Oh noes! The poor white mens!

// 26 June 2008

The Daily Express’ take on Harriet Harman’s announcement:

I can’t believe they actually used the word “ethnics”…

Hat tip to the ever lovely Alex C.

Comments From You

Shea // Posted 26 June 2008 at 6:34 pm

Wow yes, the discrimmination faced by straight white men in Britain is horrendous (rolls eyes). Ah the Daily Mail, words fail me.

Mwezzi // Posted 26 June 2008 at 7:00 pm

I personally don’t think the new law will do much and I’m not particularly sure it was the best idea due to reactions like this, but it’s not going to stop men from working! The law doesn’t force employers to recruit either women or minority groups, it merely says they can show this preference. To be honest, I doubt that many of them will be suddenly jumping at the opportunity to hire people they could have hired before and didn’t.

Amity // Posted 26 June 2008 at 8:20 pm

I like how they call it a ‘jobs ban.’ Yes, those evil PC police are going to BAN all white men from working and just let all of the minorities and womenfolk do the work so they can rest on their outraged laurels. That’ll learn ’em.

Anna // Posted 26 June 2008 at 8:33 pm

It’s not the Daily Mail, it’s the Daily Express – and The Guardian, The Times, The BBC etc etc

There has been across the board negative reporting of this.

Do we really think that we can remove discrimination by … adding more discrimination? Really? Will that make society a better place?

Torygirl // Posted 26 June 2008 at 8:49 pm

Well the Mail today said that women are going to be more equal than men. Really???

Anne Onne // Posted 26 June 2008 at 10:35 pm

I don’t understand.

I mean, think about the scenario. You interview a white man and a black woman, for example, both equally qualified, and you only have one position open. Clearly, you can only choose one. Were they really discouraged legally from choosing the woman before? Or is this supposed to be encouraging employers to think about hiring the woman when they would probably have chosen the man before? What’s so suspect about telling people they CAN hire women or minorities?

It says a lot that people decry that employers CAN show this preference, when thinking about it, there should be a 50% chance of either event. In which case,you’d think if this scenario came up, 50% of employers would have chosen the black woman. Evidently, they don’t in real life, but there seems to be this fear that suddenly, white men won’t get picked preferentially as much. Boo hoo.

james // Posted 26 June 2008 at 11:04 pm

“Clearly, you can only choose one [of to equal candidates]. Were they really discouraged legally from choosing the woman before?”

I’ve answered this in more detail in the other thread. The short version is you’re obviously not legally encouraged/discouraged from choosing anyone and can choose whoever you want. But if you choose whoever you want because they are a man/woman/black/white this is sex/race discrimination and illegal.

Jess // Posted 26 June 2008 at 11:27 pm

There is certainly no ban on white men getting jobs. FFS. I think, though, this is a perfect example of backlash.

The Express isn’t any more sexist today than it was yesterday. And remember it had the same reaction to a recruitment day for women and ethnic minorities. The point is, the Express is unabashadly sexist, and so, yes, attempting to edge through some reforms as Harman has done sets them off. But that’s no reason not to go ahead with the reforms.

See the other thread for more discussion of this…

Glenda C // Posted 26 June 2008 at 11:58 pm

“Wow yes, the discrimmination faced by straight white men in Britain is horrendous (rolls eyes). ”

Why are you then suprised if people take the same view of complaints?

Shea // Posted 27 June 2008 at 12:06 am

Sorry Anna, I see the words “racism”, “xenophobia” or “homophobia” and the reflex response kicks in, its almost Pavlovian (and right about 99% of the time).

Liz // Posted 27 June 2008 at 12:24 am

I said this before on a previous post but

If white men are losing, who’s winning?

Kuja // Posted 27 June 2008 at 12:40 am

@ Torygirl:

Sounds like Animal Farm to me!

Does this law actually do anything other than remind people that women and minorities exist and “could” be chosen? As Anne Onne said, the option of hiring the black woman has always been there, and it’s still there. Is there any change at all…?

And I know several white, straight men who will think of this as ammunition for their rants about how “the country hates them and they’re seen as pure evil, just because they’ve been privileged in the past and they’re being discriminated against now…” *rolls eyes*

Seph // Posted 27 June 2008 at 1:02 am

I don’t think this whole positive discrimination thing was exactly a lightbulb moment, but still, ugh ¬¬

Has anyone called it “Political Correctness gone Mad!1111” yet?

Jane // Posted 27 June 2008 at 11:01 am

Poor dears.

There’s a fantastic line in The Simpsons about this very thing. Grandpa says: “I’m an old man. Nobody listens to my ideas”. Lisa says: “I’m a little girl. Nobody listens to my ideas”. Then Homer strolls in and says: “I’m a white male between 18 and 50. Everybody listens to my ideas. No matter how dumb they are”. Then he pulls out a tub on which is written: Nuts and Gum. Together at Last

Jennifer-Ruth // Posted 27 June 2008 at 11:56 am

“Has anyone called it “Political Correctness gone Mad!1111″ yet?”

Why yes, I did see this over on the BBC Have Your Say boards. The reading comprehension over there is very poor – most people went straight down the “ZOMG white men are so oppressed!!11” route.

