Today the Commons played host to a battle of the sexes as MPs gathered for a bad-tempered debate to mark International Men’s Day, for the first time in its history. Philip Davies led the charge, following his campaign for the event to be given the same treatment as International Women’s Day. He called for more to be done regarding suicide rates and educational under-achievement among men and raised the issue of ‘the part-time gender pay gap’, which sees women paid 6 per cent more than men.
'It is unlikely that men will get cervical cancer,' Sir Paul Beresford observed, before arguing that boys ought to be given the HPV vaccination to help prevent mouth and throat cancer. The Conservative MP then moved onto the latest turn in these 'seriously worrying' times for men -- a woman playing King Lear. 'Of course the latest shock that we've seen in the past few weeks is in the theatre,' the Conservative MP explained. 'The role of King Lear -- played by so many male greats -- has been taken by an ex-colleague or comrade Glenda Jackson. Widow Twankey played by Christopher Biggins doesn't quite cut it.'
Although Davies said international men's day aimed to promote gender equality as well as highlight discrimination against men, not everyone was convinced. With Jess Phillips previously suggesting that every day is international men's day, the SNP's Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh tried to draw attention back to the fairer sex as she said it was time to discuss the 'glass ceilings women face everyday of their lives' -- concluding that 'there is no level playing field'.
However, there are good reasons to worry about male equality. When it comes to education attainment, in particular, it's the boys who are falling behind. As Fraser has noted, the gender attainment gap is at its worst among working-class boys. Those MPs who pride themselves on championing women's rights ought to realise it is not an either/or choice when it comes to who to help.