Antifeminist hatefest against UK Labour interim leader Harriet Harman

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martin dufresne
Antifeminist hatefest against UK Labour interim leader Harriet Harman

Good comment by Ruth Sunderland in The Guardian - but over 400 comments, most of them seething with hostility

Bullying Labour's Harriet Harman for standing up for women demeans us all

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman was ridiculed last week for promoting feminism. But was what she proposed really so crazy?

It's hard to know why, exactly, Harriet Harman's stint in charge while Gordon Brown is on holiday has provoked so much leery humour among male commentators. Is it because she is, as the niece of Lord Longford and a distant cousin of David Cameron, unspeakably posh? Or because she is a feminist, which, let's face it, is just unspeakable? (...)

Harman has attracted this deluge of ridicule and vitriol because she was deemed to have used her time in charge to promote a "bonkers" feminist agenda. Really? It's worth taking a moment or two to consider what she has done to deserve this. One piece of man-hating madness, in the eyes of her detractors, is that she wants a review of the rape laws to improve conviction rates. But that doesn't seem bonkers at all when you consider that of all the rapes reported from 2007 to 2008, only 6.5% resulted in a conviction, compared with 34% of criminal cases overall, and that the government estimates that as many as 95% of rapes are never reported to the police in the first place.

Cases of women falsely alleging rape appear in the newspapers - and such behaviour is appalling - but the far greater problem is the culture of disbelief faced by genuine victims. A report two years ago found that many police officers dealing with rape victims had "very little training" and that women experienced delays, insensitive questioning and judgmental or disbelieving attitudes. Unsurprisingly, between half and two-thirds of cases did not proceed, with most deciding to withdraw their complaints. These findings emanate from two notorious feminist hotbeds, Her Majesty's Chief Inspectorate and Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.

Far from being mocked as New Labour's answer to Viz comic's Millie Tant, Harman should be roundly congratulated for highlighting the issue. Which segues into accusations over another item on her so-called extremist agenda, the idea of educating children about healthy, non-violent relationships or, as the tabloids would have it, telling pupils as young as five about the evils of wife beating and making them scared of men.