He thinks feminists are ‘obnoxious bigots’: meet the new justice minister

Dominic Raab is no more keen on the Equality Act than he is on the Human Rights Act


Esher and Walton MP Dominic Raab has just been made justice minister alongside Michael Gove.

Raab is a longtime critic of the Human Rights Act – this appointment looks like David Cameron’s way of saying he is serious about scrapping it. In January 2014 Raab voted to allow human rights grounds to be used to prevent a foreign criminal being deported only in cases where there would be a breach of right to life or the right not to be tortured.

In 2013, he voted to remove the duty on the Commission for Equality and Human Rights to work to support the development of a society in which people’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice or discrimination.

And in 2013 he also voted against making it illegal to discriminate on grounds of caste.

Raab also took an unusual stance on gender equality in 2011, when he expressed his fears that ‘from the cradle to the grave, men are getting a raw deal’. He attacked the ‘obnoxious bigotry’ of feminists and complained that men work longer hours than women (no mention of pay gap etc).

“While we have some of the toughest anti-discrimination laws in the world, we are blind to some of the most flagrant discrimination – against men.”

Seeming to have fallen at the first hurdle – assuming that feminism is anti-men  – Raab also suggested that men start ‘burning their briefs’, presumably as a long- overdue retaliation against the feminists of the sixties (who did not, in fact, burn their bras.)

Raab’s diatribe continued:

“Britain’s not perfect, and we will never eradicate all human prejudice.”

This is especially true when we do not understand that prejudice. Another interesting choice from David Cameron.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

398 Responses to “He thinks feminists are ‘obnoxious bigots’: meet the new justice minister”

  1. Debbie Jackson

    Rex, no. From cradle to grave, men have far fewer -specifically litigated rights- than women, perhaps. But if this is the case, it is because we’ve had to enforce our equality and to get it specifically written into law that it might be observed in even a third of all applicable cases. This does not mean that men receive no discrimination in any circumstance nor that male issues are unimportant, but the ubiquitously held and proven balance is in your favour. Men are naturally and automatically afforded more privilege than women on a near global basis.

    What’s more, true feminists by the definition of the word do not campaign for female superiority in any form. Speaking as an intersectional feminist we campaign for true equality for all human beings regardless of gender, colour, creed, caste, social hierarchy, size, age, disability, religion and so on. Men actually do get a raw deal in some areas and often this is due to the same imposing patriarchal system which oppresses women and others alongside them – there’s a lot of belittling and feminising insults, abuse according to feminine traits and so on and so forth. This world will not be equal until all within it are fairly treated and fairly treat one another.

    I am glad you disagree with the appointment, however. I myself do as well and for the same reasons.

  2. Rex Duis

    Hi Debbie. I took the term ‘cradle to grave’ quite literally in this instance, referring for example to the lack of legal protection for male genital integrity which women have been able to enjoy for 30 years now in Britain and for male retirement which has until just recently meant men were forced to work a further 5 years than women, despite traditionally working in labour intensive jobs.

    When genital mutilation was banned in 1985 for women, this legislation need not have been gender specific as both males and females have genitalia and may be subject to religious or cultural circumcision or modification practices. In this instance, male babies were failed by this issue having been seen at the time as different for the genders, a position Feminism continues to take now when discussing whether the practice is more damaging to one gender or another.

    You appear to be referring to perceived social inequalities which 3rd wave Feminism has largely focused on and which to my mind are of secondary consideration to legally protected rights. Whether those rights are actively enforced or not is also secondary as it is always a much easier position to defend one’s legally enshrined rights than it is to fight for them in the first place. This is the position men now find themselves in and which Dominic Raab rightly sums up as men ‘getting a raw deal’.

    Moving on to perceived social inequalities I would say these affect men and women equally but in different ways. Women have benefitted from the fact that they have been seen as generally speaking the weaker sex in that no shame has been put on women for raising their voices about these issues and positioning themselves as victims in various situations of perceived social disadvantage. Men on the other hand are fairly silent on most matters which affect them, regardless of the severity of need, because there is some shame is speaking about them. It is therefore an example of the privilege women enjoy that they can actively campaign for changes in the way they feel they are treated or seen, while playing down the importance of the injustices which men also face and are less able to express.

    Looking at the examples you put forward, men do not enjoy equal legal rights with women on paternity. A woman has the legal right to abort her baby in the UK, Wales and Scotland, to keep the baby or to give birth and waive all legal rights and responsibilities to care for the child including to pay for it’s well-being which is then turned over to the state to pay for until such time as a suitable adopter can be found. Men must go along with the choice the woman makes with no regard given to his feelings which is fundamentally unfair and wrong.

    Men should be given the equal right enjoyed by women to have a baby come to term if he wishes to keep it (and would be responsible in full for the mothers costs during her pregnancy) with the mother agreeing to turn over full responsibility to the father after the baby is born. Men should also have the right as women do to waive any responsibility for the child, including any financial responsibility. Finally should he wish to be a part of the babies life he should be automatically granted 50% share int he interests of, financially responsiblity for and access to the child. Any suggestions as to the appropriateness of this could be questioned with the courts pending the child’s birth. The onus being on the mother then to prove why the fathers access should be limited or restricted in any way.

    When men enjoy such legal protections, we will have parental equality in law. Unfortunately it is not possible to legislate social attitutdes towards people and this can only be changed in time. If men are deemed less suited to parenting it mayt in part be due to the unfair pressure put on them by vocal Feminist movements to demonised them in efforts for women to be given greater legal and automatic control over children.

    A brief point on the historic rights given to men over their wives. It sounds like the previous laws were not entirely fair, but now the balance has been shifted too far the wrong way. Additionally, as men were legally responsible for debts run up by their wives and children and would face Debtor’s Prison if the family were unable to meet their financial obligations it is perhaps unfair to view the rights given to men over their wives pregnancies as an example of the ‘ubiquitously’ held privileges enjoyed by men as it fails to see this ‘priviledge’ in it’s original context. One could argue that it was unfair that a man be made responsible for his wifes debts and that women enjoyed this privildge.

    In many cases essential context has been lost fromt he gender debate creating a false perception that women have suffered unduly which has fed into the zeitgeist of the population, adding fuel to the chips some already had on their shoulders and creating in others feelings of unfairness which previously they perhaps hadn’t been aware of. I don’t think then that sweeping historical references to male priviledge and female suffering are really helpful to the debate and that greater diligence should be afforded proper and full presentation of issues within their historic settings.

  3. j.d.troughton

    I have lived a male life. I am afforded very little respect. People make little space
    for me, listened rarely and half-heartedly when I speak, and generally acted like I am a threat or inconvenience in society. I’m glad to hear that someone actively representing my interests with my maleness as the ends, not simply a means to the ends of female comfort and privilege, is in this position.

    There is no assumption that feminism is anti-men. There is only the objective, dispassionate, empirical observation of that fact.

  4. damon

    Much of feminist thinking is pretty dodgy. It’s a completely mixed bag – some good, some bad.
    It’s very easy to either misunderstand or twist what a guy like that is saying.
    And frankly, I don’t trust the people who write articles of Left Foot Forward to be making the right interpretation of what he was saying. It’s probably just Tory bashing.

  5. Jens - alt er på Twitter

    Looks like Ruby Stockham simply doesn’t understand Dominic Raab’s perspective.

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