Feminism and the Ugly Triumph of Ladette Culture

Article excerpt

Byline: KATIE GRANT

WOMEN have achieved status and respect in all walks of life these days, and quite rightly so.

Some still complain of a glass ceiling, but in reality most have been smashed.

We had a female pilot on our plane the other day. I barely even noticed.

But equality, as it turns out, is not all good.

Women are not just joining men in all aspects of work; in other areas they seem to be turning into men - and not nice men at that.

Some of the figures are grim. The number of women convicted of drink-driving in Scotland, traditionally a male preserve, is rising exponentially. In 2000 it was 674 - in 2005 it was 1,112.

The number of women caught speeding is rising, while the men are falling.

The number of girls under 15 involved in serious crime has gone up by more than a third.

And some of the figures are tragic: 99 per cent of the women in Cornton Vale prison have serious drink or drug habits, rivalling their counterparts in male prisons.

But apart from the figures, just looking around us tells an even starker story. On Big Brother, Celebrity Love Island or any of these increasingly grotesque shows, it is the women who seem to feel a special need to behave like animals, lounging about half-naked, shouting the odds, slugging down the booze, revelling in their degenerate state as if it was a badge of honour.

In city centres at all times of the day and night you can see girls, often in gangs, staggering about, their stomachs hanging over tiny skirts, bottle in hand, shoving each other, and everybody else, out of the way. Often they are more alarming than boy gangs.

Travelling home in a taxi not long ago, I saw a young girl lying on a patch of grass, her skirt - what there was of it - askew and her legs and mouth wide open. She was dead drunk and incredibly vulnerable.

When I suggested to the taxi driver that we stop, he laughed bitterly. He would not stop, he said, because the last time he had tried to help such a young woman, he had been on the receiving end of a tirade of abuse that included expletives and threats to do him over.

Women, so he thought, deserved no special protection any more. If they wanted to behave like lads, they would be treated accordingly. It was depressing to hear, but how could I disagree?

We seem to have reached a new low point in the battle of the sexes, with girls now just as likely to be disruptive at school as boys; just as likely to treat sex as a recreational pastime and being just as much trouble to the police.

Perhaps, in these days of equality, this should not matter.

But it does. At least it matters to me and, I think, to millions of other women.

Equality was supposed to be about everybody behaving better, not about women aping the worst male behaviour and then trumping it.

Surely it should not just be accepted without protest that far too many women, particularly young women, have given up any form of restraint, turned to drink and drugs and become not just ladettes, but loutettes?

Men have been behaving badly since time immemorial but, although I'm sure there have always been exceptions, women used to operate by a different code.

At first this may have been because, being physically less beefy, we needed to appeal to a man's protective instincts in order to survive.

Gradually, as society moved from cave to house, women still behaved differently, no longer just for self-interested motives of survival, but because we saw ourselves differently. …