Here’s The Real Reason We Can’t Talk About Men’s Issues

Tom Davies November 19, 2015 13
Here’s The Real Reason We Can’t Talk About Men’s Issues

My alma mater, the University of York, around which joblessness and a Jordan Belfort-esque refusal to let go means I still skulk, has recently been making national headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Universities in the national newspapers invariably means one of two things, a sports club social gone wrong, or feminism. On occasion the stars and moon align perfectly and you get the double whammy, but we can but dream of those rare incidences of peak campus.

On this occasion, the University of York has cancelled its previous decision to mark International Men’s Day after opposition from left wing and feminist groups on campus. Cue a counter campaign by campus MRA caricatures and the timely interjection of noted right wing journalist/ebin may-may man/patron saint of the #gamergate movement, Breitbart UK’s Milo Yiannopoulos.

What we have at time of writing is a full blown, entrenched internet war where both sides’ worst prejudices about the other have been stridently reconfirmed. Shrill, shrieking stereotypes level vitriol and suspicion against one another until everybody moves on to the next reason to bust a blood vessel at your keyboard and start a petition.

Moderate’s and centrists, weep.

Now, I am a man, and for that reason, I’m not going to monologue and speculate unduly about the feminist movement at the University of York, beyond the fact that I actually thought the decision to mark International Mens Day was a rather good strategic coach and horses through the ranks of the MRA. By acquiescing to their more reasonable demands, the decision would show good faith to moderates and waverers, whilst true misogynists wouldn’t be able to clutch at these straws to avoid arguing some of their more contentious beliefs. The people who claim that they just want “true equality” almost always do not. They don’t just want a day marking men’s issues and a day marking women’s issues. They want to further the patently false notion that somehow it is worse to be a man, overall, in today’s western society, than to be a woman. They will find that far more difficult to argue, because it simply isn’t true.

I brought this up on a Facebook comment thread which included some people who knew me reasonably well, all of whom were in the midsts of an eye-rolling circle jerk against International Men’s Day (hur, hur, men with problems). Nobody replied to me, so I have no thoughts on what could be wrong with that analysis of the situation.

But this kind of lack of engagement isn’t the real reason why we can’t discuss men’s issues, merely a symptom. The fact that the feminist movement seem to have put up these walls, seem to get so endlessly defensive and seem so rarely willing to engage with people with moderate beliefs, earnest questions and well intentioned critiques is because the minority of venomous MRA’s have made such a dialogue impossible.

Yes there are extremists on both sides, but it is those who want to talk about men who appear the pettiest and the most noxious by the simple metric that the male grievance is weaker. We never had suffrage denied to us because of our genitalia. We were never forced to marry against our will or sold off by our fathers for a goat. By allowing issues such as the worrying rate of suicide amongst men, be championed by the kinds of people who willfully deny that prejudice against women exists, or who seem to endorse a by gone era where men were men and women knew their place, we are essentially tacitly endorsing their right to speak for us.

Such was the chief complaint of the man (and it was a man) who started the petition to the university demanding that International Men’s Day not be marked. He cited in a post on Facebook that those behind International Men’s Day were complicit in MRA rhetoric, that men’s issues and women’s issues somehow can’t be advanced side by side. He is wrong to think this. It is exactly because the champions of men’s issues are often less than perfect champions of equality that moderates, centrists and other reasonable people must make their voices heard and take these causes back. Don’t let men like the current self-appointed leader of the International Men’s Day campaign at York, who basically stopped a little short of implying that a YUSU Women’s Officer was a feminist because she was fat and ugly (that old chestnut), get away with posing themselves as representatives of men in general, and of important, moderate causes like the spike in male suicide.

shithead one

I take it back. ‘Implied’ might have been a little charitable.

Male mental health and issues surrounding modern masculinity are issues worth discussing in our society, particularly amongst young people, and they are not, as some are keen to argue, exclusively issues already covered by feminism. Feminism will always advance the cause of women before it helps men, and so it rightfully should. But it is simply specious and without foundation to say the only reason why men are killing themselves in ever greater numbers is because they get called sissies for not living up to unreasonable expectations of masculinity. That’s why we need to have this discussion, we simply don’t know why these things happen, and those who pertain to represent men are just as guilty of preventing this discussion from happening as those on the radfem extremities who want to put all complaints in a box marked “male tears” and throw away the key.

In short guys, don’t let yourself be represented by Milo bloody Yiannopoulos. He, his followers and his ilk are in a large part responsible for why these issues can’t be discussed reasonably or openly. There might be radical feminists who prevent discussion from the other side, but as a man I’m merely addressing my own gender. My message to you is that if you describe yourself as a moderate, as a reasonable person and you want to talk about these issues, then it’s time to stand up and say that you’re mad as hell, and you’re not going to let the MRA ruin it for you anymore.

