Suffragette City (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Manspreading and just Embrace my masculinity)


Thin, Wide, Rude?

Psychologists describe the prejudicial pigeonholing of entire populations on the basis of the success or failure at those at the top of the tree as the Apex fallacy.  You can actually see a very good example of this in the story of suffrage in this country.

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Oxbridge history graduates can correct me if I’m wrong but my understanding is that a little less than 50 years before women finally got the vote, only 14% of the men in this country got to decide who got to decide who was allowed to decide what the rules where for everybody else.

I appreciate that’s a bit of a tongue twister but my point is that while men and women have continued to forge successful, loving relationships well into the 21st Century, every single one of the elitist, sexist wazzocks who denied women the vote have been dead for about a century.

Indeed a lesser known fact about the Representation of the People Act, which finally started to bring women in from the cold in 1918, is that it also gave 40% of adult males suffrage for the first time.

This 40% was largely drawn from the generation of men under the age of 30 returning from the horrors of World War One. The generation of lions lead by donkeys that never had a say, and very little choice in participating, in a war that left 8 million men dead, 7 million permanently disabled, and a further 15 million seriously injured.


And yet, even though every year millions pledge to never forget that senseless slaughter, even on Armistice Day of all days you will find at least a few people privileged enough to reckon that every day International Men’s Day.

Modern warfare may be gender blind when it comes to civilian collateral casualties but have things really changed so much in the century since women have had the opportunity to change them?  After all, Harriet Harman and Hilary Clinton both voted to invade Iraq, even if you and I didn’t.

Fast forward to today and a group called Sister Uncut are lauded as the new suffragettes.  They’re committed to direct action to protest against cuts to specialist services for victims of domestic violence, with one notable and blatantly sexist exception.


As their logo shamelessly spells out, sadly some people can only ever perceive 49% of the population as perpetrators, never possibly victims, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Some argue that the existence of International Men’s Day is a distraction and an insult to the memory of the many, many, women who are killed by their partner or ex partner (on average two every week).

Obviously that’s a harsh horrible harsh reality that needs to be acknowledged and addressed every day but in 2014 two men were killed by their partner every month, 1 in 3 victims of domestic violence are male and married men are actually more likely to experience domestic violence than their female partner.  Surely it’s not unreasonable to reflect on such reality at least once a year?

After all, once the 16 days of activism against gender based violence kicks off next Wednesday (on International Day of Violence against Women), male victims will get about as much of a look-in as they do in the UK Government’s own strategy on domestic violence (outlined as it is within their Action Plan to End Violence Against Woman and Girls).


The sad reality is that if you’re a experiencing domestic violence and reach out for help then it’s only the men that have to phone during office hours and are referred to a homeless charity when they need emergency accommodation.

For this year’s International Men’s Day I decided to write to comedian Richard Herring  and mansplain why I think he’s wrong to suggest that every day is International Men’s Day.

By the time I’d listed most of the gendered awareness days that don’t focus on men my letter was getting quite long, so I ended up having to cut loads out. Including some of the more obvious reasons why an International Men’s Day exists, even if some people clearly wish that it didn’t.

For example, I suppose you could argue that October 10th (World Homeless Day) is almost exclusively a Man’s day in this country, given that 9 out of 10 people sleeping rough are men.  Based on current estimates, about 2500 blokes will have spent the actual International Men’s Day shivering in the dark, and that’s just in England.


Or what about September 10th (World Suicide Prevention Day).  After all, if you really think that every day is International Men’s Day then you should really think about reflecting on the fact that every day is the last ever day for 13 desperate men and distressed boys.

I’m actually a big fan of Richard Herring’s comedy. To a degree I can empathise with his petulance and lack of patience when it comes to people protesting men’s rights on International Women’s Day.  But when mainstream feminists, national newspapers and members of parliament are all happy to publicly stick the knife into the very thought of a Men’s Day, it pretty much makes him King of the Wazzocks if he expects us to swallow this:

I suspect there may be a much lesser fuss made on November 19th because women don’t see the existence of an International Men’s Day as a challenge or comment on them – which does make those insecure and babyish men look even more foolish. They don’t deserve an International Men’s Day. I might campaign to get it stopped. Richard Herring


I’ve no doubt that the Honorouble Member for Yardly would pull every parliamentary privilege available to her if one of her son ever needs assistance from the state’s ever dwindling services. I’d be less hopeful for her constituents.

