A new sex war rages around the world. Men feel they are losing control within homes, communities and nations. They are the unloved, unwanted, sad underclass. None of this is true- except perhaps the sad bit. Countless western males are indeed suffering from internal traumas which remain in-articulated. Tragically, too many become drink or drug addicts or commit suicide. But many more seem to be avenging themselves on females.
Tory Philip Davies MP for Shipley, recently attacked ‘ feminist zealots’ and claimed the courts favoured women at an international conference organised by the hideously sexist Justice for Men and Boys (J4MB) . Evidence seems to contradict his views. He has consistently voted against equalities legislation and wants to repeal the Sex Discrimination Act of 2002. Poor Mr Davies. He must look back enviously at the Stone Age when real, hairy, hunter-gatherer men were well served by submissive females and the natural order prevailed.. ( I have tweeted Mr Davies and asked him to have tea with me so I can hear these views from his own sweet mouth).
In the real world meanwhile, trolls relentlessly punish women and girls who are seen and heard in the public space. In the last decade violent crime has fallen, yet violence against women has risen. This, according to professor Sylvia Walby of Lancaster University who analysed and challenged the official figures earlier this year. Women’s organisations warn there is a resurgence of sexism including hard and violent porn, harassment, discrimination, rape, assault and murder. Up to two women per week in the UK are killed by a partner or ex-partner. These deaths are barely reported. Ava Freebody from Sussex, who stayed with her cruel husband for 27 years before finally escaping, thinks we should calls the abuse ‘domestic terrorism’ which is exactly what it is. Add to this the benefits cuts which disproportionately affect female, and the closure of refuges and women’s centres and you get the grim picture.
It gets grimmer when you turn your gaze on many Asian, African and Arab countries and some minority communities in the west. In the sixties, leaders of post-colonial nations pushed women’s rights, banned backward practices such as child marriages, female genital mutilation and veiling. They have all returned with a vengeance. Go read a The War on Women, by BBC reporter Sue Lloyd. And weep. The late Lloyd Roberts, a dear friend, was fearless and morally driven. She wrote the book while in hospital undergoing treatment for cancer.
But hey, we have a female PM don’t we? And so many women in cabinet? And Hillary may become the first president of the USA. In business more women are at the top than ever before. Girls are doing brilliantly in higher education. Aid agencies now focus on mothers and their children and that is leading to societal shifts. But look closely. our cabinet still has a majority of men; Labour has not selected a single women to stand for mayor, Donald Trump is a hero to millions. Successful women endure misogyny every day, from colleagues, constituents, the press and, at times, their own male partners. Five such women I know from the arts, science and business have divorced their husbands because living with them became unbearable. One of them, Sara ( not her real name) described what was happening; ‘ When I was just a small time academic, he loved me. Then I became a professor, had books published, got on to the media. He was also an academic, but was not promoted. He stopped talking to me, badmouthed me to the kids and forced himself on me. The night before I threw him out, he raped me. We were best friends, he was a feminist until words turned to action.’
She encapsulates all the complexities of where we are now. There is no point in denying that globally, women and girls are more confident and ambitious. They are breaking through various barriers. Discrimination continues to block them but is more often overcome. Men of all classes, in contrast, are going through various crises of manhood and relationships and experiencing feelings of disempowerment. (The last is surely premature. They are still in charge, still unfairly advantaged). Millions of them blame feminism for their pain and want to hurt females. One chap used to send me abusive racist and sexist emails every single day. So I met him, to take him on. But he was so pathetic and hopeless that I pitied him. He is maddened by the fear that white men are doomed. Feminists are faced with an unprecedented challenge. This sex war is different from previous ones. While we fight for female rights we must attend to the wounds and rage of the losers. We need a mindful new feminism and creative feminist leadership. Without that neither gender can flourish in this tumultuous age.
Published in International Business Times, 25/8/2016