In honour of the dead men I knew and following a little of the exuberance shown by journalists like Martin Daubney for International Men’s Day rubbing off on me, I’m going to do something I don’t do often and share a little of what makes me, as a big angry primitive male, tick.
I hope my ramblings on feminists, suicide and rape are not too off topic, but maybe personal experience can explain how some men get to where they end up.
Feminists scare me
I first encountered ‘feminism’ approximately 25 years ago, at University in Northern Ireland. I was a young ‘country boy’, not used to the sheer volume of fast-moving people and in awe at the varied range and individuality of the buzz all around me. I’d never seen half of the nationalities close up before, let alone have them as classmates. I’d also never seen so many pretty girls all in one place, bar the odd trip to the bright lights of Belfast on a Saturday night, although different back then as we went out as groups of lads for safety (not the best way to get noticed or mingle with girls in clubs).
Perhaps I had bitten off more than I could chew at that stage of my life. I was working my first full time job in an office alongside 8 middle-aged women (no men, except upstairs in another office), one I started as a fresh 18 year old. I learned not to blush too much when they had fun at my expense. In fact, I’d say those ladies taught me a lot about the intricacies of handling ‘feisty’, independent women and holding my own when talking to such magnificent beasts.
At University, which I attended on a full day release plus a couple of evenings per week, everything moved very quickly, everyone seemed in a rush. I grew up in a small village, in a large family (6 older sisters amongst the crew of 10), during a rough time in Northern Ireland’s history. We tended to be slow to interact with strangers, limited in conversation as we shared nothing personal or of value, and secretive in a self-preserving kind of way. University was a mental wasp-hive of activity the first time I landed there, people rushing around all over the place and a flurry of action everywhere I looked.
What you need for background here is that I’d never seen a coloured person until I was about 14 years old. I’d only ever met 1 gay person, who actually shot himself in the head aged 14 or 15, until I went to University aged about 20.
Anyway, back to my encounter with an angry feminist. Not a fortnight had gone past at University before I had one bawling me out publicly in the corridor. I was reared holding women up on a pedestal and taught they had to be treated differently than men. It was drummed into me that it was wrong to raise your voice too loudly even when angry at a woman and I had been convinced that the basic aggression we were all required to have at that time was not to be on display towards women in any situation. I can safely say, in all my years, I never raised my voice to my mother once (I’m big, it scared her, so I did not do it). My sisters I may have had fall-outs with, but any physical action I was always in receipt of. I bear a few scars inflicted by angry women growing up.
I made the mistake during my virginal first weeks at University, although failed to see how at the time, of holding the door open for a woman who was coming along the corridor behind me. The woman in question waited until she reached the door I was holding, then stood there bawling at me in the middle of a packed corridor of people I was far from sure of. She appeared to take some sort of umbrage at the fact I had chosen to hold the door open, making a point that she felt I was demeaning her as a woman in some fashion, simply because I held the door.
The lady had no idea what I was thinking, she pre-judged and lashed out verbally, putting me in a position which would have ended much differently, had she been a man. I would, in all honesty, still have held the door had it been a man following me. I thought that basic polite behaviour meant this was normal and I was merely trying to display some common courtesy in a situation where I was trying very hard to fit in.
I will freely admit, I have raised my hands to many men over the years, thankfully not something that happens often nowadays, but I have managed to adhere to my strict upbringing as far as never including women in such an altercation. Many times during a troubled youth I have been involved in a fracas or other, only to end up with a woman (usually the partner of an opponent at the time) laying into me physically or with a serious tongue-lashing, certainly not helping with the problem at hand. I have always handled the situation properly (as I saw it then), sometimes having to accept some additional damage as a result, but walking away with my head held high that I had acted properly with regards to the woman. The man in such situations was ‘fair game’, sometimes receiving a blow or two more than he would have, had his girlfriend or partner not decided to intervene on his behalf.
I will admit also, in some altercations during my early socialising life, I have struck a man simply because of the behaviour of his partner, being unable to display such anger towards a woman. There is no way to excuse or explain this really, you probably had to grow up when/where I did to understand that violence was a part of life and you either partook or were walked all over. There were no pacifists amongst the regulars in any bar I frequented.
This raving angry person, in the middle of a busy University corridor, was quite a new breed of rage altogether. I had nothing in my arsenal which I could call upon to deal with this situation. I preferred, and still do, to blend into a crowd rather than to be the one ‘noticed’. I also had the problem that this was a woman, so I was limited in the responses I could give.
Had this been a man, I would probably (at that time of my life) have taken him by the throat and gently explained to him why shouting at me and embarrassing me publicly was not conducive with him walking away unblemished. A mere removal of air for a few moments, a mildly warming handprint around his neck, an aggressive answer given a mere centimetre from his face, usually got one’s point across with most men. Alas, this beast with spiked hair, rolled up sleeves, and a huge and extremely active mouth was, in fact, a (taboo) woman.
I took as much of her tongue-lashing as I could, dealing with a blind panic running through me, but reluctant to allow my insecurity to be put on display for an ever-increasing audience. I already had a ‘chip’ on my shoulder, coming from a relatively lower social class than most I saw around me and having been limited mostly to fields, trees and the company of a group of friends I’d known since birth. This woman was directly in my face, giving me full on aggression, getting louder and louder by the second.
