When the Queen is Dead, Long Live the Patriarchy?

David Cameron will puff out his red cheeks for a royal baby-1512782Congratulations to the Royal Family on the birth of a future King of England — after 61 years of being ruled by a Queen, we now have the prospect of three Kings in a row to look forward to—which barring a republican revolution, could mean jobs for the Windsor boys way into the 22nd Century. All of which is surely great news for people who care passionately about sex equality in the monarch and means we’ll have plenty of time to get used to singing “God Save The King”!

It’s an often overlooked fact that we have been ruled by Queens for 125 of the last 175 years—so it’s time we gave the Kings a chance to show that real men can rule too. Despite the sexist laws of primogeniture that have given male heirs precedence over female heirs for centuries, you have to go back to 1901 to find an example of the discrimination in practice.

When Queen Victoria died her eldest surviving child was Princess Victoria who, had she come to the throne, would have reigned for just 7 months as she sadly died the same year as her mum. This would have meant that the throne would have passed to Princess Victoria’s son —the infamous Kaiser Bill who led Germany, Europe and countries around the globe into the First World War—how different history might have looked if that  hadn’t  happened!

The other quirky fact of sexism at Buck House is that we’ve had no end of Queens in recent centuries as the King’s wife generally gets an automatic promotion to the top job whereas the Queen’s husband generally has to make do with being a Prince—no sex equality for regal spouses there!

Of course, being a thoroughly modern monarchy we have now fast tracked the “Succession to the Crown Bill”  through parliament so that men will no longer be automatically the first in line to the throne.

Meanwhile, the House of Lords shows no signs of ending rules which deny most hereditary peerages to women. Currently, 92 seats in the House of Lords are reserved to holders of hereditary aristocratic titles and only 2 of these seats are currently occupied by women—though as many commentators point out, the best hereditary peerages “equal” is to scrap them all together and get more commoners in politics.

And one thing all women (common or not) have politically is their very own Women’s Minister but there’s still no sign of a Men’s Minister being appointed by any of the major political parties.

We debated the topic of a Minster for Men at the First National Conference for Men and Boys in 2011. We don’t expect we’ll be discussing royal babies at this year’s conference but the delegates set the agenda so who knows if this will still be a hot topic come September.

Fatherhood commentator Jack Sullivan has already written an interesting article speculating what kind of father Prince William could and should be.

Meanwhile our friends at NORM UK have been fielding media calls asking whether they think Wills and Kate will circumcise their son—of course, if they had a daughter, no-one would be asking this question.

It has been royal tradition in recent decades to circumcise royal boys though campaigners against medically unnecessary male circumcision are hoping this tradition will come to an end.

David Smith of NORM UK, who attended last year’s conference, says:” ‘as a 21st century parents we trust that William and Kate, like the rest of modern British parents, would not even contemplate it.’

If you want to make sure you don’t miss out on this year’s conference then buy your tickets online today here now.

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Fathers’ v Mothers’ v Childrens’ Rights

stop male circumcision ukWhose rights should take precedence in law—mum’s rights, dad’s rights or the child’s rights?

The UK Court of Appeal had to consider this question recently when a Malaysian mother sought refuge in the UK in an attempt to prevent her husband—who had converted to Islam—from having their son circumcised.

Protecting boys from medically unnecessary circumcision and improving fathers’ rights to be involved in their children’s live are two areas of concern for many people who come along to the National Conference for Men and Boys.

To buy your tickets for this year’s event click here to book online now.

The case that the Court of Appeal heard involved a Malaysian mother who was brought up as a Sikh but converted to Roman Catholicism as an adult. In December 2006 she married a Malaysia man of Nigerian origin who was also Roman Catholic. Their son was baptized and brought up Roman Catholic but nt 2010 dad became interested in Islam and expressed his intention to convert.

The mother sought asylum in the UK on several grounds including the fact that she didn’t want her son to be brought up Muslim and circumcised for religious and cultural reasons. The mother’s legal representative submitted that the English courts would be unlikely to bow to the father’s wishes in that respect unless the mother also consented. She submitted that in those circumstances it would not be in the child’s best interests to return him to Malaysia where his father’s wishes would prevail over those of his mother.

According to Lord Justice Moore-Bick who oversaw the case:

“Male circumcision is a widespread religious and cultural practice which has ancient origins. It is usually, though not invariably, carried out at a very young age when the child is unable to understand what is involved or to express any view about it. Although invasive in nature and not commanding universal approval, it is regarded as an acceptable practice among communities of all kinds, provided it is carried out under appropriate conditions. These may include appropriate medical attention and the loving support of parents and close family members.”

Bizarrely, Moore-Bick, also said that male circumcision: “cannot be compared to other cultural or religious practices, such as female genital mutilation, which involve a far more serious violation of the physical integrity of the body and an expression of subservience.”

