It’s always disheartening to hear someone ask why we don’t have a men’s rep, and more to the point, why we’re against having one. Common arguments include that ‘it’s sexist to have a rep for women, but not for men’. Let’s tackle this from its roots; men do not experience sexism, women-identified folk do. Patriarchy and sexism affect everyone, yes, in the same way that homophobia, transphobia, racism, and islamophobia affects us all. But if you’re male-identified sexism is not directed at you. Sexism results in daft assumptions that men shouldn’t be emotional, that men don’t need support, that men aren’t suitable to be single parents, and other such ridiculous yet serious points. No doubt some of these are what you’re thinking of when you think of ‘men’ and ‘sexism’. But this is categorically not the same as experiencing sexism as women do, of potentially being afraid to walk home alone, of experiencing cat-calling, of male colleagues being promoted over you, of being much more likely to experience sexual assault, the list goes on. The discrimination faced by men because of their gender is the fallout of sexism, and whilst we wholeheartedly oppose that in the same breath it is not ‘sexism’ or ‘reverse sexism’.
Male-identified folk experience male privilege; all men benefit from their privilege, even if they are oppressed as a result of other identities they hold. For example, being a gay male, you are oppressed as a result of your orientation, but you still experience male privilege. Of course our patriarchal society will also cause problems on account of you being male, but that does not mean that you require liberation because of your gender identity. This is at the heart of why we have a women’s rep, but not a men’s rep. Women’s representation, and women’s spaces are still very important in liberation spaces. The phrase “equality of provision vs. equality of outcome” was brought to my attention today; it means that it is necessary to ensure that outcomes are equal, and to vary provision accordingly, rather than to ensure that provision is made equal. Of course we value the experiences of people of all gender identities within Pride, but that does not mean that we must have the same provision for men as we do for women and non-binary identified folk.
Warwick Pride President
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