Introducing the Men and Boys Coalition: How the British men’s sector has come of age


Four years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a piece in the Guardian asking whether International Men’s Day could become the seeds of a new kind of movement for male gender politics. I described attending the National Conference on Men and Boys, where I found a diverse range of organisations and individuals with different specialities and interests but all committed to developing constructive and progressive solutions to problems affecting boys and men.

It seems like it has been a long, long four years, but I am proud and delighted to tell you that today the rarefied halls of the Houses of Parliament will be the venue for the launch of a brand new Men and Boys’ Coalition, representing over 50 of the UK’s leading charities, academics and campaigners in the field of men and boys’ welfare. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that this is the day when a new kind of men’s movement comes of age.

The past few years have seen a real and necessary awakening of interest and understanding about male-specific gender issues. The tragedy of male suicide rates has begun to be recognised as a serious public health concern. The crisis in boys’ educational attainment got a mention in Theresa May’s very first Prime Ministerial speech. Men’s health campaigns such as Movember and Men United have been prominently supported, particularly within the world of sport.

All this is progress. And yet when representatives of the men’s sector get together over a flipchart or a pint, we tend to find the same points coming up again and again. Firstly, we find that the issues we are dealing with are inseparable. How do we talk about suicide without talking about men’s mental health and under-utilisation of health services? How do we talk about those without considering men’s over-dependency and self-medication with drink and drugs? How do we talk about that without discussing cultures of violence, rough sleeping, the criminal justice system, imprisonment and youth incarceration? How do we talk about the institutionalisation of young men without considering structural racism or family breakdown? Once you start joining the dots, you quickly find you are not looking at a long list of separate problems but an interlinked join-the-dots picture. Moreover, we quickly find out that the guys at the shitty end of the stick of many of these ‘separate’ issues are often, in practice, the same individuals who are dealing with the fallout of multiple hardships.

Similarly, when those of us dealing with different dots on the puzzle stop and compare notes, we find the same obstacles are arising again and again. Some of these are a straightforward result of our shared client group – men and boys, as a generalisation, tend to have common traits and habits which present recurring challenges: a reluctance to seek help when in need, a lack of supportive social networks, the whole masculine ‘boys don’t cry’ culture of stoicism and emotional resilience and all the rest. Finding ways to permeate those suits of armour is something in which our member organisations have developed considerable expertise, whether that is CALM and their ‘Man your local’ campaign, the#1BlueString initiative which Survivors Manchester have just brought to the UK or the inspirational work of A Band of Brothers bringing mentoring to inner city London. All these activists and many more can learn a huge amount from each other and only gain from the sharing of experiences.

But perhaps most importantly, when we seek policy solutions and support from the powers that be, whether in local authorities or quangos, health service representatives or national governments, different wings of the men’s sector all find we run into the same obstacles and brick walls. Part of that may be nagging suspicions about the ideology underpinning male-specific gender politics. For that reason it was essential that we spell out explicitly that we will not represent those who advocate against the interests of women and girls. We will not engage with organisations that espouse misogyny, misandry, racism, homophobia or any other form of interpersonal discrimination. We are not advocating gender-neutral policy,  but gender-inclusive policy.

The experience of our members, again and again, has been of power-brokers listening to our concerns, agreeing that the issues are serious and pressing, furrowing their brows and asserting that of course we care about this issue and of course something must be done, but the systems, structures and policy frameworks were simply never designed with the gender-specific needs of men and boys in mind.

This is precisely how we end up with the situation that male victims of rape or domestic violence are formally categorised as victims of “violence against women and girls.”

This is why there are funding bodies which will support charities that support sexual violence survivors if they are women, if they are trans, or if they are gay men, but tell them that your client group includes straight, cis males and suddenly you are no longer eligible for funds.

This is why campaigns for reform of sex and relationships education in schools end up being focused purely on the needs and vulnerabilities of girls and young women and the problems caused by boys and young men, never the reverse.

This is why not one single political party at Westminster has adopted one single policy position that is aimed specifically at addressing the crisis in boys’ educational attainment.

In isolation, each of those situations could be considered an anomaly, an inadvertent omission, but taken together they begin to represent a pattern. It is a pattern that has emerged in large part because no one has been actively lobbying and campaigning with a coherent, holistic, responsible approach on behalf of men and boys

The Men and Boys Coalition does not have all the answers to all the problems arising here. But within our ranks we have some brilliant people with some brilliant ideas, and together we can amplify those ideas, help to get them heard, yell with one voice to help get them adopted.

We do not (yet) have financial resources or a team of professional lobbyists stalking the corridors of power. But we do have rock solid arguments, hard evidence and, I believe, the tide of history on our side.  Will that be enough? No, probably not. But it is a very good place to begin.

Comments

  1. says

    Very exciting news. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. I hope you succeed and that you provide a good model to emulate in other countries.

    Regarding gender neutrality versus gender inclusiveness – there has been an exchange on twitter about Women’s Aid’s Polly Neate writing an article pleading that one doesn’t make DV services gender neutral. Several organizations protested, among them the Men and boy’s initiative which is a member of this new coalition:
    https://twitter.com/initiative_men/status/798100993770655744

    Other member of the coalition have also spoken against Polly Neate’s article. For instance Dr.Liz Bates who tweeted this:
    https://twitter.com/drlizbates/status/797479205084741632

    As well as retweeting a tweet by Erin Prizzey calling for making DV devices gender neutral.

    Other members like Mankind Initiative also calls for treating DV as a non-gendered issue: https://twitter.com/mankindinit/status/796291845630345217

    Is the line between gender neutrality and gender inclusiveness something all members are in agreement on or is the line a bit undefined/blurry?

  2. Ally Fogg says

    I think the truth is indeed that the line is a little blurry, Tamen.

    The distinction between gender-neutral and gender-inclusive policy is something that has emerged relatively recently and I’d be lying if I said everybody involved is singing perfectly in harmony from the same hymn sheet. The terminology is only just catching up with the politics.

    So you’ll find that someone like Mark Brooks from Mankind Initiative has (in my opinion) been advocating gender-inclusive policy for many years but was previously describing it as gender-neutral or non-gendered. He’s more recently started using the phrase ‘gender-inclusive’ as an alternative although you’d have to ask him exactly where he stands.

    As it happens I’d read that Polly Neate blog & the fallout, and was vaguely thinking I might turn it into a case study in gender-inclusive policy when I get the chance. Just for now, I think there were two things going on there, one was that some of what she said was factually wrong, the other that some of what she was arguing was politically off-base (IMO) I’m more interested in the political side of it.

  3. Nwestman7 says

    “…..but the systems, structures and policy frameworks were simply never designed with the gender-specific needs of men and boys in mind”.
    Well, that’s one way to put it. The reality is a bit clearer: most radfem organisations do not wish at all for men and boys do have a slice of the cake. York IMD 2015 – blocked. Any discussion with the lead feminists from Women’s Aid etc. – we do not talk about men and boys, plus we include men and boys in the VAWG stats. Unless you are prepared to take them on when they block you, and expose the hypocrisy, the situation will not improve. You know it, we all know it, you just will not say it.

  4. Ally Fogg says

    Just to add, the other thing that is relevant to this and REALLY important to understand about the coalition is that it is a very wide spectrum, both in terms of broad left-right politics and in terms of gender politics. It includes people on the hard right and hard left, people who would identify as ardent feminists and anti-feminists and everything in between. Crucially though, the coalition does not position itself in relation to feminism in any way. Feminism is over there doing its thing, we’re over here doing ours.

    So it includes people with whom I have virtually nothing in common politically (Belinda Brown, Martin Daubney etc) beyond a shared and genuine interest in making sure men & boys issues are on the agenda. We may not agree on the deep roots of the problems and we may not agree on the solutions, but we do agree that the issues cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet.

    We’re all saying let’s get these issues on the agenda, let’s throw around ideas, THEN we can start arguing about who is right and who is wrong on the specifics!

  5. ajay says

    Broadly I agree but there are some issues.

    It is all very well to say “We will not engage with organisations that espouse misogyny, misandry, racism, homophobia or any other form of interpersonal discrimination” but many of or the keyganisations in many of these areas do exactly that but against men. Misogyny and systematic discrimination against women is not accepted in society but misandry and discrimination against men is publically not just espoused butis accepted, if not the default. Womens aid spring to mind as an example but there are many others.

