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Speakers 1

Prof. Stephen Baskerville
Prof. Norman Dennis
Dr Malcolm George, F.R.S.A
Prisoner Hanson
Dr Patricia Morgan
Dr. Aida
n Rankin

London, October 28th 2000

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Speakers 2

Dirck van Bekkum
Lynette Burrows

What is wrong with women
Lecture given at 'Mankind' conference.  Friends Meeting House. 28.10.00.

Ladies & Gentlemen

                On the subject of grandiose titles, we have a book on my

shelves at home called 'The Last Two Million Years'.  I've often mused about

that title, why the author was so ambitious ;and whether he thought the

people buying it would be stupid enough to think he might actually zap

through the aons in a couple of hundred pages plus  photos. Well I was, and

I must say it is a useful reference book.  So, when I was casting around in

my mind for a title to focus my talk today, I decided to go for the broad,

offensively simplistic title and I've called this talk, 'What is wrong with


This title is rather pleasingly ambiguous in that it can be either a simple

question ie 'what is wrong with women?' Or it could be a foreshortened

statement, 'what is wrong with women'  is the following... and that is

indeed what I'm going to talk about.

 I pick up the thread of my argument from something GK.Chesterton said way

back at the beginning of the last century.  He was a very prophetic writer

though often considered frivolous because of his brimming good humour.  Both

Bernard Shaw and HG Wells were considered more serious writers than GK in

their day although almost everything they said turned out to be wrong and

most of what Chesterton said was right.

I was researching his novels 'The Napoleon of Notting Hill' and 'The Man who

was Thursday', and I came across 'The Flying Inn', which is about the last

pub in England.  All the rest have been banned by law in order to conform to

the Islamic beliefs of the people who govern us.  How did he work that out

in 1913/ or was it just a shot in the dark?  No it wasn't. As an opponent of

imperialism, and a believer in the strong impulse of people to live

according to their own culture, he saw that it was inevitable that sooner or

later we should be told to pack up and go home from the colonies.   He also

knew that the largely commercial interests which were the driving force of

imperialism would not abandon the effort to harness cheap labour in the

interest of trade simply because they had been thrown out of the colonies.

They would take steps to attract those they could no longer rule in their

own countries to come and settle where they might be similarly employed to

maintain profit margins on the world market.

 The destiny of Empire in the eyes of the governing class, says the hero,

Dalroy, is in four Acts.  Victory over barbarians.  Employment of

barbarians.  Alliance with barbarians.  Conquest by barbarians.   The story

of the Flying Inn takes place at the point at which the fourth Act is about

to be undertaken.  By this time, the British have been stripped of almost

every sign of their traditions and their national identity.  Everything

Eastern is praised and accommodated and everything the British believe, is

trashed.  Divorce has been mad very easy, the better to accommodate

polygamy.  Sexual morality has been declared  completely irrelevant, the

better to lose the citizen in a welter of 'new ways of living'.  The army

has been all but abolished, but a foreign army is on stand-by in case it is

needed;  the police wear fezzes to demonstrate our admiration of all things



Into this scenario fits the question of votes for women.  Chesterton was

scathing about the franchise in any case.  Only men who could fulfil a

property requirement had it anyway and it was almost entirely, a sham. The

reality was that laws were made at the behest of powerful people, without

the slightest consideration of what the mass of people wanted.  It was

obvious in 1914 that women would be given the vote sooner or later and this

showy gesture was considered much more pressing than that all men should

receive it.  However, as Chesterton said, the franchise was always widened

when the governing class were up to no good or were in trouble.  It was

because they knew it gave people no power that they gave them a vote.  As a

character says, 'for whom would you cast your vote if you are against the

changing of Britain into something else?'

 Very prescient, if one considers that the last time they widened the

franchise - to 18 was at precisely the time they were laying furtive plans

to absorb us into a federal Europe.

Incidentally, another little snippet I found whilst doing my research, that

brought a smile to my normally granite features, was Chesterton being asked,

at a lecture in Oxford, 'What would you do if you were made Prime Minister?'

'I would do what all Prime Ministers do', said Chesterton, 'I would

telephone round all the millionaires of my acquaintance and ask them what

they wanted me to do'.

