Saturday, August 02, 2008

Joan Bakewell: The Thinking Woman's Nazi

We are seeing a different side to Joan Bakewell these days.

She is an elderly British TV presenter with a reputation for being intellectual, which back in the 1970s earned her the nickname “the thinking man’s crumpet”. ‘Crumpet’ is archaic British slang roughly equivalent to the American ‘tail’ or ‘pussy’. It was literally true, as for years she was the lover of the playwright Harold Pinter, even though she was supposedly married at the time. None of this stopped her presenting the highly moral religious BBC documentary series ‘Heart of the Matter’.

She seems to be engaged in a one-woman media crusade to abolish women’s prisons. Take this article from 2006: Joan Bakewell: How to solve the prisons crisis: free all the women

“I refer…to the long-foreseen crisis in prisons…and the howls of alarm from all those forces and individuals who have the solution at their fingertips.
It is quite simply this. Let the women go! The Government should close women's prisons down, forthwith. They could then use the buildings to house the male prisoners”


The fact that such an idea can even be met with serious consideration shows just how far the rot has set in. And what rot it is. Can you imagine the reaction if a British national newspaper published an article entitled “How to solve the prisons crisis: Release all the whites to make more room for blacks”? Yet that is exactly the Nazi logic that Bakewell is offering.

“all research by penal reformers tends to the view that it is totally inappropriate to slam women when other ways of dealing with them help avoid their re-offending.”

All the ‘evidence’ and ‘advisory papers’ to which Bakewell refers are works of radical feminist lobbying. The Fawcett Society, chaired by one Catherine Rake, a lesbian feminist who collaborates with the American gender-fascist Mary Daly.

The Howard League for Prison Reform, a once-respectable organization, founded in the Eighteenth Century by the Christian reformer John Howard. Nowadays, it is led by one Frances Crook, another feminist.

The Prison Reform Trust, led by Juliet Lyon.

That is who is heading up your prison reform charities. Where are all the men?
Given Bakewell’s claim that “Crime is one human activity where there is a clear difference between men and women”, one can ask how, then, can a woman be expected to understand the predicament of the male prisoner? Given that the vast majority of prisoners are male, shouldn’t the Howard League rightfully be headed by a man?

And what do all these female prison reformers want to do? Why, they want to reform prison life for women. Or more specifically, just open the gates and let them all out. We have to ask ourselves, is that really what prison reform is all about? Are we really getting value for money out of these people? Male prisoners certainly are not.

Yet after years of concerted lobbying by radical feminist groups, the Labour government apparently considered letting them have their way.

“After six young women committed suicide within one year at just one prison, Styal in Cheshire, they [the government] were forced to take notice. Following a Fawcett Society report in April about the very same subject, the matter could be delayed no longer. Earlier this year Baroness Corston was asked to conduct a review of vulnerable women in the criminal justice system.”

There was clearly a management issue at Styal, as there is in many prisons, and elsewhere. The feminist lobby has appropriated these events in order to make radical demands that all women’s prisons should be closed down ‘forthwith’. A little drastic, wouldn’t you say? Perhaps a change of governor and some staff training would be a more reasonable response?

Let’s examine this claim about prison suicide.

The Howard League for Prison Reform’s very own website states the following:

“In 2005 there were 78 suicides in prison. This included four women and 12 prisoners under 21 years old. The proportion of suicides by black and minority ethnic prisoners has risen from one in ten of all prison suicides in the last five years to over one in five during 2005.“

Four women? So in other words, seventy-four men committed suicide in UK prisons in 2005. One in Five? So in other words, eighty per cent of prison suicides were white. White men, in fact, are mainly the ones who commit suicide. Bakewell and her cronies don’t seem to be terribly concerned about that, do they? Surely, if preventing suicide is her aim, we should close down men’s prisons instead of women’s?

But humanitarianism is not the intention here. Prison reform is being used as another weapon in the ongoing cultural war against men that is being waged by the feminist movement.

However, it all came to naught.

Plan to shut women's jails is shelved
"Radical proposals to close all 13 women's jails in England and Wales and replace them with small house units holding up to 20 offenders were today rejected by the Government.

Today's announcement is a bitter blow to penal reform groups who had put their trust in key female members of the Government (my emphasis).

Instead the Ministry of Justice highlighted initiatives to support women including pilot projects in five jails in which a new search technique is being used which does not require them to remove their underwear."


