Online abuse, is it a man thing or woman thing?

imagesThere’s been a lot of talk about online misogyny in the past week after Twitter made a public apology to women who have been subjected to rape threats. So is online abuse a gender problem? Is this another area of life where “women have problems and men are problems”? And if misogyny is a problem, what about online misandry?

We don’t pretend to have all the answers but you can rely on the National Conference for Men and Boys to always try and offer a broad range of perspectives—which is another good reason to buy your conference tickets online today.

In the meantime, here are some of the most interesting voices talking about online abuse from a gender perspective relevant to men and boys in the UK that we’ve heard so far:

It’s not misogyny it’s just plain bad manners

“What is problematic is that the organisers of Trolliday do not see this as a question of manners, but of misogyny – hate crime, in other words. The women-hating trolls do not show that society has a problem with misogyny……the most pleasant places to live are those where…..men in particular have an incentive to be viewed as gentlemen – a word sadly missing from this debate about the treatment of women.”

Ed West, The Spectator, Why do people write abuse on the internet?

This is a man-made problem and women are the victims

“This is a men-on-women issue. Guys are pretty much doing it to the girls. Which, thankfully, is where our good friend socialism steps forward. Because this will not stand for those of us who are socialists. We are all equal.”

John Niven, Daily Record, Trolls who abuse

It’s not a gender issue 

“I don’t think it’s a gender thing at all….I couldn’t say whether it happens more to women or to men but it’s quite clear that men and women will both abuse people online and be the recipients of that abuse.”

Professor Mark Griffiths, BBC, Why cyberbullies are targetting women

Women don’t troll

“There are very few female trolls because women are more virtuous than men….. women of any age will never hate men as much as teenage boys hate women.”

Jennifer Wright, The Gloss, Where are all the female internet trolls?

Women do abuse men online

“A female tweeter I didn’t follow…tweeted that I was a **** – an interesting word for a self-confessed feminist to use. I replied to the profanity….My words were immediately re-tweeted. For the next 24 hours I was subjected to abuse and threats of violence from many of this writer’s 70,000-odd followers….Despite a reporter’s thick skin, I’ll confess to a sleepless few nights. I’d never received such constant abuse and it certainly affected me emotionally.”

Niall Paterson, Sky News, What About Male Victims?

Women abuse other women

“Abuse also happens online by women against women. This includes  harassment, cyber-bullying, Gaslighting, mobbing, verbal abuse. It also happens within feminism. And yet…..feminism is deathly quiet on the issue. The anger & volume that we collectively use to denounce male violence is noticeably absent when it comes to women that abuse.”

Portia Smart, Feminist Blogger, We need to talk about women

People who live in glass houses….

“Caitlin Moran might well fall foul of a new, improved “report abuse” button. She’s been quite vociferous in her condemnation of the attacks on Caroline Criado-Perez, even proposing a 24-hour boycott of Twitter to protest about the site’s failure to deal with the abuse problem. She appears to have forgotten that, three years ago, she was pretty abusive towards me. Here are a couple of things she tweeted while I was debating Germaine Greer on BBC2’s Late Review:

“God, the reliability of Toby Young to be a total C*** could be used to power the atomic clock.”

“Oh, Germaine Greer. You’re still F***ING MAGNIFICENT. Please end this brilliant monologue by running a sword through Toby Young’s face.”

Toby Young, Daily Telegraph, Most twitter trolls are harmless attention seekers

Most trolls are boys (and so are most victims)

“I was really surprised to find the level of boys admitting that they got involved in cyber bullying and the number of boys who have been victim of cyber bullying. Sixteen percent of males said someone had sent them a threatening message online, compared with 7 percent of females. And 11 percent of males said that they had sent threatening messages online.”

Sarah Pedersen, Huffington Post, Cyber-bullying, are boys worse than girls

I’m a man and I love to troll 

“I come from a cohort and culture of males in which a cheap jibe or insulting comment is part of everyday interaction, held under the banner of ‘crack’ and ‘banter’. I am not condoning abuse of any sort, I realise that it occurs amongst peers causing a great degree of harm. In combating fascism we tread the fine lines of freedom of expression, but we must be sure in distinguishing the difference between what is actually offensive and what is an impulsive comment towards people enjoying their 15 minutes of fame.”