I did (what I saw as) all I could do, in fact I’d not change much about my response even today. I slammed the door towards her and told her in no uncertain terms to “f**k off”. I timed the door closing to ensure she was not going to be caught in the gap, choosing the moment she had taken a step backwards to try to draw some other nearby women into the fray.
I did look aggressive. I was angry, but I felt I had diffused the situation as best I could without anyone coming out the worse for wear. I had failed to acknowledge that a large proportion of the people milling around in that vicinity were on a similar timetable to myself, sharing many classes. I was automatically branded as a trouble-maker, someone not to get too close to as I was possibly a bit too aggressive. I found myself taking twice as long as it would/should have taken to make sufficient friends and class acquaintances as to gain the full effect of what University life has to offer.
Having come through Grammar School alone, being the first of my large family to attend, and only one of two from my village during my generation, I was actually annoyed that I was facing a similar time at University. My first few days there were spent walking the corridors, watching and enjoying a diverse mix of people I’d only ever really seen on TV. After my run in with ‘Spike the Nutty Feminist’, I found myself alone again, preferring to keep my head down and give little acknowledgement to the goings on around me. My own self-confidence took a knock, I felt like I was an angry adolescent placed into a room full of ‘toffs’, people who would judge me and belittle me the moment they discovered me to be the fake I was.
This all sounds like I am a bit of a whinger, what would be described back home in the day as a ‘big Jessie’, which is actually far from the truth. At 18, I was fully grown, have been the same size and weight ever since. I’m a looming, dark, 6’ 4” tall man with a few minor battle scars to attest to the fact that I was maybe not as soft as some around me. I had been brought up to be independent, to defend myself and my gaggle of sisters against what was a dire and cruel world to our view. Where I lived, amongst the lads, those who were most respected were handiest with their fists. I don’t want to paint a picture of savages, there were strict rules on what was, and was not, acceptable behaviour, bullying was frowned upon and loyalty/trust hard-earned but life-saving in certain predicaments. The threat of violence was always around, but the very threat of it seemed to diminish it’s occurrences.
Since that time, I’ve learned to avoid what I recognised as being militant feminism. I saw it then merely as those who would throw such minor distractions as a held door in your face and try to turn everything into a ‘man vs. woman’ argument. I have learned, moreso since entering the world of Social Media, the militants amongst the feminist movement have taken their battle to a whole new level of extremity.
Today’s topic of choice for many, on Twitter in particular, is International Men’s Day. Twitter is alight with humorous memes, man-baiting feminists and peppered with a few men of noble intentions trying to draw attention to more sombre aspects of masculinity they feel are being overlooked.
The more ‘liberal’ press jump into the fray, with articles berating men for having ‘a day’ in the first place, suggesting men are the problem and women the solution, as if Mother Nature had decided it was time we became enemies, rather than complement each other as initially intended.
“We need International Men’s Day about as much as white history month, or able body action day”
I see the words misogyny, rapist, patriarchy, chauvinist, etc., all hurled at men, in very generalised terms, by the new breed of militant feminists appearing in our press nowadays. These are words I’ve only really begun to understand recently, never having really heard them before in normal conversation.
Gender is an oppressive social construction in which women are constructed as subordinate & men, dominant #smashthepatriarchy
— Charlotte Proudman (@CRProudman) November 16, 2015
The ‘rape’ thing
I’ve been brought up to actually despise those who commit such atrocities as rape or sexual assault, to see them as sub-human, vermin. Where I was brought up, it would be perfectly socially acceptable to kill or maim a sex offender, in fact according to circumstance, it could be a respected action. I see men who think raping women, exerting the power such a vile crime apparently gives a perpetrator, as hideous creatures, not worthy of the basic Human Rights even afforded to a run-of-the-mill murderer. Even prisoners in UK jails refer to themselves as ODC (ordinary decent criminals) as an identifier, to separate themselves from the sex offenders.
“Need some reasons why we don’t need International Men’s Day? Allow me to enlighten you”
(somehow annoyed over ‘rape threats’ and associating these with International Men’s Day)
I am repulsed and dismayed when all men are referred to as potential rapists, as if this was something we all consider. This seems to be the view held by a strange band of militant feminists currently invading social media and even some of the more foolish press.
To feel I am being called a rapist is up there with one of the worst insults you could probably level at me, one which bites just that little bit deeper, given I was brought up to hold women on a pedestal. Having been involved with more than one victim of such a horrible crime, without sharing any details other than the crime still festers mentally, the criminal still someone I’d happily despatch of this earth, I take particular offence at being classed as a potential rapist.
