Wednesday, July 14, 2004

An excellent article in the Guardian today by Julian Baggini, editor of the Philosopher's Magazine, entitled 'What Are Men Complaining About?'

"Ladies", he begins, "start peeling your onions for the modern man. This poor confused creature is no longer afraid of tears, especially if they are neither his own nor shed in public. And if you want to know why you should cry for him, just look around at what is happening as we speak."

Of course, the modern man, as Baggini shows, has not got it so very bad after all. Writing on the same morning (did they compare notes?), Polly Toynbee pours scorn on tory plans to capitalise on the growing movement for father's rights.

"They are right that mothers should be forced to comply with access orders. But Michael Howard, grasping at any passing hot cause, wants courts to grant automatic equal rights to fathers. However, children are not chattels: ask King Solomon. Courts must always put the child's interests first. Until some distant day when fathers do as much childcare as mothers, most children will choose the one who has nurtured them most.

As ever with women's rights, men get their backlash in first. They were slamming doors in women's faces to give them a taste of "women's lib" before women ever gained a shred more equality. Here we go again: you want men to do more childcare? Then give fathers rights before they've earned them."

Baginni lists the modern man's (legitimate) complaints, but, as he points out,

"There is something in all these complaints, but the fairest response a woman could give to them is: welcome to the real world. Yes, the modern male faces new and confusing pressures. But anyone who thinks western men are not still the most privileged group in human history doesn't know Kylie's arse from her elbow grease. On the whole, becoming a successful woman remains tougher than it does for a man, and the price of achievement is to earn the label of "hard bitch".

Clever women have been claiming stupid white men rule the world for years, but the first person to be widely lauded for saying so is Michael Moore, another stupid white man. A woman can make a point incessantly, but not until a man says it is it taken seriously".

Toynbee writes that "The pay gap still yawns too wide for most women to be breadwinners for their families. Domestic violence and the failure of rape cases is only now getting political attention, due to Harriet Harman. Motherhood is only now starting to get the help it needs from the state, thanks to Margaret Hodge. Women make up the great majority of the poor, from motherhood through to old age. So in next week's expected reshuffle, the cabinet had better be filled with women determined to put this right."

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