When 2013 is boxed and branded, reflected upon and consigned to the eons of history, I believe we will look upon it as the year pretty much everyone started using the F word...By which of course I mean ‘Feminism’.
Virtually every news story from Savile to Nigella has been littered with references to feminism. Dropping the F bomb on social media is now entirely commonplace. We’re using it more than ever in our everyday conversation, debating what it means, whether you are one (you are, you definitely are) and if so what you should be doing about it.
As a result of this sharp feminism trendiness trajectory, the worst thing one can be accused of in 2013 is ‘misogyny’. ‘Misogynist’ has now replaced ‘racist’ as the worst insult you can chuck at a middle-class person during an argument. We’re no longer sure what’s politically correct so in lieu of using our common sense and moral compasses, we universally condemn anything that someone else tells us might be a little bit sexist.
In fact, we’re so desperate to distance ourselves from our notion of what it means to be a bigot, we’ve created a mythical enemy at which to vent our collective feminist spleen.
The much hyped - but never empirically witnessed - Anti-Feminist is of course a man. He reads ‘lads magazines’ and not only believes the women within its pages represent a paradigm of ultimate beauty, but that all other women should look and dress like them. He buys the Sun exclusively for Page Three, salivates over the image for several long minutes every morning and is so overcome by lust that he goes on to objectify every woman he encounters for the remainder of the day. He enjoys online pornography in which he knows (with a magic certainty none of the rest of us have) that the female participants have been exploited. He enjoys the notion that women are caught up in ever-spiralling and increasingly dangerous remonstrations of self-hatred in the pursuit of an impossible super-model like physique because HE JUST HATES US ALL SO MUCH BECAUSE HE IS A MAN AND HE HAS A PENIS AND AS SUCH HE IS PROGRAMMED INTO THESE BEHAVIOURS.
Consequently, a whole generation of men have started using phrases like “well of course OTHER men watch pornography/like thin women/big boobs/buy lads mags but NOT I”. It’s the 2013 equivalent of starting a sentence with “I’m not racist, but….”.
Which brings me to the question – If these men aren’t our boyfriends, brothers, dads, uncles or nephews, they aren’t on Twitter, they aren’t writing for the press and they aren’t anywhere else we’re likely to encounter men…then where are they? Do they exist? And if not, who are we really angry with?
If, as I suspect, this version of anti-feminism doesn’t exist in reality then there’s a lot of misdirected rage out there. I have a couple issues with this.
The first is that it automatically demonises any man who is ‘caught’ doing something as, let's face it, harmless and innocent as watching a bit of porn, glancing at page three or admitting to quite fancying Kelly Brook. It’s downright insulting to suggest that men can’t differentiate between fantasy and reality and that they’re so fundamentally stupid and Neanderthal-like that if any female wearing anything remotely skimpy isn’t covered by a modesty sleeve they’ll immediately run off and do something sexist and despicable.
But secondly and most importantly, we’ve blinded ourselves to the real enemies of the piece. Men have no vested interest in making women feel insecure. Most men would rather we were confident and happy for myriad reasons, not least because it would vastly improve their sex lives. By misdirecting our anger and blaming a faceless ‘man’ for crimes which are, in my opinion, mainly perpetrated by industries who can make money from our insecurity, we allow misogyny to live another day and the feminism we’re so proud of to suffer another blow.