William Tell¹ (Some know him well)
Shot an arrow through an apple
On the head of his lad
In order to prevent
Something very, very bad.
I can’t remember what
But he clearly hit the spot,
His place secured in the record books
On account of the heroic risk he took.
And Robin Hood did good
In his neighbourhood,
For the good of his health.
I don’t know how he hacked it
In that silly green jacket,
With a wayward bunch of acolytes
Who rarely seemed to do things right²
Legend for their parties
Raving well into the night.
Father Christmas (Bless his beard!)
Dirt-resistant, always pristine,
Has a strong reputation
For never being seen;
All across the world’s nations
Keeping strictly to a pact
That forms the very backbone
Of his annual world-beating act.
But when it comes to women
There are few stories to tell
Apart from epic stuff
Disenfranchising the gals.
Who was rescued by a fella?
A prince, as it goes,
With fancy house and questionable hose,
Establishing a suitably wealthy trend
For every girl’s hope
Of a very happy end.
And Sleeping Beauty?
What a belle,
Locked up in her tower of hell,
Saved by an act of hairdressing initiative,
Accredited to a prince with Looks
According to the story books
Who took a quite outrageous risk
To give some unknown wench a kiss…
And finally, for now, there’s poor Red Riding Hood
Duped by a wolf in her Nan’s neighbourhood.
Saved by the woodcutter’s combative action,
Carving an outcome with some satisfaction…
It’s not that I’m ungrateful
It isn’t that I’m scared:
But frankly, I find the whole thing
A little bit weird.
Learning from my earliest years
A woman almost always fears
Finding safety in a world
That wilfully segregates
The men from the girls.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful
If tables really turned.
The moral tale learned…?
¹ With deference to David Bowie …and a nod to the feminising /e/ that I hadn’t ever really acknowledged for its subtlety (!)
² Recalling a grainy black and white children’s TV programme with men in pre-Lycra tights…
³Nothing rhymes comfortably with ‘equality’…