“NOT ALL MEN”

I’m about to embark on an impossible blog post.

But after a week of chaos; the Government finally imploding, a light dusting of snow in the midlands no doubt causing train delays until July and PETA releasing a video this morning of old men thrusting their aubergines dicks to music, I might as well crack on.

The internet has well and truly gone bananas (and carrots, and parsnips), and I have nothing to lose.

My voice will echo around the vacuum for a moment, before my cries become part of the chaotic chorus; omniscient and utterly forgettable.

So fuck it.

I want to talk about the sentence du jour. The battlecry of the few men who haven’t yet fallen for this fickle feminist nonsense. The obligatory response of anyone who has ever enjoyed a cold beer, to any hint of a criticism, ever.

I want to talk about the sentence: NOT ALL MEN.

As a feminist, a self-proclaimed, i-make-my-living-out-of-it kind, no less, these are words that I hear an awful lot.

Whether it’s because I spend a lot of time scouring my Twitter feed on the hunt for injustice or just because I live very close to a football ground; the inevitable response from men with their heckles up is one I have heard so many times before.

If I’m being totally honest, and ballsy, and OK with the fact that I will be forced into hiding after publishing this and facing the Twitter wrath that follows: I’d go so far as to say that I’ve heard that sentence more than I’ve had the door held open for me.

Chivalry, it seems, comes with conditions.

The most prevalent being that masculinity must be protected at all costs.

We can have what we want, us women folk, but not at the cost of men and men’s rights and that’s non negotiable.

I will interject here and say that I am writing this slightly with my tongue in my cheek. I am also, for what it’s worth, at saturation point with it all. I am awash with a strange combination of apathy and a burning desire to find a cult of the elusive femi-nazis and kick my heels with them for a few years until the battle is over.

I’ve never felt like this before.

My feminism is evolving. And it’s tiring actually. It’s a tiring process. Trying to stay true to my beliefs and make measured and formulated decisions about things that are so utterly ridiculous.

Are they important, these things that I’m worrying about? Will this minor twitter spat with an egg win the war for equality? Or am I better just to let the apathy soak me and any burning desires right out of me???

See, I never liked calling this a war.

I never saw the fight for equality as a war.

Perhaps I was naive, but I considered the patriarchy to be an illusive-being and our fight against it to be like the one we have with climate change.

Rather than picking up a pitch fork and going head-to-head with one group in particular, we were working to make sure that every individual did their bit. There was no GOOD and EVIL. There was just the quest to get us all singing from the same hymn sheet.

We all need to be on the same side, that’s how we’ll win.

That was always my reasoning, my thinking anyway.

But this week, that’s changed. For the first time, I do feel like it has become a battle, of sorts.

And I feel like it’s men on one side, and women on the other. And I hate that. But here we are.

Earlier this week, Gillette released an advert in which they called for an end to toxic masculinity. Note the word TOXIC here.

They weren’t asking customers to use their razors as a means of castrating themselves and feeding their man-parts to these barbarian female-folk. They weren’t saying that barbecues and beers were going to be banned under new regulations.

What they were saying, rather boldly and spectacularly, if you ask me, was that it was time for things to change.

It was time for the boys-will-be-boys attitude to stop, it was time that men were taught to fight with their words and not with their fists, it was time for men to call out the shitty behaviour of perpetrators of sexual harassment. What they were saying was that time was up.

They were asking men to be better.

Rebecca Reid wrote something great for the Telegraph about the advert and the subsequent reaction that is well worth a read, by the way.

As you can imagine, the reaction was spectacular.

Piers Morgan vowed to throw all of his Gillette products away. Boycotts were threatened. And the cries of NOT ALL MEN reverberated around the twittersphere like machine-gun fire in a tunnel.

HOW DARE THEY twitter seethed IMPLY THAT WE COULD BE BETTER.

IMAGINE, they implored, IF AN ADVERT WAS MADE THAT TOLD WOMEN THAT THEY HAD TO IMPROVE THEMSELVES.

It almost wasn’t worth getting involved in… almost.

The main concern of so many, I think, is that ‘all men’ are being tarnished with the same bad brush.

The Scarlett A emblazoned on their clothes as us women, delirious on power, threaten public floggings.

Drunk on power (and half a white wine spritzer because we’re terrible lightweights, famously) we would deem EVERY man guilty send every single one of them to prison, harassment or no harassment, they would not be allowed to pass go, they would not collect £200.

I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had about ‘this me too stuff‘ that has gone along the lines of; yes yes, obviously it’s terrible, but it’s getting a bit out of hand don’t you think? I’m scared to hug people I work with now just in case! I often wonder if they realise that I can hear, loud as a bell, the fear in their voices as they ask me this.

I think of all the times I asked my mum what would happen if ‘someone had hypothetically‘ done something bad, as if she didn’t know that hypothetical person was me. And I had always done that something bad.

We both know it, I don’t need to say it: if they haven’t done anything wrong then they’ve got nothing to worry about.

But that’s a conversation for another day.

The conversation online this week as been as predictable as it’s been exhausting. As is the way when you fight against something almost invisible, it would seem.

See, also in the news this week was the fact that upskirting, the act of taking a photo up a woman’s skirt (yes, it needs a name) has been made illegal (no, it wasn’t already).

Gina Martin was upskirted at a festival and, rather than do nothing, sitting silently as the shame burnt through her, like so many of us have had to do after instances of sexual harassment, she decided to fight for this to be made illegal.

This week, the bill was passed by government.

And whilst she was supported, actively, by a lot of men, she was sent a lot of abuse too.

As I scroll through Twitter again I see countless examples of sexual harassment and straight up abuse being sent to her.

I’m no detective. I’m not digging around the archives for this. It’s just there. Public. For anyone to see.

And it does leave me wondering; what do men think, when they see the kinds of messages she receives?

NOT ALL MEN, you understand, I know that most men would be shocked and disgusted and hopefully incensed enough to do something about it. But the men that cry NOT ALL MEN so often. What do they think?

Perhaps they reason that it’s not their place to get involved. That in the interest of equality they should leave a woman to fight her own battles. That they shouldn’t be held accountable for the actions of other men.

I’m sure as hell not held to account for the shitty behaviour of all other women, maybe there is some truth to their argument?

I can’t get into the intricacies of it here. Not because I don’t want to, but because I am simply not educated enough. I don’t know enough. I’m not sure enough of the answers.

But I have found this week fascinating.

Not just as an opportunity to observe the fragility of some forms of masculinity, which has become all too evident in recent days, but the kickback against eliminating the toxicity from it.

Why is there this resistance?

For a long time, men have got away with appalling behaviour. NO. Not all men. And yes, there are some really shitty women out there too. But it’s unavoidable. Undeniable.

And I think a lot of men have been really comfortable for a really long time. And the future for men, for the first time in a long time, looks a little uncertain.

Amongst what was not a bad batch, there have been some really fucking bad eggs. And the problem with bad eggs is that they smell something rotten. Put four good ones and one bad one into an omelette and the whole thing’s gotta go in the bin.

I can understand why the good eggs are panicking.

I just wish their panic took on a different form. A softer tone. A more conciliatory, diplomatic, let’s-roll-up-our-sleeves-and-fix-it type attitude.

Not every woman carries a pitchfork. Not every man therefore needs to carry a grenade launcher as a defence.

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