It's no exaggeration to say that as a newborn baby I didn't fully appreciate how fortunate I was. In fact it would take several decades before I understood the massive advantage afforded me by the genetic fluke of being born male. If you don't fully understand what an advantage you've got then you don't fully understand what a disadvantage other people are at. Looking at the men at the top in the worlds of business, government and pretty much everything else it's often painfully apparent that they don't realise their own unusual privilege What's perhaps less obvious and less often noted is that this realisation is one that plenty of men lower down the power ladder haven't arrived at either.
Many people imagine that twitter is just a massive cyber echo chamber in which you can happily listen to people loudly telling you what you already think. While that is to some extent a fair assessment I've also found it to be a useful source of perspective. First of all there is the hashtag #yesallwomen which allows women to share their stories of harassment. It paints a more expansive and upsetting picture than I had hitherto appreciated. In the first place it's much more common (to the point of being universal) than I had realised and in the second it's more violent and aggressive. The @everdaysexism project highlights the routine disparity in treatment between men and women in everyday life. More recently I have become aware of the @mentowomenratio feed, tracking the proportion of your TV space taken up by women. It all adds up to a picture of what remains a man's world.
So all of this being the case why are some men (I don't have numbers on this) so sniffy about gender equality? Why does an American college student whine about a rape prevention course as if wasting his time was the real problem? Why does David Cameron refuse to identify as a feminist? Why Dapper Laughs? What is so wrong with these men?
Some of them are probably just pricks. No getting past those guys, they just have to be shamed into silence by everyone else. I think a lot of the remainder, as I hinted earlier, don't realise what they've got. It's hard to see the glass ceiling if you're standing on top of it. If you're male it's less obvious how much gender discrimination exists in the same way as it is easier for a white person to be unaware of how bad racial profiling is in the police because it never happens to them. If you see the world as a level playing field then perhaps feminism is just continual carping from a load of old windbags who should get over themselves and accept that their place in the world is their own stupid lazy fault. What's wrong with having a harmless compliment bellowed at you from a scaffold for god's sake? I wouldn't mind women loudly making value judgements about my appearance for everyone to hear. How often do you think men need tampons?
Where I'm going with this is that, ludicrous as it seems, some men feel under attack. They don't see their position as being unduly advantageous so they now imagine they are being marginalised. Imagine you're a white male comedian who's never had any luck getting on the TV panel shows. All of a sudden everyone is on and on about how there aren't enough women on these shows and suddenly it just got a bit harder for you. This seems very unfair to you, you didn't ask to be white, but now you're being penalised for it in the name of equal rights. Obviously I don't know of anyone who would start mouthing off about women pretending to be comedians (google it) but hypothetically that could happen.
I don't want to have to place the burden unfairly here, but ladies, the only way I properly understand your experiences is because you've told me about them. Please, keep doing that. Now then- guys. Hello. Obviously you don't recognise that chap in the totally made up story in the previous paragraph. If you don't believe how rough it still is for women just to be women, then follow some of the links I've posted, check that stuff out. Once you've read it, share it. Share it as widely as possible. The glass ceiling needs to be coloured in. Then we can take it down.