a successful career as an author and broadcaster, but I have never been engaged, let alone married, and my longest relationship lasted just seven years.
Sometimes I wonder if isn't all my father's fault - ever since I could talk, he encouraged me to hold my own in an argument. But little did he know, as he exhorted me to 'get a good degree' or add yet another language to my repertoire, he was reducing my chances of getting hitched altogether.
As a child, I went to one of Britain's most academic girls’ schools, Godolphin & Latymer, where I got three top A-levels, then breezed through an Italian and French degree at the University of Kent, getting a 2:1, while keeping up conversational German on the side.
I grew into a bright and confident young woman, keen to flex my intellectual muscles and to never let a man get the last word just because of his sex.
My bedside table has always buckled beneath the weight of substantial, intellectually challenging books. I devour cultural documentaries and love nothing more than taking another evening class (Spanish, the most recent; philosophy set to be the next).
As far as I'm concerned, a dinner party isn't complete without a bit of an intellectual tussle during dessert - whether it be on the finer points of Ed Miliband taking on the trade unions, or President Obama playing a high-stakes game with President Putin over Syria.
But little did I know that by honing my neurons and showing my intellectual rigour, I was scuppering my chances of romantic success.
The backlash against my brainpower began in earnest in my 20s, when I was a struggling writer going out with Sebastian, a high-flying City trader. Initially he loved dating a writer - even (or, perhaps, particularly) a constantly broke one, and he had to rescue me by paying for everything. But as my career and social life suddenly took off, his affection turned to resentment.
My career entailed a round of seminars, high-profile dinners and exciting parties. Sebastian might have made million-pound deals but he couldn't handle being my 'plus one'. After three years he told me he'd met someone who 'needed' him. Since then, relationship after relationship has imploded like a sinking soufflé.
It was always the same. At first, men loved my wit and intelligence. 'You're such a breath of fresh air'; 'I love talking to you'; 'You're the first woman I've met who stimulates me,' they'd trill.
No sooner had we become an item, however, their behaviour would change: the more confident I became, the more insecure it made them.
One boyfriend told my father he hated the way I never used short words, when a lengthy one would do. Another would turn away whenever I started to speak. When I asked him why he didn't listen to me, he said, without a hint of irony: 'Everyone else listens to you on the radio, so why should I?'
'I shouldn't have to dumb down my intelligence or omit to mention my achievements just to make myself more attractive'
My boyfriends would speak over me at dinner parties, put me down in public, tell me my books - of which I have published eight - were just stocking-fillers, or simply ask me to keep schtum. In my late 30s, I decided this would be easily remedied by dating older men.
Surely, I thought, an ageing alpha male, secure in his achievements, would not be jealous of his girlfriend's accomplishments? Sadly, I couldn't have been more wrong.
Julian, a handsome 61-year-old lawyer, was a case in point. One night he invited me to meet some of his old friends in Geneva. As I sat there tucking into fondue bourguignonne and making jokes in French, he lashed out, jealous at not being the one getting the laughs.
'Kate's friends are all pretentious wannabes or sad has-beens,' he hissed, desperate to bring me down a peg or two. I felt my eyes prick with tears. We broke up soon after and he went on to marry an unthreatening woman with tidy hair and the personality of a wet rag.
And that's the thing. When it comes to love and marriage, I have watched with depressing regularity so many brilliant men choose beautiful but dull women.
No luck on the dating scene: Kate at a blind date dinner party in 2000, she's still single and believes it's because she's too clever
No luck on the dating scene: Kate at a blind date dinner party in 2000, she's still single and believes it's because she's too clever
As a friend of mine said the other week: 'Kate, you are far more likely to get ahead romantically if you push your cleavage, rather than your opinions, in a man's face.'
Perhaps she is right. But it's too late for me to change. Like a lot of career women, after years of looking after myself I have learnt to see men not as protectors but competitors.
Unlike the canny girls who learnt how to flirt with men from an early age, the brainy ones, like me, were too busy with their books to master the art of flattery. Instead we challenge rather than charm, we control rather than compromise. No wonder men find it hard to like us.
