Letter: Militant feminists in the law

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The Independent Online
Sir: Eileen Pembridge's tirade against me ("My daft learned friend: shut up!", 22 April) represents a ludicrously inaccurate version of the speech I delivered at the Women Lawyers' Conference.

The central theme of the speech was that in recent years women have made very considerable progress in the profession and that it was strange that this progress received so little celebration from militant feminists of Mrs Pembridge's type. The militants feed on grievances, not achievements.

I have never said that "sexual harassment did not occur in the legal profession", merely that the issue was greatly exaggerated by the militants. Mrs Pembridge is well aware that the female head of personnel at the Law Society has stated, in writing, that she does not consider that sexual harassment is a problem at the Law Society. But that is one of those things which is simply not allowed to be said.

I have never said that "women should be at home tending their families, not 'elbowing their way to the top' ". I have said that some women willingly choose to give family priority over career and that this is a choice they are entitled to make.

Mrs Pembridge says that I "do not like women as peers and colleagues". This is ridiculous. During the Law Society Council elections last year I voted for a woman for the office of Deputy Vice-President and urged my supporters to do the same. Women are disproportionately represented in my own Council support group. I was a member of the committee that recently (and unanimously) appointed the Law Society's first female Secretary- General.

The statement that I have described women as "the enemy," is equally preposterous. I was criticising the zealots, an entirely different thing.

Mrs Pembridge and I fought an election campaign less that 12 months ago. We both addressed meetings, published articles and manifestos. The profession had every chance to make its own assessment. In the event, I was elected with Mrs Pembridge trailing third. Throughout the campaign she banged the feminist drum but made no more impression on women solicitors than on men.

Martin Mears


The Law Society

London WC2