Osborne and Balls: When political debate gets all “hormonal”

So things got a bit heated between Ed Balls and George Osborne in the House of Commons yesterday. Well, when I say “a bit heated”, I mean only insofar as things ever get “a bit heated” in there. This is of course very different from things being “heated” in real life. For instance, whenever I have a genuine, heartfelt argument about things that can make or break other people’s lives, it’s all a bit stressful and sad. I don’t have an army of jovial ex-public schoolboys sitting, arms crossed, behind me, guffawing excessively at my latest clever riposte. But perhaps that’s because when I get het up about such things, whatever I say or do has no influence whatsoever anyhow. And besides, we can’t blame Osborne or Balls for acting like tactless, self-satisfied tossers. It’s not their fault; they’re at the mercy of their hormones.

That’s always been the trouble with men. They just can’t control themselves. If they’re not thinking about sex every seven seconds, they’re destroying the world economy due to crazy testosterone-fueled recklessness. You can’t ever rely on a man to behave rationally when he’s a mere puppet being manipulated by the Great God Testosterone. What’s a woman to do?

Well, a woman’s not to step in to run the country herself, that’s for sure. For while the men might be behaving like hormone-crazed fuckwits, the women are, it has to be said, even worse. Two days ago the Daily Mail published an article about women with PMS under the deeply sympathetic title “Men were right all along. Our hormones DO make us women irrational” (I kid you not. Click on the link, I dare you – although it’ll make you irrational with rage). The piece is helpfully illustrated by a photograph of a woman in power heels holding a rolling pin, presumably because she’s about to smash something (I know the feeling. I’d want to smash something if I’d spent the whole day in heels that agonising). It’s probably no coincidence that she looks like a “career woman”. Being a career woman probably makes hormones all the worse.

Now I’m not a stranger to PMS myself. I mean, I’ve never had it formally diagnosed, and never even noticed it myself. But I once had a comment on this blog accusing me of having it. It also accused me of having no sense of humour. Both of these things – humourlesness and PMS – are well-documented side-effects of feminism, so yeah, I struggle.

And it’s not as if getting pregnant and hence having a break from monthly cycles can even get you out of it. Over at the Guardian, we’re hearing of the case of a woman who took her finals 28 hours after giving birth. Helpfully, we are told that “experts are still divided on what having a baby does to your brain”. But I can tell you what it does for free: it turns you from hormone-crazed rolling-pin wielder to porridge-brained moron, and it starts from the moment you conceive.

The first time I was pregnant I remember reading a “jokey” column in Pregnancy and Birth telling me that one of the benefits of being pregnant was that “you no longer have to pretend to understand Newsnight”. This was in 2006 – I can’t remember the precise month, because I threw the magazine away, no doubt in a fit of irrational hormone-driven fury. Then in 2009, a week before I gave birth to my second child, I submitted the final manuscript of an academic monograph for publication. Obviously this was a major mistake. It was accepted onto a pretty prestigious list, but still, it’s only really read by people who are interested in one small area of a very small field. If it hadn’t been for the hormones making me thick, perhaps it would have set the world on fire. It might have been the new Fifty Shades of Grey (with grammar! and big words! but, alas, no sex). Women in playgrounds the world over would be whispering to each other right now “hey, have you read the “German literature” book yet?”

Anyhow, no point dwelling on the past. It’s time to look to the future. And given that testosterone-addled men and PMS-ridden / porridge-brained women are both entirely incapable of deciding what should happen next, we need to ask ourselves who can. Well, I’ve got an answer: post-menopausal women. They’re the only ones – the only ones – capable of rising to the challenge. I don’t mean women going through the menopause; as the Daily Mail makes clear, these women are also total fucking loons. I mean women who are beyond it and all serene. Admittedly these are precisely the women of a certain age who become invisible and get ousted from public life, but hey, we can still reverse this trend, and we need to. Because it’s with these very women that our salvation may lie.

It’s not like we don’t have any older-woman role models to begin with. We have Helen Mirren. And there’s Twiggy. And there’s also Joanna Lumley. Which is, you know, okay. It doesn’t suggest there are many opportunities for older women who are not tall, blonde, thin and with good bone structure, but hey, it’s a start. And speaking as a short brown-haired minger facing a total abyss by the time I’m over 60, I’d still support them if they’re willing to have a go at setting things right. God knows, when you look at the House of Commons today, we really can’t do any worse.