Ann Widdecombe: ‘Women need to stop whingeing – we’ve never had it so good’

Members of the #MeToo movement wail about decades-old flirtatious conduct, argues former politician and Strictly contestant Ann Widdecombe

Ann Widdecombe on Celebrity Big Brother 2018

It’s the age of the whine and the whinge, of the moan and the groan, of grievance and offence. And, oh, do the women know how to milk that for all it’s worth, while the men, poor wimps, stand by and meekly watch.

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Women have never had it so good. We have a woman prime minister (again) and a woman in charge of the Metropolitan Police; and we have women chief executives, women judges, women running media. Here a woman, there a woman – but everywhere a bleat, bleat.

The particular bleat now dominating the airwaves is that women, particularly older women, are discriminated against in the media. Take Maureen Lipman’s recent lament in Radio Times. She says she is terribly tempted by Strictly but oldies have no chance.

“The fact is that the person who’s pretty is going to win. It ain’t gonna be Ann Widdecombe,” she proclaims with all the certainty of a pope pronouncing doctrine.

Well, no, of course I was never going to win, but that had nothing to do with my age, sex or looks. It was because, to state the bloomin’ obvious, I couldn’t dance. A “dalek in drag” was one of the kinder comments from the judges. Being 63, a woman and tubby did not stop me getting to week ten out of twelve, but nobody with two left feet can credibly expect to win.

Being 70 didn’t stop me coming second on Celebrity Big Brother either, nor did being 82 stop Amanda Barrie from lasting nearly till the final. Similarly, being 67 didn’t stop Kim Woodburn coming second in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! nor other women such as Jan Leeming, Britt Ekland and Stefanie Powers entering that contest in their 60s. They won’t have me, not because I’m old and female but because I hate heights.

Once, older women had a whole show devoted to them: Grumpy Old Women. Female oldies are also the undoubted stars of the reality series The Real Marigold Hotel.

The reality in real life is that it’s a positive advantage to be a woman in the media. Almost all the successors talked of in terms of taking over David Dimbleby’s chair on BBC1’s Question Time and Chris Evans’ breakfast show on Radio 2 are women. Why, BBC? Why, when Strictly Come Dancing is predicated on teams of men and women, do we have two women presenters? It’s all part of the pattern of quotas and all-women shortlists that pervades not just the corporation (unofficially, of course, and definitely in practice) but also politics both with a big P and a small one.

Until the 1970s it was lawful for employers to advertise a job with two rates of pay, one for men and one for women. It was likewise lawful to refuse a job, finance, property rental and mortgages to women on no grounds other than their sex.

The feminists of those years yelled that all we wanted was equality. Now that has turned into a pathetic whine for special privileges. No, thanks, sisters. I’ll do what I’ve always done and compete on merit.

Nay, so keen are women to embrace victimhood that members of the #MeToo movement wail about flirtatious conduct decades ago and even a cabinet minister whimpers about an off-colour joke of several years earlier. It’s enough to make one wonder if we should have stayed at home darning socks.

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The biggest mystery of all, however, is why the men so cringingly put up with it all and why institutions bow the knee so humbly to it. Get a life, girls!