Coffee House

Sexism is a red-herring; it’s family that matters

24 January 2011

1:54 PM

24 January 2011

1:54 PM

I’m afraid that women have been faking it, having us men on. You see they understand the
offside rule and always have done. How could they not? It’s so simple that even a brace of abject football pundits know that an actively involved
player is offside when he is closer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last defender, but only if he is in his opponent’s half of the pitch. Messrs Keys and Gray may
not be too sharp on interpretation – unlike the ‘young lady’ (£) they berated – but
they’re smoking hot on the theory. So do me a favour love and drop the act. We’ve busted your ditzily saccharine ruse and now you must live Saturday’s trials and tribulations with
me. That’s what’s meant by ‘for better or worse’; and as you’ll discover, it’s always worse.

Sexism is back in the news. The Sky Sports scandal has coincided with the implementation of Harriet Harman’s Equality Act, and savage tongues are talking. Poor old Theresa May lives anything
but a charmed life. Having just been delivered from Ed Balls, she finds Harriet Harman’s innumerable detractors arraigned against her. May is urged to abolish the ‘diversity tests’ that
would cost employers hundreds of million pounds to enact. (The government’s response is masterful in how far it misses the point, ‘The Equality Act 2010 replaces nine major pieces of
legislation, making it simpler and cheaper for people to comply with the law. From 2012 we expect the Act to save the economy as much as £87 million a


Dominic Raab is May’s most visceral critic. In an article for PoliticsHome, he argues
that the Equality Act is the expression of a society that discriminates against men. The article is broad in its condemnation and livid in its tone, but there is tremendous depth to it. Sexism is a
side-issue. What Raab actually identifies is a society that denigrates middle class families. He writes:

‘In other areas, we might be pleasantly surprised. Making maternity leave transferable (without increasing it, to avoid extra burdens on business) would give men greater equality, and
free up women to share their career-family compromises with their other halves – if they choose. The phenomenon of young couples on middle incomes both doing a four day week, to save on
childcare, looks set to rise. It makes economic, as well as egalitarian, sense.

Likewise, family-friendly policies could help exhausted families struggling to strike a sensible work-life balance. Critics mocked the idea of transferable tax allowances for couples as
socially regressive and financially insignificant. Yet, transferable tax allowances for parents with children under five would support women who choose to stay home, when their children are
young, while helping them save for childcare, if and when they choose return to work. A little tax relief would go a long way.

Young British couples are tired of the equality bandwagon, dreamt up in the 1960s, pitting men and women against each other. We need consistent equality for men and women, an end to
‘soft’ feminist bigotry and support for hard-working families trying to juggle competing priorities in their hectic daily lives.

The Equality Act coalesces 40 years of legislation into one document, codifying past mistakes for future use. It aims to destroy barriers by introducing further proscription. This is a
deleterious philosophy to which the coalition has subscribed. Each new directive (like Nick Clegg’s proposed paternity reforms) discourages employers from recruiting; and, for every statistic that
suggests some young women are now paid fractionally more to do the same job as certain young men, the bald fact remains that the overall gender pay gap stands at 22 percent. This is the result of concentrating solely on pushing women into ‘high-flying careers’, for which
only the well educated are qualified – so, it’s no surprise that social mobility has stagnated over the past 30 years.

Equality and opportunity cannot be mandated by law. Aside from the obvious need for education reform, there are reasons to seek a new approach to pay, work and child care that supports the
aspirations and circumstances of both partners, and the needs of employers.

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Show comments
  • 2trueblue

    Veity, Liebore were in for 13yrs. and presided over the most corrupt parliament ever. Bliar got elected and Brown got rejected. Get with the program.


    Sensible to recall that on Marr a few months back, Dave wholeheartedly espoused the Equality Act and, indeed, why wouldn’t he. Both he and Harperson being similarly preachy, “progressive”, egalitarian London liberals it seems quite reasonable to expect them to foist their values on the rest of us, given the chance. After all isn’t that why they pursue power with such duplicitous ferocity.


    So very much more, Tiberius,

  • Rabyrover

    David Blackburn’s description of the offside law is incomplete. Being offside requires the receiver to be offside when the ball is played (not when received), and for the ball to be played forward (not from a corner, a throw in, or a pass back). It is not just “women” who don’t know the law, men like David Blackburn don’t either.

