It goes without saying that the Tory MP Dominic Raab was a thoroughbred idiot for making his 'Kevin Baker-esque' remark that feminists are "onbnoxious bigots", and deserves everything that's coming to him as a result. Which is a pity, in one sense, because there's a fairly obvious grain of truth in the broader point he was making, if only he could have expressed himself in a slightly less abusive manner. Specifically, he suggested that Harriet Harman's claim that men were to blame for the financial crisis was sexist. Well, the simplest way to judge if double-standards are at play is usually to take the polar opposite of a statement and try it on for size. If a bank with an overwhelmingly female management team had made a catastrophic blunder, would it be deemed reasonable to blame that on the shortcomings of women in general? Plainly not, and rightly so.
'Reverse sexism' is absolutely endemic in our society, and its manifestations are so familiar we don't even register them most of the time. I used to watch Australian soap operas when I was a teenager (I'm glad to say I've long since kicked the habit) and it suddenly dawned on me one day that the characters who did something stupid or selfish were almost always male - and of course it was invariably the women who showed them the error of their ways and got them to apologise. Generally, the only female characters who were ever permitted to go slightly astray were teenagers - the message seemed to be that grown-up women are 'mature' in every sense and are thus blameless, whereas many men never attain that state and are thus blameworthy. That's a recurring theme in advertising as well.
Does any of this really matter? Well, it certainly does when the underlying assumptions start influencing government decisions and legislation. I've discussed in the past the pernicious effect of Scottish Labour's insistence (and sadly other parties are not immune to this) that domestic violence is almost exclusively something that men do to women, in spite of the plentiful evidence that it's also something that women do to men, men do to men, and women do to women. Thousands of victims effectively become 'the enemy', because if their stories are heard and taken seriously in sufficient numbers (ie. if they no longer seem like aberrations or 'outliers'), it jeapordises the precious official fiction. And when you're already in a vulnerable position, being the enemy of policy-makers as well is not a comfortable place to be.
Perhaps the most extreme example of the very concrete gender discrimination this distorted thinking can ultimately lead to is the Swedish law on prostitution, which criminalises men who pay for sex, but regards women who sell sex - even when they are acting completely independently - as the victims of 'male violence'. I've no idea how that law nominally treats the inconvenient examples of women who pay men or other women for sex, or indeed men who pay men, but the guiding thinking is clear enough - the former "can't happen", while the latter is "marginal". Once again, allowing the full range of experiences to be heard on an equal basis would imperil the ludicrously simplistic narrative of blame.
Whether prostitution should in principle be legal or not is a matter for debate. But if it is to be a criminal act, and two adults consensually agree to commit it, it's surely self-evident that it's grossly discriminatory to regard just one of those adults as wholly responsible for the decision, and the other as the equivalent of a helpless child - purely on the basis of the gender of each. The ideology that underpins the law is actually rooted in Marxism - the notion that women can't be responsible for a seemingly free choice (because their thinking is distorted by male oppression) is a classic example of 'false consciousness'. Which makes it doubly ironic that the politicians who are most keen on applying the Swedish logic in Scotland are to be found, again, in the Labour ranks. In pretty much every other respect The People's Party abandoned socialism (not to mention social democracy) years ago, but it remains quaintly wedded to full-blooded Marxism when it comes to gender politics.
What's truly depressing is that vigorous opposition to this irrational and unjust ideology is generally only associated with certain sections of the right, particularly the radical libertarian right. If equality - true equality - between the genders isn't to be considered a natural concern for the left, I really don't know what is.