    The second is the assumption that men’s stoicisim and emotional resiileience is a problem. The reality is very little research has been performed and there is a simplistic assumption that wherver men’s behaviour differs from women that is a source of men’s issues. It is at least as likely that men’s higher suicide rates, for example, are due to much higher societal pressures and much less support. Men’s stoicism could be an innate difference or a protective measure. The fact is that strangers are far far less willing to aid a man than a women and as a result self reliance and stoicism are at least at the moment sensible adaptive strategies for men. Much more focus and money is devoted to women’s health than men’s so why should anyone be surprised by men’s lower life expectancy? This idea seems to me to be about blaming men for the consequences of discrimination against them. I may be wrong, unbiased research that recognises men are not advantaged but in many ways heavily disadvantaged to answer this question. If it truely is a problem then fine but I worrry that by campaigning against it we may harm men and boys by removing a necessary protection/adaption.

  6. Ally Fogg says

    Nwestman [3]

    Unless you are prepared to take them on when they block you, and expose the hypocrisy, the situation will not improve. You know it, we all know it, you just will not say it.

    You see I think this is exactly where the MRM ideology has ground itself into ineffective, useless irrelevance and why an alternative is needed.

    It is quite true that there are some elements of the feminist women’s sector (Women’s Aid prominent amongst them) who are actively oppositional and obstructive to any attempt to raise male specific issues. The solution is not to go to war with them and attempt to defeat them. When you do that, the entire world looks in and what it sees is a bunch of angry men trying to close down services for survivors of domestic violence. That is not a good look.

    The solution is not to go to war with them but to bypass them. To make *them* look like the anachronistic dinosaurs who are actively obstructing assistance to people in need. To go to the power-brokers, the funders, the policy makers and say yes, there’s the women’s sector over there providing essential, life-saving services to vulnerable women and girls, we think you should support them. And at the same time, here is a men’s sector providing essential, life-saving services to vulnerable men and boys. Now how can you ensure those services are also supported?

    If you look across the past 5 years of improvements and growth within the men’s sector (and there have been many) it has ALWAYS come from that type of approach, not the one you advocate.

  7. ajay says

    Ally Fogg[6]
    “If you look across the past 5 years of improvements and growth within the men’s sector (and there have been many) it has ALWAYS come from that type of approach, not the one you advocate.”

    I am unclear if this is true. I dislike the pointlessly abusive approach as epitomised by Mike Buchanan’s whiney feminist of the month and I am sure this is not effective but I am not sure that polite and persistent fact based challenging of organisations is always ineffective.

    What improvement and growth there has been is I suspect more to do with the general growth of forums, social media etc and the increasing dissonance between the reality of male disadvantage and the propoganda of universal male privilige. My own awakening, if I can call it that, was as a result of a grotesquely sexist and misandric article on the health service which claimed that women had bene let down because although women’s and men’s life expectancy had gone up, the fact that the gap had closed between men and women was a ‘failure’. It was the deluge of accusations of misogyny following a mild comment that this was a strange way of looking at the data that opened my eyes.

  8. Nwestman7 says

    [6] (Why isn’t there a reply button on this system?)
    “You see I think this is exactly where the MRM ideology has ground itself into ineffective, useless irrelevance and why an alternative is needed”.
    Not sure that ‘The Red Pill’, nor the successful J4MB conference this year, nor Milo’s tour of the USA are ineffective or useless! Sure, they are not all strictly MRM, but they are aligned and have made massive changes in perception and mood. But thanks for the off-the-bat insult.
    “The solution is not to go to war with them and attempt to defeat them.”
    Well, bit of a straw man – you could always just expose them using ONS stats in public for hating on men. Provided it’s done civilly it’s probably a good idea not to let them carry on with the hate. A challenge is really needed on any form of sexism inc. misandry.
    “The solution is not to go to war with them but to bypass them. To make *them* look like the anachronistic dinosaurs who are actively obstructing assistance to people in need.” That’s what those who are active in the MRM usually do, in debates. CF Peter Lloyd, Karen Straughan, Milo Y etc. and the man who must not be named here.
    Not sure that the ‘alt-service-for guys’ approach is that much of the best way forward. If a service exists, why do you HAVE to duplicate it? Surely you’d open it up (admittedly with streaming and separate wings maybe). IT seems to have more to do with not being allowed to share the service ‘set up by women, for women’. Doesn’t it? “We’ll just have to start our own services” – and the radfems will even block that. Cf York IMD 2015.
    (None of the above is intended as criticism of this very good initiative per se, rather that it genuflects to the feminist altar as a major consideration, and that opposition from our inclusive friends [sarcasm] needs to be exposed).

  9. Ally Fogg says

    Not sure that ‘The Red Pill’, nor the successful J4MB conference this year, nor Milo’s tour of the USA are ineffective or useless! Sure, they are not all strictly MRM, but they are aligned and have made massive changes in perception and mood.

    Well, I don’t think the Red Pill movie or Mike B’s conference have made a blind bit of difference to anyone in the real world.

    Milo has helped to ensure that tens of millions of men are subjected to heightened oppression, racism, poverty, incarceration, homophobia, transphobia, deportation, denial of services and heaven knows what else Trump has in store. Anyone who considers his efforts to be in any way good for men and boys – with the exception of the most rich, powerful and privileged men of course – is a fucking idiot.

  10. markbrooks70 says

    Hi Ally and Tamen

    As a precis of where we go to at Mankind Initiative was we when set (I am not a founder) we were just running services for male DA victims and walked unknowingly into a whole gender ideological battlefield that we didn’t even know existed. Essentially, why would know if you set up a charity to help vulnerable people?

    So up against narrative and public policy that defined DA as an ideological/gendered crime (one dimensional fm vics/ml perps) while we believe it to be a crime (multi dimensional fm/ml visa and perps) we started using the term gender neutral as way of trying to get more balance.

    However, we have given this more deeper thought about five years ago having helped to develop a proper male dv sector (we have 120 coming to our annual conference tomorrow) and met lots of great Women’s charities now running services for Men alongside or separately to those they run for women (we are relaxed on how they are run because we are desperate for any services still!) plus we follow great thinkers like Ally which really helps us.

    So our position is we still define DA as a crime and there is a need for gender inclusive approaches (not gender neutral) , either 1 service that clearly supports Men and Women or parallel services . This is important as services are locally funded so we cannot support a gender exclusive approach (still being promulgated at a national level) which only means only funding services for women (or could be men) or stating that the public story / narrative on DA is exclusively about heterosexual female victims. We are also seeing some WAid services change their name to make it clear that the services they run are for men too.

    In conclusion we take a gender inclusive approach and as we always state we do not one single penny taken away from what are underfunded anyway female services and given to make services, we need better funding all round.

    Hope helps

    Mark

  11. Nwestman7 says

    [9] Ally Fogg
    The Red PIll movie is about to be released, and will of course be a DVD. A debate is at last being had which should have taken place thirty years ago i.e. what gender has issues and what are they.
    Mike B’s conference had Phil Davies – the man who got the Houses of Parliament debate; an Indian MRA; Erin Pizzey, he’s also campaigned against MGM and may well have influenced dozens of people he met on the street. Some of his videos have thousands of views.
    Milo had several facets to his university tour. Personally I thought his closing speech at Bristol university was the finest ten minutes on Youtube; he has engaged successfully against radfems; he has championed free speech – importantly; and he has made being gay acceptable to many more people. It’s a mixed bag for sure. Though again, it didn’t take our Ally long to swing low with a profanity, which always smacks of playing to a student crowd with a soundbite.

  12. 123454321 says

    So much disagreement, contempt, hostility, bitterness and resentfulness between men who are all ‘supposedly’ fighting the same battle, trying to get to the same outcome but approaching the same hurdles in different ways. Doing things in different ways and coming from different angles is always a good tactic at this stage. Waters always need testing and boundaries need pushing. Every modus operandi appears to be under constant scrutiny, and people relentlessly push each other to their limits of strength and character. Some will give up. Some will die before they reap visibility of an outcome reward. As a matter of certainty, though, errors of judgment WILL come back and bite some of you, really fucking hard. It could cost some their career, depending on when and how they decide to balance the dinghy, or perhaps they’ll just continue to rock it forever because that’s what does it for them. Me? I want to stay in the boat and I’m prepared to evolve and change accordingly. In a couple of years, however, we will need to focus our strategy and concentrate on delivering a common, coherent, winning plan of action by using an agreed approach that is proven to work at that particular moment in time. I get it, but we’re not quite there yet. We’re doing well of course, and the gradient of progress is increasing nicely, but anyone who maintains that staying silent achieves success above and beyond those who have had the courage to speak out and make a noise in whatever way they felt was fit at the time should be kicked out of the camp with their tail between their legs. The only reason why men’s issues are now being debated publicly and to such an extent, is because men have stepped up to the podium, shouted out, made a whole load of noise, and provided some of you guys out there with a foundation you can build on – something I hope doesn’t get forgotten while you move about the boat arguing your politics!

