A contented life comprises many small pleasures, each relished when by happy chance it comes our way. For me, the most exquisite of delights is to stand back and observe the metropolitan elite in one of its fits of uncomprehending rage. It gladdens the heart.
And so I doff a grateful, slightly awed hat to broadcaster and journalist Michael Buerk, whose comments about the feminisation of society caused copies of The Guardian to fall from nerveless fingers the length and breadth of Islington. To say he had touched a nerve is to understate the case: it was as though a member of the papal curia had suddenly taken it into his head to denounce the Apostles’ Creed.
In modish circles, feminism is not so much an article of faith as an assumption so deeply embedded in the consciousness as to be axiomatic, just as communism was in Soviet Russia. Small wonder, then, that when told of Buerk’s view that society is dominated by female values, Anna Ford dismissed him as “bonkers”. In Stalinist Russia, too, dissidents were deemed mentally ill. On the Today programme, beside herself with rage, Sarah Montague shouted Buerk down with shrill cries of “Can you be serious?”. I haven’t laughed so much since the television presenter and feminist icon Esther Harpy-Robinson fell off the plastic surgeon’s operating table and broke her nose in two places.
Of course Buerk was serious. It is plain to anyone not blinded by political correctness that we are today living in a country where to be born male is to come second in life’s race. Advertising leads the way, with men in commercials portrayed as dispensable idiots. Women have taken over many of the top jobs in the media, so naturally TV and newspapers tend to reflect female interests and preferences. This is not to everyone’s liking. It might explain why we no longer have a single serious newspaper in Britain; it may also account for the dominance of “lifestyle” programmes on television.
The former director-general of the BBC Alistair Milne certainly thinks so. A year ago, he caused a Buerkian shudder in metropolitan circles by saying: “The television service has largely been run by women for the past four or five years and they don’t seem to have done a great job of work. There is no innovation, constant makeovers, and far too many cookery and gardening programmes. Dumb, dumb, dumb.”
Nothing has been heard of him since. Was he led away with gyves on his wrists to one of those grim gulags said to exist in the North, where men are condemned for ever to sit in dim clubs, drinking flat beer, drawing on stale roll-ups and listening to stand-up comics reciting: “Y’know, I haven’t spoken to my wife in years – I don’t like to interrupt.”
Such is the fury triggered in the feminist orthodoxy by heretical comments such as Buerk’s that few pay attention to what is actually said. This was his subsequent apologia: “I didn’t say women ruled the world. I didn’t say that would be a bad thing even if they did. I did say that women increasingly set the agenda in business, in politics, in the media, in society at large, that women’s values are now considered superior to men’s values.”
In other words, the pendulum has swung too far from one extreme to the other, and in so doing has skittled many of the old notions of masculinity. Men who bleach their hair, wear diamond earrings and experience phantom pregnancies are adornments of this post-feminist utopia. Men also spend millions each year on cosmetics, or so I am told. What evidence we have suggests that most of that was accounted for by the Prime Minister.
Feminism will truly have triumphed when men pass the cellulite test, a measure of societal integration as telling as Lord Tebbit’s cricket test. You will have noticed that for all the Advertising Standards Authority’s sniffy dismissal of L’OrÃ©al’s anti-cellulite cream and EstÃ©e Lauder’s Body Performance Anti-cellulite Visible Contouring Serum, both companies continue to claim more than 80 per cent customer satisfaction. It may not work, but women like it.
Cellulite occurs when fat cells beneath the skin enlarge with age, push through the connecting fibres, which stay the same size, and give the effect of a balloon being blown through a string vest. Men can develop cellulite but it is not so visible because their fat cells are deeper seated and their body hair covers it up.
But only when men use anti-cellulite creams that do not work and claim themselves to be wholly satisfied with the results will we have achieved the complete feminisation of Britain so eagerly sought by PR girls everywhere and so dreaded by Buerk.