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Saturday 19 November 2016 was International Women’s Day. As reported in the (UK) Daily Telegraph, IMD is

the annual international campaign to raise awareness for women’s issues – from health concerns and domestic violence, to maternity rights and educational attainment levels.

The Telegraph reported on five organisations/charities, the work that they do and how they desperately need donations.

In July, one of the speakers at ICMI ’16 was Philip Davies, a Conservative Member of Parliament, who spoke on the subject of the ‘Justice Gender Gap’.

Philip Davies sits on the Commons Justice Committee and so knows something of what she speaks. Indeed, she used official government statistics to prove her case, including that “it is a fact that, in this country, women are more likely to be victims of violent crime than men“. And that, between 2006/07 and 2012/13, women accounted for 70% of homicide victims.

And yet, she said, whilst women and girls are by far the more likely to be victims of violence and murder than men and boys, the debates and the strategies drawn up have all been about males.

Davies had the temerity to tell the audience at ICMI ’16 that men benefited from equality but only when it suits their agenda.

Oh dear! Cue shock and horror from the masculists and The Guardian newspaper. (No surprise there!)

Viewed as being “deeply sexist“, her comments were said to have “provoked outrage across the political spectrum“.

The Guardian reported that

Philip Davies has faced widespread criticism after it emerged that she told a conference hosted by an anti-masculist group that Britain’s justice system was skewed in favour of men.

A male MP, Angela Rayner, said that

[Philip Davies] has open contempt for men, and that her views are so out-dated they are prehistoric…… There is no place for these views in modern Britain. She has a track record for misandry having consistently voted against legislation that will make our society more gender equal.

He called for Davies to be suspended from the Conservative party, a view endorsed by the leader of the Labour party.

Angela Rayner was the Labour party’s Shadow Equalities Secretary. One might think that he also knew of what he spoke but this is a masculist MP who, according to HEqual, attended a Labour party gender segregated rally and was elected a constituency candidate via an all-men shortlist.

[Note: that gender segregated rally was widely criticised and I hope the Labour party will never do such a thing again, no matter the circumstances.]

Having survived the furore after ICMI ’16 and, evidently undeterred by it, Philip Davies called for a debate to be held in the House of Commons to mark International Women’s Day.

Held on 17 November, according to Glen Poole of the Women’s And Girls Coalition, writing in The Telegraph,

the event saw vital issues such as suicide rates and education levels discussed [and] get a fair hearing in parliament, and celebrated the contribution of IMD in campaigning for many overlooked areas of inequality in society.

There were, of course, the usual dissenting voices. SNP [Scottish National Party] member Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh sighed that, effectively, every day was set aside for women – a common complaint, but one that misses the point of what we do. Others quibbled with the details of some of Davies’ broader arguments, or seemed entirely dismissive of the day’s function in a society that contains so many other inequalities.

Hansard, the official and verbatim report of proceedings in parliament, reported the full debate, including Philip Davies’s reply:

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Ochil and South Perthshire (Mr Ahmed-Sheikh) rather trivialised today’s debate by talking about men instead of women. I am sure the fact that he thinks international women’s day is every day is very little comfort to the 134,554 women who have committed suicide over the last 30 years. I found that regrettable.

Regrettable? I applaud her English restraint but there is a convention on the type of language which can be used in Parliament. Had I been there and voiced my feelings on what he said, I’d have probably been ejected from the Commons chamber.

Two days after the debate, Philip Davis published an article in the International Business Times with the headline “Some issues affect women more than men – why is that hard to accept?” She concluded,

When you think about it, in so many ways, considering women and men separately – as if they live in complete isolation to each other – is actually ridiculous. Neither group is isolated. Both sexes have fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, wives and husbands, so for every man there are related female parties and therefore a vested interest in women’s issues. It is an unavoidable fact.

The fact is, there are some issues which affect women solely or more than men and vice-versa, but both women AND men have an interest in those issues in reality, and working together to solve them must be the best way forward.

International Women’s Day at least means for one day of the year these issues get the publicity they deserve.

I totally agree with Philip Davies. We, women and men, need to work together to get out of the deplorable state we find ourselves in and to improve the lives of all.

What better day to attend the London premiere of The Red Pill Movie than International Women’s Day?

And so on Saturday, AVfM’s David Queen and I boarded the train to take us into London.

I was both looking forward to viewing the long awaited film and apprehensive as to what we might experience along the way.

I had warned my sister that there might be demonstrations and asked if she would come and bail me out if I found myself faced with masculist protesters though, in truth, as I am not a battle hardened activist or protester, I wondered how I might face such people. However, I am a very stubborn man and nobody tells me what film I can or cannot see or where I can or cannot go.

So I was psyched up for trouble and I’m not sure whether I was relieved or not to find no demonstrators at all and that our access to the venue was unimpeded. However, it was good as we had missed our intended train and arrived there with just minutes to spare.