Cara // Posted 27 June 2008 at 12:04 pm

*sigh* *eye roll*

Yep, poor poor white men!

Ooooh and we evil PCgornmad feminists want to ban everything! We just love banning stuff! *cackles*.

Really. I. don’t. get. it. GRRRRRRRR.

Cara // Posted 27 June 2008 at 2:40 pm

Oh yes and “ethnics” – WHAT?

Amy // Posted 27 June 2008 at 3:09 pm

The BBC ‘Have Your Say’ boards are always SOOO reactionary. Just goes to show how most people fail to read the actual article and just use the headline as an excuse to have a fit about how the whole world is ‘feminised’ etc. Very depressing. And I’m not surprised by the Express *at all*. I’m only shocked that they didn’t manage to get something about Princess Di in the story as well.

As for the bill, I think it stops just short of being useful… of course it gives the right message, and maybe Harman wanted to go further but couldn’t… but employers just being told that they ‘can’ employ a woman/member of an ethnic minority group over a white man probably won’t do much to address inequality. Imagine telling a sexist/racist employer “oh you can pick the black woman, it’s perfectly okay, the government doesn’t mind”. They’ll just say “thanks” and pick the white man anyway, right? Perhaps justifying it by saying, well, the black woman just had a week’s less experience, etc. I know no-one would want to feel they got a job “just because” of their race/sex, but I do believe a period of positive discrimination to redress the terrible imbalances in most workplaces would be a good thing, and Harman’s bill just doesn’t go far enough imo.

Aimee // Posted 27 June 2008 at 3:58 pm

How dare we consider women and, ahem, *ethnics* equal to white men? How dare we politely ask to be considered and how dare we consider diversity a good thing? What awful PC nazi whacked out lefty loonies we are!

Lucy // Posted 29 June 2008 at 2:58 pm

This bill is not only of concern for ‘white men’. In areas such as nursing, primary school teaching and social care authorities will (I believe) be encouraged to pick candidates who are male and/or from an ethnic minority, as these groups are underepresented in these professions.

I am a white woman myself about to embark on a social work degree programme I have to admit that it does make one feel a bit nervous. Based on the demographic I observed at my interview days (I must have met around 50 other candidates at various unis, of whom perhaps 5 were male and one was non-white), why should the demographic in the profession itself not reflect the demographic of the people who want to do this work? I agree that we should look at the reasons why certain groups do not apply for certain jobs, but I cannot agree that I should be overlooked for a position based on the colour of my skin, which, with all the level headed analysis in the world, is what it FEELS like this bill is proposing.

Lindsey Spilman // Posted 1 July 2008 at 11:30 am

It is amazing that women have endured thousands of years of oppression and exclusion silently until the 20th centaury (and many continue to do so even in the 21st centaury). Then as soon as men get a whisper of the possibility of exclusion there is noise with in less then a generation. Men appear to feel oppressed when they cannot be in full control. (I do not know if I am allowed to say the following on here) The oppression of women is not a trait unique to just white men, as it has occurred in most cultures at some point. The problem is that white men (and white people in general) have had more world power. The anti-feminist media have the goal of ruining feminism by dividing every one to alter focus away from feminism and onto other issues. The whole white man thing that the media often brings up is just a way of chipping away at feminism even more as it creates a conflict and division when race is mentioned. The other day I was out walking and over herd two white females taking about this issue. Instead of talking about this as a small breakthrough for women, there focus was on how soon there will be no England as we are being taken over…. The daily express are forgetting that lots of white men in parliament have also agreed to the new legislation. I am optimistic that racism will be soon extinct. When it is sexism will not be resolved unless there is a world wide feminist movement that is able to go for full equality in every aspect of life, one that can over come all the distractions that anti-feminist individuals in the media are using. Many women do not realise how powerful we can be when we stand together.

Even constantly using slim made up women in adverts, while at the same time having a woman’s page full of ways to loss weight is sending out one other kick at feminism. It divides women on the basis of bodily differences and sets them unachievable goals. It tells women to be slim, then on the next page it will show shoes that will make anyone think twice about moving about too much.

Michael Watkins // Posted 13 March 2009 at 12:51 am

Oppression of people in general is not down to one type of group e.g.

white female, black males/females etc, it is more complex than that.

People oppress people through power full stop.

I am a white male and in my 33 years of life I have been oppressed for most of it because am lower class and for many other reasons, I even experienced discrimination for my skin colour from other white people (am whiter than most), but that don’t matter because am white (still hurt though!)

The newspapers are headlining this issue of male oppression now, however I can remember back in the late nineties going to an interview for an admin job and the white male who interviewed me said “oh I have never employed a man before!” no I didn’t get the job lol the white female did.

I just think it’s not an equality issue at all, this is an oppression issue that the politically correct brigade are ranting on about, people look to the past and use simple stereotypes for people white male, black male, white female etc because it’s simple to understand, and all white men are seen as oppressive, so they need their fair share now etc etc. But it’s NOT ALL white men, most white men have never had any power!

