Two things: the Museum of Sex and Philip Davies MP

Image by the excellent Stuart F Taylor

I’m back. Only just – this goes live as soon as my plane lands and I drag my sweaty arse through security. But I’m back. So here are two things to kick things off after my break – the New York Museum of Sex and some bollocks from UK MP and general waste-of-time Philip Davies. Ready? Let’s go.

The good: the New York Museum of Sex

Naturally I am a fan of any museum dedicated to fucking, especially when it explores all the nerdy details. This one’s no exception.

If you’re ever in New York, you should check out the Museum of Sex if you can. It has an exhibition on hardcore porn throughout the ages – what better reason could there be to go than that? Oh, perhaps the fact that the exhibition includes such eclectic yet FASCINATING things as a glory hole toilet door complete with ‘suck me’ messages.

If that’s not enough to persuade you, there’s also a brilliant exhibit which shows you lots of pictures of different animals humping in a variety of intriguing ways, and a hell of a lot of information on gender and sexuality in the animal kingdom. The short version here is: gender and sexuality are even more complex and interesting than I previously thought (and make no mistake: I thought they were pretty damn complex and interesting already).

I spent the entire time walking round this museum wishing I could take photos of all the displays to show you, but I felt like that’d be a bit unfair (and I’m not sure if it was allowed). I know I have a bunch of US readers, and certainly some in New York so: go if you can. Beware at the moment, though – New York is hotter than the fucking SUN. The Museum of Sex has air con, though. So there’s that.

The Bad: Philip Davies MP and ‘Justice 4 Men and Boys’

Philip Davies is the Conservative MP who last week spoke at a ‘Men’s Rights’ conference (in scare quotes because I’m not convinced these pricks know the first thing about rights or equality) and referred to ‘feminist zealots’ who are campaigning for special treatment. He’s trotting out an argument I’ve heard about a million times before: that women have enough equality now. PLENTY. We all need to stop campaigning for more equality, because otherwise women will have far too much equality, and men will be crushed under the weight of all the equality we insist on them carrying for us because it’s too heavy.

I can barely – just barely – be arsed with Philip Davies. He’s a tedious fuckwit. If you’ve managed to live to the age of… however old Philip Davies is… and not realise that there are still plenty more things to do in order to achieve a fairer and more equal society, then you’re probably fuckwitted enough that nothing I can say will convince you.

But I can still be arsed a bit, and here’s why: there are plenty of areas in which men really could do with more support. As Men’s Rights Activists are often so keen to tell me here when I write about feminism. You know what? I agree. I agree that there are areas in which men need more support, and where we need to work hard to challenge society’s expectations of men, because it’s actively damaging for them and makes their lives a hell of a lot harder. This is front of my mind at the moment because I went to an incredible talk by Charlie Glickman last week about masculinity in the 21st Century: he spoke about the pressure that men are under, and the way they are often policed if they step outside the boundaries of what society considers ‘acceptable’ in a real man. It’s a genuine and serious problem.

People like Philip Davies, and the ridiculous shower of twats that comprise the ‘Justice 4 Men And Boys (And The Women Who Love Them) Party’ (no that’s not a joke that’s the actual name of an actual political party), are – in my opinion – doing more harm than good. They ignore genuinely useful steps towards gender equality (such as shared parental leave, for instance) in favour of getting very very very angry about steps that have been taken to improve gender equality in the UK. In my experience, campaigners and groups that genuinely care about human rights are usually delighted to work with other groups to see where their causes intersect or align, and how they can help out. There are lots of people who care about men’s issues who do exactly that – Justice 4 Men And Boys don’t. In fact, they spend almost as much (if not more) time bitching about feminism as they do actually working to better the lives of men in the UK and further afield. They even offer awards for ‘Whiny Feminist Of The Month’, and suchlike.

Philip Davies MP could have picked something helpful to work on – male suicide rates, for instance, or the drastically shoddy way that family courts in the UK deal with custody post-divorce. He could have chosen to campaign positively to improve people’s lives. Instead he’s chosen to nail his flag to the mast of a group that actively works against equality in the UK, serving neither men, boys, nor the women who love them. He’s also managed to piss loads of people off, and make it so that when they hear about ‘men’s issues’ in the future, they will automatically assume the worst.

