Under pressure from progressive activists, the University of York has canceled an event to address men’s issues on International Men’s Day this Thursday, on the grounds that women’s inequality is more important.
One needn’t buy into ‘manosphere’ identity politics or support the Men’s Rights Movement to recognise that men and boys are disproportionately affected by some social problems. The soaring male suicide rate in the west, which far outstrips that of women, is well-known, as is the growing problem of declining male mental health.
Other issues that overwhelmingly affect men, such as workplace fatalities and homelessness, are also well-documented. The widening gap in educational attainment between men and women is another area where men are falling behind. One would think that progressivism, a movement concerned with equality, would be eager to discuss the causes of, and solutions to, these inequities.
When the University of York’s equality and diversity committee announced they would be marking International Men’s Day, it led to an immediate backlash from feminist students and activist professors, 200 of whom signed an open letter urging the university to cancel the event.
In a brazen abandonment of progressive values, the letter describes the ideal of “equality for everyone” as “misogynistic rhetoric.” It also complained that organisers did not “seek a dialogue on such issues with women’s equality campaigns or initiatives” before making their decision to mark International Men’s Day. “We believe that men’s issues cannot be approached in the same way as unfairness and discrimination towards women, because women are structurally unequal to men,” the letter concluded.
It was signed by a number of faculty members as well as students, including the head of the Department of History, a physics professor, and a large number of lecturers. Students and faculty from the sociology and literature departments were particularly well-represented amongst the signers.
The University quickly caved in to the protesters’ demands, conceding virtually all of their points. In an announcement, which can be read in full at this link, the University of York said:
We are sorry that this has caused unhappiness for some members of the University community who felt that the statement was inappropriate and should never have been issued. The intention was to draw attention to some of the issues men tell us they encounter and to follow this up by highlighting in particular the availability of mental health and welfare support which we know men are sometimes reluctant to access.
The Equality and Diversity Committee is clear that the main focus of gender equality work should continue to be on the inequalities faced by women, and in particular the under-representation of women in the professoriate and senior management.
…the statement marking this year’s International Men’s Day has been withdrawn and we can confirm that we will no longer be marking International Men’s Day 2015.
The decision has drawn a counter-backlash. Writing at The Telegraph, mental health campaigner Glen Poole said the University of York had put “suicidal men” and the people who advocate for their support in a “double bind,” on the one hand being told by public health campaigners to get men talking about their issues, and on the other being told by feminist campaigners that they should shut up.
The controversy at the University of York follows close on the heels of another fracas related to International Men’s Day in the UK. Jess Phillips MP, a Labour Parliamentarian and feminist, recently came under fire for mocking the idea of a day of House of Commons debates on issues like male suicide and mental health. The debate, proposed by the Conservative MP Phillip Davies, would also have taken place on International Men’s Day.
As Martin Daubney recently reported in The Sunday Times, male political consciousness is on the rise. As the new identity politics clashes with the old, we are likely to see more controversies akin to the one at the University of York.