Category Archives: In a men’s world… Dans un monde masculin…

Men and women: The stripper discrepancy.

Let’s address a fundamental question here:

Why is it okay for the media to show a male model stripping to cheering women when it’s morally unacceptable to show a women stripping to cheering men?

Why is it okay for women to objectify men but not okay for men to objectify women?

In a nutshell, that’s because very few women actually objectify men whereas very few men manage to see beyond what sexually arouses them.

As a gay man in my 30s, I got to experience both sides when living in England and I have to say there is a massive difference in how the model/stripper is treated. Maybe I have been living in Care Bears world but unlike men, I have never witnessed women calling the stripping man names such as “fucker”, “cunt”, “slag”, “whore”, “piggy”, “bastard”, “dirty little slut” et al.

I have never heard women say to the stripping man: “You want it, don’t you? I know you do, you dirty pig! To suck my pussy! Yeah, that’s right! All you really want is me to sit on your face so I can shove your nose in it. Come on, baby, open your mouth and taste my juice. We both know that’s why you’re here!”

I have never seen a women crossing the lines that were clearly marked. Never have we had to even restrain a female friend because she simply decided it was better to disregard what we talked about, what the agency told us beforehand and just shoved her hand in there to grab the guy’s penis or force him to perform a sexual act right here, right now just because she pays the price. That’s rape, by the way.

With women, the ambiance is of fun. Genuine fun. Little alcohol and a lot of laughter in a mostly bright environment. Once, the room was dark but all the other couple of times, it was fully lit and we could all see each other very clearly. I never felt disgusted or disgusting. On the opposite, the point was to, indeed, enjoy the amazing body of a man who worked hard to get it, but mostly to have a fun and to make fun of the most prudish girls by making the guy dance on them as they were cringing whilst also laughing.

My female friends would talk with the guy afterwards like a normal person after he put his clothes back on. We would share drinks and would talk to him, he would become part of the guests until he had to go to his next job.

We would pay him for his stripping as a entertainer and we would always acknowledge his humanity. Some have thought otherwise, I am sure, but we never acted like we owned him for the time he worked for us. Of course we had his body in our head and we talked about it with him too, trying to hide the fact that we did crave for him to pound each of us until we turned blue. Nevertheless, he was never meant to feel like just a piece of worthless meat designed solely for our most unbalanced sexual fantasies, or as an morally reprehensible accessory we would share in secret as mean to bound us further.

Whereas all the abhorrent talk and insults I mentioned before is what I have always witnessed with men. With men, it’s squalid, insulting, disgusting. You always find yourself in some weird places in the badly-lit backstreets of towns, in a room where you cannot see anyone else but the girl doing what is essentially a job to pay the rent, the food for her kids or her studies. Do any of the men present ever think of that as they shout insults? Does it ever cross their mind that the moving body in front of them is living beyond these walls, has a life and has a story to tell? No. And not because they are inherent low-lives but because they drink to behave as such.

Indeed, unlike with women, there is this constant need for alcohol with men because of course behaving like beasts doesn’t come naturally to humans anymore. Education means inhibitions that will only go away with drugs.

With men, I witnessed what we have normalised as “locker room talk”: this competition in being the one who will degrade the stripping woman the most, this bounding in the secrecy of doing together something they know to be wrong or reprehensible. This “Bros before hoes” mentality where the “hoe” will pay the price of the men becoming “bros” – sports being the cesspit of this type of masculinity.

Personally, I have seen married men having to be pushed back by bouncers because they always want to put their hands where they know they mustn’t. I have seen friends of mine in long-term relationships becoming nothing but sex on legs, rubbing their crouch, if not just plainly masturbating within less than a minute after the girl started.

There are many reasons to explain the difference in behaviours and why women very rarely objectify men like that men objectify women. One of them is how men and women behave towards finding a mate to begin with, as women are told very early that finding the “right one” is an essential goal in their life. Therefore every “alpha male” is not yet another fuck on the way to menopause but a potential father. It is deeply carved in the psyche of society and women so competition between women will be to be the most attractive to that man, the most wife-material and that’s not by drinking, swearing and assaulting them that it will occur. Men don’t have this kind of expectations regarding women and themselves.

Actually, speaking of gender education, what I am saying is not entirely true for men are changing. In November, the Guardian published an article showing that men do not enjoy the debauchery of stag-dos anymore, a study that comes after travel agencies have noticed a change in stag-dos pattern and what men do before they get married: no stripper, it’s all about arts and wine.

What these studies show is a trend towards the end of objectification altogether as brotherhood is being redefined. We thought men enjoyed objectifying and found it acceptable, we thought and still think it is the norm within between men, as shows the question I am addressing. In fact, no matter what Mr Trump and over-60s ilks might think, do, say and pretend, it turns out, overall men actually don’t enjoy it. As men are ever more educated towards gender equality and being in touch with their feelings and the ones of others, they find objectification more and more degrading for the woman and also for themselves. They don’t enjoy being reduced to senseless beasts anymore.

Now, we are a long way from a group of men platonically inviting the female stripper to join them as a guest to their party but we are getting there in terms of mutual respect. And aside the sexual roasting of footballers and other sportsmen, I can’t help but also seeing American series like Friends which, more than a decade ago, were already showing the decline of a brotherhood and male friendship built solely around the sexual objectification of women. And as far as sisterhood is concerned, it is defined within the realm of femininity, not towards or at the direct expense of men.

