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Perplexed by his high-powered lesbian colleagues, a diamond geezer in the excellent TV series This Life asks: "Where is Radclyffe Hall?"
Where indeed? Away with the fairies, that's where.
The Well of Loneliness was one of those worthy books that one was supposed to read. I tried it and got bored. This is probably my fault, but understandable at the time. I was working long hours in a demanding, precarious and tedious job. I felt little sympathy with a character, "invert" or not, who had a private income and nothing to do all day but find herself and get depressed.
Speaking of self-indulgent, whining bints with nothing to moan about, Virginia Woolf gets a free pass from normally sensible ex-northerner, Jeanette Winterson. (See Theodore Dalrymple's scathing comments on Woolf's "servant problem" for a more realistic view.) Winterson thinks Orlando is “sexy, provocative and tantalising”:
It has every power to suggest that a commitment to gender is a waste of half a life.
Perhaps Orlando is sexy, provocative and tantalising - I haven't read it. But if it suggests that "a commitment to gender is a waste of half a life", then it is silly.
Leaving aside the absurd phrase "commitment to gender", or "genre" as our winning apprentice would call it, this “half a life” thing makes no sense to me. Those magazine articles you see, where a woman lives "as a man" for a day, or vice versa, make no sense either. If I were to spend a typical day - office, pub/theatre/eat, home/eat, TV, blog, bed - "as a man", the main difference for me would be that I would use a different toilet. Much would be the same. I would get up, put on trousers and a shirt (but I call it a top), go to work and so forth. Of course, if I were a man, I would be able to speak forthrightly, and make dirty jokes. Oh, wait…
Many women's lives are different from mine. I have no children, and little interest in make-up. I don't claim to speak for all women or about all men. But generally, I have far more in common with an enlightened Western man - and wear less make-up than some - than with a Saudi or Somali woman.
Islam sees men and women as different species. Ne’er the twain shall meet – at least not as equals. Even the men in Islam waste half a life, and the women have their whole lives wasted for them.
The battle of the sexes must surely take second place to the battle for civilisation.