What a time to be a student at the University of York. Yet again we’re the laughing stock of British higher education and the league tables aren’t even out! But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I’ve redrafted this column numerous times thanks to the fast moving and epic scale of the drama we’ve been experiencing and I’ll be damned before I throw away such cracking jokes.
So, two weeks ago or so. The usual term 1 stuff was happening. First years were getting wind of that one douchebag flatmate that steals the eggs and milk every fucking morning. Second years were beginning to feel comfortable in their seats of power in the many societies of campus. If by seat of power you mean ‘ability to book an obscure seminar room in Alcuin at 8 o clock on a Monday night.’ And third years were doing what they do best, fading into irrelevancy and doing whatever the opposite of ‘going out with a bang is.’
The most concerning topic of conversation was the fire in in James College. Now I’m not saying that I was hoping that the fire had been a little more interesting, but, let’s be honest, it could have been a little more interesting. Did it signal the start of the inevitable communist revolution my completely impartial Politics seminar tutors keep talking about? Nope. Was it a rather elaborate attempt at a delayed bonfire night party? Nah. Was it a James student that felt like his college was so inadequate when compared to Derwent that he decided to put his accommodation out of his misery? Maybe. But I can’t quite prove that one.
But, as you can clearly see dear reader, it was a simpler, better time. Quite unlike the climate in which the University decided to stop celebrating International Men’s Day after succumbing to pressure on social media. Little did the university know that this fateful decision would put self appointed witch-finder general of the twitterati, Milo Yiannopoulos, on a collision course with the university. I will not give him any more attention in this article however; he clearly gets more than his fill after all.
That being said, we definitely need to talk about the structural issues facing men, and I’m not talking about the shelf that never puts itself up.
Feminists claim that they wish to help both women and men by alleviating the institutional biases brought on by the patriarchal society which we live in. However, before the story picked up some traction and became the maelstrom of discontent it is now, most men that I talked to knew nothing about men’s issues. In fact, most were subscribed to the idea that ‘every day is men’s day.’ And yet I ask the same question to the very same people a week later, and they all passionately believe that these issues necessitate urgent and particular recognition, mostly because figures about Men’s custody and suicide rates are trickling into the conversation.
Now that I’m on the subject of figures, western men are far more likely than women to kill themselves, be incarcerated and get estranged from their children. They’re also 50% more likely to fluke maths, reading and science entirely and earn far fewer university degrees than women. In fact, according to The Economist, the source of the famous ‘pay gap’ stems from the fact that 90% of corporate execs and CEO’s are men; the top 1%. So when feminists talk about the oppressive patriarchy and the institutional advantages possessed by members of the ‘privileged sex,’ most men don’t understand what the hell they’re talking about.
There is much to be done with regards to the male dominated boardroom and I don’t wish to discredit the great work done by feminists in combating institutionalized sexism. But there is also a lot to do with regards to the plight of men from lower to middle income backgrounds.
Which brings me to the point I’m trying to make with this perhaps overly convoluted analysis. The abolition of International Men’s day represents a refutation of the idea that men suffer disproportionately thanks to recent institutional and socio economic developments. If women are allowed to claim that feminism reaches across the aisle and helps both men and women, then why aren’t the 99% of men allowed to be represented by a day dedicated to their issues?
Previously, I looked down on ‘International Women’s Day’ with scorn. Even now, the utterance of the phrase conjures up a condescending voice in the back of my head whispering ‘congratulations, you’re important too!’ before brandishing a gold star and pinning it on the chest of women and receding to the back of my mind while cackling manically. There is no doubt that celebrating a day, singing an online petition or applying a tokenistic filter to your profile picture will do little to address structural issues. Lobbying the powers that be and voting for candidates that will inspire tangible change is the only real guarantee of that.
However, as has been demonstrated in the past week, there is clearly not enough awareness about structural issues exclusive to men, and the only way of introducing these to the public discourse is a day appointed for debate. Concluding this column, it dawns on me that the inability of us humans to share in civil discussion has brought about a sort of de-facto men’s week in which the institutional biases and problems facing men are being seriously debated. Fancy that.
Questions we should be asking ourselves but don’t
Why do people add you on Facebook but ignore you in real life?
Everyone knows the feeling. You’ve just been to a house party or social gathering.
You’ve had a great time, met some new people, had a little to drink, and POP, the next day you have a few new friend requests. ‘Hah! I sure know how t charm ’em, don’t I?’ you think to yourself.
So right after you’ve taken a moment to appreciate how incredibly entertaining you were that night, you accept the friend request.
The very next day, you see one of your new ‘friends’ at the other end of the corridor, walking towards you slowly, deliberately. You know that your paths are destined to meet. That friend request is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
You’re now within talking distance. You gesture to say the obligatory ‘hey man’ or ‘you alright?’ But hold on. They’re not looking at you. In fact, they’ve completely ignored you. So what the fuck was the point of the friend request then?
You mean to tell me that people take friend requests about as seriously as employers take a philosophy degree?
Why do people sit in the front row of lectures?
Every self respecting student knows that sitting on any row but the first, allows for both following the lecture and browsing Facebook on your phone.
So why in the name of procrastination and self loathing would you want to sit on the first row? What’s that you say? Said individuals actually find their degree interesting enough to not warrant the occasional cheeky lecture selfie or Facebook browse?
Don’t be ridiculous. You would do well to think before you speak, dear reader.
What is that massive tower in the science park?
You know, the veritable frankenstein of ‘architecture’ that single-handedly makes the campus a serious contender for ‘ugliest university in the UK?’
I asked a biology student who goes to the science park every day, and even she couldn’t give me an adequate response.
Google results tell me absolutely nothing about it other than that it is a furnace of some sort. Now I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but the last time someone tried to hide the true function of furnaces from his people, WW2 swiftly followed.