Women taking on traditionally male television and film roles is leaving young British men vulnerable to a life of crime, a Conservative MP has suggested.
Nick Fletcher claimed the lack of heroic male role models – citing an actress taking the lead in Doctor Who and the all-female Ghostbusters reboot – had left young men idolising violent anti-heroes.
Speaking at an International Men’s Day debate in parliament, the Tory MP complained of calls from “a tiny, yet very vocal minority, that every male character or good role model must have a female replacement”.
He told fellow MPs: “One only needs to look at the discussion surrounding who will play the next James Bond. And it’s not just James Bond – in recent years we’ve seen Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, Luke Skywalker … all replaced by women.”
Mr Fletcher added: “Men are left with the Krays and Tommy Shelby. Is it any wonder we are seeing so many young men committing crime?”
The MP for Don Valley said drama programmes such as Peaky Blinders, featuring the aforementioned gangster Tommy Shelby, “made crime look cool”. He added: “Trust me – a life in prison is not cool.”
After his comments caused a stir on social media, Mr Fletcher later released a statement on Twitter saying his remarks had been “misconstrued” – insisting that he had “in no way linked Doctor Who being a female to crime being committed by men”.
He added: “I did not link a Doctor Who being female to crime being committed by men. In fact, I was making a statement that boys and young men also need positive role models within the media, just as women do.”
Earlier, the Tory backbencher told parliament that he wanted “men to have their own identity and masculinity to be celebrated at times – rather than vilified”.
He added: “When a young boy hears masculinity being constantly linked with toxicity in societal discourse then it is no wonder so many suffer from a sense of worthlessness and isolation.”
Speaking during the debate in Westminster Hall, SNP MP Gavin Newlands said the idea of an International Men’s Day was “anathema to me”, adding: “It’s a rather cruel joke concocted in response to feminism, women’s rights and International Women’s Day.”
Mr Newlands added that international days were best-suited to “the oppressed, the underprivileged or those facing inequality”. But the MP said he accepted that people involved in International Men’s Day were “doing so for the very best of reasons”.
Speculation over Daniel Craig’s replacement and the possibility of a female Bond has been rife ever since the star confirmed he would bow out of the franchise – but producer Barbara Broccoli has repeatedly nixed the idea of a woman taking the lead role.
Nevertheless, Boris Johnson last month insisted that the next James Bond has “got to be” a man and housing secretary Michael Gove ridiculed Sir Keir Starmer’s suggestion in September that a woman takes over as 007. The Labour leader said: “I don’t have a favourite Bond, but I do think it is time for a female Bond.”
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