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A Kipper In York - Free Speech and Feminism

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Image: University of York UKIP Association
Image: University of York UKIP Association


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

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20 Comments

Deb edwards Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

Men and women are both human beings no matter what gender and as a female I absolutely believe that men should be allowed to air their views!! People may not like it but didn't women fight for equality and we got it and the majority of men respect that but equally men need to be able to feel their right to an opinion are equally as important as women's.. just because you don't like what somebody..male or female has to say, is wrong on all levels .this is a free country and we still have free speech we ALL have a right to expect to be treated the same!!!

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MR JUSTin NOPE Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

The idea behind safe spaces is that the debates that would take place on issues that would be associated with safe spaces do not involve equality of voices. The idea of privilege is often completely missed in the discussion and was in the think tank panel that occurred last night.

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Paula Kramer Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

Feminist leaders create inequality between women. Consider Gloria Steinem. Gloria Steinem silences women and gives men permission to silence women.

Steinem silenced millions of women when she participated in a discussion with bell hooks, Urvashi Vaid, and Naomi Wolf for the September/October 1993 issue of Ms. Magazine. Those four feminists discussed why women choose not to call themselves feminists instead of asking women who make that choice to speak for themselves. Would Steinem, hooks, Vaid, or Wolf have agreed that a group of nonfeminist women could speak for them to explain why they choose to call themselves feminist?

Steinem also gives men permission to silence women. On a New York stage in 1992, Steinem said, "We don't give a shit what she thinks" about Camille Paglia. Steinem's statement was broadcast on 60 Minutes. On national television, Steinem gave permission to every man listening to silence any woman by saying, "I don't give a shit what she thinks".

Steinem continues to silence women any time she announces that the alternative to feminism is masochism. I called myself a feminist for about 20 years. By the time of the above Ms. article, three local feminist leaders had verbally and emotionally abused me. I talked to other women and discovered the local feminist leaders had abused them as well. I decided I would be a masochist to continue associating with verbally and emotionally abusive women. I stopped calling myself a feminist.

Gloria Steinem creates inequality between women and for women.

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Marcia Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

Trite.

For the 100th time, safe spaces do not mean an issue is not discussed. It means it is appropriately flagged in advance as potentially sensitive and people can negotiate their own engagement for their own sakes. It means that those who have life experience and expertise on a subject are given precedence, as one would expect. People are just over-sensitive to this applying to issues like sexism.

The cancellation of the UNIVERSITY IMD was from fear of the criticism it knew was brewing - fear of the students exercising their free speech in opposition to how the event was being presented. (The open letter said nothing about cancelling, just about discussion. The opposite of censorship.)

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Thomas Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

So, you assume all women have collective expertise on the subject of sexism? Or say I as an LGBT person would automatically have experience of homophobia? Because they really don't. People don't have the same experience based upon things that they are born with.
Also considering how safe spaces are implemented in campuses , it's hard to argue that it hasn't led to censorship.
Look at the censorship in Warwick for example where a former muslim was nearly barred from speaking about Islam in the name of "safe spaces". You may define safe spaces differently, but it still doesn't excuse the way it's been implemented across campuses.

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Marcia Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

I made no such claim but way to strawman.

And 'censorship' is an extremely politically motivated way to frame the issue of speakers being no-platformed.

Thomas Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

I didn't strawman, that is exactly how safe spaces are used. No platforming is an extremely political act.

Lex Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

"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!"
-I think the definition of consent is the main one here. Not all men may have a clear idea of what consent is (a Yes, as apose to the absence of a No)- workshops are designed to clarify this and enforce/remind the idea and the necessity of consent (as many assaults take place when drunk/high etc). If all the men at this university went t a an hour workshop on these points and it leads to one less sexual assault, then it is worth it. In fact, I think all genders should attend such a session, so everybody is clear on giving/getting consent.

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Thomas Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

The trouble is that for the most part (as in several USA universities) it is male students only that get forced to attend consent classes. If all genders have compulsory classes , my objection is significantly reduced. I want people to be treated equally , and issues such as rape and sexual assualts are often considered to be a "gendered issue" to quote one liberation feminist. That in my view is wrong.

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Lex Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

It's a fact that the majority of sexual assaults are committed by men against women. Feminists don't deny that men can be victims too, but they focus on female victims and the rape culture promulgated by men (no, not all men). Focussing on women does not been ignoring male issues or denying they exist. (<- Read that sentence a couple more times, I think it is extremely relevant to your article)

"I want people to be treated equally"- well good for you but perhaps to treat people equally we need to get to a point where they are. And women- look at sexual assault statistics, pay gap, everyday sexism, media representation, women in top jobs- are not equal. Feminists want to bring women up to an equal level as men- then maybe we can talk about treating everyone equally.

Thomas Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

The pay gap doesn't exist once you take into account choices made by women in education as well as the fact that women on average work less hours than men, it's a common claim but heavily debunked. Women in top jobs is another complaint that has the same problem-in the coperate world if you take a career break, you will be passed up for promotion. To prove sexism in these cases you would have to be more nuanced and as yet the studies that conclude women are paid less/promoted less have not properly taken into account choices such as degree course etc. I agree we should encourage women into STEM , but I respect the choice of people to do a humanity (they will be paid less though).
Sexual assault statistics are a problem I agree (although it doesn't help that certain studies are unreliable, it's more likely to be 1 in 5 than 1 in 3) . Also I will point out that the lack of proper support for male victims of rape, domestic violence and sexual assualt proves that the issue has been ignored. The first shelter for male rape victims in the UK only opened recently. Everyday sexism is something which is typically attempting to create oppression where there is none manspreading/mansplainingbeing one of the funnier claims. Oh and women are well represented in mainstream media, particularly the BBC, there may be a an employment disparity at the moment but they have quotas in place. Under the law women are equal, even privileged in divorce law. Feminists need to make sure they do not suffer from mission creep. That is what I feel the movement has suffered from.

Meme Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

Waiting for a Muslim 'don't blow yourself up class' to come along.
Oh wait I have to check my privilege, I'm a rapist criminal because I'm a white man. You are the kind of moron who'd say auschwitz is where hitler sent the Jews to look after them if hitler told you that, you blind pathetic moron.

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Thomas Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

Is that aimed at me or...where did this Godwin's law come from?
I know you're in agreement with me on the subject of the article but can we please leave the holocaust out of discussions that have nothing to do with it?

Anonymous Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

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.

Can I please please please set this pathetic gathering of strawmen on fire

How's not a single person calling you any of the above working out for you?

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Thomas Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

OK, I was listing a common list of ad hominem attacks that are often thrown at people who express such views by, for want of a better term radfems. I'm glad no-one has thrown such insults at me, but such ad hominems are not uncommon in this sort of debate.

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John Mellors Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

Hi Thomas,

I don't know if i am one of the seminar tutors who you mentioned signed the letter about the Men's Day but if you want to come to my office hour (Fridays 9-10 in the Politics department), I am more than happy to explain my reasoning to you for doing so.

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Thomas Posted on Thursday 12 Dec 2019

Thank you for your offer, I have a seminar during that office hour I'm afraid. As an English student you won't have taught me, but if I had been your student this is a very kind offer and it does you credit to you as a Professor if I may say so.

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