Two Guys Talk Feminism: Alan Bissett & Mike Buchanan
I debated recently on BBC Scotland’s ‘Call Kaye’ programme with Mike Buchanan, of the Anti-Feminist League, who has started a new political party ‘Justice For Men and Boys (And the Women Who Love Them). The discussion can be found here …
…as can various comments below-the-line from Mr Buchanan’s supporters. Shortly after the programme, Mr Buchanan emailed me, and with his permission our correspondence is detailed, unedited, below.
Alan, good morning. It’s come to something when misandrous militant feminists are represented by a man in their relentless battle against men’s human rights. I’ve just had a lengthy phone call with a woman who sent me an email (content below) after hearing this morning’s discussion. Several times she became distraught and broke down in tears during our conversation. What response would you give her, I wonder? A number of Scottish men will commit suicide today due to their treatment by the justice system and the social services system, both of which are 72% financed by men, and supported by people like you. Still, you’re presumably not suffering personally. So after thoese men jump under trains, or off tall buildings, you shouldn’t be ashamed of what you did this morning. I don’t imagine you’d have any sympathy for Tom Ball, either.
The email sent by the lady I spoke to this morning:
‘My son, and also many of my male friends, have suffered grave injustices at the hands of social services – backed up by greedy solicitors and barristers, police and corrupt sheriffs and judges in the courts. My son has been imprisoned twice, but is completely innocent of any wrongdoing. Social services have attempted to destroy his excellent relationship with his daughter, and have fostered her relationship with the mother who did harm my granddaughter some years ago. They are also exposing my granddaughter to the new partner of this mother – against whom my granddaughter has made an allegation of sexual abuse. My son had a bright future job-wise, but this has all but been destroyed by the persecution he has suffered. Both my son and myself are also at the moment suffering from police harassment – practised by a police force who have blindly believed everything they have been told by social services.
A friend of mine was denied joint custody of his son, and prevented from protecting his son against abuse, by a social services system which protected the female abuser of his son. Despite much evidence in his favour, the courts did nothing to protect this child. Right now another friend of his is fighting in the courts for custody and contact rights with his daughters – who their mother maliciously and falsely accused him of sexually abusing.
The list goes on and on – and despite all these so called law reforms – the courts continue to penalise fathers who simply seek to be good fathers to their children. The examples I have given above are simply three of many – as you will know from the media. I am not so naïve as to believe there are no bad men about, but there are many more good, honest and dedicated men who are being persecuted by local authorities – controlled largely by the feminists you obviously deplore – and this is what is destroying family life in the UK.
Please contact me on this matter by email – or if you prefer you can ring me on < >. I would like to initially know your views on what I have written, but would also like to know if you can help in any way.’
Thanks for your email. I always enjoy a debate, even (or perhaps especially) with people whose political views I do not share, and this morning was no exception. Might I say, it was not always easy for you to make your point on the show, but that you respected the rules of debate, and I acknowledge that.
I’m going to level with you, Mike, I did not always feel the way I do. I wasn’t raised ‘feminist’, and have certainly gone through periods when I’ve felt it was ‘all women’s fault’. I’m not immune to misogyny, in the same way I’m not immune to feelings of racism, snobbery or homophobia. Who is? Perhaps the difference between you and I is that I recognise these as flaws – both of my character and the culture – and work hard to correct them, because they certainly don’t make me (or anyone) happier. You have taken the opposite approach, and constructed a politic which views women with irrevocable suspicion. Oh well. We make our choices.
I have reached a point in my life when I genuinely do think that women have things harder than men. This is not to say that policy can’t be tweaked here and there where things are clearly unfair to men. But there’s a bigger picture that you are simply ignoring. For example, Type ‘sex’ into Google and you’ll see women’s bodies being abused and brutalised on an industrial scale by (almost exclusively) men for the erotic entertainment and financial profit of (almost exclusively) men. Were gangs of feminists doing to men what now passes for mainstream pornography you would be, rightly, outraged. But this is what has now become the wallpaper of our society. Do you think that this says something about the conditions of sexual threat which many women experience regularly in their lives, and which we, as men, will never experience for the simple fact that we have penises?
