An utterly idiotic piece by Deborah Ross, one of many female feminist columnists and journalists at The Times. I’m thinking of cancelling my subscription to The Times, following my recent cancellation of my subscription to The Spectator.
With the departure of Jane Garvey and Jenni Murray from BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, and despite the appointment of the excellent Emma Barnett to the main presenting chair, many have questioned whether the show still has a purpose, or even ever had one. It’s patronising to women to assume they aren’t part of the main agenda, I have read. Alternatively, if a Woman’s’ Hour, why not a Man’s Hour? And so on.
I am reminded of when I was a child and asked my parents why, when there was a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, there was no Children’s Day, to which the reply was always: “Every day is children’s day.” So when men say that there should be a Man’s Hour I am always minded to reply: “When every hour is men’s hour?” Which always wins them over.
Actually, there was a programme of that type on Radio 4 — The Locker Room? — for a bit, then another on Radio 5 Live, but they never gained traction and were short-lived. I don’t know why. But perhaps the key to understanding could lie in seeing what a typical Man’s Hour schedule might look like:
10am: Six men talk about their experiences of earning substantially more than a woman for doing exactly the same work. “It’s great,” they will say.
10.01am: Barnett will interview a man who has never had to fight for any of his rights. “Also, great,” he will say. Barnett will probe deeper. What about when you didn’t march to support a woman’s right to abortion? “That was fine,” he will say. “Probably did something else that day. Or it may have been one of those days when I didn’t feel like doing a thing.”
10.02am: Three generations of men will discuss candidly what it’s like to not be lunged at by their boss in the back of a cab. “It’s shocking, the number of times it hasn’t happened,” they will concur. “Three generations and still nothing’s changed,” one will add.
10.03am: One man will recount how not doing his share of household chores and home schooling during lockdown has taken its toll. “My wife is so exhausted she’s no fun any more,” will be his verdict.
10.04am: Martin Amis will come into the studio to discuss how the lack of systematic oppression of men by women has informed his latest novel. “You simply can’t write like I do unless you haven’t been systematically oppressed,” he will argue. He will also reveal that writing is a lonely business, “now that Philip Roth and Norman Mailer have gone”. He may ask Barnett for a cuddle.
10.05am: What’s it like to not be forced into marriage as a child bride and to never face that prospect? “Also great,” our male panel from all over the world will conclude. (“Terrific, in fact,” Amis will confirm, if he’s yet to leave the studio. “I have found it very beneficial, personally.”)
10.06am: A spokesman from the “masculism” movement will talk about “reverse sexism” with a straight face because “it really exists, Emma”.
10.07am: Barnett speaks to a group of men from all backgrounds who have always had agency over their bodies. “It’s always been my body, my choice, and that’s hard,” the show will be told. “Once, just once, it would be nice to wake up and be told what I can and can’t do with it. But I don’t think that is ever going to happen, frankly.”
10.08am: A man explains mansplaining.
10.09am: A studio debate about how, across the world, one in four girls aren’t in education beyond their 15th birthday, while it’s one in ten boys. “Works for us,” the men will chorus.
The programme might, actually, end up being called Man’s Ten Minutes, but don’t take that as a reflection of them having little to complain about. And it’s not like we won’t be tackling serious issues. Tomorrow, for instance, we’ll be asking: why is it that menswear in shops is always two floors up, and how is that fair?
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