In truth the female circumcision performed on around 90% of girls in Malaysian is generally less invasive that the male circumcision that the boys are subjected to, as this article by a Muslim Malay woman on female genital cutting explains.

The fact is that male circumcision is different and sometimes worse than female circumcision and is a painful procedure often performed on boys without anaesthetic which can cause damage, disease and in extreme circumstances, death.

Despite this fact, it is perfectly legal for anyone to cut off a boy’s foreskin in the UK. but illegal to perform any kind of genital ritual on girls—including the Malaysian style practices that are generally less invasive than male circumcision. It is also illegal to take a girl based in Britain abroad for such a procedure.

In the case of this 7 year-old Malaysian boy, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that “he would be conforming to the broad expectations of the culture and society in which he would grew up”.

The court decided that it was in the boys’ best interest to be brought up by both parents which could only happen in Malaysian where the fathers’ (and the country’s) religion would take precedent over the mothers’.

So in this case the UK court ruled that the boys’ best interest was best served by putting the fathers’ right to choose his child’s religion and have his son’s foreskin cut off ahead of the mothers’ right to make the same choices and the boys’ right to choose for himself what happens to his penis when he becomes an adult.

It’s a ruling that is likely to anger intactavists (ie people campaigning to end unnecessary male circumcision) and fathers’ rights campaigners alike.

The reason this ruling may anger UK fathers’ rights campaigners is because they will struggle to understand why the court gave precedence to the rights of a Malaysian father in the name of the child’s best interest, when they will  point to cases where family courts fail to support children being brought up by both parents and give precedence to the wishes of the mother.

Both intactavists and fathers’ rights campaigners are welcome to attend the Third National Conference for Men and Boys in September.

To buy your tickets for this year’s event click here to book online now.

To find out more about unnecessary male circumcision in the UK see our post help change the way we think about male circumcision.

Wikipedia reveals the world’s most controversial men’s issue

imagesNew research has revealed the top ten subjects that cause most controversy on Wikipedia and one of them is a men’s issue!

Scientists analysed page edits to find out which topics are most fought over by contributors to the open encyclopaedia—and one of the top topics was all about men and boys according to a BBC report.

So which men’s issue  has its own Wikipedia page that is in the middle of an ongoing “edit war” which is unfolding minute by minute as opposing editors keep making changes that are almost instantly undone by another editor?

To give a flavour of the types of issues that cause controversy on Wikipedia, the top three most fought over pages were:

  • George W Bush
  • Anarchism
  • The Prophet Muhammad

Not to be outdone in the a battle for religious truth, both Jesus and Christianity made the top as (perhaps most bizarrely) does the World Wrestling Entertainment employees page

The online encyclopaedia’s page on race and intelligence is understandably controversial, as are pages on global warming and the United States.

All of these hotly disputed pages aren’t simply updated a lot, said the researchers, they have specific words and phrases constantly removed and reinstated giving an insight into the depth of feeling that these subject matters provoke among Wikipedia’s contributors.

So which men’s issues could provoke this level of controversy with two warring sides constantly editing each other’s version of the truth?

Well we’d like to say that  if you want to find out then buy your ticket for the National Conference for Men and Boys now and we’ll tell you.

But we wouldn’t be so cruel.

Have you guessed yet?

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Circumcision!

To read more about the important topic of tackling unnecessary male circumcision, see our blog post “Help change the way we think about male circumcision

Help change the way we think about male circumcision in the UK

imagesCould you help change the way that people think about medically unnecessary male circumcision in the UK?

While the ritual of female circumcision (or female genital mutilation) is illegal in the UK, it is still legal for people to painfully cut off a boy’s foreskin without anaesthetic in a non medical setting. As a result baby boys can be damaged and injured and in some cases bleed to death. Campaigners also claim that too many “therapeutic” circumcisions are performed on boys where alternative, non-surgical remedies could be used.

The National Conference for Men and Boys has helped raise awareness of this issue with the support of organizations like Norm UK, Genital Autonomy and Men Do Complain who have attended previous events.

To be part of discussions and debates on a broad range of important men and boys, issues click on this link to BUY YOUR 2013 CONFERENCE TICKET TODAY.

One of the men working hard to change our thinking on male circumcision needs a little support to take his work to the next stage.

Brian Earp is a researcher, writer and speaker who has been awarded a partial scholarship to complete a  Master’s program at the University of Cambridge where he will undertake new research on the history, philosophy and ethics of circumcision.

Brian has been helping to forward the international debate on male circumcision for a decade and now hopes to find “a new angle to tackle that hasn’t been written about to date, discovering a way to make a historically and medically informed ethical argument that really changes how people think about circumcision”.

To help him do this Brian needs to raise a further $10,000 and has launched a crowd-funding campaign which you can contribute by visiting his online fundraising page here.

To find out more about the debate around unnecessary male circumcision in the UK see:

To join us for the Third National Conference for Men and Boys in September 2013 BUY YOUR TICKET ONLINE TODAY.