EYEreflect on the media coverage of this years Commons International Men’s Day debate and highlight some of the significant contributions that were (mostly) ignored.
You may have heard that, for the second year running, Members of Parliament marked this year’s International Men’s day with a House of Commons Debate and this year the debate was even moved to the main chamber.
News of this historic event reached as far as India but, closer to home, most of the media coverage was sadly and predictably pathetically pejorative, even if most did at least pause to acknowledge the male suicide epidemic before sticking two fingers up to the very notion of a day dedicated to the supposed masters of universe.
The Spectator’s Katy Balls reckons she witnessed a bad tempered debate that descended into a battle of the sexes, where one of the concerns in these seriously worrying times is the fact a woman (former Labour MP Glenda Jackson) is performing the part of King Lear.
Martha Gill of the Huffington Post observed that MP’s discussed a range of issues and problems that are neglected in public discourse and then spent the rest of her article presenting a nicely cherry picked and deeply flawed mini-thesis on how Tory MP Philip Davies managed to undermine the campaign at practically every turn.
The Daily Telegraph’s Michael Deacon took great delight in the fact that the SNP’s Equality Spokesperson accused Davies of ‘mansplaining’ and The Guardian’s John Grace got in on the joke observing that ‘after some mansplaining and a stunning non sequitur from two Tory males’, the rest of the Men of the Commons left the Men’s Day debate to the women.
All the other speakers on International Men’s Day turned out to be women. Either the male MPs had no interest in fighting back centuries of female oppression or they thought this was something best left to the ladies. Understandably, all the women speakers, while not dismissing the issue, saw fit to highlight the incongruity of one of the country’s most sexist institutions giving up 90 minutes of its time to debating what a raw deal men got. John Grace
Speaking of stunning non sequiturs, Chantala De Silva over at the Independent echoed Grace’s argument that to suggest issues affecting men & boys aren’t discussed in the house is laughable given that (in these gender fluid times) only 22.7% of Members of Parliament are female.
So it’s understandable if you’ve been left with the impression that hardly anyone bothered turning up (because it’s silly) and that anyone who did was subjected to a dose of mansplaining from a couple of stuffy olde Tories bores.
As Heat Street’s Kieran Corcoran highlighted, while the attendance was certainly disappointing, in reality most of the highly paid public servants who did bother to turn up spent the time usefully highlighting the fact that these issues ‘seldom get the attention they deserve’.
IMHO Philip Davies MP has to be given credit for giving voice to some of the many issues faced by men and boys at their most vulnerable and it is worthwhile noting that there was generally complete cross party consensus about the issues under discussion.
You can read the entire record of the debate on Hansard but below are a series of e-cards EYEprepared to tweet on the day which offer a more positive, not to mention accurate, summary of debate highlights.
Starting with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice and Minister for Women and Equalities at the Department for Education (try saying that with your mouth full).
Less than a month ago Caroline Dinenage joined the depressingly long list of ‘Equality Champions’ to crack THAT hilariously unoriginal joke, so it was surprisingly refreshing to witness her smash a massive gender equality glass blindspot and take a subtle pot shot at the Labour’s (thankfully) absent member for Yardley while doing so.
Of course there inevitably had to be one joker in the pack…
Then again the SNP’s current spokesperson on Equality also displayed her ignorance by getting confused between the concept of Positive Action measures allowed under the Single Equality Act and Direct Sex Discrimination…
So probably best that we just ignore her.
You can find more about this year’s debate at Parliament.co.uk website and also download a parliamentary briefing report prepared for the event, which includes useful background summaries and statistics from the Commons Library.