Author Tony Parsons defends ‘high earning women make a man’s penis drop off’ comment

10:00 28 May 2012

Author Tony Parsons has caused controversy with his comments on the salary gap between men and women. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA

Author Tony Parsons has caused controversy with his comments on the salary gap between men and women. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Hampstead writer comes under fire from women including Times columnist Caitlin Moran for his views on salary gaps.

Hampstead columnist and author Tony Parsons has defended his comments that women who earn more money than their husbands leave them feeling emasculated.

The 58-year-old has been under the spotlight since he wrote a column in Grazia magazine. It said: “Does it rock the family boat if a woman earns more? No – it drives the boat into an iceberg. Because the man will feel as if his penis is dropping off.”

The column prompted a flurry of discussion on social networking site Twitter and Crouch End journalist and Times columnist Caitlin Moran wrote: “Tony Parsons’ Grazia column on how high female earners make a man ‘feel as if his penis is dropping off’ is worrying me.”

She followed by Tweeting: “At most media parties now Tony must fear the soft thudding sound of his genitals hitting the floor. We must all watch out for it.”

In an interview with the Ham&High, the Man and Boy author defended his comments and said: “If you are asking me do I believe that all men do want to be the bread winner – yes, I do, I believe that completely. I think it comes from a fundamental, elemental instinct which is the desire to provide and protect.

“To me, wanting to take care of your family financially is exactly the same as protecting them.

“If someone is kicking our door in at 3am, I would go down there – if they want to hurt my family they are going to have to kill me first. That’s the way I was brought up.”

He added: “I’m happy that people find it controversial. People get upset about nothing. It’s a changing world and not all men earn as much as their partners but, if they are telling you or me that doesn’t bother them, I don’t personally believe it.”

Mr Parsons was also invited onto the Radio 4 programme Woman’s Hour to discuss his comments.

On the show, he said: “My wife has bailed me out numerous times over the course of our 20-year marriage, but it is unthinkable that she could have consistently supported me – my penis would have, literally, dropped off.”

Dame Janet Suzman responded to the comments this week.

She said: “I’m laughing. My first reaction is to laugh. It is so old-fashioned. Does he fancy himself as a hunter-gatherer?

“Times have changed for women, though not as much as they should have. The struggle still goes on for women to be respected in work.

“If his penis is so fragile, let it fall I say. The absurdity of his fragile position strikes me.”

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