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Ben Bradley’s International Men’s Day speech

Tory MP says straight white men need more rights

In a House of Commons speech, Ben Bradley mourns the death of ‘banter’, expresses the importance of being ‘a bloke’, and praises traditional notions of masculinity, namely ‘holding the door open for a lady’

Yesterday (November 19), Tory MP Ben Bradley woke up and thought, ‘Today is the day I finally call for more rights for society’s most marginalised: straight white men’. With this little seed in his brain, Bradley headed to the House of Commons, stood up, and maintained a straight face as he bemoaned there being a minister for women but not men, complained about there being more women than men in higher education, and mourned the death of “banter”.

“Men are talked about, all too often, as a problem that must be rectified,” he said, criticising the discourse of “male privilege, toxic masculinity, and men as oppressors”.

Bradley condemned the Equality Act as being “wilfully and regularly misapplied across gender, race, and every other characteristic”, and urged the government to “recognise that we all have equal protection under this law… whether gay, Black and minority ethnic, female, or a straight white man”.

He went on to assert the importance of “holding the door open for a lady”, expecting a man to “provide for his family”, and “wanting to be a man’s man” who goes “down to the football at the weekend” and has “some banter with the lads”. Bradley then complains: “That banter is now bullying.”

It doesn’t end there. Bradley believes it’s “right that people should live by their own choices, and be who they want to be” – true! – even if what they want to be is “a bloke”. Hmm. The MP says he fears that in the future, we will “forget the traditional role of men”. 

Bradley references the high rate of suicide among men, which tragically hit a two-decade high in September. He stresses how important it is for men to talk about their emotions, and lists a number of places they can go to do this. He urges the government to “push forward an action plan to look at male suicide”, and calls for “better access to mental health support”.

Of course, Bradley is right to highlight this, and to use International Men’s Day to raise vital issues about men’s mental health (itself harmed by toxic masculinity). But he mentions this in the same speech that he references the idea of the “strong male role model” multiple times, and cites a “man’s man” as the “provider” and “breadwinner” – stereotypes that lead to men feeling ashamed when they’re struggling, making them less likely to seek help.

In light of a number of Bradley’s accusations, I’m going to share some statistics about why women, the LGBTQ+ community, and ethnic minorities need equalities legislation more than straight white men.

Bradley said: “We have a legal system in the family courts that seem to assume the guilt of many men in a relationship.” In England and Wales, two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. In fact, over half of the UK women killed by men die at the hands of their partner or ex. Statistics show that almost one in three women aged 16-59 will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. 

Bradley said: “We have reports of record-high gender gaps in university places, with girls a third more likely than boys to access higher education.” More than three out of four UK companies pay their male staff more than their female staff. In nine out of 17 sectors, men earn 10 per cent more than women. In the UK, just 37.6 per cent of women hold managerial roles, with this percentage decreasing as you go higher up the corporate ladder.

Bradley said straight white men should be as protected under the Equality Act as the LGBTQ+ community, and Black and minority ethnic people. 76 per cent of hate crimes in the UK in 2018/19 were racially motivated, increasing by 11 per cent from the previous year. Hate crimes based on a person’s sexuality increased by 25 per cent in a year, while transgender hate crimes rose by 37 per cent. Black people are more than twice as likely as white people to die in police custody in England and Wales.

Bradley said: “The vast majority of families still look like a mum, dad, and kids, and we should not shy away from that.” Same-sex families have increased by 40 per cent since 2015, while 14.9 per cent of families in the UK have just one parent, with lone parent mothers accounting for 86 per cent of this family type.

Many people have criticised Bradley’s speech – which he continues to defend – with one self-described “white male” writing on Twitter: “Let’s be honest – white males have pretty much run the show in this country for centuries in a disproportionate way. Having a minister for women is a way of redressing the balance.”

Another user replied to Bradley directly, saying: “You won the lottery of life. You were born with every privilege going… white, male, able-bodied, wealthy, and straight. So pray do tell how any of the groups you belong to have ever been discriminated against by promoting equality?”

One person addressed the hypocrisy in Bradley’s speech, writing: “He really said ‘straight equally protected as gay’ while saying we cannot and should not ignore how important fatherhood is to children. A true comfort to LGBTQ+ women who have or may decide to start families, I’m sure.”

You can read Bradley’s full speech here, and can gouge your eyes out in the comfort of your own home.