Sunday, 26 February 2017

Having my cake and eating it

Son, Brother, Uncle, Husband, Father, Ex-boy, Man

I thought growing up through the 1960s, 70s and 80s that the case for gender equality had been made and the world was entering a better phase as far as Being A Woman and Being A Man. But something happened during the 1980s and in the decades since so that the Twentieth Century advancement of many civilising ideas to improve international societies through gender equality has been halted. Feminism now seems to be a contentious concept rather than the patently, blatantly, unquestionably, obviously, undeniably sensible idea it really is. As a son, brother, uncle, husband, father, ex-boy and man I cannot for the life of me see why anyone thinks there is anything wrong with equal pay, equal opportunities and equal rights between women and men.

My test of Feminism

When male students tried to challenge me about being a feminist during my days as a teacher, I asked two questions:
1) Do you think ALL males are superior to ALL females?
2) Do you think a man should be paid MORE for doing the same job for the same hours as your mother, sister, niece, wife or girlfriend?
If the answer to both questions is YES, you are NOT a feminist. If the answer to both questions is NO, you ARE a feminist. If you are not sure, you need to think more about it and keep asking questions. Anyone who thinks feminism is a movement that wants anything other than equality is perverting the idea of feminism.

Perverting Feminism

Back in August 2016 Philip Davies (Conservative MP for Shipley) made a speech at a Justice for Men and Boys (J4MB) conference. (Click here for an account.) For the record, I’m all in favour of Justice for Men, Boys, Women, Girls and Humans of All Types and Flavours. Justice is a good thing. I think everyone favours Justice. King Arthur favoured Justice, and that’s good enough for me. The trouble with J4MB as an organisation is that they issue awards for Gormless, Lying, Toxic and Whiny Feminist of the Month. It’s not an organisation, therefore, that makes the world a better place; in my opinion J4MB has calcified into a throwback group with knuckle-dragging attitudes. But my MP decided to speak there and used a phrase that has now been stolen and reclaimed as the name of a group I’ve recently joined.

Shipley Feminist Zealots

Philip Davies told the J4MB conference:
“In this day and age the feminist zealots really do want women to have their cake and eat it….They fight for their version of equality on all the things that suit women – but are very quick to point out that women need special protections and treatment on other things.” 
Davies’s misconception is that women and men are currently starting from an equal base so special protections are unecessary for women. If only that were true…. No-one is preventing Davies – or anyone else for that matter – standing up (and organising conferences and demos) for the rights of boys and men. It’s not an EITHER/OR scenario. Philip Davies claims to be in favour of democracy but his favoured attack in emails is to bully and patronise constituents who disagree with his stance on issues (I have personal experience of this, as do other members of my family.)

Having cake and eating it

To his credit Philip Davies always replies quickly and “robustly” to contacts and is willing to engage in personal appearances. So yesterday he listened and responded to the group I have felt compelled to join: Shipley Feminist Zealots. The meeting openly discussed with Philip Davies:
  • the Istanbul convention
  • sex education and PSHE in schools
  • pay rates, rights and experiences for disabled people
  • car parking for carers at NHS sites
  • honour killings
  • his regular parliamentary filibustering
  • his insults about constituents in newspaper reports and emails
Many thanks to the organisers of the meeting with Philip Davies. Many thanks to all who baked cakes (I couldn’t stop myself eating some!) And special thanks to Jenny who chaired the event with skill, patience and grace.