ToynbeeEarlier this week I was amazed to discover that I had never written about the BBC licence fee, and I immediately remedied that. To keep with the theme of plugging gaps in my blogging catalogue I also discovered I have never written a critique of anything written by Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee. So, I thought I’d fix that too.

I must admit that I’m attacking a fairly weak opponent here. I’ve always found Ms Toynbee to be an irrational blabber-mouth who would be more suited sweeping up newspapers than writing in them. Her most recent offering is a noxious pile of puke, and I’m having a hard time finding anything in it that makes one iota of good rational sense. I don’t think I’ve ever read an article that is wrong in almost everything it says, but congratulations Polly at least you achieved something.

The article is a lament about a recent report from the Office for National Statistics which said that women in their 40s earn 20% less per hour than their male counterparts. And it’s in her analysis of this fact that Polly goes a bit wacky.

According to Polly “This is the motherhood penalty – and the more children a woman has, the wider the gap. Young women start out earning almost the same, deluded by beating boys at exams. Motherhood knocks most out of the running.”

Polly is right – motherhood does indeed have an effect on the earning potential and career prospects of a lot of women, and certainly more women than men. But where she goes rather splendidly wrong is in trying to blame this on some misogynistic conspiracy. Many women take time off work when they get pregnant and have a child, with some taking up to an entire year off work. Polly doesn’t seem to realise that pregnancy and starting a family is voluntary for virtually everyone. Women are not forced to get pregnant and leave work: by and large they choose to do so. If there is a motherhood penalty at all it is a self-inflicted one, and often very happily chosen too.

So when it comes to promotion time who does the boss pick: Joe, who has had 10 years unbroken service and a wealth of experience, or Josephine who has had 3 years off in 10 to have kids and thus simply doesn’t have the same experience? 9 times out of 10 it’ll be Joe promoted, and rightly so. When you take time out of your career – for any reason – the chances are you can’t achieve the levels of seniority of those who haven’t taken this time off. To argue that such a person should have the same pay and position as another is the same as saying that they should have equal rewards for doing less. The idea that people who work less at something and therefore get less reward is hardly unfair. However, the idea that people can go part-time or take a few years off or not work overtime and be as successful as those who don’t is deeply unfair. Clearly Polly is playing fast and loose with the concepts of fairness and equality. Special treatment anyone?

Polly argues that many women lose their jobs when they get pregnant (which is illegal in Britain) and complains that businesses too often avoid hiring women of a certain age for fear they’ll want to start having kids and thus miss months, or years, from their job. Polly thinks this is a horrendous state of affairs and that businesses must be forced to act differently. However, she never admits that pregnancy imposes real costs on businesses and that much of this cost is down to the policies of politicians and policy-makers that Polly supports. Businesses must get replacements, rearrange work schedules, and they inevitably lose money. Polly and others of her persuasion support longer maternity leave with greater pay. And as good as your intentions might be here Polly can you see how you might have made things worse for women generally, since the very policies you support causes this reaction from businesses in the first place?

Her rant continues with a moan that so few women occupy parliamentary seats in the European Union generally and in Britain in particular. But tell me this Polly, how are more women to get elected if too few stand, or if too few can win? She also complains that “Women dominate primary school teaching, men run universities” and that “Ambitious women hit their head on glass ceilings.” Polly is in a different world from the one I inhabit in which about 99.99% of the population hit a glass ceiling due to a simple numerical problem: there are far more people than there are top jobs. But Polly continues: “worse is the fate of women glued to the floor: two-thirds of the low-paid are women. The jobs they do – caring, catering, cleaning, cashiering – are low paid because they always were “women’s work”. Pure nonsense Polly. These jobs are not low paid because women do them. Many of these low paid jobs are unskilled or semi-skilled labour, the pool of potential candidates is much bigger, and they are easily replaced. Cleaners earn less than marketing directors for fairly obvious reasons Polly, and if you’re unsure of them perhaps a course in economics 101? While you’re studying that you might like to tell us why so many jobs that are almost exclusively male are as badly paid and worse: street sweepers, refuse collectors, security, car wash attendants, coal miners and the like.