Sometimes, I wonder if the confident signals I'm giving out are at odds with what is going on inside. I long to be loved but I'm too scared to be vulnerable - I use my sharp mind to protect my all-too-soft heart against yet further rejection.
I tell myself I shouldn't have to dumb down my intelligence or omit to mention my achievements just to make myself more attractive.
But as I watch a lot of clever women morph into Stepford wives at the merest whiff of testosterone, I wonder whether, by refusing to show any chinks in my intellectual armour, I'm the one who is losing out.
I was sorely tempted to join the giggly man-pleasers last week as I watched a friend of mine, a 48-year-old, highly educated PR executive, swipe a potential suitor from under my nose with a 'dumb blonde' act.
While I ribbed and joshed with him, engaging in a battle of equals, she batted her eyelids and told him in a breathy voice how young and attractive he looked. She ended up with a glass of champagne and an invitation to dinner. I stood there glumly nursing an empty glass.
I reassured myself that I had preserved my dignity. But I couldn't help but wonder if, once again, my brain might have done too brilliant a job of protecting my heart.
Bureaucratic rules are more important than saving lives in Britain
A dedicated volunteer with the ambulance service has been sacked for breaking the speed limit during an emergency call-out.
Godfrey Smith, who has been a ‘first responder’ for 15 years, was sent to help a man in July, but bosses who later examined his ambulance’s sat-nav sacked him when it revealed he drove at 33mph in a 20mph zone.
Although Mr Smith drives a marked ambulance and provides life-saving care prior to the arrival of overstretched NHS paramedics, as a volunteer first responder he does not have the same rights to break road laws as fully-fledged ambulance drivers.
Yesterday the 64-year-old said: ‘I’m absolutely devastated. My life has revolved around volunteering and helping people when they most need it. ‘It is soul-destroying being told I can no longer do it. I feel like my heart has been ripped out.’
He was called by controllers on July 23 and sent to the St Clement’s area of Oxford to give emergency treatment to a man who had collapsed with breathing problems.
He jumped into his marked South Central Ambulance Service Land Rover to rush to the address, however, following a complaint, he was dismissed for ‘breaching road traffic law’.
Bosses who investigated the incident found data on Mr Smith’s satellite navigation system which showed he was travelling at 13mph faster than he should have done down a high street. He was also criticised for going to the right of a ‘keep left’ bollard.
But Mr Smith said the sat-nav did not pick up that the road was a new 20mph zone and was still showing a 30mph limit, and that he drove around the bollard to get past traffic.
He added: ‘If I thought it was dangerous, I wouldn’t have done it. There was no traffic coming the other way; the lights were on red.’
He said: ‘There was no thanks whatsoever for my 15 years of service. I do not condone speeding but the punishment is brutal. ‘This has hit me harder than the death of my own parents. The ambulance service has broken my heart. I have shed tears over this. It meant everything.’
The decision to dismiss him comes just three months after the same ambulance service issued an urgent plea for volunteers after its number of drivers dropped from 45 to 28.
A spokesman for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said at the time that the county needed 90 extra ambulances to meet life-saving response times targets.
During his time as a volunteer first responder, Mr Smith attended more than 2,000 call-outs and saved numerous lives, calling it the ‘most rewarding thing you can do’.
He added: ‘If there is even a slim chance of saving someone then I am there – at least they will have a chance. I get people coming up to me in the street saying “you saved my child”, or “you helped my mum.”’
Several hundred people in the Oxford area have now signed a petition calling for Mr Smith to be reinstated.
One man whose life was saved by Mr Smith condemned the decision to sack him. Father-of-two David Hatton, who was treated by Mr Smith in 2007 when he suffered a massive heart attack at home, said yesterday: ‘It is very petty. If it was not for Gof I would not be walking around today and my children would not have a father.’
Mr Smith’s son, performing arts student Matthew, 19, who also worked as a first responder, has now resigned in support of his father. He said: ‘I had to stand by my father. He has dedicated a large part of his life to the service and I know it would be difficult for him.