In the meantime, this difference between men and women,  the difference in how they see and treat the other gender stripping, how much of their humanity they actually acknowledge, the difference is what part the other gender plays in the definition of brotherhood and sisterhood is what makes women enjoying a man stripping morally more acceptable.

An every woman’s smile.

I don’t how she does it really. Hillary. I was watching her smile during the debate as Trump was uncontrollably vomiting every cheap, baseless insults (some say “opinions”) that went through his mind. People were quick to point out how uncomfortable and fake she looked when she smiled. Yes, but have you ever wondered: does she really have the choice?

Hillary Clinton is the most qualified and experienced politician to have ever run for president. This campaign was a chance for her to prove that decades of hard work, of experience and dedication to serving her country had made her ready to be the leader of said country. The campaign was a chance for her to show off everything she has learnt through her career as a lawyer, a senator, a Secretary of State and eight years witnessing first hand the realities and practicalities of the presidency. This campaign was a chance for her to admit she has made mistakes and to show that she had learnt from them.

Instead, what is she given? A back-of-the-schoolyard-and-classroom bully who would not listen to anything she says, not even her admitting her mistakes, rather constantly shouting at her, cutting her off with ever more outrageous statements he believes to be snappy and witty come-backs.

I was her for a minute: the teacher ignoring the classroom bully for the sake of everyone else (even those laughing) knowing it’s my job to cater for that bully’s needs as well. Like all teachers in the classroom, she has to be the better person in this campaign and acting otherwise would be the end of her.

Like her, how many times do we, teachers, feel the urge to just stop everything short and say: “What the fuck are you on about, you twat?!” But we could never say that because it is our responsibility to be above all this, to remain calm, on point for something that’s bigger than us and the bully: the education, the future of everyone, including the bully.

As teachers, we are often accused of being robots, inhumane, lacking empathy and kids are surprised when we cross path in supermarkets. You eat food? Or coming of the gym or can talk about a TV show. That’s because we have to constantly put on this utterly professional mask of someone untroubled and only driven by teaching. We are often accused of being fake and cold, especially with difficult students. Actually, the more difficult they are, the more aloof and clinical we are told to be. “Don’t take the bait!”

That’s where Clinton is today: accused of being “fake and cold” in front of a “honest and fiery” Trump she cannot just tell off. Believe me, give Clinton half a chance and she would not waste a second pulling a Beyoncé: Middle fingers up and put them in his face. But she cannot because she knows she will have failed her mission to be above all that and no one will ever forgive her. Some would say this is a good test to see if she can be president. Her sole opponent is now Donald Trump, I think we’re past “testing time”.

When he mentioned her “not looking presidential”,  imagine her saying: “Why? You think you look presidential, sneezy?” People would not have warmed up to her because when it comes to women, a country still wants a perfect mum and a teacher, when we are used to dad’s ever more racist rants.

No one would vote for Clinton would she behave like he does because we expect more from her than anyone ever does from him. We expect her to fathom that this campaign is bigger than her or Trump’s insults, that the future of the US and the world depends on her being strong enough to not let herself being dragged into a verbal boxing round of cheap insults by his attention-seeking, provocative behaviour.

More than every teacher, Hillary is every woman in our society fighting for a job for which she is way more qualified than her male opponent. She knows she is more qualified. She knows we know it. We can all check, it’s open knowledge and yet, she still has to prove it because whatever women do is never good enough. She can’t be attacked for being childless like Merkel frequently is so she is attacked on her appearance, her age and the mistakes she dared make in positions Trump cannot even begin to fathom, such as senator during 9/11 or Secretary of State during the Arab Spring.

The mind of the people is clearly set now: she wants to be president? She must be perfect! What about Trump? He’s a card…Yeah but he’s a man, that’s different. Because we accept and expect men to be bastards once in a while. He’ll know how to turn it down when need whereas if Clinton has not managed to be perfect at all time, it’s in her nature. So Clinton wants votes? She has to prove she is twice as good (in all sense of the word) as he is.

I hear many gay people still banging on about the fact that she used to not support gay marriage. It doesn’t matter that she now does. People don’t forgive and forget when women are flawed, especially on the Left, and her past mistakes, most of which she has acknowledged, are still a hindrance, when Trump’s brashness opens him door after door.

The problem is that people, left or right, still refuse to acknowledge they think as such so, like all women, she must pretend she is fighting her equal. She has to make her opponent and his supporters feel like it’s an even playing field when it’s not. Common sense dictates the balance is on her side but for some reasons, as numerous as they are complex, it takes a couple of two-a-penny alt-right clichés in Trump’s tweets to make the race tighter than ever.

The media are happy accomplice for they like to show it that way too: “They are trading blows”, we hear.

He calls Mexicans “rapists”, women “pigs, dogs”, she calls her supporter “deplorable”.

However, it’s a trade.

I was under the impression that trading comprehends an even exchange.

How can “rapists” and “pigs” be on the same shelf as “deplorable”? How can the facts and experience she is displaying possibly be considered on par with Trump’s baseless garble?

Because expectations are different, all the while looking the same.

So yes, in the face of openly proud racism, sexism, xenophobia, denial, deceit, cheap yet predictable attacks and insults that have opened the White House gates to an irritable, boorish, sulky, incompetent, nepotistic, immature, little daddy’s boy of a man, Clinton must do what every ambitious woman does: fake smile, take the punch, ignore it, keep her head high and keep going with the actual facts in order to keep the debate where it matters and not let the bully stir it into an irrelevant, verbal brawl for only men, even defeated, win in brawls.

