Television

Finally James Delingpole gets why women are so angry

The moment of enlightenment came during Amanda Foreman’s chastening new history documentary The Ascent of Woman on BBC2

5 September 2015

9:00 AM

5 September 2015

9:00 AM

Finally I realise why women are so pissed off. It all goes back to the first codified laws — circa 2,400 bc — when rules like this were invented by men: ‘If a woman speaks out of turn then her teeth will be smashed by a brick.’ Before that, apparently, women lived on a pretty equal footing with their future male oppressors. Indeed, in arguably the first civilisation — a hive-like collection of houses in central Anatolia called Çatalhöyük dating back to 7,500 bc, when mankind was just beginning to emerge from the Stone Age and living with semi-domesticated animals — not a single man was expected to put out the bins while the women dealt with the easy tasks like cooking, washing, child-rearing, ironing, cleaning and leafing through holiday brochures.

That’s because everything was shared equally. Everyone’s house was the same size and everything, including children, was common property. Once you’d given birth, your child would be handed over to the neighbours and they’d bring it up in their household. This bound everyone together in communal loyalty and affection and peace, over 9,000 years before John met Yoko and wrote ‘Imagine’.

And so the good times continued for another 5,000 years, peaking with the advent of Enheduanna, daughter of the Sumerian King Sargon of Akkad, who appointed her priestess of the moon god Nanna in the city-state of Ur. Besides being wise and semi-divine, she wrote the first works of signed literature in history. In her Sumerian Temple Hymns, she wrote: ‘My king, something has been created that no one has created before.’ Clever girl. (As you’re not supposed to say these days: patronising.)

Power
Samine, Suluk and Rabia with image of Empress Theodora


Then, with the Assyrians, it all went pear-shaped. This was the first culture to introduce the veil. The information came as quite a shock to one of the women, a Syrian, interviewed in Amanda Foreman’s The Ascent of Woman (BBC2, Wed). She had imagined that it was a legacy of much-later Islam and the fact that it wasn’t disturbed her, for it suggested that here was a form of oppression that owed more to ingrained male chauvinism than it did to divine wisdom.

Except, as Foreman pointed out, it’s not quite as simple as that. You could argue — as she duly did — that the veil was at least as much about ‘liberty and freedom’ as it was about ‘male ownership and control’. That’s because in a macho, brutal, warlike culture like Assyria’s, it would have been the only possible way that women could venture outside into the public space ‘without compromising themselves or losing the protection of their husbands’.

Coming from almost any other TV presenter save perhaps David Starkey, this would have sounded like a craven exercise in culturally relativist apologism. Foreman, though, appears determined to present this series wearing the mantle of a sober historian rather than that of a crusading social justice warrior or of an embittered representative of multiply-wronged womankind.

For which much thanks. The other week, I complained about the Darcyfication of TV drama, whereby everything from hunky Cap’n Poldark to the sexy rapist in The Fall now seems designed mainly to cater for women’s Fifty Shades fantasies, while male viewers have been jettisoned as virtual irrelevances. Ditto, TV history. When, I ask you, was the last in-depth documentary about the second world war with a voiceover by Sam West? They’ve all been replaced by simpering girlies telling us about 18th-century needlecraft, early feminist tracts, medieval vaginal decoration and stuff like that. No, actually not the last one: that would have been mildly interesting, so it would never have got commissioned.

Hence my extreme reluctance to watch The Ascent of Woman. I thought it was going to be as much fun as having your wife torture you over breakfast with the details of your pervy sexual preferences, as vouchsafed by your recently disclosed Ashley Madison profile: bitterness mixed with vindictive triumphalism. But because Foreman didn’t do it in an aggrieved, telling-off way — useful tip for wives and girlfriends that: never do it in an aggrieved, telling-off way — I came away feeling entertained, enlightened and, yes, even a little bit chastened.

Did you know that Pandora’s box actually refers to Pandora’s, ahem, ‘box’? That is, it’s another allegorical embodiment of an ingrained male notion that all the evils of the world spring forth from a woman’s naughty bits. Or that Aristotle was the originator of the Harry Enfield sketch ‘Woman: know your limits’? It is cause for pause, surely, that the civilisation we revere as one of the world’s greatest — Ancient Greece — forced on its womenfolk a lifestyle little less constrained and veiled than that experienced by modern Afghan women under the Taleban.

