Indignation is the stuff that pumps through the veins of most newspapers, sometimes justified, sometimes rabble-rousing, sometimes both.
A perpetual sense of outrage though, like a perpetual sense of paranoia, can leak out in strange ways when the levels of resentment in the blood surpass EU recommended guidelines.
One such spill occurred over the weekend when Martin Daubney, The Telegraph‘s expert on the discrimination experienced by men and boys, believed he’d witnessed a huge injustice corrected. The battlefield? The underrepresentation of men in nursing.
(Full disclosure: Martin Daubney was once the features editor on a magazine I edited. He had not then received his calling as a gender warrior.)
“Take a seat and pour yourself a stiff drink,” he writes in a piece entitled “Hallelujah! Finally we have an equality programme that benefits men.”
The reason one should reach for the boutique gin and jumbo tumbler? Because “joyously, the enlightened sorts at Coventry University are tackling the paucity of men in nursing by launching a new boys-only bursary to coax men into the profession.”
“Men account for just 10 per cent of the total nursing students at UK universities,” he writes. “Indeed, nursing has the biggest gender gap of all courses.”
The University, whose initiative is described as “a supreme application of politically-correct-free logic”, will provide ten men studying courses such as nursing and midwifery with £1,000 in each year of their degree.
As the piece presents no evidence that men are being prevented – actively or passively – from taking up ardently dreamt of positions in nursing education, the sense of a massive historic wrong being tackled doesn’t quite earn the “Hallelujah!” of the headline.
Isn’t it inequality of opportunity that needs addressing when “gender gaps” occur, rather than a five alarm alert to the appropriate ministry to socially engineer a precise 50/50 gender balance?
Indeed, Saint Peacock would be eager to hear from any men who have had their path to nursing blocked by injustice.
And also patients boiling over that there is not (at least) one male nurse for every female one.
In his sustained tone of “This is just not fair, people,” Martin goes on to detail how men are “grossly under-represented” in other fields – at undergraduate level in general, in psychology, in primary school teaching – but always in terms of how many more women there are, as though the balance is everything, not the reasons for men failing their A levels or otherwise underachieving/ not being interested.
(In psychology he makes the bizarre argument that because men are three times more likely to commit suicide, there need to be more male shrinks. Ladies, you just can’t understand this shit we’re going through.)
Delight then, in what feels like a silent fist pump as he writes, “And while this bursary might raise certain heckles in the equality movement, it is 100pc legally watertight.” Which sounds a lot like “Fuck you, people with vaginas.”
And while Martin’s concerned headshake is near overwhelming in its sadness when he says “Men are now a minority on the majority of British university campuses,” by the end he’s found a silver lining.
“Applications for the Coventry bursary will open to students …from October 2017. Those lucky men will have their fees softened and be surrounded by women. Chaps: what are you waiting for?”
Discrimination against men is great!