“Close your eyes and think of England.”

Well for Clinton, it’s “Fake smiles, fake smiles and think of the future of the US.”

The old, angry, white male is at it again.

So Beyoncé delivers yet another gob-smacking performance for the power, the beauty and the genuineness of which I have ran out of superlatives to describe. Guiliani, on the other hand, has not: “shame”. Why? Because he has saved more black lives than she did.

…What?… (And yes, I had to read the Daily Mail…)

Lemonade is about women resilience. Black women resilience from the heart of their home to the most outside world. The album is crystal clear about it. It tells the story of all black women who were, have been and will be comforted to being considered as the lowest citizen of the American society, from the white people in power to the deceiving males of the same blood. It’s about black women having to scrap a living on their own because their male peers are in prison or dead. It’s about their journey towards independence from the words of their father to the lessons they learnt through experiencing life and hurt on their own.

Lemonade puts the spotlight on the black American woman: the most neglected, disrespected, forgotten and overlooked person in the society and their struggle. The black man is not even the centre of the narrative, he’s such a trigger, a reason, a consequence but their feelings, their excuses, their reasons are irrelevant. The black woman is everything.

Lemonade does what it says on the tin: turning the sourness of countless lemons that hindered the path of your life into lemonade to keep yourself refreshed and strong. And her performance at the MTV VMA was exactly that. She sang the black women’s sadness, their anger, their desperation and eagerness at being simply respected. She screamed the raging lioness in each of them, one they have been taught to tame and keep quiet, as a warning to all men that women are not to be contained.

And somehow, out of all of that, out of all the clear lyrics she sang about betrayal, the obvious feminism, out of the Venus Cross at the end, Giuliani took one thing: she is questioning him and his tenure as a mayor of New York.

His whole intervention on Trump TV…Sorry, Fox News was to champion his own achievement as a mayor of NYC fifteen years ago. He has made New York a better place, he has revived Harlem…Okay but what does it have to do with Beyoncé performance? Well, at the beginning, she is surrounded by women in white halos who fall on the floor covered in red light. These women are the black people killed by the police. She even mentioned it later when she asked about funerals.

So not only had Guiliani not understood the performance at all, he also has no idea what Lemonade is about. He’s stuck on outrage-mode after her performance at the super bowl, the Black Panther outfits et al. Giuliani reminds me of those christian fundamentalist parents whose children killed themselves under the weight of beliefs that were more important to their parents than they were themselves. But then who went on to blame some rock bands for the death of their offspring, claiming you can hear the devil or some encouragement to kill yourself if you played the vinyl backwards…

Alike these parents who refuse to see the impact of their actions and would find any excuse to blame someone else while praising their own hard work, Giuliani sees Beyoncé as a problem because in his eyes when she questions the whole society and the terrible consequences of centuries of bad policies, she questions him personally. He cannot fathom that maybe she is touching issues bigger than him because there is nothing bigger than him. It’s all about him. So he feels it is necessary to defend himself when no one has attacked.

The problem is that he talks about it as if it was high time black people realised they owe more to someone like him (a proud supporter of Trump) as a former mayor of NYC than they do to a black singer from Houston but the two don’t compare.

Beyoncé is not an elected representative, she is an artist who decides to express herself, shows her understanding of the world and fights for causes through her art. It’s her job and she is being rewarded for that job exactly. She had not received some of Humanitarian Worker of the Year award for service to the nation so why is Giuliani opposing his record to her art?

She is being political.

Yes. Everything is, nowadays. It’s her choice to address societal issues that are eventually political, to choose a battle and let her music and art speak for it. Why just feminism? Because she’s a woman and talks from experience. Why just black people? Because she’s black and talks from experience. And she can do it, she can decide to pick some battles before others because she is an artist. No one has elected her and she doesn’t have the responsibility to represent and serve even the ones who disagree with her or voted against her during some elections.

Which is what Giuliani had to do as a mayor: be there for the ones who supported you but also be selfless enough to understand that you have a mission to serve everyone, even the 45-49% who voted against you. And maybe he’s absolutely right when he says he was a great mayor, maybe he did his job perfectly. He was knighted by the queen after all. So was Beckham…or Fred Goodwin…Maybe he did save more black lives than Beyoncé but as far as I know, no one is pretending otherwise.

She is? How?

She came with Eric Garner’s mother and he was killed in NYC. Yes, but he was killed in 2014 and Giuliani was a mayor until 2001 so nothing to do with him. The other mothers? Well, they were the ones of Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida, Michael Brown killed in Saint-Louis and Oscar Grant III murdered in Oakland, California. So what has anything Beyoncé did that night got to do with Giuliani?

Nothing.

Beyoncé has decided enough was enough and let her art kick doors open so the US face a problem that’s been lingering and rotting its core since its birth: race. But she does it with a twist of feminism that makes the narrative even more complicated to fathom, I agree, although reading the lyrics and listening to her makes it frankly easy to grasp the message. It’s obvious that in her quest for change, she will encounter the usual when it comes to fighting sexism and racism: a cohort of angry white males who cannot understand a world that doesn’t revolve around them so they feel feminism and the mention of race is a personal attack. Which is exactly what Guiliani has proved.

Guiliani has become a poster to the typical and what Fox News and Trump are begging for: a male blast from the past who will take any opportunity to bring the spotlight back on them to remind us that they are the main actors in the world and should be praised as such.

