Yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021, the House of Commons debated International Men’s Day in Westminster Hall. Nicholas Fletcher (Con), Scott Benton (Con) and Kemi Badenoch (Con) all gave good speeches. The whole debate is here.
Kemi Badenoch deserves a shout out for mentioning the inclusion of parental alienation in the DA Act Guidance, and praising Phillip Davies for his work on that issue. She also gave Martin Seager and male psychology a mention – excellent.
Gavin Newlands (SNP), on the other hand, seems to have been confused. Perhaps there was an error on his order papers. He appears to have thought the debate was about Violence Against Women and Girls, or perhaps that it was International Women’s Day. Here are some of his contributions,
“International Men’s Day is anathema to me. It is a rather cruel joke concocted in response to feminism, women’s rights and International Women’s Day. My personal view is that international days are usually for the oppressed, the underprivileged or those facing inequality. It is shameful that in 2021 International Women’s Day is still all too necessary, and even sadder that the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is even more important than ever. It is the bitterest of ironies that this men’s debate takes place today, on that very day. It is also called White Ribbon Day and it marks the start of 16 days of activism.”
“I want to go on to talk about men’s achievements, although I doubt they will be the kinds of achievements that Members want talked about today. I am not sure that the hon. Member for Blackpool South will be keen on my remarks. It is fairly easy to make sure that men’s achievements are celebrated regularly when, essentially, the entirety of western society has been run for the convenience and security of men over women since God was a boy. That has also meant that men’s other achievements—the ones that are not so positive—are also pushed down the pecking order.”
“The Femicide Census, published last year, found that more than 1,400 women and girls were killed by men in the decade starting 2009. We know that high-profile cases, for whatever reason, capture the headlines: Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa, Nicole Smallman and so on. They are the tragic tip of a much larger iceberg of endemic male violence against females: 92% of defendants in prosecutions relating to domestic abuse are male; 84% of victims relating to sexual offences are female; one in three teenage girls have experienced some form of sexual violence from their partner; and one in five have experienced it since the age of 16. Incidentally, I thoroughly recommend that Members watch the BBC Three documentary by Zara McDermott on rape culture and sexism in our schools, which I watched last night. It is essential viewing.”
“It is men who are overwhelmingly responsible for the violence and misery suffered by millions of our families, friends or colleagues—misery that they suffer purely because they are women. Frankly, I am a bit sick of hearing unadulterated mince about how hard done by men are becoming, as we have heard in this debate as well. We are not the ones who are afraid to go out on the streets, especially after dark, with this time of year effectively keeping many women prisoners in their own homes.”
“We are not the ones who are outnumbered two to one in this place and who have had the right to vote on the same basis as men for less than a century. We are not the ones, 50 years after the Equal Pay Act 1970, still sitting at the sharp end of the gender pay gap. It is not women who are setting the pay rates. Under 40% of FTSE 100 board members are women, and only eight of those companies are headed by women.”
Nicholas Fletcher, bless him, interrupted the diatribe at that point with this bit of reality…
“On the point about how women are not doing as well as men, I pulled together some statistics before the debate to see where we are, especially in Doncaster. Some 27 of the 32 primary school heads are female, and four out of seven secondary school heads are female; chief constable for South Yorkshire Police, female; Doncaster district commander and chief superintendent, female; senior coroner, female; South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue chief fire officer and chief executive, female; chief executive of Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, female; Doncaster Council directors, two female and three male, and assistant directors nine female and four male; elected Mayor, female; opposition council leader, female; chair of the board of Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, female. Shall I go on? The idea that women are completely oppressed is definitely and utterly incorrect.”
But Gavin Newlands was not to be stopped…
“The patriarchy was not created out of thin air; it is a product of how we and our forefathers have viewed the world and women’s places in it in relation to men. For far too long, that place has been the second-class section of society. Some of those behaviours and attitudes were on display in Parliament when it came to ratifying the Istanbul convention, which is the gold standard in preventing violence against women and girls.”
