Martin Hannan: Gender division is par for course

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It’s all over for every female domain, from the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute to the various Women’s Guilds. Farewell, too, to women-only gyms, women-only hours at private swimming pools, plus hen nights and ladies’ hairdressers.

Christmas shopping will only be allowed if men and women do it together, and as for the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service – well, it’s toast.

(Actually, it already is, because the Royal Voluntary Service has lost its ‘W’ and that venerable organisation has bowed to modern times, or political correctness, whichever you prefer.)

All these women-only activities and every organisation that has all-female membership must either change like the WRVS to become gender-friendly or be banned forthwith in the cause of sexual equality.

As a mere man I insist on my right to be included in hen nights while I have always wondered why any swimming pool should have women-only hours. I mean what do women do differently at these times? Is there something going on in the pools other than swimming? I think we men have the right to know, and at any rate all these women-only activities and organisations must cease.

Yes, it’s time to finally end all divisions between men and women in Edinburgh and the Lothians so that we can send a message to the world that this is a place where both genders are equal in everything.

Such massive transformation in our society will be the necessary conclusion if we heed the outrage that greeted the Royal Burgess Golfing Society’s vote to stay as a men-only club.

From reading the scorn and bile poured on the Burgess for what is, after all, its right to admit or bar whoever it likes, you would think that this one private club’s, admittedly outmoded, policy was indicative of anti-women feeling across swathes of Scottish society.

It was the same outrage, much of it politically inspired, which greeted the holding of this year’s Open Championship at Muirfield, another male-only bastion, which was awarded the tournament by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, itself another female exclusion zone.

The R &A, Muirfield and the Royal Burgess represent a particular problem in the upper echelons of Scottish golf – they may not be outrightly misogynist, but they certainly give that impression.

I suspect most people are not going to bother about a bunch of old fuddy-duddies and their peculiar habits, and why should they when there are so many other targets for those who insist on equality of the sexes in all walks of life?

Women queue up to condemn silly old golfers, but suggest that the SWRI or Women’s Guild is obviously sexist and you risk emasculation, and sometimes not just verbally.

Nobody’s human rights have been breached by the Royal Burgess. It’s a private club and its right to decide its own membership is a democratic choice by its members.

If it was getting public money or Lottery grants, women would have the right to demand equal access for all at their clubhouse – they lost their rates relief years ago for being single sex. But as far as I know the Burgess is self-funding, and that’s that.

Women are from Venus, men are from Mars. Unless genuine issues of harmful equality bias are involved, let’s keep it that way, or every one-gender organisation will have to change.

Let’s do our bit for grieving families

Like everyone involved in Scottish sport, and like every parent, I am utterly stunned by the deaths of Jamie Skinner and David Paul.

Their passing would be agony for their families whenever it occurred, but the fact that these two fit teenagers died just before Christmas leaves a believer like myself thinking that God’s mysterious ways really are beyond all human comprehension.

We react with sympathy for the families, but we should also do something practical for them.

Scottish football isn’t as rich as elsewhere, but I know every club and every player would rally round if funds were to be raised by, say, a prestigious match.

Nigella was let down by the law

I AM not one of those people who buys that old saw that Scots law is far superior to that of England. But having followed the trial of Nigella Lawson – yes, I know it was her assistants in the dock but it was Lawson on the rack - I am sure that no Scottish prosecutor or judge would have allowed the disgraceful and unforgiveable trashing of her reputation by England’s legal vultures.

She had no chance to defend herself against the vengeful spite that emerged. It will make a lot of people think that they will be very careful about ever giving evidence for the prosecution.

Wood, the bad and the ugly

After the good people of Aberdeen rejected the plan to transform their city centre, Sir Ian Wood will have to keep his £50 million in his wallet. Or else he could lob some of it in the direction of a city that will sell its soul for cash – Edinburgh, where constructing ugliness is encouraged.

Have you seen the Caltongate plans? Yeuk.