Daniel Swanson, TEDx Salford, What to do about trolling

Kill All Men? Ignore it, it’ll go away

“It can be very tempting, when one’s human sub-group is challenged, to respond in kind…..we tend to react strongly when our “team” is called out. That’s why the recent Twitter trend of appending the #killallmen hashtag to various female grievance-oriented posts is such a frustrating phenomenon: It’s a direct provocation, and something of a mass movement, but it’s also too crazy to pay much attention to.”

Michael McKenna, Ask Men. Why #KillAllMen is a thing that exists

Autistic men need better protection from online bullies

“Because of my autism I can’t do social things like go to the pub or go to nightclubs. Ninety per cent of my life is spent online. The entire social aspect of my life is online. But every time I go online I get abuse. Current laws against cyberbullying just don’t work at all. They haven’t worked for me.”

Kevin Healy, Autism Campaign speaking to BBC,  Why cyberbullies are targetting women

Men get bullied by girls

“There’s something about a bully that really annoys me. They’ll say something online that they’d never dare to say to your face.”

Comedian and self-professed “troll slayer” Dom Joly who discovered that one of those who’d threatened him was a 14-year-old girl with nine different online identities. BBC: Trolling who does it and why?

There’s more misandry  than misogyny 

“There is ten times more misandry expessed in the west than there is misogyny, but people have been trained not to notice this…..Blocking men’s voices on the grounds of ‘misogyny’ is common on internet forums, websites and social media such as Facebook – even when these voices are clearly not misogynistic at all. The upshot is that misogyny is going to continue to increase until men get a fairer deal and until they can express their views without being continually blocked by the overly politically-corrected and feminist-dominated. Of course, those rape threats were, in my view, completely unacceptable. But I can assure you that men have been on the receiving end of similar threats ever since the internet became a place where men and women have been in verbal conflict.”

Angry Harry, Blogger, commenting on Why do people write abuse on the internet?

When it’s a male victim we ignore the gender

“Women’s groups have been very adept at ‘genderising’ any and all problems that affect females, and are able to exploit the media’s obsession with women-specific issues. As the current Twitter abuse issue shows, they have asserted that it is almost always women that receive these kinds of comments. On the other hand, abuse aimed at men is assumed to be non-gendered, receives no attention, and is usually considered fair game. Complain, and you’ll never be far from a ‘man up’ style dismissal. As is so often the case, there are double standards in play here.”

Tim Reed, commenting on Why do people write abuse on the internet?

Online abuse is not limited by gender

“If you cast a wide enough net you soon discover that online abuse is not limited by gender. If we want to live in a less sexist society it does mean finding ways to tackle misogyny. It also means taking time to understand and address the experience of male victims of violence and abuse too.”

Glen Poole, National Conference for Men and Boys, writing in The Guardian Comment Is Free section

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10 Reasons Men Need a Gender Equality Movement

65088584-equalityThere’s an interesting comment piece in the Boston Globe by Cathy Young, a Russian American writer whose books include Ceasefire!: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality.

Young picks up the recent public debate on the need for a men’s movement and says what men and boys really need is a gender equality movement.

“To many, the very notion of “men’s issues” or men’s rights seems laughable” says Young but  “men’s advocacy raises important and worthy issues that often draw unfair ridicule”.

“Unfortunately,” adds Young the men’s rights movement “is also prone to toxic rhetoric that subverts its valid points and alienates potential supporters.”

“Perhaps what the 21st century needs is not a women’s movement  or a men’s movement, but a gender equality movement,” she concludes.

Here are ten of the key men’s issues Young thinks a gender equality movement would need to address:

  1. If women were dying in 90 percent of workplace fatalities and three out of four suicides, would we not see such numbers as troubling—and as legitimate women’s issues? Yet, reversed, the disparities go unnoticed
  2. Unlike racial profiling of minorities, the disproportionate targeting of males by law enforcement gets no attention
  3. Women account for more than a third of illegal drug use but fewer than 15 percent of arrests
  4. While men are often presumed dangerous to children, actual female molesters tend to get lenient treatment.
  5. There is virtually no recognition of ways in which current policies treat paternity as a public resource. Men coerced into unwilling fatherhood  must still pay child support. On the flip side, divorced fathers often feel they are treated more as wallets than as parents.
  6. When imbalances that disadvantage men or boys — such as male academic underachievement — become the subject of concern, such concerns are often viewed with suspicion as potential attacks on women.
  7. With a few exceptions, feminists have balked at any pro-equality advocacy that would support men in male-female disputes, acknowledge that women can mistreat men, or undermine female advantage.
  8. While the push for gender-neutral laws in the 1970s helped dismantle the formal presumption of maternal custody, actual efforts by fathers to get sole or joint custody brought on a swift backlash from the women’s movement.
  9. When the campaign for tough domestic violence policies netted more female perpetrators, women’s groups pressed for anti-male double standards, promoting the myth that nearly all female violence is in self-defense.
  10. Laudable feminist efforts to secure justice for rape victims have often turned into calls for a presumption of male guilt.

