Dominic Raab created quite a stir yesterday, with his one-sided arrogant critique of feminism as a ‘bigotry’ attack on men. Now, I don’t know what his background reading is for such a claim, but if I was to guess it seems like it was a stash of Daily Mail columns. The majority of feminists support equality for all sexes, and recognise areas where rights need improving for men as well as women. Personally, I have recognised that domestic violence against men is an under-reported phenomenon – something that I admit caused controversy amongst feminist readers.
Essentially, I would like to address some of Raab’s points with brief counter arguments:
- The coalition’s and Raab’s emphasis upon flexible working is supported by most feminists. Whilst he claims that it is separate from the equality ‘agenda’, it is actually very much embedded within it. However, note that when today, in a follow-up interview, asked whether he would take longer than 2 weeks paternity leave if he had kids with his wife, his response is rather startling given his criticism of feminism:
Would he take time off to look after his children if he and his wife Erika, who works in marketing for a major IT company, decide to have them?
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll take paternity leave if we’re blessed with children,” he says. “We would certainly sit down and work out how to achieve the best work/life balance.”
But while he is enthusiastic about taking off two weeks’ paternity leave, he is less committal about taking a longer period, say six months. “I’m not sure what my constituents would say about that,” he laughs.
When I point out that female MPs face exactly that dilemma on maternity leave – and then childcare – he concedes that he feels sorry for them. “I’m hugely sympathetic. There are a number of female MPs who find the hours in this place really tough,” he says.
Says it all, doesn’t it.
- He claims that the gender pay gap isn’t as bad as they make out, which paradoxically supports the assertion that the gap has been reduced by equality measures and feminist campaigning. He also ignores the infective nature of laws such as the Equality Act (1970). Why he should qualm about women and men (yes, men too) arguing that women being paid less than men for doing the same job is sexist, is beyond me.
- The lower pay gap between younger men and women is partly because women are less likely to engage in a career whereas men are more likely to see their earnings progress from the base rate as they get older. Many women take time out of work for children, for example, and so whilst their income at a young age may look relatively high, it often does not rise.
- His argument that the gender pay gap is partly to do with the fact that more women work in comparison to other countries ignores the high number of women working in poor conditioned insecure lower paid part-time work. This should be noted when he argues “men work longer hours, enjoy their jobs less, commute further and are more likely to get the sack”; alongside his neglect of non-paid labour, housework, caring for children/elderly, voluntary work that women are more likely to do.
- His assertion that women living longer than men equates to discrimination baffles me, especially as he fails to really elaborate on why. I am rather unsure on what he wants women to do; commit suicide to equalise the numbers? Furthermore, women who live longer have many negative associated factors; they are more likely to suffer from illnesses (especially mental illnesses), more likely to be in poverty, especially if they gave up a career to look after kids, for example. Therefore, they are often dependent on a state pension, which is mainly inadequate; these problems are especially acute if they are a widow or single, given many women’s reliance upon men for an income.
- I agree that there are problems with women sometimes being able to restrict a father from their child/children. But these are often minority cases, after all the Tories brought in CSA mainly to make sure that men remained financially tied to their child (note the financial!)
- If I remember correctly, Harriet Harman was criticised from all sides for saying that if women had been in charge of the banks then the crisis wouldn’t have happened. She has been consistently attacked by the mainstream, often with her appearance and the ‘ugly feminist’ stereotype brought in – something The Sun used so forcefully against Clare Short. Therefore, arguing that her comments were ignored is wrong. Also, in ways she was stating a fact that there are barely any women in the top banking positions, and so de facto men were crucial to causing the banking crisis!
- He wants to end gender warfare, whist firing a shot. Hypocritical at best.
Whilst Andy Gray’s comments are sexist, Raab and others are wrong to equate his sacking to a sexist charge. Gray has a court case filed against Murdoch, he pissed Murdoch off and so Murdoch is getting his own back by leaking unseen footage (from Christmas!) Let’s remember, Murdoch is the owner of a newspaper with a page 3 spread; whilst I would never advocate for banning pornographic images, equating boobs to news is a new low and nor should everyone be subjected to it. This is exactly what Clare Short argued, but was crucified by the Murdoch press for. The sheer sexist, racist and all the other offences of Fox News, also owned by Murdoch, is a further illustration of how not bothered Murdoch is of Gray’s offensive comments.
Raab needs to engage in feminist debates instead of casting us off as ‘bigots’. There are many men who also fight for feminist causes as feminism is about equality for women and men; not a reversal of the current oppression. Things are beginning to change, but only through equality; Raab’s objections are nothing but inadequate in-factual rubbish.