Some sexism happened in my bed the other night.
Or, more specifically, it happened four hours earlier, as we watched Jennifer Aniston playing a sex-crazed dentist taking sexual harassment to new heights in the horribly bad film, Horrible Bosses.
We laughed. Because it was funny. Because it probably wouldn't really happen that way in real life.
But as we lay down to a restful slumber, my boyfriend turned to me, faux-pensively, and said:
By the way.
Some sexism happened in that film. I was thinking about it, and that was definitely sexist.
You would never have laughed if it was the other way around. So, yeh. That's pretty sexist of you.
BOOM. Round one to men everywhere.
This was a joke. But I sighed.
No, I conceded. I probably wouldn't. But that wouldn't be ironic. That would be true. And that's not hypocrisy. That's reality.
I'll tell you something I don't understand about the (mostly white middle class) boys - now, hesitantly, men - that I grew up with, live with, share my bed with, spend time with - good friends, good people; whip-smart, educated, kind; surrounded by girls - now women - who intellectually match or trample them, give as good as they get; who deserve their respect and their defence. Women who should give any man pause for thought as to why they live, in so many ways still, as essentially second-class citizens -
Why do they do this?
Why do they bother keeping score in a game where the odds are stacked so extraordinarily in their favour?
Why do they play this game of graceless one-upmanship?
Why do they feel the need to leap to the defence of their indelible, bulletproof, hard-as-nails White Male Privilege every time there's a sniff of injustice, long before I see them racing to the defence of anyone else's?
Why - WHY - aren't they angrier on our behalf?
Maybe it's our fault.
Maybe we haven't been saying it right.
So let me say it now.
When the evidence is everywhere, and insidious, and relentless that discrimination, rape and violence against women is a raging global pandemic on every continent on earth that shows no signs of abating;
When women worldwide aged 15-44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined;
When Britain - held up to the world as a shining paragon of female empowerment - last year dropped down the global scale of gender equality from 9th to 26th place, with less female political representation than Sudan, China and Iraq; a 19.1% pay gap in general and a 35% pay gap at managerial level;
When powerful women - necessarily more exceptional in every way than their male counterparts - are still as rare as unicorns, and as mythologized; tantalising symbols of possibility; exceptions to the rule; their routes to power feted as extraordinary - and impossible, most of the time, for others to replicate.
When they teach us freedom and possibility in our schools even as our teachers and our parents unwittingly transmit dangerously gendered biases that will, in ways big and small, render us incapable of realising that possibility any time soon;
When in the worlds of work, politics, television, film, science, academia, literature and art - women's voices are still worth less than a man's and consistently belittled, dismissed or suppressed;
When the heart and lungs of our political system still resembles nothing so closely as a braying herd of entitled, spoiled, ruddy faced school boys;
When baby girls are so worthless and gendercide so common that the rising global powers are systematically engineering themselves into a dominantly male reality;
When in 2013, a 13 year old rape victim can be buried up to her neck in Southern Somalia and stoned to death for adultery in a stadium of 1,000 people;
When we are in the grip of an economic crisis whose first victims are women and whose shockwaves are globally undoing what small progress we have made;
When, in 2012, Obama's second term was won by women forced to vote, not on issues that will provide a better world, but for the candidate who would promise to keep their bodies safe, at least for now, from state control;
When US rapists who impregnate their victims have parental rights in 31 states;
When abortion is still illegal in Great Britain;
When it is only by blind luck and accident of birth that I can even write or think or speak this and keep my freedom;
When your sisters and your mothers and your partners bear the weight of these things, directly and indirectly, consciously and unconsciously, every day;
Don't tell me about that sexism you noticed against men in that film.
Don't funnel that precious daily quota of indignation into one tiny slight to The Patriarchy when there is so much more to be angry about and so much more to do.
Don't waste your breath disproving a single statistic when you could be using it to join a chorus of change.
Don't talk to me about 'women's clubs' as if they're the gates to global power or the murky masturbatory chambers of the heirs of the universe or the homoerotic shower rooms of the world economy when you know damn well they're clubs of necessity, of sheer bloody-mindedness, of shared disadvantage; of relentless, exhausting, bone-wearying pain-the-ass blood-boiling idiocy; of loaded dice and trap doors and pit-hole playing fields.
Don't remind me of the gulf of perspective that can still exist between a man and a women if you do not implicitly already understand this.
Until you have the good grace to acknowledge all this;
Until you attempt to understand;
Until you spend one real minute thinking about the breadth and the depth of my bona-fide, authentic Women's-Only Sexism -
Please, please, PLEASE - don't tell me about yours.
(Originally posted on 05.03.15 at Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/bex-felton/men-please-dont-tell-me_b_6806208.html)