On the 1st July the Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society hosted a debate on the question ‘Women have become ridiculously militant.
In true debating society style, who spoke either to propose or oppose the motion
was open for all members to volunteer. Croydon
Constitutionalist Mike Swadling argued against the motion.
Mikes’ argument was that women should be angry that they are treated as one group, not the individuals they are. That women’s rights are being removed by the transgender movement, taking away the chance to compete at sports, and privacy to get changed away from men. Finally if female activists are happy with their lot here, they really should stand up for women across the globe. The text of Mikes’ speech is below.
Thank-you to tonight’s chair, to an
un-militant Angela for proposing the motion, and to you all, for attending.
It may seem odd that I as a man, am in effect saying, women
are not militant enough. However I am
confident I know, a sure-fire way to make a group of women more militant. Clearly all that would be needed is for me, a
man, to stand up here and tell you what to do!
What is this grouping that encompasses all women? 100 years after the franchise was awarded to
women over 30, why are 51% of the population seen as a monolithic block? Most would think it absurd if anyone assumed
that two men thought the same, and shared the same concerns just because we
were men. Why do people think it’s true
We have a Minister for Women, as if you can all be
represented by one government department.
If you search ‘Women’s Issues’ on the internet a whole host of pressure
groups, the UN, NGOs and Governmental agencies come up. All assuming you all, all 51% of you, face
the same challenges, share the same beliefs, and feel the same way. That’ mad.
I’ve rarely meet any woman who thinks the same thing for long
(sorry I couldn’t resist that). Finding two men or women in lockstep is rare
the idea we can treat every women on earth the same is crazy. Incidentally if you search ‘Men’s Issues’
online, you mainly get links to a series of rather sarcastic newspaper
articles. None assume all men are the
One measurable area for categorising the sexes is
voting. Women vote 8% more on average
for Democrats than Republicans in the US, that’s a lot, but still only 54 to
46. Hardly all women in lockstep.
In the UK General Election of 2017. The female vote went 43% both to Conservative
and Labour. In France the gender gap had
about 4% more women voting for Macron than men.
Men were more likely to vote for the female candidate Le Pen.
In Italy’s 2018 General Election, the Centre Left and Five
Star votes we’re evenly split between men and women. The Centre Right coalition. The latest incarnation of the group set-up by
that well known feminist, Silvio Berlusconi.
Had a quarter of a percent lead in women’s votes over men.
The differences of opinion within a gender are far, far
greater than the differences of opinion between genders. Does anyone here think a women in Coulsdon,
and a woman in Cairo share more in common, than any random woman and man in
either plan? I think it’s insulting to
you individuality to think of women as one group.
I aim to persuade you tonight, that the fact the government, the
media, many social commentators, and far too many men ignore the diversity
womanhood. This dismissal of your
individual essence is wrong. It is in fact so wrong, it could make you
angry. I believe it should make you
angry and militant as hell.
How does the assumption, that all women think the same, play
across these supposed women’s issues.
Let’s look at Feminism.
You might think women could be classed together as feminists? Except of course, a 2018 YouGov poll, found
that only 34% of women in the UK said they were a feminist. This number ranges between 8% and 40% across
Europe. Among Millennials the number was
less than 20%.
The Pew Research Centre showed in the US, men and women have
a similar weighting of importance on issues from the Economy, Health Care, Education,
Social Security, and for that matter Foreign Policy.
Significant gender gaps only came in for the Environment,
Trade Policy and this being the US Abortion.
That brings me onto the issue above all others that is seen
as a woman’s issue, abortion. A hugely
divisive issue, I am generally keen to avoid. However, it is an issue that is
spoken about as if all women as on one side.
Of course this is not the case.
A YouGov poll in 2013 shown 80% of UK women said life began at ‘some time before birth’, with 53 per cent saying that ‘life begins at conception’. Across recent polls, women are more in favour of restrictions around abortion access than men.
In the US 31% of Women, nearly a third, want Roe v Wade, the
judgment that made abortion a constitutional right, overturned.
My point here again is that no one should attempt to speak
for all women. Any woman’s individuality
should never be subsumed into global grouping that simply doesn’t exist.
