International Men’s Day started half an hour ago – in the UK, anyway – and I thought it timely to pay tribute to Philip Davies MP (C, Shipley), who the Anti-Feminism League presented with a Winston award in 2012 – here.
For some years Philip has been the only elected politician in the English-speaking world publicly advocating for the human rights of men and boys in a number of areas. We look forward to him returning to parliament following the coming general election, despite the futile efforts the Labour party are making with a view to toppling him.
On 27 October 2015, he presented the case to the Backbench Business Committee for a parliamentary debate on men’s issues such as: prostate and testicular cancer, less equality for men in child custody and lower performance in education compared to girls of the same age. In addition, he proposed parliamentary observance of International Men’s Day. This led to a public disagreement with Labour MP Jess Phillips who laughed at his proposal. “As the only woman on this committee, it seems like every day to me is International Men’s Day”, Phillips said in response to Davies during the meeting.
The committee originally rejected his case, but a debate in Westminster Hall on 19 November was eventually granted after Labour and Conservative colleagues gave their support. Davies said during the debate: “The problem is virtually everything we do in this House and debate in this House seems to start with the premise that everything is biased against women and something must be done about it – never an appreciation that men’s issues can be just as important and that men can be just as badly treated in certain areas as women”. Maria Miller, Conservative chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee responded to Davies: “Women face discrimination on a daily basis, that’s not a myth. My honourable friend does not do his case much good at all when he tries to belittle that”. “One of the most depressing things to happen recently was the introduction of the Select Committee on Women and Equalities”, he said during the debate; the select committee had been created earlier in the year.
In July 2016, Davies gave a speech on the justice gender gap at the International Conference of Men’s Issues organised by Justice for Men and Boys. He said: “I don’t believe there’s an issue between men and women. The problem is being stirred up by those who can be described as militant feminists and the politically correct males who pander to this nonsense”. Objecting to the lower number of men who win in custody cases with their former partners, he said: “Many women use their children as a stick to beat the father with”. He rejected a suggestion that his appearance at a J4MB event meant that he subscribed to the party’s viewpoint. He did not receive a fee for his participation in the event.
In response to Davies’ comments at the July 2016 event, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, said that Davies’ “deeply sexist” opinions showed that he had an “utter contempt for women”. He called on Theresa May, the Conservative leader, to withdraw the party whip from Davies. The Labour peer Baroness Corston, a barrister who reviewed the issue of women in the justice system for the Home Office, told The Guardian that “There is indisputable evidence that women are treated by the courts more harshly” than men. Davies responded by providing figures from the Ministry of Justice collected by men’s-rights lobby group Parity, which he argued suggest that the courts favour women when sentencing. He said that Corston is thus “ill-informed or deliberately lying when she accuses me of lying”.
An International Men’s Day debate, instigated by Davies, took place for the first time in the House of Commons on 17 November 2016. Davies rejected claims that it is a stunt and hoped it would become an annual event. In an article for The Times published on the same day, Davies wrote: “The aims of International Men’s Day are laudable. They include promoting male role models, celebrating the contribution men make, focusing on men’s health and wellbeing as well as highlighting discrimination against men”.
Davies was elected, unopposed, to the women and equalities select committee in December 2016. “Philip Davies doesn’t even think that the Women’s and Equalities Committee should exist, yet he’s about to join it”, commented the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, “perhaps giving him a chance to rethink his views”.
The best way I could think of to pay tribute to Philip was to post links to materials concerning him on this website. Our YouTube channel has 13 videos involving Philip – here. They include his talk The Justice Gender Gap at the 2016 London conference. We look forward to the video of his recent talk at the recent conference in Chicago. His interview with Elizabeth and myself in his office, last December, is here.
We’ve published many blog pieces concerning Philip, or with references to him – here.
Philip, on behalf of the global men’s rights movement, I salute you. Thank you for all that you’ve done to advocate for men and boys, when other politicians have been too hostile, disinterested, or spineless, to do likewise.
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