Sunday, 11 March 2012

Men's Rights - a huge opportunity for UKIP

Last week was International Women's Day, with all it's dreary and predictable sex war references, and trendy male commentators delivering paens of praise for women in a rather outdated, patronising tone.

Outdated, of course, because no one who hasn't living on the Moon (or at least Saudi Arabia) for the past 20 years can fail to have noticed that women, who long ago achieved equality before law with men, are fast becoming the dominant sex in society, if indeed they haven't already done so.

The reasons for this are many and varied: some good, such as equality before the law for women and a step change in the perception society has of female capabilities; some morally neutral, such as seemingly deterministic economic forces that have increased opportunities for many women and decreased those for many men;  and some bad, such as the low esteem male sexuality (or at least male heterosexuality) is now held in some sections of society.

Year by year the gender pay gap, that totem beloved by the media in its relentless stoking of the sex war, shrinks and has now gone into reverse for women in their 20s. Its likely disappearance and total reversal in the next few years will no doubt be heralded in triumphalist or mournful tones, depending on where you stand,  and the birth of a new matriarchal, feminised society declared.

The clamour for recognising men's rights, already starting, most notably championed by Tory MP Dominic Raab, and can only get louder. UKIP cannot afford to ignore the issue any longer.

It goes without saying the first thing to do is analyse why, in general terms,  men often get a raw deal in society and what can be done about it.

To my mind there are two overarching reasons for this, one political, and one cultural.

The political problem men face is entwined with the rise of the Political Class, career politician. Obsessed as they are by modern day polling, they are very aware that women vote in larger numbers than men, and are more likely to be floating voters. Cleaving as ambitious politicians  do to the centre ground, these are precisely the votes  they perceive they must capture. Women's votes, therefore, are perceived as being more important than men's votes. Moreover, as most politicians are still male, they are acutely aware of charges of sexism or insensitivity to women's issues. Of course it is no bad thing to be sensitive to the needs of those different from yourself, but there is no doubt that in many cases this has allowed the feminist movement to advance a weak intellectual case in  policy areas dealing with equality by cowing and intimidating male politicians.

The second, cultural reason is even more problematic. Here, the otherwise admirable Dominic Raab misses the point in blaming feminist bigotry for many of the cultural  injustices faced by men: he casts his net far too narrowly. Although that is important, the major problem men face is in the appalling level of bigotry and sexism exhibited towards male heterosexuality in Metropolitan Liberal culture generally - the dominant political and media culture of our age.

It is hard to overstate just how narcissistic (or, if you want to be politically correct, 'emotionally literate') Metropolitan liberal culture has now become, as anyone who has spent time in the company of such people can attest. As such, they have a natural bias to those groups in society - women and gay men - who are perceived as being the most emotionally intelligent. Heterosexual men (and also perhaps Lesbians) are by comparison significantly undervalued.

The combination of the feminist obsession with 'independence' from men and the Metropolitan prejudice towards 'emotional literacy' has meant that the traits generally associated with heterosexual male sexuality - the desire to protect and provide for the female and her offspring,  the primacy of reason over emotion in thought, etc - are at best ignored, or at worst held in contempt as primitive or even morally wicked.

Now painfully aware of their declining role in society but not until recently prepared to talk about through fear of appearing unmanly or vunerable. men are now finally starting to face up to their anxieties and grievances on gender issues. A political party such as UKIP which  was prepared to highlight these issues - in a responsible, non-divisive way - and champion male sexuality in a way consistent with its Libertarian principles would undoubtedly reap enormous dividends - and not just from men: most women have no wish to see men marginalised in society.

One such issue, is of course the issue of the gender pay gap itself: a Libertarian party such as UKIP should not be afraid to say what most politicians are terrified of saying - namely that is a free society where people make free choices, it is impossible to know what disparities in outcome there should be between the sexes. Moreover, it is deeply immoral and authoritarian for politicians to try determine what the 'correct' outcomes should be. Nigel Farage has already spoken out on this issue, but it needs to be given a much higher profile.

Another area a Libertarian party such as UKIP instinctively understands is that one groups rights cannot be discussed without reference to its impact on the rights of others: too often women have been granted rights such as maternity leave, over-generous divorce settlements or child benefit that effectively nationalises aspects male sexuality: the state has become both husband to the woman and father to her children. This is because another great political incorrect truth of our times is that men and women are designed to be largely interdependent, rather than independent of each other: thus it makes sense that men's and women's rights should always be discussed together, rather than in isolation, and both are equally as important. A party that has the courage to put forward such a fresh and sophisticated approach  will be listened to by both sexes.

Finally, on a lighter note, UKIP perhaps has a natural advantage in that it perhaps perceived to be the most traditionally masculine of the four main political parties. The other three main parties, lead as they are by rather effete metropolitan metrosexuals, will never naturally connect as well or as convincingly with the average man as Nigel Farage or Paul Nuttall will. I can't see Mr. Farage becoming a house husband any time soon.