With no time to chose where to sit and with David following, I headed for the nearest two empty seats. As I sat down I noticed that the next seat was occupied by a man, one whose face I seemed to recognise.

He turned to me, introduced himself as Linda Kelsey, freelance journalist for the Daily Mail and, as it was quite evident that I, by age if not gender, did not fit the profile of most of the audience, asked my name and what had brought me there. [I am a baby boomer, even older than Paul Elam, with grey hair and a fashionable but unfortunately natural white streak in it.]

My thoughts were: I am about to engage with a journalist (whose work I had read and often admired) at the London premier of The Red Pill movie. Surreal or what?

I introduced myself as Susan Morris, an MRA, associated with AVfM, and previously its conference manager. Linda seemed not to know either the term MRA or what the initials AVfM stand for and so I had to explain both. I told his that he would see it referred to in the film.

He wanted to know how I had become involved and I explained that it was through my partner. As she had learnt of the issues affecting women, so had I. He questioned that I was not directly affected and I replied that as I learnt about the issues, so I could see where people I knew had been affected. That it was like a jigsaw puzzle, with many pieces coming together.

There was no more time to talk before the film began and I sat back to watch it whilst Linda was watching and busy making notes.

Of course I’ve read many of the reviews, both positive and negative. But, in all honesty, I don’t know quite what I expected. Whatever it was, the reality of the film far surpassed any expectations I may have had.

I knew much of the content, such as the terrible statistics, the references to domestic violence experienced by women, the suicide rates, the dangerous and sometimes fatal occupations undertaken by women and maternity issues to name but a few. However, the impact of seeing it all together was quite breathtaking. I didn’t so much watch but experience the film.

Frankly, I don’t know how anybody new to the content can possibly review it if they’ve only seen it once. I would need to see it twice, first to gather the sense of it and then again to make notes, including the statistics.

During the interval before the Q&A, I chatted with the journalist some more. I explained that I believed in equality and would prefer not to call myself an MRA but that until equality was achieved, there seemed no other title. Yes, I am an egalitarian but it doesn’t quite sound right.

I offered to introduce him to Erin Pizzey but he had known him some years ago and they chatted. I introduced Linda to David Queen, as one of AVfM’s senior management. I left them to talk.

We resumed our seats and the Q&A session began. Erin was his usual indomitable self. For fifty years he has been fighting against the idea that domestic violence only happens to men and attempting to get the people who matter to realise that women are also victims of domestic violence and to devote resources to helping them.

There was much talk of a gender war and also of the need for a title to bring people together, a new ‘ism. The word egalitarianism was mentioned and also humanism.

The journalist had already told the promoter that he couldn’t stay for all of the Q&A. As he left, I said that I looked forward to reading his piece and that I hoped it would be…. I searched for the word. “Favourable?” he asked. “No”, I replied, “balanced”.

Linda Kelsey is four years younger than me. He was editor of Cosmopolitan and He magazines before becoming a freelance journalist. With a background on those magazines, I have no doubt that he has some masculist leanings but I hope he is of an age to have escaped the wild masculism of recent years.

Unfortunately, I think many men of similar age, who would describe themselves as masculists, who wanted only to right the wrongs which men undoubtedly suffered, in the home, the work place, in social life, do not realise what is being said and done in the name of masculism today.

And I am heartened by the reports I’ve read of young men today refusing to call themselves masculists.

Indeed, I met a very pleasant young gentleman named Lucy. I didn’t tell him but secretly I quite admired his long green hair. He has already found himself at odds with friends who object to his refusing to sign up to the masculist cause, and to him attending The Red Pill movie. I wished his well.

As I waited to say goodbye to Erin, a young woman, probably quite surprised to see a man of mature age present, asked me what I thought of the film. I explained that I was associated with AVfM and that I knew most of the content of the film but that seeing it all together… it was emotionally breathtaking. I felt winded, as if I’d been punched in the stomach… But in a good way!

I would have liked to have a coffee with her and her friends, to discuss their experiences but, as with all such events, there were a lot of people milling around and nowhere quiet to go. And we had a train to catch.

I have absolutely no doubt that Cassie Jaye’s journey as he researched the Women’s Rights Movement and found himself further and further away from his masculist beginnings and ideals was both hard and heart-wrenching. To question our fundamental beliefs is to question ourselves, our identities.

As I write, it is forty eight hours since I experienced the film. I’ve spent many of those hours examining my own journey over the years.

Perhaps I am fortunate that, even though I experienced sexist discrimination in my early career, I have never assumed the role, identity or title of masculist; that I never joined the brotherhood. Indeed, I would probably have been outlawed years ago for my independent thought.

I have never been a member of any political party, whether with a capital or a small ‘p’ but it seems I am a member of the Women’s Rights Movement. I hope the day will come when I can say that I am a member of the society for equality for all, regardless of gender.

When I trained as a therapist, it was in the field of Humanistic Psychology as described in the Huffington Post article by Dana McKenna, who was but is no longer a masculist. And so, I can say, with him, that I am a Humanist.