 But this was only one aspect of why Chesterton was against women having the

vote.  The other reason is more important and I am laying it out - not

because I think women should not have the vote today -  what is done is

done!  But because I think it throws some light on a lot of things we do not


 Chesterton's main objection to women having the vote was the entirely

complimentary one, that he thought women's instincts were despotic.

 He thought the natural despotism of women manifested itself chiefly in the

home - where the woman was invariably the boss, whatever the social position

of the man of the house. It also manifested itself in the control and

education of children  - which had been managed throughout time without

benefit of laws or regulations saying how it should be done.  They had kept

the family going, along  recognisably similar lines, fulfilling the needs of

husband and family, come hell or high water; in war, pestilence and famine.

The had been the rock and guide of what was arguably the most important, and

certainly the oldest, institution on earth and they had protected its

autonomy  and their right to rule it,  by instinct, common sense and

strength of character.

 Beyond the home, women also controlled social behaviour and had not needed

the blundering interference of 'sexual harassment' laws to ensure that men

treated them with  positively exaggerated deference, nor took liberties with

them in public.


 This they did by possessing an authority that they cultivated, and which

was all the stronger for being real rather than the feeble fiction of power

that the vote gave them.  It was, quintessentially their means of getting

what they wanted.

 It goes without saying, at this juncture, ladies and gentlemen, that I

reject as a foolish  insult, the idea that women were oppressed by the men

they bore, reared, and married, until the second half of the 20th century.

If that were indeed true, then there is no way that anyone could argue for

equality between the sexes.  At the very best, women would be late starters!

The truth, however, is that men and women with power have always oppressed

men and women without power

 Women were the biggest employers of labour until the first world War,

because they employed servants, and they showed themselves, throughout time,

to be just as capable as the meanest man, of oppressing their workers.

Indeed, domestic service still carries a seemingly inerradicable aura of

servitude and humiliation, as a monument to the many women who treated their

servants - both men and women, abysmally.

 Now Chesterton thought that this natural authority of women would be

exercised quite differently if it were translated into political power.  The

instinctive despotism would translate itself into two effects of which - I

think we have ample evidence today. One was that they would treat everybody

as if they were children - and create a 'nanny state'.  ' They would turn

society itself into a great nursery' , Chesterton actually said.

 The second effect would be that essentially tyrannical laws would be

enacted to uphold this re-creation of  'mother knows best'!  Hence, despite

the vision of restraint and gentleness conjured up by devotees of female

power in the early days, the chief effect of women's influence on social

policy is laws that oppress parental authority.  Parents no longer have the

right to discipline children as they think fit, nor to require other people

such as teachers and policemen, to give them the discipline they need to

reach adult life without a criminal record.

 Moral education is undertaken by the State and children can be introduced

to gross sexual provocation in the classroom and then supplied with the

means to be promiscuous without their parents even being told.  The results

of  this have been howlingly counter-productive in terms of achieving the

expressed goals; lower illegitimacy, fewer abortions, less disease.  But,

never mind,  'mother is always right' if she works for the Family Planning

Association or Brooks clinics and nothing will deflect them from their


 Nor is it coincidence that bullying authoritarianism has made social

workers almost uniquely feared and loathed amongst the common people.

 Chesterton  thought that the big battalions of government, commerce and

bureaucracies would welcome this natural prescriptive tendency of women in

public policy, the better to further their own manipulative ends, whilst

seeming to be


impeccably 'pro-women'.  And, indeed, it is remarkable how many 'dirty jobs'

are given to women  in making public policy; the latest being Lady Gavron's

plans to turn us into a 'community of communities' rather than a nation.

The 'cover' is that women are being 'empowered' by such jobs.  The truth, I

suspect, is that they are the fall guys.

