Conservative MP Nick Fletcher has identified a novel reason why so many young British men are supposedly turning to crime: Women are now filling positive TV and movie roles once occupied by men.
Speaking at an International Men's Day debate in Parliament on Thursday, Fletcher lamented the traditionally masculine movie and TV roles now or soon to be played by women, such as 'Doctor Who', 'Ghostbusters', and potentially 'James Bond'.
"There seems to be a call from a tiny yet very vocal minority that every male character or good role model must have a female replacement," he stated. "Men are left with the Krays and Tommy Shelby. Is there any wonder we are seeing so many young men committing crime?"
Describing how shows like 'Peaky Blinders' "made crime look cool," Fletcher declared that he wanted "men to have their own identity and masculinity to be celebrated at times, rather than vilified."
Inserting women into roles once held by men is a bitterly contested topic among movie fans, cultural commentators - and British politicians. Amid rumors that the next James Bond would be a woman, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last month that the iconic British spy has "got to be a man, frankly," while the Labour Party's Keir Starmer has suggested that "it's time for a female Bond."
Despite Fletcher's consternation, there is no specific link between the alleged dearth of male role models on TV and crime rates, which have been climbing since 2012, with a small dip last year. However, politicians and police officers have for years drawn a link between crime and a lack of positive male influences at home and in the wider community, and numerous academic studies back up their claims.
Fletcher last year set up the Role Models Initiative, a programme that pairs vulnerable young people - mostly boys - with older mentors to steer them toward positive life choices.
"The prominent figure in a child's life can, unfortunately, quite easily be the local drug dealer, car thief or thug," he wrote. "In other words, not a good role model. If we genuinely want the best for our communities, we have to start with our young people and an initiative like this is where we can begin."