A video of the lecture made by an Eton College teacher at the centre of a freedom of speech row has been posted on Youtube.
Sacked English teacher Will Knowland hit out at radical feminism and the idea of ‘toxic masculinity’, which he said had been used to attack men and male qualities.
In the lecture, named ‘The Patriarchy Paradox’, he claimed the male role as a ‘protector’ benefits society as a whole – including women.
And he warned that ‘shaping men and women to be more similar actually exaggerates their differences’ – which he described as the Patriarchy Paradox.
He says that a world without men would be ‘awful’ for women and complains that chivalry and honour – which he labelled as good male qualities – are being driven down by terms such as ‘toxic masculinity’.
Will Knowland, who taught English at the £42,500-a-year school in Berkshire for nine years, said he was dismissed over a lesson titled ‘The Patriarchy Paradox’
The virtual lecture, which was never actually shown to students at the £42,500-a-year- school in Berkshire, resulted in Mr Knowland being sacked from his job.
Hundreds of pupils and members of the wider Eton community have now accused the school of hypocrisy, cruelty and a ‘complete lack of backbone’, and asked if Eton was ‘protecting its new image as politically progressive at the expense of one of its own’.
Mr Knowland’s lecture The Patriarchy Paradox explores the conflict between the concepts of sex and gender.
He argues that the ‘shaping of men and women to be more similar actually exaggerates their differences’.
Mr Knowland argues that the idea of patriarchy – a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership – could be equally grounded in biology, rather than something that is constructed socially.
And he says some women may actually chose the traditional gender roles because it benefits them.
Mr Knowland points out that male roles in the animal kingdom, including those of the lion, are primarily to provide protection.
As a result, he says men have traditionally been the sex to fight wars – pointing to the difference in the development of male and female bodies in adolescence.
He points to a cage-fighting match-up involving transgender fighter Fallon Fox, who broke the skull of female opponent Tamika Brent when the pair fought in the Octagon.
The lecture, created online because of the Covid crisis, was written for Eton’s Perspectives curriculum, introducing older boys to issues which are the subject of fierce public debate (file photo of Eton College)
Whatever happens, the aftermath is going to be tricky for headteacher Simon Henderson who was yesterday obliged to reassure parents about this ‘difficult and emotive issue’ (file photo)
He says: ‘If it is not fair to pit men and women in sports, then it is not fair to pit men against women on the battlefield.’
He says men’s lives are also more expendable because women are the ones who are able to give birth. However he says that a world without men would be ‘awful’ for women.
Mr Knowland adds that ‘women have always been spared the worst of work’ – pointing to the death of male slaves in the building of historical monuments such as the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China.
In a point to arguing the good that men have achieved, he also says that men have also invented ’90 per cent of inventions that have improved women’s life expectancy’.
Following Mr Knowland’s sacking, a petition has been launched supporting him – and has been signed by 800 people.
The petition says: ‘Young men and their views are formed in the meeting and conflict of ideas… which necessarily entails controversy and spirited discussion.’
Mr Knowland, they add, ‘is loved by all who have encountered him’ and the students ‘feel morally bound not to be bystanders in what appears to be an instance of institutional bullying’.
Eton’s headmaster Simon Henderson sacked Mr Knowland for gross misconduct amid the fallout from a lecture about the nature of masculinity
‘Eton has been here for almost 600 years,’ said one source close to the conflict.
‘And this is a battle for its very soul. Cancel culture has arrived with cult groupthink reaching right into the heart of the school. It’s meant to be a bastion of learning and free speech.
‘George Orwell went to Eton. What would he think? 1984 was meant to be satire, not a how-to manual.’
Mr Knowland has appealed his sacking. His appeal will be heard on Founder’s Day, December 8, by a panel chaired by former Cabinet Minister Lord Waldegrave, himself an Old Etonian.
Mr Knowland and his wife Rachel live in a grace-and-favour detached four-bedroom house owned by Eton. If he fails to win back his job on appeal next month, they will be homeless
Mr Knowland will have the support of the Free Speech Union, whose founder Toby Young said: ‘This is a landmark case.
‘Schools must be places where children are taught all sides of these big questions and allowed to make up their own minds, not indoctrinated with the latest political orthodoxy.’
Whatever happens, the aftermath is going to be tricky for Simon Henderson who was yesterday obliged to reassure parents about this ‘difficult and emotive issue’.
‘We are limited in what we can say at the moment, given that a disciplinary process is ongoing,’ he wrote in a message.
‘Mr Knowland has chosen to publicise his version of events in advance of the disciplinary panel to which he has appealed.
‘So as to be fair to all parties, the school cannot provide substantive comment before a final decision is reached.
‘I appreciate that a lack of information is frustrating and leads to increased speculation, however the school needs to respect the integrity of the process.’
Mr Knowland, meanwhile, is longing to return to Eton and doesn’t see why he can’t.
He writes: ‘Respect for Eton – its past present and future – means upholding its traditions of discussion, argument and persuasion and eschewing the culture of intolerance that has swept through other institutions.
‘As Hailz Osborne [the school’s head of inclusion education] has said, in promoting diversity, which includes intellectual diversity, ‘the challenge is to enable people to say uncomfortable things’.’