You’ve got to be patient

Catherine Bennett isn’t in the mood to be told to calm down.

Less than a day separated the arrest of a serving Metropolitan police officer on suspicion of Sarah Everard’s murder from the first suggestions that women calm down and put it in perspective…

A professor of criminology, Marian FitzGerald, thought it important to tell other women – twice – on the BBC, not to get “hysterical”. She was being interviewed by a senior man in an organisation which has evidently shared her reservations about women’s fallibility – were they worthy, even, of being paid the same as men? – and it duly went unchallenged.

The message, that women’s difficulties with the status quo can be just as troublesome as male offending behaviour, was seemingly reinforced by the BBC’s favourite troll, the ubiquitous ex-judge Jonathan Sumption. “Most profound cultural problems like this are not easily amenable to government action or legislation,” he claimed, on Any Questions? “It’s going to be a gradual process, I’m sorry but we’ve got to be realistic about this.” It was only to be expected: Sumption had previously levelled at female lawyers the same imputation of naivety. “It takes time. You’ve got to be patient.” Via such insights do the retired male beneficiaries of overwhelmingly unequal professions recommend themselves to Radio 4 producers.

Yes but you know how it is – women are just so annoying with our shrill demands and strident claims and hysterical reactions.

Just last week an off-duty police officer, Oliver Banfield, remained at liberty after his conviction for attacking a lone woman at night. He stays in his post. Shortly before, Javed Miah, who sexually assaulted a woman at night, running away when she used the SOS function on her phone, avoided jail because he was the “sole earner”. In February a chef who admitted kissing and touching a resisting colleague somehow convinced a magistrate that it was his Turkish culture. Men with an interest in terrorising vulnerable women may have been further reassured by the suspended sentence handed, at Kingston crown court last year, to an Uber driver who harassed and exposed himself for 20 minutes to a woman in his cab, where she was avoiding unsafe streets. Not that the recent five-year sentence for a man who murdered his wife, pleading lockdown distress, left much room for doubt about values still prevailing in parts of what is claimed – by men – to be an infinitely more enlightened system. Alleged equalities progress did not, for instance, prevent a professional tribunal deciding, in the case of a barrister turned upskirter, that it is possible to be both a member of the bar and a registered sex offender.

Yes but what is all that compared to an angry woman’s voice?

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