Leading Article: Men have the right to be protected

Related Topics
To paraphrase Lionel Bart, what's the matter with men today? Part of the answer has to do with changing patterns of men's and women's employment and reward. According to new figures from the Equal Opportunities Commission, more than half the complaints it received last year about sexual discrimination in the search for jobs were from men - a historic reversal in the battle of the sexes.

This seems only to compound other recent prophecies of doom for the male. He has been assailed by falling sperm counts and loss of libido. He has lost his role as father and helpmeet and finds it hard meekly to partner dynamic, go-ahead and demanding women. Domestic reality is a lot less dramatic than the gender soothsayers would have us believe. None the less, something is happening at those deeper levels of consciousness and sentiment that pollsters find hard to plumb.

That something is not, however, going to happen quickly, nor ought it to compromise the broad principles on which our political and legal systems work, at the heart of which is equal treatment, equal opportunity. One of the paradoxes, indeed, of the Conservative era that may now be passing is how little the government even attempted to turn back the tide of tribunal and court judgments based on equality.

The Equal Opportunities Commission survived several culls of quangos. It has a lot to be modest about, both as an analyst of changing employment and a litigant, Recently the EOC has functioned as a sort of subaltern to the European Court of Justice. The principles of equality laid down in the Treaty of Rome and the Single European Act have powered the broad movement towards equal treatment against which the British government has chafed but then buckled.

Now it seems the EOC is to start doing more for men. This must be right, because the principles of anti-discrimination and equality transcend gender. Men have every right to apply to the commission for relief. Unfairness should be tackled wherever it surfaces.

But no one should mistake friction in the service sector (the movement of men into functions that throughout most of the 20th century have been "women's work") with an end to the relative position of men and women in either the work or domestic spheres. The proportion of men and women between 20 and 60 who are at work is now broadly the same. But men's earnings remain higher. Participation of men in domestic work remains slight. Many women work outside the home and sustain higher burdens of child care and domestic management.

Individual men - though far fewer than some reports allege - are having to learn to live with women in power in the home and at work. The longer- run ramifications of that are fascinating and radical, but they remain just that - longer run. Some women - taking their cues from men - will abuse their new-found power and their men may wilt as a result. The EOC and the courts are obliged to protect men in such circumstances with as much enthusiasm and energy as they have women.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page


Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace

Gabriel Sassoon
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride