If you read my previous post you will have learnt that I am very slow on the uptake and behind with the times. Having to send hushed messages to my friends asking for explanations or nodding along in conversation, pretending to know who Post Malone is when your friend tells you she had a dream about him being her future husband (a quick Google told me that you need a new fantasy Jade!) Urban dictionary being a regular on my internet history and being a total Joey with his encyclopaedia’s, chucking in the odd reference to a Netflix series I watched for five minutes before falling asleep. And something that has of course been a hot topic of conversation among women since the Suffragettes lead the way as advocates for Women’s Rights in the late 19th early 20th centuries. Feminism has recently made its way into my life, although I feel not in the way it has for a lot of young women I read about and listen to.
First and foremost I do not consider myself a feminist. I have always been very much a bystander when the topic has been discussed, mostly due to the fact that I had no exposure to it as a child and teenager and have only really learned more about the subject since the age of about eighteen. I am now twenty one and the concept of Feminism is only just taking proper shape in my mind due to a shift in social media and my introduction to podcasts and other informative outlets. This topic has been on my mind a lot recently and I have waited to write about it because I wanted to organise my thoughts on the matter before I put them out there on le’ internet. So I’ve been wondering, is modern day feminism teaching us to hate men?
I have grown up almost totally in a man’s world. I was raised mostly by my Dad, whose influence, I know, will have had a massive effect on my thoughts of feminism and my attitude towards men. When I was a waitress nine out of ten of my bosses were male and now I work at sea the number of females dwindles even further, in fact for the past few weeks I have been the only female onboard in a crew of 25+, and may I add, the second to youngest member of crew with only a few months between my birthday and his. So I sit in the ‘coffee shop’ as we like to call it, the name of our little box room where excitement builds for ten o’clock ‘smoko’ (sailors term for break). The tabnabs (treats, cakes, biscuits, snacks etc.) will be brought out, shit coffee will be made and spilled and all will settle down for the all important crossword and quiz that has become so sacred a tradition amongst us all and he (or she) who dares interrupt will be publically whipped with a cat o’ nine tails on the aft deck. That may have been the most searfaring sentence I have ever written in my life, but forgive me I’ve been at sea for almost two months now. Anyway, I digress.
So yes, the people in my life are mostly male with the exception of my mum and a smattering of female friends and thankfully, the majority of these men have been my protectors. Having lived with my dad from the age of twelve onwards naturally meant that I had more of a male outlook on things although he was always very supportive and encouraging of my girly side as well. Being a well rounded and liberal fellow I was allowed to express myself however I wished so I never felt I had to suppress my femininity, however as I mull over this topic I wonder… if I been raised in a household with the influence of a woman would parts of me have flourished more? Would I be more maternal? Would I have stronger opinions on matters regarding women? Would I have more of an idea about what it means to be an ‘adult woman’ having had an example to follow? More of a guideline? I don’t know… these aren’t the types of questions that keep me awake at night, I’m perfectly fine with being a cry baby and loving a moisturise while simultaneously swearing like a trooper and dutch-ovening my mates when they’re being chirpy.
I must admit, I get a little bored sometimes of the hostility in which we have decided to regard the male race. Don’t get me wrong there are some real pigs out there and I am incredibly pleased that women are taking control of damaging situations and seeking justice for completely inappropriate behaviour. I am in full support of women fighting for equal pay, for the right to speak out and make important decisions, for the fair treatment of females in all walks of life. But I am growing weary of constantly hearing the male race as a whole be slated for the actions of a minority group of assholes. I think we all forget sometimes that men and women have different mindsets, for years it was seen as an unforgivable weakness for a man to have a ‘feminine side’, to be soft would entail years of back-alley bullying from testosterone fuelled adolescents whose very existence would pile on the pressure to be the ideal sportsman, to be a ladies’ man, to be funny and confident. As much as we talk about the unrealistic standards that women face, we must also remember that men, especially in recent years are also under huge amounts of pressure to be the ‘perfect guy’.
Older men are still learning and I’m very pleased to see that the majority of guys I meet are trying, even if it’s just small steps. I’m talking forty year old plus burly sailors listening to me when I tell them about loneliness and anxiety and them handling it extremely gently. When express my views on things they respect them and more often than not agree with me. I’m talking the guys offering me their jumpers when I’m cold, a seat whenever I walk in. I know that I could ask any one of these men on here for help and they would do whatever they could to assist me. And yes, they call me baby and darling and sweetheart and all these names that are being labelled as ‘degrading’ but these men have always used these as terms of endearment. They still have the teachings from their mothers and fathers that women shouldn’t lift heavy things or buy their own drinks, and I don’t think it’s because they think we can’t, but because they think we shouldn’t have to. All of these ideas come from a place of kindness, these teachings are from an instilled childhood belief that women should be cared for, and yes I know we can take care of ourselves, but isn’t it nicer to have someone looking out for you as opposed to throwing you out to the wolves and watching you struggle?
