I am reminded of these cats when I read women columnists about Sarah Palin. They bray about strong women and bleat when one turns up. No, I don't suppose Palin is at all a saint, but the Presidential elections are, in my view, entirely correct to focus on strength of character, and general policy direction. No human being - not even Dr Kissinger - has full information and understanding of every situation he (or she) (or s/he, if you're going to do the full Greenham Common on me) may encounter. That's what advisers are for. What you want in the Chief Executive (and potential replacement) is a decision-maker.
Funnily enough, men don't have a hangup about strong women. We just want them to carry us upstairs:
Ideally, they won't eat us afterwards.
But this ain't good enough for Eve's sisters. Apparently, Palin's a baaad mother because her teenage daughter is up the duff (remember that, everybody who's been in a similar situation); it doesn't occur to these sexist critics that if teenage girls weren't genetically programmed to be (for a crucial moment) just that bit quicker and more devious than their mothers, the human race would have fizzled out long ago.
Julia Hartley-Brewer is the political editor of the Sunday Express. As an avowedly "card-carrying feminist" and atheist, she is confused by Palin (and, as a new mother herself, honest enough to be utterly confused in the abortion debate). She opines:
Although I don't share Palin's views on abortion (see last link above), I admire her courage in choosing to bring a disabled child into the world. I can't help wondering though whether Trig deserves more than a part-time mum with a breast pump in one hand and a Blackberry in the other as she tramps along the campaign trail.
Multi-tasking? Right to work? Or back to "Kinder, Küche, Kirche"? (Well, not Kirche, obviously.) J H-B (mother and working journalist) wishes her well and at the same time is "glad she's not my "mom.""
To her credit, Suzanne Moore is a bit less confused.
See, strong women are not a new thing, or a Left thing. If my mother hadn't been strong, she wouldn't have survived an attempted strangling by a crazed American GI trying to take random revenge for the death of his buddy - and to cap it, she went to his CO the next day (because otherwise the man might have repeated the attempt with another victim, probably successfully).
Nor would she, a young lone woman, have taken two horses and fled into Germany from East Prussia, where a raping and murdering Communist horde was sweeping through the country. And survive, like others in those chaotic days, by stealing from the ships in the harbour at Hamburg (though her sack turned out to be full of tobacco; she bought a pipe).
After her marriage to a British solder, there was communal living in a Nissen hut with heating from a fire in an empty white-spirit drum, and the austerity Fifties; and as an Army wife, a move to new family quarters about every six months, we worked out later. Not new new, of course - I can still remember the swarming cockroaches in the kitchen cupboards at Willich.
Strong? Don't make me laugh. The strength of women isn't demonstrated by swarming up the greasy pole of office bureaucracy (and legislating for extra handholds, and complaining about frangible ceilings); it's proved in much more gutsy ways than that. And ask any copper which sex they'd rather face in a fight (or look at King Stephen and Matilda).
By the way, all this talk of men being competitive and women co-operative is balls. A female friend is quite emphatic that women bosses are far worse. Recent research shows that verbal bullying (so common in girls' schools, and among the predominantly female staff in the British education system) does more long-term damage than the physical kind.
And the cats continue their spiteful staring-match.