It can’t be easy being Nigel Farage. I could end it there I suppose, to a round of applause and sage nodding from whoever read that sentence, but I honestly find myself feeling sorry for the jowly twat from time to time.
Not when he was photographed in the wreckage of that plane, of course. It’s possible I’ve never laughed more than when I saw that photo of him seemingly in tears, surrounded by wings, fins, fuselage and whatever diabolical banner he’d been dragging along behind the aircraft. But when a man is forced to defend the reduction of money spent on sea patrols stopping migrants popping over from Libya, while faced with hundreds of bobbing corpses gently nudging the walls of Valetta, you do wonder what he thinks as he peers at his rubbery face in the mirror before bed at night. “Oh no, I’m really evil” must be up there I’d have thought.
Nevertheless poor Nigel must stick to his guns amid the carnage in the Mediterranean, while the rest of us are able to stare in horror at the condition we’ve allowed the human race to get to that leads to people so desperate to get to Europe they’ll gladly accept the risk of terrifying wet death. One of the survivors said he was heading for Austria. Even the reporter sounded confused.
And yet as I watched the rolling news on the day of the biggest recent tragedy, horror turned to anger at one of the lines I read across the bottom of the screen: “800 feared dead, including 250 women”.
Well, fuck. I hadn’t planned to care about these 800 people when I thought they were all men, but now you’ve told me well over a quarter had a vagina I’m straight on the line to my MP demanding action; ideally action involving the immediate execution of 250 men – doesn’t matter who they are, a few Welsh choirs maybe – to redress the balance.
I’m no feminist, and many feminists would probably view me as unreconstructed scum. I joke about women down the pub with mates, though no more than anyone else and certainly no more than that shrieking gaggle of drunken harpies over there is joking about us. I often call women ‘birds’, not to their face, and occasionally call one ‘love’, to her face. Yet I’ve never been slapped by a woman, they don’t seem to view me as anything other than a normal man and as far as I know I treat women with the same respect I do men outside of a spot of light-hearted buggering about.
All of that would send various feminists into a tailspin I have no doubt. I don’t care. And the reason I don’t care is that there are so many far, far worse things people do to women that we – men and women – should be working together to put an end to. Rape is used as a weapon of war, incredibly. Men in certain parts of the world view women as property, or think that a woman out on her own at night, or out with a male friend she’s not related to, is somehow fair game or asking for it (‘it’ in that case stretching all the way up to brutal murder). Women are killed by their own families for ‘dishonouring’ them. Levels of pay equality between men and women are atrocious. Women are routinely persecuted by various religions that command countless millions, billions even, of followers around the world. All of this is outrageous beyond measure.
Nevertheless, the notion that women are inherently more important than men to the extent that they consistently warrant a unique mention in death tolls is infuriating. Can you promise me that the men on that boat were in some way less vital than the women? I doubt their families would agree, if the poor sods are ever identified. Can there be any logical justification for ‘including 250 women’?
To some extent I understand it when children get a separate mention. I don’t share the same obsession with kids that some do; not in the Watkins sense, but in that ‘won’t someone think of the children’ way that some people have. It seems to be a huge thing for some people, parents and weirdos mostly, but we can let that pass.
And when a ship’s going down, and the men are expected to stand aside for the ‘women and children first’, I get that too. Men are expected to exhibit some degree of gallantry or chivalry and die first, probably because it was their kind who built a shoddy vessel or left the bow doors open having got pissed in the Boar’s Head an hour before leaving the jetty.
But when it comes to telling me how many people have perished in the latest atrocity, tragedy or natural disaster I really don’t find myself hoping beyond hope that every victim has a cock. It’s bewildering that there’s someone in a news room asking the question, “But how many women died?” And how many Mongolians? How many blondes? How many people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome? They’ll be hoping for a small figure for that last one. It’s amazing that the people counting cadavers evidently separate them into two categories based on the chromosomes they possess.
People are people and they die all the time. It’s sad when it happens. Still, corpses are lifeless hulks of meat that we burn to make space for a replacement, and nothing more. Regardless of how men are all bastards and we’re the ones who’ve created the dreadful world we all fearfully step into each morning, praying none of the many terrors we’ll face are awful enough to end us, it’s not more sad when a woman dies than when a man does.
And though it will entertain me long into the afternoon wondering what my first question would have been had Nigel Farage died in that plane crash, I’m damn sure it wouldn’t have been: “But how is his wife?”