Amidst our rage against men, I personally feel that we totally overlook the manipulative behaviour of women. Due to things that have happened to me in my past I have a fear of strong women in positions of authority. If it’s an ignorant, overweight perv in his fifties making the odd comment about my bum it just washes straight over me, slimy but usually harmless. However women- they can be a whole other thing entirely. The sneakiness, the being two faced, the genuine nastiness- these qualities are found way more frequently in females. I have been absolutely ruined by female bosses whose unjust and spiteful actions have forced me to move and start a new life somewhere else. The cutting remarks made out of jealousy have severed my confidence and completely obliterated me in the past, leaving me friendless and fearful. And what scares me most about women is agenda; a woman can wear a facade of false kindness yet behind your back can be plotting ways to destroy you. Of course there are exceptions, but is it rarer to find in men the sort of ‘evil’ you would find in The Jealous Woman.
Of course, I am not denying that there are some absolutely vile men out there and when I listen to podcasts where the themes of sexual assault, rape, gaslighting etc. Are discussed I’m appalled and saddened that so many young women have had these experiences. I know things affect people in different ways and I would never ‘play down’ a situation based on my judgement of its severity, however I was just thinking about my personal experiences with both men and woman and I have to say I have been affected far greater by the mental abuse I’ve received from women as a opposed to the abuse I’ve received from men. I had a manager at a workplace tell me I look disgusting, tell me my hair and skin were a mess, that my life was a mess. He bit my neck, shoved me in the direction of tables, swore at me, made suggestive comments and constant sexual innuendo’s, but the whole time I just saw him as this sad little man without happiness in his life. His wife despised him, he had three kids with two different women, the oldest of which thought he was a knob, he was a forty five year old man who still worked in a cafe… his life was a shambles. So I was never frightened of him, I just viewed him as weak, like a yappy little dog that has been starved and whipped all his life; someone I could pity. Whereas the ‘strong woman’ I view as a monster. A tall, flaming figure of unpredictable horror capable of burning me to ash in seconds with its fiery tongue.
I listen to a lot of podcasts where topics of feminism are often discussed and I just think we are massively forgetting that men are also only human and that what we should be fighting for is equality, not just for the power of women. Often we expect these perfect guys whose unfaltering respect for women is commendable, their views 100% liberal, their language 100% PC. But I’m the first to admit that I can be disgustingly crude about men, I can be vulgar with my comments as can my friends and we constantly objectify men and judge them harshly. So to expect guys to constantly treat women with the upmost respect even when they’re with their pals, is a little far-fetched and unrealistic.
I always had male friends while I was growing up and when they would discuss their relationships with me I was always so shocked at the sheer amount of grief these girls would often give their boyfriends. Sorry no I can’t come out my girlfriend doesn’t like me being out past ten. No I can’t drink the Mrs doesn’t like it when I’m drunk. I can’t eat that, the Mrs will tell me off. I’m not allowed to wear things like that, she doesn’t like it. I’ve had guys tell me they feel extremely trapped by women who think it’s okay to control them, who turn them into spineless door mats. I’ve met women who tell me about a guy they’re seeing and then tell me all the ways in which they plan to ‘change them’ so that they are a more suitable partner. I’m sorry but how rubbish is that? We can’t expect men to accept us with our greasy buns and pre-period chin spots whining about this and that, if we can’t accept the fact that he likes wearing checked shirts and growing his beard, and that you telling him to do otherwise is unfairly altering his identity to fit your ideology.
I don’t know where we’ve acquired the idea that the female race is suddenly something superior, instead of constantly shaming men and blaming the everyday guy for mistakes that are being made in higher places, I think we should be putting more energy into building a stronger sense of community amongst all groups of people. Toning down the sensitivity with certain things and look harder into the place where the statement is coming from, is he being malicious? Or are his intentions good but his use of language poor. Remember that we are all still learning what is correct and incorrect. That uncomfortable or harmful behaviour from either sex is wrong, and that what we should ultimately be striving for is a place where everyone can reap the benefits of love, kindness and acceptance without fear of feeling inferior or inadequate.
‘No two leaves are alike, and yet there is no antagonism between them or between the branches on which they grow.’ M.K.Gandhi