Prior to August 2010, British Airways had a policy whereby they would not allow adult male passengers to sit next to unaccompanied children on flights, even if the man was travelling with others. Many other airlines still enforce such erroneous policies, which are doing nothing short of presuming all men to be potential paedophiles. I don’t recall any similar rule being applicable to women. More to the point, no rule of this kind should have been implemented whatsoever. Such political correctness gone mad has even resulted in one airline (British Airways) trying to separate a man from his own children on one occasion, namely a certain Boris Johnson.

Women’s rights are always at the forefront of the political agenda, and rightly so, but what about the rights of men? Is it really fair that men should be treated as potential sex offenders because of the sinister actions of a devious minority?

I recently heard of a book called ‘The Beautiful Boy’ by Germaine Greer, allegedly containing suggestive pictures of pre-teen boys who were subsequently labelled as ‘beautiful’. Greer claimed the book was "full of pictures of 'ravishing' pre-adult boys with hairless chests, wide-apart legs and slim waists”; a rather strange description by an adult author, wouldn’t you say. Ironically the boy on the cover of the book, Björn Andrésen, objected to the use of his photo.

I’ve yet to witness any controversy arising from such a publication. Greer may well have had harmless intentions when publishing her book, but if we’re going to label a man a potential sex offender merely for sitting next to a child on an aeroplane, then the publication of Greer’s book should be apprehended in a similar way.

Television programmes such as Loose Women don’t help but exacerbate the widening gender gap; gather a group of men to deride women and boast about their sexual conquests for an hour each day and there would be an outcry. Yet when it’s done to men it’s perceived as harmless, something to laugh about. Why? Because the social and political environment of modern times has been conditioned to allow it. When advertisements such as those for Kinder Bueno and Diet Coca-Cola depict men as nothing more than the object of a woman’s sexual desire, nothing is done, yet when the roles are reversed we hear the familiar “Ofcom has received a number of complaints” announcement on the news bulletins. Perhaps people feel such depictions of men are justified as karma for salacious men’s magazines such as Nuts and Zoo, but not all men read such magazines. And if I remember correctly, two wrongs never made a right.

OK, so men aren’t the best at conveying their views; just look at the actions of some members of the Fathers 4 Justice movement. Irresponsible behaviour such as throwing flour bombs in Parliament and storming television broadcasts merely helps to serve in the familial courts favour with regard to their decision-making. But when the government enforces such an anti-male bias in legislation what, in all their desperation, are men to do? How long will it be before we hear of yet another man ending his life and those of his children because of the injustices of the system?

Even excluding such acts of despair, the male suicide rate in the UK is significantly higher compared to that for women. Suicide rates for men amounted to approximately 18 per 100,000 population in 2008 (ONS, 2010), with females accounting for less at approximately 5 per 100,000. Aside from wrongful legislation, could this be because of the ‘put up and shut up’ culture we have adopted, whereby men are not meant to talk about their feelings and be devoid of any emotion?

Furthermore, the highest rates of male suicide are for those aged 15-44, the age group at which most divorces occur, and when adolescent males feel under the most psychological pressure. Research has shown that few men seek medical guidance or counselling prior to ending their lives, as opposed to the more pragmatic approach by women. Perhaps men feel they will be ostracised for expressing how they feel, or maybe they fear they will risk losing some warped notion of masculinity if they do so.

Unless some radical form of change takes place in the near future, the downward spiral of attitudes towards men is set to continue. It will only be a matter of time until male suicide rates multiply, male teachers surrender to bureaucracy, and we are reduced to an apartheid-style society where men have few or no rights.

Men and women should undoubtedly have equal rights, but it is important not to cross that fine line of equality.