I write this to you in the hope that the words spilling from my fingertips will somehow calm the contempt I feel for you on a daily basis.
I know that these feelings are wrong, and most definitely NOT okay. I cannot stress that enough. ‘THIS IS NOT GOOD BEHAVIOUR SALMA’, is something I tell myself on a regular basis. I also know that feelings such as these will fast track me straight into a wooly cardigan and a house full of cats, and while I’ve always had a penchant for a great knit, I fucking hate cats.
But dear men,
Here’s the thing. And before I even start trotting down this questionable path, let me just point out that there are hundreds, upon hundreds, of incredible guys out there. You step up, in, over and beyond when you have to. You’re the rock, the foundation, the carer and the nurturer. Sometimes, you’re the mother and the father. You’re tremendous.
But dear men,
Those of you who fit that description had better believe that you’re an exception and you don’t come close to the rule. Instead, the majority of men present a concoction of masculinity that’s worrying, and one I find pathetic. Every which way I look I see women working flat out juggling children, houses, careers, marriages and dinner every night, whereas the men are complaining to me about their six hour shift. Perhaps it’s a lack of compassion on my part but I want to tell them to shut the fuck up because the women surrounding them are doing three times as much without a whimper. I’ve had male friends tell me that they don’t work half as hard as their female counterparts but get more reward. They say it with a nonchalant shrug that makes me want to strangle them.
And dear men,
The thing that’s really bugging me about you guys is your idea of women and what you think we should be. I’ve heard all about the woman of your dreams. What she looks like, sounds like and most importantly, how she acts. Apparently, she doesn’t care for Instagram likes and she’s not going to shame herself by taking her clothes off and she wont sleep with you on the first date because she’s ‘worth so much more than that’.
But the problem dear men,
Is that it’s not your place to tell us about our value. You created the rules and you made a game we were forced to play and now you don’t like the players we’ve become. I read a poem written by a guy recently who said that we women ‘are worth so much more than a commodity that is sexual’. I find it one of the greatest hypocrisies when a man stands up and tells women to ‘value and love ourselves’.
Some time ago, in a bar around London, a man was happily flirting away with me when he told me that we ladies needed to love ourselves more, that we need to believe we’re beautiful. He said it with such earnest passion and propped up on his barstool he really believed he was saying the right things.
I promptly told him that I love myself just fine, and perhaps other women are not confident because they’ve been bruised around in a patriarchal system that told them to hate themself every minute of every day and maybe he should go away and think about what part he played in that system.
Needless to say he quickly slid away and I watched him later in the night, chatting up a different woman who was smiling and nodding eagerly as he delivered his ‘female empowerment’ speech to a more amenable audience.
You see dear men,
Why do you think that’s what we want to hear? If you think that the female masses are sitting around with their knitting needles waiting for men to give us permission to love ourselves, then the gap between the sexes is worse than I thought. You don’t get to stand up and tell me to value myself after you created the system in which I exist. What you should be doing is standing up and talking to other men, young men, boys and teenagers. That’s your audience. There the ones that desperately need to hear your voice. Why don’t you tell them that a woman can be as naked as she likes, in the shortest dress there is, and they should never see it as an invitation. Why don’t you tell them that image and intellect don’t go hand in hand. Why don’t you tell them that about respect and consent and that words like ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ shouldn’t be thrown carelessly around. You’re preaching to the wrong choir and quite frankly, apart from getting increasingly annoying, it’s downright insulting.
Something has got to give. Something has got to change. Your archaic ideas of the hunter/gatherer coupled with Victorian ideas of virginal femininity aren’t getting us anywhere. We’ve reached a real critical stage in the evolutionary process and I feel like if we carry on the way we are, women are going to be ruling the metropolises of the world, advancing the arts, politics and science, while the men are relegated to the jungle eating chicken and grunting.
I don’t want that. Men are great. I love men. They make me laugh, I have a fantastic time with them, and they balance us out. We need them. I just want them to stop being so damned pathetic and definitely stop telling women about their worth. Your time would be better spent educating your sons, brothers and friends. And maybe, just maybe, bear in mind that women in today’s society manage an enormous workload at home and in the office simultaneously, so perhaps complaining about your six hour day and demanding a home cooked meal isn’t the best way to go. Just a tip.
All the women.