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:
29. Men’s psychological needs aren’t being addressed because we don’t think of men as being vulnerable
Luke Sullivan of Men’s Minds Matters wrote an excellent comment piece in The Guardian for Men’s Health Week in June on men’s psychological vulnerability. He said:
“A more empathic approach to understanding the psychological wellbeing of men and boys is needed. It seems more difficult to think of men as victims and vulnerable. Men, too, can experience physical and sexual abuse, domestic abuse and violence and abuse from other men. They suffer from adversity and experience psychological and emotional difficulties regardless of how physically strong or financially well off they are. While men are advantaged in some respects, they are at greater risk of nearly all major illnesses and injuries, as well as suicide. We also ask men to be protectors and providers for others and send them off to fight wars in far greater numbers, to work down mines and in other dangerous environments, and to stand last in the queue (or not even get in the queue) for help and support.”
30. Teenage girl speaks out against the treatment of dads in the family court
One of the most powerful and unexpected voices advocating for fathers rights in the UK this year was 16-year-old Aimee Nicholls. After 11 years of her parents fighting in the family court, Aimee voted with her feet and went to live with her dad. Her video outlining her experience, how the court failed to act in her interests and how she and her father are still unable to have a relationship with her seven-year-old sister, make a powerful testimony.
31. Male homelessness rose 62% in past three years
Male homelessness rose again in 2013 though it wasn’t reported in the media as “male” homelessness.
According to the latest annual figures 6,437 people were seen rough sleeping in 2012-13, compared with 5,768 the previous year, a 13% rise year on year and an increase of 62% since 2010-11.
As can be seen from this report in The Guardian, the fact that 88% of these rough sleepers are men is not mentioned in the mainstream media, but if you dig down into the data you find that men are eight times more likely to sleep rough in London than women.
This means that out of those 6,437 people, around 5665 are men and 772 are women. The figures do not include homeless people who are squatting or “sofa surfing” on friend’s couches.
32. Michael Douglas becomes unlikely champion for male cancer vaccine
Michael Douglas caused a stir this year by claiming that he had contracted throat cancer through oral sex—unwittingly shining a light on the issue that girls are vaccinated against the cancer causing HPV virus but boys are not.
Experts confirmed that while smoking and drinking are the main causes of throat cancer, oral sex can lead to throat cancer through the transmission of the some strains of the HPV virus that is associated with cancer of the penis anus, mouth and throat (as well as the cervix, vulva and vagina in women).
The campaign to give boys equal treatment to girls (as happens in Australia) and vaccinate them against HPV
In September the President of the Faculty for Public Health backed the call for equal treatment for boys saying:“the actor Michael Douglas’ recent comments have helped raise awareness of the links between certain types of HPV and cancer”. In November it was revealed that Government advisors were now considering whether to recommend giving the vaccine to boys.
33. A quarter of boys in Blackpool will die before they reach 65
The latest life expectancy figures from the Office of National Statistics revealed the that huge gender gaps still exist not just between men and women, but from region to region.
According to the figures, a boy born in Blackpool is four times more likely to die before 65 than a girl born in East Dorset, with nearly a quarter of Blackpool boys expected to die before they reach 65.
Men are not pre-destined to die younger than women and there are many, many factors that contribute to men dying younger than women on average.
One of the most interesting voices speaking out in the field of men’s health this year was Dr Sarah Hawkes at the Institute of Global Health. In this 10 minute interview “are men ignored in gender development” Hawkes says:
“When it comes to health, contrary to what most people would expect, men actually suffer at least equally and usually more from gender norms and gender behaviours than women do and have less access to the means to mitigate those norms.”
34. Men dying in workplace ignored by Government again
The Government’s Health and Safety Executive continued to ignore the fact that the vast majority of people who die at work are men again this year.
The annual report on workplace deaths makes no mention whatsoever that year in year out over 95% of people who die at work are men—-their report and press release speak only of “workers”.
The blogger “skimmington” at the Rights of Man blog was the only voice I have found speaking out about this, after manually sifting through a list of named fatalities to discover that 98% of people who died at work in the past 12 months were men.
According to Skimmington:
“Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of victims were men, the Health and Safety Executive chose not to highlight that in their statistics or press release. They do not even acknowledge it anywhere at all. If the figures were the other way round, they would. So why do they choose do that? Is it because they don’t think men matter? Where is their equality impact assessment? Where is their diversity manager talking about it in the media? They chose not to so a clear case of discrimination by omission and institutional sexism.”
