In November London’s Evening Standard newspaper launched a high-profile Christmas campaign to raise funds to support homeless veterans. The campaign has received cross-party support, including a pledge of £3m from Chancellor George Osborne.
All of this is great news – no-one should find themselves on the streets, but it is a particular travesty if someone who has risked their life fighting for their country is cast adrift by the society they fought to protect.
But what’s glaring about the Standard’s campaign and all of the quotes by party leaders in support of it, is the refusal to acknowledge the highly gendered nature of both homelessness and military sacrifice.
Homeless veterans ‘overwhelmingly male’
One of the charities supported by the appeal told insideMAN that the veterans they work with are “overwhelmingly male”, before hazarding a guess that 90% of the people who seek help from them are men.
Despite these stark figures, the Evening Standard has made no mention of them in the numerous reports to promote its campaign, or even referred to the fact that men are those who are overwhelmingly those in need of its support.
Instead, both the language of the campaign and that of the quotes of party leaders in support of it, has been determinedly and consciously gender neutral.
Why do we ignore male disadvantage?
Of course the sacrifice and suffering of all veterans should be recognised, irrespective of gender, but to pretend – as the Standard’s campaign appears to – that such a glaring gender disparity simply doesn’t exist, amounts to a distortion of the truth.
The obvious question is, would the campaign and its supporters refuse to acknowledge there was any gendered disadvantage at play if 90% of homeless veterans were women? Far from it – the gender of those hardest hit would be the most important issue of all.
The question is then, why should disadvantage experienced primarily by women be seen as a gendered injustice that demands special attention; yet gendered disadvantage experienced primarily by men, not be acknowledged at all?
Picture: Kool Cats Photography