Compare and Contrast
I think I’ll start with the bad news, so you know things are going to get better. The gender-blind air of the Olympics Committee was somewhat sullied when the head of the Tokyo 2020 Games organising committee, Yoshiro Mori, aged 83, complained last week that meetings tended to drag on because “competitive” women in attendance “talked too much”. He clearly has never attended the countless meetings I was present at when one of the male participants took it upon himself to drone on unnecessarily when his actual point could have been summarised in about 3 minutes.
I was delighted to learn that Mr Mori has apologised, and more importantly has stepped aside from his role. Apparently his final act – unsuccessful I am pleased to say – was to try and shoehorn in an 84-year-old chum to replace him. Now I’m not being ageist, but my gosh he is sexist.
Moving swiftly on, here is some much better news. I doubt whether any damesnet readers had heard of Jackie Weaver any time before last Wednesday. Ms Weaver is the chief officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils. She was brought into chair an Extraordinary Meeting of Handforth parish council’s planning and environment committee. Apparently there had been accusations of poor behaviour by councillors, hence the request to Ms Weaver to chair the meeting.
As with all meetings nowadays, this was a virtual session held on Zoom and was being recorded. As the behaviour of those present began to deteriorate, Ms Weaver decided to take charge – which is exactly why she was there. She coolly removed some of the noisier male participants from the meeting, prompting outrage and insult. We only know about this due to some of the local residents deciding to make the recording public. It went viral and she became a feminist heroine overnight.
Now composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has released a musical ode to the chief officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils, inspired by her cool handling of the chaotic Zoom meeting. He released the song on Instagram, captioning it: “A song for Jackie Weaver, we all love you!”
The composer plays the piano and Carrie Hope Fletcher sings, with lyrics by Don Black. The chorus hails Weaver as “Britain’s answer to the American dream” and “the role model we all strive to be. She doesn’t want a medal, just a nice cup of tea”. You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HBABHh4LXU
So there you have it. The 21st century, and blatant sexism is alive and well. I am once again reminded of one of my favourite Punch cartoons drawn by Riana Duncan in 1988: ‘That’s an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.’
I am determined to end on a more upbeat note, one that demonstrates the compassionate side of the male psyche. I was at a business meeting at the HQ of SNCF, the French railway company in Paris, where I was the sole female present. We broke for lunch and all the participants headed off down a corridor in one direction. I gamely followed, until we got to a small door through which all the guys were heading. I was just about to follow suit when the man in front of me turned round and said gently: ‘It’s probably better that you don’t follow us at this point’. It was the Gents’ toilet.