Gender politics

The dismissal of Dr “Beetroot” Msimang has been greeted with much rejoicing in South Africa, but I can’t help feeling sorry for the woman. The former health minister was demoted to presidential masseuse after failing to shake off the ignominy of claiming that garlic was a cure for AIDS. She must have confused the disease with vampires, who also infect the blood of their victims. Let us hope that she follows the example of Mr Profumo in gradually restoring her good name by eating humble pie and working for charitable causes. Probably best to stay clear of AIDS charities though.

Looking at things with a gorilla’s impartial eye, I wonder about the wisdom of having female ministers of state. A woman won’t shine in politics if she has to pussyfoot around with parliaments and cabinets, explaining her actions to men who treat her like a walking petticoat. She really needs to be a queen, preferably with life-and-death powers over her subjects. The good thing about female tyrants is that they are relatively moderate and won’t initiate gruesome purges just to remind everyone who the daddy is. The only exception I can think of is Mary Tudor, who burned a lot of people for no good reason after taking a Spaniard into her bed. Some experiences will bring out the pyromaniac in any woman. But by and large, you’ve got to do something pretty horrendous for a queen to cook your goose. The Queen of Hearts was funny only because she was so atypical.

Opinions differ on what the best sort of queen is. The neo-classicists favour a scheming temptress like Cleopatra, who bends powerful men to her will by wantonly feeding their bedroom fetishes. The neo-barbarians prefer the fearless virago, who rides into battle in an armour-plated brassiere and can throttle a man between her muscular thighs. As a dutiful son of the Mother Continent, I endorse the semi-mythical African queens so vividly described by Ms Kola Boof. These Nubian sovereigns were bisexual necromancers who wore no clothes and could summon forest demigods for Earthly congress. It is said that they brought their female votaries to ecstasy by licking the tips of their noses. It is a salutary lesson for modern humans that naked women were once revered for the majesty of their souls.

Politics, nevertheless, is not the ideal career for well-bred women. Dr Whipsnade’s friend, Lady Chuffington, is fretting about the prospects of her eldest daughter, currently enrolled in a Cultural Studies programme at the University of East London. The girl apparently dresses in the “Gothic” style and intends to spend the next summer vacation making a film about “Inkubus Sukkubus”, a musical ensemble venerated by her cult. In her desperation, Her Ladyship has asked me to counsel the wayward chit.

“Perhaps you might speak to her, Mr Bananas,” she said on the phone last week. “Tell her that there is nothing clever (or “cool” as they say) about dressing like a drag performer’s widow on the day of his funeral.”

“Lady Chuffington,” I replied, “rather than criticising her current fashion sense, I would prefer to induce a change in her behaviour by citing positive alternatives.”

“Well do as you wish!” she replied rather testily. “I am concerned with the outcome rather than the stratagem used to bring it about.”

I have since studied some pictures of these Gothic women and frankly I’ve seen a lot worse. Their “Brides of Dracula” look gives them the appearance of devilishly sensual creatures who might even tempt a hard-bitten male gorilla to become a little harder and more bitten. Yet I’ve made a promise to Lady Chuffington and I’m not the sort to ape to go back on his word. I shall talk to her daughter – but I’m damned if I know what I’ll say to her.

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