‘Frankly I like being a bloke far too much to want to be a woman. But if I had to be a woman it’d be a woman I’d like to marry, not the sexy blonde type. Someone quiet without being subservient… perhaps a brunette. Or someone like Cilla Black – a girl who enjoys life. Not shy exactly, but unobtrusive.’
Dear oh dear, Cliff, Cilla Black, unobtrusive? This, by the way, is a quote from Cliff Richard, from the 21 January 1968 issue of the Observer Magazine about, of all things, gender role models.
The article, ‘Peeping Over the Sexual Fence’, grapples with the Jungian notion that no one is exclusively ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’, offering kernels of insight, such as: ‘In a supposedly male-dominated society few men can easily imagine themselves in the role of the woman. The thought has castrating implications.’
Thus, four rather reticent blokes were asked to put aside said castrating implications and attempt to imagine themselves as the ‘more delicate’ sex.
In the hot seat were Tory MP Sir Gerald Nabarro, who comes complete with a handlebar moustache along with support for capital punishment and Enoch Powell. Then there’s Terry Downes (a British middleweight boxer), F1’s Stirling Moss and, of course, good old Cliff.
The consensus seemed to be that they would hate to be a woman but, if their hand was forced, they’d look like someone they would want to get off with.
Sir Gerald would be ‘one of those gorgeous telecasters, with blonde hair, décolleté dress, a plummy voice and pouting, carmine, sensuous lips’. Downes, on the other hand, would be the complete opposite: ‘I’d be dark and slinky, very smart and quiet - I can’t bear women who are always talking.’
Moss is a little more enthusiastic: ‘I’d have to be someone like Shirley MacLaine, with great personal vivacity. To have that sort of exciting quality would be fine.’ Juliana Piskorz