Tim Squirrell – Why do I even have to say this?

TIM SQUIRRELL is in a really bad mood because of men who act like misogynistic shitstains.

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Thinking that I ought to get ahead of the game because my exams start next week, I wrote my column on Thursday.

It was going to be about masculinity, needing to talk about the problems which men actually do face, and the way that ‘Men’s Rights Activists’ have poisoned the well for any discussion of things like high suicide rates, body image problems and sexual expectations by causing it to be associated with a pathological hatred of women.

Unfortunately, now I have to start over, because some misogynist shitstain decided that he was fed up of being rejected by women, posted a load of videos to YouTube about how he was a virgin and it was Everyone Else’s Fault, and then gunned down over a dozen people.

The response to this has been sadly predictable: people jumping to declare him ‘mentally unstable’ and the massacre an isolated incident, rather than a symptom of a culture which teaches men that they are entitled to women’s bodies, to sex, and that they should always Get The Girl.

No, this is not your fucking right

No, you are not fucking entitled to this

Last year, there was a surge of anti-Muslim sentiment after the Woolwich murder, an ideologically motivated act of fanaticism. When people declare their hatred of a particular group and then proceed to murder members of that group, we generally accept that, even if those individuals are themselves particularly unstable, there may be a problem with the way they have been socialised and the values they have imbibed. We call upon ‘the community’ to look to their own, to attempt to drive out radicalising forces and ensure that they are not inadvertently or purposefully driving any of their number to acts of murder.

Why is it, then, that when a man declares his hatred for women, and then goes on to kill his partner or his ex-partner or strangers in the street, we say that he was ‘unhinged’? We ought to at least look at the way he’s been socialised, the values which we have instilled in him.

The fact is that this is not an isolated incident. Every day, women are abused, raped, killed by men that they know for the same reason: we teach men that they have the right to claim some form of ownership over women’s bodies.

Every romcom where the bumbling, inadequate hero manages to end up with someone objectively better than him, every book in which a woman is portrayed as incomplete without a Man In Her Life, every time we try to treat women as a game where you just have to press the right buttons in the right order and you’ll Win The Prize, we dehumanise and objectify women and teach boys and men that they have some claim, however small, over another person.

Part of the problem

Part of the problem

We, as men, need to have a very serious discussion about this. We need to stop treating women as ‘other’ and start treating them as human fucking beings, who have as much sovereignty over their bodies as we do. It’s ridiculous that I even have to say this.

There is no formula which you can follow which will make women like you. If you are nice enough for long enough, it does not entitle you to sex, nor does it entitle you to be angry if they do not want to have sex with you. Women are not machines where you put kindness in and sex comes out.

Putting women on a pedestal is not showing that you respect them, because the basis of respect is treating people as humans rather than objects, and in trying to objectify them, their qualities or the qualities which you want them to have, you do the very opposite of treating them as people.

I fucking hate having to write this. I don’t like moralising, because I don’t think I have any special access to wisdom which I have to dispense in article form. This is all very, very basic. The problem is that there are clearly men, many men, who still don’t get it and may not get it until it’s verbally beaten into them.

Oh fuck off

Seriously, fuck off

It may well be that this is a doomed task, because the people nodding along will be the ones who already agree with me, and the people rushing to the comments to say that I’m ‘only a feminist to get sex’, or that I ‘just don’t get that women and men are fundamentally different’ are the ones who are more likely to believe all of the things I’ve described above, consciously or unconsciously.

They’ll even argue with that, saying that it’s offensive that I could possibly think that they would disrespect women, or that neither they nor anybody they know would ever do Bad Things. Guess what? Somebody has to do the bad things, and if it’s not you then it’s incredibly likely to be someone you know. If you know a girl who has been sexually assaulted, and you do, then it’s probable you also know a man who has sexually assaulted someone. These things do not happen elsewhere; they happen here, in Cambridge, at home, on nights out, in your college.

We have a duty, as men, to teach boys, younger men, even older men, the very basic fact that women are also people and you should probably treat them that way. This isn’t something we just get to leave to women to do, partly because the men who really need telling are the ones who won’t listen to women (however fucked up that is), who will call them ‘shrill’, ‘strident’ ‘Feminazis’.

This is something we all have to do, because this kind of shit happens literally every day, and it’s not okay.