Le burkini: Messieurs, fermez-la!

Il y avait une blague au Royaume-Uni, au temps de Bush et Ben Laden. Un sondage avait révélé que l’Américain moyen voulait un leader pro-armes, anti-féministe et anti-gay, un leader qui soit véritablement religieux et qui soit prêt à se battre pour faire le monde à l’image de sa religion. On disait alors : « Voici votre homme » et on montrait une photo de Ben Laden. J’ai toujours beaucoup aimé cette blague parce qu’elle disait en substance que  l’Amerique de George W Bush n’était pas l’inverse de l’Al Quaida de Ben Laden mais son complétement. Comme le Yin et Yang se complètent, les puritains et autres fondamentalistes chrétiens vont de pair avec les fondamentalistes musulmans.

Aujourd’hui, la France voulant devenir l’inverse de Daesh et exposer des valeurs inverses à ceux des islamistes ne devient que le complétement de ces mêmes valeurs. Elle ne devient que le penchant occidental de cette mouvance.  Nous avons aujourd’hui des fondamentalistes islamistes contre des fondamentalistes républicains ou laïcistes. Pas laïcs, je précise. La plupart des figures qui crient « laïcité » au visage des musulmans sont eux-mêmes des catholiques pratiquants qui continuent à pousser pour que le Vatican retrouve une place centrale dans la vie du pays.

Dans les deux cas, aucun n’a compris les textes qu’ils utilisent comme fondement de leur pensée et de leurs actions. Dans les deux cas, ils détournent le pouvoir de l’Etat (qu’ils ont parfois créé de toutes pièces à ces mêmes fins) pour proclamer et s’assurer de la légalité de leurs actions qui donc « ne peuvent pas être critiquées ». Et dans les deux cas, les femmes sont les premières à souffrir.

Je ne suis pas là pour me prononcer sur le port du burkini en lui-même. Tout d’abord, je suis un homme et je ne suis pas concerné (on verra quand ils commenceront à mesurer les barbes) mais surtout  je n’ai en pas assez entendu des sources essentielles (les musulmanes qui le portent et celles qui ne le portent pas) pour pouvoir tirer des conclusions sures car informées. Personnellement, mon problème se situe une fois de plus dans le fait que les femmes sont prises entre deux feux qu’elles n’ont pas souhaités être tirés.

On est arrivés à une situation où, des hommes principalement, ont estimé que si une femme est sur une plage et qu’elle ne montre pas ses cheveux, son décolleté, ses cuisses, son dos, ses bras, ses jambes, c’est qu’il y a quelque chose qui ne va pas et qui s’apparente à du terrorisme. Ces pensées aussi ridicules que radicales ont été mises dans des décrets de lois applicables et appliqués par la police.

Quand j’étais petit, et même aujourd’hui, la France était la première à dénoncer ce genre d’abus par les pays arabes. Un des moments dont je me souviens le plus, c’est l’outrage mi-scandalisé mi-désobligeant dont la France a fait preuve quand le billet de 100 Francs, sur lequel figurait La Liberté guidant le peuple de Delacroix, fut interdit en Iran parce que l’allégorie a les seins nus. Cette poitrine allait à l’encontre les lois de décences de la République Islamique alors bien sûr, on trouvait ça « ridicule », « pathétique », « scandaleux », « misogyne », « digne d’un régime d’un autre temps dominé par des hommes polygames à longue barbe » et bien sûr, on a beaucoup réfléchit, écrit, reporté – et à juste raison – sur ce que ça signifiait pour les femmes iraniennes au quotidien, des femmes qu’on nous décrivaient comme étant démaquillées au papier de verre.

Aujourd’hui, au nom de la laïcité, je vois la même chose. Je vois des femmes innocentes qui vont sur la plage avec leurs enfants, pas forcément pour se baigner elle-même, et qui sont publiquement humiliées par la police du Pays des Lumières et qui doivent se déshabiller correctement pour une plage ou la quitter tout court, après une amende, bien sûr. Du moment qu’elles sont sur le trottoir, leur tenue est réglementaire mais la seconde où leur pied touche le sable, elles sont soumises à l’indécence laïciste et ce qu’elle porte est illégal. Pas (encore) au niveau de l’Etat même si le Premier Ministre se réjouit, mais au moins sur les plages extrêmement fréquentés et donc traditionnellement les plus conservatrices et xénophobes de France.

Le fait que la France ait des lois vestimentaires (au secours !) qui varient de la plage à la rue n’est pas nouveau : on n’a pas le droit de se balader torse nu, même avec un haut de bikini, dans les rues d’une ville ou un espace public. Un restaurant, un café, un hôtel aura le droit sans appel de vous mettre dehors. C’est une tenue réservée à la plage et éventuellement la Promenade car du moment que vous êtes dans la ville, vous entrez dans « le monde civilisé » et vous mettez un haut qui couvre au moins le buste.

C’est une loi qui m’a toujours procuré beaucoup de plaisir parce que les Britanniques ne comprennent pas. Les Londoniens, ou les habitants des Midlands ou du Black Country, oui, parce qu’ils sont loin de la mer et ne se baignent pas mais des gens de Brighton, Blackpool, Bristol, Bournemouth, Birkenhead (je voulais réviser mes B), ne comprennent pas. Shopping, course, resto, pub…il est normal pour eux de voir en été des hommes sont torse nus et des femmes avec un petit quelque chose qui cache leurs seins. A tel point que les supermarchés sont obligés d’afficher des règles vestimentaires parce que ça commence à faire mauvais genre. Surtout auprès des Européens et autres touristes qui affluent de plus en plus.

