Something is seriously wrong with our men. Our young, white men in particular. It’s easy to see the links when it’s all laid out in front of you: the vast majority of mass killers are men, violence against women is common of many mass killers many – or most – of whom openly hate women. Recently ‘Incels’ (a label that means ‘involuntary celibate’) have been in the news, thanks to one incel who decided he was so angry he needed to take it out on society by killing people. And while we’re now having a welcome discussion about how dangerous misogyny can be, I can’t help but think we’re not fully addressing the problem.
When people ask me ‘is your husband home?’ (or variations on that theme), I correct them in the same irritating way I’ll hiss ‘Ms’ if asked whether I’m a ‘Miss or Mrs’. My partner and I aren’t married, and I used to think my initial burst of frustration when people asked for my ‘husband’ was because I didn’t like the assumption that all couples have to get married at some point. It’s not really that, though: what’s frustrating is how often I am asked – or expected – to defer to my male partner. As if he’s the CEO in our relationship, and I am merely his secretary.
If you could put one thing from the world into ‘Room 101’, banishing it forever from the planet, what would you choose and why? There’s plenty I’d be tempted to go for, I am a person who gets angry about a lot of things: plastic cups, pear cider (it’s NOT FUCKING CIDER), or men on Twitter explaining my own bra to me. And that’s before you even get started on the important bits like war, poverty, and every political ad that’s ever been shown on Facebook. But there’s one particular concept that seems ready to disappear: chivalry. Chivalry is on the way out, and I won’t be sorry to see it go.
Yesterday, as I was sipping coffee delicately from a pink china cup, I stumbled across the news that Doritos are considering making female-friendly crisps. Naturally, I was delighted, and I’d like us to take this one step further. If we’re going to start making crisps I can FINALLY eat without accidentally causing flavour or texture to harm the velvety inside of my womanly mouth, surely it’s time for more female-friendly foodstuffs? I’ve had a go at creating some of my own.
Two things I believe to be true in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Firstly, that many men have been put in positions of power over women, which they have abused to varying degrees. Secondly, that this is at least partly a result of the way our society teaches men to behave. The former statement is accusatory: there are men who have done bad things. The second is explanatory: here is a reason why they do those things. The former sounds like a blanket condemnation, while the latter feels uncomfortably like an excuse. But if I believe both these things to be true, how do I go about having a conversation with men I love about sexual violence and consent?
This post will naturally discuss consent, sexual assault and other similar things. I’ve tried to avoid going into gruesome detail and simply linked out to full accounts/reporting where possible.