Saturday, 22 October 2016

Why education is an issue men & boys should worry about.

In my previous piece:

http://egamenrightsactivist.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/an-introductory-summary-on-mens-issues.html

I listed a number of different areas where men and boys are adversely affected within society at a greater ratio than women and girls are.

For this piece, I want to tackle the first point raised:

Education - Government research has shown that the single most underperforming demographic in schools are working class white boys on free school meals. Boys in general are less likely to achieve the same grades as girls and are less likely to pursue higher education at university.

This article is UK focused. Some circumstances may vary depending on your country of origin and some examples from other countries have been used to illustrate a point.

What are we witnessing?

The disparity between boys’ and girls’ average educational achievements starts from a very young age and follows them right through their academic life.

The organisation "Save the Children" released a report earlier this year called "The Lost Boys". Accordingly, boys are nearly twice as likely to be behind by the time they start junior school, with further estimates that nearly 1 million boys over the next decade could start school at a disadvantage. [1]

This disparity continues throughout children aged 5-11. Department for Education reports for both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 reports indicate that in the combined core subjects of reading, writing and mathematics, boys are on average 8% behind girls. [2,3]


As reported in The Telegraph, Government data reveals that most boys are now leaving primary education without a suitable level of literacy and numeracy skills. [4]

The disparity does not end there. Data collected from this years' GCSE reports indicate that the gender gap in average attainment has slightly widened, with the gap between boys & girls achieving A*-C grades at 9.4% (74.1% versus 64.7% respectively). [5]

In an interesting twist, the gap between boys and girls is virtually non-existent at A-Level. [6]

However, boys are much less likely to go to university, more likely to drop out early and less likely to achieve a good degree according to recent research, with one think tank referring to it as a "national scandal". [7]

Combined, this means that although boys are more likely to achieve exceptional standards in areas such as mathematics, they are much less employable. This can hinder them not only in terms of jobs but also life skills.

What are some of the possible causes of this?

There are a large number of possible factors to consider as to why this might be the case and much debate. Below, I offer some possible explanations that individually might explain why the disparity might exist. This is in no way the final word on the matter nor exhaustive. As always, I encourage you (the reader) to examine the evidence for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

Theory one - Politics.

Though awareness of education issues for boys has been growing, some have noticed that Government policy rarely caters for boys. Earlier this year, Mary Curnock Cook of UCAS warned that boys were being neglected. [8]

There is much dialogue about racism within society and disadvantages some people experience related to race (perceived or otherwise). Contrary to popular logic, Government research has found that white, working class boys on free school meals are the single most under-performing demographic even after account for population size, income and so forth. [9]

It's possible that people have fought so hard to help other demographics that they forgot to extend initiatives to help boys.

Theory two - Reading.

An overlooked part of the problem *could* be reading. Research indicates that girls read more frequently than boys and tend to have greater enjoyment, too. [10]

The National Literacy Trust have conducted their own research. They concluded that parents were more likely to read to daughters than to sons and that reading material provided was often of little or no interest to boys, which reduced their enthusiasm to read. [11]

This is important as further research suggests that there's a positive correlation between reading and academic performance. [12]

Theory three - biology and schools.

This theory is heavily contested, so I will simply provide some of the arguments for it.

An increasing number of researchers have concluded there are differences in brain development of boys and girls. For example, girls tend to have advanced communication skills compared to boys. [13]

Furthermore, gender biases exist in neuropsychiatric disorders; men are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD & autism than girls are, who are more likely to be diagnosed with anorexia and depression. Young men and boys are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than girls, though in later years this imbalance switches. [14]

Neural scans of male & female brains have shown different neural activity and pathways, indicating that women may trends more towards social skills whilst men may trend more towards physical skills. [15]

Researchers have found gender differences exist regardless of culture, but were most heavily emphasised in cultures where traditional sex roles are minimal. [16] Additionally, psychologists from Glasgow and Missouri found that in 71 of 74 countries tested, girls outstripped boys despite perceived inequalities. [17] Research from America also found boys overwhelmingly end up being disciplined more and often show shorter attention spans. [18]

It's possible that due to biological influences such as differences in communication levels, attention spans and such that school environments are geared more towards feminine learning preferences than masculine ones.