Ca m’amuse parce que je dois leur expliquer qu’il s’agit de se couvrir quand on est en société, de ne pas exposer les enfants au corps d’inconnus, de « décence » et je me retrouve à parler comme un ayatollah sur des codes vestimentaires qui sont des valeurs culturelles inexplicables. Néanmoins, personne n’est forcé de mettre un pull ou un blouson. Les choix sont multiples et un petit haut qui cache le nombril satisfera tout le monde.

Cette fois, il s’agit de forcer des femmes à se déshabiller après les avoir fait payer au nom de la lutte contre le terrorisme. Je ne vois pas le rapport mais bon, je ne fais aussi pas dans le populisme de bas étage.

Alors comment sort-on de là-dedans ? Parlez aux femmes ! « Mon dieu, quelle horreur ! »  je sais, mais que ce soit ce qu’elles portent, comment elles parlent, qui elles fréquent et épousent, comment elles gèrent leur utérus, il est temps de parler aux femmes pour savoir quelles sont les motivations derrière ce qu’elles font. Forcément, ça prend du temps donc pas de gain politique immédiat dans un discours aussi trompeur que dystopiste. Mais surtout, la difficulté est d’enlever l’opinion de gens qui ne sont pas concerné et ça enlève tout d’abord les hommes en tant qu’acteurs principaux.

Je ne dis pas que si les femmes étaient les actrices principales du débat, il n’y aurait donc plus de burkini, je sais juste que dans le débat actuel, ce sont les hommes qui définissent les termes : les hommes islamistes qui appellent au port de la burka contre les hommes laïcistes qui appellent à l’interdiction du burkini (qui n’est même pas prôné par des hommes qui refuseraient volontiers aux femmes l’accès à tout loisir). Et au milieu ? Les femmes qui n’ont pas leur mot à dire doivent suivre les recommandations des uns ou des autres qui parlent et décident pour elles.

S’il y avait une véritable volonté de vivre ensemble, on aurait déjà mis les oreilles aux portes des endroits anodins et souvent ignorés où les femmes sont entre elles et peuvent parler librement. On aurait déjà découvert que tout n’est pas blanc ou noir, pour ou contre, victoire ou défaite, comme le monde forgé par les hommes laisse paraître.

Ecoutez, comme j’aime le faire, les femmes parler de leur quotidien, de la pression qu’elles ont d’être, d’agir, de vivre, de penser souvent de telle ou telle façon. Demandez-leur pourquoi elles font ces choses, et pas seulement aux femmes voilées mais aussi aux Becky with the good hair de tous les jours : celles qui disent détester se maquiller mais qui passent dix minutes sur leur eye-liner tous les matins. Mais faites-les parler d’elles-mêmes, pas de leurs consœurs. Ne laissez pas d’autre prendre leur parole, faites-leur la prendre elles-mêmes pour elles qu’on puisse vraiment savoir à quoi s’en tenir et faire évoluer les choses. C’est alors fascinant ce qu’on apprend.

Vous allez voir que du hijab au burkini, du maquillage au botox en passant par le fer à lisser les cheveux, des exégèses erronés des livres saints aux innombrables articles, reportages, pubs sur ‘Comment faire disparaître la cellulite avant l’été pour un corps parfait en bikini ?’, vous aurez de tout. Des femmes fortes et indépendantes qui le font (ou pas) parce qu’elles en ont envie, parce que ça rend leur vie plus simple ou plus sûres, plus agréables – ces femmes sont d’ailleurs généralement méprisées, ignorées ou ridiculisées. Des femmes plus soumises qui ont intériorisé les attentes religieuses et sociétales (par essence conflictuelles en France) et ne comprennent pas pourquoi elles sont victimes de contradictions dont elles ne sont pas responsables. Et puis, vous aurez la majorité des femmes qui font preuve d’une volonté de fer de continuer à vivre et survivre au jour le jour dans des sociétés dans lesquelles elles ne se reconnaissent pas. Ces femmes, vous allez voir, sont tiraillées entre le ras-le-bol d’être toujours victimes de l’autre et accusées de tout, de ne pas avoir de véritable voix, de devoir se contenter du moins pire, d’un côté, et de la bonne éducation qui les instruit de se taire et d’être polies, de l’autre.

Burkini ou pas, ce n’est pas ma question et je n’ai pas d’avis car je me fous de ce que pensent les hommes sur le sujet, ils ne le portent pas, et les femmes sont partagées. Je ne peux donc pas avoir d’avis informé.

Certaines en rêvent pour pouvoir aller se baigner sans être reluquées et se faire siffler par les hommes, ou ne plus avoir honte de leurs seins qui « ne sont pas fermes » ou de leur « cellulite dégoûtante ». Certaines ne vont juste plus à la plage pour les raisons précédentes donc la question ne se pose pas. Certaines se foutent des gros moches et alcoolisés qui osent les siffler mais elles sont religieuses donc elles le mettent mais pourquoi ? Je n’ai pas eu de réponse à ça. D’autres ont bien compris que le Coran ne mentionne rien de tel donc elles ne le mettraient pas mais elles comprennent que des femmes veuillent le mettre. D’autres savent faire preuve d’empathie et n’ont pas vraiment d’avis, ça ne les dérange pas, elles veulent juste qu’on laisse les femmes tranquilles. D’autres ne savent pas se mettre à la place de l’inconnu et ne raisonnent qu’en fonction de leurs valeurs et sont hostiles. Toutes aimeraient que ce soit un choix. Toutes. Sans exception. Même les conservatrices. On arrive à leur faire dire que ce serait bien que les femmes aient le choix dans leur religion ou la société.

