Man sues LSE for “anti-male” gender studies agenda

// 4 September 2011

Once upon a time, the hallowed halls of academia were only opened to men. Within, men consumed and produced scholarship about other men. The presence of women in university was thought to contaminate, ridicule, and degrade the sacred pursuit of learning. Learning was even thought to be bad for women, making them infertile among other things. When the doors were finally burst open to women, there was no turning back; women were everywhere, accomplishing in male-dominated disciplines, outnumbering and out-performing the male of the species, and dominating the humanities and social sciences. Then came the rise of Gender Studies that served to redress the historical silencing of queer and female voices, and administer a small dose of balance into the male-centred world of learning. So far, so good for woman-kind.

Tom-Martin-LSE.jpg

But recently, the London School of Economics (LSE) has been threatened to floor the reverse pedal on the latter. The man at the centre of this tea-cup sized furore is former student of LSE, Tom Martin, who claimed that the Gender Studies masters programme he was following was “sexist” for focusing on women’s issues rather than men’s issues. Martin’s spectacularly ineffectual allegations is presumably meant to expose the hidden anti-male agenda and the evil feminine take-over that were unfolding before his very eyes. But little does he realise the irony of his own sexist claims.

Gender Studies has traditionally been the preserve of women because it is one of the very few scholarly retreats from the male-dominated world of academia. By scholarly retreats I mean it is interested in questioning (issues not limited to) sexism and power imbalances in society. There are of course a number of class and race-related problems in Gender Studies that concern women but that is for another post. The study of masculinities or “men’s issues” takes a back-seat in Gender Studies because women and femininity have traditionally been viewed as “problematic” categories in both good and bad ways, while masculinity and men have long been default, invisible, and unproblematic categories.

The study of men is gaining ground in Gender Studies but Martin’s grievances about its “secondary” place in the discipline is typical of some men who want their issues to dominate, to be first and take importance. This has been the case for centuries. And so the predominance of women and their issues strike men who are consumed by their male privilege as an oddity, a takeover by women, an outrage best described as “sexism”.

Image source: London Evening Stadard.

Note: I have removed the “blinded by male privilege” from the tail end of this post’s title. My apologies to all.

Comments From You

Gabrielle // Posted 6 September 2011 at 3:44 pm

“Man sues LSE for anti-male gender studies agenda, BLINDED by male privilege” (emphasis added)

Feminists respond, use ableist language ignoring able-bodied privilege and the centering of able bodied (in this case sighted) people.

Cycleboy // Posted 7 September 2011 at 12:14 pm

Re: Man sues LSE

I do not know the details of the complain Tom Martin makes against the Gender Studies course and the fact that the LSE thinks it unfounded does strongly suggest he might be (as your article suggests) simply a reactionary sexist.

However, I do think there is an issue to be addressed. While I can see the argument that education has been historically for men alone, a women only area is a small gesture to re-balancing the scales, I think there is a danger. I do worry at the attitude I sometimes come across , which can be boiled down to “They have had it their way for so long, this is just giving them a taste of their own medicine.” The problem with this line of thought is that it assumes that the historic ‘they’ are the same as the current ‘them’. When I learn of their attitudes, the now-dead members of my sex cause me some embarrassment and I would dearly love them to be challenged over their ideas. However, I don’t think that making me the target for justifiable anger is a helpful way forward. While I am fully aware that there are still unreconstructed Neanderthals out there, it must surely be shooting oneself in the foot to lambaste those of us who willingly embrace feminism, which is what, I fear, sometimes happens.

As I said, I do not know the substance of Mr Martin’s complaints, but perhaps the study of gender should include both men and women’s issues. After all, two wrongs do not make a right and, if a policy supporting women inadvertently discriminates against men, then this does, at the very least, need to be examined.

feministstandup // Posted 7 September 2011 at 9:37 pm

Tom Martin’s case has been covered by the Guardian too, and he has included a comment or three in the comments section, where he goes into his reasons for bringing the court case.

He’s got a website too, called sexismbusters dot org where there’s more detail.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 7 September 2011 at 11:13 pm

Below is link concerning the details of pseudo case Tom Martin brought against LSE. Strange is it not that because men have for centuries believed their views/opinions/interpretations of facts are ‘truths’ not male-centric versions which have consistently obliterated women’s experiences/views the mere fact Gender Studies is now a subject wherein men as a group are not accorded the pseudo right to ‘define facts and truths’ we have Tom Martin claiming ‘men are being discriminated against.’ Yes that would be true if men were the default human but men are not – they do not form the total human population because the majority of humans are female and their perspectives/views must be accorded consideration/validation.

For too long women have been discriminated against and denied their inherent human rights because of their sex – not their gender and because feminists have challenged male supremacist claims ‘male-centric views’ are default truths we have cries of ‘men are being discriminated against.’ But men of course do not want to be challenged on how they learn the lie that the world revolves around men and their interests; their rights; their views etc. but contrary to malestream media is not ‘all about the men.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/07/gender-studies-anti-discrimination-case

Alicia Izharuddin // Posted 10 September 2011 at 5:53 pm

Cycleboy,

You make it sound as if sexism is dead and that present-day men are not at all sexist or seem unperturbed by the fact that much of academia is still dominated by men, or at least much of “serious” and more “difficult” aspects of academia is.

Your cautionary attitude belies something far disconcerting; you seem to fear that women driven by a hostile anti-men agenda may actually have the influence to run down men in academia and the rest of the world. Why is that? Where is proof that can ever happen? Where in feminism and gender studies may a whisper of this agenda exist?

Also, I *did* say that gender studies includes the study of men and masculinities. As a graduate of gender studies and a close observer of how gender studies is taught in various countries I can attest to this. In what ways gender studies inadvertently discriminate against men I’d really like to know.

Quiet Riot Girl // Posted 15 September 2011 at 10:35 am

These two statements contradict each other:

‘When the doors were finally burst open to women, there was no turning back; women were everywhere, accomplishing in male-dominated disciplines, outnumbering and out-performing the male of the species, and dominating the humanities and social sciences.’

‘Gender Studies has traditionally been the preserve of women because it is one of the very few scholarly retreats from the male-dominated world of academia’

– care to explain why?

Alicia Izharuddin // Posted 18 September 2011 at 10:21 pm

Quiet Riot Girl,

To be fair, I was being very general – women *are* every where on campus, girls outperform boys in school resulting in more women in university than men (sometimes), there is often more women in the humanities (rather than the physical, “hard” sciences such as mathematics and physics). Gender Studies is one of the few places where women do tend to dominate, not only in terms of number of women students but also as heads of departments and prominent scholars. As an offshoot of women’s studies, this is not particularly surprising. Women may outperform and outnumber men in class but in terms of scholarly recognition and number of heads of departments in non-gender studies subjects, men tend to still dominate. Hope that clears the air a bit.

Peter // Posted 14 November 2011 at 1:29 am

Sexism is just as problematic when carried out by women. A gender equality movement that only recognises male culpability and female opression can only ever solve half the problem.

The above article seems to freely admit that Gender Studies is dominated by women’s perspectives, why is this considered acceptable? When there are so few avenues for men to campaign for equal rights it is intensely disturbing that this should be so and, I’d argue, a direct barrier to full equality for women.

Ob Bop // Posted 5 June 2012 at 6:12 am

It is interesting that within the USA the clamor for equality in everything is not extended towards males and I have yet to hear or read even one demand that females be required to sign up for the military draft as males are rquired by law to do.

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