The male conservatives boycotting International Women’s Day are all the entertainment we need today

James Moore
Placards are displayed during the March4Women on 4 March in London: Getty

As a general rule I think we men would do well to listen during an event like International Women’s Day. It’s something we’re not always very good at and it can be quite enlightening.

But then the boys of the Bow Group, billed as Britain’s oldest conservative think tank, got their M&S Y-fronts in a right old twist over the event, claiming it’s actually men who have it worse, while urging the British Government to ignore it.

As one of the people they’ve so bravely stepped up to defend, I figured I’d be in a good position to take a look at what they’re saying. And I also needed a good laugh.

First let’s hand the floor to David Sergeant, who is described as a Bow Group fellow and wants to tell you what this is all about (he’s the first of three men to put their names to comments on its press release).

“This endless obsession with ‘special days’ shows we’re becoming more divided and less mature as a country, International Women’s Day is unnecessary, and men have it tougher in the UK anyway.”

“Men should celebrate the wonderful women in our lives, each and every day. We can do better than an allocated 24 hours based on misguided principles and erroneous data. Conservative men should empower wherever possible through loving leadership and the encouragement of natural femininity.”

If you suddenly hear the theme from the Twilight Zone at this point, don’t worry. You’re not alone. I can hear it too.

I don’t have the faintest idea what on earth “natural femininity” is but I doubt David Sergeant, a recent graduate from Durham University, does either. He and his fellow Bow Group-ers don’t seem to spend a lot of time with women.

Of the 20 luminaries listed on the “people” part of its web page, just two lack a Y chromosome. One of them, Ann Widdecombe, has a long history of pushing back against women’s rights, gay rights, reproductive rights, and more besides. She has a nice sideline in appearing on ITV when they want someone to say somefink controversial.

But let’s continue with the theme of the Bow Group’s International Women’s Day message. To back its contention it has found a series of stats designed to show that we men are the real second-class citizens.

They include the fact that we live shorter lives, although that’s partly because of that Y chromosome. We’re more likely to be the victims of violent crime. But the group doesn’t deign to mention that we’re also far more likely to be the perpetrators of it.

We are more likely to commit suicide, serve time in prison, be homeless.

I suggest the group should look at Conservative Party policies if it’s interested in tackling the causes of the latter.

They are, nonetheless, all issues that need tackling. On this we are agreed. But they don’t make men victims.

We get paid better. We’re (much) more likely to get top jobs, be elected to Parliament, serve in ministerial office. We are much less likely to be victims of domestic violence and much more likely to be the cause of it.

The right constantly criticises lefty “snowflakes” only to end up falling softly to the cold ground on a winter’s day via the selective use of statistics.

But let’s be fair to the brave men of the Bow Group. They don’t want to wallow in their victimhood. Oh no. They have a plan. They can fix things. I know, I know. Right now you’re saying, “praise the Lord for David Sergeant and his pals”.

They want a special ringfenced fund for majority working class white schools, measures to make porn harder to access (good luck with that in the internet age), apprenticeships to be made an education budget priority, efforts to tackle “the cannabis epidemic”, and a commitment to placing mental health at parity with physical health in the NHS.

Quite how these measures are supposed to raise up we emasculated men is beyond me. Perhaps I just need a spliff or two to help with my thought processes.

The first one is particularly risible. I rather doubt any of the Bow Group’s “people” have ever sat on a school governing body. They’re far too important to sully their hands. If they had they’d realise that schools are regularly pressed to raise attainment among white working class boys, just as they are the other groups that are failing to thrive. This I know because I have sat on a school governing body.

As for boosting mental health services, well, hear hear! It might help if the Tory Government would give the NHS a bit of love but that, along with everything else, is being pushed back thank to the Bow Group’s beloved Brexit project.

While its missive is sort of useful for the light it shines upon just how regressive conservative thinking is, there isn’t really any point in engaging in a sensible debate with these people.

They’re only interested in grandstanding and bellyaching now that the real snow has mostly gone.

They’re spoiled baby-men begging for attention.

Real men, including real conservative men, have no problem with International Women’s Day. It’s because we care about the women in our lives and want them to have the same opportunities as the men in our lives. It’s that simple.