The following review of The First National Conference for Men and Boys has been submitted by delegate Dan Bell.
Click here now to read feedback from other delegates or check out Dan’s review first…..
If ever I am unfortunate enough to find myself having to explain why men and boys do not live the lives of privilege in comparison to women that we are so often told they do, the phrase I return to is: The world is not flat.
What I mean by this is that the received wisdom that men and boys are inherently the advantaged sex is so deeply ingrained within our culture, that it often resists any amount of evidence to the contrary. Indeed, to suggest otherwise is to risk being denounced as a heretic.
The range of concerns raised at the First National Conference for Men and Boys confirmed just how false this common perception of universal male privilege is. The day was packed with sessions, each addressing a different and fundamental area of concern — from the shocking disparity in how much more is spent on healthcare and public services for women, to the widening education gap, to the on-going scandal of Britain’s family courts.
But the conference also offered the beginnings of a way forward. One of the huge difficulties in advancing the needs of men in any discussion of these issues, is the sense of being an isolated voice shouting truth into a hurricane of misinformation and dogma. It is easy to lose heart, or give in to anger, when you feel you are fighting a just cause without support.
It is also far too easy to shame men into silence, either for somehow being weak for acknowledging their vulnerability, or for being bullies because they are demanding their legitimate concerns be heard.
This is why men and women who care about what happens to boys and men in our society need to stay in touch with each other, form networks, share their experiences and support one another. This is the seed that has been planted by The Men’s Network.
It is just the beginning and there is still so much to be done, with different approaches needed for each issue – from the inspirational personal development ethos of abandofbrothers, to the stringent detail-driven campaigns for health funding by organisations such as CALM.
But if each area of work can feel part of a single movement, they will become more than the sum of their parts. If we calmly and firmly speak the truth in unison, eventually people will hear it.