Sunday, 29 November 2009

Did you hear the one about the man beaten unconscious by his wife? ...

How do you feel about men who hit their wives? I'm guessing you find them sickening.

What about women who hit men? I'm guessing it bothers you less - after all the guy is probably a lot better able to defend himself, so you could argue it's not quite in the same category.

What if the woman has a weapon, meaning the man's superior strength is less relevant? Is a woman beating a guy with, say, a golf club something we should take a as seriously as, for example, a man slapping his wife?

Apparently not. Far from being a subject to take seriously, as far as the Times is concerned, it's quite the opposite. It's a source of humour.

After the news of Tiger Woods' recent accident, the mystery surrounding his injuries, and the fact that police found his wife standing over his unconcious body with a golf club, the Times reprinted the following joke they found on the internet:

"Apparently, the only person who can beat Tiger Woods with a golf club is his wife."

Yes, sure, I've heard jokes about domestic violence against women. But I've NEVER seen one printed in a newspaper - far less a newspaper as supposedly serious and high-minded as the Times. What is deemed appropriate for publication in a newspaper says a lot about the society in which it is published.

I could understand a society that takes domestic violence against men less seriously than violence against women. But ours doesn't take it seriously AT ALL. In fact it takes it the exact OPPOSITE of seriously. Domestic violence against women is a source of shame, of anger and of government action; against men, of humour.

And yet despite this story, it is women, and women alone, who are portrayed as the victims of sexism in the media!!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

New 'Second Sex': Same Old Second-Sexism

Here is the most unbelievably patronising article about men I’ve read in a little while. (Just a little while, you understand. Patronising articles about the supposed innate inferiority of the world’s 3 billion men are hardly a rarity, after all).

This article (written, of course, by a woman) addresses men’s supposedly growing failure in education and wider society. But don’t worry – it’s jolly upbeat about the fact that there are a growing number of ‘househusbands’ in the UK.

Ok, great, I agree. But imagine a Times article, written by a man, pompously contemplating the educational and career ‘failings’ of women and celebrating the fact that they can always fall back on a life as a home-maker. The paper would probably be shut down within a week.

Since men’s IQs are equal to women’s, if they are underperforming women, it means they are underachieving. And an education system with half its students underachieving needs fixing. Is the solution really for men to just not bother with education and career because they’re ‘not good enough’ at it? Isn’t this what oafish male chauvinists used to say pre-feminism? Now it seems it’s OK to say it about men – and you can even pretend to be on their side when you say it!

Even if a wholesale conversion to ‘house-husbandry’ were the solution to boys’ education-deficit, this will remain an act of insanity until family courts treat men equally. As I’ve blogged before, the head of the family court, Lord Justice Thorpe, set the precedent that MOTHERS will be given custody when they request it, even if the FATHER has been the primary carer for years. See here.

A Times article recently also quoted a family lawyer mocking men who attempt to win spousal support from higher-earning wives on divorce – he was quoted as saying something along the lines of ‘they keep trying, but they never succeed’.

So, while female primary carers can expect custody AND spousal support, househusbands can expect neither - even when they have sacrificed their careers, sabotaging their future earnings potential in the process. Women in that situation recently won the right to compensation for that sacrifice, in the widely publicised MacFarlane case, where a woman who gave up her career for her kids was granted, in her settlement, what she could have been expected to earn had she not done so. Talk about having your cake and eating it! You get to quit the rat-race and watch your kids grow up, AND walk away with the money you’d have made if you’d chosen to actually work for it!

Well, OK. But if women can do this, please tell me, why not men? And until they can, this proposed ‘solution’, whereby the supposedly educationally inferior male can simply opt for the kitchen and the nursery instead of a career, will remain an act of madness.

There are far bigger problems facing boys anyway, that are crying out for a mention in this article. No word on the fact that boys in our education system kill themselves four times as often as girls, for instance. What action is the government taking on this? I asked my MP a few years back. Answer: nothing. What does this author have to say about it? Nothing. C’mon – they’re only boys, who cares if they kill themselves? Now, if it were girls killing themselves at four times the rate of boys then, sure, we’d have a problem. But boys? Who cares?

