My experience at the International Conference on Men’s Issues 2018
Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the 4th Annual International Conference on Men’s Issues at London’s Excel Centre.
If you have ready the article on Vice or Open Democracy, you may have the impression that the conference was some sort of misogynistic meetup of angry white men that believe that men are oppressed and that women are responsible but I do not recognise that as being reflective of the conference at all.
This was my first ICMI, so I had no idea what to expect beforehand, particularly as I was arriving on my own but I needn’t have worried. Everyone was very friendly and I soon got chatting with new friends in a similar boat as well as a few familiar faces.
What struck me first was the diversity, I got chatting to a new New Zealander lady whom was living in London, there were people from France, from Norway, from India, Australia, Canada and the United States. It really did have an international flavour to it.
It wasn’t just geographical and ethnic diversity either. There was a wide variety of political perspectives, and that was represented in the talks themselves as well. Far from the “alt-right” label the mainstream media use to identify people as “the enemy”.
In fact, I noticed a great deal of friendship and affection in the room. Cassie Jaye, author of the groundbreaking documentary film, The Red Pill, was there side by side with her newly-wedded husband, patiently signing autographs for her fans. They had given up part of their honeymoon just to be here.
For such a woman hating band of angry white men, there sure was a lot of love for Cassie, even though she does not label herself as a men’s rights activist and had previously made several award winning documentaries covering women’s issues.
I also noticed the affection with which another of our distinguished guests and her husband held for each other. They were inseparable, showing the kind of tenderness for each other that would make this world a better place. If this is misogyny then I think we should be encouraging more of it, not less.
Opening Talk – A call to action for women
On to the actual talks. Renowned youtuber and Honey Badger Karen Straughan opened up the proceedings with a discussion about how important a role women play in opening up the dialogue on men’s issues. If you haven’t seen any of Karen’s work before, I highly recommend you have a look through her back catalogue. Karen’s talk was enormously well received and was the perfect start to the three day conference.
After Karen, Rick Bradford, author of the website empathygap.uk gave us a whistle top tour of the statistical data underpinning several areas highlighting a lack of empathy towards men and boys including the criminal justice system whereby men are convicted of 3 times more crimes as women six times when considering only the most serious offences yet men are 21 times more men in prison. He also covered discrepancies in Education, Healthcare and Family courts.
You can see the full content of his talk on his website. It really did present a strong case, particularly as the data he used was coming from highly accredited government sources.
The next speech was from a very well dress Scottish gentleman called Darren Deojee. Kilted Darren spoke about how we are born with little control of our limbs and it is through trial that we build our controls. He likened this to our psychological development too and how we need to temper ourselves and learn that control.
He also talked about how the language of electromagnetism perfectly described the two sexes, with women having the burden of attraction and men needing to know how to positively discharge their energy in healthy ways. I’d never really thought about it like that but it made perfect sense, he was an extremely captivating speaker with a positive message about masculinity.
The wave goodbye?
Who would have thought you would have a sociology professor, no less one that had worked with notorious anti-masculine feminists like Michael Kimmel at a conference on men’s issues? Well, we did. Professor Eric Anderson related the struggles of the gay rights movement to the current struggles of Men’s Rights, including a suggestion about re-branding. He talked about the changing perceptions of masculinity and of how the forth wave of feminism should be a wave goodbye.
Eric’s speech was probably one of the most controversial but it’s testament to the diversity of the movement that he was even there at all, and he still received an ovation for his efforts. He even admitted himself, he would not have had the same kind of tolerant reception giving the same talk in feminist circles.
For the sake of brevity, I’m not going to cover every single talk but for those that want to see the talks for themselves, they’re all going to be published on Mike Buchanan, the founder of Justice for Men and Boys and the women who love them’s youtube channel.
Unfortunately, due to a clash of events in my calendar, I missed day two but speaking to those that were there, it was a very heartbreaking and emotional day as the topics of domestic violence, false allegations, parental alienation and male infant genital mutilation came up.
