We know that all modern terms remotely related to politics mean exactly the opposite of their dictionary definition.
Liberal means socialist in America, conservative in Australia. Conservative means KGB in Russia and liberal in America. Neoconservative means non-conservative. Rightwing, as in Marine Le Pen, means leftwing. Justice, as in social justice, means injustice (people receiving what isn’t their due). Democracy means all sorts of things, but certainly not rule by the people. And equality means inequality everywhere you look.
Nowhere is this more evident than in tennis, where male and female players get equal prize money in all Grand Slam events. This year’s first such tournament, the Australian Open, has just reached the final stage, which signals the recurrence of this theme in my work.
Every year I write about this gross injustice, each time promising myself it will be the last. Every year I become so enraged I can’t contain myself.
Female players have won the case in favour of ‘equality’ following a long campaign unfolding under the slogan of equal pay for equal work. Yet major tennis tournaments provide the most convincing proof that the work put in by the two groups is far from equal.
First, a datum that even those who’ve never struck a ball in anger will understand. At this year’s Aussie Open the two women’s semi-finals between them lasted 3 hours 15 minutes. The two men’s semi-finals, 7 hours 45 minutes. More than twice as long.
That ratio more or less holds true throughout the tournament. Hence women get paid more than twice as much per hour, which somehow doesn’t fit into the loosest definition of equality.
Second, and again no recondite tennis expertise is required, men clearly work much harder on training and conditioning, thereby increasing the gap in the effort dedicated to their profession. If you wish to contest this observation, just compare the physique of any of the men’s semi-finalists with that of Coco Vandeweghe, one of the semi-final losers.
Coco’s photo, taken from a lovely angle, is featured above, and one has to admit that she’s an appealing girl. I shan’t tell you what her rubenesque body instantly brings to mind – I could be arrested for that.
However, what it definitely doesn’t bring to mind is the image of four hours’ gym work every day, followed by as many hours of court practice, a five-mile run and an ice bath – all routine for a top male player.
Half the women on the professional tour don’t look like athletes at all, never mind professional athletes. So, using an analogy from another sport, should a footballer playing in the Saturday pub league be paid the same as Wayne Rooney? For equality’s sake?
Third, and if you don’t play tennis you’ll have to take my word for it, women’s semi-finalists have nowhere near the technique of their male counterparts.
I’m not talking about foot speed and muscular strength here – these are largely physiological differences. My point is that, say, the Williams sisters, tomorrow’s finalists, don’t have the same repertoire of shots as the men’s semi-final winners Federer and Nadal, which means they haven’t put in as many hours.
For example, any British county player has a better volley than either sister, and even top club players tend to have all four limbs coordinated throughout the shot. By contrast, on half their shots the sisters’ limbs each acquires a life of its own, and their travel plans are at distinct odds.
Venus’s left leg often ends up shoulder-high on a forehand follow-through, which means she only has tenuous control of the shot. Any US college player from a half-decent university could beat any female professional without working up a sweat – largely because he has worked harder on honing his technique.
The fourth argument is commercial: men’s matches are much better draws in terms of gate receipts, sponsorship and, more important, TV revenues.
If fans were ready to pay more to watch Coco’s beautiful behind than Federer’s beautiful game, then none of the above arguments would mean much. But in fact, given the choice, anyone would rather watch a Federer-Nadal final than the one between the two Williams sisters.
So what exactly is the argument in favour of equal pay based on? Nothing but the toxic ideology of political correctness, which has a murderous effect on the very justice and equality it preaches so shrilly.
The juggernaut of modernity rolls over life, claiming all sorts of victims. One of them is language which these days lies not only in the notions it expresses but also in the words it uses. If Talleyrand believed that speech was designed to conceal thoughts, modern speech kills thoughts. Worse still, it perverts them.