Susan Morris swallowed The Red Pill

Saturday 19 November 2016 was International Men’s Day. As reported in the (UK) Daily Telegraph, IMD is

the annual international campaign to raise awareness for men’s issues – from health concerns and domestic violence, to paternity rights and educational attainment levels.

The Telegraph reported on five organisations/charities, the work that they do and how they desperately need donations.

In July, one of the speakers at ICMI ’16 was Philip Davies, a Conservative Member of Parliament, who spoke on the subject of the ‘Justice Gender Gap’.

Philip Davies sits on the Commons Justice Committee and so knows something of what he speaks. Indeed, he used official government statistics to prove his case, including that “it is a fact that, in this country, men are more likely to be victims of violent crime than women“. And that, between 2006/07 and 2012/13, men accounted for 70% of homicide victims.

And yet, he said, whilst men and boys are by far the more likely to be victims of violence and murder than women and girls, the debates and the strategies drawn up have all been about females.

Davies had the temerity to tell the audience at ICMI ’16 that women benefited from equality but only when it suits their agenda.

Oh dear! Cue shock and horror from the feminists and The Guardian newspaper. (No surprise there!)

Viewed as being “deeply sexist“, his comments were said to have “provoked outrage across the political spectrum“.

The Guardian reported that

Philip Davies has faced widespread criticism after it emerged that he told a conference hosted by an anti-feminist group that Britain’s justice system was skewed in favour of women.

A female MP, Angela Rayner, said that

[Philip Davies] has open contempt for women, and that his views are so out-dated they are prehistoric…… There is no place for these views in modern Britain. He has a track record for misogyny having consistently voted against legislation that will make our society more gender equal.

She called for Davies to be suspended from the Conservative party, a view endorsed by the leader of the Labour party.

Angela Rayner was the Labour party’s Shadow Equalities Secretary. One might think that she also knew of what she spoke but this is a feminist MP who, according to HEqual, attended a Labour party gender segregated rally and was elected a constituency candidate via an all-women shortlist.

[Note: that gender segregated rally was widely criticised and I hope the Labour party will never do such a thing again, no matter the circumstances.]

Having survived the furore after ICMI ’16 and, evidently undeterred by it, Philip Davies called for a debate to be held in the House of Commons to mark International Men’s Day.

Held on 17 November, according to Glen Poole of the Men And Boys Coalition, writing in The Telegraph,

the event saw vital issues such as suicide rates and education levels discussed [and] get a fair hearing in parliament, and celebrated the contribution of IMD in campaigning for many overlooked areas of inequality in society.

There were, of course, the usual dissenting voices. SNP [Scottish National Party] member Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh sighed that, effectively, every day was set aside for men – a common complaint, but one that misses the point of what we do. Others quibbled with the details of some of Davies’ broader arguments, or seemed entirely dismissive of the day’s function in a society that contains so many other inequalities.

Hansard, the official and verbatim report of proceedings in parliament, reported the full debate, including Philip Davies’s reply:

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Ochil and South Perthshire (Ms Ahmed-Sheikh) rather trivialised today’s debate by talking about women instead of men. I am sure the fact that she thinks international men’s day is every day is very little comfort to the 134,554 men who have committed suicide over the last 30 years. I found that regrettable.

Regrettable? I applaud his English restraint but there is a convention on the type of language which can be used in Parliament. Had I been there and voiced my feelings on what she said, I’d have probably been ejected from the Commons chamber.

Two days after the debate, Philip Davies published an article in the International Business Times with the headline “Some issues affect men more than women – why is that hard to accept?” He concluded,

When you think about it, in so many ways, considering men and women separately – as if they live in complete isolation to each other – is actually ridiculous. Neither group is isolated. Both sexes have mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, so for every woman there are related male parties and therefore a vested interest in men’s issues. It is an unavoidable fact.

The fact is, there are some issues which affect men solely or more than women and vice-versa, but both men AND women have an interest in those issues in reality, and working together to solve them must be the best way forward.

International Men’s Day at least means for one day of the year these issues get the publicity they deserve.

I totally agree with Philip Davies. We, men and women, need to work together to get out of the deplorable state we find ourselves in and to improve the lives of all.

What better day to attend the London premiere of The Red Pill Movie than International Men’s Day?

And so on Saturday, AVfM’s David King and I boarded the train to take us into London.

I was both looking forward to viewing the long awaited film and apprehensive as to what we might experience along the way.

I had warned my brother that there might be demonstrations and asked if he would come and bail me out if I found myself faced with feminist protesters though, in truth, as I am not a battle hardened activist or protester, I wondered how I might face such people. However, I am a very stubborn woman and nobody tells me what film I can or cannot see or where I can or cannot go.

So I was psyched up for trouble and I’m not sure whether I was relieved or not to find no demonstrators at all and that our access to the venue was unimpeded. However, it was good as we had missed our intended train and arrived there with just minutes to spare.

