Disclosure: As I describe here, I am writing from the perspective of a person who has become familiar with the Men’s Rights community after several years as an outspoken critic of feminism.
As I’ve written about before, there are a group of people who really don’t want anyone attending conferences or watching movies about the ways men and boys are disadvantaged and not served by the modern social justice narrative.
I won’t go into how scary and threatening these people can be, or how diverse and welcoming men’s rights events actually are – you can read my description of last year’s International Conference on Men’s Issues (ICMI) here… lots of scary stuff abut how women were breast feeding in public and nobody batted an eyelid. That sort of thing.
The latest attempts to shut the conversation down came from the Birmingham Mail website, who got wind that the next ICMI conference will be taking place at St Andrew’s Stadium, home of Birmingham FC in 2018. The publication made the event’s organiser Mike Buchanan the target of some delightful quote-mining and put together a hit piece. They reference his controversial statements and blog titles and even mention that he dared to make a joke about pink being for girls and blue for boys! Hours later, Birmingham FC cancelled the booking. Buchanan is contesting the decision as he believes his contract with the venue cannot be unilaterally cancelled. Watch this space.
Buchanan says stuff that many will find unpleasant; pointing out that women sometimes lie about being sexually assaulted is not going to win you many friends these days. But is what he says really any worse than feminists writing articles about how wonderful it would be to beat men up, making jokes about killing all men or Caitlin Moran advising parents not to allow their daughters to read books written by men? I’ll leave that up to individuals to decide. What’s for certain is that Caitlin Moran doesn’t find herself de-platformed and demonised for encouraging parents to behave such an obviously sexist and controlling manner. The double standard for which opinions are allowed is breathtaking.
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) July 30, 2014
However, there’s another men focused event going on in London that’s not been sabotaged or cancelled yet. No, I’m not talking about the Southbank’s ‘Being a Man’ Festival; a fully feminist-sanctioned sorry-for-being-male fest. To mark international Men’s day, Sunday November 19 there will be a ‘March for Men’ from Trafalgar Square to Parliament and evening of lectures to draw attention to the issues faced by men and boys. It has been organised by a committee comprised of both men and women, and the speakers are also a diverse group, including Dr Joanna Williams author of the recently published Women VS Feminism, Neil Lyndon author of No More Sex War and William Styles, who attempted but failed to set up a men’s society at Plymouth University.
So, why has there not been a fit of feminist apoplexy about this? Why will it be going ahead seemingly without comment? Answer: The Streisand Effect. Feminists have realised that behaving like petulant toddlers only damages their reputation and draws attention to those who disagree. Organising a major event for the same day is also a good deflection tactic. Last year the Fawcett Society organised a ‘Spirit of Women Conference’ for the same day, and this year they’ve scheduled their ‘Feminist Futures Conference’ the day before.
It may be funny that Men have to share November 19 with international toilet day, but there are also some really serious issues here that deserve to be looked at outside the feminist ideological prism. In 2015 York University cancelled an event planned for International Men’s day (despite the event organisers openly stating their belief that ‘women have it worse’) after a backlash that claimed it would ‘amplify existing, structurally imposed, inequalities’. What the mainstream media didn’t talk about was that a male student had killed himself the day before the University announced it would be dropping the event.
But there’s no need for a men’s day. Because women have it worse.
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