To read more on the current debate on whether the world needs a men’s movement see the following articles:

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Cast Your Vote: What Kind Of Men’s Movement Do We Need?

YesNoAnne-Marie Slaughter, the former Director of Policy Planning for U.S. State Department has said that the world needs a men’s movement—so we thought we’d run a poll to see what kind of men’s movement our readers think the world needs.

To put the statement in context, Slaughter sparked an international debate with an article called “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” that sparked a global debate about how women can (or can’t) balance family and career. Now she’s shifting her focus slightly to talk about how women AND men struggle with work-life balance.

“I really think we need a men’s movement, and you’re starting to see it,” she said this week. “Guys are starting to speak up for themselves about masculinity, about care-giving. You know, women are hypocrites this way, because we would go crazy if men treated us in the workforce the way we typically treat them at home — if a guy in the workforce assumed he was more competent than you are, and told you what to do — but that’s the way most women treat men in the household.”

So is she right and if so what kind of men’s movement does the world need? We’ve come up with 10 suggestions based on some of the key factions of the global men’s movement that we’ve come across over the years and produced a poll at the end of this post so you can cast your vote and tell us what kind of men’s movement the world needs.

Of course the 3rd National Conference for Men and Boys is open to everyone so if you want to come along and take part this year then please buy your tickets online today.

WHAT TYPE OF MEN’S MOVEMENT DOES THE WORLD NEED?

1.    A Men’s Liberation Movement

A global men’s liberation movement would be pro-feminist and focussed on liberating men from rigid gender roles on the past and helping men to address unhealthy male behaviours and develop and promote healthy masculinity.

2.    A Men’s Human Rights Movement

A global men’s human rights movement would tackle feminism head on and address all the areas of life where men’s human rights are under attack, with a particular focus on tackling laws, policies and initiatives that favour women and girls and discriminate against men and boys in the process.

3.    A  Men’s Rites of Passage Movement

A Men’s Rites of Passage Movement would ensure that all men and boys had the opportunity to take part in rites of passage work with the support of other men and help every boy make a safe and healthy transition into manhood in the process.

4.    An Integral Men’s Movement

An Integral Global Men’s Movement would seek to unite everyone committed to improving the lives of men and boys no matter what perspective they came from and seek out areas of common interest and opportunities to work together for the greater good.

5.    A Men’s Social Justice Movement

A Men’s Social Justice Movement would focus on areas where men and boys experience inequality or problems with their health, education, family life, personal safety, social care needs etc and take action to find solutions to these issues.

6.    A Religious Men’s Movement

A Religious Men’s Movement would help to solve the problems that involve men and boys by actively working to bring more men to God—with a focus on one religion only (whatever that religion is).

7.    An Interfaith Men’s Movement

An Interfaith Men’s Movement would work across religious boundaries to help solve the problems that involve men and boys by actively working to bring more men to a life of faith, no matter what that faith is.

8.     A Fathers’ Rights Movement

A Fathers’ Rights Movement would seek to ensure that every child knows the love of their father by tackling the failings of the world’s legal systems which favour mothers particularly when parents are separated.

9.    A Shared Parenting Movement

A Shared Parenting Movement would work to unite mums and dads to help men and women equally share the responsibility of caring for their children, looking after the home and earning money through a rewarding career.

10. A Men Go Their Own Way Movement

A Men Go Their Own Way Movement would encourage and support men to “go their own way” and live their lives free from any problems associated with being in a long-term relationship with a women.

So what kind of men’s movement do you think the world needs? Cast your vote below now. You can vote for more than one option if you want to and please feel free to share this page with others so more people can cast a vote today. Thanks for taking part, getting involved and taking action today.

And now you’ve voted why not join the movement towards the 3rd National Conference for Men and Boys and buy your tickets today.

