So, last week we found out that the University of York has been downgraded from “Green” status , to “Amber” status on spiked online‘s state of free speech ratings. I can’t say I’m really surprised given the many events that have occurred, particularly over the past term.
I’m not going to discuss in detail what happened involving Milo Yiannopoulos, only to say that I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a contributing factor. I do not condone the harassment of certain individuals , but I disagree with those individuals completely on the subject of feminism. I’d much rather discuss cancelling International Men’s Day when it comes to that subject. Approximately three seminar tutors signed that petition to cancel that event, as well as a few close friends. I’ll be blunt, I was very saddened to see those names on the list. This is not because I cannot cope with disagreement, but rather that these people had gone out of their way to stifle debate. In the name of promoting their personal views of “toxic masculinity” being the issue, they silenced people who may take a different view.
To the university staff, isn’t that the antithesis of what you had taught me? That ideas should be questioned, that no ideology should be dogmatically adhered to, preserved on the basis that it makes the people that have to cope with the emergence of new ideas uncomfortable? What example does that show to someone who respected you? You would provide A Room of One’s Own to feminists and ideas you agree with, but deny it to those who you disagree with under the banner that “masculinity is toxic”. Is declaring “maleness” to be inherently evil, which is the ultimate point of this sickening idea of “toxic masculinity”, really a good way of supporting a man who is having suicidal thoughts? Speaking as someone who has had mental health problems, and has many friends who suffer from mental health problems, nothing worries me more than thinking someone like me at my worst time could be told that their very identity is the reason for their depression. In my mind that’s basically the same as the “get over yourself” school of mental health treatment.
Worse still, men are told when they question feminist beliefs in this manner to “check their privilege” a thinly veiled version of “your problems are not important, shut up”. How does that help? Disagreement of course is fine , but effectively saying that because one has the “toxin” of “maleness” in one’s veins, to labour the metaphor, that one is not allowed to speak, is at its heart against freedom of speech. No one speaks about male genital integrity, or the fact that rapes of men (by both men and women) are largely unreported due to the belief that “men can’t be raped” prevalent in society, especially in the case of female-on-male rape. There is only one domestic violence shelter for men in the whole of the UK, and men are often presumed guilty of domestic violence and rape . To the point that we now have the nauseating idea that men should take compulsory consent classes as they may not know it’s wrong to feel someone up or have sex with them without their consent! The whole concept to me is bizarre. For even questioning any of those issues, I can predict I will be called an “apologist for misogyny/rape”, a “woman hater” , a “fedora wearing MRA neckbeard”, in fact if anybody took issue with my statements, please call me all of those things, you’re proving my point for me.
Ultimately then the implications of feminism wanting to have a monopoly on men’s issues is a detriment to free speech and more damaging than beneficial. IMD being cancelled in York is merely a microcosm for this problem. Allow MRAs a room of their own, you don’t necessarily need to go in and listen to them. Men’s issues are important, and men deserve to have a movement supporting their rights.
Thomas Turton is the Secretary of the University of York UKIP Association