Gender Politics 1: Mike Buchanan – The Good, The Bad & The Downright Ugly

A couple of months ago I critiqued Dina Rickman’s curious performance on a London Live TV debate about men’s rights.   At the time I pledged to take a look at her sparring partner Mike Buchanan and his Justice for Men and Boys Party. The run up to the general election that he will be standing in seems like an appropriate time to fulfil that pledge and as my mother brought me up to try start feedback with some positives, let’s start with the good stuff:

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The Good

However Mike Buchanan and his J4MB Party are ultimately remembered in history, I will certainly remember him as one of the first people in the UK to break through The Glass Looking Glass and present the serious concept of equal opportunity rights for men to a large mainstream audience.

I first came across Mike in an interview on Women’s Hour back in early 2013. It may have been enhanced by my particular personal perspective of working in a female dominated and particularly politically correct environment but his abrupt and assertive talk of victim mentality, preference theory and militant feminism did strike me as extremely refreshing.

For context I’m a child of Thatcher, my first fixed memory is Liz Batternberg’s 1977 Jubilee celebrations and I’ve felt a significant part of my adult life championing the equal rights for all enshrined in UK legislation the previous year.  So while I wouldn’t go as far as describing it as an ‘Obama Moment’, I did experience a mild feeling of emancipation in that moment of first witnessing someone having the cajones to stick their head above the PC parapet and talk about some of the generally ignored inequalities experienced by people who look a little bit like me.

If nothing else it showed how far the hard fight for female equality has come that Jenni Murray gave him nothing but a completely a fair hearing, while it was left to fellow (man) guest and Tony Blair’s former joke writer, John O’Farrell, to describe Mike and his party as the misogynistic male equivalent to what the Klu Klux Klan were to the abolition of slavery.

Which in fairness came across as more than a little harsh at the time, even if O’Farrell’s disdain for J4MB’s proposal to introduce compulsory paternity tests did provide a little context.  Indeed his focus on proposals to curb ‘paternity fraud’ did somewhat distract from attempts by both Mike and Jenni to move the discussion onto inequalities of outcome in a list of areas covering such significant topics as education, employment, UK Courts, public policy, domestic abuse, health and the ultimate price that is suicide.

I certainly wasn’t remotely convinced by O’Farrell’s argument that there are already at least two other political parties focused entirely on the interests of men out there (Conservative and Liberal Democrat…boom, boom!) but then again by the end of my short introduction to J4MB I wasn’t entirely convinced that it was necessary, helpful or entirely productive to progress the (apparently) controversial issue of male inequalities by standing for parliament on a single issue ticket.

The Bad

In fairness to John O’Farrell, at the time of the interview I had yet to see J4MB‘s website or 80 page election manifesto. By the time I’d had a chance to consider these, I was beginning to, at least, have a bit more context for his still ridiculous KKK comparisons.

I’ll get to the actual content in a minute but before we get onto to the substance, some thoughts on the style.

As well as Party Leader, Mr Buchannan presents himself as a prolific writer, publisher, former business executive and consultant for the Conservative Party. Given such an impressive CV, I’d like to think that he could have made a better job of his website which, in my humble subjective opinion is a little bit of a mess.

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My first and best advice to anyone hoping to be taken seriously as a political leader would be to make sure you can find someone to stump up the £15 it’ll cost you to have a professional looking domain name.  After that I’d encourage them to find someone willing to volunteer half an hour to pick out a decent wordpress template.

At the minute, when you land on the home page you are immediately faced with a Kubrician black monolith populated with over twenty seemingly randomly distributed hyperlinks. Each link offers options ranging from the succinct and obvious: about mike’ and ‘donate’ to the more cumbersome and specialist: ‘2014 Detroit Conference on Men’s Issues – the first day’s presentations, including Mike Buchanan’s’ and ‘ Women’s Aid – our public challenge of Polly Neate, CEO, to retract seven lies and misleading statements’.

When you eventually move on from the home page, you may struggle to realize that you have actually progressed to whichever option you have chosen because the monolith follows from page to page, automatically taking up most of your screen regardless of what you may eventually discover lurking beneath.  Which leads me to…

The Downright Ugly

Laura Bates (The fair figurehead of fourth wave feminism) reckons that men’s rights activists can be compared to conspiracy nuts and not in a good way. I’m not convinced that the same can be said for her but given that I champion equality for all, strictly speaking I don’t consider myself to be a MRA specifically but I am certainly partial to a good conspiracy theory now and then.

Which is why Laura’s dismissive analogy inspired me to consider a conspiracy theory of my own to explain her reluctance to acknowledge one very specific area of the #everydaysexism spectrum. I mention this because it amuses me to entertain the possibility that Mike might possibly be the creation of loathsome lesbian lizards living in their very tidy spaceship at the Centre of the earth. Let’s face it, deep down, every self respecting MRA knows who’s really running the show and secretly, subtly, suggesting sapphic solutions servicing ideas that take us step by step closer to inevitable #killallmen conclusion.

A controlled opposition is a protest movement that is actually being led by government agents. Nearly all governments in history have employed this technique to trick and subdue their adversaries. Notably Vladimir Lenin who said ””The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.”

Every shrewd political player knows that the easiest way to beat the opposition is infact to BE the opposition, or at the very least control the opposition.  Now the prospect of Magic Mike as a Misogynistic Manchurian Mindcontrol Monster getting Messages directly from the ‘Mothership’ may seem a little outlandish but hear me out… It would certainly explain why he’s doing such a bad job of championing the rights of men.

Depending on which page you pick you may discover such unique delights as footage of a GMTV interview where Mike explains that he wouldn’t get married (for a third time) because he considers the institution of marriage to be a modern form of slavery.

Or a television debate about sexism where his opening gambit is to call Laura Bates a ‘whiney miserable woman’ and suggest that the type of women who write to her website essentially want a strong man to walk behind them carrying a fainting couch when they go out in public.

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Given their particular infamy, I imagine that a lot of web traffic is drawn to Mike’s every expanding series of ‘awards’ presented to prominent feminists and covering such eventualities as Entitlement Princess of the Month; Gormless Woman of the Month; Harpy of the Month; etc..

I accept that sometimes minority voices have to revert to shock tactics to get their message through to majority audiences.  I also guess that tactics employed in politics will depend on the type of electorate you are pandering to or have the ambition to win over. With that in mind, before I take a detailed look at J4MB’s Election Manifesto, let’s consider what message he’s attempting to send by examining one of these awards in some detail.

Caroline Criado-Perez has had the dubious honor of winning the Lying Feminist of the Month Award on no less than three occasions

I accept that it’s at least possible that I may have entirely missed his point. That said his logic for presenting a woman most famous for getting a ton of death threats from faceless bellends is based on disagreeing with her assertion a woman is killed by a male partner every 2.4 days.

Mike reckons the truth is more likely to be that a women is killed in or around every 4.5 days…  Now accepting that such a difference would make all the difference in the world to one in every two of the women’s lives that Criado-Perez is claiming for the broader cause of the sisterhood, even if Messer Buchannan has got his sums right, I reckon this action alone qualifies him for an award I’ve developed especially for this occasion.

Next | Manifesto

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