35. Libertarians fight back against “fourth wave feminism”
There was a wave of high profile campaigning by what’s been dubbed “fourth wave” feminism this years with the prize for the most entertaining example coming from “Amanda Fucking Palmer” whose naked, musical open letter to the Daily Mail is worth watching as an example of highly innovative campaigning whatever your gender politics.
According The Guardian other leading voices in the feminist fourth wave include Caroline Criado-Perez who campaigned for women to be represented on bank notes; Laura Bates, founder of the international website Everyday Sexism, Kat Banyard of UK Feminista, who campaigns against lads’ mags and Lucy-Anne Holmes, who is calling for an end to topless page three models.
There are two main criticisms of fourth-wave feminists. The first is that they tend to focus on men being problems and women having problems—and issue I touched upon in my Guardian comment piece: online abuse is not limited by gender. I also wrote a blog piece called: online abuse, is a man thing or a woman thing?
The second criticism of fourth wave feminism is that it is authoritarian and anti-libertarian—which has led to criticism from both feminist libertarians and non-feminist libertarians—most notably at Spiked Online where:
36. Boys in England and Scotland come bottom of the OECD league for literacy
Scotland and England occupy the bottom two places in the OECD league table of boys’ literacy in developed countries.
Research for the Sutton Trust educational charity found that the brightest boys from poor homes in England and Scotland are at least two-and-a-half years behind in reading compared with those from the richest homes, a study suggests.
The study was carried out by John Jerrim at the Institute of Education, University of London. He found that the reading skills of England’s youngsters as a whole are heavily linked to their socio-economic background, but that this gap is average for countries in the OECD.
However, when you look just at high achievers – the brightest in each socio-economic group – England and Scotland perform worse than other countries for boys. In England the gap is equivalent to 30 months (two years and six months) of schooling for boys, while in Scotland the gap amounts to nearly three years (two years, 11 months).
37. Soldier Suicides
In July the BBC revealed that one British soldier dies by suicide every week, more than are killed fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The British government does not record the suicide rate among ex-soldiers, but researchers at the BBC’s Panorama programme have discovered that 21 serving soldiers killed themselves last year, along with 29 veterans.
This total of 50 male suicides is greater than the number of British soldiers who died in Afghanistan where 44 were killed in the same period (40 of whom 40 died in action).
38. TV lawyer slams Ministry of Justice for ignoring male victims
TV lawyer Marilyn Stowe has slammed the government’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for ignoring the plight of male victims of domestic violence.
According to Stowe, a family law practitioner and resident legal expert on ITV’s This Morning, The MoJ’s online guidance on legal aid for victims of domestic violence excludes men, saying:
“To get legal aid you must be able to give your solicitor some evidence that you have been a victim of domestic violence by your partner or husband.”
Writing about the issue on her blog, Stowe said:
“Domestic violence against men does exist more frequently than many people imagine, and it certainly should not be casually disregarded in this way. If the government feels that it is appropriate to hang ‘women only’ signs out on a website about practical help for victims, where are men in need supposed to turn?
“It is another message from the establishment that the distress of male victims is imaginary. In the 21st Century we should be beyond lazy stereotypes of women as passive victims and men as perpetual villains.”
39. Social workers must change how they work with men
In July Professor Vivienne Cree at the University of Edinburgh said social workers need to revisit how they work with men.
Professor Cree is an influential figure who co-authored the 1996 book Working with Men: Feminism and Social Work which promoted the principle that ‘women are our first priority… work with men is done in order to improve the quality of life for women’.
Cree now says it’s time to change our attitudes towards men:
Men are still, more often than not, seen as the problem: they are presented as the absent fathers, abusive partners, sexual predators and generally bad examples for their children.
“Men are, more than ever, presented as dangerous to themselves and others. Women and children, on the other hand, are increasingly seen as vulnerable and in need of protection.
“Life is much more complex and uncertain, as evidence of women who abuse and men who care for others demonstrate. Social work must now revisit how it works with men, learning some of the lessons of the past and accepting the complexity of the lives of women, men and children today.”
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SEE PART 5 OF OUR TOP STORIES FROM 2013 TOMORROW