‘Twitter showed me what being mansplained feels like’ – MP says he had ‘small flood of abuse’ after Tweeting support for women’s march

Matt Warman
Matt Warman

Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman has told his fellow Members of Parliament of the ‘small flood of abuse’ he received after Tweeting in support of Care International’s #March4Women event on Sunday.

Mr Warman was speaking during a debate around the 100th aniversary of some women getting the right to vote and the International Women’s Day, which took place yesterday (Thursday).

He told MPs that he had Retweeted a status from the 50:50 Parliament account on the #March4Women, with the sentence ‘A better gender balance will make parliament stronger for everyone. Sorry I can’t be at #March4Women’.

He explained: “For just a few hours, I subsequently received if not the torrent of abuse that women often receive on Twitter, then a small flood of abuse.

“Twitter is not an equal opportunities abuser, but users were certainly keen to tell me what equal opportunities would look like.

“Users told me that a meritocracy would produce the best Parliament, never mind if it was a balanced Parliament.

“The more I explained that I am not in favour of positive discrimination — I had not said that I was — the more I realised that Twitter was showing me what being mansplained to feels like.

“While it seems self-evident that, in an equal society, a balance in Parliament or the workplace is an obvious consequence of equality of opportunity, to too many it is not.

“Likewise, it seems obvious that if an equal Parliament better reflects the population it serves, it better represents that population and acts more instinctively in the whole country’s interests.”

Mr Warman said he had been ‘shocked to see that what felt obvious to me was interpreted as an attack on men’.

The Tweet Mr Warman published has so far received 25 replies, 26 retweets and 46 ‘likes’.

Responses include user Steve Brown (@spartasteve) who said: “So just how do you work that one out ? Surely the person with the best credentials regardless of gender is the right person for the job ,to give any gender a position based on gender is too politically correct isn’t it ?”

Richard Newton (@corky776) tweeted: “Gotta say matt in any walk of life the person doing the job should be the best person suited to the job. Not based on sex or colour! I couldn’t care less who does what as long as they do it right! #marchforwomen will end up reducing pay and equity as a result!”

User TGRWorzel (@TGRWorzel) said he was not convinced it was ‘entirely down to gender’ adding: “We need people who are independent of party politics and not caught up with party machines.”

John (@GreenBrexit) asked: “How will it be stronger if you stop choosing on merit and start choosing on gender?” Mr Warman denied he was doing that, however, user NickClagg then said: “You’re suggesting it though. Merit, regardless of gender balance, should be the main priority. Climbing on gender-identity politics bandwagons willingly puts merit down the list of priorities.”

Jarod Weaver (@jarodcweaver) said: “Oh God, another Tory MP virtue signalling. Well done, we all know you’re right-on.”

In the debate yesterday, Mr Warman argued that men did not have to lose for feminism to succeed and said that ‘a society that draws without discrimination on the talents of all its members is better for all its members’.

“When women are treated better, men and women are the winners. A fairer division of labour both in how people bear the burdens of childcare and in the pressure of earning the money that pays the mortgage would benefit everyone,” he said.

“Men have nothing to fear from the shards of glass that fall after the shattering of the glass ceiling.”

Mr Warman, however, also called on more men ‘from all sides of the political debate to step up and speak’ and spoke about what more they could do to help promote equality overall and ‘create a society that is so equal that nobody would bat an eyelid at the idea of a man having the same aspirations to equality as a woman’.

He asked: “Should men—still more often the senior people at work—do more to promote the flexible working that might promote equality? Should the Government incentivise that?

“Should teacher training include more on the casual use of language, which shapes children, whereby boys are good if they are strong, and girls are praised for being pretty, but somehow ‘pretty boy’ doesn’t always ring true as a compliment? Should toy manufacturers think more carefully, as they increasingly do, about whether blue is always for boys?

“Should we not consider that if we make catcalling a hate crime, we are treating the symptom, when all of us here should be committed to treating the causes of sexist behaviour wherever it starts? Should we not all do all of that, because when the country is better for all women, it will be better for all men, too?

The MP concoluded by saying that he was ‘not pretending’ to be a paragon of virtue on the matter but added: “The more we are conscious, across this House, of where we are weak, the stronger we can be.

“I know how often I have failed to step up, at home, at work and in this Chamber — it is not always possible to do so, for a whole host of very real reasons — but personally and professionally, inequality is the loss of all of us. Now more than ever, we need men to stand up with women for fairness, because we will all be better off for it.”