Hey, I’m not going to woman’s plain feminism to the readers of Esquire! That’s not happening on my watch! You’re sophisticated, 21st century men with a copy of the El Bulli cookbook, a timeless pair of investment brogues and a couple of Joni Mitchell albums — for when you want to sit in your leather armchair, and have a little, noble, necessary man-cry.
You don’t need me lecturing you — because you’re not hanging out the back of a bus shouting “CLUNGE!” at a bunch of terrified 15-year-old girls. You’ve got sisters, mothers, lovers — female friends and colleagues — and you’ve never once gone up to any of them shouting, “Blimey! You don’t get many of those to the pahnd!” while honking on their breasts, in the manner of Sid James. You’re down with the sisterhood. You’ve got eyes. You know what’s going on out there. You’ve noted that while society’s happy for a famous man to age, and become distinguished, and generally wander around looking like a fucking wizard, the women generally still seem to be 20 years younger, and standing there on the cover of magazines, all like, “Oh! My clothes… they fell off!” EVEN IF IT’S DAME JUDI DENCH.
You know the pay disparity; still 20 per cent less for women in this country, and not a single prosecution, even though it’s literally illegal. You know babies come out of vaginas and it fucking stings, and that the vaginas are having a hard time anyway, what with all the waxing they get. (That’s £20 a pop, my friend. Every single month. Just to feel normal. It’s basically VAT on your minge. Imagine if you had to get your bum-hole stripped every 30 days — lest the mean girls at school corner you on the bus home and go, “I’ve heard you’re like Catweazle down there. Someone who fingered you said it was like diddling a Gonk. Ugh.”)
You’ve seen Amy Schumer’s brilliant, edgy sketches on contraception and rape, and laughed along with them. You’ve called Donald Trump “a twat” for his sexist comments about a female news anchor being on her period. You’ve watched the whole Caitlyn Jenner trans thing unfold and gone, “You know what — this all seems fair enough. I am down with the trans thing.”
So, no. I’m not going to womansplain feminism to you. It’s the 21st century and you are, most assuredly, not a dick. You like women being equal to men — which is all that feminism means. Not all the penises being burned in a Penis Bonfire. Just women being equal to men. You are like my friend John, when he talks about dating alpha-women: “Feel intimidated by them? Christ, no. Dating and marrying powerful women is like big game hunting. I fuck tigers and panthers. Not… chihuahuas.”
No. You get feminism. You don’t need Tits McGee here to take you through it one more time. So, what I am going to do, instead, is tell you 12 things about women that women are usually too embarrassed to tell you themselves. Because I am a chronic over-sharer, and incapable of keeping secrets. I’m like that other Deep Throat. The chatty Watergate one. That’s the Deep Throat I am.
Like you, we feel a bit embarrassed about saying the word “feminism”. It’s the same as when you say the word “environment”. They both have that slight implication of, “I’m now going to launch into a speech that’s basically about what a great person I am”.
Unfortunately, in both cases, the entire future of the world does rest on people being able to say those words properly, and not mumbling “femernism”, or “envibeoment”.
You just have to shut yourself in a cupboard and say them over and over again — “FEMINISM! ENVIRONMENT! FEMINISM! ENVIRONMENT!” — until they feel as normal as saying “pina colada”, or “Michael Fassbender”. Which are both, when you think about it, much odder-sounding.
So, when women talk about “The Man”, we’re not talking about you. You’re just a man. You’re not The Man. Similarly, when we talk about the patriarchy, that’s not you, either. You’re not the patriarchy. You’re just… Patrick. When we’re doing those “MEN!” chats, we’re just identifying the general locus of the problem, ie, most of the power and influence being held by a small amount of men.
Because remember that patriarchy’s bumming you as hard as it’s bumming us. We’re bulimic, objectified and under-promoted. You, meanwhile, are unable to talk about your feelings lest you get punched in the nuts by “a lad” telling you not to be “a bender”. You are unlikely to get custody of your kids, and are three times more likely to commit suicide. Feminism’s about sorting all this stuff out. Because it’s about equality. Not burning the penises. I can’t emphasise enough how much it’s not about burning penises. No burnt penises here.
We’re still pretty traumatised about our periods, even though we’re now 40. Being a woman doesn’t make “being a woman” any easier. All that womb-shit is nuts. It’s like having an exploding, insane blood-bag of pain up in your business end — nothing really prepares you for when it all kicks off. One day, you’re just a kid on your bike. The next, you’re suddenly having to wedge a tiny Barbie mattress in your knickers, crying while you watch Bergerac, and eating Nurofen Plus like they’re Tic Tacs.
Men, imagine if, some time around your 12th birthday, some manner of viscous liquid — let’s say gravy — suddenly appeared in your pants, in the middle of a maths lesson. And then it turned up every month for the next 30 years. You’d be all like “NO!” and “WTF?!?!” and “SRSLY??? THIS????” That’s what we’re like, too. We’re not wise, or in touch with nature, or down with it. We’re just people with a whole load more laundry issues than you. Have you ever tried to scrub blood out of a Premier Inn sheet at 6am, using just travel shampoo and your toothbrush? It’s one of the defining aspects of being a woman.
Likewise, imagine accidentally getting pregnant at 16, then having to run past a barrage of anti-abortion protestors outside your local clinic, all holding up pictures of dead foetuses. We’re not dealing with this in a special, noble lady-way. We’re like, “THIS IS ALREADY A REALLY, REALLY SHIT DAY. I PRESUME YOUR CONCERN FOR THE WELFARE OF CHILDREN EXTENDS INTO A LIFE SPENT VOLUNTEERING IN CARE HOMES, FOSTERING AND DONATING YOUR WAGES TO THE NSPCC — AND DOESN’T SOLELY REST ON HARASSING AND ABUSING TEARFUL, POSSIBLY RAPED WOMEN WHO ARE TRYING TO GET A SAFE, LEGAL MEDICAL PROCEDURE SO THEY DON’T FUCK UP THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.”
Here’s another thing we’re too embarrassed to say: we’d love it if a big bunch of pro-choice men turned up at these clinics, and helped escort the scared women in. That would be some top bro solidarity.
In the last year or so, we saw this study, from America, and it broke our hearts a bit, because it explains so much: in a mixed-gender group, when women talk 25 per cent of the time or less, it’s seen as being “equally balanced”. And if women talk 25–50 per cent of the time, they’re seen as “dominating the conversation”.
And we remembered all the times on social media, or in conversations, an angry man has said, “Women are WINNING now. Women are EVERYWHERE. It is MEN who are being silenced”, and it all made sense.
We’re scared. We don’t want to mention it, because it’s kind of a bummer, chat-wise, and we’d really like to talk about stuff that makes us happy, like look at our daughters — and we can’t help but think, “Which one of us? And when?” We walk down the street at night with our keys clutched between our fingers, as a weapon. We move in packs — because it’s safer. We talk to each other for hours on the phone — to share knowledge. But we don’t want to go on about it to you, because that would be morbid. We just feel anxious. We’re scared. Given the figures, we can’t sometimes help but feel we’re just… waiting for the bad thing to come. Because that would be a realistic thing to think, and we like to be prepared. Awfully, horribly, fearfully prepared.