What can we do about it, if anything?

There are some things we can consider;

A) Discuss with schools about alternative methods of education. In 2010, Gareth Malone was given the opportunity to work with Pear Tree Mead primary school in Essex and change their academic approach for failing children. Within a few months, they noticed significant improvements in reading and attainment standards from the children who participated by introducing different methods of learning, such as kinetic learning. [19]

B) Approach schools about using modern technology to improve their lessons. In 2014 for example, the Danish Government used the game Minecraft to create a scale model of Denmark to improve geography lessons. [20]

C] For children of poorer backgrounds, enquire about poor pupil premiums and potential schemes your local school might use to help disadvantaged children. Find who the local school governors are and discuss with them your circumstances.

D] Find books your children may find interesting and read to them. Your child may not want to read about Jack & Jill getting haircuts, but they may want to read books about superheroes, cars or something else. See if you can enquire about improving reading material at your school.

That's it for now. Hopefully you will have found this article useful.

If you have a moment and haven't signed it already, I urge you to sign the petition to make rape a gender neutral crime in the UK;

http://egamenrightsactivist.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/government-petition-make-uk-rape-law.html

Until next time, take care.

Sources:


















Saturday, 1 October 2016

An Introductory Summary on Men's Issues.

Author: Grumpy Purple Sloth

Much attention has been given to the issues faced by women in societies across the world. Many organisations exist solely to promote and protect women in a range of different ways.

There is much less public support and funding for issues surrounding men’s health and wellbeing. So much so that some might even question if there is a need to recognise men’s issues at all.

I believe it is vital that both men’s and women’s issues are recognised, their agency be understood and awareness be promoted where possible as gender issues frequently have a great deal of overlap.

It begs the question - what are some of the issues that men face?

For the purposes of this article, all issues presented will be UK based where possible

1)     Education - Government research has shown that the single most underperforming demographic in schools are working class white boys on free school meals. [1] Boys in general are less likely to achieve the same grades as girls [2,3] and are less likely to pursue higher education at university. [4]

2)      Life expectancy – Girls enjoy a longer average life expectancy than boys. [5] It is easy to think of this as a trivial issue compared to others on this list, but that is a simplistic view. These are strangers we are talking about but also our fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands, sons and more. Should we not concern ourselves with the health and well-being of 50% of the population?

3)      Suicide – Men commit suicide at a rate of over three times higher than women. [6] Men typically between the ages of 40-49 are the most likely demographic to commit suicide across the UK. [7]

4)      Victims of violent crime – Men are the overwhelming victims of violent crime overall even from the ages of 10-15. [8] Men are also disproportionately arrested, sentenced and detained compared to women. [9]

5)      Under-representation of shelters for domestic & sexual violence victims – Men consistently make up around 33-40% of all victims of domestic violence in the UK [10]. Despite this, specialised centres for male victims are rare. As observed by EgaFem article noted that in 2010 for every 1 space for men that was available, there were 125 for women, despite a wealth of research that indicates parity in terms of victimhood. [11] In 2015, Survivors UK who help male rape victims had their funding slashed to zero, despite a 120% increase in their services. [12] Our partner at EgaFem previously campaigned to raise awareness of legal inequality against male victims. [13]

6)      Funding for male health issues – Male health issues frequently receive drastically lower funding than female health issues. In 2012, Prostate Cancer UK observed that though prostate cancer claims similar numbers of fatalities as breast cancer per year, breast cancer research received twice as much funding. [14]

7)      MGM Vs FGM - Whilst female genital mutilation is rightly illegal, male genital mutilation is not. A Freedom of Information Act to Birmingham Children’s Hospital in 2012 found multiple cases of “life-threatening blood loss, shock or sepsis” following the procedure. [15] Medical professionals have written extensively about the risks. Blaise Wilson, over at EgaFem, has featured in an extensive stream about this topic. [16,17]

8)      Homelessness – Homelessness overwhelming affects men more than women in the UK. [18] In 2015, Homeless Link published research that found 70% of all homeless people were men, with 49% aged 16-24. [19] Despite this, campaigns to reduce homelessness still predominately fixate on women over men. [20]

