Naked headless women golf tees, it’s all a bit of a laugh, eh? Adding, according to Dunlop, “a little humour to your game” or “the perfect gift for someone who takes the sport a little too seriously.” Bend down and stick the nice bit of pink plastic tits and arse in the ground, balance your golf ball head, swing and “thwack”. Hilarious.
But what about those of us who aren’t laughing?
I grew up in a village in Yorkshire with a pub called The Silent Woman. The pub sign was a picture of a woman carrying her head in her hands. To be silent a woman had to be headless. A misogynistic leap of association, dragging in the nagging wife, the fishwife, the gossip: to be silent a woman must be headless. Is there a feminist on social media who hasn’t experienced attempts at silencing when she expresses her opinions? I’ve lost count of the number of men who have told me “Don’t start with ….”, “Shut up,” or called me variations of screeching, bleating feminazi. The Silent Woman in Slaithwaite did not have a unique pub name, there are several across the UK, with The Headless Woman as a variation. Sometimes the name appears with the couplet: “Here is a woman who has lost her head, She’s quiet now—you see she’s dead” (Author unknown) just in case the inference from name alone isn’t clear enough. Carl Jung talked about cultural archetypes. Cross cultural , universal concepts that he believed indicated a collective unconscious. Unconscious forces that are expressed in images, religion, stories and mythology as they enter consciousness and shape our interactions in society. The silent woman, synonymous with headless woman is a patriarchal archetype. It reflects sexist misogynistic cultural values. Not convinced about the concept of patriarchy? Remember Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects? “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.”
The objectification of women, reducing us to hilarious little objects that exist to titillate men, to give them a giggle, is another means of keeping us unequal. Reducing us to hilarious little objects towards which to swing a golf club makes hitting us fun. Making a joke out of the objectification of women and male violence against women is another way of normalising and reducing our ability to stop and stand back, to confront the horrible reality of what is happening.
Male violence against women does not exist in a social vacuum, it simultaneous reinforces and is reinforced by inequality between woman and men, given more than a helping hand by the objectification of women. Two and a half years ago, I started counting UK women killed through male violence. Since I started counting in January 2012 and the end of May 2014, 333 UK women had been killed; amongst them, I am aware of six women who were decapitated. Anyone still laughing at Dunlop’s golf tees?
Is it funny if I remind you of 29-year-old Gemma McCluskie? She was actor living in London. In March 2012, her brother Tony McCluskie, 36, killed her by hitting her head and then chopped her up with a cleaver and a knife. The next day, he took a cab carrying a heavy suitcase. A week later, her torso was found in the suitcase in the canal close to where he was dropped off. A week later her arms and legs were found in black bags. It was another six months before her head was found.
Will you laugh if I tell you about Elizabeth Coriat? In March 2012, Daniel Coriat, 43, killed his 76-year-old mother Elizabeth Coriat in their shared home in London. She was found on her bed, fully clothed, decapitated and mutilated with various weapons embedded in her head and body, injuries to the wrists and ankles in a ‘crucifixion-like’ pattern. She had suffered almost 50 separate injuries inflicted by weapons including carving knives, secateurs, a chef’s steel and a pruning saw. Her head had been cut off completely off, rotated 180 degrees, and placed back on her body.
Will your golfer stop talking the sport so seriously if we think about Catherine Gowing, a 39-year-old vet who was murdered by a serial rapist Clive Sharp, 47, in October 2012? He raped her for 4 hours before killing her. The next day he bought bleach, petrol, a hacksaw and spare blades, and a Halloween mask. He dismembered Catherine’s remains in open ground before disposing of her body in various locations in North Wales. Only her torso, right hand and foot have been recovered; her head and remaining body parts were never found.
Will the story of Reema Ramzan bring back the missing humour to your game? 18-year-old Reema from Sheffield was murdered by her boyfriend Aras Hussain, 21, in June 2013. According to forensic evidence although he had stabbed her in the chest, Reema was likely to be alive while her head was being cut off, though would of course have lost consciousness at some point. A post mortem showed Reema had also been stabbed in her shoulder and leg. Injuries on her hands were consistent with self-defence. Judge Mrs Justice Cox told Hussain “”The pain, terror, anguish and desperation she would therefore have suffered, as you inflicted these appalling injuries upon her and ended her life, is truly horrifying to contemplate.”
Finally, if your sense of humour needs a final nudge there’s 60-year-old Judith Nibbs who lived in Hackney, London. Judith had been active in the local community for many years and had worked delivering meals-on-wheels to the elderly for the last 6 years. She also cared for her disabled daughter. In April 2014, police responding to a call found her decapitated body in her blood-splattered flat. Her estranged husband, Dempsey Nibbs, 67, was also there. It is believed he had stabbed and seriously injured himself after killing Judith. Police are not looking for anyone else.
Those golf club thwacks to the head have a broader context beyond beheaded women. There are numerous women murdered through blows to the head: garden ornaments, kitchen implements, hammers, feet, fists, blunt force trauma, fractured skull, brain injury. There’s also 68-year-old Sally Hingston, murdered by 25-year old and 6ft 10 Benjamin Radojezic: Sally survived a brutal beating – with a golf club – only to be dumped half naked in a ditch where she took 17 hours to die in Buckinghamshire in 2009.
Off with her head. Oh, such a laugh. The naked headless woman – a little bit of humour for your game of golf. I’m not laughing. After reading this, could anyone be?
Jo Sharpen has stated a petition to Dunlop to remove the naked woman golf tees from sale. You can sign it here https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/dunlop-sport-remove-the-misogynistic-nudie-tee-product-which-features-a-decapitated-woman-s-body# %85