‘As well as his job, he would do at least 20 hours a week volunteer work with the service, and most of it was overnight. He has spent most Christmases and New Year’s Eves going out to emergencies. I can’t even tell you the last time I spent a New Year’s Eve with my father, as he has always been out on calls.’
Ambulance drivers employed by the trust have to get to 75 per cent of most serious calls in eight minutes, and the latest figures, for July, show it hit 84 per cent of its target in Oxfordshire.
A spokesman for campaign group Patient Concern said: ‘We think it’s outrageous. The priority is saving lives rather than complying with road regulations.’
A letter to Mr Smith from the trust said: ‘It is felt that your standard of driving on this occasion fell far below that required of someone driving a SCAS marked vehicle.’ SCAS refused to comment on Mr Smith’s case.
Labour is no longer the worker’s party: the TUC Congress is proof of that
The Tories should seize the chance to appeal to the moderate majority of trade union members, writes David Skelton.
“As you well know, for over 100 years, ever since Disraeli’s day, since before the Labour Party existed, it has been the belief of the Conservative Party that the law should not only permit, but that it should assist, the trades unions to carry out their legitimate function of protecting their members... You, as Conservative trade unionists, are part of the force for reason and responsibility in the movement. You are part of the majority which is both reasonable and moderate... it is for the benefit of the trades union movement, and of the whole country, that those of reason and moderation should be as active and determined in union affairs as are the extremists.”
Margaret Thatcher, 1975
It’s the TUC Congress in Bournemouth this week. There won’t be any Conservative ministers speaking at the event and, in the eyes of many, Conservatives and the trade union movement remain poles apart. But there’s a chance for Conservatives to appeal to trade union members despite disagreements with union leaders.
As the Margaret Thatcher quote above illustrates, Conservatives have a long history of supporting trade unions as institutions and appealing to trade unionists. Indeed, it was Disraeli who legalised picketing despite fierce opposition from Gladstone’s Liberals. Trade unions are in many ways conservative institutions, representing mutual help, community and the "big society". Trade unions are some of the country’s largest voluntary institutions, rather than being arms of the state. In a number of ways, they provide services that seek to provide services locally, rather than through the centralised state.
Crucially, trade unionists also have pretty conservative instincts. In 1979, more trade unionists voted for Margaret Thatcher than voted for Jim Callaghan and, in 2010, according to YouGov, more Unite members voted for the coalition parties than voted Labour. Polls have consistently shown that around a third of trade unionists vote Conservative. Recent research by Lord Ashcroft also showed that only 12 per cent of Unite members would opt to join the Labour Party as an individual member, 86 per cent support the benefit cap and that the two most popular newspapers amongst Unite members are the Conservative-supporting Daily Mail and The Sun.
How the Tories can win back the working class 14 Jul 2013
New campaign group wants Tories to freeze fuel duty and loosen planning rules in northern cities 12 Jul 2013
It’s clear that union leaders no longer represent the views of their members – engaging in political grandstanding, which their members have little sympathy with. Union leaders may adopt political causes and try to block much needed public service reform, but, it’s clear that members, who often join unions for very non-political reasons aren’t being adequately represented by their leaders. Tory politicians should be very careful to make that distinction between union leaders aand union members when they attack trade unions.
It’s equally clear that union members have little sympathy for Ed Miliband’s Labour Party – another sign that Labour has grown out of touch with the people it was established to represent. Lord Ashcroft’s polling, as well as the GMB’s decision to massively cut its funding, is proof that Labour is no longer the worker’s party. The Conservatives should step into that role.
There’s also a very practical political reason for Conservatives to take trade unions and their members more seriously. There are almost seven million trade unionists in the UK and many of them will hold the balance of power in marginal seats, especially in the North and Midlands. Two thirds of public sector workers are members of trade unions. Conservatives should be careful not to put off instinctively conservative union members through over-zealous anti-union rhetoric. Treating all trade unionists as some kind of "red under the bed" threat is both not credible and not likely to make union members more willing to listen to the Conservative message.
Conservatives should look to the example of Margaret Thatcher, who made "Conservative Trade Unionists" a thriving organisation, with around 250 branches. There’s no reason why such an organisation, with national and regional spokespeople shouldn’t exist today. The party should also follow the advice of Rob Halfon and offer free party membership to trade union members.
