About four weeks ago I was commissioned by International Business Times, a leading international online news service, to provide some balance in their output of pieces about gender-related matters. I would be free to write on any matters I wished, in a fortnightly column.
The website already had two British feminist commentators on gender-related matters including Laura Bates of The Everyday Sexism Project, twice a winner of our ‘Lying Feminist of the Month’ awards. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time that a men’s rights advocate anywhere in the world had been given a regular platform by a mainstream media outlet.
I was commissioned to write pieces on men’s issues, with an open-ended contract, and I was looking forward to providing pieces for years to come. I decided to start with uncontroversial pieces.
The first was on gender balance in corporate boardrooms. Nobody in the world is challenging the evidence presented by Campaign for Merit in Business, demonstrating a causal link between artificially driving up female representation on boards, and corporate financial decline. I presented the evidence to House of Commons and House of Lords inquiries in 2012, yet the government continues to bully major companies into taking on more female directors, with the threat of legislated gender quotas.
The second piece was on suicide, the leading cause of death of men under 50 in the UK. The male:female suicide differential more than doubled from 1.7:1 in 1983 to 3.5:1 in 2013. The government is not only doing nothing about the matter, it is actively driving the high male suicide rate, as the article explains.
A day or two after the second article was published, I received the following email from my Commissioning Editor, and it’s reproduced here with his kind permission:
Hi Mike, I hope all’s good with you.
We’ve had a chat as a senior editorial group and unfortunately we think it’s best to terminate the relationship we have with you.
Your articles for us have been balanced and backed by evidence, which is fine. But we realise you have courted controversy for other articles you have written, and we feel this isn’t the best image for the IBT brand going forward.
Please understand that we will continue to seek balance in our coverage of gender issues, and we will keep a close eye on the progress of J4MB. We may well be interested in doing an interview with you in the lead-up to May’s election.
You will, of course, be paid in full for what you have written for us.
I hope you understand our position on this, and, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to raise them with me. Good luck for the election.
A few days after receiving this email, I learned that International Business Times had introduced ‘balance’ against their two (female) feminist commentators by recruiting Ally Fogg, a (male) feminist Guardian columnist.