Now, of course I can sympathise with the men you point towards who have killed themselves. Any suicide is a tragedy, male or female. For someone to feel that they have been broken by society to the point where they have no option but to take their own life is unbearably sad. But do I think men are killing themselves because of feminism? No, I do not. It might be the case that individual men feel aggrieved at an individual woman in their life, to the point where it causes them psychological distress (which in these individual cases may or may not be the woman’s fault) but this is to ignore large-scale, complex and powerful cultural factors which place men squarely in a position of self-entitlement from birth. When this self-entitlement is challenged, of course it’s going to affect men negatively, but the problem again is the conditioning.
You’ve also assumed that I’ve never personally ‘suffered’ in this way. Well, Mike, I have been through divorces (both my own and that of my parents’). I’ve seen the things that men and women can do to each other during the dreadful emotional turmoil of separation. Women are human beings and at an individual level can of course use whatever is in their arsenal to hurt a man in divorce or custody battles. But men do the same! The case study you provide sounds dreadful, and I don’t doubt the level of this woman’s pain, but we’re in no position to judge the case since we haven’t heard the alternate version of events, which may be quite different. Does it prove that women collectively have somehow rigged the system against men? No. I think you are guilty of reading data and selecting cases which suit your worldview.
I have also in my time, experienced great depression and suicidal feelings – not least during these divorces – and thankfully I have not succumbed. During these awful, scrambled times it has been comforting to blame women for my situation, because male social conditioning does transmit such messages in order to make male power over women possible. But further down the line I can see these situations with more clarity, and realise that my problems were, in the main, self-made. The ideology which we experience as young men is that “A Man” has to be strong, powerful, thrusting, successful, a competitor. Which man can, in reality, live up to that all his life? None. When the reality fails to match the ideology then, quite understandably, men feel like failures. To admit, ‘I’m struggling to hold on,’ is too ‘girly’ or ‘weak’, which is why men don’t always seek help for their problems and end it all instead. Their own masculinity, then, eats them up, through no fault of their own. It’s how society has raised them. Women, by contrast, perhaps insulate themselves from suicide more because they have been encouraged to express and share their feelings.
You also handily ignore factors such as Thatcherite economics. Given the male suicide rate has shot up in the last thirty years, a period in which the gap between rich and poor has grown exponentially, I’d suggest a strong correlation between our economic depression and actual depression. Blaming feminism is a smokescreen covering this most basic of conclusions. I’d be interested to see the proportion of those male suicides which are lower down the social scale.
I presume you’ll be publishing this response on your website, which is fair enough. I’d appreciate if if you’d publish it in its entirety, and I promise to do the same should I publish your correspondence. I don’t think your followers will achieve a greater degree of happiness in their lives by following this destructive, combative approach to women; but this is your right. We live in a democracy. All I can say is that feminism has made me, I believe, a better and more balanced person in a way that the path you are going down (which, believe me, I have tried) did not.
Alan, I thank you sinceerly for going to the trouble to send me such a thoughtful and detailed response. I appreciate more than most the time and effort that must have gone into writing it. That said, I feel it’s a resolutely left-wing analysis which would by definition be expected to be sympathetic to feminism. For the past 30+ years the only brand of feminism of political import in the UK has been misandry-driven militant/radical/gender feminism, so you wouldn’t expect me to agree with the general thrust of your arguments. Your selection on today’s programme of the murder rate of men by women, versus that of women by men, from the 21 ‘key facts’ in our consultation document, was breathtaking cherry-picking. I remarked on the matter when you made the point but I was ‘off-mike’ at the time. If you’d like to comment on the document let me know, and I’ll waive the £20 fee towards party funds we normally request. J4MB is not a right-of-centre party, despite my personal politics, because to my mind men suffer more from the assaults of feminism as their status declines (the suicide rate of disadvantaged men in mid-life is a national scandal, and something the supposedly ‘caring’ Left cares nothing about.) Feedback from left-of-centre people is proving particularly helpful to us, as we develop our first maifesto. The only people who are not welcome in our party are militant feminists, who I estimate represent no more than 1% of British citizens.
