Some people think that because I’m a feminist I must hate men. I definitely, truly, genuinely do not. So here’s an open letter to them all… Dear men,
I love you. Well, I love some of you. I’d love most of you, probably, if I had the chance to meet you all. But apparently some people don’t. Some people hate men so much that they can barely think of them in human terms. Just as there are times when I want to scream blue murder because Alan Sugar thinks women like things pink, or because Femfresh reckons we should all start deep-cleaning our vulvas, there are also times when I think guys get things in the neck that they totally don’t deserve.
So, gentlemen, this one’s for you, and it’s as much a feminist issue as all the other stuff I write about. Get angry. Pick up your placard, get on the street, and tell people to stop talking about you like you’re all destined to act like arseholes.
Men think about sex all the time
Jon Snow recently explained that he thinks about a woman’s sexual potential when he meets her for the first time. That’s fine – a lot of us do that no matter what our gender or sexual preference. It’s not the end of the world. But, as the excellent Brooke Magnanti points out, we think about a lot of things when we first meet someone, we don’t necessarily blurt them all out like some sort of brain-to-mouth shitblower.
Problem here, though, is that Snow’s not just saying “I do this” he’s saying “all men do this”, which is demonstrably untrue. Even if we assume all men are straight (which they’re not), there are many men who are asexual, who are uninterested in sleeping with loads of women, or who simply don’t consider all women to be potential sexual partners. I’m happy to accept that some, or even ‘many’ men might want this, but saying ‘all’ sweeps away much of the beautiful and spectacular variety that exists within your gender. We know you don’t all want sex all the time: sometimes you want a sandwich, sometimes you want a nap, sometimes you want some goddam peace and quiet to finish a jigsaw puzzle.
What’s more, Snow is elevating the importance of this tiny behavioural trait and using it to dispense what he thinks are meaningful insights about the whole of humanity. OK, so when you first meet a woman, “naturally” you evaluate her sexual potential. What significance does this have? Do you then fuck her? Do you treat her differently because of it? Do you send her a postcard that says “by the way, toots, I definitely wouldn’t kick you out of bed”? If you do this, then it’s your behaviour that’s the problem, not your thoughts. If you don’t do this, then congratulations – you, like most men, are able to behave in a way that isn’t dictated by your penis/testosterone/random brain farts. In short: you’re not an arsehole.
By stating “men think about you sexually” it as if it were a wise nugget of great import, Snow is propping up a narrative that paints men as pathetic fuck-seals, compelled to clap every time they see a pair of tits. The truth is that men are far more complicated, not to mention more intelligent than that.
Men cannot view you as a person if they also see you as sexual
Recently someone commented on an old post of mine about delicious and degrading sex. Essentially my point was that one can be submissive in the bedroom but have loud and stroppy opinions elsewhere. This person (I neither know nor care what their gender was), told me:
“Men equate dominating sexual degrading acts with sluts they would never marry or seriously be with.”
This offends me, and I hope it offends you too. Because no matter what gender you are, if you are capable of putting assertions like this into words then you are more than capable of taking a rational look at society and realising that this particular assertion is horseshit. The commenter, to be fair, does say that their conclusion comes “after reading numerous comments and testimonies from men.” Apparently, though, only reading those testimonies that support their belief that men are unthinking cockhounds.
Statements like this belie a deep disgust for men, yet are presented as if they’re actually a ‘fuck you’ to women. Things that we poor flowers simply must accept if we want to get on in life. Well, I’m not going to. Because I’ve got on pretty well so far without having to choke down the rage that would inevitably come if I bought into this lie, not to mention the fact that I’d never be able to have sex for fear that the person I was fucking was incapable of basic human decency.
Men will grab any opportunity to rape you
Finally, I can’t fail to mention the recent Cosmo shitstorm. An agony aunt for Cosmopolitan magazine said that women should avoid getting drunk around men. Their penises are weapons, apparently, and we should “avoid getting drunk around people who are stupid and armed.”
Now, I’m fully of the opinion that you should avoid getting drunk in scenarios where being drunk can endanger your personal safety, such as on the edge of cliffs, in a pen with some pissed-off tigers, or on the central reservation of the M25. But men are not angry tigers or vans traveling at 80 miles per hour: they are human beings with the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
Sure, the penis can be used as a weapon. But that doesn’t make the penis itself a dangerous and terrifying tool – it only becomes one when in the hands (or pants) of someone who is an execrable bastard.
A kitchen knife can be a weapon too, but I don’t stick to mineral water and hide in the cellar every time my boyfriend starts chopping tomatoes.
Men, know that these are not your limits
We’re all flawed individuals, and often we act like idiots. Sometimes it’s tempting to say that certain people are acting like idiots because of their gender. But what is more likely – that fully 50% of the human race is programmed to act uncritically and aggressively all of the time, or that some people are just arseholes looking for excuses to justify their behaviour?
Most people I know try their best to be good. Don’t let anyone tell you that, because of your gender, you’re destined to fail.
Men: I love you.