NOT that I imagined I was one, but I thought I’d err on the side of caution and check to see if I was a Male Chauvinist Pig.
It transpires I’m not, says my wife, who even gave me the verbal equivalent of the British Kite Mark for possessing a ‘feminist side’, which means the next time I pass a sarong shop I can pop in and buy one (well, it worked for David Beckham).
Despite being personally absolved, apparently the UK is the world’s most sexist country.
That’s the learned opinion of Rashida Manjoo, a Special Rapporteur for the United Nations Humans Rights Council (UNHCR), whose withering verdict is based on a 16-day ‘fact-finding’ mission – including, I’d venture, a chat with The Guardian’s women’s editor, on one of her rare visits to the planet Earth.
And not only is sexism rampant, Ms Manjoo insists a ‘boys’ club culture’ rules Britain, sexual bullying and harassment is ‘routine’ and schools should teach lads manners.
‘Have I seen this level of sexist culture in other countries?’ Ms Manjoo posited, rhetorically. ‘It hasn’t been so in-your-face in other countries. I haven’t seen that so pervasively in other countries. I’m sure it exists (elsewhere), but it wasn’t so much and so pervasive.’
Pardon me for demurring with Ms. Manjoo and I can only presume her travels have been short and few.
But, let me state my criticism of her has nothing to do with my distinctly dim opinion of the UN – which regular readers know I consider a chamber of horrors for Western values – or with the loopy UNHCR, which lauded Libya’s late, unlamented, homicidal maniac, Muammar Gaddafi, as a paragon of ‘human rights’ virtue.
Because, for all her political correct piety, I believe this UN Special Rapporteur on human rights has got it dead wrong by naming and shaming Britain as the world capital of anti-female prejudice.
In her purblindness, she utterly ignores glaringly worse offenders in the Middle East particularly, where often women can’t vote, can’t drive, can’t leave home without a male guardian and, among the many other indignities heaped on them, they’re subject to violent abuse from their menfolk.
Ms Manjoo also overlooks Africa, where female genital mutilation is rife in Somalia and rape is an established tactic in military conflicts – even by blue-cap, UN peacekeepers.
She pointedly avoids her own back yard, too, where South Africa is ranked fourth in the world for sexual violence, averaging 500,000 rape cases a year, according to the UN’s Office on Crimes and Drugs (whom she obviously didn’t bother consulting).
Nor does she mention India or Pakistan, where aborting female foetuses, selling young girls into servitude and arranged marriages are disgustingly all too common.
So, in pointing the finger at Britain, it’s not unreasonable to question Ms Manjoo’s bias, let alone qualifications to even run a stall at a charity bring-and-buy sale.
Of course, it would be absurd to deny sexism doesn’t exist in the UK and, at some time, I‘ve witnessed outrageous evidence of it, especially in the once masculine-dominated newspaper industry, heavy with the stench of testosterone.
But that was 40 years ago, when Carry On films overflowed with sniggering sexist gags and pubs were, indeed, big boys’ clubs.
Today, judging by the number of telly ads that denigrate males as being unable to find their hind quarters with both hands, I’d say Britain has much to teach the world about gender equality, even if it isn’t perfectly PC.
And, as far as the battle of the sexes goes, most fellas threw in the towel yonks ago.
We’re consoled by women telling us we can focus on the big issue – i.e. which team should win the Premiership – while they concentrates on the minutiae…like where and how the family lives, what schools the kids attend, where we go on hols and what colour car we drive.
Speaking personally, I was brought up by an extended family of motivated, principled women and venerated them, which may account for my respect towards females to this day.
Men, indeed, maybe from Mars and women from Venus, but I view neither on different intellectual plateaus – morons aren’t judged by gender.
Plus, having a highly intelligent, resourceful and ambitious daughter has given me a greater appreciation of the obstacles women face and I fully admit equality might be a legal requisite, but it ain’t necessarily reality.
Nonetheless, my girl has managed to fashion a highly successful career, which – in great swathes of the globe – gender would have scuppered her.
Lauren’s view on sexism in Britain, incidentally, is an interesting one: it’s more insidious than overt, she says, and it has too many manifestations to be simply constrained in a single word.
If it is a ‘glass ceiling’ that inhibits women in the workplace, there might be a whole host of converse reasons – like some choosing to be stay-at-home mums – why more females aren’t in parliament or heading FTSE 500 companies.
And, to borrow one of Ms Manjoo’s expression, if it’s the ‘visible presence’ of raunchy mags in newsagents or Page 3 girls – which are tame by comparison to what’s available on the internet – how come E.L. James had such a stonking success with Fifty Shades of Grey, which pandered unashamedly to women’s lust for porn?
Or if it’s that some females take exception to being wolf-whistled at in the street, that’s a worldwide phenomenon and men intend it as a compliment, however coarse.
Ditto predators, who exploit their status to exert sexual power, but nowadays – with the growing advent of the woman boss – this isn’t restricted to only females being victimised.
So I can only but wonder if Ms Manjoo’s smearing of Britain as the world’s worst sexism pariah state echoes her own warped prejudice.
Or is it a reflection on the pre-judgemental, anti-West mindset of the disorganisation employing her, which – conspicuously – has yet to appoint a female Secretary General?