Matthew Parris said that men “almost feel assailed as a sex” because an increasing amount of air time is being given to women’s issues.
Parris was debating Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson on Thursday morning when he said many of Today’s listeners have “rather modern” attitudes towards women, but that they “feel a bit under attack”.
“The Today programmes centenary about women’s suffrage, it just seemed all about women,” Parris, who writes for The Times, said.
“There were programmes about who’s your favourite woman from the past, programmes about harassment, about women and I agree with all of it, I’m on the right side of this. I agreed with every word, I’m totally politically correct but it just all got a bit relentless.”
Swinson retorted: “That’s the way we are used to the media and the world being, where men are the default, where men are twice as likely to be seen on screen at the cinema as women.”
She added: “That can be uncomfortable for men because that is challenging a privilege and a dominance that men have gotten used to.”
Swinson argued that women’s achievements can sometimes go unnoticed and that it was important not to be complacent about gender equality.
Parris said that women were “winning”, but to the detriment of men.
He said: “Some of us, quite a few of us, are reasonably enlightened and most of it would accept that in the past there has been this bias against giving women equal positions in society and on the media and all the rest, but it really is changing.
“You are winning, Jo (Swinson), you’re winning all the time. And we’re just feeling a little bit under attack now.”
Many listeners did not feel the same way.
The columnist’s later comment raised some eyebrows and sniggers on social media, when he said: “I have never assaulted a woman, I have never even propositioned a woman.
“I had two years of being stalked mercilessly by a woman, she dragged me onto a sofa wearing a leopard skin leotard at Harvey Proctor’s flat.. but I just sort of put up with it.“
He said that he didn’t report the incident to the police and he “didn’t feel it was an assault on the male sex”, adding: “Could we talk a little bit more about people and person, rather than woman, man all the time. Is gender everything?”