You’d think that a very few things might remain sacred, and therefore safe from the post-Weinstein wrecking ball.
Say, fairy tales. We love fairy tales, indeed need fairy tales, to fill little children’s hearts with hope and wonder and dreams (and also to fill newspapers with happy speculation that one day a handsome prince will come and marry a beautiful girl called Meghan).
And hugs. Along with fairy tales, these are two of our favourite things, so they must be OK, right?
Wrong. Nothing and no one is safe any more. Two examples from last week.
Sarah Hall, from North Shields, claimed Sleeping Beauty promotes an ‘inappropriate sexual’ message to young children
The Girl Scouts’ high command in the US issued a Thanksgiving ‘reminder’ captioned: ‘Your Daughter Doesn’t Owe Anyone A Hug. Not Even At The Holidays.’
It went on: ‘Holidays and family get-togethers are a time for yummy food, sweet traditions, funny stories, and lots and lots of love.’
Are you ready for the ‘but’ yet? Coming right up.
‘But they could, without you even realising it, also be a time when your daughter gets the wrong idea about consent and physical affection.’
To summarise: girls must not be encouraged to give dear Uncle Billy Bob a hug, even though he’s flown thousands of miles for one night only to eat pumpkin pie with the folks, and has even brought pressies.
It could lead to an ingrained expectation in the child, you see, that men must be ‘rewarded’ for being nice or generous with ‘sexual favours’, as the organisation went on to explain.
Ms Hall argued Sleeping Beauty teaches children that it is acceptable to kiss a women while they are asleep
As if that wasn’t drear enough.
A mum in Northumberland called Sarah Hall – who claimed to be very much affected by the #metoo movement and Weinstein revelations – decided, after reading her six-year-old boy the story, that schools should retire Sleeping Beauty from libraries.
Why? Because the slumbering princess did not give verbal consent to be woken with a kiss by the prince, sillies!
My father’s right at home in the jungle
Everyone kindly asks me how my father is getting on in the jungle on I’m A Celebrity…
Well, so far he’s been excused the high dive on medical grounds, and only done the Dingo Dollar Trial to win meal tickets, so no bushtuckering yet.
He seems to be taking it in his stride, as I predicted he would last week: making bad puns, pretending not to know what Coronation Street is or who Ant and Dec are, and talking about the things he loves most – endangered species, and the last remaining wildernesses on this Blue Planet.
I think he’s giving a jolly good audition to be commercial telly’s David Attenborough.
He looks healthy and well – and, best of all, it’ll all be over by Christmas.
She tweeted her epiphany without clearly understanding the first thing about the magical fairy tale, which is that the princess was asleep and had been for hundreds of years and had to be woken by the kiss.
Mrs Hall reluctantly conceded the much-loved story could be retained as a ‘resource’ but only for ‘older children’ to ‘have a conversation around consent, and how the Princess might feel’.
Like you, what I feel is that we could all indeed have a ‘conversation’ following her intervention, about what is more damaging for a six-year-old boy: reading a sweet traditional fairy tale, or discovering that your mother has managed to unite the country for the first time since Brexit – in thinking the world has gone mad.
But that might not be productive, as there is a more important issue at stake here, and no, it’s not ‘consent’.
Not all contact is sexual. The prince’s smacker was more like the kiss of life, as applied to a drowning man.
What next? Do we have to formally ask permission to give people who have had heart attacks chest compressions, or to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on a choking diner?
A little girl’s hug is, again, not ‘sexual contact’, whatever the Girl Scouts might say.
I don’t want to live in this Age of Inappropriate, an unsafe and unpleasant space where innocent contact between family members, and beautiful tales of sleeping princesses, have to be dirtied by bonkers new diktats, which insist all men are potential predators and all females – and children, too – are potential victims.
Far more importantly – I’ve had my life! – I don’t want our kids to live in it either.
This madness must stop.
Otherwise obsessive adults will conspire to rob innocent children of their precious childhoods before they’ve even had them.