It's not easy being a man who longs for a woman's world. Which is why, when VICE offered me this column, I decided that it had to be written anonymously. I hope that that doesn't lead you to take me any less seriously - yours, Logan Stuart.
What is true equality, if not equality in all respects? To me, no man can be a feminist, and no woman for that matter, if he agrees with the proposition that women should have equal rights before the law, but at the same time cannot agree with the idea that, given they generally live longer, women should also pay higher pension contributions. That is equality, and one must either take it or leave it on that basis. Ditto child custody being equally distributed with the father. One cannot have one's cake and eat it. Yet this is where the sorority – so often my strength, my refuge, my rock – often disappoints. It is why so often my fellow feminists – dare I say it – inadvertently give the movement a bad name.
And it is for precisely the reasons outlined above that I continue to contend that, if you are going to hit someone, "being a woman" ought not be a mitigating factor, any more than it ought to be in driving, or in being a high court judge (yet another role where women are scandalously underrepresented).
Now, now. Calm down. I can hear the chorus of catcalls already. Please. Before you react with your kneejerk pro-fem sensibilities, hear me out.
I've seldom had the need to hit my life partner – it's not exactly the bedrock of any good relationship, is it? But on the rare occasions I have had the opportunity to do so, I like to think that she, as a feminist, has taken it in good stead. I'm 5' 9" and weigh 70 kilos. She is 5' 11" and weighs – I know she won't mind my saying – a little bit more. Both in terms of reach and raw momentum, she outranks me. And, it might be said, probably in terms of raw aggression too (as several shoddy waiters have found out to their cost).
Often I have had to bob and weave like a ferret on heat just to get away from her. I've seldom landed anything like the number of blows she has, and once, owing to a fairly ferocious glancing shot, I sustained a cut lip that required stitches. My life partner is of course, a feminist too, and my inspiration, my Buddha in all things feminism-related. She learned a long time ago that the only way to take things she wanted from a man's world was to disobey the sinister media norms that tell her that "good girls don't wallop someone on the eardrum with a bunch of fives". Of course, we should guard against making male behaviour an unconscious norm. But also, the rational feminist understands that sometimes she cannot bring her own ladder. For better or worse, she must climb the male one.
Occasionally, she has crushed my testes with her knee – a moment that always brings a little water to the eyes. I remember once she did this, then, scenting victory, smiled at me and repeated the line: “If you strike a woman, you strike a rock” – an old ANC Women's League slogan from the 1980s. I hasten to add it is a metaphor. She has never struck me with a rock. The most tensile item was probably a pine cone that had sat on the mantlepiece, sprayed festively gold, for a few years.
I must emphasise these instances are very rare. But on the few occasions – interspersed over nearly 20 years – that she has indeed hit me and I have had to defend myself with a few sharp uppercuts, I have often thought of what a liberation this has been. This is true equality – this is what is already available to men. You have a barney with your buddy, the weight of emotion hanging over you manifests physically, and, like a stormcloud turning to rain, soon enough, the relationship is reset. If only more women were aware of the power of change this can bring.
We true male feminists need to break the shameful societal taboo about hitting women. Please – let me re-state, I'm not in favour of hitting women for no reason. The philosophical equation I have set up has many conditions that must first be satisfied. I'm simply saying that, in the abstract, if we are to posit a proper equality, it must be based on proper principles, like the laws of physics.
Good grace, in any situation, suggests that you should only hit people who aren't markedly weaker than you. For most men, this excludes most women. But if someone is stronger and more aggressive – leaving aside the question of whether violence itself can sometimes be justified – you are well within your rights to have a go and bop them on the nose, be they man or woman. We must do so because logic compels us to, and our feminism can only survive it it is logical. So let's shuck off that other stereotyping cliché – that only men are good at logic – by embracing our right to hit and be hit.