    Two things that fundamentally get in the way of positive progress and evolution: Politics and Religion. Never touch ’em, not even with a bargepole.

    Great post, Ally.

  13. borabosna says

    “I think the truth is indeed that the line is a little blurry, Tamen. ”

    I truly wish you good luck with your coalition, I really do; but “gender inclusive” simply means “for women and girls.” This has been the case repeatedly so many times in the past. “Gender neutral” would be good, that is the truth; but feminists have way too much money on the line that is based on “gender-based” this or that which they are unwilling to part with. Do you ever hope to hear the words “gender neutral” come out of the mouth of Alison Saunders in your lifetime with any real probability?

    Australian MRAs took the “gender inclusive” approach and they toed the feminist line in order to get the “1 in 3” DV statistic accepted through the government door, where feminists are in charge of the funding. Then what happened? A $13 million was allocated to male victims of DV, but then a feminist was appointed in charge of the money. Male “victims” instantly became male “perpetrators.” Goodbye to $13 million for male victims.

    http://www.oneinthree.com.au/storage/pdfs/1IN3%20Media%20Release%208-11-16.pdf

    Even Theresa May who started to talk about making IMD “gender inclusive” changed the subject to talk about women and girls’ issues. Anything “gender inclusive” is aimed to destroy any help for men and boys.

    “Well, I don’t think the Red Pill movie or Mike B’s conference have made a blind bit of difference to anyone in the real world.”

    If you truly believe that, you should watch the interviews of attendees of ICMI 2016 and of The Red Pill to get their view to see if it made a difference to them. Check out Studio Brule on Youtube. Steve Brule interviewed all those people. Director of The Red Pill, Cassie Jaye, speaks of close feminist friends of hers who were in tears because of the movie and had their entire world view shaken.

    “Milo has helped to ensure that tens of millions of men are subjected to heightened oppression, racism, poverty, incarceration, homophobia, transphobia, deportation, denial of services and heaven knows what else Trump has in store.”

    If you truly believe in the fear mongering of the left biased mainstream media, then the next 4 years will prove you wrong over and over again. Anti-Trumpers have already made so many false accusations of violence and hatred against Trump supporters, then they pulled Trump supporters out of their cars and beaten them on the streets, after burning American flags. Who are the violent, hateful ones? Anti-Trumpers it seems.

  14. Carnation says

    @ Nwestman, 123454321

    You both clearly admire, support and identify with the alleged MRM. That is of course your right, and many would hope that you continue to do so (me, for one).

    But you must accept that to most people who notice, the alleged MRM is nothing but a litany of failures, narcissists, cranks, bigots and unpleasant anonymous blogs and Twitter troll accounts.

    I can’t really in good conscience support anything that features Martin Daubney as a co-founder (IMHO he has at least one foot in the very camp that needs clear blue water separating from in order to maintain credibility), but it’s definitely a vehicle for good, instead of a clearing house for angry, anonymous keyboard rangers, like the alleged MRM.

  15. Ally Fogg says

    but “gender inclusive” simply means “for women and girls.”

    No, that is what gender exclusive means. Gender inclusive is quite literally 100% the opposite of that.

  16. 123454321 says

    The problem with gender inclusive is that women don’t want to include men as part of “their” issues. Also, it gets feminists all on edge, and as they have so much power (and money), that’s not really a good thing.
    I’ve been meaning to say this for a while but gender ‘balanced’ is probably the best bet in terms of terminology. It can apply everywhere, to everyone, and to everything, even if it doesn’t apply to the issue you’re discussing, if you know what I mean. It’s also far softer and doesn’t rock the boat that feminists are steering. I’m sure even Carny would agree. Oh, Hi Carny, sorry to wake you. Nice post, but you can go stick your head back in the sand now, cheers bud.

  17. says

    @Ally

    Hi Ally. To my mind, there are at least two obvious problems with ‘gender inclusivity’:

    – discussions invariably turn to women’s and girls’ issues. Raise MGM (illegal, commonplace) with many people, and they’ll start talking about FGM (illegal, rare in the UK). FGM is covered extensively in the mainstream press, MGM isn’t. Prominent feminists don’t call for and end to MGM, they have not the slightest interest in gender inclusivity.

    – it fails to recognize that male disadvantaging is almost always a direct and natural consequence of female advantaging. One obvious example is education, where the replacement of O Levels by GCSEs in 1987/8 allowed teachers’ pro-girl bias to be reflect in exam grades, and the education gender gap has been with us ever since, as William Collins pointed out so well http://mra-uk.co.uk/?p=121. Removing the anti-male bias would result in boys (as a class) doing better than currently, and girls (as a class) doing worse. Would you support the removal of the anti-male bias in the education system, although it would manifestly not be ‘gender inclusive’, and result in fewer girls going on to tertiary education?

  18. 123454321 says

    Not wanting to go off on one, or at least deviate from the main discussion but clicking on a link to rape crisis via MBC, it says:

    “Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year…”

    That’s not true, is it? Shouldn’t the statement include convictions.

    Also, where is the part relating to one of the main issues i.e. hacking and chopping bits off of baby boys’ genitals? I know it will be there but I can’t seem to find it.

  19. Carnation says

    @ Mike Buchanan

    1 – What you class as MGM is actually legal, therefore lobbying to change the law is the first step. Campaigning against something that is already illegal and widely culturally unacceptable is, obviously, far easier.

    2/ “Raise MGM (illegal, commonplace) with many people, and they’ll start talking about FGM” (sic)

    Credible activists wouldn’t bother talking to “most people”, they’d focus their efforts on those that can influence and change things.

    3/ “One obvious example is education, where the replacement of O Levels by GCSEs in 1987/8 allowed teachers’ pro-girl bias to be reflect in exam grades”

    I like your new beard, it suits you. It’s difficult to know where to start contradicting your idiotic point copied above, so I thought I’d pay you a genuine compliment.

    A question for you. Given that the single elected politician sympathetic to your worldview has a track record of sabotaging even modest attempts to lighten the burden on the most economically dispossessed males, shouldn’t you exclude him from your “activism”?

  20. Ally Fogg says

    Mike [17]

    – discussions invariably turn to women’s and girls’ issues. Raise MGM (illegal, commonplace) with many people, and they’ll start talking about FGM (illegal, rare in the UK). FGM is covered extensively in the mainstream press, MGM isn’t. Prominent feminists don’t call for and end to MGM, they have not the slightest interest in gender inclusivity.

    The opposite is the case. Try to argue about the rights and wrongs of MGM/male circumcision as a standalone issue affecting men (as I have done on many occasions) and you will get a range of reactions, some pro-circumcision, some anti, large numbers who don’t consider it much of an issue either way. But you can at least have a constructive debate sometimes.

    Try to argue the rights and wrongs of MGM/male circumcision in the same place and context as discussions of FGM or with direct reference to FGM and you will find every door slammed in your face. Fairly or not, you will be taken to be disingenuously derailing campaigns against FGM rather than doing anything constructive for men.

    The only way to make any progress on MGM as an issue is to treat it as an entirely separate issue from FGM.

    – it fails to recognize that male disadvantaging is almost always a direct and natural consequence of female advantaging. One obvious example is education, where the replacement of O Levels by GCSEs in 1987/8 allowed teachers’ pro-girl bias to be reflect in exam grades, and the education gender gap has been with us ever since, as William Collins pointed out so well http://mra-uk.co.uk/?p=121. Removing the anti-male bias would result in boys (as a class) doing better than currently, and girls (as a class) doing worse. Would you support the removal of the anti-male bias in the education system, although it would manifestly not be ‘gender inclusive’, and result in fewer girls going on to tertiary education?

    This is just categorically, laughably untrue. What you call ‘male disadvantaging’ is, with virtually NO exceptions, entirely incidental to female ‘advantaging.’

    To take your one example, boys relative decline in educational performance is something that has been happening across the developed world for at least 25 years and the types of examination or testing used in different countries appears to make marginal difference or no difference at all. https://www.oecd.org/edu/innovation-education/centreforeffectivelearningenvironmentscele/45566604.pdf

    But anyway, even if it were true, a gender-inclusive solution to that problem would be to test the abilities and attainment of girls and boys in different ways, with exams for boys and continual assessment for girls. Demanding that boys and girls are treated the same (however they are treated) is a gender neutral approach, not gender inclusive.

