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Student holds independent lecture promoting International Men’s Day 2016

Image credit: Days of the Year
Image credit: Days of the Year
Image credit: Days of the Year

A University of York student organised his own lecture to mark International Men’s Day this weekend ,after the University confirmed that it would not publicly mark the day.

Ben Froughi, a Third Year Accounting, Business Finance & Management student, held a short lecture on the social and psychological problems that men face, on feminism and the need for men to celebrate their achievements, in Derwent College this Saturday.

Prior to delivering his lecture, Mr. Froughi wrote on Facebook that the talk was intended to provide a discussion about an issue that the “University [of York] and [the University of York Students’ Union] don’t think is worth their time.”

According to Mr. Froughi and The Yorker‘s investigators, posters advertising the event were forcibly removed. To The Yorker‘s knowledge, no group has claimed responsibility for doing so.

The lecture focused on men’s health, with particular reference to statistics that show that 75% of British suicides involve adult men. In addition, Mr. Froughi discussed the higher rates of autism amongst men and how many autistic qualities should not be regarded with stigma.

The presentation concluded with a clip of noted anti-feminist Milo Yiannopoulos, closing a debate on feminism at the University of Bristol. The audience then heard from Glen Poole, the UK coordinator of International Men’s Day, via a Skype call.

The Yorker‘s correspondent Jamie Warner writes:

Ben Froughi discussed what he perceives to be a gender bias in terms of education. He argued that white females are the best educational achievers of any group, and stating the 57:43 ratio of female to male students at the University of York. Discussing career choices, he argued that males and females have differences in the nature of the work that they choose, and how this subsequently leads to the ‘gender gap’.

Mr. Froughi criticised modern definitions of feminism. He argued that the traditional definition of achieving equality between the sexes has given way to the systematic privileging of females. Nonetheless, Mr. Froughi was keen to stress that he did not regard all feminists negatively. He praised the academics and commentators Christina Hoff Sommers, Camille Paglia, and Laura Southern in particular for criticising what they consider to be more radical elements of contemporary feminism. Mr. Froughi likened the radical form of feminism that has tended to be most hostile to the notion of International Men’s Day to almost be akin to fascism.

Discussing popular attitudes in society, he talked of Duke University in the United States of America, who has run courses to tackle ‘toxic masculinity’; before discussing the reception of a popular feminist T-Shirt titled ‘Male Tears’ and the backlash against space-scientist Dr Matt Taylor as a result of his clothing in 2014.

Mr. Froughi took time to discuss how ‘positive traits’ of masculinity are being threatened through sections of the present feminist movement. Independence, leadership and non-conformity, traditional masculine traits, should be celebrated for what they have brought about. Male achievements, including discovering electricity, inventing cars and journeying to the moon, are to be celebrated and not dismissed.

After Mr. Froughi’s presentation, the audience was addressed via Skype by Glen Poole, the UK coordinator for International Men’s Day. Mr. Poole related his own experience of being a stay-at-home, divorced father. Mr. Poole gave several examples from his life of being refused jobs such as bar work and cleaning over; as well as telling of issues that are faced by men regarding childcare and mental health.

However, Mr. Poole was keen to stress that the day should be regarded as promoting men’s issues alongside women’s issues. Mr. Poole regards it as crucial that we look at “the problems that men have” as opposed to the “problems that men are.” In response to the idea that IMD would only benefit men, Mr. Poole argued out that everybody has a male involved in their life, and thus issues that men face impact upon everyone.

Mr. Poole told the audience that the day had achieved much for something in its relative infancy – while International Women’s Day has been celebrated since 1909, International Men’s Day has only been in existence since 1992, and that it has only really been since 2010 that the event has taken off globally. Mr. Poole was proud that earlier in the day of the talk, International Men’s Day was the number one trend on Twitter in the United Kingdom; and that BBC Radio One and other organisations has promoted IMD.

Mr. Froughi said that he seeks to reduce, not inflame, social separations between men and women. When asked whether he think if the movement at York will gain strength, he said whilst he very much hopes that it does, he’d rather not have to celebrate it in the first place.

Last year the University of York faced international controversy over the decision to cancel its celebrations of International Men’s Day. Once again, in 2016 the University of York chose not to mark the event.

Ben Froughi made headlines earlier in the term when he informed students lining up to attend the new consent talks that their attendance was not compulsory. This action was widely reported in local and national newspapers.