“I campaigned pretty hard on that issue, and indeed, I spoke about it during my Westminster Hall debate on men’s role in ending violence against women and girls. I was thoroughly delighted when my then colleague Eilidh Whiteford was able to make the ratification of that convention a statutory obligation for the Government. We are now coming up to the fifth anniversary of the Second Reading of her Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017, however, and we still have not ratified the convention.”
At this point the Chairman, Virendra Sharma, had had enough and intervened reminding Mr Newlands to “Please confine your speech to International Men’s Day and not to violence against women and girls”. Quite right. But the likes of Mr Newlands cannot tolerate the spotlight of concern being shone upon males at all, ever, not even for 1 hour 22 minutes out of the year. There’ll be close on 650 MPs, bar a few, regurgitating the same stuff he said on a virtually daily basis over the rest of the year, decade, century.
Newlands did not do the Chair the honour of obeying his instruction, however. He was not to be stopped. Unfortunately the short-of-facts, ignorant-of-history, compassionless, sanctimonious, virtue-signaling, One Good Man carried right on,
“To go back to International Men’s Day, as you hoped I would, Mr Sharma, let us talk about the full achievements of men: centuries of subjugating and belittling half of the population, and having to be dragged kicking and screaming to give women the vote. I appreciate that it is all very negative looking backwards, but my point is that we need to accept the reality. Far too many men still do not accept the reality or take responsibility for these actions, which we need to look back on and accept before we can move forward. These actions included locking single mothers up in homes with their babies until the right adoptive parents came along, at which point the male-run state forced those mothers to sign over their own children. That happened not once or twice but hundreds of thousands of times across these isles.”
“Yes, there are issues and challenges specific to men, which must be highlighted and tackled: the attainment gap in education, the lower life expectancies linked to poorer health and care, and the huge human cost of prison and recidivism. However, let us not pretend that the balance sheet is not tipped hugely in favour of men and against women. That culture and our deeply ingrained structures in society contribute to a toxic masculinity that is to the detriment of both men and women.”
Yes, he actually used the phrase “toxic masculinity”. And still he ranted on…
“The combination of our culture and our deeply ingrained societal structure is toxic, but we are gradually moving beyond a model of families and households that treat one partner as inferior towards a model where gender roles are ignored.”
“I chair the all-party parliamentary group for the White Ribbon campaign (why am I not surprised), and I am proud to be an ambassador for both White Ribbon UK and White Ribbon Scotland, whose badge I wear on my lapel today. That campaign, which was referenced already by the hon. Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, was set up in the wake of a horrific massacre in Montreal, where a self-identified “anti-feminist” murdered 14 women in cold blood. That was in 1989. Decades later we are still seeing that toxic masculinity (again!) embed itself in large parts of society with the rise of the incel movement. What links those is a learned behaviour of men and boys towards women and girls. That behaviour and the social cues and norms that back it up have to be challenged by men—all of us.”
“We have to acknowledge the wrongs we have perpetrated on women for millennia. We must each do our bit to try and roll those wrongs back for the future. The fight for gender equality needs action at the top, from our Governments to our businesses, employers and public services. It also needs individual action from every one of us. We need to tell our friends when their behaviour is unacceptable and tell our colleagues when their actions—while perhaps unintended or unknowing—are helping to continue the cycle of disrespect.”
“If International Men’s Day is to be something worth commemorating each year, it should be as a reflection and acknowledgement of the damage and human suffering that our place, versus that of women, has caused and is still causing. It should be a time when we come together to discuss and debate how best to change our own behaviours to support women and build a better, more equal and fairer society.”
Kemi Badenoch rebuked him in gentle Parliamentary fashion, saying,
“I do not believe that every man is a risk. There are some who have committed atrocious crimes, but I treat people as individuals. My experience—whether in my family, with my father, brother or son, or with my male hon. Friends in this House—has been overwhelmingly positive. As someone who is black, female and an immigrant, when I hear the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North say such things, I can tell he is saying them to sound positive; however, the way he makes those comments is not as constructive as the way Government Members make theirs. Their approach is the better way to resolve those issues. I am very happy to share more of my views on the topic outside of the debate.”