    I’m not necessarily advocating that, by the way, although I’d suggest it is not the worst idea in the world!

  21. says

    Carnation [19)

    1. A prominent barrister started his talk with the following at a UK human rights conference in 2013:

    “The default position of the criminal law is that circumcision is a crime, and it requires a parliamentary override to stop it being a crime. There is no such override. The general position of the Common Law is protective of bodily autonomy, and that cannot be trespassed by the state, or by others. The state has the right to enact laws to stop other people from violating those principles. It is the strongest principle of the law that it reserves its strongest penalties for breaches of bodily integrity.”

    Do please point me to the required parliamentary override making MGM legal. Take as long as you need.

    We have sent numerous FOI requets to government departments including the Home Office (responsible for the police), and the CPS. None have ever argued with the central thesis of those requests, that MGM is illegal in the UK – since at least the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, and arguably under the Common Law before that. The fact the criminal justice system does not prosecute the criminals who carry out the mutilations is not evidence of legality. The Crown has never prosecuted a woman for paternity fraud, either.

    2. You write, “Credible activists wouldn’t bother talking to ‘most people’, they’d focus their efforts on those that can influence and change things.” We HAVE focused our efforts “on those that can influence and change things.” They show not the slightest inclination to work towards ending MGM in the UK, even when persuaded it’s illegal. So we have little option but to demonstrate against MGM, sometimes risking injury (or more) in the process.

    3. Are you unable, or unwilling, to address the point about the anti-male bias of the education system for almost 30 years?

    I have no idea what ‘elected politician’ you’re alluding to.

  22. says

    Ally [21]

    Thanks Ally. We’re in 100% agreement about arguing for MGM as an issue separate from FGM. I was making the point that very often, when protesting against MGM – especially on the street – the person I’m speaking to will seek to turn the conversation round to FGM – predictably, if a feminist, ALWAYS. In a recent interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer about MGM – we were protesting against MGM outside the Tory party conference at the time – she turned the discussion to FGM at one point.

    We’ll never agree on gender politics, but do you deny one of the key points in William Collins’s piece, that the education gender gap appeared in 1987/8 with the introduction of GCSEs, and has been with us ever since? If you agree with the stats, how else do you explain the gap, limiting yourself to the UK (to avoid confusion)?

  23. David S says

    @123454321 (18)

    Not wanting to go off on one, or at least deviate from the main discussion but clicking on a link to rape crisis via MBC, it says:
    “Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year…”
    That’s not true, is it? Shouldn’t the statement include convictions.

    Those are more or less the same as the figures that the Crime Survey for England and Wales produce, so I guess that is what the original source was. The CSEW isn’t perfect, but it’s probably as good as anyone is going to get. It uses a large random sample with a reasonable response rate, respondents remain anonymous, answer sensitive questions at a laptop rather than face to face, and respondents don’t give names to any claimed attackers (so there wouldn’t be much of a motive for false allegations). The figures correspond to somewhat under half of one percent of the adult female population, and under one tenth of a percent of the adult male population. I’m not sure what you meant about counting convictions, but I can’t see that anyone sensible would suggest that counting convictions for any crime was a sensible way of determining how frequently that crime actually occurred.

  24. says

    @ Ally

    Turning to the key content of your blog piece, a supporter has asked me an insightful question:

    “How well qualified are the organizations and members in the Men & Boys Coalition to provide and promote solutions to individual issues affecting men and boys?”

    I sought to answer her question in a blog piece we’ve just published:

    https://j4mb.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/on-which-issues-is-the-men-boys-coalition-qualified-to-refer-people-making-inquiries/

  25. ajay says

    Ally[21] “This is just categorically, laughably untrue. What you call ‘male disadvantaging’ is, with virtually NO exceptions, entirely incidental to female ‘advantaging.’”

    The opposite is manifestly true, the statement above is to me laughably untrue.

    Take education any action to redress the imbalance in resources and support for women will necessarily disadvanatge girls compared to the current situation. You can be sure that this will be the comparison made.. We can remove the gender biased assesment and support which would disadvanatge women or we can add similarilly gendered support programs for boys which would also disadvantage women compared to their current very advantaged position. It would make the situation more equitable but if a group is advanatged then moving to an equitable situation is necessarily a disadvantage for this group. This is without considering that in the real world everything is resource limitted, simply increasing the spend on men’s health to match that on women or support for boys education to match girls or domestic violence is going to cost money and will probably result in a rebalancing reducing the spend on women.
    The criminal justice, domestic violence, family law area is an area where it is simply impossible to make the system remotely equitable without a massive disadvantaging of women compared to the status quo. Campaigners will complain about this and say women are being disadvantaged, the media will report it as females being disadvantaged.

    Like it or not it is the status quo which will be used to judge whether women are being disadvantaged or not.

  26. says

    Ally (21)

    You write, “This is just categorically, laughably untrue. What you call ‘male disadvantaging’ is, with virtually NO exceptions, entirely incidental to female ‘advantaging.’ ”

    Let’s analyse your claim. Of the 20 areas in our 2015 general election manifesto where men’s and/or boys’ human rights are assaulted by the actions and/or inactions of the state – the human rights of women and/or girls specifically are assaulted in NO areas – in all of them males are disadvantaged (sometimes killed) as a direct result of female advantaging / privileging, as we outline in the manifesto. #1, #2, and #4 apply equally to unborn or young females, for all the other 17 areas the vast majority – if not all – of the disadvantaged are male:

    1. Abortion
    2. Foetal alcohol syndrome
    3. Genital mutilation (females protected specifically by the 1985 FGM Act)
    4. Fatherlessness
    5. Education
    6. Employment
    7. Access to children after family breakdowns
    8. Domestic violence
    9. Sexual abuse
    10. Armed Forces veterans’ mental health issues
    11. Homelessness
    12. Suicide
    13. Criminal justice system
    14. Paternity fraud
    15. Anonymity for suspected sexual offenders
    16. Divorce
    17. Healthcare provision
    18. Political representation (all-women shortlists)
    19. State interference in director appointments
    20. Expectation of retirement years

    So, far from there being ‘NO exceptions’, in ALL 20 areas males are disadvantaged by female advantaging / privileging. And who is financing the state which assaults men’s and boys’ human rights in so many areas? Male taxpayers, in the main, who pay almost 75% of the income taxes which largely fund the state.

    Our election manifesto is here https://j4mb.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/141228-v7-general-election-manifesto1.pdf.

  27. 123454321 says

    #24 “I’m not sure what you meant about counting convictions, but I can’t see that anyone sensible would suggest that counting convictions for any crime was a sensible way of determining how frequently that crime actually occurred.”

    Likewise, to say that there ARE 80k rapes without questioning the rate of actual convictions is a false position. What I’m saying is that there are only a small percentage of the 80k that actually ARE convicted, which points to a much lower figure of ACTUAL rapes. So I detest the opening line; it’s a twist on reality. To what extent, though, I don’t know.

    “respondents remain anonymous, answer sensitive questions at a laptop rather than face to face, and respondents don’t give names to any claimed attackers (so there wouldn’t be much of a motive for false allegations).”

    This all depends on what the questions are. We all know how questions can be leading – Q: Have you ever ended up having sex with someone when you haven’t actually consented? A: Yes. Oh my God, that’s another rape.

    Not wanting to be facetious, but I’d like to see the questions before I arrived at any conclusions. I just don’t trust the anti-male system at present. Sorry.

  28. David S says

    @123454321 (28)

    What I’m saying is that there are only a small percentage of the 80k that actually ARE convicted, which points to a much lower figure of ACTUAL rapes.

    It does not point to anything of the sort. You could pick any crime you like, and as a matter of near logical necessity you will find that the number of convictions is less than the number of offences that actually happen (usually by an order of magnitude or two).

  29. ajay says

    123454321 [28] The actual number of rapes committed is a dark number and by its nature can only be estimated.

    The classic leading questions used in surveys to inflate the number of rapes are:
    – Have you ever had sex when you did not want to?
    – Have you ever had sex unde rteh influence of alchol?
    Taking the answer to either as an indication of rape is commonly done by rape advocates but misleading in the first case because it is commonplace to have sex consensually but without enthusiasm, for example when tired out of consideration for a long term partner, and in the second because drunken consent is commonplace and still consent.