People also look to the past and remember the oppression of the British empire and forget it was years ago, and also forget these where soldiers in a war, back then life was harder than now for that reason!

Laura // Posted 13 March 2009 at 12:20 pm

Hi Michael – I agree that class is certainly a big factor in oppression and power relations, and this is often ignored in these kind of discussions. But the fact that lower class white men suffer discrimination or are oppressed by the upper classes doesn’t negate the fact that black men, or white women, or trans gendered people, or disabled people, suffer discrimination because they are black/female/trans/disabled – I think there’s room for both arguments here.

Saranga // Posted 13 March 2009 at 12:21 pm


As a man you experience more power and advantages than women. You are not faced with (or told you should be faced with) the threat of rape every time you go out. You don’t have to deal with comeplte strangers (and friends) evaluating your body constantly because you are perceived to be public proporty.

If you are straight, you don’t have to deal with homphobia – you don’t have to monitor your words and behaviour out of fear of being sacked from work or discrimated against in general becasue your partner or desired partner is the same sex as you.

If you are able bodied you don’t have to face problems and discriminatison due to being deaf, or in a wheelchair. Nealry everywhere is accessible to you.

Although you perceive that you have faced racism due to being white, I am sure that you can appreciate that black and minority ethnic people will experience far more than you on a daily basis, and historically have faced far more racism than you or white men ever have.

Yes you may still face classist discrimination, and yes that is unacceptable and wrong, but please do not ignore all the adavtanges and privledge that being a white male gives you. Classism does not trump the other isms.

Rose // Posted 13 March 2009 at 2:03 pm

Yes Michael, you are discriminated against for class, women of your class are discriminated against for class and gender.

Double whamy!

Lots of men lose out on jobs considered too ‘girly’ or underpaid for a man, but I wouldn’t say that was because the boss had more respect for women.

Believe it or not, I don’t like getting jobs on the grounds that I tick the ‘eye candy’ box.

Qubit // Posted 13 March 2009 at 2:46 pm

I think it is harder to answer whether something was sexual discrimination than it seemed. I applied for a job in a firm that only had male employees. I was the only female applicant and I didn’t do well on the test. It is not surprising that one of the male applicants got the job above me.

I think whether a man or a woman gets the job is not the point. The point is your relative level of qualification, experience and if one is lacking your reasons for it. Also important is how you integrate within the group and how keen you seem on the job.

It is certainly in my opinion leaning away for equality to suggest that as default the job should go to a guy unless the female applicant can prove herself significantly better. In the (unlikely) case of two completely equal candidates the probability of each getting the job should be 50/50 independent of gender or skin colour.

Whether the comment was sexist or a throw away comment can only be determined in answer to the question ‘why have you never employed a man before?’ It may even be for a low level admin job that it was even more extreme and that he’d never interviewed a man before. At the same time it was inappropriate to say in the job interview and should not have been allowed. I’d imagine however it is too late to complain now but I am not certain.

Aimee // Posted 13 March 2009 at 5:06 pm

Michael. administration positions are often demeaning and underpaid and are also, consequently or symptomatically, seen as “women’s work”. I personally would have construed the interviewer’s surprise as wondering why a man would want to go for a “women’s” job. The fact that you didn’t get the job is not really an issue. The woman might well have been more qualified for the job than you. It might have been the case that a lot more women went for the job that men, and therefore statistically a woman was more likely to get the job. I don’t think this is a case of discrimination against men at all.

However, i’m not denying that discrimination against men exists. My boyfriend went for a job in the ELC, only to be told that they don’t employ men! But surely this wouldn’t be acceptable if discrimination againt women didn’t exist! Women are seen as benign. We are apparently no threat to children. We are responsible for children. The fact that they don’t employ men says SO much about their attitides towards women as well as men. So, in my opinion we’re fighting on the same team! If we end opression againt women, if we end erroneous, demeaning assumptions about gender, then we end the converse effects of discrimination against men. Because everyone would be equal. But it IS an issue of equality, because men are given far more leniency when it comes to allocated gender roles. Obviously you face all this testosterone crap… you have to be agressive, you have to be career driven, you have to care about money and like football and treat women like they’re bits of meat and that is totally, utterly wrong. But when it comes to employment and pay and recognition of individual desires and aspirations, when it comes to the way you are treated by society, i’m afraid men have got the significantly longer straw at present.

I would like a world where gender was irrelevant. A world where everyone was deemed an individual, not subject to certain predispositions based on what kind of down below bits they had.

polly styrene // Posted 14 March 2009 at 12:27 am

‘Positive discrimination’ ie choosing a job candidate simply because their particular ethnicity/gender etc is underepresented in a workforce is currently illegal. You can ‘encourage’ applications but that’s it. That’s what the proposed legislation would change.

By contrast in my workplace an internal interview was suddenly held recently for a post. There had previously been three identical posts advertised externally. The difference this time? There was a male internal candidate. In the previous recruitments all the likely internal candidates were female. And he got the job. Interestingly all the female internal candidates had direct experience of the post in question as well, whereas he had none. What are the odds eh?

I don’t think the white men need to worry their pretty little heads too much.

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