A Tory MP has faced derision for suggesting it was time install a minister for men.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ben Bradley aired a series of grievances relating to being accused of “mansplaining” and “male privilege” to mark International Men’s Day.
The Mansfield MP argued – among other things – that “banter with the lads” was being misconstrued as “bullying”.
Bradley, who raised issues raised in the debate over the rise in male suicide and educational attainment rates of white working-class boys, made several complaints about language.
He told MPs: “In recent years, it seemed like there are more and more of those kind of phrases coming into use designed to undermine the role and confidence of men in our society.
“I mentioned a few before, things like male privilege, like toxic masculinity. How about mansplaining, manterrupting, the trend of spelling woman with an ‘x’ to remove the undesirable man part... wonderfully empowering for some, I’m sure, but (...) seeking equality and fairness doesn’t need to mean dragging everyone around you down.”
At another point, he essayed “working-class values” that he said may be “considered old hat or even sexist by the modern establishment”, explaining: “It’s a set of values where you hold a door open for a lady, a man might be expected to stick around and provide for his family, where the role of men is a worker and breadwinner and a positive role model for his children.”
He went on: “You might also find, particularly when considering young men who are looking ahead at their life and seeking their purpose, that they might struggle to find it when they’re told those things they thought were virtues – their good manners, wanting to provide for their family, wanting to be a man’s man, wanting to go to the football at the weekend and have some banter with the lads – are toxic, doing down the women around them, those manners they were taught on the way to respect women in their life is now sexist, that banter is now bullying.”
But one question on Bradley’s mind received short shrift.
He pressed ministers to look again at equalities legislation and to ensure people in Whitehall hold departments to account, asking: “Why have a minister for women but not one for men?
“Why single out one characteristic for special mention?”
It prompted a series of responses, including from former home secretary Jacqui Smith, who said the men she knows “recognise institutional sexism and patriarchy” and want to tackle its “debilitating effect on women”.
She added that “they’re not sure you’re quite as committed to that as they are”.
And the former chief prosecutor of the North-West of England, Nazir Afzal, added that Bradley is the “kind of guy who questions why we have international a International women’s day when men have 365 days a year”.
He continued: “His call for a minister for men deliberately forgets that since time immemorial, men have had whole governments.”
Writing on Twitter after the criticism of his comments, Bradley said: “I’m being slated for suggesting Equality Act applies equally to men.
″#Hey, here’s news: it does. ‘Sex’ is protected - ie both! Act protects characteristics, not groups. People tweeting at me that ‘male is not a p.c.’ need to do some reading!”
Bradley has previously faced criticism for suggesting free school meal vouchers for the children in his constituency “effectively” went to crack den and brothel.