Suggesting that evolution is akin to becoming a stinkpotter requires some defense.
To set the record straight, no one on my boat is having any trouble tying the knot itself and we use a round turn and two half hitches. A clove hitch does not change anything for us.
Holding a 12 inch fender at ankle height, while it gets kicked around by the bow wake is tough, period. Every man, woman or child that has done it has commented. It isn't impossible, it just stinks, particularly after a long day.
As I've said, although the chest pounders ignored it, we have not yet found an acceptable alternative. However, if I do, I'm on it.
I guess I'm not understanding your issue with tieing off the fender at ankle height and having a problem holding the fender. When you are approaching most docks you are usually in a no wake zone, no? How fast are you going? At 6 knots I'm just not understanding how it could be too hard to hold a fender, man or woman.