A Conservative MP who attacked “feminist zealots” who “want women to have their cake and eat it” has been elected to a parliamentary committee focused on women’s rights and equality.
Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire, appeared to confirm that he had been elected to the Women and Equalities Committee by re-tweeting congratulations on Tuesday.
The decision quickly caused an outcry on social media. Davies has previously been an outspoken critic of the feminist movement, a stance which many have observed would appear to be at odds with his new job.
Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, was one of the first to respond to news of Davies’ appointment:
The Women and Equalities Committee’s role is to “examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Government”, taking into account a wide range of equality-related issues including sex, gender identity, race, age, disability and sexual orientation.
Earlier this year, a video showing the MP speaking at a conference organised by men’s rights activists was published by the Guardian. In the now-infamous clip, Davies is seen onstage at the International Conference on Men’s Issues saying that “feminist zealots really do want women to have their cake and eat it”.
He also claimed that women benefited from an “equality but only when it suits [their] agenda”, adding: “They fight for their version of equality on all the things that suit women – but are very quick to point out that women need special protections and treatment on other things.”
The conference was organised by the Justice for Men and Boys (J4MB), which issues awards for “lying feminist of the month”, “toxic feminist of the month” and “whiny feminist of the month”.
Davies’ appearance at the conference prompted fierce criticism from many politicians. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on Theresa May to suspend Davies from the Conservative party, describing his views as “deeply sexist” and showing “utter contempt for women”.
In November, Davies initiated an International Men’s Day debate in the Commons, in which he claimed that political correctness had “neutered” men.
Beyond his archaic view of feminism, the 44-year-old MP has also revealed himself to be in possession of a plethora of deeply questionable views. He is a vehement opponent of gay marriage, claiming that it “discriminates against straight people” and suggested in 2011 that disabled people should be able to work for less than the minimum wage.
Watch: Celebrating the men we love on International Men’s Day
Davies has also reportedly “bombarded” the Equality and Human Rights Commission with “extraordinary” questions about racial and sexual equality. In one wince-inducing letter, he wrote: “Is it offensive to black up or not, particularly if you are impersonating a black person? PS I would be grateful if you could explain to me why it is so offensive to black up your face as I have never understood this.”
So why has a man so obviously out of touch with the concepts of equality been appointed to the Women and Equalities Committee? In a nutshell, the membership of select committees like the Women and Equalities Committee reflects the party balance in the House of Commons. Davies, who was replacing another Tory member, would have been chosen by his fellow Conservative MPs to fill the spot.
We’ll live in hope that working alongside people who genuinely care about equality will rub off on Davies. But really, staying hopeful seems to get more and more difficult every day.
Main image: Rex Features