On 18 March I was interviewed for BBC Radio Scotland by the well-known Scottish feminist broadcaster Kaye Adams. Click on the link to the file here:
Ms Adams said at the start of the programme (after 0:38):
Do we need a party fighting for justice for men and boys? I’ve got a clenched fist as I’m reading that line.
During our discussion I said the following to Ms Adams (after 17:03):
You said at the beginning of the programme, ‘I’ve got a clenched fist as I read the words, “Justice for Men & Boys”.’ How would you feel about a male presenter of a major radio show who said, ‘I’ve got a clenched fist as I read the words, “Justice for Women & Girls” ‘?
I don’t think I’d have a problem…
OK, it may have been a crass comment, but it’s a very striking name for a party. If it had been ‘Justice for’ ANYTHING, I think I’d have said the same thing.
After we put up a post about the programme, we had plenty of comments from people who’d been similarly angered by the ‘clenched fist’ remark. I considered making a complaint to the BBC about the matter, and also about the fact that while I’d been assured I’d be informed in advance of the identity of the feminist I’d be debating with, I wasn’t. The feminist turned out to be an ultra-left-wing Glaswegian writer, Alan Bissett. But I concluded that these were minor matters in the grand scheme of things, and didn’t make a complaint.
Yesterday I was intrigued to be informed of a comment on the associated YouTube comment thread:
Hi Mike. I received a response from the BBC regarding a complaint I made regarding the presenter’s attitude during this interview. It mainly concerned a comment during her introduction regarding her ‘clenched fist’. I want to e-mail it to you, as the producer of the show is saying that she was showing solidarity with you, which is plainly not true. If you could send your e-mail address to either my YouTube or Facebook account I will then forward it on to you. Keep up the good work, sincerely yours.
I sent the gentleman my email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – and this morning received an email from him, with the content of the BBC’s response to his complaint:
Thanks for contacting the BBC.
Your comments were passed to the Producer of ‘Call Kaye’, who has asked that I forward his response as follows:
“Thank you for your comments regarding ‘Call Kaye’ which broadcast on Monday the 18th of March, hosted by Kaye Adams, which asked the question: Do we need a political party for Men and Boys?
This was because Kaye was interviewing Mike Buchanan the founder of the Justice for Men and Boys party later in the programme.
I understand that your complaint is with Kaye’s use of the phrase “I have a clenched fist as I read this” whilst she was reading through the agenda for the party. And that you interpreted that as angry bias on her part and that she was ‘willing to use violence’.
I can only apologise if that was your impression as context and tone are key here. Kaye was in no way advocating that she was in angry opposition to the party she was instead indicating that she was ‘clenching her fist’ – raising her arm in the political sense, as an age old sign of solidarity and brotherhood in emphasis of the line “Fighting for Justice for Men and Boys”. It was an unscripted line that Kaye said in the moment and in the tone of the statement.
What she actually said after a clip of Mike Buchanan outlining the need for such a party was: “Is he right? Has the pendulum swung too far in favour of women’s rights to the detriment of men’s? Do we need a party fighting for Justice for Men and Boys?…I’ve got a clenched fist as I am reading that line there…Would you vote for it? 0500929500”
There’s no trace of indignation or anger in Kaye’s delivery and I think when you hear it in context it makes sense.
The aim of ‘Call Kaye’ is always to allow the listeners to make their own minds up from a broad spectrum of opinions and experiences.
I hope that this goes some way to answering your query and that you will continue listening to the programme in the future.”
Further to this response, your comments were also registered on our audience log. Audience reaction is crucial to the BBC and this log is an internal report of feedback which we compile daily and make available to all channel executives, including the BBC Executive board.
Thank you again for taking the time to get in touch.
So the feminist presenter was ’…raising her arm in the political sense, as an age old sign of solidarity and brotherhood in emphasis of the line “Fighting for Justice for Men and Boys”.’ Priceless. Simply priceless. That creative explanation is hardly consistent with her remark, ‘OK, it may have been a crass comment…’, is it? It must be a hoot working in the BBC Complaints department…