Why aren't England's Euro 2022 winners called the Lions?

Peter Rhodes on lions, lionesses and life in a goldfish bowl.

Lionesses v Lions
Lionesses v Lions

You may have a sense of deja-vu in the debate about calling the England women's football team Lionesses. That's may be because the same issue was raised in this column seven years ago.

I was making the point back in 2015 that feminised forms of male titles are generally regarded as demeaning and sexist. That's why some female performers prefer to be known as actors, not actresses. A newspaper boss, whatever the gender, is definitely an editor (the term “editrix” was binned many years ago). We have also ditched the old word for a female pilot, an aviatrix.

So why, against the flow of grammar, has the feminised word, Lionesses, caught on for the footballers? Roaring and leaping and scattering the opposition, are they not lions? Thankfully, I have no strong views either way, having been greatly blessed. I was born entirely without the football gene.

Some folk have pointed out that in the wild, it is lionesses who do all the serious hunting while the lions laze around all day. All this tells us is that the male of the species has an enlightened approach to the work-life balance. Zzzzzz.

The most depressing thing about the lacklustre Tory leadership process is knowing that on the backbenches of the Commons are many MPs who would make a better prime minister than either Truss or Sunak. So why haven't they put themselves forward?

Look closely at the job description. Who would rush into life in a goldfish bowl with constant scrutiny, endless risk of scandal or assassination and your fate hanging on some off-hand, unguarded comment you may have made 50 years ago. The PM's job today is under-paid, over-examined and brutally unfair on families. The only people wanting this job must possess either a burning sense of public duty or a terrifyingly towering ego. I'm reminded of the old police chief who said anybody who wanted a firearms certificate was, by definition, unfit to have one.

Saddest sight of my week, in the zero-privacy setting of a dental-surgery reception, was a foreign patient being presented with a bill for £170 worth of treatment and being unable to understand why the NHS could charge him so much. If it's any consolation, we Brits don't understand either.

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