THIS week, to mark International Men’s Day, The Conservative Woman has been running a series by Belinda Brown on how men evolved as supporters of women and providers for their families, and how feminism has eroded and undermined this traditional role.
There is another way in which feminism and in particular the ideologically driven #MeToo movement has warped our perspective. It has dangerously stereotyped women as victims, and men as abusive perpetrators.
According to the last Crime Survey for England and Wales, one in three domestic abuse victims are men, and 2,000 men every day are victims of domestic abuse, yet there is little or no support for the victims.
The issue of male domestic abuse is significantly under-reported because of the social stigma attached to victims who are often too frightened to report assaults, or coercive and controlling behaviour, because they fear they will not be taken seriously, or believed, or worst still, arrested themselves.
I know this from bitter personal experience. I know men in my family who have been stabbed, punched, had mirrors smashed over their heads, their genitalia scarred, property destroyed and false allegations made against them, designed to wreck lives and destroy careers.
Yet none of these assaults was reported, simply because the men concerned were too frightened. After all, in the age of #MeToo, who’s going to believe a man is a victim of domestic abuse?
That’s why we at Fathers4Justice decided to map the support services available to vulnerable men. We made 400 Freedom of Information requests to councils across the UK.
Our research exposed a shocking lack of refuges for men. Just three confirmed they provide ‘refuge’ spaces for male victims of domestic abuse and dozens of other councils admitted spending nothing on tackling domestic abuse against men.
Out of 300 local authorities, just three confirmed they had a total of 13 beds for male victims of domestic violence. Two further authorities provided dispersed or out-of-area accommodation, while 18 councils spent £21million of taxpayers’ money on services for women, but were unable to confirm any spending on men.
When it comes to the male suicide epidemic, the numbers are equally shocking. About 14 men take their own lives every day – that’s nearly 5,000 deaths every year – yet the majority of councils have no specific programmes to cut the male suicide rate.
In the week of International Men’s Day, it has never been clearer that the only thing toxic about masculinity is the disgraceful way we treat our men, whether as victims of domestic abuse, the denial of basic equal parenting rights for separated dads, or the blind eye turned to the scandal of male suicide.
Worst still, the cult of ‘hate male’, leaves a dangerous legacy for our boys, who are left to fend for themselves in a fatherless nation where they are continually demonised by society.
Some people argue that Parliament is full of men and that ‘every day is men’s day’. In fact, the opposite if true. The men in Parliament are as uncomfortable talking about these issues as men in society are.
Now, more than ever, we demand equal treatment for men and boys. We demand an equal voice in government, an equivalent to the Minister for Women and Equalities – a Minister for Men – to coordinate a response to what we believe is a public health emergency.