Well done, Philip Davies MP, on doing literally less than nothing. I bet other campaigners who genuinely care about men are delighted.


  • Ay None says:

    The thing that bugs me about groups like J4MB is that they seem far more interested in noisy, attention-seeking stunts than actually doing anything useful. Giving awards to “Whiny Feminists” or scaling buildings dressed as Batman is all very well, but where’s the basic, grass-roots stuff that might actually improve men’s lives? Why aren’t they out raising funds to set up domestic violence shelters for male victims? Or setting up support groups for men at risk of suicide? Or running father-and-baby sessions to help men be more hands-on with their children? (Because if you want custody after a divorce, it’ll help to be able to show that you’ve been caring for your child pre-divorce)

    Maybe they’re doing all these things already, but if so I never get to hear about them. And that in itself is a problem, because no one’s going to take you seriously if all you’re known for is the cunning stunts…

    • Girl on the net says:

      Yep, couldn’t agree more. The dressing as batman thing: I actually thing Fathers 4 Justice have some good points, particularly around the bias involved in family courts. Unfortunately they’ve gone from highlighting useful causes (by dressing up etc) to doing some really damaging shit – they recently called for a ‘strike’ on child maintenance…

      “Fathers4Justice are now calling on fathers denied access to their children, to withhold child support payments as part of an economic boycott of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), which they say is cruel and discriminatory, and has reduced dads to the status of cashpoints and sperm banks.

      “The group have asked supporters to stop all child maintenance payments, averaging £300 per father per month, for at least one month, which could deprive the CMS of £15 million in June/July alone.”

      Which made me really angry – regardless of the arguments parents have, kids still need support. Just pulling that support is totally unfair on the children, who still need to eat/have school uniforms/have a roof over their heads regardless of the arguments their parents are having.

      • Hannah C says:

        Jumping in to say – most of the money doesn’t go to the CMS though? You have to pay a fee of about £25 if you want them to take on your case, and I think there are more fees if the maintenance-paying parent doesn’t pay, because the CMS has to chase them up, but it’s more a system to facilitate payments between parents.

        (And my son’s dad has never paid me a thing, and tried to report me to Child Services when I asked. Funnily enough, my reaction to that shit was not ‘what a champion of men’s rights!”)

        • Girl on the net says:

          Yep, you’re right: it’s totally illogical as well as deeply unfair to the children who are stuck in the middle.

        • D. says:

          Aiui, if the mother is receiving any of a long list of types of government income support, then her income from those is reduced pretty much in line with however much the father pays in child maintenance. Presumably the MRA theory is that if the dad didn’t pay, the government would have to?

          I strongly suspect in practice that’s not what would happen though… the government seems to have enough trouble remembering to pay regular benefits on an ongoing basis, let alone changing the amount for one month due to wildcat ‘strike’ action.

  • Bismark says:

    Fuck off you do you give a shit about men’s issues GotN.

    Davies has done plenty to discuss the inequalities that men suffer in certain areas – like suicide rates, or universally higher prison sentences compared to women. If your only exposure to him is via J4MB and the coverage there, then you are doing everyone a disservice by not reading more about his long history of campaigning for funding for Male Victims of Domestic Violence or how the judicial system is inherently biased against men as regards custody.

    • Poo says:

      Unnecessarily aggressive first line..

      • Girl on the net says:

        Agree with Poo.

        Also: “how the judicial system is inherently biased against men as regards custody.” It’s actually far more complicated than that, hence why I referred to family courts: it’s not ‘biased against men’, it’s ‘biased in favour of traditional gender roles’ in a way that hurts all the people involved – men, women and children involved in divorce. But well done on doing exactly what J4MB do, and aggressively shitting on people who want to help change things rather than explore ways in which our interests align.

    • Ay None says:

      If this is how you react to an article on the internet written by a stranger, how do you react when your kid does something you don’t like?