Caught up in her own feminazi grandstanding Polly really loses the plot about 500 words into her diatribe. For Polly, women are getting a raw deal from a society that she thinks wants to keep them in their rightful place, and so she asks “Where does it all begin?” When she gives her answer I thought for a second that my senile granny was alive and well and writing under the pseudonym “Polly Toynbee.” Don’t have a mouthful of orange juice when you read this paragraph because it will fly out of your nose before the end:

“It begins in infancy, when little girls learn where they belong as soon as they draw their first breath. The pink disease is far worse than it was 20 years ago. “Princess on board”, read the yukky signs in family cars. It’s almost impossible to buy toys now that are not putridly pink branded or aggressively superhero male. Bikes, sleeping bags, lunch boxes, nothing is neutral now, everything Barbie and Bratz. Princess tiaras, fairy and ballerina dressing up, pink, pink everywhere – and it damages girls’ brains.”

Phew! This is one of the liberal left’s most influential political and social commentators here blaming the colour pink for societies gender ills! I suppose the colour green sparked the second world war, orange has lead to an increase in attacks on the elderly while yellow must be to blame for the high number of black men in prison? What tosh! Can you provide even one teeny tiny fragment of evidence to back up the claim that pink damages the brains of young girls, Polly? No, of course you can’t. Do you know why you can’t? Because you just made it up! Look at nature: mothers of many other species take on the bulk of the “nurturing” or “caring” role that you seem to abhor so much, and yet when was the last time you saw a gorilla wearing a pink ballerina dress, or a hyena wearing a pink tiara, or a hippo with a Bratz doll? You don’t, except in cartoons, and I regard it as necessary to tell you that they’re fictional. On the outside chance that you happen to be correct about the brain rotting properties of the colour pink I can only conclude you must have seen a hell of a lot of it when you were growing up.

What feminists like Polly Toynbee just can’t bring themselves to realise is the one obvious fact: men and women, generally speaking, are different. Instead Polly – following the feminist philosophy of yesteryear – thinks men and women can be “equal” and implies that this means you should find an equal number of women to men in any given profession. But, this is nonsense. Take any job that requires greater physical size and strength – the fire service for instance – and it will be no surprise that you find more men in that occupation because, generally speaking, men are bigger and stronger (more accurately, more men than women meet the criteria, making it more likely that you end up with more men). It might explain also why women are attracted to certain professions too, and certainly explains why many women have career gaps. Whilst it’s easy to imagine that if you put your hands between the legs of a rampant feminist you’ll grab a big pair of balls, the truth is you’ll find a vagina. Now, Polly, this organ is one of those that makes it possible for women to get pregnant. If you have a problem with the fact that it is women rather than men that get knocked up then I’m afraid you’re going to have to take it up with Mother Nature. There may well be false differences imposed on the sexes by their culture, but this doesn’t negate the fact that many relevant differences are a matter of biology. If Polly wonders why there has been a massive backlash against feminism she need look no further than its denial of relevant and real differences between the sexes.

For a brief moment Polly recovers from the episode of mania with probably the only sensible comment that she makes in the entire article: “sexualisation harms girls – and it’s getting worse, more of it and more extreme.” I have no beef with this, but just how it relates to the gender pay gap is anyone’s guess. But it’s not just sexualisation of girls that Polly is opposed to, she seems to disapprove of the “sexualisation” of adult women too. She cries, “How can it be that lapdancing is proliferating as socially acceptable entertainment for supposedly respectable men in certain circles?” I think I can answer that, Polly. Now this might offend you, but most men I know are turned on by female nakedness and simply enjoy a night out with a few mates watching beautiful women – who are well paid and well treated – dancing naked. Just what is wrong with this? As a man I can tell you that, naked or not, we’re going to look at beautiful women and think certain things, and do you know what you can do about Polly? That‘s right: fuck-all squared! Not that Polly will be convinced, for she believes that it’s “Time for a bit of the ancient music from women outside clashing saucepan lids and taking photos to post on the web of the men who go in.” Yes, what a worthy pursuit and won‘t at all make you look like a bunch of psychopaths on a par with pastor Fred Phelps. I wouldn’t expect an OBE from Her Majesty if I were you. “For services to, umm, prudity!” Polly, frankly you need to grow up. Lapdancing clubs are not worthy of “outrage,” nor do they constitute “rampant pornification,” and least of all “sex on anyone’s terms.” They involve consenting adults paying other consenting adults for providing a service. I wish women would pay me for dancing naked, as it is I get paid to cover up.

I think I’ve said enough about this nonsense in which Polly consistently twists facts to suit her own sexist agenda, and in which she shamelessly equates “special rights for women” with “equality.” After reading her article I have even less respect for her. If I said that Polly was an puerile, brain-addled, sour-faced old fuck-wit for writing this article I could face libel charges, so I’d better just content myself with thinking it.