Tom Martin quit the London School of Economics after only six weeks. His reason:
… [Martin] claims in papers lodged at the Central London county court that lecturers ignored male issues.
He is claiming some £50,000 citing breach of contract, misleading advertising, misrepresentation, and breach of the Gender Equality Duty Act.
The 39-year-old, who attended the university last year to take up a Gender, Media and Culture Masters degree, said there was “systemic anti-male discrimination”. But he said an internal investigation carried out by the university in the wake of his complaints found “no evidence” of bias.
Martin argues that the core texts used by LSE’s gender studies department included misandrist discrimination and exaggerated views on women’s issues. He contends that the texts blame men for women’s problems to justify ignoring men’s issues.
Ironically, the university’s response supported Martin’s position:
The university’s legal team has asked for the case to be struck out, claiming the core texts were not compulsory, merely recommended readings, and that the texts were equally available for both men and women to read, so therefore did not directly discriminate against men. The team also argues that “any discriminatory effect [against men] was plainly justifiable”.
It is doubtful that Martin will succeed in his suit against the school, despite the probable ease with which he can prove his claims. Feminists are pretty entrenched in academia, and they hold a lot of power politically. Any ruling in Martin’s favor will spell trouble for the judge or judges who make that decision.
Few feminists have commented on Martin’s case. Jonathan Dean responded to Martin in the Guardian:
[…] Firstly, the perception that gender studies is doctrinal and dogmatic is simply untrue. It is sceptical of traditional distinctions between fields of research, and is more dynamic, innovative and open to new perspectives than established disciplines. And far from sticking to a crude “women good, men bad” line, gender studies programmes encourage students to acknowledge the diversity of relations between men and women, the limitations of a victim-centred understanding of womanhood, and the complex ways in which gender intersects with race, class and sexuality. The development of this more holistic approach to gender analysis is one of the reasons why the name “gender studies” is now usually given preference over “women’s studies”, although the name of the field remains a controversial topic.
Dean cited Jeff Hearn, R W Connell, Keith Pringle, Michael Kimmel and Terrell Carver as men who address men’s issues, yet none of those men write about father’s rights, physical and sexual violence against men, men’s health issues, homelessness among men, or boys’ education problems. Rather, they ignore, dismiss, or downplay those problems in favor of addressing, as Dean put it, “class and racial inequalities between men, the causes and consequences of male violence, the lived experience of different kinds of male sexuality, and the ways in which ideas of masculinity influence social and political thought.”
In other words, they blame men for women’s and society’s problems. That sounds like the very point Martin argued in his suit.
The Guardian allowed Martin to respond to Dean’s claims:
Dean, a former researcher at LSE’s Gender Institute, denies everything: “Gender studies programmes encourage students to acknowledge … the limitations of a victim-centred understanding of womanhood.” Fine words, but a close analysis of the core texts shows all the old, male-blaming biases are still there.
Patriarchy theory – the idea that men typically “dominate” women – is omnipresent, when research shows women tend to boss men interpersonally. Texts highlight misogyny but never misandry, its anti-male equivalent – despite research finding that women verbalise four times more misandry than men do misogyny. And the core texts highlight violence against women only, despite decades of research showing that women are more likely to initiate domestic violence.
Martin also called Dean on a very obvious contradiction:
By pretending men’s issues are disproportionately focused on, and by implying there is lots of anti-female bias elsewhere, Dean attempts to justify the continuation of attacks on men, and avoidance of men’s-issues debates, as is standard in the gender studies orthodoxy today. When “women’s studies” became “gender studies” departments, it signalled a new era of inclusion for men’s issues – a rejection of this now is a betrayal of men and equality.
Last year’s backlash against Lionel Tiger’s Male Studies proposal shows the kind of “women good, men bad” approach Martin speaks of. Men’s studies courses are little more than women’s studies courses. They rely heavily on feminist doctrine and dogma, and ignore all issues that do not fall into the feminist purview. Gender studies should include all positions, not only feminist positions. It should examine things from all perspectives, not just feminist perspectives. Feminism itself should be examined and questioned, not blindly accepted as fact. Yet this does not happen.
Martin is, contrary to what Dean believe, dead on in this matter. By refusing to address those issues and balking whenever asked to do it, Women’s Studies departments and feminists show themselves to be, ironically, sexist. They show themselves as deliberately attempting to silence men’s voices and views because those views do not fit in with feminist doctrine. That violates the very rules feminists got instituted to prevent sex-based discrimination. That they seemingly want to ignore those rules when it suits them speaks volumes.
That said, there is one place where Martin faltered. He stated:
Texts highlight misogyny but never misandry, its anti-male equivalent – despite research finding that women verbalise four times more misandry than men do misogyny.
Martin provided no evidence to support the claim that women are more misandrous than men are misogynistic. That kind of unsubstantiated claim will hurt his chances of winning his suit and also hurt his credibility. Gender studies courses and texts are provably biased. It takes little effort to show this. One does not need to create strawmen to knock down when there are perfectly good dummies standing right in front of you.