Even if she’s right that we still struggle to get enough women interested in a full-time career in politics, maybe it’s time to ease up on the victim status at least one day in the year. Surely it’s time when first world feminists have started lamenting the fact that it’s hard to find good husband material these days due to the vertical tsunami of sisters spilling out of Universities


A fun fact for anyone still in favour of the traditional family unit is that the history graduate who conceived International Men’s Day chose the 19th of November because Universal Children’s Day is celebrated the next day and he wanted to especially emphasise positive messages about the bonds between fathers and their children.  It also happened to be his dad’s birthday and he loved his dad.

As the author of the male equivalent of the vagina monologues once eloquently put it, everybody starts their unique journey in this realm shooting out of someone’s cock (even lesbian nuns). Surely that is something to be celebrated and surely society can do more to help some of those cocks to stick around.

Growing up without a dad in your life can be seriously bad for your health, especially if you’re a girl, and sadly about three million children in the UK currently grow up without a meaningful relationship with their fathers.  By the way, the think tank that came up with that statistic define a ‘meaningful relationship’ as contact twice a year or more.


Men and boys face challenges worth talking about. Challenges like testicular cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease and mental illness. Challenges like homelessness; unemployment; workplace fatalities; barriers in education; family court outcomes; society’s collective tolerance of violence against men and boys (including sexual violence and domestic abuse) and of course the disgraceful and quite remarkable trends around suicide in this country.

Anyway sorry for all the mansplaining but they only let me out once a year. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the next time some wazzock bangs on about denying women the vote, my advice is point out that we’re all lucky enough to be suffragettes now and we all have a responsibility to honour that fact by not voting for war mongering, self-centred, sexist wazzocks, whatever their shoe size happens to be.


Post Scriptum: 21/11/15

While the Independent had the ladyballs to once again mark IMD with a series of articles from haters mansplaining why it is we don’t need an international men’s day, the Guardian took a more nuanced approach.

For the second year running they pushed forward one solitary (male) liberal voice to (sort of) acknowledge that International Men’s Day is (kind’ve) a thing, whilst essentially undermining it’s merit and predictably proposing that at the end of the day, every other day will also be International Men’s Day.

Synchronicity and irony obviously conspired because this year’s metropolitan male micro-aggression was delivered by none other than Richard Herring.

Promoted from his middle brow Metro column for the day for the primary purpose of promoting the charity Target Ovarian Cancer, Richard essentially recycled the same article he published two years ago, albeit with this charming visual addition:


I had genuinely hoped that Herring would have at least acknowledged my direct appeal to him (even if it was only ultimately to take the piss), but as soon as I read his personal perspective on the day I accepted that that was never going to happen.

Even if he ever (or already) gets the obvious flaw in his childishly simplistic argument, he’s clearly travelled too far down the path he’s chosen to start changing his tune any time soon.

His retorts to critics on twitter over the day read like the words of a religious zealot who’s invested too much time and energy following the good book their entire life to suddenly entertain the thought of gay marriage, even if deep down they know that God is love (and probably doesn’t really exist).

If you didn’t like his article then you obviously haven’t read it properly or were maybe just a bit thick.  If you think it was insensitive then you either ‘misread the tone’ or more likely hadn’t actually read the article.  If you didn’t like the crying man baby picture then you’ll have to contact the editor who was responsible for it and most of all, if you think he comes across a bit man-hatey then it’s only because you are obviously a woman hater.

The most positive trend of IMD 2015 is that this year, most of the haters did at least pause to acknowledge the suicide epidemic before sticking the boot in and embracing their silencing tactics.

Maybe next year Dicky Herring will have caught up but for now he’s sticking to his well worn routine… If you ask when is International Men’s Day you’re a scumbag but you’re only really joking when you point out that it’s every day.



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