  • Tiberius

    Verity: if I do return to the States and happen to get stuck in a lift (sorry elevator) with you, I shall indeed count myself very lucky. You can teach me all the colloquialisms and much more.

  • Paddy

    Verity: If you don’t find Rafael Nadal worth watching….you are no lady.

  • Verity

    Sir Everard Thingy – Talk to the hand.

    Tiberius – American blacks refer to themselves as Blacks, not Negroes. Just so you don’t utter any solecisms if you are ever lucky enough to set foot on American soil.

  • yank

    Professional athletes are rednecks. Young, tough, talented, fiercely competitive, testosterone-laden rednecks. And those announcers are of that same culture. No sense complaining about what they do or believe, off the field, court or camera, because that’s their business. And on the field, their words can be merciless.

    The NBA tried female officials starting years ago. Most washed out. Only one that I see as passing the gauntlet is Violet Palmer (and I want a chromosome check here). The rest were abject failures… completely out of place. If saying that makes me sexist, then guilty as charged.

  • Tiberius

    Where are these negroes and cats…

    (No, I can’t do it.)

  • Sir Everard Digby


    I think you will find no-one has elected a Prime Minister in the past,so an unusual charge to place at Cameron’s door. He probably has more legitimacy than Brown,Major and Callaghan as he stood for election with the clearly stated intention of becoming PM.

  • Verity

    Maggie – I am in 100% accord. This is the only reason to watch sport. Personally, I rank tennis players at the bottom of the ratings. I don’t reckon much to rugby players, either. They are too chunky.

    Definitely, soccer players and cricketers have the male physiques worth watching whether one is interested in the actual game, or not.

    Tiberius, what does someone with your lack of political acuity find interesting about this blog? Don’t write that surely I’m not trying to tell you that … Why would I want to argue on your territory?

    UKIP voters voted for UKIP, as is their democratic right (until Dave takes it away for “security” reasons), because they believe in UKIP. These previous Tory voters saw clearly that the party that had the most desirable aims and programmes was UKIP. Why on earth would they vote for the Tories and Cameron, both of whom stand for everything previous members of the Conservative Party loathe?

    Any more “clever”, snippy little points you have to make, please don’t address them to me. As American blacks are saying, “Talk to the hand coz the face ain’t listenin’.”

    (BTW, there are little collar discs for cats now reading, “Talk to the tail.”)

  • Tiberius

    Hey, Dannii Minogue looks fit in that ad at the side there.

    Verity: it’s also worth saying again, because it is important, that while you and many others (myself included), thought it was the worst administration ever a large number of voters and opinion formers did not.

    I mean, look at UKIP voters. Surely you’re not trying to tell me that they thought it was the worst administration ever? Otherwise why would they have given Brown a sniff at being re-elected?

  • Frank P

    Would you run that past us again with some emendation, David? I sieved the turgid soup for some lumps but it came up empty.

    I cannot stand Andy Gray’s punditry, particularly since they gave him expensive graphical toys to play with; he’s a boring Scottish fart. And Richard Key’s dimples can get quite irksome; but that they should get shit-canned from a long standing job as a result of closed-mic remarks about a ‘female’official’ in a Premier League game at the behest of wimmin culture warriors is beyond belief. There must surely be a back-lash to this draconian injustice. Listen you lasses; boys will be boys – leave them to their harmless pursuits and behave yourselves!

  • Maggie

    I hope no-one’s going to deny me the pleasure of making sexist remarks about sportsmen. – Their legs, haircut, degree of attractiveness, height, ratio of leg to upper torso. It adds an extra dimension to enforced viewing of football, rugby and cricket.

  • Verity

    Ken – hear, hear! How dare Cameron occupy himself with social engineering? He is not a dictator. He’s not even an elected prime minister.

    It’s worth saying again, because it is such fun to say, after 11 years of the worst administration that Britain has ever endured, Dave could not get the Conservatives elected.

    That should have told the Conservative Party that there was something wrong with Dave. He should have been sacked the minute he did not produce a majority at the polls.

  • Ken

    (The government’s response is masterful, ‘The Equality Act 2010 replaces nine major pieces of legislation, making it simpler and cheaper for people to comply with the law. From 2012 we expect the Act to save the economy as much as £87 million a year.’)

    More masterful by far would be an announcement that it will abolish the Act along with all concomitant socialist equality piffle, saving the country 20 times that.

    Let market forces reign.

  • Pot Head

    It’s not women we have to worry about, it’s the gay penguins: