William Flew on Women

April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

But apparently the differences between the skulls of men and women “are far less pronounced today than they were in the 16th century”. Which is no doubt why Hamlet was so certain of his discovery in the graveyard, and did not feel compelled to declare: “Alas, poor Yorick, or possibly Yolanda.”
And yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that women with their skin still on and their eyes still in (having, in short, “faces”) looked so much more different from men in the 16th century than they do now — as will be clear to anyone who has scrutinised contemporaneous portraits of the wives of Henry VIII and found them all to be indistinguishable from Little Britain’s Matt Lucas in a wimple.
Still, the research went on to present some quite interesting stuff about how the skull change was one of size and how women’s skulls have been growing quicker than men’s over time, possibly because women in the past suffered more from malnutrition than men. This would allow one to observe the effects of women’s liberation for the first time in physical evolutionary changes to the species. Fascinating.
And that’s all very well and good, but then I happened to catch ten minutes of a programme called The Model Agency, which I had never seen before. I had inferred from reviews that it was a prurient look at the famously beastly, shallow and venal world of fashion modelling, but I was unprepared for the horrors of what I saw on the screen, by dint of a random cocoa-time channel hop.
It was a softly spoken, not very bright North American man called Anthony, “head of scouting” at the agency, interviewing a teenage girl he hoped to employ. She was tall, slim and beautiful, but, unfortunately, had breasts. Not huge. Maybe a B-cup. She was 16 or 17 years old.
“If I can just inspire her to shape up,” Anthony said to camera, and then to the girl, guilelessly: “You’re always going to have a bust, there’s nothing to be done about that.” Now, while that was a strange thing to say to a young woman, it struck me as possibly a harmless reflection of Anthony’s own physical preferences. You could substitute “vagina” for breasts there, and the sentiment would be the same: “You are lovely, but, alas, you are a woman.”


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