Thursday 29 September 2016

Commonsense the first casualty in gender wars

Joe Barry

Published 08/06/2016 | 02:30

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Gender equality or sex equality, is the view that both men and women should receive equal treatment and not be discriminated against based on their gender.

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It is an issue that crops up frequently and most often when politicians feel it is to their advantage to promote "equality". We continually hear of the need for gender quotas on the boards of management of companies and in the Dáil, yet I cannot see why they are necessary or should ever be compulsory.

In both business and politics, women seem to be doing quite nicely without any interference from their male counterparts.

The branch of the bank I deal with is staffed entirely by women from the manager down and I haven't heard anyone complaining about a lack of men or indeed of male rights. Why should they?

The ladies in this particular branch are just as capable as their male predecessors. There aren't enough of them however, thanks to bank staffing cutbacks and the policy of forcing us to use machines rather than speaking to a real person.

But that is another issue and I for one have no problem with the current staffing set up.

In 2016, unlike 50 years ago, a rapidly increasing number of top paid executives in global companies are women and they are in those positions because as individuals, they are the best available.

Unlike politics or the civil service, in the world of commercial business people get promoted or demoted on their ability and performance. Men and women are equal and this fact is accepted throughout most of the developed world.

The days when women were deprived of basic rights such as the right to vote are long gone but there are still people who want to keep the issue of equality at the forefront of media discussions. Many complaints regarding equal rights and gender balance are downright silly and they should be treated as such.

A classic example of the so called gender war is the uproar that followed a vote taken recently by the members of the world famous Muirfield golf club in Scotland to continue to exclude women from membership.

It has only allowed men to be full members since its foundation 125 years ago and is an important venue, having hosted the British Open Championship on 16 occasions since 1892.

In response to the protests regarding the vote, Golf's governing body, the quaintly named Royal and Ancient said it would no longer stage the Open "at a venue that does not admit women as members".

My own reaction on reading this was so what?

Who cares what rules the members of some Scottish golf club decide to abide by? They have been happily using the same rules for over a century. Why don't the women start their own club if they feel the need for one? Predictably, the issue raised a torrent of abuse from politicians such as British PM, David Cameron and even our own Rory McIlroy (pictured), both of whom have to appear to be seen to be "politically correct". It does ask serious questions however regarding the rights of the individual to gather and socialise in the surroundings and company of their choice.

Does the Irish Countrywomen's Association want men as members? A ridiculous question as it was formed for the benefit of women and hopefully will continue for many years providing the services and facilities that allow women to share common interests and socialise together. Should the Men's Shed movement be criticised for not catering for women members? Should it be called the "Persons" Shed?

This is of course, another nonsensical concept but clearly, a lot of people take it seriously. As ever, money talks and the commercial sponsors that golf depends on cannot be seen to support anything that might upset their female customers. Speaking on BBC radio, the well-known golfer and TV commentator Peter Alliss predictably said the issue was "a very emotive subject" and added "I believe clubs were formed years ago by people of like spirit.

"They joined to socialise and talk amongst themselves. I want to join the WVS (Women's Voluntary Service) but unless I have a few bits and pieces nipped away on my body I'm not going to be able to get in."

I wonder what God would think of all this. Perhaps someone should ask her.

It's good for the goose but not the gander!

I first learnt to swim properly in the famous Forty Foot swimming area in Sandycove in Co Dublin. Flann O'Brien mentioned it in At Swim Two Birds as did James Joyce in the opening section of Ulysses where he referred to "The Scrotumtightening Sea".

An appropriate description given that the water off the coast of Ireland is usually bloody freezing. In those days it was a men only establishment where the male of the species could strip off in peace and in relative privacy.

Inevitably, in the 1970s a group of women's rights protestors invaded the premises and proceeded to swim and sunbathe there.

This only served to embarrass a group of mostly elderly men who were in the habit of swimming there daily with one or two dressed only in their birthday suits. Did they not have rights also?

Incidentally, according to the literature of the Irish Countrywomen's Association, the objects of the Association are to bring women together in fellowship and through co-operative effort, to develop and improve the standard of rural and urban life in Ireland. Good for them and what a wonderful aspiration. Just please don't complain when men attempt to do something similar.

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