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Show comments
  • ViolinSonaten b minor.

    James if all women are ” pissed off ” why wasn’t it called the Descent of Woman ?
    Amanda Foreman a renowned historian but she’s quite abrasive without the warmth
    of Bethany Hughes whose ‘ Devine Woman’ series was also about Catalhoyuk.
    I found the suggestion that the inhabitants of Catalhoyuk buried their dead
    underneath their sleeping quarters a little far- fetched, I’d wager Amanda Foreman
    would never find proof of any woman who’d put up with that.
    It sounds like a thing you’d enemy would do to prevent you returning home.

    • The_greyhound

      Amanda Foreman isn’t renowned as an historian, and Hughes is merely a TV presenter.

      The other day I watched another wimmin present a programme on Tudor History. The dozy floosie twice repeated a simple error of fact. Like Beard (a second rate scholar) they achieve exposure only because of their gender, not because of their academic claims.

      • Gladiatrix

        She is a visiting research fellow at Queen Mary, U of L – in other words she is renowned sufficiently to have been granted a sought-after position on the way to a professorship.

        • samton909

          But since the universities have become the places where our crazy people are stored, this is not much of an endorsement

          • kingkevin3

            Now if she were a leading theoretical physicist…the ascent of women..what a joke.

  • Yorkieeye

    This new dawn for Western woman could just turn out to be a blip in history. With the EU becoming home to ever more Muslims we may be so accommodating as to moderate all women’s behaviour to suit Community Leaders who are offended by us playing sport, showing our hair, having better jobs than them etc. I’ve already experienced some of this prejudice, a Muslim man refused to shake hands with me because I am female. I live two miles from a neighbourhood where the burka is commonplace, halal meat is for sale everywhere and state schools are all Muslim. Welcome to Yorkshire.

    • mrs 1234

      I agree with you but this very real probability is never entertained by those who preach to us from the altar of the telly. I find it completely delusional. London has its counterparts to Yorkshire towns such as Bradford – I was just in the East End and saw a group of little girls and their mothers all dressed in their niqabs – head to foot in black and all of 8 years old. Their little brothers were running around happy and free in their shorts. It is sickening to me – I know I am not the only woman who finds this cultural rubbish offensive. That it is dressed up as being religious makes it worse to me.

      • Yorkieeye

        I am appalled too to see little girls covering their hair. Isn’t hair covering meant to prevent the sexual attentions of men? Those girls need vitamin D and the freedom this country offers to other children. This is the problem we now have, large areas of mono culture give that culture the confidence to make their own rules and not feel the desire or need to conform to the host culture.

        • WimsThePhoenix

          Why on earth was that comment deleted? Critical of muslim hair covering, perchance?

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      So hate it and leave it.
      Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

      • Yorkieeye

        But this is my country Jack. My family have been in Yorkshire since the first Elizabeth.

        • samton909

          Ah, but they reproduced, didn’t they. As soon as a society refuses to reproduce, it will be replaced with a society that does. It’s simple evolution

        • greggf

          But is it your muslim neighbour’s country too?
          I don’t know what the answer is to your conundrum Yorkieeye, but it’s more about secularism than breeding as we may note in modern examples of the parts of the Balkans, the Lebanon etc.
          As an instance, currently, most French mayors are telling their Government they only want christian refugees……

          • Yorkieeye

            Yes it is my Muslim neighbours country too and many of them are very invested but they still call the subcontinent ‘home’. Even some of our most sophisticated Muslim friends have arranged marriages still; sadly often to relations with the resultant DNA problems for their children.

          • greggf

            It seems odd that referring to “the subcontinent home” can be synonymous with Yorkshire, and if they are “sophisticated” one would expect their family culture to manifest more intelligence.
            But that is my European view speaking…….
            Perhaps what is evident in Yorkshire, and other parts, is the growth of counter-colonisation from the original colonies prior to WW2, and including their cultures but on a larger scale. An outcome of which is less certain.