 Finally,  an effect that Chesterton forsaw but not to its full extent, the

rest of society would lose its bottle at the same time as women outside the

closed ranks of the sisterhood lost their confidence.  Men and women are in

an inseperable union because they both come from families and go on to make

families themselves. But the translocation of a feminine way of doing things

outside the family and community has narrowed, and therefore concentrated

their effect into more tyrannical government and a diminution of liberty for


They cannot get decent housing unless both of them work because of the

pressure on housing produced by the government maintaining its cheap labour

force by importing millions of new households into the country.  Criticism

of such a policy is silenced by the new commandment that it is 'racism' to

say that people have a right to be consulted about who is settled in their


They are silenced over such things because the very idea of traditional

right and wrong has been dispensed with by the new morality of liberalism.

We have a unique and shameless collection of perverts, ratters on their

marriage vows, and takers of money from the highest bidder  - and the media

turns a more or less blind eye because they too are afraid to break ranks.

Well, it's a mess I'll grant you.  But, if it's any comfort, I'll tell you

how it was solved in 'The Flying Inn'.  The clever plan to turn Britain into

something else failed because, clever as it was, it had in it the seeds of

its own destruction.  If 'liberalism'  means that people have lost the

ability to put a case for what is right and wrong - they have no choice but

to resort to other means.  When endurance becomes worse than danger, the

hero says, then people will get not just what they want; but everything they


The collapse of communism is the perfect model for what Chesterton was

talking about.  Because the most organised opposition to communism came from

Poland, it came via the Christian church - which has a concrete dogma that

the individual personality has a sanctity, dignity and responsibility beyond

anything politics or economics can demand.  They won the argument so, in the

end, they didn't need to fight.

We must, ladies and gentlemen, learn to be more brave and to articulate

arguments for what we believe without fear of condemnation.  We must not

allow ourselves to be silenced by the pipsqueaks of power.  Another aphorism

of Chesterton with which I shall end, is that when a people have lost their

courage, they cannot rely on keeping any other virtue.

Thank you, ladies and gents.  Thank you.

Dirck van Bekkum, cultural anthropologist

A preliminary program of action and research of adolescence violence

Congress ‘The age of violent young men. Causes and remedies’, London, October 28th 2000


The propositions of this presentation are:

a)    In absence of more integral transitional structures towards adulthood offered by adults young people seek and develop their own >rites de passage=, such as gangs. (Yablonski 1969, Zoja 1989, Bekkum 1995)

b)   Some over the last decades re-occurring patterns of structural violence connected with sport can be interpreted as (desperate) efforts to initiate themselves in a complex post-modern setting.

c)    Choices for young males (and females) are abundant but >meaningful= frameworks of meaning are almost absent. (van Bekkum 1997a)

The transition towards adulthood does make male adolescents particular, ‘transitional’, vulnerable. (Gennep, 1908, Cohen 1978) In order to enter the adult world they have to learn to balance loyalties in five life domains:

a) between his ego, his peergroup and family worlds 7

b) between his leisure and occupational worlds 7

c) between his male and the female worlds 7

d) between his local/regional/ethnic and the national/global worlds 7

e) between his physical, mental and religi­ous/spiri­tual worlds 7

Coming from a family with a migration history and structural discrimination enhances this ‘transitional’ vulnerability. Analyses and plans of action are meaningful and effective when young males and to their mentors-caretakers can recognise themselves in an interdependence of sport, violence and leisure. Leisure and sports are modern Western phenomena which diffused themselves to more and more subcultures in our societies. Leisure in Europe was at first connected with the nobility and was as a cultural pattern incorporated by the higher bourgeoisie when they had the financial means and power. It was diffused to the lower classes on a large scale only in the last century. Leisure and sport has become the counterpart and an outlet for tensions of the private and occupational setting. Leisure according to Lengbeek is  a man-made reality and A.. is removed from the everyday and the obvious.@ (1994, 237) He argues:... the tension between the rationally organised everyday world and the contra-structure is at the heart of the issue of collective interest in recreation and tourism.@ (Ibid.) Lengbeek=s perspective leave space to connect with an intercultural approach of the interdependence of violence, leisure, sport and work.