    I do not believe the crime survey does either. There is still good reason to believe that the number could be over reported quite honestly paticularily in cases of sex with partners due to the malleable nature of human memory and the misleading definitions of rape widely promotted by the rape lobby. There is positive encouragement for women to interpret ambiguous and regretted events as rape. I know of no way of scalling the number except for outright guessing so we could be anywhere from an underestimate to an order of magnitude over estimate.

    The crime survey number is however the best number available metric.

    The actual number is probably not important compared to the trend except for the dishonest propoganda that is used to argue that rape is commonplace and that almost no false accusations are made. If everyone accepted it was a serious crime, that accusations should be investigated seriously with respect to both alleged victim and attacker then it would not be an issue. As it is the investigation and prosecution of rape is seriously flawed and tilted against the defendant in preventing relevant evidence being heard, the failure to identify the alleged victim preventing possible relevant evidence being uncovered in addition ot the pervasive anti-male biads in the legal system and the general rape is ubiquitous rape culture propoganda.

  30. Carnation says

    @ Mike, ajay, 12345…

    Your comments, your preoccupations, your total lack of understanding of lobbying and provision as evidenced in your emoting primal screams earlier in this thread demonstrate exactly what Ally means about a credible men’s movement coming of age. You represent the sad, immature, self-important but ineffectual alleged movement that needs to be distanced from.

    Such a total lack of self-awareness and wisdom. Your obsession with feminism keeps you where you are and where you belong; the lunatic fringe.

  31. ajay says

    Carnation [31]
    “Your comments, your preoccupations, your total lack of understanding of lobbying and provision as evidenced in your emoting primal screams earlier in this thread demonstrate exactly what Ally means about a credible men’s movement coming of age. You represent the sad, immature, self-important but ineffectual alleged movement that needs to be distanced from.”

    This post epitomises what I feel is wrong with what I might characterise as the cringing socially concerned wing of those concerned with men’s issues with which I associate Ally. There is such a fear of offending the dominant sexist ideology that well reasoned polite opinions that are predicated on equality but that may upset the dominant sexist ideology are supressed. In doing so there is a tendancy to reinforce the stereotype that any man who suggest men are in some way treated poorly are sad, angry loners with opinions shaped by emotion not reason. This is one of the biggest barriers we need to overcome and frankly, although your comment is by itself insignificant, you are harming rather than helping.

    The problem is, and you may disagree, that addressing most of the very real problems men face cannot be adddressed without upsetting those who benefit from the status quo. If we are not willing to do this we end up hiding and avoiding the problems we agree need to be addressed.

    It is hardly a flame war but is using terms like ’emoting primal screams’, sad, immature, self-important apropriate or constructive? I think your post is more emotional and immature in tone than mine but it is perhaps best to leave the posts concerned to speak for themselves.

  32. Carnation says

    @ ajay

    “There is such a fear of offending the dominant sexist ideology that well reasoned polite opinions that are predicated on equality but that may upset the dominant sexist ideology are supressed”

    So, you are totally wrong. You and your ilk are so obsessed with that you wrongly perceive as “the dominant sexist ideology” that you are rendered completely useless in terms of achieving tangible, positive outcomes for men & boys.

    You and yours are fixated so absolutely on what you wrongly perceive as “the dominant sexist ideology” that you regard anyone who disagrees with your microscopic fringe analysis as having been indoctrinated by said ideology.

    So desperate are you and your ilk for any kind of validation for your views that you accept anyone as a champion, regardless of their track record – Philip Davies MP, champion of men? He’s much like yourselves, obsessed with feminism and feminists (as he misunderstands them) and not remotely interested in helping those that need helped.

    It’s really pretty pathetic. Very grubby.

  33. Nwestman7 says

    It seems there is increasing polarisation here. Carnation particularly seems to be flinging around very articulate insults. We get s/he doesn’t like anyone or anything associated with the MRM (though the issues are rarely discussed).
    Yet it remains absolutely true to say that most political feminists will bar services for men. Most universities have a culture that puts men down and makes them feel bad about themselves, and create quite a censorious and bad atmosphere. There has to be a debate without people being sent to Coventry. The criticism can lead to low self-esteem, which may lead to isolation and ill health.
    Positive action may be necessary based on the expectation of traditional roles, though it’s never there the other way for men to be nurses, charity workers, hand-on fathers etc.
    I’m disappointed with Ally’s and Carnation’s very quick descent into rage. If the MRM is so ineffective, why bother getting so worked up about it?
    The motivation I have is that when I was a teenager we could talk about anything based on facts, reason and emotion. We learned a lot and parted as more learned than when we started. University in contrast was about being ostracised if you had the wrong opinion. Positive action cannot be done in isolation but can have a demoralising impact on those who are just trying to do a job and get on. There is no positive action for the working-class.
    So back to the article. Great stuff – who is the leader, where is the schedule, and of course why do we have to set up ‘alternative’ frameworks? Because the radfems will lock men out. Isn’t that the elephant in the room?

  34. WineEM says

    Well, being a pragmatic sort, I wish the initiative well, especially if it does stand a chance to have a positive effect down the line.

    Whether it stands a greater or lesser chance of holding together than Trump’s cabinet remains to be seen, given the diverse nature of people in it. And let’s face it, a lot of this is down to semantics. I mean, it’s all very well to say: “For that reason it was essential that we spell out explicitly that we will not represent those who advocate against the interests of women and girls”, yet some of the statements and philosophies of the members are unavoidably going to be seen by many feminists as being contrary to women and girls’ interests.
    For example, Ally admits that some members are anti-feminists (and indeed one glimpse at Belinda Brown’s Twitters page reveals the rather wonderful slogan “Feminism teaches women to think of, but not for, themselves”). But come on – most of the SNP members in parliament yesterday, all self-avowed feminists, would automatically believe that anti-feminism intrinsically and unavoidably means anti-woman. The Gender Equity Network, organised by Barry and Brown, is fiercely meritocratic, and effectively fights against many positive discrimination measures such as Athena Swan (see for instance the Maudesly Debate in which Brown argues Swan should be abolished). Now, as an egalitarian, I agree wholeheartedly with people like Brown and Barry, but if you don’t think such attitudes are not at some point going to cause feminists in the coalition to start shrieking and pulling their hair out, then I think you may be a bit naive. But I guess we’ll see.

  35. 123454321 says

    NWestman7 – yes, it’s all very confusing. There I am agreeing with much of what Ally says. And there I am agreeing with much of what Mike Buchanan says, too. They tackle the same problems from different angles, and that’s ok – just a shame they don’t get on. Carnation, on the other hand, rarely has anything of much use to say, although s/he articulately talks bollocks without actually saying anything useful (very amusing) and persistently bleats on about how much he hates those hateful anti-feminists whilst hatefully dissing and attacking anyone associated with men’s rights activism – pure ostrich gold hypocrisy, bless his little cotton socks. Mike is happy to slap feminism up the arse (his humour is beyond compare and lightens the mood with his talented writing style), and I admire that because, let’s face it, feminists have held no punches for several decades while they have undeniably (and selfishly) stolen much of the limelight from men and their issues. Ally will most likely give up on the nicely-nicely approach (eventually). Secretly, he already knows feminism is a significant blocker and requires a workaround (he’d like it to be an amicable one rather than confrontational), but he has formidable tactics in plenty of ways and can adapt his style, so we’ll have to see.
    I just hope it’s not oneupmanship, in other words: my style is better than yours and i’m gonna get their first.

  36. lelapaletute says

    This seems like a really positive move, and I think it is a shame the comments have so predictably descended into partisan bitching. Notably none of those dreadful feminists so intent on bringing down men and boys have a bad word to say about the coalition or its aims (at least on this forum). Precisely, as Ally says, because its starting point is not “what have women taken away from men and how can we take it away from them?”, but rather “what do men and boys need to flourish, and how do we get it?”

    I think what a lot of the more manosphere-based MRAs don’t understand is that feminism has never been about taking things away from men, or stopping them from having things. It is simply that we, as women, want things too, and as a movement have been pretty effective in getting them. We want freedom, and safety, and the opportunities to flourish. We want, all other things being equal, to be in as good a position to get these things as our equivalent male counterpart. Quite a lot of us also extend this politically to being strongly in favour of economic, social and political equality for all, both nationally and internationally, gender notwithstanding. But our primary focus remains on gender, because we have heard too often from our allies in other battles that the IMPORTANT thing is the class struggle/economic equity/anti-globalisation, and we’ll get to all that womens’ stuff LATER – and later never comes. No-one else is doing this for us; so we have to do it for ourselves.