9)      Parental bias in custody cases – A YouGov poll from 2012 found 84% of respondents felt that both parents were important in a childs’ upbringing. Despite this, they also found people were almost 5 times more likely to say mothers should have the most rights over their children. [21] In 2015, fathers accounted for just 10% of sole parents. [22] Research from Warwick University found there was “no bias” in fathers’ fights to obtain access to their children. However, this research also found 96% of all applicants were estranged fathers and just under half of all “successful” applications won the right to have their child stay with them overnight, on average, once a fortnight. Yet this was regarded as “overwhelmingly successful”. [23,24]

10) Empathy gap - This term is used to describe the phenomenon where women's issues are given a comparatively unique level of concern in public and political circles, whilst male issues are frequently overlooked or even laughed at by comparison. A notable example of this would be MP Jess Phillips laughing at a fellow MP over the idea of having an International Mens' Day to discuss male issues. [25]

This list is not exhaustive. I intend to explain in greater detail the factors behind each of these different points, how they manifest and potential caveats to consider. It is not enough to simply say “a disparity exists”, we should strive to see *why* it exists, too.

It is worth noting that people who are concerned about mens' issues are not a monolith. There is a great deal of overlap and difference between MRAs, MGTOWs and PUAs, for example. Even within this spectrum, there can be differences of opinion as to what constitutes a "men's issue". Just as advocacy for women's rights is not solely the domain of feminists (who in turn are not a monolith), advocacy for mens' issues is not solely the domain of MRAs (who are also not a monolith) and all discussions should be based on merit rather than association.

If you feel you have a topic worth discussing in detail, please contact Blaise Wilson on Twitter with your suggestion.

Until next time, take care of yourselves.

Sources:

Government Petition - Make UK Rape Law Gender Neutral!

Author: Grumpy Purple Sloth

Recently, another petition has started doing the rounds again. The petitions' aim is to make the rape laws gender neutral.

This often comes as a surprise to many people, who are usually unaware that the UK laws are not neutral. Much to the surprise of many people, under UK law, rape is a crime only men specifically can commit.

It should not need much explaining why this is wrong and for those of us who seek equal treatment regardless of gender, it is an issue that needs to be corrected.

What does the law say?

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 states the following: [1]

(1) A person (A) commits and offence if--
                    (a) he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with                            his penis,
                    (b) B does not consent to the penetration, and
                    (c) A does not reasonably believe that B consents.

Note the terminology. It specifically refers to he (male) and requires penetration in order for it to be considered rape. Since this definition requires a physical act and a penis to commit, rather than being a case of no consent during forced sexual intercourse, female perpetrators of what we would normally consider rape cannot be legally considered rapists.

Does the law consider women capable of sexual violence at all?

Yes, but only to a point. Women can be convicted of sexual assault and assault via penetration (such as using fingers, bottles, sex toys and so forth) which bears a similar sentence, but not rape.

So why does it matter?

There are several serious implications that are usually overlooked. First, it matters when reading statistics on sexual violence. Imagine you wish to look at statistics surrounding rape and gender. Now imagine that under the law, rape when committed by someone from 50% of the population against anyone over the age of 13 isn't recorded at all. You would be forgiven for believing that this means it doesn't happen, but that would not be true. For activists who want to get help for victims of sexual violence, this can create a major hurdle.

Secondly, it is a matter of justice. Consider the fact that a woman who is forced into sexual intercourse by another woman against her will can't have her rapist tried as a rapist. Or a woman that forces an underage teenager (say 14, for example) into sexual intercourse against his will cannot be considered a rapist. They can be tried for sexual assault, but not rape.

Finally, the lack of awareness of male victims & female perpetrated sexual violence only ends up reinforcing harmful rape myths, including the myth that male victims of rape is rare and thus do not require as much funding or help. In turn, this can make men even less likely to admit being a victim of rape. Blaise Wilson over at EgaFem has written extensively on this topic and is worth checking out if you have the time, including challenging assertions that women cannot rape men and more. [2]

Has anyone tried to get it changed before?

Yes. There was an attempt back in 2014 which received barely 156 signatures, for example. [3]

In April this year, Blaise Wilson attempted to campaign to get more attention on this issue. [4] That attempt managed to raise 20k signatures and was even responded to by Government, who ultimately ignored the point of the petition to say there was no interest in changing the law. [5]

Although EgaFem are supporting a second attempt at a petition extensively, full credit goes to Daniel Stretton, who created the petition to begin with. [6]

But they cannot do it alone. All civic minded people who care about equality should be willing to sign this petition as a matter of principle.