I should very much like to debate in a public forum with you one day (beyond the confines of a radio show). It would be great to have an excuse to return to Glasgow, a city of which I’m inordinately fond. I wouldn’t dream of posting your email response on my blogs without your clearance to do so, but I’d like to, so please let me know if you’re happy for me to do so. I would do so without making any comments on the points you make, beyond the content of this email response. Many thanks.
Thanks for your response, and yes you are welcome to publish our correspondence (unedited) on your blog as long as I can do the same with yours.
Well, I’m not going to pretend I’m not on the Left, but the same goes: I wasn’t brought up left-wing. I read and thought my way into socialism and feminism – independently of any ‘brainwashing’ gurus – and gradually the oppression against both the working-class and women became too apparent for me to ignore. Working-class men are being victimised, yes, but it is by the financial elite, not by women.
However, while you’re correct that many on the Left are feminists, it is not the case that all are. Women in socialist organisations often struggle to have their concerns placed on the agenda and there are sometimes internal battles as a result. Certainly the sort of socialism that I, and many, am fighting for would have women’s rights front and centre, but I don’t think you’re correct to assume that the Left automatically equals feminism. This is in evidence when you say ‘feedback from left-of-centre people is proving particularly helpful to us.’ I find that depressing, but there it is.
As for me ‘cherry-picking’ the murder rates from your consultation document, well, it is nonetheless a statistic on your consultation document (and I applaud you for including it). I don’t doubt for a second that violence towards men from women exists, but the fact is that it is far harder – and, clearly, five times less likely – for a woman to kill a man, or even do him serious damage, than the reverse. This explains why there is more social outrage about male-on-female violence: not only is it more common, but it’s more dangerous. It’s also often accompanied by sexual violence, which tends not to be a problem men experience. So I ‘cherry-picked’ this statistic because to my mind it is the most important one.
And yes, I would debate these things in a public forum with you, should the opportunity arise.
Thanks Alan. Having ‘slept on it’ I’ve decided not to put the exchange on our blogs. But I do hope we meet and publicly debate one day.
Would you like to comment on our public consultation document (attached)? I’d waive the party donation fee, obviously.
Well, if you change your mind you have my permission, but since you have published your initial email to me on YouTube and on your blog it may look as though I have not responded. As such, in the interests of fairness, I’d rather you added that you have declined to publish our correspondence.
Since your initial email is already in the public arena, I hope you don’t mind if I publish my own response to it sometime in the future? I’m aware that I don’t have permission to publish your subsequent emails to me, so if you’d rather I didn’t use them then I won’t.
And no, I’d rather not comment on the public consultation document, but thanks for the offer.
Alan, that’s a fair point. I’ll make the point that you’ve responded. Feel free to publish whatever elements of our exchange you’d like to.
You might be interested in some of the comments made on YouTube in response to our discussion:
Hi Mike, thanks for that.
Yes, I’ve seen the Youtube comments. Wow. Oh well, that’s politics, I suppose. Thick skin and all that. As long as nothing turns into actual physical harm or threats, I can shrug it off.
Alan, trust me, you can relax on that score. I’m not aware of a single instance worldwide of men’s human rights activists (MHRAs) physically threatening feminists, whether male or female. While prominent anti-feminists (e.g. Erin Pizzey and the journalist / author Neil Lyndon) have been made bankrupt, pets killed, physically assaulted, received death threats etc. I do all I can to keep my home address confidential. Most weeks at least one person gets to one of my blogs after googling terms like, ‘Where does Mike Buchanan live?’ I’m guessing they don’t want to send me boxes of chocolates…
Glad to hear it. And of course violence is not acceptable in the other direction. At all.