Listening to Radio 4's self-consciously pro-feminist 'Woman's Hour' this morning I was appalled by the discussion on 'Helen Mirren in a bikini'. I was immensely relieved when on of the Friday panel - author Tim Lott - practically refusing to discuss this banality, saying that it was a pity that women had any interest in this sort of thing and they really should grow up and get over their obsession with appearance (I paraphrase from memory). Cheering silently, I reflected that this is EXACTLY what I have thought for a long time (ever since I first read Simone de Beauvoir at the age of 17). Women are constantly shooting themselves in the foot by becoming hung up on triviality: it's little wonder that they're not taken seriously. Get over it! This isn't knowing ironic feminist self-parody - it's a vapid neurotic obsession that keeps you from achieving or being taken seriously. Many very talented women spend an awful lot of time mentally observing and analysing their actions: it doesn't help that the very people who should be applauding their successes end up bringing the attributes of physicality into the discussion - looks, lifestyle and family in particular.
And this is why women don't produce great art. No, they don't. Don't pretend that textiles and ceramics and all the other second-rate detritus that women artists trot out are in any way equivalent to say, a Rembrandt or Mahler's Second. They're not, and all the politically-correct chin-stroking will not make them so. And don't bleat about the repression of women, patriachalism etc. Women don't produce great art because they are so busy hand-wringing and agonising and pleading their bellies. Women deal in minutiae. Most of the literature produced by them deals in 'relationships', their eyes never rising above the horizon of their locale. I quite agree with Brian Sewell's recent comment that there has never been a first-rank woman artist and that only men are capable of aestheitc greatness. No doubt this was greeted with howls of protest, but he's quite right, and right again to pin it on 'babies'.That there is, in this day and age, a programme called WOMAN'S Hour is shameful. That women actually consent to act in commercials for domestic air-freshener and online bingo is shameful. That they claim to enjoy films like 'Sex In the City' and 'Bridget Jones' is shameful. That they buy magazines that home in on the images and imagined shortcomings of 'celebs' is shameful. If women still aren't taken seriously, they only have themselves to blame. Don't be so SHAL-LOW!