The economy has been emasculated says Specator editor

woman_line_graphThe editor of The Spectator magazine, Fraser Nelson, has become the latest high profile commentator to speak out on the problems that men and boys face. Writing in the Daily Telegraph this week, Nelson observed “there is no male equivalent of the Fawcett Society to moan for men, no Harriet Harman equivalent to spy discrimination”.

The Spectator takes a conservative view of politics and has generally been less concerned with gender issues than its left-wing cousin, The New Statesman, which ran a series called “Let’s Talk About Men” last year, so it’s interesting to get a sense on Fraser’s views on the problems men and boys face.

Fortunately we’ll have perspectives on men and gender from across the political spectrum at the Thinking Men event which opens the Third National Conference for Men and Boys on Thursday 26th September.

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In summary, Fraser says that boys—and particularly poorer boys—are falling behind their female counterparts in terms of education and employment. He says there is an emasculation of the  economy that is disadvantaging men collectively, particularly younger men who face a gender pay gap and as a result our sons our more likely to end up unmarriageable or financially dependent. We provide a summary of his key points below.

On boys facing inequality in education:

“Some 58 per cent of graduates are women, and the ratio is even higher in the big-buck professions like law and medicine. Girls have been outperforming boys in A-levels for some time, and now score better in IQ tests. This has obvious implications for how we work, live and bring up our children.

On the emasculation of the economy to men’s disadvantage:

“The economy is changing shape, in a way that is to men’s collective disadvantage. Occupations requiring physical strength are rapidly disappearing; a quarter of manufacturing jobs have vanished in the past 10 years. In their place come posts where “work” means grabbing a coffee, heading to the office and getting along with people. The qualities of social intelligence, communication skills and multi-tasking are not ones where men have any innate advantage.

“There is no reason why the progress should stop at equality: in field after field, women are starting to dominate. In the recession, four out of five British jobs lost were held by men. The recession has simply accelerated the emasculation of the economy.”

On the male gender pay gap

“Anyone genuinely concerned about gender equality in Britain should be worried about the boys. For those aged between 22 and 30, “pay gap” refers to the fact that the average man is now paid less than his female equivalent – perhaps unsurprisingly, given that girls are better-educated. For every four university applications by girls, just three are submitted by boys. Male horizons are narrowing in Britain, and no one seems worried.”

On poor boys facing greater inequality

“Gender equality is a very real concept among the rich, who now live in a world where young men and women do as well as each other. But among poor families, boys are falling further and further behind – and are 30 per cent less likely to apply for university than girls. The Labour MP Frank Field has long pointed out how deindustrialisation (which happened even faster under Blair than under Thatcher) has robbed these young men of life options. Yes, office jobs may replace factory jobs, so the economy ticks over. But what about teenagers not cut out for university, who used to go straight into a trade? They struggle to find a role in society.”

On the rise of the ineligible bachelor  

“Study after study shows that men without steady employment are regarded as unsound marital bets. If Bridget Jones’s Diary were to be rewritten for the 2020s, she’d be poorer – and male. The phrase “purse-whipped” would be used in his diary. He might wish he had studied harder, the better to impress the high-flying Miss Darcy. But it may take until the next decade for that book to be written. Things are changing so fast that the idea of men being left “on the shelf” still sounds like fiction. But the market value of testosterone has never been lower.”

On young men failing to launch

“My daughter, Nicola, was born last week – and no one made jokes about dowries or costly weddings. In Britain, the idea of a daughter being a financial liability died in the last century. It’s my two boys who, statistically, I ought to be more worried about. Where I live, in Twickenham, cafés are full of kept men buying breakfast because they could not be bothered to make it – sometimes pushing prams with one hand and holding toast in the other. Teenagers are not the only ones responsible for record pre-order sales of PlayStation 4.”

To read Nelson Fraser’s full article see Boris Johnson wasn’t joking – work is becoming a woman’s world

To take part in the Thinking Men event at this year’s Third National Conference for Men and Boys buy your ticket online today here.

10 Media Articles About UK Fatherhood

imagesFatherhood is always one of the top topics of conversation and debate at the National Conference for Men and Boys and this year will be not exception.

If you can’t wait until to September to join the debate then here’s a summary of ten conversations about dads that have been taking place in the media in the past month.

