My song today is ‘Diana’. This song was written and made famous by Paul Anka in 1957. Paul Anka stated in his autobiography that the song was inspired by a girl named Diana Ayoub, whom he had met at his church and community events and had developed a crush on. Paul Anka's original 1957 recording reached Number 1 on the ‘Billboard Best Sellers in Stores’ chart. It reportedly sold over nine million copies. ‘Diana’ also hit Number 1 on the ‘R&B Best Sellers’ chart. It also reached Number 1 on the UK's ‘New Musical Express’ chart.
As a young man, I was a decent singer and we still lived in the age where young women loved being serenaded. I recall being so taken by this song as a 15 and 16-year-old teenager that if ever I dated a young woman called Diana, boy was she in for a treat! My aim was to meet them, date them, and finally, impress them by serenading them with the song 'Diana' one moonlit night before ‘popping the question’. The question would naturally change from situation to situation and girl to girl.
Being less acquainted with classical mythology in my teens, at the time of my pursuit of young women called ‘Diana’, l was unaware that in mythology, Diana was the Goddess of wild animals and the hunt. I now suspect that I may have got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Perhaps it was the beautiful young women called ‘Diana’ who were the hunters and I, their unsuspecting prey?
I dated a few young women called 'Diana' during my 16th year of life, although I must admit in all truth, I would have dated any female beauty of fetching features, even had she been named ‘Mucky Molly from Miry Lane’. Miry Lane was commonly known as 'Lover's Lane' to all courting residents of Windybank Estate who were on the lookout for a lover’s hideaway. Halfway down Miry Lane, off the roadside, was a grain field where sheaves of barley grew tall enough to conceal any loving couple from main-road passers-by once they lay down. This lover’s spot was notorious for young women losing their maidenhead during warm summer evenings to young men whose surname they may not have known at the time but would shortly adopt as their own before the year was out.
I was a teenager during an age where there were still double standards commonly practised between men and women. This was the sexist sixties of Great Britain where men and women doing the same thing and behaving, in the same way, were viewed entirely differently by society at large. A young man having sex with a young woman was generally considered to be behaving as all young men tend to do before settling down with a respectable wife-to-be, whereas the single woman engaging in any sexual activity before marriage was acting ‘sluttish’ or was called a ‘common tart’.
Whereas it would be regarded as being understandable for a young man to engage in whatever comes naturally to a young man who has wild oats to sow and seeks fertile ground to sow them in, for a young woman to ever believe that she would share a similar harvest of opinion by the community at large, would be akin to her having her loaf and eating it. This was the late 1950s and there was no equality between man and woman. The young men wanted the pleasures of a romantic encounter without any of the responsibility. They would continue to have their fun and to get married when they were good and ready to marry, whereas the highest fear of any a young woman was remaining unmarried into her mid-twenties (being left on the shelf) and being branded ‘an old maid’. Even when the word ‘spinster’ was used to describe the unmarried status of a woman in her late twenties upwards, the utterance of the word ‘spinster’ was spat out suspiciously, in a manner that sought to place a large question mark over her sexual status.
The sixties were undoubtedly days when moral codes were applied differently to any young man or woman committing the same sexual act. Society discriminated greatly against all females, much more than any male. Whereas men could fight, fart, and f…k when and where they willed, women were still clothed in a blanket of male subservience and moral protection. This was undoubtedly the age of 'double standards' where inequality between the sexes still existed in all corners of the land. Whenever any young woman became sexually involved in a casual manner with a young man, there was only one loser, and it was never the man. The prize for any young woman of the time was winning a good man who would marry her, respect her. father her children and support the family. The competition was never played on equal terms and different rules applied between the sexes.
First and foremost, as males were the main family providers in the nation’s workforce, women approaching their twenties needed to get married more than men did unless they wanted to live at the parental abode as an ‘old maid’. To acquire their long-term security, young women were expected to play the most dangerous of roles when seeking young men of good husband material. The task was simply reduced to how they could get the most of what they wanted from their relationship by giving the least they could in return, while still maintaining ‘His’ continued interest, and preserving ‘Her’ own respectability and good name? To remain intact required the feminine skill of ‘promising everything’ whilst ‘giving up nothing’. The courting woman, however, was caught in a double bind as she was dammed by society if she did, and dumped by her boyfriend if she didn’t!
When the women managed to get their man to the church on time and became the respectable wife and mother, and a responsible member of the community, women still had the worse part of the marriage lottery. However decent the man she married was, however loving a father to their children, or good a breadwinner to their household he proved to be, the bottom line was that the husband remained head of the household, he was the breadwinner and controlled the household budget, and it was to him that wife and children turned whenever important decisions required to be made.
This essentially meant everything was done by the wife when her husband expected it to be done. They lived where he decided, they ate when he decided, they had sex whenever he decided, they had the number of children he wanted to father. There was not a man in Great Britain of any class who did not have his expectations met by his wife, without there being ‘trouble to pay’ when she was found wanting. For instance, when he arrived home at five o’clock after his day’s work was done, he expected to have a warm meal already out on the table for him, ready to eat. His wife, on the other hand, never rested until she went to bed (and not always then). Whereas her husband knocked off and relaxed upon coming home, her work was never done, and the only chance she got to sit down for two minutes in her busy day was when she went to the lavatory! Between 1860 and 1960, apart from women having been given the vote, little changed in the entire century to improve the woman’s lot!
The women of the day needed a female warrior to rally around, and the 1960s and 1970s witnessed a growth of women’s movements mushroom across the world; the most notable one at the time being headed by Germaine Greer and millions of feminist followers reading ‘The Female Eunuch’ as they paraded the streets in protest Their protest marches often concluded in the ceremonial burning of their bras in public demonstrations. Germain Greer adopted the role of a ‘Diana’ as she lectured far and wide, and it was impossible to turn on the television during the 1970s without seeing Germain Greer on the screen. Many feminists today would undoubtedly say that Germain Greer eventually ‘sold out’, but we would need a woman’s perspective to validate that view.
During the past sixty years, while laws have been passed in Great Britain to secure more equitable roles between men and women in society at large, most women would feel that legislation has merely paid lip service to women’s rights. The greatest advancement that provided more freedom and security for women during the last sixty years was undoubtedly the introduction of the contraceptive pill, but even that fact is hard to swallow as representing sufficient progress. Massive inequality between the sexes still exists, and probably always will.
When I look around Great Britain today, what do I see? The monarch still rules her subjects: the Government of the day still legislates laws that govern the citizen’s daily lives: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer: the powerful still hold sway over the powerless and always will. And as for the Englishman himself; his home is still his castle, and his wife is still his Queen, and their young Princes still take precedence in the line of succession over their Princess sisters. If you do not believe me, ladies, you just try to enter any ‘male ground’ and see if you are impeded. Except for a few women who have broken through the glass ceiling, this unequal access still applies in the major positions of state, government, church, law, business, education, etc.
In fact, let us ignore the macro illustration of society at large and look much closer to home. Should a wife try to go into her husband’s garage, his work shed, or even attempt to set foot upon his allotment plot, she will soon find her presence unwelcome, resisted, and discouraged. She will find that entering male ground is even harder than going in his wallet to get more housekeeping money.
I am afraid it started way back in the ‘Garden of Eden’ when Eve was created from the rib of Adam. Whatever a woman is, she comes from man (according to biblical scripture). She came second then, and until Christianity is spearheaded by a Goddess instead of a God, that as far as monarchy, government, church, law, state, employment, education, society, home, and allotment shed, ‘She’ still comes second to ‘He’.
Love and peace