Sarah Osborn responds to a recent Backbencher article by mens’ rights advocate Mike Buchanan.
In his recent article, Men are Financing the State’s Assaults on Men, Mike Buchanan argues that the state is ‘assaulting’ men by giving preferential treatment to women. This assertion relies on a false dichotomy between men and women, which not only ignores people who do not fit into the gender binary (those who do not identify as either ‘male’ or ‘female’), but is also based on the postulate of a world in which men and women are direct competitors. In reality, many women are disadvantaged by the structure of society, but the rectification of this problem will benefit everybody. Through allowing fifty percent of the country’s talent and intelligence to flourish, the UK economy will grow and more jobs and opportunities will be made available to all people.
In reality, many women are disadvantaged by the structure of society, but the rectification of this problem will benefit everybody.
Buchanan argues that as men pay more income tax than women, the state should spend this money in the interests of men. The fact that men pay 72% of income tax is evidence of the structural inequality in our society. As income tax is paid in proportion to earnings, this statistic illuminates the drastic disparity between the earnings of men and women and highlights just how much there is left to do. Buchanan notes that ‘virtually nothing has been spent encouraging men into female-dominated professions’. This is because female-dominated professions are primarily worse-paid and less desirable than their male-dominated counterparts. Even within predominantly female jobs, men who do the same job earn more than women. Moreover, intelligent men know that they are able to do female-dominated jobs such as teaching and nursing, but are often socialised out of these professions and into higher-earning careers. Conversely, intelligent women have been socialised away from high-earning ambitious jobs and are often encouraged to fill more traditional roles.
Encouraging women to pursue careers in male-dominated fields is beneficial for everybody. There are three principal reasons why fewer women than men pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers: cultural and educational factors to do with self-perception, lack of integration of women into STEM subjects at university, and systematic bias in the field. Promoting STEM careers among women through incentives is not an assault on men, it is an attempt to rectify an important existing problem. As a woman gets a new job, she does not necessarily cast a man out of his career and into unemployment. The labour market is not static and the utilisation of the talents and abilities of half of the population will only stimulate the economy and create more jobs for everyone.
We can all agree that suicide caused by any motive is a great tragedy. In his article, Buchanan uses the suffering of real people to imply that men are killing themselves because women are taking their jobs. In fact, while it is true that the suicide rate among young men rose with the recession, the British Medical Journal stated that this was because ‘men are more likely to be the main earner in the family’. In reality, it was women who suffered most in terms of unemployment in the aftermath of the recession. It is unbelievable that in the twenty-first century, the average woman in the UK earns 15.7% less per hour than the average man.
Buchanan uses the suffering of real people to imply that men are killing themselves because women are taking their jobs.
It is clear that Buchanan perceives the success of women as a direct threat to men. Utilising the intelligence and talents of brilliant women does not detract from the lives of men, it simply improves society for the benefit of everyone. Instead of focusing on boys and men, who continue to benefit from centuries worth of gender inequality, perhaps Mike Buchanan should consider improving the lives of girls and women (and the men who love them). Utilising the intelligence and talents of women does not detract from the lives of men, it improves society for the benefit of everyone.
Sarah Osborn is an undergraduate politics student and Secretary of Durham University Feminism Society.