Voices

No, Greer, women aren’t to blame for sexual assault

The hostesses of the Presidents Club were all required to be tall, thin and pretty
(Alamy)

Oh Germaine dear, shut up, shut up, shut up. Honestly, the woman must have the hide of a rhino to go blundering about telling young women how they’re to blame for sexual harassment.

Germaine Greer has always been a mass of contradictions; somewhere at the bottom of a drawer in my study I have a 1971 copy of Suck magazine which features her as a 31-year-old saucily grinning over an extremely graphic close-up black and white photograph of what she herself referred to as her “split beaver”. It’s what I call “very of its time”, ie there is no topiary of the pudendum and it’s not particularly pretty, but then as Greer said recently, kicking yet another hornet's nest, a transwoman has no idea what it’s like to have “a big hairy smelly vagina”. Gosh.

The trouble with Germaine is that you never know which side she’s going to be on. She’s like one of those really clever friends that you stop seeing in the end because they bully you with their intellect, changing their tune to suit whatever mood they wake up in and leaving a trail of confusion in their wake.

The timing of her latest outburst coincided neatly with the news of a “charidee night” in London’s glittering West End where the great and the good and the exclusively male gathered to raise funds and pet girls as if they were small furry animals in a zoo.

These girls were not guests – they weren’t invited; they were, instead, paid to attend as “hostesses”. They were asked to wear black underwear and bring black shoes. OK, I’m out, I don’t possess a black bra – actually I do, but it doesn’t fit and the only black shoes I have are brogues. Also I’m 57 and no one wants to stroke me because they might touch something nasty, like cellulite.

The hostesses, who were all required to be tall, thin and pretty, were paid £150 plus £25 towards a cab home – which is a bonus if, like me, you live on a night bus route.

Once they arrived at the venue – in this case the Dorchester Hotel – they were primped up by a squad of make-up and hair artists before being allowed into the dining room where 350 slavering top business chaps AKA “The Presidents Club” were gathered under glittering chandeliers in order to raise cash for good causes and possibly twang the odd suspender.

Apparently the girls were warned that some of the men might get a bit “annoying”.

There is something so Donald Trump about this enterprise that its hard not to bring your breakfast up: the combination of sexy ladies and hard cash all under the guise of doing good work by bidding for lap dances and some plastic surgery for the missus, or “Spice up Your Wife” as that apparent lot was called.

That would be thrilling, wouldn’t it? Imagine you’re married to one of these gits and after a pleasant night at home watching what you wanted on the telly, he reels in stinking of Remy Martin to tell you he’s won you a new set of tits. What do you do if you don’t want them? Offer them to the cleaning lady I suppose.

As a young woman in my twenties in 1980s London, like a lot of these girls who found themselves “hosting” the Dorchester gig, I was a wannabe actress, making my money by performing stand-up, waitressing and life modelling.

You’d think that with stand-up being such a male-dominated world back then, I’d have got the most grief on the comedy circuit. This isn’t true; quite often there were a few “Show us your tits” pricks in the audience, but my fellow performers were gentlemen to a fault. Ditto when I life-modelled at Camberwell College of Art. No one ever came onto me at the bus stop afterwards.

It was only working in the wine bars, particularly in places like Chancery Lane where I served lunches to claret-drinking, claret-faced members of the legal profession, that I had to smack away hands and kick the occasional shin.

It’s money, it’s entitlement, it’s going to all-boys’ schools and never mentally leaving the locker room, it’s never having to serve anyone or be subservient to anyone yourself, it’s about never having to be answerable for your actions, because it’s always going to be the silly girl who gets sacked.

This weekend, some of those 350 men who know deep down in their guts that they behaved badly at the Dorchester will be sweating tiny beads of stinking shame and you know what? Some of their wives, girlfriends and partners will be able to smell it on them.

What’s with the wedding renaissance?

‘A whole generation of young women have developed a sparkly ring fixation’ (PA)

So another royal hat wearer is about to get hitched, this one is quite far down in the pecking order to the extent that no one really knows how to pronounce her name.

It’s the younger one of Andrew and Sarah’s gals, the Eugenie one who walks exactly like her mother and has never knowingly spoken in public.

Listen, I’m sure she’s a sweet girl and I hope she lives happily ever after with this chap that everyone is referring to as “the barman”. Really? I haven’t seen a barman without a tattooed sleeve and a massive hole in his ear for years, but maybe that says more about where I drink than Eugenie’s beau.

But what really flummoxes me about this sudden rash of “announcements” is how a whole generation of young women have developed a sparkly ring fixation.

Even normal “common as muck” types are at it, misting up the windows of jeweller’s shops with their soya latte breath, giddily announcing the “good news” on social media and triumphantly waving the manicured third finger on their left hand into the camera lens.

It’s 2018, why is anyone still squealing like a 1950s debutante over a piece of jewellery? I just don’t understand the renaissance of this twee little tradition. You won’t turn into a pumpkin if you’re not engaged by the time you’re 30. Forget the ring and add the cash to your mortgage deposit fund – God knows you’re going to need it.

Get married by all means, even I tied the knot last year (for reasons of death duties and tax mostly) but I never had an official engagement and he certainly didn’t get down on one knee. For starters, he was 68 at the time of asking and would never have got back up, and as for an engagement ring, I’d rather have the shower room re-tiled.