The effect such a throw-away comment can have on a prehistoric man, such as myself, can be horrific. I personally would no longer stop to give a lift to a single woman, unless really well known to me. I would nowadays be extra careful when meeting up with a woman for the first time in a bar, especially if this is migrating to something physical later in the evening. I would never have walked home and left a woman, stranger or not, to walk alone at night. Nowadays I would, unless they were well known to me. I limit the number of times I actually get involved physically with women I don’t know well, which is not good for a single man at all. I would no longer put myself in the position where I’m left alone with a woman often, even in a work situation, which could leave me open to any accusations down the line. My old tradition of waking up in a strange house on a Sunday morning, asking whether to turn left or right to reach civilisation when I go outside, before finally doing the standard ‘walk of shame’ home, is a thing of the past. Nowadays I just cannot see a drunken sexual encounter as anything other than a potential accusation at a later date.
I am what the feminists would call misogynistic, chauvinistic and generally a bit of a shit. I talk to women as equals but I ignore their emotions and feelings equally, as I would any man. I know some people, when they hook up for the first time, think they are all in love and going to be together always, but that just isn’t me. I’m great fun for a fortnight, then women realise I’m not acting and what they see is pretty much all they are ever going to get.
I am emotional, but only to a point. I am respectful, I am generous, I am also very friendly, but I retain control over any emotions, always have and always will. I don’t cry, I am unable to I assume, because I’ve been in many situations where most are crying but it never seems to be something I do. I have never really understood how crying helps a situation, although I’ve been convinced by many that it apparently does.
I see women as equals in most things, but I have an attitude whereby I’d be more inclined to enter protective mode with a woman than a man, so I suppose I do treat the genders slightly differently (but hopefully not in a bad way). Perhaps it comes from fending off unwanted advances towards 6 older sisters by random idiots, dealing with those who would dare to overstep my own ‘acceptable behaviour’ lines. Perhaps it comes from being a bit sheltered from urban lifestyle and attitude in my early life. Perhaps I’m just a caveman really. Regardless of reasons, I am what I am, and it certainly does not involve anything that could be construed as a hazard to women in any way.
I do, however, take serious offence at the rape allegation being applied to all men. Those capable of such actions are not men of any type I recognise, they are a cancer which I’d happily stamp on if come across. I’m not saying that as a bully-boy comment, more helping you understand that some of us were brought up to view such people as monsters, not sick or in need of any help.
This is the elephant in the room, the taboo subject for male conversation and probably the main reason for the promotion of International Men’s Day in the first place.
“Male University of York Student Commits Suicide on Day His University Ditches International Men’s Day After Pressure From Feminists” Breitbart (Penned by the most excellent Milo Yiannopoulos, a worthy read at any time)
Suicide rates amongst men are not often discussed, but are shocking when looked at for the first time. Men have many problems associated with upbringing, with masculinity as we were taught it, with sharing the thoughts that need rationalised before they turn into a fatal action.
In the past 15 years, I have lost 7 (some lifelong) male friends to suicide, one or two the type of ‘best friend’ a man can only have from childhood. To describe our relationship would not involve anything outwardly loving, but every one of them knew I’d take a bullet for them and vice versa. Of the 7, there were 2 in particular whereby I feel an intervention could have been possible, if we had been more capable of talking through some of the normal taboo subjects involving feelings and emotions.
Each of these suicides has defined my life. Each of them has cut deep and caused me to isolate myself just a little more each time. Each time a man loses a friend, but is aware he could/should have done more to reach out, he carries that guilt. Guilt has a profound effect on one’s life.
I am still friendly with 7 different families, all of which have an underlying sadness running throughout their lives, caused by the suicide of a brother, a son or a father. I used to go for a drink with some other friends on anniversaries of friends deaths, reminiscing and remembering times gone past, but there are simply too many dead now, this would be impractical.
Guilt and grief tend to present themselves to a man in such a private manner, the only tool he has to counter it is isolation. The peer pressure to keep emotional anguish to yourself is a serious threat to the well-being of vulnerable men, men who have problems which coiuld be helped.
Each of my friends who committed suicide had a problem or two which could be seen as a trigger, some were quite heavy drinkers and acted when liquored up, something they might not have actually went through with sober. Each and every one of them had problems which were solvable, if only we knew how to talk them through and get to the root of the problem itself. If these men, all alpha males in their own right, had known how to reach out for the help they needed, felt comfortable enough that they would not be derided for their weakness, felt someone might actually understand the things which were troubling them so badly, then maybe one or maybe all would still be here today, making the world a brighter place.
So, whilst I’m not really the whining, pitiful, ex-thug I have painted myself during this ramble, I am capable of recognising that we need to offer something more to men than we currently do. If we wish to address this tragic loss of life (12 men per day in the UK is the current figure being stated) then we need to welcome the debate that days like International Men’s Day opens up.
I don’t want men taught to ‘open up’ from an early age. I certainly don’t want them crying into a pint when I’m out on a Saturday night. I don’t want them getting any further in touch with their feminine side (I’m trying to keep up with this phenomenon, but it’s quicker than me).
I do, however, want something done to give men an OUT, somewhere to go to offload some of this mentally harrassing stuff, the stuff which festers and cancerously destroys their very reason.
So ladies, we men do actually believe in equality. Personally, I think women are a little more equal and am happy enough with that. Consider the man in your life though, and ensure he has a place to vent, but ultimately to reach out for help.
And now for something a little different, humour. Remember when men and women used to share it?