Times publishes misogynist tract

// 3 August 2008

Some quotes from Kathleen Parker’s book, extracted for today’s Sunday Times:

While women have been cast as victims, martyrs, mystics or saints, men have quietly retreated into their caves, the better to muffle emotions that fluctuate between hilarity (are these bitches crazy or what?) and rage (yes, they are and they’ve got our kids).

(Note: this is meant to be a defence of men! Yes, from the one depicting men as misogynist cave-dwellers.)

In popular culture, rare is the man portrayed as wise, strong and noble.

Ha! Parker is living in an alternate reality, right? Because men are never, ever portrayed as wise, strong or noble.

The exemplar of the modern male is the hairless, metrosexualised man and decorator boys who turn heter-osexual slobs into perfumed ponies. All of which is fine as long as we can dwell happily in the Kingdom of Starbucks, munching our biscotti and debating whether nature or nurture determines gender identity. But in the dangerous world in which we really live, it might be nice to have a few guys around who aren’t trying to juggle pedicures and highlights.

Men have been domesticated to within an inch of their lives, attending Lamaze classes, counting contractions, bottling expressed breast milk for midnight feedings – I expect men to start lactating before I finish this sentence – yet they are treated most unfairly in the areas of reproduction and parenting.

Even The Times couldn’t quite stomach all this – its ‘mummy blogger’ points out this is a total contradiction – on the one hand Parker says men are being marginalised from family life; on the other ridicules and berates men who actually take an interest.

Legally, women hold the cards. If a woman gets pregnant, she can abort – even without her husband’s consent. If she chooses to have the child, she gets a baby and the man gets an invoice. Unarguably, a man should support his offspring, but by that same logic shouldn’t he have a say in whether his child is born or aborted?

Yep, then we get to the really nasty stuff: men should be able to force women to continue a pregnancy against our will. Later in the piece, she waxes nostalgic for a time when women were ashamed to be single mums. She confirms and supports the idea as “natural” that men do not think of women as human beings:

That is because a woman is perceived as just another mother, while a man is Man. From their mothers, boys basically want to hear variations on two phrases: “I love you” and “Do you want those fried or scrambled?”

It actually gets worse after this.

Comments From You

Fran // Posted 3 August 2008 at 5:54 pm

The misogynist replies to that article are even worse:

“If only more woman thought like this rather than always whinning, moaning taking their money and not letting them see their kids.”

“I was brought up in England in the 70s, had a female Arkela, female primary and secondary teachers and got the hell out of the place as soon as I could. I have lived in Spain for 18 years where I have slowly allowed recoverd from the damage my warped education inflicted.”

“women would never have invented the car, tv or the computer…The womens weekly mags( showing stars canoodling) is the cosmic shrine of all women. What did Nicole do ? what did Brad do ? …these are perennially the most important things in womens lives..”

…and the list goes on.

maggie // Posted 3 August 2008 at 8:53 pm

I read this article today. that woman is warped and insane. it made me laugh.

Qubit // Posted 4 August 2008 at 12:28 am

I don’t think either parent is essential for a child growing up but I think a parent or parents who care about the child and good male and female role models are essential. I think this means both lesbian and gay couples as well as single parents who are committed can bring up a child competently.

My cousin is bringing up his daughter with help of his parents wonderfully and I have no doubt of his ability to bring her up without her mother. I also have no doubt of a competent mother to bring up her son without a father. I think saying one is impossible implies the latter.

I think a family court should consider past president in who cared for the child before the divorce to decide who should be the primary carer after. There is certainly a bias against men in this at the moment however the case where the father was the primary carer is rare. It is important that we increase father’s rights without making it common for the primary parents to have the child taken from them.

Unfortunately we often don’t take the role of fathers seriously enough. I don’t think this is feminism I think this is a part of society that is still changing from where dad’s had a small role in children’s lives. I hope this will change in the future.

I think there are few portrayals of men as good father’s in the media. This does need to change and I agree with the article that men aren’t fairly represented in this area.

