Sunday, 10 February 2013
And now it's struck me that most of the stereotypes have a distinctly male bias, I recoil from them even more. They're not only simplistic but firmly stuck in some sexist past that doesn't exist any more.
Think of Britishness and what comes to mind?
1) Football. Both players and supporters predominantly male.
2) Cricket. Even more so.
3) Pubs. Still mainly a male preserve, despite the rising number of heavy-drinking women.
4) Wars. Largely started by men, fought by men and supported by men.
5) John Bull. The archetypal Englishman - stout, middle-aged and jolly.
6) The bulldog. Tough, rugged, fierce, intimidating. Masculine, you might say.
7) The stiff upper lip. The traditionally male tendency to suppress your emotions and soldier on.
8) Suits and bowler hats. The customary uniform of the male civil servant.
9) Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. A good hearty meal for hard-working men. Though prepared by women, bless 'em.
10) The Union Flag. Symbolising conquest and the imposing of superior values on Johnny Foreigner. A strong whiff of the masculine, I think.
If the government wants us all to be proud of our Britishness, it might help if they gave the familiar image a rather more androgynous and gender-neutral flavour instead of the current phallocentric overtones.
It's hard to see how any woman could feel remotely British if these are the things she's meant to enthuse about. If on the other hand, Britishness referred to lip gloss, cupcakes, pencil skirts and chihuahuas....