There are plenty of times in life where you have to keep your eyes out for subtle, subliminal sexism. The pink version of the standard Lego might be depressingly easy to spot, less so the 17% pay gap between men and womens’ hourly pay -which rises to 35% for women who work part-time – or the fact that women do an average of 15 hours a week more housework than men even when they both work full-time. These issues tend to get swept under the carpet (classic housework time-saving tip, right there) most of the time; or at least until you look at the figures in black and white and have to remind yourself that we are in 2013, not 1831.
It’s always worth remembering that for all of the work of feminists and progressive policies over the last fifty years, that there are still some people out there who haven’t woken up to the fact that women are ACTUAL PEOPLE too, and still think of them as some sort of second-class domestic-droids with no intelligence or power of independent thought.
One of these, er, RetroMen* appears to be alarmingly local to me and has formed a joyous sounding political party, the Justice for Men and Boys and the Women Who Love Them. (Yes, not just campaigning for the rights of men – a terribly under-supported area, but also their Women. The ones who love them, but stay politely out of the way, presumably.)
You can imagine my delight when I read about this charming chap in the local paper. Mike Buchanan believes that the current government has implemented ‘anti-male’ policies, and has cut his ties with the Conservatives to become an Independent candidate. He is planning to stand at the next election, and ‘thinks he can win it’. Mr Buchanan says ‘one of the reasons that I and other people oppose Mr Cameron is that he sometimes says warm words about the family, but the actual policies are designed to drive women out to work. For example, the split on the child allowances encourages women to go to work, rather than stay at home.’
There is certainly work to be done in terms of making it possible for one PARENT to stay at home, or work part time whilst raising children, but encouraging women to go to work if they want to is no crime. In fact, many think of this as progress. And, ideally, it should be a parental choice, not just the woman’s choice. With many mortgages hinged on two incomes, the idea of there being much choice about surviving on one income is more of a fantasy than anything for a lot of people. But Mr Buchanan does not mention children, or parenting, so I cannot assume that he is referring to this problem. It sounds a teensy bit as is he is suggesting that all women should stay at home. He probably likes his dinner on the table, newspaper ironed and ready on his return from Important Man Work.
He would hate living with me. Often, if I have been working all morning and out with the children in the afternoon, the house looks exactly the same – just with different piles of Stuff in new and interesting places – as it did when Rich left in the morning. I usually do an emergency tidy of the breakfast things and pile of shoes by the door about half past four, just to make a bit of an effort. Sometimes I do spend the whole morning doing housework, but that it because I quite like things to be clean and tidy as much as anything. I don’t think of housework as a career. (Luckily, I would have been sacked long ago.)
And then there are Mr Buchanan’s thoughts on why there are more homeless men than women. ‘Because society, as well as government… is sympathetic to women rather than men.’ Really? Really? So that is why so many magazines and websites such as the MailOnline are dedicated almost entirely to the criticism of women for being, in no particular order; too thin, too fat, too loud, too quiet, too pregnant, not having had children, being unmarried, or married to the wrong person, too sexy, too old, too young for that dress, too rich, too chavvy….
That is why because one of my friends has had to alter her facebook settings to male in order to get rid of all the adverts for weight loss and diet plans. (Never mind the male obesity problem, eh? It’s clearly not as unsightly as overweight women.)
That is why so many women are underpaid, undermined and kept at home doing the cleaning. Because society is more sympathetic to women than men. Got it?
This was not supposed to be a ranty blog, (there have been quite a few of late!) but I did spit my beautifully filtered coffee out as I read this over breakfast yesterday, and it seems wrong that the coffee was spat in vain.
The problem is not that I think that men have no rights. The problem, Mr Buchanan, is that your campaign for the Rights of Men (and boys) sounds an awful lot like it is centered around the right of a man to keep a woman at home.
Good luck with that…
*I am using that for the first time here, mostly because I can’t always say tosser when I mean tosser. It’s not meant to be knocking retro as a look- because I quite like that -I just mean unreconstructed men.