I have few reasons to be grateful to Harriet Harman, but she was responsible for teaching me a new word.
Everyone knows a misogynist is a man who hates women and I’d rather hoped misterogynist could be used to describe a woman who hates men.
It seemed to make sense, but this is the convoluted and irrational English language we’re talking about.
So when this proved not to be the case I was ready to launch a campaign for the word ‘harmanist’ to be adopted, when somebody informed me a suitable word already existed – misandrist.
This was unfortunate for Ms Harman because few politicians have the honour of seeing their name immortalised as part of the mother tongue.
We still speak of ‘Churchillian speeches’ and it may not be long before ‘Gordon Bennett’ – the physical embodiment of a swear word – is amended to Gordon Brown.
But there is one other whose name has entered the lexicon with a vengeance – Margaret Thatcher. There is the abstract noun ‘Thatcherism,’ the adjective ‘Thatcherite’ and I’ve seen the proper noun ‘Thatcherist’ used on more than one occasion.
Ms Harman, who obviously has a degree in social engineering, has dedicated much of her life to furthering the prospects of women. She has shamelessly advocated several varieties of ‘positive’ discrimination, apparently unaware it is the greatest insult she could pay members of her own sex.
The implication is clear; the female of the species would be unable to make their way in life without having the dice loaded in their favour – and this is where we come back to Margaret Thatcher.
Whether you agree with her politics or not, no one can deny she set the standard for women to succeed in a stultifyingly male environment.
You might think this would make her something of a role model for Ms Harman – but you would be wrong.
She recently revealed that when Thatcher once approached her in the Commons after she had breast-fed her baby, she turned away lest the evil prime minister’s eyes fell upon her first-born.
That’s the sort of mature attitude we need at Westminster.