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Evening Standard

Tony Bonnici 5 Sep 2011 The London School of Economics is facing legal action after a former student claimed its gender studies course was sexist - against men. Tom Martin, who quit the university after six weeks, claims in papers lodged at the Central London county court that lecturers ignored male issues. He is claiming some 50,000 citing breach of contract, misleading advertising, misrepresentation, and breach of the Gender Equality Duty Act. The 39-year-old, who attended the university last year to take up a Gender, Media and Culture Masters degree, said there was "systemic anti-male discrimination". But he said an internal investigation carried out by the university in the wake of his complaints found "no evidence" of bias. Mr Martin, who is representing himself, said: "The core texts we had to read before each class were typically packed with anti-male discrimination and bias - heavily focusing on, exaggerating, and falsifying women's issues perspectives, whilst blaming men, to justify ignoring men's issues. There was no warning of this sexist agenda in the prospectus." He added: "They simply refuse to acknowledge the research which contradicts the 'women good/men bad', or the 'women victims/men perpetrators' storyline. "Science does not come into it at LSE's Gender Institute. Like a religion, the curriculum simply insists, by repetition, attempting to drum the anti-male agenda into the students." The university's legal team has asked for the case to be struck out, claiming the core texts were not compulsory, merely recommended readings, and that the texts were equally available for both men and women to read, so therefore did not directly discriminate against men. The team also argues that "any discriminatory effect [against men] was plainly justifiable".

Guardian

Jonathan Dean guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 7 September 2011 15.30 BST Article history Let's get this straight. Gender studies isn't about 'women good, men bad' It's ironic that an ex-student is using anti-discrimination law to sue this LSE department. But he was only there for six weeks. Feminism makes some men very scared, others very angry. Tom Martin, who is taking legal action against the London School of Economics, risks being seen as falling into both of these categories. A former student at the LSE Gender Institute, Martin claims he had the misfortune of being subject to a torrent of anti-male discrimination during his (very brief) time there, and has cited the Gender Equality Duty to support his case. The irony of attacking feminists by invoking a piece of legislation whose existence is largely down to the energy and commitment of feminist campaigners scarcely needs pointing out. Martin alleges that the course material he studied during his six weeks at the LSE was systematically anti-male overlooked men's issues, and ignored any research that contested a "women good, men bad" line of reasoning. Furthermore, Martin claims that the Gender Institute drummed into the students, with quasi-religious fervour, a simplistic view of women as victims and men as perpetrators. If his experience is anything to go by, any self-respecting male should steer well clear of such institutionalised misandry. Well, male readers, before you start cowering behind the sofa fearful of the castrating gender studies professor who's about to get you, let me reassure you. Although I don't know the specifics of Martin's experience, I am a male academic active in gender studies, and was a researcher at the very institution that Martin is suing. And yet for me, as with many other male gender studies scholars and students, my academic engagement with feminism and gender issues has been nothing short of life-affirming. Let's get a few things straight. The dominant ideas, approaches and insights of the vast majority of academic disciplines are produced by, for and about men. This does not necessarily make them bad ideas, but it does mean that there are entrenched gender biases in most fields. In my own discipline politics the key undergraduate texts are overwhelmingly by and about men. And yet this is seen by most as unproblematic, as natural or inevitable. Gender studies is an attempt to critique this entrenched male bias. As an emerging area of study, it remains small and lacks the financial and institutional clout of the bigger disciplines. It strikes me as utterly bemusing that one would want to direct one's ire towards one of the few academic spaces in which the implications of biases that go largely unchallenged elsewhere are explored. But let's clear up a few further points. Firstly, the perception that gender studies is doctrinal and dogmatic is simply untrue. It is sceptical of traditional distinctions between fields of research, and is more dynamic, innovative and open to new perspectives than established disciplines. And far from sticking to a crude "women good, men bad" line, gender studies programmes encourage students to acknowledge the diversity of relations between men and women, the limitations of a victim-centred understanding of womanhood, and the complex ways in which gender intersects with race, class and sexuality. The development of this more holistic approach to gender analysis is one of the reasons why the name "gender studies" is now usually given preference over "women's studies", although the name of the field remains a controversial topic. What is not in dispute, though, is the contribution to gender studies of current research into the changing nature of masculinity. Scholars such as Jeff Hearn, R W Connell, Keith Pringle, Michael Kimmel and Terrell Carver have all taken inspiration from feminism and women's studies to analyse, for example, class and racial inequalities between men, the causes and consequences of male violence, the lived experience of different kinds of male sexuality, and the ways in which ideas of masculinity influence social and political thought. Although most gender studies scholars and students are women, the likes of Jeff Hearn and Michael Kimmel have paved the way for increasing numbers of men to contribute to academic gender studies, contributions that have been unambiguously welcomed. In this context, if a gender studies scholar were to put forward a crude "women good, men bad" analysis, it would never stand up to peer scrutiny. Finally, gender studies courses are extremely friendly and supportive environments. In contrast to the stuffiness and conformity of many academic settings, gender studies students and scholars are tolerant, friendly, and enlightened in their attitudes to race, sexual orientation and transsexuality. Gender studies is invariably more sociable than other academic settings, and all kinds of people are welcome, so long as you are willing to engage with people and ideas in a considered and respectful manner. If you're committed to combating discrimination and prejudice in academia, gender studies is an eccentrically misguided choice of target.

The F Word

Man sues LSE for "anti-male" gender studies agenda by Alicia Izharuddin // 4 September 2011, 20:09 Once upon a time, the hallowed halls of academia were only opened to men. Within, men consumed and produced scholarship about other men. The presence of women in university was thought to contaminate, ridicule, and degrade the sacred pursuit of learning. Learning was even thought to be bad for women, making them infertile among other things. When the doors were finally burst open to women, there was no turning back; women were everywhere, accomplishing in male-dominated disciplines, outnumbering and out-performing the male of the species, and dominating the humanities and social sciences. Then came the rise of Gender Studies that served to redress the historical silencing of queer and female voices, and administer a small dose of balance into the male-centred world of learning. So far, so good for woman-kind. But recently, the London School of Economics (LSE) has been threatened to floor the reverse pedal on the latter. The man at the centre of this tea-cup sized furore is former student of LSE, Tom Martin, who claimed that the Gender Studies masters programme he was following was "sexist" for focusing on women's issues rather than men's issues. Martin's spectacularly ineffectual allegations is presumably meant to expose the hidden anti-male agenda and the evil feminine take-over that were unfolding before his very eyes. But little does he realise the irony of his own sexist claims. Gender Studies has traditionally been the preserve of women because it is one of the very few scholarly retreats from the male-dominated world of academia. By scholarly retreats I mean it is interested in questioning (issues not limited to) sexism and power imbalances in society. There are of course a number of class and race-related problems in Gender Studies that concern women but that is for another post. The study of masculinities or "men's issues" takes a back-seat in Gender Studies because women and femininity have traditionally been viewed as "problematic" categories in both good and bad ways, while masculinity and men have long been default, invisible, and unproblematic categories. The study of men is gaining ground in Gender Studies but Martin's grievances about its "secondary" place in the discipline is typical of some men who want their issues to dominate, to be first and take importance. This has been the case for centuries. And so the predominance of women and their issues strike men who are consumed by their male privilege as an oddity, a takeover by women, an outrage best described as "sexism".