Demonization of young men
On the final day, esteemed Canadian Professor Janice Fiamango spoke about the climate of fear and intimidation on college campuses. If you have not checked out her Fiamango Files series on the Studio Brule youtube channel, I would highly recommend them. Janice maintains a calm poise and decorum that would make Rudyard Kipling proud, to reference his inspirational poem If.
A Christian Prospective
When I heard that a Church of England Reverend was going to be giving a talk, I did wonder if I was attending the right conference, but Rev Jules Gomes gave a fascinating account of his perspectives from a Christian point of view. I was surprised to hear him discussing the works of Jordan Peterson, the Canadian professor whose book 12 rules for life has become increasingly popular with young men around the world wanting to improve their lives.
I was impressed with Gomes’s warmth and humour, and I also enjoyed the Q&A session afterwards discussing the role of the church and Christianity in our communities today.
The man that walked on his own grave
The story of the next speaker would sound unbelievable if it wasn’t for the evidence to back it up. Former boxer, and gym owner Raoul Sosa spoke about his experience as he discovered his wife tried to hire a hitman to have him killed.
Raoul’s story really pulled at my heartstrings. Despite everything she had tried to do to him, he still affectionately referred to her as Lulu. His story was more than just about a man that had to fake his own death in order to make sure his wife received the conviction she deserved. It was a story of a good man becoming a father figure for other troubled young men that could have gone the wrong way if it wasn’t for the sense of family he provided. It was as much a story about the importance of strong male role models than anything else.
His story also included a false allegation of rape that his wife made in an attempt to fool the court system into leniency. Luckily for Raoul, her lies had caught up with her but it shows just how easily false allegations can be made to ruin a man’s life.
MRM only for “straight white men”?
One criticism I’ve heard time and time again about the Men’s Rights Movement is that we only care about straight white men. Of course, in countries like the UK and the United States where the majority of the population is white, there are naturally going to be more white advocates but there is also a strong presence in countries like India and we do not care what colour your skin is, whatever your sexuality is or even, oddly enough, what sex you are. This is an all inclusive movement with a positive message of hope.
Sex Sentencing Gap
The penultimate talk was from the always impressively dressed and effervescent, Jordan Holbrook. Jordan’s talk was about the prison sentencing gender gap. He provided a plethora of examples of cases where women have been treated with compassion and leniency in the criminal justice system where men who had committed the same crimes were dealt with much more harshly.
His message was a plea to see more empathy and compassion for men, many of whom have either suffered from educational disadvantage, mental health issues or are abuse survivor. You can find Jordan on his YouTube Channel and Blog, www.thescreen.me
After Jordan’s speech, Mike Buccannan kindly asked me to say a few words about a friend of mine whom was due to be at the conference that sadly had taken her own life the week before. Regardless of what organisations such as Vice will tell you, I very much see the Men’s Rights community as a family. Sometimes a dysfunctional family, but one made up of good men and women that want to make the world a better place and a community that cares for each other. My friend Elizabeth may have only met some of the other delegates once before at the last ICMI in London, but she left a mark and touched many hearts. I was proud of the raptuous minutes applause held in her honour, and encouraged by all those that came up to me later to extend sympathies or offer stories of Liz from last time round. Elizabeth was the popular author of a blog called It Goes Both Ways.
Spreading the Joy
We ended the conference, as we began. No, that’s not with the special patriarchy handshake and sacrifice of a fair maiden, but with a call to action from a honey badger, Alison Tieman.
Alison spoke about how the Men’s Rights Movement is like a disruptive technology and that whilst we were all early adopters, we had to cross a chasm before our message becomes mainstream. She said that the way that we could do that was to make sure we showed the mainstream the joy and fun on our side of the divide, and that’s how we will achieve compassion for men.
I believe we achieved that at this years conference. We may be small in numbers now but we are big in hearts, and big in joy. There will always be those with an agenda that write dishonest articles about who we are and what we’re about, but their misery is no substitute for our joy and I look forward to welcoming more and more men and women over to share in our love, friendship, and compassion.
This article will be updated as more footage from the conference becomes avaiable