Monday, 30 November -0001

The Lady Guide to Modern Manners: 1 May

There is still a great divide in the way that the sexes treat one another. Thomas Blaikie steps into the fray

Written by Thomas Blaikie
Dear Thomas,
I hesitate to mention the forthcoming election, but isn’t it strange that certain women seem to have decided that Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are sex objects? A woman in Cheadle told Clegg that he’s ‘better looking in real life’, and a hen party in Knutsford mobbed Miliband’s bus, desperate for sel­fies. If these party leaders were women there would be outrage at this sort of behaviour.
Deborah Wooley, London

Dear Deborah,
There appears to be something in the air or in the water in the northwest, where both these incidents occurred. You’re quite right to say that no women politicians could ever be treated in this way. I wonder why?

It has emerged that both these men have something of a past. Nick Clegg, years ago, revealed in a rather Casanova-ish fashion that he had slept with about 30 women. Now we’re finding out rather more about Ed’s previous bedroom adventures. By political standards, they’re not bad-looking and moderately young. There might well be a genuine erotic charge but the woman in Cheadle in particular was just being cheeky and hoped perhaps to cause embarrassment, which she apparently did. Miliband, bowing to pressure from the hen party to make an appearance at the door of his bus, was said to look sheepish.

So it’s okay for women to …flirt blatantly with men, either to make them look silly or to attract them or both. Men must not behave in this way towards women, however. Powerful women turn on the feminine charm when it suits them. Denis Healey once discovered Mrs Thatcher, in a red taˆffeta gown, draped attractively on the staircase at Claridge’s. In 1972, the Queen lay on a sheepskin rug given her by the Australian PM, Gough Whitlam, and declared it lovely to stroke. He later said that Her Majesty had a good pair of legs. No more was heard of his plans for an Australian Republic – for a while at least.

Even so the treatment of Clegg and Miliband depressingly reveals that the sexes are still not equal. These two excite sexual interest, however satirical, because they are known to have had a number of partners. Cameron has always been just a boring old married man. In other words, men get credit for raunchy carry-on, which would be condemned in a woman. If that woman were also trying to do a job, people would start saying she wasn’t up to it. Still, women are made to feel that they must prove themselves at work. If Nicola Sturgeon were mobbed by a male rugby team, then allowed herself to be photographed with them, it wouldn’t only be embarrassing, it would be damaging.

Please send your questions to thomas.blaikie@lady.co.uk or write to him at The Lady, 39-40 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9ER

WHAT TO DO ABOUT... BAD DRIVING

In our cars, we alter. We become more selfish and we think we can get away with bad behaviour. Nobody can see us, after all. Nobody knows us. We can get away with it. More and more I notice, especially in a crowded urban environment, that those having to wait at a junction to join another, busier road, will not wait. They will not wait until there is an appropriate gap before advancing. They barge out into oncoming traffic, which they expect to slow down or even stop to make way for them. They have acquired this habit from situations where there is gridlock and the only way to get out is to nose forward and hope that a kindly driver on the other road will grant them passage – which in the circumstances they usually will.

But where there is no gridlock and with patience it will be possible to join the other road, why is it necessary to barge out? I’ve even had a car pull out in front of me when behind my vehicle was a goodly gap into which that car could have driven safely and with ease. But no, the driver could not wait.


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