Just as Conservatives gave ordinary union members the right to picket and the right to ballot over industrial action, so the Conservative Party should provide trade unionists with the right to decide where their political levy goes. This would both empower ordinary union members and give the Conservatives an incentive to appeal overtly and directly to trade unionists.
It’s unrealistic to argue that the Conservatives are going to win the support of Len McCluskey or Bob Crow. But the fact that union leaders are often out of touch with their members provides an opportunity for Conservatives to appeal to union members over the heads of their leaders. The majority of trade unionists, reasonable and moderate working people, should be seen as an important part of a potential Tory electoral coalition. That will be another step to making the Conservatives the new workers’ party.
David Skelton is the founder of Renewal, a new campaign group aiming to broaden the appeal of the Conservative Party to working- class and ethnic-minority voters
Britain's judicial review system is not a promotional tool for countless Left-wing campaigners, says Justice Secretary
The professional campaigners of Britain are growing in number, taking over charities, dominating BBC programmes and swarming around Westminster.
Often, they are better paid than the people they lobby as they articulate a Left-wing vision which is neither affordable nor deliverable.
There is a steady flow of people taking up such jobs from the world of politics – former advisers and politicians joining the ranks of these serial campaigners.
In the charity sector, a whole range of former advisers from the last Government can be found in senior roles. The traffic also goes in the opposite direction, with campaigners lining up to try to become Labour MPs.
While charities inundate Westminster with campaign material, they also target the legal system as a way of trying to get their policies accepted.
One essential part of the campaigner’s armoury is the judicial review, through which it is possible for them to challenge decisions of government and public bodies in the courts. As a result, they hire teams of lawyers who have turned such legal challenges into a lucrative industry.
Judicial review has developed since the 1970s as a way for individuals to challenge decisions taken by the State. Then, there were just a few hundred cases a year. Now there are thousands.
Indeed, many are no longer just an opportunity for an individual to challenge an official decision, but are used by campaign groups as a legal delaying tactic for something they oppose. For example, they are used to stop a new development project – often delaying an innovation that would bring economic benefits and jobs.
By launching a judicial review, a project can be delayed by months or even years.
Earlier this year, my department won a case brought against us by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers which opposed a reduction in lawyers’ fees for motorists’ personal injury claims.
Other judicial reviews are launched in order to try to disrupt Government policies, such as those initiated by anti-HS2 campaigners or by those who believe it is right that taxpayers’ money should be spent on subsidising people in social housing to keep spare rooms.
Judicial reviews are also started because campaigners believe that they will get media coverage for their cause. The most bizarre case I have come across is that launched by so-called representatives of the ‘Plantagenet family’ arguing that we must have a public consultation on where the remains of Richard III – which had just been dug up from a car park in Leicester – should be buried. Is that really a sensible way for public money to be spent?
For the taxpayer often has to foot the bill for the whole process. Indeed, the last Government even paid the bills of protest groups when they lost their case.
Campaign groups have taken it for granted that courts will expect the public body involved to pick up most of the costs. But I believe that it is time we put a stop to this.
Of course, the judicial review system is an important way to right wrongs, but it is not a promotional tool for countless Left-wing campaigners. So that is why we are publishing our proposals for change.
We will protect the parts of judicial review that are essential to justice, but stop the abuse.
Britain cannot afford to allow a culture of Left-wing-dominated, single-issue activism to hold back our country from investing in infrastructure and new sources of energy and from bringing down the cost of our welfare state.
We need to make decisions quicker and respond to issues more quickly in what is a true global race.
The Left does not understand this, and believes that our society can do everything for everyone, and that those who work hard to get on in life should pick up the tab.
They want more money for public services, but at the same time to be able to halt the investments which can deliver the wealth that pays for those services.
In proposing these changes, I will no doubt be accused of killing justice and destroying Magna Carta.
Although as the great old lady of British law is approaching her 800th birthday, and the judicial review system is barely 40, I’m not sure that argument stacks up. But in proposing these changes, I know we will be doing the right thing for Britain.
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. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.