Conservative Official Says 'Female Replacements' in Media Lead to Crime in Controversial Speech

A member of Britain's Conservative Party is drawing controversy for seemingly suggesting that women in leading media roles cause men to turn to crime.

During a debate on the official recognition of International Men's Day, Conservative Party MP Nick Fletcher attacked modern media for seemingly robbing young men of role models by casting women in prominent roles. As a result, he said, the only characters that young men can look up to are criminals. He claimed that "a tiny, but very vocal, minority" asks for all good male characters to be replaced by women. Among his examples of such recastings included Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, and discussions surrounding the next person to play James Bond.

"Is there any wonder we are seeing so many young men committing crime?," he then said, sparking backlash from both Parliament members and people online.

One critic was Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds, who told Fletcher that the reasons why young men turn to crime were "far more complex" than "who should be the next 007."

Another lawmaker, Gavin Newlands of the Scottish National Party, referred to the concept of International Men's Day as a "rather cruel joke" made to downplay the importance of feminism and women's rights. He also said that the criminal actions committed by men are solely the responsibility of the perpetrator, not fictional characters.

"We need men in general to take responsibility for what men have done and continue to do," he added.

After the debate, Fletcher released a statement defending his remarks on Twitter. He claimed that his "nuanced point" on the decrease of seemingly-positive male role models was misconstrued.

"As has been alleged rather lazily by several individuals," read Fletcher's statement, "I did not link a 'Dr. Who' being female to crime being committed by men. In fact, I was making a statement that boys and young men also need positive role models within the media, just as women do."

The statement sparked further backlash on social media. Some pointed out the prolonged popularity of some positive male role models, including Harry Potter and the male members of the Avengers. Others commented on how Fletcher misnamed the character of The Doctor, the main protagonist of Doctor Who currently played by Jodie Whittaker.

However, many commenters said that Fletcher and other Conservative Party members should try being such role models for young men instead of focusing on fictional characters.

"So we should blame Dr Who rather than the party in government who cut police funding and youth services for a decade?" asked one reply to Fletcher's statement. Another said, "perhaps you and the men in your government could be better role models and then people wouldn't have to look to their televisions for them?"

Lead Conservative Party members, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have not commented on Fletcher's comments.

Jodie Whittaker
Conservative Party MP claimed that actress Jodi Whittaker's casting as a traditionally male Doctor in "Doctor Who" stripped young men of positive role models in media. Whittaker visits the Build Series to discuss Season 12 of the BBC America series “Doctor Who” at Build Studio on January 6, 2020 in New York City. Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images