’Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Well, it’s certainly not ‘SuperMAN’!’ An article published in the Sunday Times entitled ‘POW! TAKE THAT, LOWLY MAN!’ claims that although women are still struggling for equality, ‘recent studies indicate that they are outperforming men in everything from DIY to education’.
So why, if ‘women outperform men in everything’ do they still struggle for equality? And why do we still see gender inequalities within so many old established institutions? What gets in the way of absolute equity within genders throughout the world?
The archaic meaning of the word ‘fear’ is a mixed feeling of dread and ‘reverence’! Could it be that our male ancestors feared the natural progression of woman, and hence fabricated mythical laws to curtail any progressive development for fear that, if not controlled, woman may indeed one day take over the world, and slowly re-posses the man’s inviolability of world domination? Is this then truly a ‘man’s world’?
Sadly, today in the 21st century, we still see many old and modern institutions governed by old archaic traditions. Gentlemen-only clubs, the old establishments of the 1800s, set criteria for membership from old mentalities of the Victorian era, when lifestyles, education, and the laws of fairness, freedom and equality were, to a degree, non-existent. The Athenaeum Club in London was founded in 1823 for men “…of distinguished eminence in Science, Literature, the Arts, or for Public Service”. The Carlton catered for the whims of the Conservative party members. Brooke’s, founded in 1764, was originally set up as a meeting place for the ‘Whigs’, a political party which supported aristocracy, and wealthy merchants. White’s, established in 1693, was the unofficial headquarters of the Tory party. And the Garrick club in London first opened its doors to ‘gentlemen’ in 1831 as a place where “actors and men of refinement and education might meet on equal terms”. Today, with all the Government support with laws making discrimination unlawful, there are still many doors firmly shut to women. Maria Miller, Britain’s Minister for Women and Equalities, has certainly got her work cut out!
There is no disputable doubt that at the time of opening these prestigious buildings there may have been some validity in such adages, because in the 1800’s, women were not considered to be on equal terms with their male counterparts. In fact, they were considered as domestic servants, with no more legal rights than that of a child. Educationally, they were controlled and not allowed the opportunity to study. Those who did were ridiculed, and shamed. ‘Control those you fear!’ Ironically even today, these clubs still refuse to allow women members. They are staunch advocates that the club should remain female free. Women will only be accepted as guests of their male members, and interestingly as cleaners and cooks!
Gender inequality hits every area of our world, not least in the world of sport. In 1896, women were not allowed to compete in the world’s 1st modern Olympics, and in 1921, the Football Association banned women’s football. When it comes to sport, however, Britain is a passionate race. St. Georges flags fly by the dozen, and blood boils when we suspect fowl play. We, as spectators, are in it for the joy, the patriotism, and the comradely of the game and country. But sadly we often stoically witness the demise of yet another sporting dream, another lost match. The despair is felt by both sexes, but is usually directed at our male counterparts! It was the England Rugby squad who were adorned by a fusillade of roses as they were paraded through the streets of London after a magnificent win in 2003, and it’s always the men’s England football team which we fly the flag for. Women are slowly getting the recognition they deserve but sadly public support at large stadiums is poor. This year, the men’s England v New Zealand match was a sellout, whereas the women’s was embarrassingly sparse, supported by what seemed to be purely friends and family. Our ladies England Rugby team beat New Zealand 16-13.
This country has seen a great deal of changes in the world of sport. February 2007 saw the end of 123 years of inequality through un-equal pay at Wimbledon, when they finally closed the doors to their un-equitable traditions and offered both participating genders the same reward for their achievements. Another great British institution is the MCC, founded in 1787, which was the original governing body of cricket in England and across the world, ‘was traditionally a men’s only club’ until September 1998 when the government threatened to cut lottery funding on the grounds that the club was being sexist, ending 212 years of male exclusivity. But there are many sporting institutions, which still choose to retain the old archaic tradition of male exclusivity, most topically, golf. Augusta in the US finally welcomed women in 2012, after 80 years of ‘men-only’ rule. Muirfield in Edinburgh still refuses to accept women members. Clegg claims it’s ‘Inexplicable’ Muirfield does not accept women! The award winning Canadian writer, Curtis Gillespie, describes men-only clubs as “arrogant, misogynistic and discriminatory”.
We are all entitled to live in this world under equal terms, but do we not sometimes confuse one’s rights to equality over one’s freedom to choose? We are all, at times, at liberty to insist on free space away from men, women, and the world if we so choose. But one needs to establish the objectives behind the single gender ruling in order to determine whether the rules are in fact discriminatory, or just simply, the right to choose!
The gender debate goes back centuries, and will always be a fiery topic for discussion. According to the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were both created equal, but it was Adam who was forbidden to eat from the ‘tree of knowledge’. I stumbled across a fabulous quote on the Internet, “Sure, God created man before woman, but then again you always make a rough draft before creating the final masterpiece”. Also, there is archaeological evidence to suggest that women, from as far back as the stone ages, played a full and equal role in daily life. In fact during the Palaeolithic Period, women were believed to have had considerably more importance in society, and were clearly the possessor of dominance at the time; and that a matriarchy existed and women ruled.
In conclusion, I would say to all you single gender clubs of the world, who do not welcome women to join in the game, control through fear is not power! Play it fair, play it equal.