The feminists have had a field day. The Women’s Rugby World Cup final was last Saturday, and weren’t we made to know it. Never mind that England’s wimmin lost, the media’s obliging deference to the feminist demand for equal attention and respect for women’s sport was a victory for gender politics.
That, I would surmise, more than its novelty value, was why practically every newspaper featured generous spreads on England’s rugby amazons. O2’s ‘Win or lose, we wear the rose’ PC campaign bought two full-page advertisements to promote these statement-making ‘he’ girls. The BBC’s Today programme needed no incentive to lend its airtime. From the excited coverage you’d have thought we were building up to Jonny Wilkinson’s winning drop goal at the 2003 World Cup final.
That such drama never materialised was neither here nor there. Though few men cared and fewer watched – men are still the predominant sports watchers – despite all those ‘compulsory’ female TV sports reporters, obedient journalists insisted that England’s defeated team had inspired the nation. And feminists could chalk up another notch on their anti-patriarchal bedpost.
Whatever the fantasy forced on us, gender differences in sport are not the artificial constructs feminists would have us believe. Men are better at sport, they like it more and they watch it more. What’s more, both sexes prefer watching male sport. All of which boils down to a simple scientific truth. It’s called evolution and, like it or not, it still tips the balance in favour of males.
A media that lets gender politics trump science can blind itself to other truths too, notably some of the less heroic consequences of feminist ideology.
To take but one: the wimmin’s rugby celebrations last weekend relegated the problem of pregnant women’s drinking to the sidelines. No feminist theorist stepped up to take ownership of this story, that UK mums are reported to be among the world’s worst for harming their babies during pregnancy by drinking.
The fact that four times more children in the UK suffer alcohol-related birth defects than the global average warranted neither a Today feature nor an investigative spread. Drink is not a feminist issue. No reporters were sent scurrying about to find out why modern British women so wilfully damage their unborn babies, or why they are turning their backs on their reproductive role and responsibilities.
Yet evidence is all around that they are – from delayed conception and declining birth rates (to all but immigrant mothers) to the collapse of breastfeeding; from the ever-earlier offloading of babies into childcare to the diminishing time mothers spend with their children.
We know why. All things maternity-related are negated, denied or devalued. Motherhood is not even a second-class activity any longer. It can be delegated, it is thought. That’s why so few mothers in this country breastfeed, and for such a pitifully short time, to the detriment of their children’s health. It is not poverty. They no longer know how to.
No wonder so many women have ignorantly come believe (often against their instinctive judgment) that their maternal care is not unique or that to put tiny infants into third-party institutional childcare is fine because it ‘socialises’ them. This is what comes of 40 years of feminist indoctrination.
Do we ever hear feminists coming round to defend the domestic sphere or demand a revaluation of maternity and motherhood in light of mothers’ rights and babies’ needs? No, we do not.
Back in the 1990s, when the warning lights were shining, and with the day care juggernaut taking off, I could not get even one woman MP actively to support a lobby I set up for full-time motherhood. Some of their replies verged on the abusive.
The only reproductive right feminist seemed concerned about then, as now, was the right to curtail or terminate it – so called female autonomy or abortion rights.
Everything from the ‘under-utilisation of women in the workforce’ to gender parity demands in the workplace, from equality of sports access to gender parity on the sports pitch, regardless of interest or ability, continues to be accorded far more importance than protecting or caring about women’s fundamental reproductive and maternal roles.
The difference now is that the impact of this regressive and careless thinking is ever more difficult to ignore. It shows up in statistics on infant and child health, mental health and welfare.
British women have never been more removed from their maternal role, nor so desensitised to their infants’ needs. There is no domestic sphere left to learn in.
Instead of facing the truth, panicky female commentators feed female anxiety, making reproduction seem ever more alien. There is nothing normal about giving birth, Bryony Gordon warned recently.
‘I don’t need a baby to be happy,’ a defiant 45-year-old author insists after the disappointment of failed (post-age 40) IVF treatment.
Forget those old ‘joys of motherhood’ articles: these are dangerous topics today. The ever-present fear of offending the increasing number of childless women has made them all but taboo.
Feminism may have indoctrinated women out of their reproductive responsibilities. But even if men wanted to, they cannot replace these intrinsically female functions. It is wishful thinking. Men can no more be mothers than women rugby players can become Jonny Wilkinson.
But if society wants to write a suicide note, ignoring drunken pregnant mothers while celebrating feminist sporting fantasies is as good a way to start as any.