Lindsey // Posted 4 August 2008 at 9:12 am

Fran – I hate that whole ‘women could never invent anything’ line! I did a quick google once when I got lured into a debate of this kind. Aside from inventing things useful in the domestic sphere like dishwashers and disposable nappies, women are also responsible for windscreen wipers and Kevlar! Can you get much more ‘butch’ than Kevlar? It’s now my favourite example of the legitimacy of female inventors.

Aimee // Posted 4 August 2008 at 9:42 am

This is really upsetting. For one, I cannot understand why a woman would want to be identified as ‘just a mother’, etc. Why does she want herself and other women to be reduced to the distinctions she describes? Is she somehow exempt from this because she’s the one to identify it? Because she’s ‘acting like a man’? I don’t understand what her role, as the author is in this supposedly utopian society where women are subject to the authority of men and can’t even decide whether or not to loan their wombs out for nine months without the consent of men?

Furthermore, it is actually possible for men to lactate. There was an interesting case in India where a man breastfed his child. So there.

chem_fem // Posted 4 August 2008 at 12:27 pm

Aimee – your absolutely right. Some anti-psycotics and grastric motility drugs have lactating side effects in both men and women.

Sabre // Posted 4 August 2008 at 2:16 pm

This article just seems to be a whinge for men. There were some good points raised, e.g. pornification of our culture but with fault placed on feminism rather than admitting that men have been the primary driving force behind such things, and it’s feminism that tries to change it!

I think Kathleen Parker is what one might term a ‘misogynist-in-womans-clothing’. I can just see the poooor men sitting back smugly thinking ‘yep, always knew it was those bitches out to get me, and it must be true because a woman said it’.

Shea // Posted 4 August 2008 at 4:11 pm

@ Lindsey & Fran– don’t forget antibiotics and contributing to the discovery of DNA. Not bad considering women have only been permit to enter higher education in significant numbers for the last 50 years. I also love the way men claim all of these discoveries for themselves as a group. Yes clearly men are better at maths/science/engineering/everything because one or two individual male geniuses are.

This is sad and pathetic, but nothing new. Its the Ann Coulter approach. You try to be as offensive and ignborant as possible because you have nothin new or original to add to the debate.

Crumbs* of* the* patriarchy.

Sabre // Posted 4 August 2008 at 5:02 pm

chem_fem, daft question but are you a chemist? Just curious as I used to be one too.

Also on the theme of great women in science/engineering/maths, let’s not forget lesser known achievements: Florence Nightingale was also a great statistician (and first female member of the Statistical Society), and Beatrix Potter was also a botanist and mycologist.

I think that not only could a woman have invented a car, TV or computer, she would probably have done them better, given half a chance!

chem_fem // Posted 4 August 2008 at 5:37 pm

Sabre – yes, 3rd year organic chemistry PhD student with a few years in pharma under my belt.

how about you? what turned you off and what are you doing now?

Cara // Posted 4 August 2008 at 5:48 pm

And discovery of X-rays! :-)

Hell yeah, women would have invented better computers…ones that do not make the user want to throw them out of the window because they are so damn user-UNfriendly!

Sabre // Posted 5 August 2008 at 10:29 am

Sigh, the Telegraph have published an article heavily quoting Kathleen Parker, it’s called ‘Please save us from the boo-hoo boys ‘. Apparently we’ve drenched our men so much in our dirty oestrogen that they’ve turned into a bunch of crybabies. How terrible that men express their emotions, who they think they are, women?? The woman writing it apparently despises men who cry. I’m confused; what exactly is emasculation? Losing superiority over women? It’s at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/portal/main.jhtml?xml=/portal/2008/08/05/ftcrying105.xml.

chem_fem: Like you, I also did organic chemistry! I got bored being in the lab doing uninspiring and tedious experiments, working with people who were always undermining each other for pay rises/promotion/recognition. Also I didn’t see myself progressing; although the staff were about 50:50 male to female, out of the 35 team and gruop leaders only one was a woman (and she did a part-time job share with a man). The team leaders were usually men with PhDs but really poor people/managerial skills. And I was always uncomfortable with the idea that I worked to make shareholders richer. Anyway I still love science/eng so went into policy work for non-for-profit organisations.

chem_fem // Posted 5 August 2008 at 11:03 am

Sabre – Sounds about right.