          • Yorkieeye

            Most of our personal Muslim friends are mostly third generation and wouldn’t necessarily choose to find a partner this way but they come under enormous family pressure as the grandparents have often got deals with their villages back home to marry their kids off to youngsters back in the old country.

          • greggf

            Well the demographics in the Indian sub-continent are so prodigious that it’s not surprising there’s pressure. I used to teach some 20 years ago in a inner city school and it was known that some year 9 girls (12 -13 yrs) of Bangladeshi origin left for their summer “hols” early, not to return in the Autumn. The government have tried to put some rules in place about foreign spouses but, no doubt, they can be circumvented.
            Britain seems to particularly susceptible to this exploitation whereas in France, where we now live, claiming nationality is very difficult and effectively controls abuse – people get sent back!

      • WimsThePhoenix

        What a trite, spaz lefty troll remark.

    • AliceS

      You can tell all you need to know about a civilisation by the status of its women. And yes, future generations may never again have it so good. Michel Houellebecq’s Submission is excellent on the subject matter.

    • In fifty years, the UK will be an Islamic republic or well on the way to being one. Not only is the fertility rate of Islamic migrants absolutely massive (just look at who is collecting kids from primary school and how many) but they operate a racket in which almost every UK born south Asian heritage young person seems to be obliged to import a spouse from ‘back home’ as it is euphemistically called. this trick has the effect of doubling the already massive fertility rate. Furthermore, our inept border authorities, emasculated by generations of lefty politicians, don’t even act against men who import multiple ‘wives’. Since they don’t usually undergo a civil marriage, Pakistani men are if they so desire free to import another wife two or three years after their first one. I watched a TV programme fronted by some Pakistani heritage ladies who protested that this practice was seriously damaging to many Pakistani wives – specifically in Bradford where these women were from. Furthermore, they reported that since there was no civil record of marriage, the women were reporting that they were abandoned and their entire support was falling on the taxpayer, including their housing costs, and the errant husbands toured around their wives, collecting their own share of their income support and siring more and more children. Just to emphasise – this is not some racist fantasy conjured up from my head – the programme was presented by Pakistani women who made all of these allegations in high dudgeon about what this fraud was doing to their own security and lifestyle.

      • Amy

        Good thing you’ll be dead by then 🙂

      • WimsThePhoenix

        Why is our population ageing, and our birthrate low? Could it be because the Marxists encouraged women to be single mothers? Divorce? Become Lesbians? Abort at the drop of a hat?

        The fact is these immigrants have a high birthrate because their women HAVE NO SAY IN THE MATTER!

        It’s all part of the plan, most likely conjured up at Bilderberg.

        Reduce fertility for the indigenous people, wait a decade or two, scream that the population is ageing, we can’t afford to care for them, need immigrants, choose the ones with the most repressed women = high birthrate, job done. Transnationalism in 3 easy steps.

      • dwarfpoo

        I am always really surprised when walking past areas of “social housing” the vast majority of people who are benefit from these homes are obviously Muslim. I am sure there must be other people who need these homes. In London with house prices and rents so high, these areas are now muslim areas. It is astounding, do they know the housing caseworkers? I work with ex servicemen and the difficulty in finding placements is astounding.

        • Ah – there is no loyalty to an ex-serviceman perhaps struggling with PTSD and drink addiction. No care at all for him, or help. There are reckoned to be about 7000 ex-servicemen living on the street in Britain – maybe 25% of the total of rough sleepers. As for the social housing comment and Muslims – of course you are correct. I live 300 miles from London and you can see a disproportionate number of such people in social housing here too. If you turn up in this country with a child, no matter whether you are a refugee or an economic migrant, you will be sure of a roof over your head provided free. Not true for the three tours Afghan veteran. He can sleep on the street and die. I’m sure you are familiar with Kipling’s poem ‘Tommy Atkins’ which is about this . Here’s the first verse:

          I went into a theatre as sober as could be,

          They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;

          They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,

          But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!

          For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, wait outside “;

          But it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide

          The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,

          O it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide.

