Dominic Raab thinks sexism is a thing of the past. Tell that to Sian Massey et al.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The award for 'Most Unbelieveably Ridiculous Statement of the Week' just has to go to Tory MP Dominic Raab, who on Monday hit out against feminists, branding them 'obnoxious bigots' whose actions have led to men suffering discrimination 'from the cradle to the grave'.

In an article for Politics Home he called on men to 'burn their briefs' in protest at the way they're getting a 'raw deal', using examples such as underperformance of boys in school and the inequality of maternity and paternity leave to justify his viewpoint.

How that's the fault of feminists I'm not yet sure and I think Mr Raab would find that many of us would actually agree with his comments about issues like parental leave and gender stereotyping. But the main theme of his article seem to be proving that gender inequality doesn't really exist in British society any more - including insinuating that the gender pay gap is down to 'choice' - and that most 'right-thinking' people should know there are more important things to fight for.

Invoking a whole bunch of straw feminists and accusing them of 'outdated gender warfare', he has called for a more 'practical' approach to solving the problems the country's workforce and families are facing. In his mind this sort of practical approach would mean a more 'egalitarian' attitude to parental leave and 'consistent equality for men and women'.

After reading Raab's article I'm left wondering what he thinks most feminists are actually doing with their time, if not being committed to more egalitarian employment and family policies. He criticises people who make 'trite generalisations' about gender characteristics, using the 'Men from Mars and Women from Venus' stereotype, as if that's the sort of thing we spend our time doing, not speaking out against all ridiculous generalisations which of course do men a disservice as much as they do women.

It's interesting that he's chosen such a week as this to pretend that gender inequality doesn't exist. A week when we've just seen two football pundits suspended from commentating on the game due to the offensive comments they were heard making about a female match official and football executive Karren Brady.

Richard Keys and Andy Gray were recorded on Saturday insinuating that assistant referee Sian Massey probably wouldn't be aware of the ins and outs of the offside rule.

"Why is there a female linesman? Somebody's fucked up big," said Gray, somewhat charmingly.

They proceeded to discuss Massey's appearance, call another female referee 'hopeless' and mocked Karren Brady for complaining about sexism in the game.

The fight to end sexism in football has been going on for decades but many people were under the impression the situation had improved somewhat. These comments - made when the two men thought they were off-air, show this is clearly not the case. This article in the Guardian features the accounts of several women who work in football and it's obvious that the view of the game as some sort of boys' club still remains.

A disgusted Karren Brady told Radio 5 Live:

"What really upsets me is the fact that only females in our industry are judged by their gender and that is categorically wrong."

Yesterday the drama came to a head when it was announced that Andy Gray has been sacked - not just because of his comments about Massey, but due to further video evidence of an earlier incident of sexist behaviour coming to light. I believe Sky Sports made the right decision - repeated occurrences like this are beyond unacceptable and have revealed a concerning undercurrent of misogyny in football, even in these supposedly enlightened times.

Considering workplace discrimination is apparently not much of an issue any more, I wonder what Dominic Raab's take on the controversy is? I note that many of the tabloids have now taken to illustrating articles about Massey with photographs - taken from her Myspace - of her dancing on a night out or on the beach on holiday. Wearing a short skirt and tight top or swimwear. As opposed to, you know, pictures of her doing her job, which is what the story's actually about.

How about that for equality, Mr Raab?

This post originally appeared at BitchBuzz. Image via


RedHead said...

Ha, love that you pointed out how this has become an excuse for the Fail to print personal, private photos of a woman in a swimsuit. Sexism is alive and well!
But what I was most interested to see is your use of the phrase 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus'. I think that this adequately sums up the attitude that should be taken by all modern men and women fighting for equality - both genders are different. Fighting for equal pay, equal treatment et al is all well and good, but I think people are getting confused between what is fair and what is equal. Men and women are not equal, because they are not the same.
As usual, I gave my two cents worth.

Hannah Mudge said...

Yes that was the phrase Raab used in his post.

Personally i use the word 'equal' to mean 'equal in worth' rather than 'the same'. Obviously we are not the same but I do think we *should* be treated equally in worth.

HiddenPlace said...

Yes, there are differences between men and women, however those differences are massively exaggerated when you consider the amount of similarities between men and women. Yes, differences should be taken on board but often they are just used as an excuse to treat each other as alien species when we are just all human beings. I want to be treated like a human being, with dignity, compassion and respect, rather than treated solely as a woman.


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