Jam // Posted 5 August 2008 at 1:33 pm

While I would expect to find this kind of stuff in the Times or the Telegraph, did anyone else read this article in the Observer Woman magazine –


Titled ‘Depressed, repressed, objectified: are men the new women??’

it also drew heavily on ‘Save the Males’, and while its conclusion was fortunately pretty inconclusive, it included some staggeringly stupid writing. A few of my choice favourites:

‘Every week, it seems as if there are new surveys and studies tripping over themselves to paint the grimmest possible picture of modern masculinity. They tell us that men are more neurotic and less fulfilled than ever before; that they are objectified rather than revered; that they are expected to be more in touch with their emotions and yet are criticised for it.’

What was that? Revered? Because obviously we should all fall down and worship at the altar of all things masculine. Because men deserve so much more than just respect, they deserve actual reverence for the fact they have penises. I’m not saying it’s a good thing that men are feeling more objectified (if that is indeed the case) but surely there’s some ground between being objectified and deified?

‘Do these statistics have any bearing on the everyday experiences of ordinary men? ‘I don’t know if I feel oppressed, but there’s a sense in which women can talk about us with impunity,’ says a 32-year-old male lawyer from London, who does not wish to give his name in case his female colleagues start pelting him with rotten tomatoes. ‘I’ve been in the office on several occasions where sweeping generalisations have been made about the general crapness of men: “Oh, all men are useless, no wonder he couldn’t get the job done in time” – that sort of thing. I don’t take it all that seriously – at least, not yet – but I know that I wouldn’t get away with saying the same things about women.’

Aw bless, the poor little man. Leaving aside for the moment the extreme unlikelihood of this man never, ever, EVER having made a sweeping generalisation about women, what is he suggesting? That women should NOT be able to talk about their colleagues, friends, partners etc. without fear of reprisal? Ah, if only we would all just remember our places and limit our discussions to shoes and baking, then the men won’t have to worry about their delicate little egos being bruised! And following on from his last point…

‘’When Susan Pinker, the highly regarded psychologist and journalist published her recent book, The Sexual Paradox: Troubled Boys, Gifted Girls and the Real Difference Between the Sexes, she received an email from a colleague asking her to give a comment ‘on the difference between men and women’s brains – or rather, men’s lack of brains!’

‘It was a joke no one would make about women,’ Pinker tells me.’

I suggest that Pinker goes into her nearest newsagent and picks up ANY magazine aimed at men, and counts the number of jokes, puns and other digs at women’s expense, and then considers that comment.

Me, I’m not thrilled about any group being generalised about in an offensive way, but surely a little perspective isn’t too much to ask? This is one of the worst examples of ‘what about the poor menz’ that I’ve seen in a long time, and to add insult to injury it appeared in the Woman magazine of what I’d like to believe was a fairly intelligent and liberal newspaper.

My favourite paragraph of all?

‘So – although women hold only 17 per cent of parliamentary positions across the globe, despite there being only 10 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and ignoring the fact that it is still illegal for a woman to drive a car in Saudi Arabia – it seems that, sometimes, it is harder to be a man.’

Oh my God, you’re so right, I’ll forget that women are massively disadvantaged in virtually all walks of life (and obviously the violence that 1 out of 3 women experience isn’t worth mentioning at all) and get right on with campaigning so that ALL men have it easier than ALL women ALL of the time.

(I’m a long time lurker but have never commented before, but just had to get this off my chest after it completely ruined my Sunday lie-in)

Jo // Posted 6 August 2008 at 3:04 am

Am i the only one who thinks her piece is a spoof? It’s so ridiculous it reminds me of the Harry Enfield sketches ‘Women: Know Your Place!’. Lol. I think the joke is on the readers.

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