It’s the done thing these days to bash men. Historically men – white, heterosexual, Western men in specific – have always been the elite, they’ve trampled over every other demographic in the world and reigned supreme for hundreds of years. They’ve invaded every nation under the sun, they’ve formed exclusive clubs, they’ve bullied and discriminated and generally made sure that everyone who wasn’t like them was thoroughly downtrodden.
Well no more, those men are finally getting what was coming to them.
Admit it, you just laughed. You’ve probably seen that cartoon before: you might have shared it, liked it on Facebook or Pinned it. You’re probably debating copying it and sharing it right now. That right click is a dangerous weapon.
No-one thinks about how detrimental such cartoons really are. Can you imagine the reverse, an image of a 1950s man in a natty pinstripe saying he was looking for a sensitive women – one who cries when he slaps her? Can you imagine the furore if you posted such an image on a social networking platform?
When did it become cool to bash men?
I know the old argument – it basically says that men deserve what they’re getting; they’re being punished for the wrongs committed by their forebears. You can’t discriminate against those in the majority. They can take it because they’re, well, men. They’re not going to get upset or offended if everyone laughs at them. They have no right to get upset or offended.
Not cool, ladies. Seriously not cool.
I was reading a discussion in an internet forum the other day that left my blood cold. It was among a group of straight women, talking about their husbands/boyfriends. It was all lighthearted, all a little bit of fun. They were comparing notes about how smelly they were; how gross and disgusting their bodies and odours and habits were. Some of them claimed not to wash their clothes with their husband’s because they were convinced that there would be some kind of irreparable odour transfer.
But I bet they still let those men put their dicks inside them.
Not to be crude, but if the guy is really so gross that you can’t bear to wash your clothes together, how the hell do you bring yourself to let him fuck you? Because, of course, his clothes aren’t really that gross. He’s probably actually perfectly clean and hygienic. It’s just funny to say that he smells – because, y’know, he’s a man, and all men smell – and it becomes a little game of one-upmanship, my man’s grosser than yours.
Just stop and imagine what those poor men would feel if they saw what their wives were saying about them. Imagine, the woman you love leaves her computer screen open. You glance over the conversation and see that she’s telling a group of strangers that you smell so badly that she can’t bring herself to wash your clothes together. I imagine that would be pretty devastating. Why didn’t she say something? Am I really that repulsive? Does she hate me?
How to create a neurotic in two seconds flat. Never mind that not washing your clothes with someone else’s – washing, the clue’s in the name – is completely neurotic in its own right.
That kind of unthinking cruelty is one thing, but more alarming than that is the firm belief among certain (American) women that men’s bodies are nicer if they’ve been mutilated a little bit. I’m talking circumcision. There’s a backlash in America at the moment against the automatic circumcision of male babies. The medical profession is digging in its heels and fighting it with everything they’ve got – after all, it’s a relatively quick and simple procedure to perform and it earns them a tidy fee. Moving away from the religious mandate to circumcise baby boys, this is a procedure routinely performed in the US on boys of all denominations.
Now I don’t care how you want to dress this up, circumcision is genital mutilation. That’s the cold, hard truth of the matter. The practice of female circumcision among certain, predominantly African, cultures is met with shock and horror across the globe. It’s a practice condemned by every other society, by every humanitarian and feminist organisation in the world. It’s described in the most emotive terms, because female circumcision (or Female Genital Mutilation as it’s frequently known – see they get that terminology right) is a truly horrific practice. Not only does it involve the cutting or complete amputation of the clitoris, but often the vagina is sewn up, meaning that it has to be split open every time the woman copulates or gives birth. Not nice. Not nice at all.
And yet the same Stepford housewives who would recoil in horror at the mere mention of such a barbaric practice happily submit their infant sons to a similar procedure, and prefer their male partners to be cut. Foreskins are alien, strange, dirty – again with that adjective.
The medical profession argues that circumcision prevents the spread of disease – HIV in specific. Yet I know of numerous cut tops (and heterosexuals) who’ve contracted the disease through intercourse. The argument that circumcision prevents the contraction of HIV is a seriously misguided and downright dangerous one. The only thing that prevents HIV is using protection, and even that’s not foolproof. But this is not the time or place for me to go into some of my conspiracy theories regarding the American medical profession. Suffice to say, there’s little incentive to alter a practice that proves lucrative.
