Grandchildren are a wonderful blessing, at least at the age mine are – 3, 5 and 8 and all boys. You can indulge them more than you would have done their parents, then hand them back at the end of the day and they will love you for it – the grandkids, I mean.
But there is one downside – the possibility that one or others of these angelic creatures will some day succumb to the lure of drugs is a horrific thought. It is a nightmare one tries to suppress, something to worry about for another day, when they are older. Other than premature death, it’s hard to imagine a scenario more terrible than a life consumed by opiates or stimulants. Or so I thought until just the other day.
My middle grandson, Zane, was watching one of the Star Wars movies when he suddenly said, ‘Pa, can we skip over the part where Jango Fett kills a girl?’ I thought at first he must have absorbed the message of those public-service announcements that urge men — all men, not just the minority of thugs and ruffians — not to punch women or otherwise physically abuse them. But that wasn’t the case, as it subsequently emerged during the course of our conversation.
Shockingly, it is his belief that girls are unworthy opponents, even though, in this instance, Fett’s quarry, Zam Wessell, is herself a contract assassin and no shrinking violet. Pardon the Star Wars trivia, but one becomes something of an expert on who light-sabered who when youngsters are bouncing about the house.
I was mortified. My immediate reaction was that Zane should be referred to an expert –Fairfax Media’s Clementine Ford, say — for re-education. That is her below, explaining to one and all that her vagina is not a car. This is a useful distinction, as Melbourne City Council parking officers might otherwise waste time searching for a windscreen wiper under which to leave an infringement notice.
The thought of him repeating such a demeaning view of the female sex in public was just too embarrassing. Where on earth could he have gotten the outrageous idea that a girl is less worthy of being killed in combat than a man?
In an earlier, less enlightened age, I might foolishly have lauded him for such gallantry and gentlemanly sensitivity, rare in one so young. Then it occurred to me that, yes, Zane is much too young to have absorbed such sexism from his father or, God forbid, his grandfather. Clearly, misogyny is inherited not learned. I further questioned if any re-education program, even one conducted by so perceptive a social critic as Fairfax Media’s Ms Ford, might be effective against the malign influences encoded in Zanes male genes. His birthright and destiny is to be an XY-chromosoned outcast, I concluded, a creature to be scorned by all right-thinking members of our new and liberated world. Ms Ford exemplifies that new order. After news broke of the mass sexual molestation of women by men of Middle Eastern and North African heritage she put things immediately into the correct perspective via the Tweet reproduced below.
A collage of repugnant vignettes passed across my mind: Zane opening a door for a lady, giving up his seat on the bus or even, horror of horrors, telling a girl on a beach that she looks great in a bikini. For the life of me I couldn’t see a solution that would save Zane from himself? Where in this modern world of ours, a world ordained to become ever more modern as Women’s Studies graduates take their places of influence in media organisations. Where could a poor boy possibly fit in?
I can only see one way out. He will have to change the spelling of his name to his name to Zain and emigrate to Europe, possibly Germany. Then the likes of Ms Ford will spring righteously to his defence, no matter what indignities he inflicts on women nor how far his hands may wander.