    The Coalition seems to be a very realistic response to that same recognition by those truly interested in advancing the interests of men and boys – that co-opting the advances of feminism by railing against the gains they have brought for women is not the way to go, is counterproductive and unrealistic. If anything, the gains of feminism for women and girls and its methods provide a useful benchmark and template for those interested in advancing men and boys.

    And it doesn’t surprise me in the least this includes a lot of women, be they feminist or not: I’m soon to give birth to a little girl – but had she happened to be a little boy, I would have felt no less viscerally compelled to do everything I can to ensure he had the best possible opportunities in life, and most importantly that he was safe danger. We love our fathers, brothers, partners and sons. We fear for them and worry about them. And I for one am delighted that a positive movement has arisen to champion their interests with real ambition, rather than confected bitterness. Go Ally and co!

  37. Nwestman7 says

    [37] lelapaletute “I think what a lot of the more manosphere-based MRAs don’t understand is that feminism has never been about taking things away from men, or stopping them from having things”.
    Positive action? Barred from having IMD at York? Criticised for Page 3, (rightly) but the Chippendales are fine? Told what words to use / not use? Having IMD turned into a women’s issues debate? Not caring or even blocking discussion of men’s issues? Accusing hapless lads at university of being part of a rape culture (90% won’t be). Denigrating men as a group. I could go on.

  38. Sans-sanity says

    @ Ally
    “I’m not necessarily advocating that, by the way, although I’d suggest it is not the worst idea in the world!”
    I think it’s a horrible idea, but entirely fixable by allowing the children to opt into the assessment stream of their choice :)

    Designing services/ structures with the common gender differences in mind (my understanding of gender inclusivity) is great, but as a general matter of principle gender non-conformers should be enabled to jump ships with the minimum possible obstacles*.

    *Pragmatism and practicality would of course create the necessity for obstacles in some areas.

  39. Nwestman7 says

    OK fine, so Ally and the team are co-ordinating and boosting men’s charities.
    The gap (and it’s a big one) is that radfems at uni and in councils are running men down and treating them badly. Sounds trivial? It’s extremely demoralising not to be able to speak freely without censure, to worry about a false allegation, to be excluded from grants (Brunel university) and to be very cautious about expressing sexuality. Ally has seen this at first hand, but has to come down hard on the MRAs in order to be seen to be a good guy and get the work and get the funding. Same with Glen P.
    Though the radfems still will block Ally and Glen. They end up saying they are ‘disappointed’. OK, but please at least acknowledge more often that the radfems are very much part of the problem.

  40. 123454321 says

    Nwestman7 – Ally is on a journey. It will take approximately 2 more years for him to get where you want him to be. When he finally succumbs and takes on the radfems, it will be brutal. Stick around and watch. I can’t wait, because as you say, they are absolutely a huge part of the problem. I gave up pussyfooting 10 years ago.

  41. 123454321 says

    And when feminist-driven, gravy train government and mass-media is forcibly supporting the narrative and blatantly ignoring men’s issues we’re not in a great position to be ‘only’ taking the nicely-nicely pussyfoot approach or the ‘stay silent and shut up’ approach that people like Carnation and co. so often preach. No chance, chaps. Time to wake up and see where the power really lies.

  42. lelapaletute says

    “It’s extremely demoralising not to be able to speak freely without censure, to worry about a false allegation, to be excluded from grants (Brunel university) and to be very cautious about expressing sexuality. ”

    As literally any woman could tell you. Try not being able to walk down the fucking STREET without getting shit for it. Sorry, I am well aware of the troubles men and boys face and fully supportive of action taken to improve things for them; but the fact you think the opinions of feminists are inhibiting men so much more than the insanely restrictive patriarchal definitions of what is it to be a ‘real man’ – which is the flip side of the tarnished old coin of what it is to be a ‘real woman’ that has seen women and their voices, talents and sexualities ground down by law, by culture and by violence for centuries, and that is STILL going on globally – then frankly you are missing the massive honking wood for the occasional spindly tree, and I can only assume this is because you’re more concerned with what women have got that they never used to have than with what men actually need to prosper.

  43. Carnation says

    @ Ally Fogg

    Getting back on topic, you finished up stating:

    “We do not (yet) have financial resources or a team of professional lobbyists stalking the corridors of power. But we do have rock solid arguments, hard evidence and, I believe, the tide of history on our side. Will that be enough? No, probably not. But it is a very good place to begin.”

    What are the coalition’s immediate plans? And in terms of voluntary work, what could people wanting to get involved do? And which type of people would you like to volunteer?

  44. 123454321 says

    lelapaletute: “Try not being able to walk down the fucking STREET without getting shit for it.”

    Ok, please can you share and describe your experiences? I’m genuinely interested to know what you perceive to be “getting shit” so frequency, type of location, time of day, who you are with, who dealt “the shit” what they did: actions, details around exact verbals and physicals inc. threats, unease would be really useful to know. Thanks lela and I am in total trust that you won’t elaborate unnecessarily or intentionally make things up, I would just like to know what your experiences are in terms of facts.

  45. Nwestman7 says

    [43] Lelapaletute. Agreed if you are talking globally, there is a huge issue. Ally’s post was really talking about the UK.
    Interesting that you are referencing how the patriarchy may well affect women – though can you be specific>
    “More concerned with what women have got that they never used to have….” Nope. I’m concerned with men being run down by radfems, and that affecting morale in a really bad way It’s like a reverse form of patriarchy. It’s really unpleasant.

  46. Lelapaletute says

    45 and 46: so you both seem to be asking me to outline how and when I have been given shit for being female in public. 123456etc even kindly offers to believe me! You prince.

    The thing is (a) if you wanted me to start at the beginning (with being harassed by adult men for my phone number on my bus home from school, in my school uniform, not just once but several times, not just one man but groups of them) and go all the way up to the present (the van full of men who honked at me from behind as they drove past me on my way home from work last week – should have seen their faces when they pulled up alongside and realised I was 7 mths pregnant with a ‘Baby On Board’ badge), via the innumerable times I have been touched up by strangers in clubs, stopped in the street or followed down it by men determined to give me their opinion on my face or my body, tapped on the arm on public transport so that I remove my earphones and put down my book so the tapper can then attempt to chat me up, the men I’ve seen in the street from about 50 ft away who I KNOW before they’ve even pulled level are going to catcall at me and then inevitably being proved right, the man who stalked me at my uni pub job for the best part of three years because I wouldn’t go on a date with him, the man at Glastonbury who stopped me as I made my way back from the heads to my tent at 6 in the morning to demand to know why I wasn’t wearing a bra under my t-shirt, the man who came up to my publicity stall about 6 months ago where I was giving out entry forms to a competition, who kept saying ‘so the first prize is a date with you? No? How about the second prize then? Aw, then is it the third prize, a date with you? Are you married then? I don’t see a ring?” All this in front of my junior team member, while both I and this man were AT WORK… OK, looks like I made a start. But this is the tip of the iceberg of one woman’s life. Not even a particularly conventionally attractive woman – I dread to think what the tall, leggy blondes must have to put up with. All of it is true, whatever you want to believe. And all of it made me at times furious, upset, irritated, embarrassed or afraid. Sometimes it feels like it is daily; it is never less than weekly (although has tailed off somewhat during my pregnancy, presumably because I look more like I belong to another man).

    Men DO NOT BELIEVE THIS. They don’t see it; so they don’t believe it. So women set up something like EverydaySexism.com to try to show you the constant relentlessness of it – and get accused of lying or exaggerating. What do you want us to do? Wear body cams? Oh yes, that’s been done too – and the woman who did it was told she wore clothes that were so revealing as to *encourage* the relentless catcalling she recorded as she walked through New York City (t-shirt, leggings as I recall).

    Seriously. When was the last time a total stranger came up to you to discuss your appearance with you, when you were quite clearly occupied with other things. How often, in broad daylight, in a busy street, has someone grabbed your arse or your chest? On the other hand, I have very seldom been threatened with violence when on a night out, I’m sure you have, frequently. If I cry in public, people are likely to offer me tissues and assistance – whereas if you do, they are likely to skirt round you and think you have a mental health problem. Men face trouble in the public arena we women don’t, as a rule. I acknowledge it. I sympathise with this, I condemn it, and I try to make it better in whatever way I can. But all I get for the issues I face as a woman are “tell me EXACTLY what happened/what you were wearing/what he said”, “take it as a compliment”, “that doesn’t sound so bad”, “it’s just banter”, “he’s just an old guy, he doesn’t mean it horrribly”, “are you sure that’s what they meant”, “it happens to men too you know, this one time this hen party…”, and of course my favourites “you’re exaggerating” and “I’m sure that’s a one-off, I’ve never seen anything like that happen”. And this is me restricting myself to street harassment, never mind the interpersonal and professional issues I’ve encountered, which are in many ways more serious (if less unrelenting).