Many feminist activists acknowledge the existence of "rape culture" as a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse. [7]

What more obvious and direct example is there than one which ignores the possibility for half a population to be victims of sexual violence by the other half?

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/167582 - Link to the petition.

https://goodmenproject.com/on-rape-and-sexual-violence/male-rape-survivors-and-victim-blaming/ - Link to an article from The Good Men Project about male rape survivors and victim blaming.

http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/jhamlin/3925/4925HomeComputer/Rape%20myths/Male%20Rape%20Myths.pdf - Academic review of male rape myths, how they form and how they can be harmful.

Please, if you have a moment, sign the petition. If you live outside of the UK, share it with people you know. Even if you cannot contribute directly, the act of raising awareness can be a massive help.

Sources:

1] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/section/1

2] http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/rape-denial-of-womens-impact-and-agency.html

3] https://petition.parliament.uk/archived/petitions/51188

4] http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/campaign-rape-recognising-womens-impact.html

5] https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/124524

6] http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/rape-definition-and-nounswap-test.html

7] https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/rape_culture

Sunday, 12 June 2016

EgaCom - the Egalitarian Community

Welcome to the Egalitarian Men's Rights Advocates (EgaMRA) website!

Our sister site Egalitarian Feminism (EgaFem) focuses on how problems impact women, while we focus on how they impact men. Between the two, and possibly future Egalitarian perspectives such as transgender, we hope to find solutions to problems that work for all of society.

We will do this by working with others to find the best solution to problem, raise awareness and highlight the need for change.

EgaMRA focuses on the UK and US, but will include stories from around the world if we feel they are relevant.

We will be looking for some content creators. I personally (Blaise) neither have the time, nor do I think it is practical to try to run both EgaFem and EgaMRA myself. I will be looking for content from others for EgaMRA while I focus on EgaFem and continue with overarching themes and admin. This isn't to say I won't write for EgaMRA now and again.

If you know anyone with a story they need to tell, or want to write an article on a topic for either EgaMRA or EgaFem, please let us know through EgaFem's contant list (Contact page: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page.html).

EgaMRA will grow, and get it's own ways to contact us through more relevant channels but EgaFem has a 10 month head start.

One thing I am keen for EgaMRA to do is to provide a place men can tell their stories and show the world, and other men, what it is like to go through society from their perspective. This is under the assumption there is an empathy gap between how society treats men and women. I believe if we show the world that men are not only human, but individuals rather than a rabble of this ridiculous notion known as 'toxic masculinity' perhaps it will be harder to ignore the needs of half the population.

We are particually interested in content that EgaFem and EgaMRA can write about how they impact the genders uniquely and highlight how benefits or negatives for one impact the other. It would be great to work towards common goals and find overlap between opportunity feminists and men's rights. The fight between feminism and MRAs does not help the victims of either gender. Within the EgaCom (Egalitarian Community) the victims needs come first, and petty squabbling could be more harmful than helpful. Instead of looking a for a fight, let us look at how we can change solutions, assumptions and challenge ideas that are harmful.

EgaMRA and EgaFem are NOT places to attack MRAs or Feminists. Generalised attacks on MRAs and Feminists is not acceptable. However, highlighting truths and areas we disagree with, questioning and exploring ideology of specific feminists or MRAs and their actions is fine. But down right hate of the entire group is a big no-no.

Remember, 'not all'. Not all MRAs are women haters who spend more time bashing feminists than helping men. Not all feminists are marxist who support female supremacy.


A Community Hangout


We also needed somewhere neutral to discuss ideas. Somewhere people can join in the debates, provide evidence, and join in without having to use the MRA label.

So now we have a place for both EgaMRA and EgaFem. And that place is Reddit.

https://www.reddit.com/r/EgaCom

It seemed like a good choice as anyone with an account can talk to us, whereas making a new forum would force people to create a unique sign up just for us. It also has great features for debating, able to reply and see threads easily and naturally allow the best ideas to gravitate to the surface over time.