“Now even Top Gear could fall foul of Harman sexism law”

whinges the Daily Fail in just one example of the kind of pathetic complaints emanating from the more privileged corners of our green and pleasant land since the release of the Equality Bill. Now, I bloody love Top Gear, even if I’m not Jeremy Clarkson’s biggest fan, and I think the trio generally make for fun viewing, despite the odd bigoted comment from the aforementioned self styled protector of chauvinism, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy with the prevalence of white males on our TV screens. The Mail doesn’t share my concerns, it would seem:

The BBC and Channel 4 could be forced to use more female and ethnic characters and presenters in TV shows under controversial reforms of equality laws.

Oh heavens no! Not more females and “ethnics”, quick, run for the hills!

Critics fear programmes will be forced to hire actors, presenters and producers on grounds of gender, ethnic background or sexuality, rather than suitability for the show.

Because clearly there are no female, ethnic minority or queer actors, presenters or producers suitable for these, um, clearly unpopular TV jobs.

What the Mailites fail once again to understand is that straight white men, gay black women, and everyone in between, are not on an even footing when it comes to social and economic opportunity. Straight white men benefit from a social system which privileges them over everyone else. Their prevalence on our TV screens is in itself testimony to this inequality. Actively seeking out people who are not straight white men simply helps redress the balance. Without this help, for as long as sexist, racist and homophobic attitudes continue to be spewed by the likes of the Mail, they will continue to lose out to straight white men.

And while one could argue that we should tackle these attitudes rather than employ this kind of affirmative action, to borrow the US term, this would be a hell of a lot harder without legislation and policy which forces us to recognise and value those who are not straight white men.

Note to Mailites: this will not mean that Eastenders will be unable to screen episodes featuring an all-black cast. You muppets.