A recent article by Nury Vittachi, Scientists discover that atheists might not exist, and that’s not a joke, received rather a lot of comments.  Among these were a few about the place of women in the world: however these tended to be lost among the welter of other comments.  Indeed, the article seemed to attract a large number of orcs.  Now in some ways I am a highly discriminatory sort of person, and here I am discriminating between trolls, who simply like to post on threads to wind people up, giving vent to their mischievous nature, and orcs, who attack in force against those whom they perceive to be the enemy.

In the present instance, most of the orcs were professing atheists, very much riled by the suggestion that they might not really exist.  However, in this category I also include those posting from a “creation science” standpoint, and presumably objecting to the idea that we humans are all naturally religious as part of our evolutionary heritage.

Were I Kinky Friedman, I might try to settle the issue by composing a song “Why did God make man so like a monkey?”, but (a) I lack his talent, and (b) I want to clear this matter out of the way and get on to the matter of women in a world (apparently) ruled by men.

In Britain, we have had two major changes in the position of women.  Firstly, the General Synod of the Church of England has voted to allow the election of women bishops.  Now this may be right or it may be wrong, but the arguments put forward for it I have found far from convincing.  These days, so much of this legislation seems to be forced through by an appeal to an axiom of equality.  And since even mathematical axioms these days are found to rest on shaky foundations (see for example Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty by Morris Kline), I do not find this at all satisfactory.

The second change is that our Prime Minister, David Cameron, has had a massive cabinet reshuffle and replaced a lot of “middle-aged white males” by somewhat younger women.  

Now my own reaction to these two items is rather different.  I do feel quite “iffy” over the matter of the bishops, but I am not uncomfortable with the idea that it might be better if the majority of senior positions in government were occupied by women.  Whether that is true or not, it does seem that women are being shoe-horned into a system of government by men.  In A Miscellany of Men (1912), G.K.Chesterton wrote:
Female suffrage may be just. But if it is just, it is just because women are women, not because women are sweated workers and white slaves and all sorts of things that they ought never to have been.

Let us ask ourselves first what we really do want, not what recent legal decisions have told us to want, or recent logical philosophies proved that we must want, or recent social prophecies predicted that we shall some day want. . . . If there ought to be female suffrage, let it be female, and not a mere imitation as coarse as the male blackguard or as dull as the male clerk.
I have just had a look at a Wikipedia list of Women who are heads of government.  Rather more than I thought, but is this a sign of movement in the right direction?  In Asia at least, many of these are what I have heard referred to as “Begums”, being there because they are daughter of this man or wife of that man, “that man” generally having died, often having been assassinated.

And is the only way forward for a woman still to say, as did Lady Macbeth, “unsex me now”?