LAST week, for an entire afternoon, the House of Commons ‘considered International Women’s Day’. Not to be outdone, this week it was the Lords’ turn to yak, for six hours, that ‘this House takes note of International Women’s Day and the United Kingdom’s role in advancing equalities for women everywhere’.
The opening contribution came from the Conservatives’ Baroness (Elizabeth) Berridge, who recently became an under-secretary of state and is newly appointed to the Government Equalities Office as Minister for Women. The most notable part of Berridge’s speech was her deprecation of traditional male virtues: ‘Many of the most difficult challenges today lie in the damaging attitudes that still exist about what it means to be a boy or a girl . . . These harmful gender stereotypes can also affect men and boys. New evidence suggests that men and boys are expected to be strong, unemotional and breadwinners.’
Does she seriously believe that boys today are being conditioned to become ‘strong, unemotional and breadwinners’? Many moons ago, perhaps. But the prevailing view in 2020 is the orthodoxy which the Baroness went on to espouse, that for males ‘these norms can have a significant impact on their social well-being, mental health and quality of life’.
By contrast, in both Houses the celebratory debates to commemorate International Women’s Day contained numerous appreciative references to female achievers. There were no suggestions that it is risky to be a high-earning ‘strong woman’, or that those tough cookies ought to be more sensitive and show greater vulnerability.
One might have hoped that Baroness Berridge, having formerly been director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, would proffer a more conventional perspective. Unfortunately, the cod-conservatives in Parliament collude with the Left in fanning feminism while denigrating traditional masculine traits as ‘harmful gender stereotypes’, as discussed by Belinda Brown in TCW yesterday.
Apart from anything else, this disapproval dilutes for women the pool of worthy husbands and partners. Bravo for boys who steadfastly resist feminist emasculation and still see their adult role as protector and provider; and hats off to those who mature with a starched upper lip and their stoicism intact.
Any young men who maintain these ‘damaging attitudes’ will have done so despite the efforts of the counterfeit Conservatives in the Government Equalities Office.