Men are simple creatures. Give them sex and beer and sport and they’re happy. Lay them right the first time and you can walk on them for 20 years. Women hold the ultimate power over men, because they get to decide if and when they give it up. This kind of reverse-perspective, that says women are the powerful ones after all because they’re the ones who have what men really want, is very popular.
I understand the appeal of it. Women – historically belittled and downtrodden by men – really hold all the power. They can manipulate men, they can control them with something as simple as sex. Give a man a blowjob and he’ll do whatever you say. Such thinking is a way of regaining control, of creating the illusion of being in charge. Moreover it’s funny – men think they’re in charge because we let them.
It reduces the relationship between the sexes to one of blackmail and barter. I want shoes, he wants a blowjob. He wants to go on a fishing weekend with his buddies, I want jewellery. It’s shallow and superficial and detrimental to the specific relationships between individual men and women – as seen in the above example of how your husband would feel if he found you telling strangers on the internet that he was smelly.
Moreover, it’s infantile. We’ve all got pet peeves about our partners, but there is no need to turn them into some men vs women battle royale. Ladies, you’re supposed to like men. Not just because they take the bins out, but because they’re fascinating, complex creatures. If you turned what you were saying on its head and found it offensive when directed at women, then what makes you think it’s acceptable to say it about men?
It never fails to astound me how foul straight women are about men. Not just poking a little bit of fun at their expense, but downright cruel and aggressive. Jokes about committing acts of violence against men abound. They’re so ubiquitous that we don’t even notice them most of the time.
Modern feminism has got it wrong. Equality isn’t about bashing men, treating them the way they have historically treated us – see how they like it. I thought we – as a species – were more mature than that. Your modern white, straight, Western man is paying a heavy price for everything that every man who came before him did wrong.
Don’t misunderstand me. Historically men have behaved with a sense of entitlement that was as breathtaking as it was arrogant and misguided. But I don’t think that every man alive today should be penalised for that. By propagating the myth that men are somehow lesser creatures – simple-minded, easy to manipulate and uncivilised (because cleanliness is next to godliness) – women are enabling the routine abuse of the male body and male psyche.
We all know the stories about the madwoman in the attic, that curiously Victorian invention. Women driven insane by being continually belittled and suppressed by the men in their lives. Asylums used to teem with such women, who today wouldn’t be considered mad at all. They were lobotomised, their genitals mutilated in a bid to control them, they were robbed of their autonomy and force-fed chemical coshes to keep them quiet.
Is that really so different from the way we currently treat men? Suicide rates are at their highest among men aged 17-24 – in part, no doubt, because they’re expected to ‘be men’, to bottle up their emotions and ‘just get on with it’. Increasingly, young men struggle to live up to what is expected of them. Their partners expect their genitals to be cut – for what purpose? For some strange idea of aesthetics? It recalls foot-binding in Chinese cultures; equally bizarre and equally damaging.
In our enlightened times, female sexuality is something to be celebrated – women demand that their partners satisfy them in bed. A lover who leaves a women unfinished is a pretty poor partner. Yet circumcision affects a man’s sensitivity and restricts movement, making it more difficult for him to enjoy sex.
If we want 50% of the population to grow up damaged, we’re going the right way about it. I’d like to see a day when equality meant just that – not one of the sexes coming out on top in some eternal battle that’s been waged since time began, but an honest sense of mutual respect and understanding between the genders. When we don’t want to modify the bodies of the opposite sex, when we stop hiding behind outmoded behavioural mores on the one hand (you can’t hit me, I’m a woman) and advocating the exact opposite on the other (a sensitive man – one who cries when I slap him).
And if you think I’m over-reacting, that it’s all just a bit of fun and that it doesn’t really mean anything, just stop and think honestly for a second about how you’d react if you heard any of the following:
– Women are like fish – neither would get in trouble if they kept their mouths shut.
– How can you tell if your woman is happy? Who cares?
– When would you want a woman’s company? When she owns it.
– Why do only 10% of women believe in Heaven? Because if they all went, it’d be Hell.
– What do you call a woman with an opinion? Wrong.
– Why doesn’t it matter how many times a married woman changes job? She’ll still have the same boss.
– What does it mean when there’s a woman in your bed, gasping and calling your name? You didn’t hold the pillow down for long enough.
– What’s the smartest thing a woman can say? “My husband says…”
– Why do little girls whine? Because they’re practicing to be women.
– Don’t break a woman’s heart, she only has one. Break her bones instead, there’s over 200 of those!
Yeah, not so funny now, is it?
Kate Aaron is the bestselling author of contemporary and fantasy gay romances.
Find all her books on Amazon