      It sucks that the family courts default to assuming the mother is the primary caregiver. It does. But feminists actually agree with you on that point, because it’s part of a wider system that assumes the same thing. It goes right along with women being turned down for jobs out of a fear they’ll get pregnant, or the assumption that they’ll always be leaving to look after a sick child, or won’t work overtime because they have to do the school run. It ties into the pay gap meaning the mother is more likely to reduce her hours or quit her job to look after the kids, because she’s the lower earner. It includes the sheer cost of childcare making it uneconomical for some women to go back to work because they’re not going to earn enough to cover it.

      There are a metric fuckton of reasons why the mother actually is more likely to be the primary caregiver, long before the relationship gets anywhere near the family courts. They all need working on. Shared parental leave is a good start, as long as men actually take advantage of it. So is the free childcare provision, though that would be better if it included paying the providers enough to actually cover it. So would be improved pay in traditionally “female” careers. So would be more men taking an active part in looking after their kids, making sure that sometimes they’re the ones leaving work when their child is sick, treating the weekends as time to pitch in rather than time to relax after a hard week at work, whatever.

      Do you have any practical suggestions of your own, or are you content just to whine about bias?

  • Mardi says:

    It will never stop baffling me how people overlook this simple fact: there is no way to achieve any real geneder equality without including all geneders. The traditional gender roles do not exist as seperate sets of stereotypes; they influence each other. Women are considered to be “naturally” caring, therefore sacred motherhood, therefore bias. Women are not supposed to be aggressive, men are supposed to be “strong” – as a result, men abused by female partners experience disbelief and mockery. You cannot deconstruct one end of the binary without deconstructing the other. (And before anyone jumps in to point out that not all issues are directly related like that – sure. Sometimes they’re just indirectly related.)

    So yeah, just like I won’t trust any feminists who refuse to see issues that men face regarding toxic masculinity constructs, I cannot take seriously any men’s rights campaigners who deride feminists. It’s just not logical.

    • Mardi says:

      And I managed to misspell gender twice. Doesn’t it make me all the more convincing. *sigh*

      • Girl on the net says:

        I agree with you, so am probably biased. But yeah. While it’s possible to recognise that certain genders (and groups of people within each gender) have suffered more severe/frequent discrimination, assuming that any one group is totally fine and not subject to any issues that come out of gender assumptions is a massive oversight.

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    I realise this is veering rather off-topic, but someone has to stick up for the much-maligned Family Courts. As someone who’s had a fair amount of experience with them, I think talk of ‘bias’ with regards to children is somewhat misconcieved. The default attitude of the Family Courts, when it comes to children, is not to mess with the situation as it stands if it’s not obviously harmful. That is, they tend to leave children with whomever they’re living already, unless a good reason can be shown to change it. Thus the reason children usually end up with the mother is because they’re usually with the mother in the first place; in most cases of separating parents, the dad walks out and leaves the kids, or the mum walks out *with* the kids. Either way the kids are usually with the mother to begin with, and if it’s been that way for some years and it seems to be working, the Courts are reluctant to change it.

    Now, that’s not to say judges aren’t affected by unconscious biases – I’m sure they are, just as we all are, and judges tend to be older and more conservative-minded to boot, so one would expect them to tend to have a more traditionalist mindset. (And each individual judge has their own personal prejudices.) But in general, I’m not convinced there’s an overall conscious bias in favour of women in the Family Courts.

    There are obviously a whole heap of problems with men and women in society, though; I would say any percieved unfairness in the Courts is more an outcome of social inequalities more generally than something produced there.

    • Girl on the net says:

      I think this might be one for a longer post, but for a super-quick answer: I see what you’re saying but I think the problem here is exactly what you talk about at the end – unconscious biases. And here my issue is that the courts have a lot of power in these situations, and not always good training to deal with it. So our biases about who ‘should’ be the caregiver (and on a darker note, who is ‘fit’ to be the caregiver) is often the foundation of these decisions – and because of that I’d expect there to be more awareness of these problems and steps taken to tackle it. As it is though it’s a bit of a mess. But appreciate this is a bit of a short/shoddy answer so if you’d be up for doing a guest blog on your perspective, or if you want me to write something longer, I think it’s an interesting topic!

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