Helen Martin: 60-somethings’ attitudes shame us all

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I AM ashamed to be in my 60s. I can cope with the wrinkles, the middle-age spread and the complete absence of wolf-whistles or interested looks.

I can acknowledge that my capacity for wine is shrinking and I’ve resigned myself to earlier bedtimes to the extent that, with the exception of Question Time, I rarely watch anything on television that starts after 9pm.

I can flick through a celebrity mag, failing to recognise any of the “superstars” featured, or to figure out what they’ve done to become “stellar” in the first place. All that’s perfectly acceptable and just the natural consequences of growing older.

It’s the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, or rather the attitudes of my 60-something peers, that have made me wish I belonged to another demographic group.

In the government survey asking for views on violence against women, 70 per cent of Scots aged 18 to 29 agreed that a woman who was wearing revealing clothing was not at all to blame if she was raped. Only 38 per cent of those over 65 agreed with them. One in 20 Scots (the implication being that many of them were older) believed the woman was “entirely to blame” if she was very drunk when she was sexually attacked!

On marital rape, prostitution and other related topics, the report noted the same trend – that older people were significantly more likely to blame women for bringing attacks on themselves than the perpetrators.

I cling on to the fact that I’m closer to 60 than 65. Maybe those few years make some sort of experiential difference but I can’t logically stand that argument up. So I’m left with the conclusion that older Scots people are generally still more in tune with John Knox than Mick Jagger despite gran and grandad-dancing to Brown Sugar at their golden anniversary parties.

Forget equality, sexual freedom, fleshy fashions and the easy accessibility of drink and drugs to both sexes. Forget the posters, the ad campaigns and all the work that has gone into changing the way police deal with rape victims. Ignore the figures earlier this year revealing one in five of Scotland’s rape victims is actually asleep when attacked, and that reports of rapes had increased by five per cent, and sexual crime by 9.3 per cent since 2014. Interestingly, many of the cases reported were “historic”, possibly illustrating how long it takes someone to summon up the courage to take action or to have any faith that they will be believed.

Women’s Aid’s response to the survey is that it was “depressing but unsurprising”, and it cited “the pervasive influence of sexism in 
Scottish society”.

The irony is that the efforts to engage with young people and press home the message that violence, 
sexual or otherwise, against women is wrong, seem to have paid off at least in part. According to the Attitudes Survey, it’s the old codgers who need to be educated and shaken out of their anachronistic gender bias and their belief that girls are evil temptresses and young men can’t be expected to control their lust if faced with an easy target who is either scantily clad or has had too much to drink.

It worries me to think how elderly men and women who hold such views behaved when they were younger and, if they maintained these attitudes, what effect they might have had on their children. Despite having had more time to learn life lessons, age doesn’t always bring wisdom.

SUITS YOU, MADAM

AM I the only one who thinks the idea of “blanking out” applicants’ names on CVs is a bizarre attempt at getting more women into senior roles?

What do they do at interview? Turn up with bound bosoms, in pin-striped suits, wearing a fake moustache?

My unicyclist is the wheel deal

READERS have been reporting more sightings of my Lothian Road, rush-hour commuting unicyclist. Not only has he also been spotted in the West End pedalling furiously on his one little wheel at dusk and early evening with no lights and no handlebars but, according to one observer, he works in the same eight-storey office building that houses the Evening News!

In the spirit of investigative journalism I went to examine the bike rack and there it was. He’s becoming a little celebrity but probably best if he remains anonymous. Better still if he leaves his unicycle at home.

Go home and drink your own

THE scandal of Edinburgh’s Christmas charging £4 for 200ml of mulled wine from a 700ml bottle that costs £3 from Iceland – the shop, not the country – leaves me torn.

On one hand it is undeniably a rip-off – despite the Underbelly spokesman saying: “It is competitively priced. It would be difficult to find a similarly priced beverage within the city centre.”

Clearly the bosses don’t get out much apart from attending their own overpriced festivities.

On the other hand we all know that any food or drink sold at any event – be it a music festival, a sports event or a Christmas market – is going to be a rip-off, and that anyone with any sense enjoys the window shopping and the atmosphere but doesn’t put their hand in their pocket . . . before heading home to a log fire and enjoying as much mulled wine as they like at a third of the cost.