If we wish to make the experience of body searches less humiliating for women prisoners, it might be an idea to purge the prison staff of predatory lesbians. Body searches are humiliating for male prisoners too, but hey, who cares?

“Baroness Corston proposed closing women’s jails and replacing them with a network of small units located in city centres and run by families of women” (my emphasis).

Families of women? What exactly does that mean? It sounds like the kind of dyke mafia that runs the women’s domestic violence shelters in Canada.

I thought feminists were opposed to the family. It seems that they are just opposed to a biologically-related family that includes men.

“but even as her report was published last year Ministry of Justice sources made clear there was no money to implement such an ambitious and controversial proposal.”

So it was never a serious prospect in the first place. Just a PR effort by the feminist lobby, to sow the seeds of an idea.

This week, Bakewell was seething because she didn’t get her own way.

Prison - a cruel and unusual punishment for a woman
Jailing mothers for trivial offences is harsh on them and their children. But the Government has lost its nerve on reform

But the Government has now rejected its central proposal and an important social gain been scuppered either by lack of money or out of fear of an uproar from the right-wing press.


Oh those pesky right-wingers! How dare they oppose the authoritarian Left!

Get this: “Prison is certainly not one of the places where women aspire to equal treatment.”

Equality under the law means exactly that. You cannot pick and choose.

Her case is remarkable. She cites the following raft of problems suffered by women prisoners:


  • Prison is hard for women.
    Isn’t that the idea? It is supposed to be a punishment, not a holiday camp. It is hard for men too, but like I say, who gives a toss?

  • Women prisoners commit suicide.
    Four as opposed to seventy –four. Boo Hoo. Any suicide is a tragedy, but the fact is that men – whether in prison or not – are vastly more likely than women to commit suicide.

  • Women prisoners re-offend.
    So do male ones, but the solution is not to abolish prisons. If we just abolish the law altogether, then no-one will commit any more offences. Recidivism solved. That is more or less what is being advocated. If you don’t put women in prison, then they won’t be able to go back a second time. The same logic, if I can call it that, applies to men.

  • Women prisoners use drugs.
    So do male ones. And they all use drugs on the outside as well, hence the body searches.

  • Women miss their families.
    Male ones don’t of course. But it is somehow worse for women. Even though men and women are equal. Except when in prison, then they are different.


All of the problems she mentions apply to male prisoners as well as female ones. Male prisoners are vastly more numerous. But they deserve it because they are bad.

I’m surprised to hear such a pitifully incoherent case from someone like Bakewell. Maybe she is losing it. Maybe she is in fact ‘the unthinking woman’s crumpet’.

Like Germaine Greer in the article I covered a couple of weeks ago, Bakewell has, in her old age, rejected the sexual abandon of the 1960s in favour of a dewy-eyed romanticism about the family.

The family is central to women’s world view and their lives revolve round it. Men of course, couldn’t care less about their families.

Bakewell’s generation of 1960s feminists have striven for forty years to destroy marriage and the family. The result is fatherless children stabbing and shooting each other on the streets of London on a weekly basis. Now, in her dotage, she seeks to defend the family.

Her autobiography The Centre of the Bed, concentrates on her experiences as a woman in a the male dominated media industries, but now she admits that women are weaker than men. The poor little lambs shouldn’t go to prison because it upsets them. They pine for their families.

It is important to expose the feminist myth that innocent women languish in prison for not paying their TV license. I occasionally provide samples of stories about women offenders, like this recent one. These stories are rarely covered in the so-called liberal media like the Guardian and the BBC, but the tabloids and the Right-wing press have no such qualms. But yesterday, the truth was out, despite the government's best efforts to hide it:

"Last year 87,200 women and girls were arrested for attacks – the equivalent of 240 every day. It is the first time in history that violence has been the most common crime among women and girls, taking over from theft.

The category includes every violent offence from street brawls and assault to grievous bodily harm and murder.

The Ministry of Justice report, released quietly on to the internet yesterday after MPs had left for the summer recess, also includes alarming figures on the scale of violence by children. "
(my emphasis)

Make no mistake, women commit violent offences. The call to close down women's prisons is nothing short of a fascist attempt to turn men into a legal underclass.

The fact is, prison doesn’t work for anybody. But as the old saying goes “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”.