It has come to my attention that a Men’s Rep has been proposed as an addition to our liberation reps. To give some context, these representatives are there to represent students that identify as members of oppressed groups who are often not given a seat at the table.
Although there may be many opinions on this, I ask you to consider the position that I have taken. There is not a need for a Men’s Rep because as far as I am aware, there would be no remit for this position.
The reason for having a women’s rep is to recognise that the structural system of education and wider society is set up to limit women, and a women’s rep is there to help change that. Women are not guaranteed a seat at the table. Male representation in wider society has never been questioned.
You may point to the fact that for this year, we now have an Elected Officer team that is all female. I’d like to remind you that this is not common. Whereas an Elected Officer team that is all male within a union is not uncommon. In wider society, male dominated leadership and senior executive leads are extremely common. Specific representation of women is essential, as women systematically face discrimination and their representation has
- had to be and is still fought for,
- is not secure.
The future of male representation is secure and has never been threatened.
For those that argue that male mental health is enough of a reason for a men’s representative, you’ll notice that it’s possible to run a successful campaign around male mental health without having a rep, as demonstrated by the great work of the UCLan Rams last year. Although work is still to be done, there are a number of channels for male issues to be discussed and worked on and we can work happily on underreporting and stigma with students who would like to. These have always been options, and the distinction is that systemically, options for women or other liberation groups to work on or voice these issues are not always available, and have, historically, not been.
I want it to be clear that I recognise that men may face discrimination, however the nature of these issues are different to those that face women for example, as they don’t result in structural inequality or a lack of voice. As they aren’t a result of structural inequality, they don’t need guaranteed representation within our student community-the entire purpose of our liberation reps. Men’s issues can be addressed by our union through other channels and other reps.
Want to help ease pressure off of the current reps? Support them in their work, help them run campaigns and support each other to do this too. Any student can run a campaign. I’m not convinced that a Men’s Rep is the best way for us to tackle these issues, especially when we have so many other avenues.
Finally, though there are male-specific issues that were raised for a men’s rep, these are not best suited to be solved by such a representative. It implies a false equivalence between the systemic issues that face men, and those that face groups that have not had a voice, and as such forgets the purpose of a rep in the first place.