Men are my passion, as I told the Liberal Democrat conference last weekend, explaining why I am now working full-time to try to get men’s issues on to the public agenda. Here’s my speech if you’d like to listen to it.
I talked a lot about #MeToo which I see as simply the latest salvo in a long crusade by feminists to crush male sexuality – as I’ve explained in my recent YouTube video discussion with men’s rights activist Karen Straughan. It’s a very long campaign, dating back to 19th century suffragettes whose slogan – “Votes for Women. Chastity for Men!” – linked the political equality of women to controlling men’s sex drive. Along with the vote, the suffragettes sought an end to their sexual subjugation to men, control over their bodies. They decided that required reining men in, putting an end to their tomcatting ways and keeping them on a very tight leash.
Ongoing feminist campaigns saw male sexuality increasingly publically reviled. Men were endlessly in trouble over sex. Men in trouble for not keeping their trousers zipped, for groping and harassing women, for looking at pornography, or gazing at women in the wrong way. Shame-faced men were paraded in front of jeering chat show audiences and forced to atone for their sins.
It left men reeling and silenced: “Like a man who sullenly withdraws to his tool shed to escape his wife’s temper and misery, American men simply opted out of the cultural dialogue,” said Chappie and Talbot in their book Burning Desires, explaining that men became so far removed from the field of battle that the term ‘sex war’ seemed a misnomer.
Today the suffragettes’ crusade is succeeding beyond their wildest dreams. It’s not just the public display of male sexuality which is being so effectively curtailed. In private many heterosexual married men are living lives of sexual deprivation, with sex doled out to them only very occasionally or not at all. There’s research showing the desire gap between men and women is increasing, with most married women ending up going off sex.
Growing numbers of women are happily living celibate lives and forcing their husbands to just cop it sweet. Men who visit prostitutes are reviled – the push is now on to criminalise the customers of prostitutes, a campaign that has already succeeded in Nordic countries, Canada, and a bunch of European countries. Men know risking an affair could mean the end of their marriages and loss of their families. Even the man who resorts to masturbation is in trouble, particularly if he turns to the internet for fantasy material to make the process more enjoyable.
So #MeToo is nothing new. Rather it is simply the latest round in this relentless crusade to demonise male sexuality – as Catherine Deneuve and the 100 prominent French women spelt out in their letter denouncing the campaign as all about “hatred of men and of sexuality.”
“Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist,” said Camille Paglia. But that’s just what we have done.