If you wanted something to really put the cherry on the top of your dog turd pie of 2016, all you needed to do today was to tune in to BBC Parliament and watch Philip Davies MP – the straight white anti-feminist man recently given a place on the Women and Equalities Committee – attempt to effectively filibuster the Combating Violence Against Women Bill.
To make it very clear, this was not a bill that made mention of men at all – not one that suggested male victims of domestic violence should be ignored, or that domestic violence initiatives should exclude male victims, or claimed that all men are potential abusers. The exact wording of it was: “It shall be the duty of Her Majesty’s Government to take all reasonable steps as soon as reasonably possible to become compliant with the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.”
Philip Davies spoke for 78 minutes about how this bill might somehow, somewhere, in some inscrutable way harm men. “If only we could rely on a balanced contribution,” he lamented, clearly under the impression that Parliament is just so full of female supremacists that men can hardly get a 78-minute word in edgeways. It hardly matters that 71 per cent of Parliament is male when you just feel like men aren’t getting enough, does it? Who needs facts and figures in today’s post-truth world anyway?
This isn’t the first bill Philip Davies has prevented, or attempted to prevent, being ratified by speaking for an excessive amount of time. Other bills he stood against include a bill to protect tenants from rogue landlords, a bill supported by all three parties to protect the aid budget, a bill to commit to providing first aid in schools, a bill to stop people from smoking in cars with young children, a bill to stop the use of wild animals in circuses, attempts to regulate payday lenders and a bill that would make it mandatory for councils to provide support to those who care for the disabled. He objected to gay marriage and to providing books for people in prison. In fact, one of the only things his parliamentary record seems to imply he is definitely for is the UK gambling industry.
It’s unclear where the “balance” is needed in a bill which says violence against women should be prevented, because logically the other side of the argument seems to be that violence against women should be encouraged. This is not a zero sum game: protecting women – who are disproportionately made victims of violence across the world – does not mean withholding support from men. And since Davies is clearly not a champion of gay rights, I’m assuming his passionate crusade for men’s rights doesn’t include the significant proportion of male victims of domestic violence whose abusers are men. This means that the minority he “stood up for” in a bizarre parliamentary stunt today is even smaller than you might think.
In a country where a woman is killed every three days on average by a current or former partner, this man – whose immediate reaction to being put on the Women and Equalities Committee was reportedly to ask that the word “Women” be taken out of the title – is somehow climbing the ladder. What Philip Davies stands for isn’t funny, or “old school”, or irrelevant; it’s shameful, it’s dangerous and it shouldn’t be allowed to go unchallenged.Reuse content