Oh - and finally: Do look at the section entitled "Beta Blokes", which lists a whole lot of statistics supposedly illustrating men's 'beta' status. Among them. "The number of men looking after their family in July 2009 was 206,000." "62% of fathers believe they should spend more time looking after their children." "Men spend 53 hours a week on household chores and childcare compared with just 34 hours in 2005."

Someone tell me why, exactly, this makes these men "Beta Blokes"?

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Gender Pay Gap

According to The Fawcett Society: "The Equal Pay Act was passed nearly 40 years ago, yet women are still paid less than men. The full-time gender pay gap is 17%, while the part-time pay gap is a staggering 36%. Equal pay law is failing women." (See here)

Well, at least they don't come up with the tired old lie that women are paid 25% less than men "for the same work". Please note, esteemed feminist readers: even the Fawcett Society doesn't try to pretend that's true. Time to change that particular record.

They did, however, misrepresent and distort the story just as it is always misrepresented and distorted. So much so that the Office of National Statistics have now taken the extraordinary step of actually pointing out to the government that they shouldn't just parrot this stuff without checking whether it's actually true.

To begin with, using average figures, instead of median, means that the presence in the UK of a relatively small number of male multi-billionaries artificially increases the average pay of the average man. It is no advantage to me, as a man, that the Duke of Westminster owns half of London. Not is it any advantage to me that people like Roman Abramovich and Lakshmi Mittal have decided to call the UK their home. Yet their impact on the average pay makes it look like all us blokes are far more loaded than we are, based on average earnings.

To correct for this, the ONS uses median pay figures, not averages. The Fawcett Society, Harriet Harman and other feminist commentators just ignore them because... well, because that makes the number smaller.

Based on the median, the pay gap is 12.8% at the latest count.

But leaving the most hilariously audacious part till last, closer inspection of the statement "the part-time pay gap is a staggering 36%" reveals that it is not only untrue, but a total inversion of the truth.

If you compare FULL-TIME male workers with part-time female workers, then yes, you get a pay differential in the 36% range, last time I looked. But if you compare PART-TIME men with PART-TIME women, you get a pay gap of 3.5% in WOMEN'S favour.

Isn't that amazing? The Fawcett Society states that "the part-time pay gap is a staggering 36%", and you discover that the only thing that's staggering is the distortion. This is what often bothers me about feminist lobbying. It so often simply turns out not to be true. (Not to say it's all untrue of course, nor that I can't recognise a genuine injustice aginst women when I see one. More on which later).

Even so, 12.8% is pretty big. And it should be noted that this is the hourly rate, so it is not accounted for by the fact that men work longer hours. It does seem that women are at a disadvantage on four counts that I can think of.

First, the areas towards which many women are still directed by social pressure pay less than they ought, and less than some male-dominated jobs that might be considered equivalently skilled.

Second, social pressure also encourages women to take significant career breaks for the purposes of looking after children. And it severely discourages men from doing the same.

Third, there is less pressure on women to choose a career based purely on salary. When it comes to choosing a job, many women must still suspect, even if only subconsciously, that for much of their future they're likely to have a husbands and partners making financial contributions to their lives. It's far from guaranteed, obviously, but it's a consideration which will no doubt have an impact at the margin. But regardless of whether it's a consideration for many or only some women, it's certainly not something that men tend to think about. The idea that maybe you can afford to take on a lower-paid job because you expect one day to be married to a career woman is not something the average bloke would ever consider. He knows there's a good chance he may one day have a family, and that he ought to assume he's going to be the one who is predominantly responsible for supporting them. Even if he doesn't buy into that paternalistic ethos, he knows he'll be looked down on if he resists it. Overall career choices are influenced accordingly.

Finally, it does seem there is some genuine discrimination against women of childbearing age in job interviews, as employers are terrified they'll disappear on maternity leave.

The solution to all these problems is simply to encourage men to be more involved in the home. Shared parental leave instead of maternity leave, with fathers obliged to take at least part of it, will mean that men are as big a risk as women to employers. More men involved with childcare and the home will free up more women to focus on their careers. And as these influences gain traction, men will stop thinking that their only role in the family is financial and women will not, even subconsciously, expect to rely on their earnings power as the principal source of family income. And overall, career choices will be influenced accordingly.