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  • James Woods

    Men got the vote a mere 10 years before women. Before that we had centuries where almost no one could vote.

    Yes, women may sometimes have been ‘sold for a goat’ – for instance when enemies attacked their village. But it was common practice for every one of the men to be slaughtered! (I know what I’d prefer). In fact that practice continues today in Syria and was common in, for instance, the Balkans war. Is that ‘male privilege’?

    When Boko Haram kidnapped a group of school girls, there was international shock, and a very high-profile campaign to get them back. When they killed an entire school full of boys, there was no interest at all. ‘Male privilege’?

    Men’s disadvantage goes way beyond the gender suicide gap too. Men die earlier, do you more dangerous jobs, are overwhelmingly more likely to be homeless, are being failed by our education system and family courts, and yet are supposedly more ‘privileged’ because they earn just over 10% more, on average than women (even though that pay differential is earned by more time in the workforce and the sacrifice of home life that entails.)

    Your argument is not very well thought out. It relies a lot more on old-fashioned myths, cliches and prejudice than any real thought.

  • Mr. E

    What the f**k are you smoking !?!?!

    Men have gotten chewed up and spit out in every war ever created. Men have fought the saber toothed tigers and brought down the mammoths. Men have paved the way for civilization at every turn, faced every peril, overcome every obstacle, vanquished every foe– and now are being reviled and spat upon for all of their contributions to the history of man– and you can honestly sit there and say that men don’t have legitimate issues?

    Not to mention that women are adeptly using the MECHANISMS OF PATRIARCHY– the inbuilt buttons and levers — to create CHANGE– in exactly the manner which they were originally created and PUT THERE to do. If men were against women– “Feminism” simply would not exist, and THAT would be the end of the story.

  • Veram

    What a sexist article. Men are systematically opressed in the UK.

    • Kate Marsh

      Respectfully. You are a swivel eyed nutcase.

      • Veram

        Do you know any laws which discriminate women in the UK? As I heard all laws which discrimiate by gender are agaist men. And now this story… So, it’s opression beacause it’s by the STATE.

        • Kate Marsh

          Loony says what?

  • Robert Neve

    Just because a woman’s great, great, great grandmother was sold for a goat does not provide a legitimate grievance for her today. It was not that long ago we had the “equalities” minister saying it was ok for companies to discriminate on gender if it was in preference of women or for this silly notion of requiring women on company boards. These effect people in the now and they are all negative against men. The feminists are way past trying to gain equality for under the law they already have it. They want to punish the men of today for the sins of their forebears. That is the reason the mras have risen and because the extremist feminists won’t respond the reason you only have the unreasonable mras left. Until both sides decide to agree that we have reached equilibrium and stop attaching gender to everything this war of superiority will not end.

  • Peter Christopher Barnes

    Biggest load of nonsense I’ve ever read. Completely bypasses the use of no platforming controversial speakers and silencing of speech deemed to be a trigger warning by overzealous Student Unions. Didn’t approach the damage these feminist groups have caused on campus to free speech and expression. You may not like Milo and his followers but in a world of outrage to be heard you have to be outrageous to be heard and in tribalistic world of student unions there are no moderates.

  • casey

    Whilst MRAs aren’t always the defenders of reason and equality they think they are, it’s clear that they have essentially no influence to speak of. They are a product of feminism, a reaction to the feminist extreme.

    And the really insane feminists ARE almost always ugly and fat. To point it out may be in poor taste, but lets not pretend the stereotype is unwarranted.

    • Marcia

      If you’re blaming feminists for the existence of MRAs then you’ve really gotta blame the patriarchy for the existence of feminists and acknowledge how the patriarchy is ultimately the route of your current issue.

      Ableism aside, you literally have zero basis for this immature speculation.

      Decent article but you are missing some facts, understandably, from the outside. The event was cancelled prior to the open letter, and neither the Women’s Network or FemSoc critiqued the event, only individuals. Nor did anybody call for it to be cancelled; the university did that instead of engaging with the criticism of their event and their skewed statistics.

      • Mr. E

        But let’s be honest– you Feminists are having no problem at all using the MECHANISMS OF THE PATRIARCHY to enact the changes YOU want to see. Feminism would not exist if men did not permit it.

  • Jak

    I assume this site is still intended to be libertarian leaning? In which case, most of your readers will NOT be moderates. You may just be preaching to the wrong choir here. The key argument should be why do we need to have an international women’s day or men’s day. Both ideas are ludicrous in today society and are mainly supported by jumped up egotists who love the limelight that comes with controversy.

  • rotekz

    What a load of tripe.