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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

From the Supreme Court to Cern, the absurdity of male victimhood 

These are the screams of men having entitlement wrenched from the same hands they have used to exclude women

Piers Morgan once declared that the word man had been criminalised, and that he was going to launch a campaign for men to “seize back their country”. Max Mumby / Getty Images 
Piers Morgan once declared that the word man had been criminalised, and that he was going to launch a campaign for men to “seize back their country”. Max Mumby / Getty Images 

Black is white. Up is down. And men are the real victims. Don’t believe me? Just ask all the privileged males who are saying so. For millennia, we’ve been expected to believe everything they tell us, so it’s no surprise they are furious now that things are changing.

This week it was the turn of Italian physicist Professor Alessandro Strumia of Pisa University who derailed a prestigious conference on High Energy Theory and Gender at Cern in Geneva, Switzerland. One of the conference objectives was to give female scientists the chance to explore the challenges they face in a historically male closed shop. Instead, Mr Strumia deliberately trolled them.

First he denied that women should be in physics, saying that the discipline was invented and developed by men. Across all sciences and many areas of the arts and humanities, it’s the same story – it's a man's world. But this deliberately sidelines the women who have historically been excluded or ignominiously written out of history, while others took the credit.

Just check the stories of female scientists such as Esther Lederberg, Nettie Stevens and Cecilia Payne, whose outstanding work was used by male scientists to win awards and recognition while they were ignored.

Mr Strumia also attacked women for taking away men’s chances, including the woman who was given a job he felt he was entitled to. Writ large here are sour grapes, a man blaming women for what he felt he was entitled to.

Finally, he bizarrely asserted that men are the real victims of a structure supposedly rigged against them. According to Mr Strumia, it is men who are now discriminated against.

This is nonsense. According to Wise, an organisation that works to increase the participation, contribution and success of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, women make up only 23 per cent of those in core STEM occupations in the UK and 24 per cent of those working in core STEM industries. Further, women only make up 15 per cent of management roles in science.

The overall pay gap is around 20 per cent, which rises with age and experience, meaning there are fewer women in more senior positions, and when there are, they are paid disproportionately less.

It’s a well-known technique used by offenders, known as "Darvo": deny, attack, reverse victim and offender. You can see the echoes of it in the case of the physics professor, as well as in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings in the US. After Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony about the Supreme Court nominee's sexual assault against her, there was widespread agreement that she was compelling and credible. We haven’t had a trial or verdict, but what we do know is that Mr Kavanaugh has presented the idea of there being a conspiracy to victimise him, simply by blaming everyone else.

TV presenter and professional provocateur Piers Morgan once declared in a tantrum that the word man had been criminalised, and that he was going to launch a campaign for men to “seize back their country”. If you think that sounds like the words of victim-in-chief US President Donald Trump, then you’d be right. Not only has he worked hard to undermine Ms Ford, this week he also declared that raising the issues of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh was being done by “really evil people”.

These claims of discrimination and victimhood, in fact, the screams of men having entitlement wrenched from the same hands that some have used to grope and assault women, to close doors to them, to stop them talking.

It is important to state here that men can also be the victims of abuse, sexual assault and discrimination. However, when men say they are victims, en masse, from a societal perspective, this is utterly ludicrous. Structurally, men are not victims. Structurally, men hold all the privileges. Structurally, women have been silenced and forced to accept a lesser status.

Now that women are no longer willing to be silent, men are realising that the privileges that they have taken for granted are about to be distributed in a more equal manner. That isn’t society making men victims, that is society finally becoming fair.

Shelina Janmohamed is the author of Love in a Headscarf and Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World