Sunday, 7 June 2009

Cotswold Taleban

This talk of the differences between men and women reminds me of an experience I had back in the '90s. I was attending the wedding reception of a very old mate with T. my girlfriend (and future wife). It was in the Cotswolds, where I grew up, and I was looking forward to catching up with old friends from school and pub.

After an hour or so of chatting, drinking and having the odd dance, T. asked me why all the men were standing in one area (where the drinks were) while all the women were sitting down in another. She also wondered why after I'd introduced her to my old mates none of them addressed any remarks to her, barely looking at her, just sneaking the odd surreptitious look. My brother's partner said she'd had the same experience.

I really hadn't noticed. The behaviour seemed normal to me in this context. But I realised it was highly unusual in other contexts - that of university or London, for instance.

But why? I joked that they were probably scared I'd punch them if they showed too much interest in my missus. But then, I reflected later, was there some truth in this light-hearted remark?

I began to speculate anthropologically. Might it be that, consciously or otherwise, women in this arena were perceived as highly sexual and potentially very promiscuous beings? Men, on the other hand, might be perceived as constantly on the hunt for sex, a perennial mission which was usually uppermost in their minds.

As a consequence, for a male to interact with an attached female in full view of her partner could likely be construed as a sexual challenge and an act of great disrespect. And the fear would be that showing an interest, with all that implied, would provoke violent retaliation. So men generally didn't dare address the female half of a couple.

Probably patronising bollocks. Perhaps my friends were just shy? Perhaps it was an understandable reaction to a pretty, and obviously well-educated and posh outsider? But then why the clearly visible sexual segregation that would have been there with or without the presence of the female strangers? In any event, my wife still sometimes makes mention of the Cotswold Taleban.


Anonymous said...

You should have just told her you'd threatened to kill anyone who looked at her.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Hereabouts the gender cluster is purely defensive. The men gather to persuade each other that they're still teenagers. The women gather to laugh at their menfolk's little willies.

worm said...

you should try coming from Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. In my local the men gather together for safety

Gadjo Dilo said...

With the greatest respect to your wife and to your friends at this event, aren't all residents of the Cotwolds pretty, and obviously well-educated and posh outsiders?

Gaw said...

Elb: There is only one Elberry.

Kevin: How totally terrifying. I bet you all drink a lot.

Worm: I thought that was because of the Beast of Bodmin. Or is that a euphemism for the wilder of the womenfolk?

Gadj: This was in the olden days before the Hollywood invasion. The biggest local celebrity back then was Cosy Powell, drummer of Black Sabbath, who went to my alma mater. But then the Sabbath were massive.