Violence in sport and violence connected with sport can be conceptualised in Norbert Elias= civilization theory. More specifically in the interdependence between the monopolisation of violence by nation states and the changes within nation-citizens management of emotions: a development from ‘Fremdzwang zum Selbstzwang’ (Social to Self-control). (1994) The more a nation is pacified, violence monopolised by the state: army and police, the more the need for danger and excitement increases. (Elias 1986) Our moral and ethical conceptions of (group) violence (and sport) are, as Elias claims, strongly connected with these changes. Being active in sport and being a spectator are main outlets for this need. Groups of boys and young males who cannot connect with these social activities are can be marginalized. Next to pacification, marginalization and discrimination are important factors in the manufacture of violence.

The development of sports is directly connected with the de-ritualization of games and plays in European societies as argued by the anthro­pologist Victor Turner.  (1969, 1977, 1982) Young males are major actors in the phenomenon of violence and sport. The impulses and motives of these (groups of) young men can be viewed from a transitional perspective on adolescence. (van Bekkum 1994, 1995, 1997a, b, 1998, 1999)  From this transitional perspective intercultural analyses, applicable insights, training modules for professionals and action plans will be presented and discussed.


Bekkum, Dirck van, Craftsmanship in Ancient Egypt and Inuit Culture (Eskimo) An Orientation on the Importance of Traditional Technology in Vocational Training and Occupational Therapy for "Aborigi­nal" and "Ethnic" Young Adults. M.A. Paper, Nijmegen, 1988. (200 pages in Dutch)

Bekkum, Dirck van, Adolescence and Ethnicity: An Interdisciplinary Model in Occupational Therapy and Vocational training. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, p. 253-69, 4, 1994.

Bekkum, Dirck van, The Times, They Are A'Changin': Adolescence, Health and Ethnicity,  Lessons from Anthropology, Contemporary Youth Problems and Cross-Cultural Solutions. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 8, p. 243-260, 1995.

Bekkum, Dirck van, Balancing Urban Female - Male Worlds, Crossing Gender Boundaries as Intercul­tural Socialisational Structures, paper for the congress: Beyond Boundaries: Sexuality across, Cultures, Amsterdam, 29th July 1997a.

Bekkum, Dirck van, Sport, violence and leisure in urban contexts, male adolescents in search for transitional experiences, Paper presented at >Elias Centenary= congress, Amsterdam, 18-21 December 1997b.

Bekkum, Dirck van, Beschaafde mensen vechten niet, (Civilised people don=t fight), In: Trouw, (national newspaper), February 7th 1998.

Bekkum, Dirck van, To Belong and To Be Different: Balancing National and Ethnic Loyalties in Male Adolescents, in : Dominant Culture as a Foreign Culture: Dominant Groups in the Eyes of Minorities, J. Mucha (ed.) East European Monographs, Columbia University Press, 1999.

Cohen, Yehudi A., Childhood to Adolescence, legal systems, and incest taboos, Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago, 1964.

Elias, Norbert, The Civilisational Process, Blackwell, London, 1994.

Elias, Norbert, & Eric Dunning, The Quest for Excitement: Sport and Leisure in the Civilising Process, Basil Blackwell, London, 1986.

Gennep, Arnold van, The rites of passage, London, Routledge and Kegan, 1906/1960.

Lengbeek, Jaap, Een meervoudige werkelijkheid: een sociologisch-filosofische essay over het collectie­ve belang van recreatie en toerisme, Wageningen, 1994.

Turner, Victor, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969 .

Turner, Victor, Liminal to Liminoid, p. 20-60, in: From Ritual to Theatre, the Human Seriousness of Play, New York City, Performing Arts Journal Publication, 1982 .

Turner, Victor, Variations on the Theme of Liminality, in: Secular Ritual, S. Moore and others (eds), Assen, van Gorcum, 1977.

Turner, Victor, (ed.) Celebration: Studies in festivity and Ritual, Smithsonian Institution Press, Was­hington DC, 1982

Yablonski, L., The violent gang, Middlesex, Penguin Books, 1969.

Zoja, L. Drugs, Addiction and Initiation: The Modern Search for Ritual, Sigo Press, Boston, 1989.

MOIRA CTT Rijnlaan 45 A 3522 BC Utrecht, The Netherlands tel *-31-30-2800926 fax 2871722 moira@ctt.nl www.ctt.nl


Saturday 28 October 9.30 am
Friend's House Euston Road WC1 London

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