Pour moi, la honte est que la France reste une société dans laquelle les femmes n’ont toujours pas le choix et ce sont toujours celles qui prennent les coups entre les hommes qui font ces choix.

Women are not more resilient to pain, they’ve just been taught to shut about it.

I was watching QI and they had a question on pain threshold men and women could stand. The panel went for women, as the most resilient to pain, when in fact researchers have found that men are supposed to be.

The research is, of course, as uninteresting as those that keep pretending women’s and men’s brains are different which is why women are emotional and men can do maths. We know it has nothing to do with physical predispositions or Nature seriously screwed up when she made Marie Curie’s genitals.

I have discovered, talking to countless women, that the reason why they don’t always cry a river everytime they are hurt and/or demand the world stop going round until they feel better, it’s mainly because they are constantly told that the most excruciating of the pains they feel are always “normal” so what talk about it? Why complain? Why even try to find a remedy?

“It hurts, deal with it!” This from a very young age.

I remember an amazing moment at school when I was 14. We were studying the reproductive system and how babies are made – so no Bible, sorry to disappoint the Americans – when our biology teacher broke her leg. She was off for two weeks so we had a young guy who came to cover for her. At some point, he explained the mechanism of periods to boys who suddenly realised what were the little things in shiny packaging that girls were passing stealthily to one another at break time.

He had this very line about periods.

“Women then experience pain, which is normal because there is bleeding involved.”

As a man, he has never experienced periods so he was just repeating what another man had taught him at med school or wherever.

The medicine seen by men is “when there is blood, there is pain”. Therefore the mantra is for women to get used to it because it’s not going away anytime soon. They’re wasting one’s time. Now, let’s talk about their husband’s pain, because – yes, they scream to death when there’s an eyelash in their eye…Ha. Ha. Ha. Still! There’s no bleeding so that must be cancer, which is a true disease – unlike your…foul p-word!

I recall a murmur of dissent from some girls but no more until our teacher came back. A girl stopped her short from starting the lesson and repeated what the cover teacher said. She was then worried that she never experienced any pain. She was not the only one and it turned out they all thought they were ‘not finished’, that their body still had to mature and it meant, eventually, pain for the rest of their life!

They had asked their mothers and had mixed responses. Some had always experienced painful periods, others had not. Why had the ones in pain never talked about it? They did but were told, like aforementioned, that it was normal.

The teacher answered that it was nonsense. Yes, their body and genitals would continue to develop but periods were not synonym of pain. Bleeding is not due to hurt but normal and peaceful removal of matter that was created to nestle the ovum. She said: “It’s not like someone is scrapping your insides. It’s like losing your milk teeth.” The girl insisted that it was just what the young guy had said and the teacher had this fantastic sentence.

“I don’t know about him, but personally, I am 45, I have been having my periods for 32 years and I have never been in pain. You can be more tired than usual because it is a big thing happening to your body, an important hormonal upheaval but the bleeding is not like when you cut your hand or have an open wound, it doesn’t hurt. And if it does, and everytime, you should see a specialist.”

Fast forward 15 years. Fifteen years of living with a mother who had always had painful and long periods. Until a couple of months ago, I actually was convinced periods always lasted up to three days and were painful until I talked about it openly with some friends who, like the mothers of my classmates, had very different experiences but mostly positive. As much positive as periods can be… It turns out periods last for one day, on average. Really?

That’s because I remember my mother complaining about stomach aches, headaches but mostly pain in the lower tummy for days. This every single month for more than a decade and just to be told by legions of male doctors that the pain is perfectly normal so there’s nothing to address.

Until the day my mother got fed up with these painful periods that had come to last for one, even two to three weeks sometimes and she demanded answers and change gynaecologist – for a young woman this time. A young female doctor who told her what my teacher said 15 years earlier: periods are not meant to be painful and their month-worth of bleeding is not “due to the menopause. There’s got to be something in there.”

It turns out she has been having a serious case of uterine myoma that had never been really detected because never taken and treated seriously, and this had been leading to basically constant haemorrhages. She was not having her periods, she was just, plainly bleeding.

The case is extreme, I thought, then I changed my mind after my cousin, my aunt, then a legion of female colleagues and friends told me about the struggle they have been facing trying to be taken seriously when it comes to the pain they are enduring. The world is changing as women enter the fields of science for good, wanting to answer questions that preoccupy them. Finally, we talk about endometriosis seriously as it turns out countless women are affected. Most of them previously and quickly dismissed since their early teens when complaining about days of pain before and after their periods.

Medicine has always ridiculed, minimalised women’s pain. Their pain has been reduced to the uterus, something men don’t have and only care for when it comes to sex and having descendants. All women’s pains and turmoil’s were put for millennia under the label of hysteria (derived from the word “uterus”). It also applies to pains like migraines, severe headaches, troubles keeping oneself warm, mood swings, psychological turmoil…The list goes on of pains that are “maladies de bonne femme” as the French spitefully say. A derogatory term coined to talk about a woman and the pains she and her kind experience.  Women are hysterical, end of.