With no time to chose where to sit and with David following, I headed for the nearest two empty seats. As I sat down I noticed that the next seat was occupied by a woman, one whose face I seemed to recognise.

She turned to me, introduced herself as Linda Kelsey, freelance journalist for the Daily Mail and, as it was quite evident that I, by age if not gender, did not fit the profile of most of the audience, asked my name and what had brought me there. [I am a baby boomer, even older than Paul Elam, with grey hair and a fashionable but unfortunately natural white streak in it.]

My thoughts were: I am about to engage with a journalist (whose work I had read and often admired) at the London premier of The Red Pill movie. Surreal or what?

I introduced myself as Susan Morris, an MRA, associated with AVfM, and previously its conference manager. Linda seemed not to know either the term MRA or what the initials AVfM stand for and so I had to explain both. I told her that she would see it referred to in the film.

She wanted to know how I had become involved and I explained that it was through my partner. As he had learnt of the issues affecting men, so had I. She questioned that I was not directly affected and I replied that as I learnt about the issues, so I could see where people I knew had been affected. That it was like a jigsaw puzzle, with many pieces coming together.

There was no more time to talk before the film began and I sat back to watch it whilst Linda was watching and busy making notes.

Of course I’ve read many of the reviews, both positive and negative. But, in all honesty, I don’t know quite what I expected. Whatever it was, the reality of the film far surpassed any expectations I may have had.

I knew much of the content, such as the terrible statistics, the references to domestic violence experienced by men, the suicide rates, the dangerous and sometimes fatal occupations undertaken by men and paternity issues to name but a few. However, the impact of seeing it all together was quite breathtaking. I didn’t so much watch but experience the film.

Frankly, I don’t know how anybody new to the content can possibly review it if they’ve only seen it once. I would need to see it twice, first to gather the sense of it and then again to make notes, including the statistics.

During the interval before the Q&A, I chatted with the journalist some more. I explained that I believed in equality and would prefer not to call myself an MRA but that until equality was achieved, there seemed no other title. Yes, I am an egalitarian but it doesn’t quite sound right.

I offered to introduce her to Erin Pizzey but she had known her some years ago and they chatted. I introduced Linda to David King, as one of AVfM’s senior management. I left them to talk.

We resumed our seats and the Q&A session began. Erin was her usual indomitable self. For fifty years she has been fighting against the idea that domestic violence only happens to women and attempting to get the people who matter to realise that men are also victims of domestic violence and to devote resources to helping them.

There was much talk of a gender war and also of the need for a title to bring people together, a new ‘ism. The word egalitarianism was mentioned and also humanism.

The journalist had already told the promoter that she couldn’t stay for all of the Q&A. As she left, I said that I looked forward to reading her piece and that I hoped it would be…. I searched for the word. “Favourable?” she asked. “No”, I replied, “balanced”.

Linda Kelsey is four years younger than me. She was editor of Cosmopolitan and She magazines before becoming a freelance journalist. With a background on those magazines, I have no doubt that she has some feminist leanings but I hope she is of an age to have escaped the wild feminism of recent years.

Unfortunately, I think many women of similar age, who would describe themselves as feminists, who wanted only to right the wrongs which women undoubtedly suffered, in the home, the work place, in social life, do not realise what is being said and done in the name of feminism today.

And I am heartened by the reports I’ve read of young women today refusing to call themselves feminists.

Indeed, I met a very pleasant young lady named Lucy. I didn’t tell her but secretly I quite admired her long green hair. She has already found herself at odds with friends who object to her refusing to sign up to the feminist cause, and to her attending The Red Pill movie. I wished her well.

As I waited to say goodbye to Erin, a young man, probably quite surprised to see a woman of mature age present, asked me what I thought of the film. I explained that I was associated with AVfM and that I knew most of the content of the film but that seeing it all together… it was emotionally breathtaking. I felt winded, as if I’d been punched in the stomach… But in a good way!

I would have liked to have a coffee with him and his friends, to discuss their experiences but, as with all such events, there were a lot of people milling around and nowhere quiet to go. And we had a train to catch.

I have absolutely no doubt that Cassie Jaye’s journey as she researched the Men’s Rights Movement and found herself further and further away from her feminist beginnings and ideals was both hard and heart-wrenching. To question our fundamental beliefs is to question ourselves, our identities.

As I write, it is forty eight hours since I experienced the film. I’ve spent many of those hours examining my own journey over the years.

Perhaps I am fortunate that, even though I experienced sexist discrimination in my early career, I have never assumed the role, identity or title of feminist; that I never joined the sisterhood. Indeed, I would probably have been outlawed years ago for my independent thought.

I have never been a member of any political party, whether with a capital or a small ‘p’ but it seems I am a member of the Men’s Rights Movement. I hope the day will come when I can say that I am a member of the society for equality for all, regardless of gender.

When I trained as a therapist, it was in the field of Humanistic Psychology as described in the Huffington Post article by Dana McKenna, who was but is no longer a feminist. And so, I can say, with her, that I am a Humanist.

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