“Tory MP Philip Davies is being threatened with suspension from his own party. No, he didn’t fake his expenses or get caught in flagrante, wearing nothing but a replica Chelsea top. All Davies did was criticise feminism.
Davies chose to vent his anti-feminist spleen at a meeting organised by Justice for Men and Boys, a typically sad group of men’s rights activists. ‘In this day and age’, Davies said, ‘the feminist zealots really do want women to have their cake and eat it. They fight for their version of equality on all the things that suit women – but are very quick to point out that women need special protections and treatment on other things.’ This prompted a deluge of annoyed tweets from feminists featuring cake-eating selfies. But others were not satisfied with just giving Davies a dressing down on social media – they decided Davies should lose his job.
An open letter from Angela Rayner, the shadow secretary of state for education, denounced Davies and called on new prime minister Theresa May to suspend his party membership, pending an investigation into his comments. Rayner warned: ‘There is no place for these views in modern Britain.’
Many have praised Rayner for calling out Davies’ putative sexism, most notably Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Tweeting his support for Rayner’s call for a party suspension, Corbyn said Davies’ comments ‘show utter contempt for women’.
Yet is Davies really deserving of this scorn? For a start, as most women will no doubt be aware, men’s rights activists meetings are pretty lame affairs. The comments made at such gatherings are scarcely interesting enough to be considered threatening. But Rayner seems to think differently. ‘[Davies] endorses and legitimises the inflammatory and toxic rhetoric of groups who are misogynistic to their core’, she writes. Davies’ speech, she is saying, actually poses a threat to women’s safety and wellbeing.”