    Yes, male suicide is a bigger issue than catcalling; but that’s comparing apples with oranges. Yes, men are by and large expected to do the pursuing in heterosexual relationships, which is a gendered burden; but imagine the choice that gives you, rather than continually being the subject of someone else’s pursuit or attention, regardless of the circumstances or your signals. We have DIFFERENT PROBLEMS. But we both have problems. I’m not in the business of dismissing male suffering; but when that suffering supposedly hinges on women trying to carve out a space for themselves in a world which historically and customarily dismissed, marginalised and oppressed them, I am really at a loss what women are supposed to do about it. Shut up, sit down, go backwards? It isn’t our fault if a lot of male happiness.fulfilment comes from exclusively occupying a disproportionate amount of the political, economic, social and cultural space. I am sorry if it hurts men to give some of that up to women; but it has been hurting women for centuries not to have it. We do not have to look at all far round the world to see where it still is hurting women terribly. We can’t row back on what we have achieved because it is hurting, to use your example, the morale of university-going boys.

    We all need to find a new way of sharing the space; and I really believe men’s activism – of the positive, forward-looking, solutions-focused type Ally represents – will be an essential part of that, and is a response to feminism of sorts in that it acknowledges the importance of focussing on the specific needs and circumstances of a specific gender. It also has to be intersectional, as does feminism – no sensible feminist believes in a black and white gendered privilege divide, where I am unequivocally less privileged than, for example, a male Somalian refugee. But a men’s rights activism that starts from the principle that feminism rather than patriarchy is what is hurting men, and that feminism is what needs to be stopped/rolled back is not one I can support, because what that demands is a return to a status quo that was systematically unfair, and would mean my daughter would lose her right to vote, to own property in her own right, to divorce a cruel partner and still have access to her children if she did, to work and earn her own money, to pursue higher education, to travel alone, to pursue a career in any area where she had skill and felt passion, to explore her sexuality without shame or fear. Feminism isn’t hurting men, it’s changing men (and women). And that had to be the case, because otherwise half the world were being crammed into a tiny fraction of it from birth to death, and it WASN’T FAIR.

    And righting that unfairness, and keeping it righted against the current backlash to reverse the process, is more important that whether male students at unibversities feel like they are being criticised. Doesn’t mean unfair behaviour or discriminatory treatment should be allowed; but feminist discourse being largely the tenor of academia is not the same as discrimination. It is just the result of a long battle to try to equalise women’s position in our society. Until relatively recently, any women in a university would have been in the substantial minority, and would not have been allowed to collect their degree. How do you think they felt in that environment then? Now they are a little more than half the student body, of course the general tone is more feminist. That doesn’t make it anti-male. As they say, when you are used to privilege, equality will feel like neglect, or even abuse.

    OK this has gone on a bit. Sorry. But I feel like we are so close now to getting where we need to be on gender equality, with really positive progressive voices for what men need as men coming into the arena so we can all push forward together against the oppressive gendered strictures we all suffer under, rather than feminism pushing against the patriarchal reaction against feminism, and I would love it if I could convince anyone on the anti feminism side that that is so much more fruitful an avenue to pursue than to keep railing against the rights women have gained from, effectively, servitude up. We are not the enemy. Please don’t be ours.

  47. 123454321 says

    Thanks for the thorough and detailed response. Not much time but, essentially, I agree with all that you say and I can’t agree more that the men who make a pest of themselves by, for example, honking their horns or making persistent attempts to grab your attention are just mindless, disrespectful knobheads. The more extreme examples you give, such as touching, groping, stalking etc. are worrying. So, yes, I agree and sympathise with the position.
    HOWEVER, I can’t help but point out that MY experiences of women are worthy of note and in my opinion just as negative. I doubt this will make you feel any better (it’s not intended to take the limelight away from your negative experiences) but I have been debagged when I was late teens by several female friend who thought it was funny (I was fucking furious but couldn’t let on and to this day I don’t know why I couldn’t react in the way that I probably should have), I have had women (at work and in my social circles) rub their hands all over my chest on so many occasions that I have literally lost count, I have been asked (jokingly and seriously) how big my cock and balls are to such an extent that it is now like water of a duck’s back, I have been cupped and groped on my genitals at least a couple of handfuls of times (pardon the intended pun) by women at clubs and also on the bus (believe this or not) where some girl kept leaning against me on a crowded bus (she knew EXACTLY what she was doing), I have had my arse pinched and squeezed by women in the workplace on countless occasions (I admit this hasn’t happened for at least 5 years, not sure why), I have been presented with pictures of men with erections and asked what I think, I’ve been presented with countless pictures (all this by women, by the way) of other stark naked, balls and cock hanging out pictures of men and also women and asked if I approve, I’ve been slapped by a woman in my social circles for literally absolutely no fucking reason at all other than she lost a game, I have had my appearance commented on so many times I just can’t recall, told what I am wearing is great or not so great by work colleagues, I have been asked if I’ve got a girlfriend by strangers, I have been verbally mocked, ridiculed, besmirched and vilified within my social and working circles just for being a man, told that we’re all useless, stupid idiots who are shit at everything and can’t multitask, told I should get on with everything and man up, when I’m ill I always have man-flu, apparently, witnessed balding men being verbally attacked for laughs, seen fat, male friends insulted by women (and men) because of their weight, told that I could be a potential rapist, had it rammed down my throat that all men are perverts (even to my face), been made to feel like, as a man, can’t be trusted with younger girls, put up with years and years of anti-male, TV and media advertising shit, been targeted by at least 2 or 3 nutcase gold-diggers, who were more interested in learning more about my bank account than me, oh, nearly forgot about the women who have walked into the toilets on me and commented on my appendage, I remember the girl who asked me to have sex in the club toilets (no fucking way to that little sweetheart, whom I might have at best caught something from, if not get accused of rape, as her word would have been stronger than mine), etc. etc. etc. I could go on and on and on…and yes, beyond all of that, there is the case of violence against men on the street, which I have also been affected by on more than a few occasions, and once I’ve gotten past that little lot (probably only about 2% of the entire story) I’ve got all of the higher level issues going against my gender that Ally and Mike Buchanan talk about as well as the fact that virtually every single media platform allows space or time to talk about male issues (Government, BBC, Education system, whatever…)…you’re probably sick of listening by now and I’m sick of repeating myself….I said I had little time….the system is stacked against men and boys and harassment is NOT only about harassment against women, i’m sure YOU can see that but not many can!

    So what are we both trying to prove, lela? I don’t know. But one thing’s for sure, most people reading your post will have feelings of sympathy and anger towards the perpetrators. They will recognise your position as victim and feel empathy towards you and the general plight of women. Where as my post? Well, they’ll probably just think I’m lucky, or at least that I should man up!

    By the way, I know what a difficult time it is for you when you’re 7 or 8 months pregnant so I genuinely hope that my post doesn’t stress you out. Take it easy, especially if this is your first! And I can’t help wonder whether you’re having a boy or a girl, not as it matters, but it will change the way you think in 10-20 years time if it’s a boy..

    http://www.unilad.co.uk/featured/opinion-is-sexual-harassment-really-always-a-one-way-street/

  48. Nwestman7 says

    [49]. Good post, generally.

    “I am sorry if it hurts men to give some of that up to women; but it has been hurting women for centuries not to have it. We do not have to look at all far round the world to see where it still is hurting women terribly. We can’t row back on what we have achieved because it is hurting, to use your example, the morale of university-going boys”.
    I keep saying it’s the UK and Europe. It’s not ‘giving some stuff up’. It’s not ‘rowing back’. It’s the ‘positive discrimination’ that is unfair. It’s the slagging off that is so demoralising. You would never run down any other group in the fascist way that radfems do.

    “But a men’s rights activism that starts from the principle that feminism rather than patriarchy is what is hurting men”, They both do.
    “Feminism is what needs to be stopped/rolled back is not one I can support”,
    No it’s the third wave that is fascist that is the problem.

    “And righting that unfairness, and keeping it righted against the current backlash to reverse the process, is more important that whether male students at universities feel like they are being criticised. Doesn’t mean unfair behaviour or discriminatory treatment should be allowed; but feminist discourse being largely the tenor of academia is not the same as discrimination”.
    Yes it is I’m afraid.