As a man, you should be careful when hurting and complaining about it. One doesn’t want to step in the world of “hysterical diseases”. I have had migraines and headaches for years but of course that is not taken seriously. Ophthalmic migraines that make me throw up (such a drama queen!), bring me to tears (hysterical!), make me punch my neck and forehead in search of relief (crazy hysterical!). I even considered cutting myself once hoping the blood flow would decrease in the arteries of my head (Well, that proves my point! Just pop an Advil next time so the doctor can move on to someone stable with real men issues…)

For women, the consequences go far beyond the simple words and refusal to treat it. Traditionally trusting of the doctor and drawing their longer life-expectancy from their regular visits they pay to them, they are drifting away more and more, I feel, from conventional medicine. This old trends are back.

Since the dawn of time, we have been talking about grandma’s remedies in France.
*If it hurts, boil the stones of some cherries, filter the water, drink and the headache will go away.
*Take some mint leaves and rub them against your lower tummy.
*Drench yourself in olive oil and the birth won’t hurt.
*Do a week-cleanse with your own urine.
*Starve yourself and applies some leeches.
It’s like reading medieval, medicinal books on how to cure what we now know to be cancers and I thought they were a thing of the past until I saw friends of mine, highly educated women who do go regularly to the doctors and yet, choose to cleanse before and during their period because I was told it reduces the pain and blood flow. Does it? Maybe not. Surely not, if I listen to science but who am I to judge?

The other day, colleagues experiencing menopause and/or endometriosis were swapping “fantastic” books about plant-healing and other unconventional remedies that have made their life easier, less painful and stressful: from sleeping better to avoid hot flushes, stomach aches and digestive troubles.

The men in the room were mocking them, of course. When one said that going glutten-free has actually stopped all uterine pains, he completely dismissed her as superstitious and pathetic, ready to believe anything. For him, a connoisseur and expert in the field, as most men are (NOT!), it was nothing but a placebo effect which proved even more how imaginary and hysterical women’s pains are.

In a world where science teaches girls that periods should be painful because there is bleeding and bleeding is always painful, one can’t be surprised women are looking to someone else to find release. When professionals tell women “It’s normal so shut it!”, of course they look away for answers and are drawn to things that, for men, are deemed even more ridiculous to them that their physical suffering.

Men and their unsolicited…everything.

Need to rant.

What is it with men and their need to always force themselves on everyone? Whether it’s an advice on how to live our lives, taking over what someone is doing in the name of being “helpful”, or just plainly believing that their needs should be everyone’s priority…why are they like this?

Let’s start with an example: I am at the gym “reinforcing” as they say after some cardio. The gym I go to is specifically designed so there is no bench-pressing area, just some machines on which everyone can go more freely without having to put up with douche-bags with a penis and/or a brain the size of a bean. The motto is “health not showing off”.

Good! So I am lifting a bit and hating every second of it but the loud music in my ears and not wearing my glasses help me go through. They also make me blind and deaf to the world, which is a plus frankly. Suddenly, a shape is in front of me and I somehow manage to distinguish that its lips are moving. I stop, take my glasses, put them on, take off my headphones and face a complete stranger with a smirk. He has said something.

“Pardon me? I say.
-So…how much?
-What?” He bends over and sees I am lifting 15kg so he carries on with a smile.
“Come on…30…”, he winks.  I stare at him for a second and understand that he is that type of guy, the one who thinks he must help me aim higher…despite knowing fuck all about my life, what.so.ever!

I compose myself. “If I needed you, I’d have come with a lead…” On the headphones, off the machine and I leave this part of the gym. He has not understood. Poodles never do.

I have some ideas on the reasons of his behaviour: the meddling, the butting-in when no one has ever asked. Like most of men, he has grown to understand it is his duty. We all have the need to show we know better but as a man raised by a woman, I don’t have this need to interfere in strangers’ lives whereas my gender is on some kind of a constant mission to save the world, basically. “The man is stronger and he decides because he knows better” is the mantra for boys. They like to see themselves as wise and enlightened when they’re nothing but dogs who think it’s friendly to jump on you, lick your face and shag your leg – to say the least. They never see how much we  just want to kick them until they stop….to say the least!

When I talk about that moment with women, they are all with me. They know exactly what I am talking about and it’s usually the starter of hours of countless stories and anecdotes where the male stranger was here to grant us with its inherent knowledge and wisdom.

-The one who tells a woman he doesn’t know, as she is looking at a dress, that “it won’t look good on you, try that one instead” *Coy smile*

-The colleague you barely know yet says “You should try typing with all fingers, it’s less tiring.” *wink wink*

-The  one who says “You should go to the automatic cashier, it would be quicker.” *head tilt*

-The one who tells you “You should report that, that’s so sexist. Can’t you see?” *concerned face*

-The one who tells you about which brands to buy when shopping. *knowledgeable douche*

-The male stranger who told a friend of mine which tampons to buy! *the-I-choose-for-my-girlfriend-and-she-says-she-has-never-been-happier smirk*

These examples come on top of men who constantly feel like they ought to tell you how you should feel, act and react in virtually all aspects of your life. The truth is that the first thing that comes to our minds is “I know you’re terribly lonely and your mates don’t listen to you because they are too busy saving the rest of the world but please, do bugger off.”

