The Global Campaign for Men and Boys
Glen Poole continues his look back on 2013 and picks his 50 top stories highlighting the many different inequalities that men and boys in the UK and beyond face:
19. Campaigner for equal rights of male victims kills himself
April saw the sudden death by apparent suicide of the Canadian men’s rights campaigner Earl Silverman. Silverman was a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of his former wife and struggled to access help:
“When I went into the community looking for some support services, I couldn’t find any. There were a lot for women, and the only programs for men were for anger management,” he said recently. “As a victim, I was re-victimized by having these services telling me that I wasn’t a victim, but I was a perpetrator.”
Three years ago Silverman set out to help other men in his position by turning his own home in Calgary into the Men’s Alternative Safe House (MASH). Around 20 men, some with children, used the service before it closed last month.
Silverman, who self-funded the venture, was unable to keep up with the bills and closed the shelter and sold his home last month. He was found hanging in the garage.
Around $5,000 was raised by men’s rights activists in the wake of the death to establish and Earl Silverman Center for male victims of domestic violence, though the future of this project remains uncertain.
20. Scouting and Guiding confirm their sexism towards men
In 2013 the Guides declared itself to be the “ultimate feminist organisation” with the arrival of its new chief executive, Julie Bentley who aims to “use her frontline campaign experience to direct Girlguiding UK’s growing work to give girls a voice on the social issues impacting girls’ futures.
The worldwide Scouting and Guiding movement, founded in England, has more than 40 million members and attracts more nations to its global “Jamborees” than the Summer Olympics. It is an internationally significant movement and we now have a situation in the UK where Scouting is concerned about women and girls being equally represented at every level—but doesn’t consider gender issues from a male or female perspective. Meanwhile, Guiding is taking a much more gender conscious approach in terms of issues like violence against women and girls, but doesn’t concern itself with the equal representation of men and boys in the movement and in fact bans men from its leadership.
Bentley has so far defended the status quo telling the BBC that girls need access to girl-only spaces and girls should also have the choice to join the Scouts. Some girls join both Scouts and Guides but male-only spaces are now banned from the movement.
I explored the changing gender landscape in Scouting/Guiding in my Good Men Project feature “who took the boy out of boy scouts?”
21. Girl Writes What lectures Libertarians on gender equality
This is not so much a news story rather a plug for one of the most consistently watchable anti-feminist thinkers on gender issues in the English-speaking world. Karen Straughan is a divorced Canadian mother of three who has become a YouTube hit with the men’s rights community under the screen name girlwriteswhat.
In April, Karen got out of the kitchen (where she films most of her broadcasts) and headed to New York to lecture the Libertarians on gender equality. The talk is particularly notable for it deconstruction of the idea that men oppress women in the way that whites oppressed blacks.
22. 70% of child abductors are mothers
The Guardian carried interviews with two fathers whose children had been abducted by their mothers.
According the article the number of children abducted and taken abroad by a parent has risen by 88% in just under a decade, according to official government figures. About 270 new cases were reported in 2003-4, while last year there were more than 500 new reported cases. According to the charity Reunite International, in 70% of cases the abductor is the mother.
The Rights of Man blog reminded readers that the BBC had previously published a story revealing that “74% of people thought fathers were most likely to abduct their children”.
23. Feminist campaigners oppose university men’s group
The University of Toronto became a symbolic battleground in the gender wars in 2013 with violent opposition to a series of talks by leading experts on men’s issues rapidly becoming a cause célèbre for men’s rights activists around the globe.
A broadcast by CityNews Toronto described this controversy as “an ugly battle…a battle of the sexes [that] includes allegations of hate speech, free speech, bullying, harassment [and] even violence”.
The video footage of feminist protestors trying to prevent Dr Warren Farrell, the creator of the proposed White House Council on Boys & Men, from delivering a talk on ‘the boy crisis in education’ was certainly shocking.
24. University Men’s Officers still opposed by sexist NUS
The debate over whether University student unions should have men’s officers bubbled up again in 2013 in Manchester. One male student, Matt Fenton, proposed that the union should have a men’s officer but the idea was rejected by the union assembly. The student newspaper, The Mancunion, ran an opinion piece before the vote called “the executive team doesn’t need a men’s officer“, though the most insightful opinions come below the line form a commentator called “Joe” who said:
“If, when a man tries to raise his gender-specific issues he gets told to “man up” and “check his privilege,” that’s precisely the reason he needs an outlet that *won’t* judge him for it. *That is precisely why he needs an officer*. It’s not about spreading misogyny or fighting back against women.
“Men have unique needs that can’t be addressed the same way we address general issues, and they aren’t currently addressed. It sucks that that difference exists, but it’s a fact of life. What’s the best way to address them? Appoint somebody who’s job it is to understand and cater to men.”
Meanwhile the National Union of Students maintains its policy of supporting a drive for a “women’s officer” in every university whilst simultaneously opposing any men’s officers being elected
25. Calls to helpline for male victims treble thanks to Coronation Street
Mark Brooks of The ManKind Initiative thanked Coronation Street for making a difference to the lives of male victims of domestic abuse in May
Following Coronation Street’s success at the British Soap Awards for its cutting edge domestic abuse storyline involving the character Tyrone Dobbs as a male victim, UK charity The ManKind Initiative, believes the storyline has made a difference to hundreds of thousands of men who suffer in silence behind their front door.
The charity experienced treble the number of calls to its national helpline when the episodes featured the domestic abuse storyline (including from mothers and sisters wanting help for their son or brother). One caller remarked that after seeing the storyline with his abusive partner, he wrote the number of the charity’s helpline number down, called and has now escaped from the relationship he was in.
26. Masculinity is in crisis (again)
One of the biggest surges of interest in men’s issues in the media this year was sparked by Diane Abbott MP, who delivered a speech at the think tank Demos about the “Crisis of Masculinity”.
Early previews of Abbott’s speech, revealed that she would say: ”It’s all become a bit like the film Fight Club – the first rule of being a man in modern Britain is that you’re not allowed to talk about it.”
Writing in The Guardian, I responded saying: “Looking at a preview’s of Abbott’s speech, it becomes apparent that Labour’s new message about valuing fathers is underpinned with a familiar, negative narrative about disaffected men who are hyper-masculine, homophobic, misogynistic and obsessed with pornography. Abbott is right to say that there aren’t enough men engaged in conversations about manhood, but is it any wonder when modern masculinity is described in such negative terms?”
27. Researchers prove (again) that men are victims of domestic violence
In May a new study heralded as the most comprehensive review of the scholarly domestic violence research literature ever conducted concludes, among other things, that women perpetrate physical and emotional abuse, and engage in control behaviors, at comparable rates to men.
The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge project, or PASK, whose final installment was published in the journal Partner Abuse, is an unparalleled three-year research project, conducted by 42 scholars at 20 universities and research centers, and including information on 17 areas of domestic violence research.
For more information see the Domestic Violence Research Group.
28. The Other Gender Divide
The Guardian ran an article on its Datablog by Mona Chalabi in April, which, after dealing with the predictable and unquantifiable caveats that “women suffer more than men as a result of their gender”—provided a strong list of hard facts about the inequalities that men experience.
The article—“the other gender divide: where men are losing out“—covered many key men’s issues like suicide, workplace deaths, boys’ education, the harsher treatment of male prisoners and gave a new insight I hadn’t encountered before, than men are more likely to be made redundant and less likely to be re-employed than women.
The article is worth a read and stands as testimony that the issues that advocates for men and boys have been highlighting for years are starting to reach the edges of the mainstream.
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SEE PART 4 OF OUR TOP STORIES FROM 2013 TOMORROW