Many women of my generation were strongly influenced by ideas coming from the feminist movement, they had a huge impact on Western culture and although it’s been railed against again and again has seen a marked change in the general attitudes in society.
Not many men think it’s okay for a woman to be paid less for doing the same job as a bloke. Not many men think women shouldn’t have the vote or should be covered from head to foot in public.
Not many people in our current world think it’s okay to be racist. Okay, a few footballers and their fans, but even that is now so out of order we all know about it and are duly appalled by such ignorance.
However, my generation of women gave birth to a generation of sons, some of whom have grown up to feel comfortable in the company of women, but some, as we are seeing more often, not.
‘Lad culture,’ if it exists outside the minds and headlines of shallow journalism is the childish boy kicking agains the mother. It’s nothing new, it’s been going on since we grunted about in caves. There was a recent story doing the rounds in the UK of a student magazine called ‘UniLad’ which ran a very offensive article describing the ‘sexual mathematics of, essentially, how to rape female students and get away with it. I’m sure who ever wrote the piece will claim it was a joke, it was for the bants. I don’t believe that for a moment, virtually every heterosexual man I have ever met, myself included, has said or thought similar things. Maybe not quite so overtly, certainly not so publicly, but the complexity and emotional maturity of young women is, and I say this from experience, very challenging to young men.
Boys love their mums, they’re scared of their mums, when they grow up they go out of the cave, meet other mum type people (women) who don’t behave as they expect, woman who have opinions and don’t stay still in an attractive pose like in a cave painting or a pornographic picture.
Women require men to access the more vulnerable parts of themselves, this can be disturbing if you are emotionally mature and stable, it’s bloody terrifying if you had a bitter angry mother and a weak retiring father and you don’t know what you’re mean to do and the women keep criticising you for being immature and stupid.
Suddenly it’s a great relief to hang around with other similarly befuddled young men and do all the things your feminist mum would really hate, getting drunk, shouting loudly at football matches, referring to women as ‘it’ or ‘that.’ Using the word cunt as a term of abuse, they’re just letting off steam, having a laugh, probably not at the expense of your black or Asian mates, but definitely at the expense of women.
And it’s just for the Bants. For banter, it’s a joke when you tell a woman you want to tie her wrists to her ankles so you and your mates can gang bang her, don’t get all moody love, it’s a joke.
‘I could spit roast that.’
I heard that choice phrase spoken by a well educated married man when he saw a pleasant looking young woman walk past. It’s for the bants. I laughed when I heard that, the laugh that says ‘that is so wrong.’ The laugh that leads to the question ‘What if someone said that about your daughter.’ The well educated married man’s confident face then folds into a mass of contradiction, then anger. ‘I’d kill anyone who touched my daughter.’
It’s nothing new, Russian soldiers who raped every woman they found as they invaded Berlin in 1945 would have been loving and respectful sons to their mothers, would have fought to defend the honour of their sisters. They were probably doing it for the Bants.
So what I have realised over my 55 years of interaction with women is men need to change. To put it simply, men need to finally, in the 21st century, actually grow up. Not cling to their childhood with all the strength they can muster, making tragic little boy excuses for their offensive behaviour and claiming it was a joke.
We’ve almost done it with racism, we are on the way to doing it with homophobia although I think we’ve got another 100 years or so before being gay truly isn’t a problem for anyone who isn’t.
We have, as the article in UniLad so aptly illustrated, haven’t even started to sort out how to live with women.
Living with a woman you love but will never understand is a constant challenge, it’s a never ending journey which challenges every fibre of your being. You can retreat into childish cruelty, that’s what most men do and women have had to learn how to tolerate such moronic attitudes, or you can grow up and be different but equal.
Pie in the sky fantasy? Sadly for some time yet, I fear the answer is yes.