And if you haven’t booked you place at this year’s conference why not take action and buy your tickets online today here…

1. One Million Children Growing Up Without Dads

The Centre for Social Justice (the centre right  think tank set up by the former Conservative Party leader Ian Duncan Smith) released a report on fatherhood in the run up to Fathers’ Day. The report warned that a “tsunami” of family breakdown was creating “man deserts” with a million children now growing up without fathers. Responses ranged from Peter Hitchens  in the Daily Mail saying the the “national experiment in fatherlessness” was costing the country £49 billion a year to “Scouse Bird” in The Guardian  saying that fatherless was the result of Liverpool mums not putting up with the stupid, incompetent, gobshite behaviour of dads! The Centre for Social Justice is now shifting its focus to researching some of the barriers dads face to father involvement—they probably won’t be asking “Scouse Bird ” for advice!

2. The Left Needs to Talk About Dads Too

David Lammy continues to be the Labour MP who seems to be  most concerned about fatherhood and while he didn’t endorse the tone of the Centre for Social Justice report he said “at least the right is engaged in this issue…..hen did a left-leaning thinktank last publish a report about fatwhers?” In the past month Lammy has submitted a report on fathers to Labour’s policy review and penned a commentary on fathers in The Guardian and and article on young fathers at Central Lobby.

3. The Media Discriminates Against Dads

Nine out of ten parents claim children’s shows don’t represent real-life dads and three out of ten say the way dads are portrayed in the media is a “subtle form of discrimination” according to a survey by netmums. “The type of jokes aimed at dads would be banned if they were aimed at women, ethnic minorities or religious groups” says Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard.

4. Dads Arent Duds. They Deserve Better

The Observer picked up on the Netmums survey in a positive editorial about dads to mark Fathers’ Day. “The majority of fathers want to spend more time with the family while research tells us the most stressed men are those who work full time and regret not having sufficient hours to ‘father'” said the Sunday newspaper.

5. Fathers 4 Justice Makes an Art of Protest

Fathers 4 Justice has had a colourful month heading to Westminster in June to launch a political petition sponsored by the Respect Party MP George Galloway and subsequently declaring that it was “refusing to deal with the government” after two high profile protests targeted works of art including a portrait of the Queen and Constable’s Haywain. The issue has sparked media debate include commentary by Ally Fogg in The Guardian, Iain Dale at Conservative Home and Glen Poole (part of national conference team) at The Good Men Project.

6. Courts Treat Dads Like Sperm Donors Says Author

The link between art and fathers’ rights was deepened further when the best-selling author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernier—patron of the charity Families Need Fathers—spoke out on Fathers’ Day. He highlighted the “general mythologising of fathers as irrelevant and feckless abusers” and slammed the family courts for treating “fathers heartlessly as mere sperm donors and bankers”.

7.  Gender Neutral Laws Discriminate Against Dads

“Gender neutral laws in a gender biased society, deliver gender biased outcomes” says Karen Woodall at the Centre for Separated Families. “Dads are discriminated against in family separation policy” she said last month, “that is why they are disaffected, disappearing and desperate.  There is nothing more, nothing less to say about it.  In a gender analysis, it is quite simply a fact.  Now we either live with it (and the fatherless society that it creates) or we do something about it.”

8. Children Lack Male Authority Figures Says Gove

The Education Minister, Michael Gove, spoke out about the impact of fatherlessness on children at a Church of England seminar saying “more children are growing up in homes where the male authority figure will be fleeting or absent, where there will be what we now call ‘guesting parents……while it’s very far from being a majority of parents, manifestly, it is a growing and troubling minority and often concentrated in particular areas.”

9. It’s Time For Dads To Pull Their Weight

Gideon Burrows, author of the fatherhood book “Men Can Do It”, probably agrees with Michael Gove that children benefit from involved fathers, though it’s hard to imagine him using a phrase like “male authority figure”. Burrows is an advocate for men and women sharing childcare equally and says in The Guardian article “why men don’t pull their weight” that men only pay lip service to equal parenting.

10. Happy Gay Fathers’ Day

There are thought to be 12,000 same-sex couples raising children in the UK, an increase of 300 per cent since 2010 according to a feature in The Scotsman exploring the lives of gay dads north of the border.

And remember it doesn’t matter if your are of interest is young fathers, separated dads, dads sharing parenting, policy on fatherhood or the experience of gay, bisexual and transgender dads, whatever your interest in fatherhood you are welcome to join us at the The Third National Conference for Men and Boys.

Buy your tickets to the conference online today here