Belfast Telegraph

Is having respect for women really worse than pimping them?

By Gail Walker

We should be proud of local farmer Alan Graham. In taking his stand over Rihanna and her prancing around topless in his field the Co Down farmer emerged as a big man.

Certainly, a bigger person than his detractors who, of course, hearing the words "DUP", "farmer", "alderman", "nudity" and "banning" went, with all predictability, frothy at the mouth and started yelping all the old cliches about their neighbours and fellow citizens.

Jackpot! A chance to rail at our "backwardness" and our "uptight ways", with ugly accusations that the hapless man was not just damaging tourism to Northern Ireland but the peace process itself.

Instead of feeling ashamed that Graham should have made such a quixotic stand, we should applaud him for standing up for what he believes in.

And not just what he believes in, but what thousands and thousands of others like him in this small place also believe in.

Sometimes it needs to be said: we are not LA or New York or Rio or Sydney. We are Clandeboye.

And it is nothing of which to be the least bit ashamed.

Even if as individuals we don't agree with our neighbours, why should we feel embarrassed that we are a conservative place where the religious beliefs of individuals matter and - shock, horror - actually affect the society in which we live?

Graham - gently spoken, not in the least strident but firm and clear in his beliefs and convictions - could be your father, your uncle, one of those who makes up the spine of small town Ulster that you'd meet at the local market or the park show.

We all know lots of Alan Grahams. His is a conservatism that goes beyond a certain set of doctrinal beliefs - Rihanna would have received as short, but equally polite, shift from many a Catholic farmer.

The Alan Grahams may seem "unworldly" but, when you look at the carnival of sleaze that parades itself as "the real world", you have to admire them for not over-bothering with it.

Ah, but it makes Northern Ireland seem so backward, moaned the critics (before they realised how moronic they sounded when the likes of Barbara Windsor and Dannii Minogue started pointing out the inappropriateness of what Rihanna was up to).

And I wonder what exactly is more backward: showing a modicum of respect for women or making it de rigueur for them to strip off at every available opportunity to flog something or other - a song, a film, a clothing line, or (for the Z-listers) just another headline?

Leaving the farmer's religious beliefs to one side, Graham raises an issue which should trouble even the most liberal of consciences when he said he didn't "believe young ladies should have to take their clothes off to entertain. I am entitled to hold that opinion. I would have more respect and more care for that young lady than lots of the people running about who want to see her taking her clothes off".

They were, he said memorably, but probably accurately, "frustrated billy goats".

Well, why do "young ladies" have to take their clothes off to entertain? It's a simple question which, in all the ranting against Graham, remains unanswered by our more sophisticated "betters" whose morals are, of course, well in advance of the simple certainties of farmers working the land just outside Bangor.

Still, give me their simple certainties any day over the pornographic pimping of women that is the basis of modern pop entertainment.

They can dress it up anyway they like - artistic freedom, female empowerment, post feminism - but at the end of the day it's another stockinged leg, another basque, another tush in your face, another pair of boobies for the slavering millions to get their jollies.

No one ever suggests to Gary Barlow or Justin Timberlake or The Killers that they should walk across a field of barley without their trousers on.

Shake your money maker, girls. It's all your worth.

Welcome to the modern world ...

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