    • samton909

      Oh well. That is what you get when a society contracepts itself to death.

      • dwarfpoo

        Should people start counter- breeding for war?

        • WimsThePhoenix

          Yes.

          • dwarfpoo

            go on then, I doubt many intelligent people would breed with the intention of creating war fodder.

    • jack

      EU? Whatever was that?

    • WimsThePhoenix

      Already happening in Bavaria where they are telling schoolgirls to dress modestly.

  • ViolinSonaten b minor.

    ” All replaced by simpering girlies telling us about 18th century needlecraft”
    I hope you won’t include the sparkling and informative historian Lucy Worsley in
    that statement.
    Her presentation of ” Harlots, Housewives and Heroines” and ” Tales from the
    Bedchamber ” were colourful and hilarious to say the least and the more serious topics informative without the permanently offended feminist angst.
    PS the Ascent of Woman will make a change from the usual ripping bodices, breasts
    extreme sexual behaviour etc that have been reviewed recently, hey James.

    • ardenjm

      “I hope you won’t include the sparkling and informative historian Lucy Worsley in that statement.”

      Don’t like her hairstyle.

    • jamesdelingpole

      I actually rather like Lucy Worsley. And her haircut. The problem is that if one starts naming names one runs the risk of sounding ungallant. But no, to repeat, I like Lucy Worsley.

      • ardenjm

        No, not ungallant necessarily.
        I’m sure they want to be judged as historians/presenters rather than mollycoddled as women.
        I’m sure it’s possible to still treat the woman gallantly whilst at the same time being exacting about the historian – should she not be a very good one.
        Or else, following your logic, Hillary Clinton as President or any woman Climate Change scientist needs gallant treatment when doing their job instead of the harshest scrutiny.

        And, of course, I was being facetious about Lucy Worsly’s hair. It’s actually her voice which is like fingernails on a blackboard for me. But she says interesting things.

  • amphibious

    Dungpole is as far from ‘getting’ it as ever. Nobody could be as thick as he pretends to be so one must assume that he’s just a nasty piece of work, politically, personally and ethically.

    • Commenthead

      What a ludicrous comment – based on what?

  • Frank

    I have to say that I thought that the programme made a large number of assumptions about a period and a location where there is almost certainly very little evidence of anything very much, and an old small statue of a female person may, or may not, tell us anything about the society that made it. I can recall it being pretty hard work to work out what happened and why in 13th century Kent, but arguably a walk in the park compared to trying to work out what happened in central Anatolia in 2,400BC

    • cartimandua

      It makes perfect sense that in the earliest times birth would seem miraculous and something women did.

  • Harvy Spector

    Thank’s for sharing, it’s really helpful for me!
    http://britishessays.co.uk

  • Annette

    Feminists already know all this stuff, they are academics mainly. We learn about feminist theology, philosophy, women’s history, social theory. We understand how we got to where we are. It’s impossible to learn these things and for the scales not to fall from your eyes and not to become extremely angry.

    The problem we face is that our critics are usually woefully ill informed and, like all religious dogmatists, highly resistant to exposure to new ideas.

    • Mytheroo

      what you learn from feminist academics is mostly fabricated. Name a SINGLE right you do not have that a man has and maybe you will have something to say

  • cartimandua

    In early times we had Mother Goddesses. The venus of willlendorf was found at the same time as great underground temples or burial chambers.
    In early Crete several cultures alternated. One of them was matriarchal.
    In the UK the earliest families were groups with very often a female head of group.
    Women in northern Europe were better off before Christianity.
    We had (cough cough) female tribal chiefs and war captains before the Romans arrived.
    The Romans were appalled. Tacitus calumnied female queens.

    • davidofkent

      Yes, I believe Cartimandua sold Cassivellaunus to the Romans.

  • ohforheavensake

    James- the rest of us knew at least the gist of this quite a while ago.