    “It is just the result of a long battle to try to equalise women’s position in our society. Until relatively recently, any women in a university would have been in the substantial minority, and would not have been allowed to collect their degree. How do you think they felt in that environment then? Now they are a little more than half the student body, of course the general tone is more feminist. That doesn’t make it anti-male. As they say, when you are used to privilege, equality will feel like neglect, or even abuse”.
    But it’s not equality. It’s positive discrimination and the creation of myths that make all men to be terrible creatures that has really created the issue.
    “an avenue to pursue than to keep railing against the rights women have gained from, effectively, servitude up”.
    There is great support for the rights women have gained from. Though what feminists care in any way about men’s issues and will they ever stop running us into the ground?

  49. lelapaletute says

    @50: thanks for the response. I am genuinely sorry so many of the horrible things you describe have happened to you. And This really wasn’t intended to be an episode of the oppression olympics – you asked me, so I told you (some) of the incidents that have happened. I know from my personal friendship circle that my experience as a woman is highly typical, and in many ways I’ve been luckier than most. From my male friends, who always express total shock and surprise when I try to give them an idea of the scale and frequency of the harassment I’ve experienced, I would not have guessed your experience is typical – they’ve never said. But I am entirely open to the possibility that this may well not be because they have not been victims of harassment, but because they have been conditioned either not to view it as harassment (“count yourself lucky mate” etc), or to repress the negative feelings they have about such harassment, and either to dismiss their own feelings or certainly not to express them. No-one should be treated that way. Where you get to the larger cultural environment, I would agree with you that the box men are forced into in media stereotype (certainly in the ‘lower’ forms of cultural output like advertising) is as ridiculous and restrictive as the one into which women are forced, in a different way. And as I say, there are a lot of ways patriarchy hurts men that it doesn’t hurt women (and vice versa). I just think there has to be a way we (i.e. all of the we who recognise the status quo stinks, rather than those with a nostalgic wish to return to the good old days when everyone knew their place, when men were ‘real’ men and women were talking livestock) can come to an accommodation and fight the various shitty things together, or at very least side by side rather than trying to trip each other up all the time. *sigh* Probably the dream of an idiot, but who knows, one day…

    Thanks also for the well-wishes (and to you too, Gjenganger @51!). It’s all very exciting. And yes, first one, and she’s to be a girl (as far as they can tell these things). Which means there’ll be a bunch of things I probably won’t have to worry about for her, and a different bunch of things I will. But tbh, I don’t think I have to have a son to be alert to the struggles men face. I have a partner who I adore, a brother who drives me demented but who I love very much and worry for regardless, I have a father who was my primary carer when I was a child and did a bloody wonderful job of it by and large. I have a lot of male friends. I love men and boys, and I want the best for them. Just not at the expense of women and girls having a fair crack of the whip as well. I wish you would believe me that this is the case for the vast majority of women. But I can appreciate your experiences may not have led you to that point of view. I certainly believe the reverse is true for the majority of men (at least in my country and culture), and I consider myself fortunate to live in this time where men and women are, by and large and more than at any other time, trying to work together and give each other room to be and to do whatever they want to be. I think that situation is currently under greater threat than it has been for a while though, with the right-wing backlash we are currently witnessing…

    52: thanks for the civil response, but I’m afraid just quoting my points and saying they’re not true doesn’t really give me anything I can respond to substantively. I don’t suppose we’ll reach a point of understanding, but it’s nice that we can be polite to each other at least.

  50. WineEM says

    You know, I think this will probably upset those on the left (and Mike Buchanan a bit too, actually) but I think one of the reasons why feminism has been so successful is because it has enjoyed a very similar dynamic to Thatcherism.

    Basically, it has helped make things nicer and more amenable to those at the top (those doing quite well already, and society’s various elites), whilst really hammering down on some men (i.e. those of lower socio-economic status, and working class communities, whose fabric has relied on effective male bread winners.)

    All right, so one aspect of this is obviously assortative mating, which has been spoken of many times, and I don’t think many would seriously dispute. But I think also when people like Ally Fogg have written of ‘patriarchy,’ I think they’ve wrongly tended to define this as merely the pursuit of power and wealth by (mostly) male elites in opposition to the interests of women, whereas, actually, a blindingly obvious priority for alpha males at the top is to consolidate all the women and wine for themselves in addition to those former aims, not least through the exclusion of other male competitors.

    Thus the Harman/Guardian style of feminism which places men and women in socio-economic positional competition with each other and a desire by powerful men at the top to sideline other men make very natural bedfellows.

    This is so incredibly plain to see that I’m surprised it needs pointing out, yet the failure of the UK official commetariat to document what’s there right in front of them never ceases to amaze.

    On this level, I was kind of glad to wring a clarification out of Ally that feminism being a movement which radically takes on the forces of patriarchy was not necessarily what it actually is but rather what in its best form (if that does even exist) he would like to see it as being.

    In the meantime, privately educated multi-millionaire Richard Bacon can stand up in the commons and be dismissive of other men, because as a fat-middle aged male he implies he is somehow representative of them. As if.

  51. 123454321 says

    lela, I think we are two sides of the same coin, fighting for the same levels of respect and decency all round. You sound like a truly wonderful person and one thing is for sure: your future daughter is guaranteed to have a virtuous, level-headed Mother with good moral judgement and rock solid values. I genuinely feel embarrassed on behalf of all those planks out there who beep their horns at women, make lewd comments, grope and harass etc. they really are a bunch of low-life tossers – usually the same tools who hang around town centres with no shirts on, low slung trousers, and wearing a baseball cap the wrong way around. Once they’ve raided the local lunchtime chippy, they disperse in packs of three as they make their way back to their vans, usually parked illegally, before driving home beeping their horns at women in a desperate attempt to prove their Alpha maleness. But how on Earth are we supposed to police these total planks walking our streets and driving around in big, rectangular tin cans? I despair, I really do. I hope your Brother isn’t one of these!

  52. That Guy says

    @ Lelapaletute
    To clarify, I wasn’t doubting you at all, rather supporting your statement that anyone with open eyes can see the abuse that women get for having the audacity to be female in public. Sorry for confusion!

  53. HuckleAndLowly says

    @Lelapaletute 49

    But a men’s rights activism that starts from the principle that feminism rather than patriarchy is what is hurting men, and that feminism is what needs to be stopped/rolled back is not one I can support, because what that demands is a return to a status quo that was systematically unfair…

    I have to respond to this. My view is that feminism is hurting men AND patriarchy is hurting men, and the dominant strands of feminism are based on, and reinforce, patriarchal views. I’m all for dismantling patriarchal structures that assign men and women to different roles in society (the patriarchal division that says men = more aggressive, more violent, providers and protectors of women, while women = less aggressive, less violent, carers, in need of protection). I’m disagree with feminist organizations that support and reinforce these patriarchal ideas. Take domestic violence, for example, where feminist organizations go out of their way reinforce this patriarchal division. I had years of domestic violence from my wife when our child was young, and remember walking around, pushing the buggy, past ads from these organizations showing men as violent abusers and women as victims, or reminding me that “it’s a crime to hit a woman” (but not a crime to hit me, right?). For a long time my wife said that her hitting me wasn’t domestic violence “because I’m a man”: where did that idea come from, I wonder? (it’s depressing to think that attitudes promulgated by domestic violence charities are used by abusers to justify their abuse). There was one campaign (“Man up! stop domestic violence”) that I initially read as encouraging me to stand up and do something about being abused – but I’d misread it: it was actually about men avoiding their apparently innate tendency to be violent abusers. Feminist charities such as Women’s Aid do very selective reporting on domestic violence stats (as Ally has discussed numerous times) to reinforce this patriarchal view of men as the violent ones and women in need of protection. Even when they do accept that some women are abusers and some men abused (that some people fall outside the patriarchal boxes) they do their best to put men and women back in their correct patriarchal slots by arguing that women’s domestic violence is only in self-defence (I was quite shocked when I heard Polly Neate, head of WA, asked on Womens Hour about men who are killed as a result of domestic violence, and answering that those women were killing in self defence and obviously should not go to prison or be considered as murderers).

    Of course, there’s lots of different strands of feminism. This strand (the one that reinforces patriarchy) is the dominant one, however, probably because its “patriarchy-friendly” and so fits in nicely into the patriarchal structures around us. I would gladly get rid of this strand of feminism, just as I would gladly get rid of other things that reinforce the patriarchal world-view.

  54. WineEM says

    Ally on social media: “I spend a lot of time with feminists” .

    Stop the press, fleet street, it’s man bites dog time! 😉

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