Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 24 Jan 2015, and is filled under Uncategorized.

Masculinity

During the First World War and to a much bigger extent during the Second World War, women found themselves doing jobs that had previously been done by men. Little as I know about sociology, it seems to have been the catalyst for real social change as the idea that women were capable and wholly fit for the world of paid work was revealed – although women must have known this forever.

Women coming into what was conventionally seen as a series of male-dominated environments meant that a wholesale redefinition of what society saw as ‘being a woman’ meant. Today the idea that working on a factory shop floor, in an office or any one of a number of roles is ‘unwomanly’ seems bizarre and unearthly. Is that paramedic who treated you during your heart attack less of a woman? Is that police officer who prosecuted that murderer less of a woman? Preposterous.

Inside this was an opportunity. Men could have seen this wholesale redefinition and thought ‘great’. We could have looked at jobs like nursing or primary school teaching and thought that as we’d secretly always been interested in looking after sick people or in helping to inspire children for a productive happy life. This was our time.

Only it wasn’t. Instead, we retreated, we settled on a version of what it means to be a man that was out of date and outmoded if it had ever been true at all. There was the sniggering at women who thought they could lead us, which I’ve seen myself at close quarters, there was the laddish talk that someone was probably a lesbian, as though lesbians aren’t women, and that eternal favourite, the refusal to take them seriously in any but the most ‘traditional’ contexts.

What we’re left with is a world that is getting smaller by the day. Sure, men can laugh at women and mock them, but that one you don’t take seriously? She’s your boss. That woman you talked to about your mortgage will decide whether or not you get to buy a house. And that woman who sits in the Houses of Parliament? She’s making your laws.

In fact, gents, what we have here is some sexist jokes. And that’s it. If you want to know just where this ends up, it’s the blokes who sent pictures of Page Three models to their opponents on Twitter and via email. In fact, if they wanted to flag up their own impotence, their own irrelevance and the extent to which they knew the narrative had changed, this was it.

Every person who sent and shared those pictures is a three dimensional person who feels the need to act, in public, like an idiot. They’re acting like this because somewhere on their journey through life they thought it was a way to get through, a way to hide their fears and insecurities and convince other people that they had this sussed.

You know what? You can stand down. Depression made me drop the pretence and it made me see it for the self-limiting set of deceits that it was all the time. I’m really scared. And admitting that I’m scared doesn’t mean that I’m killed by ninjas who leap out of the bushes. It means that I’m free to talk about the stuff that scares me and admit that I’m a real, live actual person and not some things that someone else told me about being a man.

So. There need to be a massive recognition that we have been, to date, massive arses who allowed ourselves to be limited by our own sense of us and our own need to tell people who had broken out of that they couldn’t or shouldn’t or that we didn’t like it. I own the fact that I’ve done this in the past just as I own the fact that I’m trying my arse off to change. Whatever the future looks like for men, it can’t look like the past.

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