RIP Men: An Obituary for a Gender
Reader, make sure you're sitting down. Please. I have some terrible news to break to you. The rumours have been circling for some time now, but this is no Twitter hoax. Earlier this week, the gender of Men passed away in a tragic cycling accident. The news hasn't been broken by any official news agencies yet, but we're willing to go on the word of Hanna Rosin, an American academic who knew Men well, who has told us in her new book The End Of Men that my people just took their last breath.
Nope, this isn't like when Nas declared that hip-hop was dead (only to see Soulja Boy buy a private jet), Hanna seems pretty adamant that even if an entire sex is if not actually dead already, it is at least in the midst of a right to die campaign. Their relatives are trying to get the switch turned off because they can’t be arsed with nursing them through life any more.
Seeing as I too knew Men fairly well (although I am a bit miffed that Hanna got to hear first – #brosbeforehos), I thought I'd compile something of a eulogy for Men, a eulogy and a post-mortem that could possibly go some way to explaining not only how Men touched me (not in that way, that’s a story for another funeral) but also how they eventually met such a tragic end.
MEN (Disputed – 3/10/2012)
For those of you who do not know me, I am Clive Martin and I was a close friend of Men. It is with great sadness that I must now celebrate the life of Men, rather than celebrate with them. Although they had been on this earth for what seems like eternity, it also feels as if they are gone far too soon.
Granted, it is hard to understand why so many great people were taken away from us by that cruel sweep of Hanna Rosin's merciless touch-typing, but it is something we must deal with and then move on from. We must not stand before the sky and bellow "Why?" towards our maker, this is a question without an answer, we must not dwell on the loss of our father, brother, son, husband, friend, FWB, DJ, plumber, postman, despot, hugger-mugger, king, old, alcoholic Irish guy who wears his best suit to Ladbrokes on a Sunday morning, Turkish riot vigilante, pick-up artist or Pope. Today we must celebrate Men's life and how they touched all of us in different ways.
I myself first met Men not long after I was born, you could even say – at a stretch – that I was partly raised by them. Some of my earliest memories concern crawling about the living room as the Men went about their business – it seems silly to say it now, considering what great friends we later became, but at first I was somewhat intimidated by Men. I found myself tugging against their boot-cut jeans, trying to steal cigarettes from their mouths and running away with their wallets in infant shows of defiance, attempts to let them know that I wasn't scared by the years they had on me. Even though deep down, I really was.
I was scared of their booming voices, the strange, trance-like dances they performed when they had been drinking Boddingtons within hearing distance of that “Lager, lager, lager” song and the lecherous looks in their eyes when Jet from Gladiators appeared on the telly. I was scared, fascinated, intrigued and slightly worried by them. Men.
But after years of being petrified at the mythologies I'd created for myself, I began to understand – as I gradually became a busier, hairier, more depressed person, Men were no longer the idealised visions of masculinity that I'd thought they were. In fact, they were just like me, skid marks and all. I came to realise that, much like myself, even at that young age, they too dribbled when they slept, cried when they were hungry, messed themselves when in need of attention. And, crucially, we all loved breasts.
This was a breakthrough in my long and strifeful relationship with Men, and afterwards that once seemingly impossible goal of joining the ranks of their strange club didn't seem so far off any more. I knew that one day there was a chance that we'd be friends.
I spent the rest of my sapling years trying to become one of these magnificent creatures, but suddenly it wasn't my Judo teacher or my father's friends that were my role models, but other, more famous and better-looking Men, like Tony Hawk, Paul Ince and Yo-Hans. These were not the affable everymen of my real life, but hyper-realised ideals of machismo and courage.
This was aging as an aspiration rather than a fact of life. I spent all my time practising keepy-ups, wearing elbow pads in the house, trying to "Split The Atom" on my Viper Yo-Yo to try to match up to these Gods among regular Men. But after years of football team rejections and two splits in my collar bone, a slow and gradual realisation dawned upon me: I realised that I might never be Men.
From Antony and Cleopatra to Ant & Dec, every great relationship has its trials and tribulations, and during my teenhood, me and Men had our issues. It was only natural for me to consider other avenues. It seemed to me that perhaps being Men wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I saw them tragically masturbating to porn stars that resembled the women they’d passed over to marry their wives when they were younger, joining fantasy football leagues and asking to sample the ale before they drank it.
I wondered if this was a club I really wanted to be a member of. I dabbled in eyeliner to try to understand that other sex they were always talking about, I bought a Jeff Buckley album. Alas, dear mourner, even the longest lasting relationships have their wilderness years.
Thankfully, my youthful indiscretions would prove to be only that. After several bad experiences with women and performance poetry, I began to realise what I would always be a member of Men. There was no use fighting it, I realised that there was no point trying to run away from becoming Men, just as there was no point in working hard to become one. It was like those weird people who aspire to be depressed, life just builds you that way. Growing into Men is a natural process; it's something you’ll realise when you’re fixing a fuse or trying to headbutt a bouncer.
One day you're writing a sonnet, then the girl you wrote it for laughs at you, and the next day you're banging out tequila slammers with American students in the Sports Cafe. Your icons cease to be Keats and Yates, now they are Springsteen and Dyer. You've given up; whether you like it or not, you are now Men. You know what, though? We had a good innings.
Now we are but worm food. I must walk the earth as a lone example of my species, an Omega Men for my own sex. My gender is dead and buried, cast aside into a grave marked "blokes". If we’re going to blame someone then we must blame ourselves. Men started to become obsolete somewhere in the early part of this new century, the arrival of vagina-obsessed rabbits, IVF and that unachievable platonic ideal called "Gosling" rendered my once-thriving gender irrelevant.
Lest we forget it was us who birthed the things that would later destroy us. We are all our own Oppenhemiers, now we become destroyers of Men. A few women clung on, but it was only nostalgic appreciation and technological distrust that kept them there. Having sex with Men was now no different to wearing a pillar-box hat, going to swing dance classes or knitting pointless rags that only serve to clutter up the house.
The final straw for Men came with the arrival of the chest-strap baby carrier. This was the invention that made Men look so pathetic that not even the defiant pockets of pro-Men insurgents in Essex could put up a fight for masculinity any longer. Soon enough, the only Men you saw on the streets were cycling through Stoke Newington dressed like children’s TV presenters, with their daughters strapped to their chests like human IEDs waiting to rip them apart if they came within 50 metres of a public house.
But the public houses had already been taken over by 50 Shades Of Grey book club meets. Banksy had turned bombs into flowers. As Men grew more paranoid about their own worth to society, babies became less a proud symbol of Men's abiding bloodline, and just things with mouths that were covered in shit and might one day attempt to stage an Oedipal coup.
It is an endless tragedy that Men have been so cruelly torn from existence's grasp, but may we not seek revenge on Hanna Rosin, for she is merely the messenger, the person charged with telling a distraught family about the death of a loved one. It is not her fault; it is the fault of the chest-strap baby carrier. For ages now, Men have been begging Hanna Rosin, through the medium of blinks, to pump up the morphine, even if during their halcyon years Men were mostly a positive bunch. I'm sure that if they were here today they would put a brave face on it, tell a few tales of the good times and get the beers in. Men, I will always treasure the times we shared together as I tread fearfully through these new fields of oestrogen.
Patrons, feel free to leave your respects on the toilet walls if you feel so inclined. The church will provide you marker pens.
Follow Clive on Twitter: @thugclive
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