BEAUTY & THE BEAST
“Gone are the days of gentry where girls lived a quiet and shielded existence, unable to become intimately acquainted with members of the opposite sex until she became of age…Today’s girl knows what she wants and she wants it now.”
How are you this fine autumn morning? Did you wake up serene or are there things weighing on your mind?
Of all the things could potentially ruin the tranquillity of your Sunday snooze, would any of them be the cost of food?
Apparently, a recent WHICH? survey (of 2028 people) has found that almost 8 out of 10 UK shoppers are worried about the increasing cost of food, with 45% spending more of their available income at the supermarket compared to a year ago.
Hardly a big revelation.
I dare say that the majority of the UK population (and that of the rest of the world) worries about the increasing cost of anything, especially food, and that’s not just those living on the brink of the poverty line, but also the middle classes and even the stingy penny pinchers with millions in the bank. It’s a way of life. Especially now with stagnating salaries and the recession syndrome without which many business and media company appear incapable of functioning.
The only people who appear to be immune to the ongoing recession are the Friday and Saturday night revellers, you know the ones, the night dwellers out for a ‘good laugh’, up to get ‘smashed’ and eager to quench the thirst of the week (or longer) sex drought.
I am, of course, talking about the female of the species.
Yes, lock up your preconceived ideas and ground all of your stereotypes, girls are not only looking out but they are also doing it for themselves, be that wild nights in Ibiza or a weekend in Scunthorpe, the battle of the sexes is well and truly on; today’s girl will sooner drink you rather than play footsie under the proverbial table.
Yes, binge drinking is on the rise but not in men, in women.
The government advises a daily alcohol guideline of 3-4 unites for men and 2-3 units for women. The reason for this disparity is nothing to do with equality of course but with the fact that men and women are physically built differently; women’s bodies unable to process alcohol as efficiently as men’s. Yet, recent surveys have found that the average binge sitting for a male is minimum of six drinks which is closely followed by that of a female with a minimum of five.
Staggering when you consider that 1 in 40 deaths are from liver disease with most of these attributed to alcohol.
The scary thing is that this kind of behaviour is on the rise, particularly with students who are increasingly viewing binge drinking as a badge of honour, a new kind of cool.
Cool used to be smoking, with extra coolness taking place in 1950s America, rapidly spilling over the pond with screen icons such as Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, Audrey Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich. With such role models, young people clamoured to be seen with some of the latest brand offerings from tobacco giants, such as Philip Morris, whose Marlboro brand spawned the marketing sensation that was the Marlboro Man. By the late 1950s, half of the population of industrialised nations were ‘infected’. In the UK, 80% of adults were hooked on the cheap and socially acceptable pastime and would seldom be seen without one of the proverbial ‘cancer sticks’ dangling from their mouths oblivious that they were cheerfully and deliberately poisoning their bodies and putting their lives at risk, that was until rumours started to spread about a link between tobacco and serious lung disease. Naturally, the conglomerate tobacco companies fought back against such rumours The cigarette brand , Camel, famously claimed in their advertising that “more doctors smoke Camel than any other brand”. That was, of course, until one doctor, British scientist Richard Doll, finally made the link between lung cancer and smoking. Suddenly, smoking became uncool but it was too late, millions were already hooked, and the battle, between health organisations and tobacco brands, to wean addicts off the cancer sticks began.
It started in California with the fight to protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of second hand smoking by banning smoking in public places, it ended with the eventual ban in 1995. This movement was buoyed by the case of Diane Castano who in 1994 sued the tobacco industry in the largest potential class action suit of its kind with no less than an armada of 60 lawyers, paving the way for other claims.
Finally, on the 1st July 2005, smoking, on the tail of Wales in April 2005 and Scotland the previous year, was banned from most enclosed spaces in England.
In just under seven decades, smokers had gone from sophisticates to pariahs, skulking in alley ways and loitering outside of buildings, the crazies who knowingly and willingly poison their bodies.
Move over nicotine, there’s a new cool in town.
Alright, so maybe new isn’t exactly the operative words since recreational (and social) alcohol consumption has been around for centuries and is clearly much more fun. For many young (and older) men, there’s nothing cooler than going out with a bunch of mates and seeing just how many watering holes (otherwise known as pubs) you can get round on the proverbial ‘pub crawl’, so called because of the amount of booze consumed that renders the indulger pretty much unsteady on his legs, ‘legless’, and thus theoretically only able to crawl to the next destination to get absolutely ‘hammered’ or ‘plastered’. This has and will most likely continue to be the favourite pastime of millions of men up and down the country.
