Roar Debates: Exclusive Feminism at King’s?

The KCL Women and Politics Society has recently gone through a rebranding of their publication to “The Clandestine”, focusing on feminist and gender minority issues. Read the Society’s take on this issue here.

Exclusive feminism or good old common sense?

Roar debates.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Exclusive Feminism at King’s

The ethos of the Women and Politics Society’s blog, as stated in their manifesto, aims to provide a platform for civil discourse with the goal of allowing women and those of “marginalised genders” to voice their opinions and to facilitate debate. Yet, when a student contended, “Do males fall under the ‘other genders’ category?”, the editor-in-chief replied: “As men aren’t a marginalised gender they do not for the purpose of this ethos!”

Although some feminists would disagree with The Clandestine’s reply, there are also some who may contend that men aren’t marginalised. But it is undeniable that many issues facing men in today’s society are being disregarded in the conversation for gender equality. Contrary to the Clandestine’s claim that male issues are discussed extensively and issues regarding women and non-binary people are “structurally” marginalised (despite a multitude of news organisations such as the BBC and The Guardian that frequently discuss gender issues), platforms that discuss male issues, such as the Men’s Rights Movement (MRA), have been denounced as “anti-women” and  “alt-right hate movements” in the media.

This was certainly the media response to Cassie Jaye’s film “The Red Pill” in 2016, intending to provide a balanced insight into the MRA. Her film explored the campaign issues of the Men’s Rights Movement such as prejudice against men over custody battles and the destruction of men’s lives over false allegations of rape, all valid concerns that needs to be addressed in this political climate. However, she was immediately denounced as a “misogynistic hate preacher” and had her film was placed under a nation-wide ban in Australia.

This mode of thought is dangerous in the sense that it marginalises males from a much-needed voice of concern, contributing to a broader movement of “exclusive feminism”. The exclusion of males from a platform of discussion is engrained in the theory of “male privilege”, the multitude of political, social, and economic advantages that men exclusively hold due to their sex.

Yet if this narrative of “male privilege” seems convincing, it does account for the trend of failure among men in the socioeconomic sphere. If men are so advantaged in society, why is it that men are falling behind in education at a staggering rate from primary school all the way to higher education? Additionally, why are women 35% more likely to pursue higher education than men if males are so privileged? If men are so privileged, why is it that suicide is the number one killer among males aged 20 to 49?  Why is it that despite men forming 713,000 of 1.9 million domestic violence victims, there are only 16 refuge centres for men whilst there are 4,000 for women in England and Wales ? If men are so privileged in the economic sector, why is it that men form 96% of all workplace related deaths in 2018? The KCL Women & Politics Society claims that their publication provides a voice for women and “marginalised” genders that are “structurally oppressed”, yet the statistics are the statistics – it is arguable that men are structurally oppressed as well. Where are the voices for men?

These are all valid issues that need to be discussed but are completely silenced in the era of exclusive feminism. This is the reason why many disenfranchise with the ideological movement of modern feminism, as it isolates a mandatory group from the discourse: men. According to a poll of 8,000 Britons, only 7% identify as a feminist, whereas 86% of men and 74% of women believe in equality between the sexes. Although in no way fully representative of the British population, it nonetheless displays the contradiction between modern “exclusive” feminism and its original principles in its First and Second Wave variants: equality between the sexes – the essential principle that The Clandestine has so eloquently defied.

If we claim to campaign for gender equality and inclusiveness, then we are obligated to provide a platform for everyone to voice their issues. It is fundamental to ask ourselves: Is the narrative of male privilege so convincing that we can simply ignore the multitude of problems facing men?

Written by Ryan Chan

Why “male issues” are not a feminist problem – a response to Ryan

The KCL Women’s and Politics Society has been accused of “exclusive feminism”, that is banning men from the discourse on gender inequality. However, men have not been “excluded”, they have simply been silenced. Women need platforms on which they can voice issues that men cannot relate to (sexual advances at work, lower pay…), and in today’s climate in which women (Ford) are being ignored at the highest levels of justice (the Supreme Court) in favour of powerful men (Kavanaugh) it is understandable that some spaces need to be restrictive to men. Be it not simply for the possibility of being listened to, but also to avoid reliving trauma in front of an audience of the opposite sex.

Claiming that “men suffer too” on feminist platforms is like walking into a meeting for Black and Latino minorities and protesting that white people have issues too – poverty, reverse discrimination… It just defeats the whole point of acknowledging that racial minorities’ issues have been caused by white people, while white issues have been caused by, well, social structures (that have in turn largely been created by white (men)).

Of course men’s issues, such as the pressure of toxic masculine ideals, are an important part of the social discourse and even of the feminist discourse. In fact, men and women are being constrained by similar social structures… the only difference being that these structures are a male creation. Men should be a part of the discourse – they should be welcomed to listen, take notes, and raise awareness on gender inequality. However, if they want a platform to voice their own “marginalizations” then they are welcome to create a ‘Men and Their Issues’ society where these will be heard and women will be (as always) listening.

The problems facing women today are a direct consequence of discrimination against their gender by social and institutional structures that were created by men all those years ago. Issues facing men – such as high suicide rates, worker fatalities – are not a direct consequence of any form of discrimination by women… on the contrary, they are brought on by the very same structures that oppress women, that is male-dominated institutions created by men, for men. If they have now been proven to affect male welfare negatively, its is in no way related to ‘exclusive feminism’ nor women’s attempt to become more than second class citizens. What does the male suicide rate have to do with women fighting for equal pay, equal opportunities and respect? It has much more to do with the pressure of toxic masculine ideals, ideals that have continually been furthered and encouraged by men themselves. If some are unable to see this, maybe they are simply blinded by the very entitlement they claim not to have – why is it still a trend for men to blame everything, even their own problems, on women?

Stating that men do not consist a ‘marginalized’ gender is also acknowledging the existence of a number of genders that are continually being discriminated against, such as  trans women and trans men. “Marginalization” implies an act of oppression and discrimination on part of a bigger, privileged group. When talking about gender issues, it is hard (unless you are a white Republican) to see how men can appear as a marginalized group and not as a privileged one – have they been denied rightful salary, rejected because of concerns on “appearance” or subjected to verbal and physical abuse in the street? Even when looking at child custody battles, men were, historically, the ones to force the role of housewife and child carer upon the woman – so if justice is today inclined in their favour, is it really women’s fault at all? If some structures are being reversed against male interests today, who’s to blame but their ancestors?

Written by Mathilde Betant-Rasmussen