Women’s rights, to trade their labour, as freely as men, has
long been fought for. Again it is often assumed,
all women want to work and be successful in careers. I’m sure we have all known women who are
happy being full time mothers. And
indeed women conflicted between working and spending time with their children. That’s not to say we don’t also all know many
women successful in their careers. The
point is all women are different in what they want.
Looking at how many women work across the globe, it’s clear
the feminist assumption that all women want to work is just plain wrong. I expect differences between the developing a
developed world. Differences between
religions and regions.
But what’s not clear to me is why Belgium, France and Japan all
at around 50% of women working are so different from Canada, Sweden and
Singapore at around 60% or Iceland at over 70%.
These are all rich countries.
None are especially religious, they are all democracies, where women
enjoy significant choice and freedom. Why
are they so different?
It’s almost as if women are different and not all aligned. As feminist campaigners and others who
presume to speak for you all, assume all women to be.
Get militant – Sport
Now having made the case that all women are not a clear cut
group. I’m going to ask for some leeway from the
society and share some issues I believe should of concern to all women. In fact they should be of concern to us all, male
Most of us will remember the London 2012 Olympics and the
night when Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon Gold. I don’t remember Virginia Wade winning
Wimbledon in 1977, but I do know that was a great moment for
British Sport. I do remember Dame Kelly
Holmes two golds in Athens, Tessa Sanderson’s Gold in Los Angeles and Sharron
Davies’ Silver in Moscow. These were all
amazing nights for sport. For British
sport, and women’s sport.
At the end of the last football season, Pep Guardiola the
Manchester City manager, said his team would not be the first side to
win an English domestic treble should they beat Watford in the FA Cup final. Because “the women have done it”,
referring to the Arsenal Ladies team who won the domestic treble, in 2006-07.
It’s a fair comparison, however we shouldn’t compare men and
women directly in sport. Biological men
with average extra height, weight and strength outperform women at almost every
To give you an idea of the difference. The last Olympic women’s 100 meter winner ran
10.49 seconds. The men’s, 9.58 seconds. You have to go back to 1928 before todays, women’s
Gold Medallist would beat the men’s Gold Medallist.
Andy Murray has a fairly leisurely top serve speed in Men’s
tennis at 141mph.
Serena Williams one of the fastest female
servers, at 128mph. Places her basically
nowhere on the men’s rankings for speed of service.
Olympic records in weightlifting are surprisingly
closer. The competition is split into
weight categories, but even here only the very heaviest category of women
overtakes the lowest category of men. The strongest men by comparison lift half as much again
as the strongest women.
I say this to make the simple point, men’s and women’s bodies
To have a level playing field in adult sport. Men must complete against men, and Women
against women. Recently this is
In February it was reported that a Connecticut high school
transgender athlete transitioning to female, won the 55-meter dash……. Setting a
new girl’s state record. Another
transgender athlete, placed second in the race.
CeCe Telfer, won the women’s 400 metre hurdle national title, in the
US in May. Previously he finished just
10th at the regional Northeast Championships back in 2016. Now she’s the national champion.
Olympic Silver medal winner Sharron Davies calls for a chromosome
split saying “If we are not careful then in 10 years all the records in men’s
sport will be held by men and all the records in women’s sport will be held by
women who carry a Y chromosome”.
As former Tennis champion Martina Navratilova said “A man can
decide to be female, win everything in sight and then reverse his decision.”
I hasten to add if any of the women here feel they would like
to show that their advanced Kung Fu skills can beat a man, especially this one,
I am sure you are right.
I would like to point out I am referring to top athletes not
the average man in the street, and I make these points only to aid the debate.
But the point is.
Women deserve a chance to compete at sport. Girls deserved a chance to compete and win,
not be held back by the boys. They
deserve a fair shout. I want my nieces
to have, a chance to win a race, swim and come first, hit the ball further than
the other girls. Not simply to always
come second to bigger and stronger boys.
How can you not be angry?
How can you not be militant at these opportunities being taken away from
your daughters, sisters, nieces, granddaughters?
I think it is fair to say many women feel “uncomfortable”
seeing men “parading around naked” in front of them. A gender-neutral “changing village”
was created as part of a £10m refurbishment at Bath Sports and Leisure Centre.
