Thursday, 23 October 2008

Ladies, get back in the kitchen!

I hesitated to blog this report from the Times-on-line as it is a minefield of political correctness, national sterotypes and sexual politics. However, never one to avoid putting my foot in it I thought why not! So here goes. I am wearing my tin helmet and crouching in my foxhole ready for the screams of outrage!

The Times-on-line today reported that the sexual revolution is breaking out in Scotland, at Broughty Castle Bowling Club to be exact. Founded in 1867 the club excluded women until 1924 when a ladies' section was formed. There are currently 50 women who have the status of associate members and more than 100 men who are full members. Associates pay £46 a year, full members pay £153. Apart from reduced fees associate members are also expected to provide catering assistance to the club on Saturday games and competitions. Meals come in hot from a local supplier but the women have to set the tables, dish out the food, collect the dirty plates wash them and clear everything up. The ladies do it on a rota basis with three ladies each week. Apparently some of the women are fed up being treated as “kitchen slaves.”

The Ladies Section AGM has now demanded that as of next year the club must either share the task around or hire an outside agency to serve the meals. Club officials have said that if the ladies are no longer willing to work in the kitchen then the committee will recommend that the associate members' fees rise to 75 per cent of the full members’ fees to mitigate the damage the ladies withdrawal will cause to the club’s finances. This will mean an increase from £46 to £115 per year. Ladies who volunteer to continue providing the meals service on Saturday afternoons will be given the option to retain their current reduced level of fees.

Bowling officials dismissed the row as a storm in a teacup, but admitted that the sport was one of the last bastions of male privilege. The club has of course been lambasted for its outdated approach and attacked for “threatening women” with higher fee prices in exchange for kitchen duties.

The best way forward to me would seem to be to remove the distinction completely between women and men members. Put them all on the same membership fee of £150 a year then do as the ladies suggest and bring in outside help. The food itself is already bought in from an outside supplier who could no doubt also provide three willing workers to set the tables, dish out the food, collect the dirty plates, wash them and clear everything up.

According to the report the Bowling season runs from April until the end of September, which by my calculation is 26 Saturdays, in addition, they also help to put on teas on other days when the club runs competitions, so the most any lady will be asked to do is 2 afternoons a year or about 8 hours a year? For which they are currently paid (in the form of reduced fees) £69 or just over £8.00 an hour. Seems like a good deal to me!

My daughter currently works in the evenings waiting on tables and she gets no where near £8.00 an hour, she’s in receipt of minimum wage (under 18) of about half that for working Saturday evenings. She’d jump at £8.00 an hour on a Saturday afternoon?

It seems to me that the club are not threatening higher fees in return for kitchen duties but currently offer REDUCED fees in return for kitchen duties. If the Ladies don’t want to do the kitchen work any more then I am 100% behind them in their rights to say so BUT they surely then can’t expect to retain the reduced fee as well?

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