When I mention this to other men, they all tell me we are being spiteful bitches. They are right! I was a right bitch to that gym toddler because like all other insufferable devil’s spawns, he was trying to force himself on me at a moment when I was not in any way in the mood or any disposition to have a anyone forcing themselves on me. Can’t they see that?!

“Yes but…”

Yes?! Wait a minute! You’re not blind, then?! You are totally aware than we are not always open to you barging in our personal space and life thinking you can fix what needn’t be fixed in the first place and yet, you come anyway?! Why?

“You don’t get it!”, I am told. I am being antisocial because, yes it was maybe not the right moment, but I should have made an effort because “he was just being friendly, helpful, caring and I reacted like a girl.” No wonder…

“Helpful”, that’s it. He saw me there, minding my own business and he thought I desperately needed his meddling I am asked to acknowledge as selfless help. And, unlike him, I should have made an effort to go with what he wanted and let him in because he was acting out of kindness. As should the rest of the world who obviously cannot go through life without the caring yet unsolicited help of a man. Sorry, “a gentleman” as men called themselves in that situation.

In a nutshell for those who still don’t get it: if one needs help, one asks for it. if not, leave people live their life without forcing yourself on anybody. If you have the urge to do so, refrain it. Then, if indeed asked for help, quit sulking because you were told off before and come and help, like any decent human being would.

One quota for one ubiquity

In our minds, the word quota is associated with restrictions and therefore the idea that what is subjected to a quota is somehow negative.

When quotas are mentioned, it’s mainly to remove or restrain something: we want quotas on migrants so the country can cope with the new arrivals and isn’t “submerged”, we have quotas on our food production in Europe because over-production is by definition waste and money thrown out of the window, we have quotas on the number of soldiers Germany or Japan can have so we never have to fight yet another World War “because of them”…Our mindset is that quotas are for the great and the good in that they limit something that could be potentially damaging.

No wonder in this mindset that even feminists or people fighting against racism and segregation see quotas as the wrong solution to making the plagues they are fighting disappear. They say they favour education rather than imposing something on the white man to end his dominance. And I agree but we need to do both.

Education is indeed the key: let’s make girls understand that there are not limits to what they can do and what they can be interested in, let’s teach to boys accept it. Let’s make people understand from a very young age that the colour of your skin has no bearing whatsoever on your personality, your ability, and that being a Christian does not make you any more tolerant or enlightened than belonging to other religion. Just to name a few examples.

Hackneyed clichés, yes, because most of us agree with them and we are working towards them. Towards tearing down the narrow sides of the boxes in which we put people so we have to make a an effort to actually get to know them for who they are rather than relying the shallowness of prejudice and making life-changing assumptions based on what we see.

I disagree in that we need quotas because we cannot afford to wait another 50 years for the narrow-minded white men currently in power to all wither away and finally get the new generations in. Also these new generations, these young girls and women, these people of different skin colour and religion need role models to look up to. Not just in fiction but in reality so they can see that everything is possible as long as you are a human being, not just a born white and male.

However, we need to change how we deal with quotas. As the LSE puts it in their last report after Ireland’s decision to impose certain quotas, we have been making a mistake with our discourse. We have used quotas to force women on men making women in power the issue when the problem we want to address is the over-representation of men.

Putting a quota on women forced the focus on the under-representation of women  but, in that way, it also pits against one another all the ‘minorities’ looking for fairer representation or share of power, because it’s not just women who are under-represented in Western countries. If we have a quota on women, we need a quota on black people, one on Asian people, one on gay people, one on Muslims, one on Jews, one on single parents, one on young people so our institutions, at least, do represent the society they have a duty to serve. So everyone gets a genuine voice: all the under-represented individuals of the Western societies who still have to rely on aloof, unconcerned white men when it comes to life changing laws and decisions.

I am not saying that all white men are unable to understand and serve greater purpose that the ones of their own kind but it does take a great amount of enlightenment and empathy to make selfless decisions that could possibly even trigger the end of your own privilege. And such men are few and far between, especially in Right-wing circles and increasingly an endangered species on the Left.

The economic plight of the young and single mothers, the half-baked solutions to fight racial prejudice, the constant questioning of abortion and women’s rights, the rise of Islamophobia and racism, and the ever-slow recognition of the gays as normal people all spring from the dominance of one group of people: the white, heterosexual, Christian male, old “enough to have experience”. That very male who has never been a majority when it comes to number but has been playing on dubious scientific and religious beliefs to impose and justify its privilege across the world.

All inequalities today find their source in the fact that people in position of responsibility have very little to no idea what it means to live with these prejudices and economic conditions they have created. Provided they actually care and are not completely blinded by their eagerness to ensure the order that favours them remains unscathed, which they unfortunately mostly are.

How many times was I told, as a gay man, that there were “more important things to deal with” than my right to marry? That may not be the focus of straight white males who like to make people think they have a duty as “a real man” to flee marriage like the plague but it does matter to me. And the fact that it’s not the mighty economy doesn’t make it any less important.

I am all for quotas but we need to use them in a constant manner: to contain a problem. And the problem is the ubiquity of white men in all public and private, national and International institutions and bodies.

What we need are not countless quotas to address the fair representation of women, each skin colour, each religion, each sexuality, each level of wealth but a quota on “males in power”. One quota limiting their presence. If we do, it will force us to genuinely look and prepare for viable alternatives for the present and the future.

The question is: will the white man be enlightened and selfless enough to dare put the spotlight on himself as a problem we need to solve?