I know there have always been many jokes made about women drivers but seeing the news this morning that women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive, well okay, so it isn't the biggest problem women have had but every day we learn of women like the one in Kenya who was sixteen, raped by six men and left unconscious and the police made the men mow the lawn outside the police station and she is in a wheelchair. Yeah, it's different but it's the same. It's a power game.
I remember Germaine Greer saying thirty years ago that women have no idea how much men hate them. It's a great generalisation of course but it's no surprise to me that a lot of the clever out going, out spoken and independent women in our society live alone.
I'm tempted when I hear about women being persecuted in other countries to say that they should be armed. I don't think it is going too far and I can't stand the way that people forgive one another for atrocities. How could you not hate somebody who despised you so obviously? I'm not a great believer in forgiveness. I think it damages the person I am. I'm sure it ought not to. It should make me stronger but it doesn't. I feed my anger because it keeps me going. Hate is so useful, it can be turned into energy and directed constructively.
There is of course another side to all these things and one of my early memories was of my mother learning to drive when I was very small. My father had never bought a car, he drove his parents around in their enormous Austin Shiline - what a car that was. As children all four of us could sit on the floor in the back and feel the bumps in the road. He was so pleased about the Austin A30 which he bought for my mother - she didn't work outside the home so it had to be his money. No worse for that. The little car was green and it was hers entirely. Nobody else ever drove it. I even remember the bloke who taught her to drive. He was called Donald and what a nice chap he was.
My husband used to mend cars in secret and then give them to me. I had a dark blue MG Midget and then a Scirroco - is that the right term? He painted it bright yellow and it was an automatic and to quote his words 'it went like shit off a stick'. I had a summer car and a winter car, the summer car was a bright yellow MGB GT and the winter one was deep red and four wheel drive.
That's love. That's when men really love women, making them cars, being proud to give them cars but most of all respecting them enough to let them buy their own. I remember after my husband died one car salesman asking if I would like to bring my husband along to help.
When my daughter buys new cars we go together and woe betide any salesman who tries to do my kid down so you see some of us have come on a long way but spare a thought for those women who are driving in Saudi Arabia in defiance of the law and for all those in countries where women are still abused. And it's not just far away places. Two women a week here are killed by their partners. But also I keep in mind the lovely men like my dad and my husband, Richard. I wish they were still here, they would both have been so proud of my daughter and the woman she has become and all the others of her generation, out there, driving, loving, getting on with their lives.