I have never ranted about the same thing three times in one day. Okay, that’s not true; I’ve just never done it on a blog before (and each blog post tends to be the outcome of a million in-my-head rants, so perhaps you could call the posts “concentrated” rants. A bit like smoothies. How many should one have in a day?). Anyhow, I am STILL fuming about the sodding Second Sexism book discussed in the Observer. So here goes:
I am now starting to wonder what the actual intent and effect of the coverage given to these books could be. Is it to encourage harmony between the “two” sexes? To permit women to see the error of their feminist ways? Or could it be that most people will ignore it, feminists like me will be pissed off, but a small minority of men will use it to feed the growing resentment they feel against women, women they blame for whatever their lot is in life? Which of these do you think it could be?
I’m wondering, too, if it could feed the most extreme type of resentment, the type that leads you to gouge a woman’s eyes out and imprison her for 12 hours without calling for help, while you dwell on your own fate and what she “made you do”? Obviously I’m referring to what happened to Tina Nash. Do you think this has nothing to do with a wider cultural trend towards believing that if men suffer, women must therefore have the upper hand? A belief that if men lash out, it’s in part because they’re oppressed and manipulated by the women in their life? Of course, it has been universally decreed that Tina Nash’s ex was “a monster”. But what about Raoul Moatt? Ched Evans? These men have, for some, become folk heroes, brought down by evil slags. I don’t see a huge leap between this type of thinking and the assertions made by men’s rights activists and writers. Men suffer, therefore men are victims of women, or at least of a system that apparently favours women over men.
This morning I was listening to The Killers while getting dressed. The album Sawdust features a cover of the Kenny Rogers classic “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town”, the lyrics of which are from the perspective of a Vietnam War vet who’s been seriously injured and is now confined to his home awaiting death (so, trauma-wise, it’s way beyond being piqued at a Jo Brand joke). His woman, Ruby, wants to get dressed up and “take [her] love to town”. This seriously pisses off our ‘Nam vet, as you’d expect. So much so that, by the end of the song, he tells us “if I could move I’d get my gun and put her in the ground”. Nice. But trauma does that to a person. The trouble is, the trauma isn’t all Ruby’s fault.
“It wasn’t me who started this whole crazy Asian war” sings Kenny/Brandon Flowers, plaintively. True. But it wasn’t Ruby, either. Nor was it Mrs Eisenhower (or maybe it was. You know what Lady Macbeths we all are “behind the scenes”). But anyhow, the world is shit, and there’s Ruby painting her lips and rolling her tinted hair like none of it matters. Stupid bitch. Wouldn’t you want to kill her? Not the people who sent you to war, not the politicians, not the generals, but her. The stupid bitch with her lipstick and curls who’s leavin’ now cos you just heard her slammin’ out the door (after a day that may or may not have been spent emptying bedpans and being shouted at. We don’t know. Anyhow, she’s a stupid tart and deserves to die).
We attack those closest to us, because they’re there. I don’t even dislike this song; I actually find the lyrics quite beautiful in the way they depict someone who’s totally trapped, aware of what he can see and hear but unable to play an active role in the world any longer. But one thing I do think it shows is how broader male suffering gets set against a perceived absence of suffering in women – because we’re silly, because we’re frivolous, because we’re too busy putting on makeup to think – and creates the sense that women are the privileged ones. And, perhaps, that women deserve to suffer, even violently.
I can’t help thinking books such as The Second Sexism, or at least the reporting of them, stir up these feelings of resentment. I can’t see whom it helps. By contrast, I don’t think it’s at all difficult to see whom it might hurt.