A men's rights activist at a rally in Toronto
There is a man on Twitter who campaigns for the rights of men. He even writes articles for the Daily Mail about the rights of men, and petitions high-profile women about their cruel disregard for the feelings of men. I’m not going to link to him, because I really don’t want to troll the poor chap – it sounds like his life is hard enough already. I mean, as a man, especially a smartly-dressed white man, he’s clearly an endangered species – as you can see from a quick look down his timeline.
Look, there he is arguing with the Labour MP Stella Creasy about the education of boys, how could she be so cruel as to be talking about empowering girls. And next he’s complaining to Janice Turner, a columnist in the Times, that she said mean things about some men being useless, the sexist pig. After that he’s putting the popstar Lily Allen to rights about her songs that could hurt the sexual confidence of men. How could you Lily, you brute?
He’s not the only one. The men’s movement, as it’s known, is currently A Thing. I keep seeing it everywhere – magazine articles about masculinity, how to do it, how to embody it. The Telegraph with its new men’s blogs page, full of Oasis and tips on gentlemanliness and a distinct lack of recipes, unlike their women’s equivalent. (Do men not eat food?) ES magazine with its recent men’s special issue. A somewhat radical group called Mens Rights Movement with a website called A Voice For Men: Humanist Counter-Theory in the Age of Misandry. 'Cos yep, that’s what we’re currently living in. The Age of Misandry – which means, the age of hating men.
Naturally, I agree with them. I really do! Men in this country have suffered long enough, and it’s high time there was a political crusade to defend their rights. Don’t even think about saying that there is already such a forum for those men, and it’s called The House of Commons, deftly accompanied by the House of Lords. Don’t even think about suggesting that other countries have men’s movements, too – in fact, there’s a great one in Afghanistan called the Taliban – oh, you joker! And look, just because even the Labour Party have to use all female shortlists in half their seats, to save themselves from total male domination – well, so what.
And just because the shortlists thing says something about the racial balance of parliament, as well as the gender one, and just because 85 percent of high court judges are male, and just because – on an entirely unrelated note – only one in 30 rapes leads to an actual conviction – meaning 29 out of 30 times you can just rape someone and get away with it, while their life slowly and quietly crumbles – well, YOU KNOW. People are dishonest, and people are drunk. Obviously.
Not to go mad with the statistics here, but just because two women in this country die at the hands of their partner every week, (that’s two women, murdered by their man, every week) – well, those are mad people, aren’t they?
No, but seriously. Twitter guy actually made me delighted, when I realised that all these women on his timeline were so much more powerful than him, and that he was just sat there, shitting himself that the empire he thought he'd inherit is over now. That the game is up. That the women are taking over.
We live in interesting times; Despite all the stats I just gave you, women are on the up. And I’m fascinated that a million years of misogyny have disturbed these men so little that about 20 minutes of female power going in the opposite direction is the drama of their lives. I love the idea that, the minute things swing in the opposite direction, women – feminists – must now behave unimpeachably. “YOU ARE BEING SEXIST TOO!!!” they bark. It’s a bit like taking somebody who’s been starving for months to an all-you-can-eat buffet. And then looking very, very disapproving when they don’t exercise restraint and stop after the first slice of pizza and half a cucumber.
Of course women are going to get a bit drunk on power – these aren’t the last days of Rome, they feel like the first ones to me. It may have started decades ago, but we’re currently charging through the streets, smashing and grabbing at power – bosh! Yes, there’s going to be a bit of fallout before actual equality is reached. The pendulum of power is going to swing a bit too far before it settles in the middle at last. (One of these men’s rights campaigners complained about the objectification of men in films like Magic Mike – you know, the film in which the whole point was that it was male strippers, men being objectified up there on stage, with women slipping dollar bills slipping inside their pants, turning the tide on most of human history – how did that make them feel? THAT WAS THE FRIGGING JOKE, YOU GREAT WAZOO.)
The fact remains that if I passed a man on a dark night in a narrow alleyway it would probably be me whose heartbeat quickened at the thoughts of how this could end up, what could be done, what has already been done. So suck it up.
I’ll tell you what this all reminds me of – a man I once saw in the street in Hong Kong. A white guy in a very Chinese part of town, a year after the handover back to Chinese rule had happened, when a lot of the Brits had gone home. This man hadn’t. He was big and burly with the sort of red face that only years of drinking can give you. In fact he looked like the wrestler Big Daddy. “I . HAVE. HAD. ENOUGH.” he bellowed, each word spaced out like that; weighted like bricks. His face just fixed forwards, just staring ahead with a thousand-mile gaze like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, about to cause damage.
Except, he didn’t cause damage. It was rush hour, and he was in the entrance to a subway station, and so people were just milling past him back and forth and nobody was paying him any attention at all. Chinese culture doesn’t reward you for making a scene, and colonialism was over, and he was just some stupid gweilo shouting, and nobody cared any more. I just watched him. Feeling very sorry for him but also thinking how, in another context, he could have made me feel afraid.
The men’s movement makes me think of that guy, shouting into the wind as if he could make it apologise for blowing.
Follow Sophie on Twitter: @heawood
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