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Poynted remarks

Our columnist identifies the 'most oppressed, side-lined, discriminated-against, group in society today'

Last year, I reviewed Men who Hate Women by Laura Bates. Since then, I’ve been thinking about the issues raised there more frequently than I would normally like.

Of course, I am aware that there are extreme misogynists, there probably always have been, but they’re more obvious these days and they have the opportunities to spout their opinions (to which they are entitled, I guess) where I can read them.

It’s unfortunate that I am unable to bypass the comments page, or the responses to a Facebook post, or reviews on IMDB, but there we are.

So, I have come to realise that, in addition to that very small cohort of men who really, really, hate women, there are a far larger group who, actually, quite like women, as long as they’re attractive and/or know their place.

I still think (hope) that the largest group are those who love women, as they love all humans, and would not dream of behaving in the manner to which we have sadly become accustomed lately.

I mean, I don’t actually know any men who come into the first two categories I have mentioned here (at least as far as I am aware). It’s just most men don’t seem to have anything to say about extreme women-haters, and find it difficult to respond to the casual putdown of women: ‘Just ignore it’, or ‘why read the comments’.

And a major problem for me is the group of men who actually don’t ‘hate’ women as such, but get upset if there’s anything other than a straight white man in the lead role of a film/TV show, or getting that promotion to the head of John Lewis or something.

I have not done the research on this and can’t be bothered to look it up. Casual observation makes me believe that the majority of CEOs of major corporations are white males.* That the majority of TV shows and films feature mostly white men talking about man-stuff. (Thank you Bechdel Test for giving me some idea of the extent to which this is true!).

So there’s a group of men who get upset that women are promoted beyond what is right and proper, beyond being allowed to sit quietly and decoratively in the corner, saying little more than ‘hailing frequencies open, Captain’ (sorry, Uhura!).

Here’s one IMDB review: ‘fans like myself have to sit through the ugly women which makes no sense because after all television is fantasy and entertainment’.

Basically, if there’s no ‘eye candy’ then how is he supposed to enjoy a TV show?

Oh, and, by ugly, he means ‘has short hair’.

I don’t know about other women, but I find it perfectly possible to enjoy a TV show or a film even if there’s nobody remotely fanciable in it.

Good characters, yes please, involving stories, definitely. Someone I would like to take home to meet mother (well, if I were 40 years younger, maybe)?

Not necessarily, and certainly not essential to my enjoyment.

Shallow sort of person who only wants to watch if someone on screen makes them drool, surely?

Another reviewer complained that ‘another series goes woke’ because of the ‘feminist wet dream’ (hardly, in fact The Alienist was showing how difficult life was for women in 1890s USA, but, whatever) and ‘why can’t we have nice things…?’

So, basically, chum, ‘nice things’ means things that you like which have no hint of equality of the sexes, races, etc. Business as usual. Gotcha.

Writing this, I have realised the problem is not the extreme women-haters but this latter group who don’t mind women at all as long as we shut up and make him a sandwich. Thinking about it, maybe these are the same men after all.

Straight white men are the most oppressed, side-lined, discriminated-against, group in society today. Didn’t you know?

Because, of course, when you’re used to privilege even the smallest attempt at equity seems like oppression. Remind me again, what year is this? What century in fact?

* As of June 2019, only five out of the top 250 British companies listed on the FTSE index had a female chief executive officer in charge. As of February 2021, there are no black CEOs in the top 100 FTSE companies, and only 3.4 percent of FTSE 100 CEOs are from 'other ethnic minority backgrounds'. – ed

Claire Poyner is no April Fool.