A society which deals with male health and social issues made a request not to be placed near a number of left wing and feminist groups during last month’s student fair, it has emerged.
The Masculinity Exploration Networking and Support (MENS) society feared they would be disturbed by members of feminist, communist and socialist societies on other stalls if placed too close to them.
The MENS society was formed last year amidst extensive debate over their aims and purposes, with some accusing the latent group of sexism.
Gareth Morris, the society’s Chair, said, “The MENS society did ask to be allocated a stall away from other societies – to wit Communist Students, the Socialist Workers’ Party, the Riveters and New Student Writing. The reasoning for this was very simple; in the past, certain members from these groups (though by no means all of them) have disapproved of the activities of the MENS society.
“We therefore wished to be able to speak about the society away from already-critical individuals […] and to keep the atmosphere of the fair friendly and open by putting distance between ourselves and these societies.”
Communist Students were refered to as “commies” when MENS intially made their place request . Morris claimed that he welcomed the opportunity to “break down preconceptions regarding the MENS society.”
The founders initially intended to call themselves the Men’s society but acronymed the name MENS amidst opposition from feminists in the Students’ Union.
Sarah Kerton, an MA Gender, Sexuality and Culture student and active feminist, said “I would expect any organisation that placed its focus upon gender-based issues to want to work closely with other such societies, and form links with LGBT and Riveters, not distance themselves in a form of what looks like the very separatism that their feminist critics are often accused of.
“This reinforces the suspicions some have about the nature of the group, and calls in to question its purpose. We should be working together to tackle gender discrimination.”
Kerton continued, “I think any group that exists to examine and challenge gender inequality is a positive and welcome step, and to have a space in which to focus on these issues from a male perspective is brilliant […] but I question if this is the reality of MENS.”
Jeremy Buck, the fair’s organiser, said, “It wasn’t a big deal […] loads of societies made space requests and in the end space wasn’t a problem. To the best of my knowledge [the MENS Society] didn’t even show up in the end.”