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U mad broLucas Cranach the Elder

One feminist reacts to Britain's first anti-feminist party

‘Mike Buchanan awarded me Lying Feminist of the Month. That's the greatest honour of my life.’

You've probably heard by now about the world's "first anti-feminist party", led by former Tory business consultant Mike Buchanan. Justice for Men and Boys (And the women who love them) – J4MB, for short – is putting up three candidates for the upcoming UK general election.

Their 80-page general manifesto can best be summarised as "dudes to the front": Buchanan wants to scrap the Equality Act 2010, make abortions illegal, discourage lesbians and single mothers from having kids, and stop women from being appointed in senior executive roles.

"We are not sexist for standing against women," Buchanan told us. "You’ll find no misogyny on anything I write or anything the party writes. We live in such a gynocentric culture, which panders relentlessly to women, that if you do anything that criticizes individual women or women as a class, it’s seen as misogyny. Whereas you can trash men until the cows come home and no one says that is sexism – although it is, of course."

But the J4MB website makes it clear that women (and feminists especially) are to blame for most men's problems. Male suicide? Women. Male unemployment? Women. And if you disagree with the party line, you get honoured with the party's Lying Feminist of the Month award. Other prizes include Gormless Feminist of the Month and the Harpy Lifetime Achievement Award. Last honouree: Germaine Greer.

So who are these lying harpies hellbent on destroying male entitlement and privilege, and how can we be friends with them? Roz Hardie is one such awardwinner. The Object CEO campaigns against sexual objectification and exploitation and was proudly given the Lying Feminist award for standing up to Buchanan on a TV debate. We spoke to Hardie to find out what she thought on the rise of Britain's anti-feminist political party. 

So, congrats on the award!

Roz Hardie: Mike Buchanan awarded me Lying Feminist of the Month. That's the greatest honour of my life. He and I had a heated discussion on London Live, but we agreed to disagree. I was polite, I shook his hand at the beginning... Within less than 24 hours, he had given me the award. He's done that to most women who are involved in women's campaigns. For me, that's funny. But I've seen some of the caricatures he's provided of women are grossly offensive.

Like what?

Roz Hardie: For my part, having a picture of me with a Pinocchio nose isn’t something that I’m going to lose sleep over. But I think some of the pictures he’s produced of women – for example, Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism Project – reminds me of the pictures that we had 400 years ago of women who were accused of being witches. It’s just very extreme and nasty.

What do you think of J4MB's actual electoral chances? 

Roz Hardie: I think that he is unlikely to get elected. He appears to be tapping into a small anti-feminist backlash. A great many men are very supportive of women’s rights and see that this is not about "men bashing", but there are some men who are extremely angry and extremely bitter and feel under threat if suggestions are made, for example, that gender violence is inappropriate. There is an undercurrent of quite strong disagreement with women’s equality. Although Mike Buchanan is a bit of a fringe character and I think he’s a bit of a lone wolf, he does potentially tap into the sort of people who make very, very unpleasant threats to people like Jessica Ennis and to Charlie Webster. 

He told me that all the main political parties are "anti-male" and are only interested in "pandering to women". How true is that?

Roz Hardie: We don’t have equal representation in Parliament, we don’t have equal representation in wealth, in top companies, and we don’t have equal in terms of access to jobs and income. There are an awful lot of things where women’s equality is just demonstrably not the case.

J4MB says that nobody is working to help men on issues like male unemployment and suicide.

Roz Hardie: We think there are real issues around men and equality, but the challenge is not challenging women’s equality. There are issues for a lot of men, particularly with the collapse of the economy and traditional industries. But we don’t believe it was feminists that collapsed the world economy; we think that was the international banking system. The world economic crisis had a knock-on impact across all sorts of people, including men. We don't want it to be posed as a men versus women issue. Mike Buchanan represents a strand of people responding to challenges by being extraordinarily angry and hateful. Hate is not a good way to take forward any problems and an approach that is focused on that level of hate around a group in our society is not a healthy one. 

Do you think J4MB should be allowed to stand for election at all? 

Roz Hardie: We respect his democratic right to stand. Even though we have robust agreements with them, we think that people have a right to represent themselves. Although Object is an organisation that deals with the sexual objectification of women, we do believe there are gender stereotypes that affect men. Where Object disagrees with Buchanan is the idea that feminism or women's rights that has caused those problems for men.

It's about looking into how gender roles can be fairer and work for everybody in the future. I don't think men are killing themselves because women are getting more equality, some of it is because they’re being brought up from a very early age to think they shouldn’t cry or tell anyone they’re depressed. It would be far better for our young men not to grow up with that kind of huge pressure around being a man. So actually, we don’t think that there are no issues for men in terms of inequality, but Mike Buchanan isn’t interested in any practical solutions rather than bashing women.