Aunt Sally or violence condoned by Susan Grimsdell

A crossword puzzle clue led me to discover a 17th century game still played in pubs in England.   A model of the head of an old woman is put on a metal spike and players throw battens or sticks at it.  The object is to knock the head off the spike.  In France the game is called jeu de massacre (game of carnage), in England it’s known as Aunt Sally.

David Cameron with sticks to throw at Aunt Sally

With the blessing of the PM

In 2011 the inaugural Aunt Sally Singles World Championship took place in West Oxfordshire, with the prime minister of the day, David Cameron, attending.  Indeed, this very year – 2019 – the first world championship for Aunt Sally pairs was held in Oxfordshire.

I don’t know about you, but I find this quite horrifying.  Imagine the scene, down through the ages – men (because women were not allowed in pubs, for most of those years it was men) gleefully making the model of the head – no doubt making it as ugly as they could, then chortling and laughing their heads off, competing to throw sticks at it and knock it to the ground.

Violence against women condoned

Edwardian Aunt Sally – it seems they were often painted black

You can imagine the jokes, the back-slapping when someone scored a bullseye on “the old woman”, which is, by the way, exactly what certain men call their wives.   Could anything convey the message that it’s OK to beat your wife better than that?

Perhaps we might be a little forgiving of the ignorance of people in those far-off days but 2011, 2019?  The world championship with the Prime Minister happily going along?

No wonder there are so many “Me Too” stories, when this symbolic violence against women is considered a whole lot of fun and people compete to see who’s best at it.   No wonder the incidence of violence against women is so high.

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