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Tory MP Nick Fletcher, International Men’s Day debate

Recasting fictional characters as women drives men to crime, says Tory MP

In a speech about International Men’s Day, Conservative MP Nick Fletcher suggests that ‘female replacement’ of roles such as Doctor Who and Luke Skywalker leaves young men watching shows that ‘make crime look cool’

International Men’s Day never fails to inspire some truly deranged takes. The latest, you ask? Well, how about this: according to a UK politician, recasting traditionally male fictional characters as women is helping to lead young men into a life of crime.

Yes, Tory MP Nick Fletcher has linked “female replacement” in films such as Ghostbusters and Star Wars to young men turning to crime, while leading a political debate about International Men’s Day (which took place earlier this month, on November 19). 

The Don Valley MP, who was elected in 2019, also denounced the phrase “toxic masculinity” in his address, telling Westminster Hall that there has been a “creeping narrative that males have it easy, life is a breeze and they have nothing to complain about”.

Elsewhere, Fletcher cited genuinely troubling statistics that show poor male outcomes in areas such as school attainment, employment, homelessness, and mental health. Needless to say, these are issues worth highlighting. However, he then appeared to pin the blame on contemporary culture, suggesting that a lack of positive male representation is depriving young men of role models.

Addressing these issues in “the cultural sphere”, he said: “There seems to be a call from a tiny yet very vocal minority that every male character or good role model must have a female replacement. One only needs to consider the discussions about who will next play James Bond to see that.” 

“And it is not just James Bond: in recent years we have seen Doctor Who, the Ghostbusters, Luke Skywalker, and The Equalizer all replaced by women, and men are left with the Krays and Tommy Shelby (the character played by Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders).” Conveniently he seemed to forget all of the films and TV shows that still feature male leads, besides the obvious fact that women can convey positive messages just as well as men.

“Is there any wonder we are seeing so many young men committing crime?” he continued, echoing the debunked claim that media such as films and video games lead to violent or criminal behaviour. “Such programmes make crime look cool.”

After video footage of Fletcher’s Westminster Hall speech was shared to social media — and was, unsurprisingly, met with a flood of mocking comments — he also posted a written statement to Twitter, saying that his “rather nuanced point” had been “misconstrued”.

“My point was, in fact, a straightforward one,” he claims in the November 25 post, “and in no way linked Dr Who being a female to crime being committed by men.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time that International Men’s Day has provoked an embarrassing show from UK MPs. Last year, Tory MP Ben Bradley similarly bemoaned “toxic masculinity” discourse as he suggested straight white men need more rights, and mourned the death of “banter”.

Another Consertive MP elected in 2019, Scott Benton of Blackpool South, said during this year’s debate that men’s issues have been “swept under the carpet for far too long as society focuses on the false narrative of male privilege”.

“The very mention of men’s issues,” Benton said (via the Guardian), “will have hypocritical virtue signallers seething as they try to condemn white men as oppressors.”

Watch Fletcher speak at the Westminster Hall debate below (and see where decades of watching male heroes has landed us).