I don't know the area around Edinburgh University particularly well (I'm a Glasgow graduate for starters), but I found myself pottering about there yesterday while I was waiting to meet someone. Along a fence, there was a series of posters to mark International Women's Day. Each one featured a different young woman holding up a card on which she had written her own completed version of the sentence "Men and women will be equal when..." The suggestions ranged from serious ones about closing the pay gap, to more light-hearted ones like "when men realise that women can be funny", and to completely frivolous ones like "when evolution has turned us all into hermaphrodites". But as I went further down the fence, there were also one or two token men featured on the posters with their own feminist slogans, which made me wince slightly. Of course it's possible they were being completely sincere - plenty of men do buy into the antiquated "one-way traffic" narrative of gender inequality. But on balance it seems more likely that they had been coaxed into it, or were synthetically trying to boost their politically correct credentials.
Don't get me wrong - men should certainly be concerned about gender inequality, as should women. There's a lot of it about. But that concern should reflect the complexity of the world as it actually is, not one-dimensional articles of faith from decades ago. If I'd been asked to fill in my own card, and had been given a free hand (unlikely), it would have gone something like this : Men and women will be closer to equality when we finally realise that a day celebrating and promoting the interests of just one gender is absolutely the worst occasion to dedicate to the cause of tackling gender inequality. What we really need is an 'International Gender Equality Day', which is marked not only by men dutifully holding up cards with worthy messages such as "when she can be the man of the house", but also by men and women holding up cards saying -
"when men live as long as women"
"when the male suicide rate is no longer more than twice as high as the female suicide rate"
"when male victims of domestic violence are seen as victims, not as irritants whose voices must be suppressed in the interests of ideological purity"
"when the governments of Sweden, Norway and Iceland recognise that the buying and selling of sex is a 'crime' committed by two consenting adults, not one"
"when as many men as women are admitted to university"