I suppose I must have been looking for something to do – never usually a problem for one of the world’s great footerers – but the other day I decided to flick through the pages of one of my favourite golf magazines and count up the number of women gracing their pages.
As I ploughed on and began to realise that I needed not only my glasses but also my magnifying glass, I got more and more peeved. So peeved that I asked Maureen to have a go too. Not surprisingly she said that she had better things to do but she did take up the challenge later and told me that it didn’t take long for the steam to start coming out of her ears…
I used to work for Golf World and was always told that it was men who bought golf magazines, so there wasn’t much point aiming stuff at women. I did end up writing a women’s column, so at least there was a bit of a presence and Laura Davies was always guaranteed to make a splash. Even golfers who didn’t know that women were allowed to set foot on a fairway had heard of LD, the future Dame. And Peter Haslam, the editor, had a daughter, Sarah, who became a professional, so it wasn’t a complete wasteland.
Issue 179 of bunkered, however, confined us mostly to the ads, with only Nicola Ellwood, who writes on the mental game, being remotely mainstream. She’s a Master Performance Coach, Mind-set Coach and NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) Master Practitioner and you’ll find her at www.performanceandmastery.co.uk. On page 98, I spotted Catriona Matthew, the pride of Scotland, who had, marvel of marvels, graced the front cover in a previous issue. This time she was tucked away in a promotional ad for bunkered, which reminded me why I’m a subscriber: they do very good deals and will usually give you a dozen Srixons as well as 30 per cent, or whatever, off the standard cover price. As a result my ball pocket is stuffed with Srixons.
Now, Mo’s and my tallies didn’t match – and I lost the will to get out the fine-tooth comb; suffice to say that you’d probably need no more than two hands for the count and that’s including the soft-focus woman in the Laings pre-owned (since 1840) ad ( I only counted her once, though she appears three times – it is a double-page spread). I thought we’d moved beyond 1840 but Dai did once describe me as his “ever-optimistic wife”.
To be fair, three women feature on the last page, “In Focus: pics of cool stuff you might have missed on social.” That’s being generous because there’s a before and after picture of Amy Boulden’s back garden without anyone in it; Michelle Wie West enceinte, before the arrival of her daughter Makenna; and Nelly Korda with her dog. Woof.
Still, however much of an afterthought we women are, however much we have to fight our corner still, spare a thought for people of colour in golf. Tiger, unsurprisingly, featured in issue 179, riding in a buggy somewhere but I didn’t spot any other non-white golfers, even in the ads. I was thinking about this, not just because of Black Lives Matter (and please don’t miss the point by saying that all lives matter) but because I came across a fascinating book that I’d forgotten I had called “Forbidden Fairways: African Americans And The Game Of Golf”. It’s a brilliant, if sobering, read.
I suppose colour makes for an easy-peasy prejudice because it’s so visible but, as they sang in South Pacific, one of the world’s great musicals, “You have to be carefully taught”. I remember being in hospital once and what I loved about it was the diversity, people of all sorts of colours, ages, shapes and sizes, from all sorts of backgrounds. There were misunderstandings, of course, not least because people used language differently, the same words meant different things to different people and nuances were missed or misconstrued. “Political correctness” is sneered at and much maligned and taken to extremes by people for their own purposes but at its best, surely, it just means paying attention to what you’re saying, how you’re saying it and being a little bit more sensitive in your dealings with people?
No wonder bias, unconscious or otherwise, exists: it’s easy to feel comfortable with people who have had a similar upbringing, are more or less on the same wavelength, have had the same training and help reinforce each other’s prejudices; at base it’s the gang mentality. Even better if you can regard anyone different as inferior. Heaven forbid that they might teach you something, broaden your horizons, change your thinking, open your mind, make you think.I used to make assumptions, anticipate what people would say, how they were thinking, how they were feeling. I’d get their measure – I thought – then put them in their box, suitably labelled, content that that’s where they’d stay, preserved in aspic. Trouble was, it didn’t work. Next time I came across a person neatly labelled, presuming I knew just how they’d react, they’d do the opposite or, at the very least, something completely different and put the kybosh on all my theories. Now, I tend to ask and I try to listen – blabbermouths can learn to listen – and learn why people think the way they do.
Sometimes, even after listening very, very carefully, the only possible response is a burst of Anglo-Saxon, four-letter words, accompanied by exasperated gestures, so it just goes to show that I’m still a work in progress….a wishy-washy liberal (now with added bolshy, anarchistic tendencies) who’s led a charmed life, largely thanks to an accident of birth, nothing much to do with me, guv.
See you next week, all being well.