To quote one user: “For some women this is extremely
uncomfortable. It’s a safety issue. Women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted
in unisex facilities.” “Not
everybody with their toddler would like to be confronted by men with everything
It is not unreasonable for women to feel safe in changing
rooms. Why the drive to unisex
facilities? I suspect the vast majority of
men don’t want them either. Having spent
a couple of hundred years giving women more and more freedom from men over
their bodies. Why aren’t women getting angry
when it’s taken away from you?
If you’re happy with your lot here. You might not be so happy with the treatment
of women further afield. Still today 55%
of the marriages in the world are arranged.
That’s not necessarily wrong.
There are many successful arrange marriages.
Divorce rates in this country suggest choice isn’t always a great selection
method. But what is more worrying, is
that in an arranged marriage, the man is usually 4.5 years older than the woman. That gaps not that much, it is higher than
most couples I know, but not outrageous. As always an average hides the extremes at the
edges. For instance 48% of the girls who
are involved in an arranged marriage in South Asia are under 18. In Niger 26%.of the girls are less than 15. In Afghanistan 80% of the marriages are
considered forced, as opposed to just arranged.
Is this not enough to make you angry. Is this not something all people but especially
women should be fighting to change?
Education is one of the best ways to fight these
injustices. Especially female education
and empowerment. The gender parity index
measures the ratio of the female to male literacy of 15 to 24 year olds.
Of the 167 countries they have data for, most have parity in
literacy rates between the genders. Indeed
Jamaica, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe have significantly greater female
than male, literacy rates. However 22% of
countries have significantly greater male than female literacy rates. With Afghanistan, Benin, Central African
Republic, Chad, Liberia, and Mali having male literacy rates at almost twice
that of women.
How can this be right, as a school governor in Croydon for many
years, I have never once seen boys outperform girls, in the English grading in any of the schools
I have worked with. Yet these countries
have boys twice as literate and girls. This
isn’t the 1920’s, this is education received in the 21st Century. These are girls today that are not taught at
the same rate as boys.
Why aren’t those who call themselves feminists more militant,
more radical, and calling for more change on this?
How to get militant.
On the one hand, the media, politicians, and campaign groups,
often claim to speak on behalf of ‘all women.
A group that simply doesn’t exist.
Yet at the same time they are falling to act, where women
as a group are not treated fairly.
Maybe we should take a leaf out of the history books. 100 years ago Suffragettes were chaining themselves to railings, and refusing
to pay taxes and fines. In a Reign of
1913 there were 250 arson or other destruction attacks in just six-months. Window-breaking, post-box burning and telegraph
cable breaking, were common.
ancient Rome protestors for women’s rights employed methods, from public demonstrations,
to providing financial support, and even to acts of mass poisoning.
What do we have today – A Facebook post. A Selfie.
Maybe a tweet!
You and all of our daughters deserve the chance to play at, and
to compete and win at sports. You all
deserve privacy in the changing rooms, and across the globe. All women deserve the chance to choose their
partners, and gain the fundamental literacy skills, needed to make real choices
in their lives.
I am angry, these young women aren’t getting a fair start.
I hope you are too.
- Take action, write to a paper, or politician.
- Join a campaign group
- Join a protest
- Run for office
But mostly become ridiculously militant, about it.
Women today have every reason to be militant. Not as a group, but as individuals. I don’t think of my female colleagues,
friends and family members as one group.
I am genuinely annoyed many in the elite both male and female think you
are. I hope you feel the same.
The women I meet are not shrinking violets. They hold great jobs, are the lynchpin of busy
families, often care for elderly relatives and in the case of my older sisters
are still quite capable of bossing around their ‘kid’ brother.
The last thing they need is media and ‘women’s’ lobby groups
telling them how to live their lives. Fight
back, fight back like hell, I ask you.
If this isn’t enough, the rights women have fought for, for
over a hundred years are being eroded, in the name of progress. Without denying how anyone feels, you, your
daughters and granddaughters deserve the chance, to complete at sports and get
changed in private.
I grew up watching a strong female Prime Minister, pitted
against women supporting striking miners and women camping at Greenham Common. I saw Mother Teresa being criticised for her
support for Indira Gandhi and I saw Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin sing,
Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.
Where now are these women striking out, standing strong, and
Acting in defiance?
Across the globe your sisters are being denied basic literacy,
denied the right to choose their partner and sometimes even denied the right to
show their face in public.
If those aren’t good reasons to get out and get militant I
don’t know what are.