Saturday 20 January 2018

Strictly Come Dancing: Where men can be men

WITH chaps in charge on the dance floor, no wonder so many of them want to appear on the TV show.

How refreshing it was to discover that Strictly’s pulling power lies not in its glitterball spangles, fudge-thick patina of fake tan or even Lulu, bless her tiny hooves, trotting about wildly like a demented Shetland pony in urgent need of Ritalin, but the intoxicating miasma of Sexism.

Close your eyes – no quickly open them again, see, it’s Edwina C’s big red pants! – and breathe in the pungent, husky, musky aroma of testosterone, albeit incongruously gift-wrapped in enough Swarovski-studded Lycra to dress a Rio carnival of Thai ladyboys.

They may, at first glance, look like camply mincing cissies – well, maybe not Brobdingnagian Audley Harrison, whom I certainly wouldn’t wish to upset. But according to an audience survey, it’s the old fashioned boy-meets-girl-and-takes-the-lead-in-the-foxtrot-because-that’s-what-men-do reassurance of it all that makes the show such a ratings winner. Outrageous? No, evolution.

If you look beyond the cheesiness, you have to admit it’s a tragic indictment of 21st-century manhood that such formulaic role-playing – assertive chap bends pliant, pretty partner to his will, and to a syrupy syncopated beat – is so darned appealing. Like it or not (and I’m donning my tin hat right now), with our empowerment has come their emasculation.

Yes, I know it’s their own fault. It’s always their own fault. But the fact of the matter is, women end up having to shoulder even more of life’s burdens as their supine, self-pitying, over-domesticated menfolk grow ever more paralysed by their apparent obsolescence in a society where women are able to hunt, gather, sweep out the cave, rear children and assemble flatpack furniture. We always could, of course, it’s just previous generations were less obvious about it.

A male friend, who is due to marry his fiercely ambitious girlfriend – the sort of City high flier that women find inspirational and men find terrifying – was on his stag weekend recently, when his friends staged a whiteboard presentation. Alongside the usual baby pictures and 1980s fashion faux pas, was an advert for Neuticles, which caused endless mirth. Neuticles are testicle implants for pets, which are marketed at macho types reluctant to have their dog or cat castrated because they would appear diminished by the loss of their – you get the gist.

These nifty silicon prostheses have seemingly been used for humans, too, and the implication was that if the henpecked bridegroom couldn’t grow some, he’d have to buy some, even if it was just for show. Ouch.

Over on Strictly, even man-eaters like Nancy D have been tamed by the quaint insistence that it is chaps who are in charge, which perhaps explains why so many high-profile men are keen to appear on the programme; to discover, just for the fleeting length of a samba, what life would be like in the wild.

No wonder men are so attached to their Smartphones, which, like their laydee feels nice and looks nice, but unlike their laydee always does their bidding, doesn’t answer back and can be upgraded to a younger model any time. All of which makes me wonder whether the speaking iPhone 4S will find favour with the strong, silent contingent.

Sometimes, although it may not seem like it, three is the perfect number in any relationship, as an addiction to texting, emailing and Tweeting obviates the need to Talk About the Future, Share Feelings or any of the other dread stuff that makes blokes turn to stone before our gaze and sounds the death knell for their last batsqueak of masculinity.

Yet the irony is that women want real men every bit as much as men want real women. So maybe if we pretend, they will, too. Just look at Strictly, where the secret of happy togetherness is give, take, rictus smiles and a tacit agreement that sometimes it’s a man’s right and responsibility to lead – if only for three minutes at a time.

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