At the moment, however, a man in this country would be insane to sacrifice his career to focus more on his family, because he is afforded little of the protection women can rely on in the event of family breakdown (see here for the likely outcome for househusbands on divorce). Only when these attitudes change will more men take up the slack at home, freeing more women to level the pay gap outside it.

In the meantime, maybe we could debate this without making stuff up. Lie about something, and people stop believing you even when you tell the truth.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

"Silly Old Fool" Gets himself murdered

The dreadful UK paper The Daily Mail has an interesting feature whereby people can comment on articles. It can be enlightening - and often pretty depressing - to hear people's thoughts.

Recently there have been two stories about men who have killed their wives after the breakup of their relationship. As you would expect, the readers' responses showed their disgust and shock at the murders of these women.

Now we have a similar story but the victim is a man. He was bludgeoned to death, then set on fire, possibly while still alive. Just read through the comments and see how very different people's response is to the death of a man.

The phrase 'silly old fool' is repeated again and again. Two of the most repugnant responses were "Serves the old fool right". Which so far has promted a net 53 readers to register their approval of that comment.

Another completely repellent response was "he was 76, so why did she get life imprisonment.? she should have gotten the amount of years he would realistically have had left to live.. seems fair to me..."

Danni, from Thailand, blames Western men in general for such killings, and states "when Western men stop seeing Asian and African women as sexual toys then these fataliies will stop". In other words, 'they' have it coming to them and it is up to them to redress their behaviour if they want to avoid being murdered.

Can anyone, possibly, imagine comments like these in reaction to the brutal murder of a woman by her husband? I am well aware that hatred of men is widespread and deep-seated. But I'm constantly amazed at how deep it really is.

Where to start?!

We hear a great deal about sexism against women. But there are real injustices against men, too, and we hear far less about them. This blog will attempt to redress the balance a little.

Over time, I plan to link to press articles, and other sources that illustrate how sexism can be targeted at men. But to begin with I’d like to illustrate a few of the areas where men are at a disadvantage to set a backdrop for the future content of this blog.


The average UK male will underperform the average UK female in every academic subject. This is despite the fact that there is little evidence of any difference in intelligence between the genders.

Feminists argue that a few years ago, girls underperformed and no-one cared. In fact that’s the opposite of the truth. I remember when I was taking GCSEs that girls were underperforming boys in several subjects and it was a constant topic of discussion. In fact, GCSE’s themselves were partly designed to redress the balance by focusing far more on course-work, where girls outperformed, and under-emphasising exams, where boys tend to do better.

I have yet to hear any proposals to redress the balance today. Quite the contrary: In fact the government’s chairman of the education select committee, Barry Sheerman, frankly states “there is no doubt in my mind that girls are brighter than boys.”

When Larry Summers dared to suggest that the greater number of men in science research posts at Harvard might have something to do with aptitude, he was hounded out of the post. But in the UK, the chairman of the government’s education select committee can make a blatantly sexist, not to mention factually baseless statement like this, without the slightest fear of any opposition at all. What hope do boys have in achieving their full academic potential if senior government figures hold such sexist views, and no-one questions them?

Feminists argue that this doesn’t matter anyway because their superior education results do not translate into higher earnings for women. As if education’s only purpose is a higher salary. And as if women’s lower average earnings had nothing to do with personal choices (a subject I’m sure I’ll come to later).


While they’re getting their inferior education, four times as many boys as girls will kill themselves. I wrote to my MP once to ask if anyone in government was looking at how this situation could be improved. The answer was no. I wonder if this issue would be ignored if four times as many girls killed themselves as boys.

Men’s higher suicide rate persists throughout life. In every country, more men than women kill themselves - in the UK by a factor of 3 to 1. And yet it’s an article of faith, utterly beyond question among feminists, that women’s lives are immeasurably tougher than men’s.

Life and life expectancy

That higher suicide rate contributes to men’s shorter average life expectancy; currently 5 years shorter than women’s in the UK. Women complain about the 12.8% gender pay gap (although they tend to say it’s 25% and to claim that it’s ‘for the same work’). The question is, would they be happy to swap it for our 5-year life expectancy gap?

A typical feminist response to this is – “it’s your fault”. Men are accused of being physically weaker, or of not going to the doctor, or of having unhealthy lifestyles. Well, the latter is partly true. But a large part of it is down to inferior healthcare and lower healthcare spending for men. According to the Men’s Health Forum, eight times as much is spent on women’s health as men’s. Yes, women have some specific health demands which probably justify somewhat higher overall spending. But eight times? That is clearly going to contribute to the life-expectancy gap.

