Johnson is a joke, but sexist treatment of women isn’t funny

For a few years I have suspected that Boris Johnson has been rather anti women at university.

For a few years I have suspected that Boris Johnson has been rather anti women at university.

I don’t know whether it began the time I wrote to him in my first year while studying a journalism module regarding his views on the student protests, or when I wrote to him in the third year asking for an interview towards my dissertation on the London Underground. I didn’t think it was unreasonable to ask, as both these topics seemed relevant for our mayor to maybe pass a comment on, albeit via a minion working in the bowels of City Hall.

Women? At University?

When the first email came back addressed to Mr Duffree, I should have guessed he had not been able to contemplate that a female was at university. Yet I gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, the fairer sex can be quite forgiving, as I think Mr Johnson has noticed over the years, so I wrote again. Alas my email seemed to coincide with him proclaiming that unless someone (and here we must assume he meant ‘a man’) was studying Classics at Oxford there really wasn’t much point being at university.

Slim chance

So the reply I received along the lines of ‘Thanks for writing but the mayor is busy,’ did not come as a surprise. What chance did a female studying Creative and Professional Writing in London have of being taken seriously? Two actually. Slim and fat.

Mr Johnson’s latest effort in putting down the female sex is to make a joke of why women attend university. Quoted in Malaysia as saying that the high number of female university entrants is because they “have got to find men to marry” has created quite a response.

Yes he thought it extremely funny, and why wouldn’t he? His background of belonging to male dominated societies and his treatment of wives and mistresses should lead us to expect this of him.

Patronising and disrespectful

Before his re-election in May 2012 he found himself having to deny claims from Jennette Arnold, the then Labour chair of the assembly, that he had shown ‘disrespectful’ and ‘patronising’ ways at meetings towards female members that he had not displayed when dealing with male assembly members.

His response was: “I do not believe I have been remotely sexist.”

I think that response is quite telling. I wonder what his idea of being sexist is? Judging by the responses gleaned from exchanges with female members of the assembly which include: “blah blah blah, fishcakes,” and “rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb,” he seems blissfully ignorant in manners regarding responses to women.

It suggests that they don’t need to be taken seriously so why worry what you say to them? And it isn’t, Mr Johnson, that we females don’t have a sense of humour, we just have a right to respect.

A right to respect

Unfortunately, I am going to disappoint you if you think that women attend university to ensure they find a husband. There are other places to have a go at that, dating agencies for a start. Until the early 1990’s more men than women were going to university, but since then women have taken up an increasing proportion of places.

According to figures from UCAS, at the end of 2012, the fall in the number of men applying was about twice that of young women, with entry rates for both at 24.6 per cent and 32.5 per cent respectively. The fall it was suggested was due to the increase in fees, but maybe, just maybe the men had heard universities were becoming a breeding ground for women looking for husbands and had become scared off.

£27,000 outlay

Get a grip Boris. I’ve had a husband, and with all due respect to him, they aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, as I’m sure many would agree. Who in their right mind would pay at least £27,000 (and that’s without living costs) to find themselves a husband at 18? Wake up man! This is the 21st century. We have better things to do with our debts.

I myself would hate to be sexist, so in way of a balance I would like to finish by adding that Mr Johnson is not the only ignorant mouthpiece from the news this week. The other blonde haired upstart that is Katie Hopkins has also come out with some ignorant comments—again, no surprise there.

Hang on…I wonder, has anyone ever seen the pair of them in a room together? Just asking.

What do you think of Boris’ remarks on women at university? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Credit: Andrew Parsons