Would a Male Section fail everyone?
Two responses were published in the July issue to my letter querying how the proposed Male Psychology Section would achieve its aims. Both letters continue the myth that men as a class of people are disadvantaged and that – in Seager’s words – there is a ‘male gender blindness’ that pervades society. Seager provides no evidence to support this. Despite more women studying (and therefore investing in) psychology, the pay-off – in terms of who runs the BPS and who achieves professorial level etc. – is more likely to go to men (e.g. 80 per cent of BPS Presidents have been men). Astoundingly, Seager states ‘the male gender is the only class of people not covered within the formal structures of the BPS’. Forgetting that every other Section of the BPS includes work on and by men including the Psychology of Women and the Psychology of Sexualities Sections. Forgetting too that the BPS has no Section for BME people, the working class or ‘disabled people’. As men we just do not need any special attention for our needs to get on the agenda.
Brown’s letter argues we should focus on ‘ordinary men’, for example those that work in the gig economy. Such attention is crucial, but what Brown calls ordinary others know as working class. And we know that to be working class – excluded from economic and cultural resources – is not exclusive to men. If Brown was serious about the dangers of the gig economy, deaths at work and homelessness she would join Psychologists for Social Change who rightfully recognise what is really driving these crises – successive cuts to a welfare system and low-paid, exploitative work. Brown further uses fathers who abandon their children as another example of a male disadvantage conveniently forgetting who it is men are abandoning: mothers left behind to lone parent and – because fathers do not only procreate sons – daughters too. Brown ignores both the WHO and research by Baptista showing that women and men have comparable rates of mental illness and that we don’t know how many homeless women there are. Brown argues we should drill down to facts but ignores the facts debunking male-as-victims myths mentioned in my last letter and elucidated at www.notomalepsych.wordpress.com.
Both Seager and Brown also argue that regardless of whether or not men are advantaged as a class, they should still be allowed to self-organise as researchers interested in men. But which men are the researchers interested in? From what I have seen of the proposed Section’s research interests listed on their website they consistently ignore the most vulnerable men (BME men, gay, bi and trans men, working-class men). Ultimately there is a danger that our Society’s limited resources will be wasted on a Section that treats homelessness, workplace deaths and other urgent issues as caused not by austerity, exploitative labour, etc., but rather by being male. Such actions will fail the too many men and women suffering from these issues.
Leeds Beckett University
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