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The World is Focusing on Women's Issues While Happily Ignoring Men's

Posted: 07/05/2013 13:05

Why Gym

Journalist Peter Lloyd recently hit the headlines when he revealed he was suing his local gym, the Kentish Town Sports Centre in North London, on the grounds of gender bias.

Lloyd was incensed that the venue, owned by the fitness company Better, in association with Camden Council - was banning men and boys for 442 hours every year to make way for 'women-only' sessions.

'To add insult to injury' says Lloyd, in a heartfelt article in the Daily Mail last month, 'they still charge full-price membership without offering men the equivalent option of a 'male-only' session.'

I have been watching the case develop with interest, as a journalist and blogger with special research interests in the rights of men and boys.

And I am not the only one. Prominent human-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has described Lloyd's campaign as 'sensible and fair'.

Erin Pizzey, domestic violence shelter founder turned men's right campaigner has also pledged her support 'this discrimination has no place in modern society' she says.

I interviewed Peter Lloyd last week to find out more about the thinking behind his case, and what progress he felt he had made so far.

Claire-Louise Meadows: Peter, take us back a little - what made you decide to take action on this issue?

Peter Lloyd: Primarily, I took action because the gym's policy is discriminatory, but also because I wanted to wake people up - men, women, council staff and gym bosses.

Men and boys constantly suffer sexism, and a small issue like this is a building block for other male discriminations such as father's rights, circumcision and the life expectancy gap. I want to help change that.

CLM: Have you found that you have had a lot of support? Mostly from men, women or a mix?

PL: I've had an incredible amount of support - from both genders. I've also had backing from gym staff at the Kentish Town Sports Centre, who oppose their employer's sexist policies.

Even a poll on the Huffington Post is 80% in my favour. The public aren't stupid - they know I'm right and that charging customers for hours they can't use, while simultaneously vilifying their sexuality, is wrong.


CLM: How are you gauging your success? What, in your opinion, is the ideal outcome of your case?

PL: I already consider the case successful because it exposed the gym's unfair, out-dated practice. But it's also successful because it galvanised male thinking, especially around gender politics - an area they've traditionally been locked out of.

CLM: You have been described to me, by people familiar with your work, as an excellent writer, but not usually a particularly political writer.

Have you yourself been galvanized into exploring more areas of the men's rights movement as a result of your own experiences?

PL: I've always been interesting in men's issues, but my writing focused on other things. I even worked on a women's magazine for three years. It was only when I left that and went freelance that I could focus on my own passions. It amazed me that men had no real voice in mainstream media - despite the scale of their modern issues. Editors have simply just given them sports pages.

CLM: Feminism - a driver for necessary change, or making problems with gender equality worse?

PL: Both and neither. Equality is wonderful - it's definition is clear and inflexible. Feminism is different. While many feminists are fair and balanced, much of the feminist ideology has been hijacked, corrupted and bastardised by misandrists.

Just look at how the male victims of domestic violence - a staggering 40% of ALL reported incidents - are deliberately ignored for financial and political motives. This, we are told, is a fruit of feminism. I think it's disgusting and a form of abuse in itself.

In this week's Grazia there's a feature about female genital mutilation. They're rightly outraged, but men are routinely circumcised all over the world every day. Many die or grow up to feel violated. And, unlike FGM, it's legal in the UK and America.

Perhaps when these women have sons or grandsons they'll realise that we're all connected

Currently, the world is focusing on women's issues while happily ignoring men's. That's like flying a plane with one wing. The ending will inevitably be disastrous.

CLM: How would you respond to Glen Poole's criticism of your campaign in the Guardian?

PL: Of course, Glen Poole is entitled to his own opinion on this matter. For my part, I have no comment on his views.

CLM: And how would you respond to the accusation on Adweek that your 'overly-aggressive' rhetoric was doing more harm than good to the serious issues behind your campaign?

PL: It's quite clear that the author behind that article has fallen victim to bias. Trying to imply that my unapologetic approach to tackling discrimination had aggressive undertones because I'm a man was sad. But I understand. It's all part of the general malaise facing anyone that challenges the status quo on these issues.


CLM: There is a twitter divide on your campaign, depending on whether he matter is perceived as an issue of negative gender bias, or unfair business practice - is it possible that people are missing the point of what you're trying to achieve?

PL: Totally - so many people have missed the point. This isn't about the Equality Act or whether my gym is acting lawfully. It's not even about justifying a women's hour. It's about fairness. It's about telling men not to accept - or expect - sexism because they are male. It's ultimately about empowerment.

CLM: Where are you at with the case at the moment? When can we expect a decision?

PL: The case has been filed at the small claims court. A decision can be expected this summer.

CLM: How do you plan to build on the issues your case has raised?

PL: I will always be vocal about men's issues. It's a difficult calling, but it's a calling all the same. It feels like I was always meant to be doing this.

 

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