Oh, the torture of being a man . . .: Are men really as bad as some women make them out to be? David Cohen asks seven of his gender what aspects of their maleness they most dislike. It's men who rape, kill and start wars

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The Independent Online
TONY BANKS

49, Labour MP for Newham North-west, is married with no children.

I CONSIDER men (as opposed to humankind) to be the most evil force on earth. It's men who beat up people, rape, kill and start wars. It's being associated with the evil of other men that I most dislike about being a man.

I've thought how nice it would be if all men were eliminated, a sperm bank established and genetic engineering took over to ensure that women never had to bear male children. When you look at Bosnia, you see men doing the killing and women doing the mourning. Those seem to be the traditional roles. It's so futile, so barbaric, and you think, how do you deal with it? The answer must be by getting as many women involved in the political process as possible. I'm not saying that women aren't capable of being as vile as the worst men, but they tend to be exceptions. It's women who create life, who give birth to babies. So they tend to be more caring and sensitive.

However, I wouldn't choose to be a woman. I am not so unconscious of my own advantages as to ignore the fact that there are more opportunities for me as a man in a male-dominated world than as a woman. But I would hope to uphold female values and bring a more caring and sensitive approach to the world.

Ironically, I have a reputation for aggression and brashness. And there are times when I am alarmed by my responses. But I like to think my aggression is channelled in favour of those being transgressed against. Like when I see whalers firing exploding harpoons into whales, my reaction is to give them 20 seconds to get off the boat, then blow it out of the water. I see senseless vandalism in my own constituency. I can understand if people threw bricks at 10 Downing Street, but to crap on your own doorstep, to destroy public telephones that might be the only way your relative has of calling an ambulance, seems the sort of thuggish, mindless mentality almost exclusively confined to men.

I ask myself: how do you rationalise with an irrational force? There's only one way and that's to take them out. Then I think, Jesus, I'm giving intellectual justification to the elimination of somebody but I'm talking in the same terms. I'm not particularly proud of it. It's a personal failing, but equally perhaps, part of my conditioning as a man.

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