  • mmac1968

    The glass ceiling got broke twenty years ago. Miss “what ever” is now on the glass elevator heading for the skies. The problem for post modern women they see themselves as a completely different culture. Not for them the dull trudgery of child birth, breast feeding, child rearing etc. No these “so called” biological trappings were forced upon them by their male oppressors, determined to keep the Directorship of Sabre Tooth Hunting Ltd for themselves. Bloody blokes and tackle, who needs them.

    • jennybloggs

      They are middle class women. As for the rest I think many of them would love to be able to have a home, a bloke and kids. More fulfilling than a life of dead end jobs and dead end relationships. But most working class men do not earn enough to support a family. As for buying a house – that is a pipe dream. So the responsible don’t have children.

      • mmac1968

        Jenny this would be fixed over night if the powers that be directed council housing to low wage couples. Like you say they want the same thing, but housing is directed to single mums addicted to benefits, casual sex and low responsibilies. The siren call which dictates every life style choice is worth while needs to be ignored and the welfare of the family and nation considered upper most.

  • jack

    The greeks were NOT male chauvenists. Look at the Spartan woman. They were totally liberated and enjoyed total sexual freedom, political power, control of family wealth and so forth. Helen (the one who started the Trojan war), was a Spartan and she viewed it as her right to leave her neglectful husband and run off with a Trojan prince because he was less boring, or better in bed or whatever. After the war, she was never punished and the whole thing was written off as typical female petulance. The Odyssey has a brilliant scene near the middle, where Ulysses stops off to visit Hellen’s husband (can’t remember name), and she comes to the banquet, flouncing around looking very good and arrogant as ever.

  • BARROSO

    The only thing I’m looking forward to about the Muslim domination of Europe is smug feminist middle class Women getting the Middle Eastern treatment and at that point when they desperately want the help of their men folk happily sitting on my hands and doing sod all about it. Except maybe ordering up another kebab as I tell my newest wife to chuck some more hash on the hookah.

    • dwarfpoo

      I think people are utterly brainwashed, the only people who seem to care read “alternative” press and have direct experience of the problem. To counter the happy clappy tripe my son is told in school about the “peaceful” ones i make sure he sees footage of the riots in Europe as we speak. I also warned him to be careful of how he speaks at school on the subject because of the thought police. For his own safety walking home from school I told him to be aware of his skin colour and when outnumbered move away from the area. The hate crimes against white people are not made public…funny that.

  • WimsThePhoenix

    Oh dear oh dear. Delingpole is caving.

    I don’t care how entertaining you think it is, it’s still feminist bollox and muslim apologia.

    “You could argue — as she duly did — that the veil was at least as much about ‘liberty and freedom’ as it was about ‘male ownership and control’.

    That’s because in a macho, brutal, warlike culture like Assyria’s, it would have been the only possible way that women could venture outside into the public space ‘without compromising themselves or losing the protection of their husbands’.”

    Why? Why could you argue that? Why would not wearing a veil compromise them, why would they lose the protection of their husbands? And if so, how the hell is this liberty and freedom?

    It is EXACTLY the reason why women are walking around in Birmingham and London looking indistinguishable from bin bags. It is COMPLETELY about male ownership and control – in this instance muslim men, who tell them that without this clothing they are prostitutes who deserve to be raped.

    Liberty and freedom? Only in that it was the only way they were allowed out of the house. Fear, more like. Rather like being electronically tagged.

    For shame, Delingpole. How much are the Beeb paying for this codswallop?

  • Mytheroo

    The only reason for women to be angry about anything in this day and age is their IQ bell-curve, and that is no-one’s fault. You can harp on all day about women not achieving stuff because of social and political pressure etc, but the main reason is that women just don’t do stuff (apart from moan about the fact that all the other women aren’t doing this stuff).

    • dwarfpoo

      utter balls , what bell curve. Iq tests are subjective and results vary , they do nothing more than highlight difference not lack of ability. Maybe you should try “mixing” with different women. Jesus , you even gave yourself two up votes.

  • Mytheroo

    anyone entertaining the notion of equality of outcome should remove themselves from the conversation. Women already have equality of opportunity (and in many areas extra help), the next “revolution” should really just entail them doing something useful with their lives.

  • Mytheroo

    “women are angry because 4,400 years ago a man said something”

    says it all really

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