Cancer is a clear case in point. Prostate cancer kills nearly as many men as breast cancer kills women. Yet there are dozens of charities devoted to breast cancer and only three devoted to prostate cancer. NHS funding for breast cancer is enormously bigger, as discussed here in the Times.

It’s clear, too, that as a society, we don’t really care about men’s lives as much. I once wrote to Cancer Research and asked why they don’t do as much fund-raising for men’s cancers as women’s. They replied that they raise far less money when they campaign for men. They also claimed that all the money raised for breast cancer is shared out between all the cancers they research. Yet the article in the link above shows that in fact Cancer Research spends four times as much on breast cancer research. A disease that kills 30% more people gets 300% more funding. Purely because those people are women.

The attitude to men’s lives is reflected in the attitude to men’s deaths in all situations. How often do you encounter the phrase ‘innocent women and children’ in the context of some disaster or atrocity? Google that and compare it to “innocent men and children”. ( I got 757,000 for the former and 17,600 for the latter).

A few years ago a female police officer, Sharon Beshenivsky was murdered by an armed man. Many male police officers had been killed that year without attracting press attention, but this case was front page news. Allison Pearson, in the Evening Standard, actually went as far as to baldly state her belief that it is worse to kill an unarmed woman than an unarmed man. The article was in the Evening Standard so I can’t link to it. But it goes to show, the instinctive response is that men’s lives are simply less valuable.

Again, this attitude was echoed in a Question Time debate shortly after several British naval personnel were captured by the Iranian navy. A woman in the audience asked if this meant women should not serve in the front line. Every person on the panel made the point that it is women’s right to choose this career if they choose. Not one asked the woman why she felt women’s lives are more deserving of protection than men’s.

Retirement age

Given that we live significantly shorter lives, and that we spend far more of those lives, on average, at work, you might imagine that we would be entitled, at least, to retire at the same age as women. In fact, in the UK, men have to wait until they’re 65 to retire when a woman can draw her pension at 60, under precisely the same circumstances.

Since a woman will live, on average, to 85, and a man to 80, a man will receive 15 years retirement pay compared to a woman’s 25 years. And that is despite that fact that the average man will have worked far more years and hence paid far more tax towards his pension.

Family life

I’m hardly going to touch on the disgrace that is the UK family court system. It frequently deals out horrendous injustices to women as well, meaning it’s hard to see whether it’s systematically biased against men or just incapable of delivering justice in general. But it is certainly true to say that many divorce cases lately have seen hard-working husbands left financially crippled, thrown out of their home, struggling to see the children they love as a result of divorces they never wanted.

Feminists endlessly complain that in fact women end up worse off after divorce. That is not the point. Of course if you marry a rich man and only get to walk off with half his money, you're less wealthy than when you were married. But you're a hell of a lot better off than if you'd never married him at all. Heather Mills is immeasurably poorer than when she was married to Paul McCartney. But does anyone really think she was the loser financially in that marriage?

I’ll just link to one story which to me sums up the attitude of the UK family courts to men. In this instance, a man who gave up his career to look after his children was thrown out in the cold when his wife divorced him, in a way that a woman would simply never be. He was left with no career (and no alimony to compensate) he lost his home, and lost his children. The judge in question, Lord Justice Thorpe, outright stated that he would not have treated a woman that way under the same circumstances owing to "fundamental differences between men and women". Thorpe is now head of the UK family court.

I’ll only add the comment by Deborah Orr in the Independent on this contemptible excuse for justice, which is so typical of the way men are treated in the family courts.

All that is just the most obvious of the sexist injustices that men face. We’re not talking about the indignity of being treated as a sex object. We’re not talking about the fact that spending less time at work, or choosing a lower paid career, results in (shock, horror) less pay over a lifetime. We’re talking about inferior education, higher suicide rates, worse health, shorter lives, and the ongoing belief in our society that your life is simply less worthy of protection if you’re a man. I’m sure I’ll touch on some more trivial sexism as well. But first I wanted to set the context: Sexism that sees your life as less valuable, simply because you’re male.