Stag dos, holidays, 18-30 ‘adventures’, even the humble ‘party’ are somehow left wanting if they do not feature copious amounts of alcohol. Indeed, a great night is often defined by the amount of alcohol consumed and the level of antics that took place, such as being stripped naked and abandoned in the middle of nowhere, encouraging a friend to cop off with somebody three times their age and then mocking them for it, falling off a balcony, falling into a gutter, drinking and using urine as a paint brush, it’s all part of one massively hilarious evening.
And yes, you’d be forgiven again for thinking that I am talking about boys (or men). I’m actually talking about girls (women). There used to be time where it was ‘believed’ that just boys behaved with such hedonistic abandonment and that girls were ‘much more sensible’. Sadly, more and more, it’s becoming obvious that this is no longer the case.
It seems that the battle for equality has undergone a major shift, from civil rights to working rights, to ‘party rights’? There’s no shame and not social pressure for girls to behave any better than boys.
And why should they?
Gone are the days of gentry where girls lived a quiet and shielded existence unable to attend official gatherings or become intimately acquainted with members of the opposite sex before her sixteenth birthday. In the company of adults, they were expected to speak only when spoken to. Then, as sixteen, a girl would be be introduced to society via an official ball where would be suitors were only allowed to pay attention to the girl who was believed to be ‘coming out’ with the view to establishing her eligibility. Asking a girl if she was ‘out’ was not an option. Once ‘out’, a girl would be able to attend formal dinner parties and converse with boys but only if they were ‘known’ to the family.
Courtship would take place via a series of visits to the young lady’s home but would seldom take place without a chaperone.
A young lady would only become eligible for marriage at the age of twenty one.
Fast forward a few centuries and things have moved on somewhat. The act of ‘courtship’ is almost as rare as the word itself
Today’s girl doesn’t wait for her sweet sixteenth birthday to start conversing with or appreciating both the delights of the opposite sex, be that on TV, in the movies, on the internet or in the flesh. There really isn’t much left to the imagination, and those few parents who believe that their children, raised in an industrialised world, remain pure of mind much beyond their 13th birthday are sorely mistaken.
There’s a rebellion underway here. Today’s girl doesn’t wait for anything to be introduced or given to her. She either asks for or takes it. She doesn’t shy away from those things that are probably best ignored until she comes of age nor does she wait for the opposite sex to make the first move, it is she who is on the offensive and that’s because today’s girl is all too often today’s woman; aunty, mother, lover and house maker, thrown into adulthood before she even has the capacity to understand it.
Of course, many of you mother’s out will most likely be recoiling in horror at the very thought, the very generalisation that your baby should be anything but that. If you are, then congratulate yourselves because you are one of the few. The very few who believe that children should remain children until they do come of age. The few who accept and believe that today’s modern world may take place well outside of the confines of a Jane Austen novel but that doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable for a prepubescent teenager to be wandering the streets well after dark, watching the TV until late, trawling the web until the early hours, entertaining members of the opposite sex in their room unsupervised or indulging in intoxicating substances with abandonment.
This blog often talks about today’s emasculated male. The hunter who is now more than often the hunted, thanks to a new female revolution that doesn’t burn bras but instead spits in the face of society’s laws of female decorum. Is there any wonder that are men have become mice?
A cat will chase a toy because the chase activates its reward system. The same is true of humans. In fact, research conducted by Brian Knutson of Stanford University shows that just looking at the object of our desire activates neurotransmitters that release dopamine (pleasure reward signals form the brain). The research shows that we don’t just feel rewarded by obtaining, achieving or consuming the object of our desire but we also receive reward in the anticipation of it. It’s one of the very reasons why we feel euphoric at the thought of a reunion with a long lost loved one or anything else that we’ve been yearning for. This is also true of those who enjoy window shopping. The love of the endless gaze of the unobtainable. I can safely say that I’m not one of them. For me, the very fact that something is unobtainable becomes in itself an anti-climax.
Many will argue that the battle for equality isn’t over but I don’t believe that’s true. It seems to me that females have been trying so hard to achieve equality with males that they don’t realise they’ve actually already become them. This is indicated by the fact that the stereotypes that used to be attributed exclusively to men now apply to women. The sex hunt, the pub crawls, the hen nights that are often stag dos in reverse, the girly holidays defined by sun, sand, alcohol and bed notches, urinating in the streets, being arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct, and so on.
I’m writing today’s blog from the comfort of my hotel room that’s because I was out in London last night, celebrating the birthday of a very dear friend of mine by treating her to a Thames river cruise meal. It was a fantastic evening. At one point, my friend and my sister decided to climb top deck and re-enact the scene from Titanic (as you do), hugging each other and yelling “I’m the king of the world!” I snapped a picture and posted it to Facebook. One of the comments assumed that masses of alcohol had been consumed. I can reliably that my sister doesn’t even drink! Which proves, you don’t have to get ”legless’ to have fun. You just need the imagination.
A lady is only ever a lady when she behaves like one.