There is a remarkable article in Nottingham University’s student magazine – Impact – from a woman called Sian Boyle who has had a “light bulb moment” and noticed her own sexism against men which she says is part of a “new and permissible” anti-male sexism that blights society.
Setting aside that I can hear the voice of Neil Lyndon saying “I pointed out that there was an atmosphere of intolerance surrounding men in my article in the Sunday Times Magazine in 1990 which was probably before you were born Sian!” – I wanted to share some of Boyle’s article with you because it’s a viewpoint that is as radical and relevant as it was 21 years ago. She says:
“I realised that I was a sexist a proper sexist, which is as bad as any racism or homophobia. I, along with every female I’d ever known, had my own tales of man-woe, but it goes deeper than being stung by men. Within society, there is now a new and permissible form of sexism — that of anti-male sexism, which is purporting subconscious ideologies within society that men are less emotionally (or otherwise) intelligent, and that they are generally inferior to women. Without even exploring child custody rights, pension ages, paternity rights or woman-instigated domestic violence, the evidence for male-oppressive sexism is rife within the media”.
The rest of the article – which you can click here to read – focusses mostly on examples of “sexist” advertising and is dismissed by male and female commentators as “rubbish”, “drivel” and “offensive”.
Interesting to note that once again people think it is “offensive” to focus on the disadvantage and discrimination that men face – for another recent example read our post Is International Men’s Day offensive?
And though the examples are fairly light they are symptomatic of an attitude that ‘men and boys don’t matter’ that filters right through our culture in a way that damages not just men – but women and children too
In a world where ‘men don’t matter’ we end up with
- 1 in 4 men dying before they reach retirement and 40% dying prematurely
- The male/female retirement age still not equal until 2020
- Boys underperforming girls at every stage of education
- 80% of children excluded from schools being boys
- Young men 2.5 times more likely to die before 25
- 75% of suicide victims male (with 10 male suicides every day)
- 70% of murder victims – men
- Men twice as likely to be victims of violent crime
- The majority of rough sleepers, prisoners and drink and drug addicts – men
- Men being 70% more likely to die of cancer
- The majority of parents separated from their children –men
- Men less likely to go to university
- Male graduates 50% more likely to be unemployed
- Women in their 20s paid more than men in their 20s
- Men 40% of domestic violence victims but twice as likely to tell no-one
- Male victims of rape half as likely to tell the police
In a society where ‘men don’t matter’, where ‘boys don’t cry’ where women have problems and men ARE problems – all of the above passes un-noticed – and it impacts not just men, but the women and children in their lives too
Does that mean sexism against women doesn’t happen – of course not – and there are still issues that women face that need addressing
The sexism against men that Sian highlights may seem trivial to some but they are part of a culture that produces all of the problems listed above through an attitude that “men don’t matter”
What’s great to see is brave women like Sian being prepared to stand up and make these statements in the face of being people finding what she says “offensive” and dismissing it as drivel and rubbish.
There seems to be a shift happening on university campuses. In recent years there has been some notable resistance to focussing on men’s issues on UK campuses. For example:
- The formation of two different university men’s groups in Manchester and Oxford in 2009 was opposed by some university women’s groups
- A facebook group called “We oppose men’s groups on our campuses” was set up in response
- A Executive Member of Leeds University’s Student Union blogged in opposition to IMD under the headline “An International Man’s Day – Do Me A Favour”
- A male student at LSE launched a legal battle against the Gender Studies department for being anti-male called Sexism Busters
On a positive note, Staffordshire University listed International Men’s Day in its calendar of events and a special mention must go to the Gender Equality Team at Exeter University who used International Men’s Day this year to raise awareness of male cancers, to raise money for a cancer charity and to encourage the celebration of male role models.
AND this year The Men’s Network has 8 Brighton University students – male and female – volunteering 50 hours each to support work with men and boys in our city.
For articles on the portrayal of men in advertising we recommend Is Boots Ad Sexist? and Why DOES TV love to portray men as idle feckless idiots.
Thanks to Sian Boyle of Nottingham University’s Impact Magazine for a brave and brilliant article.