So, the other day I had the audacity to try and go to a London club with a group of five of my male friends from home. We were turned away. The reason? Because we were a group of young men, and young men are just the worst. Don't let them in, the way is shut, you shall bloody well not pass. We all just sort of stood there, staring blankly at each other. "But, but, but" we stammered collectively, whilst we head-butted each other in the face "what about the beer? What about the girls? What about the fighting?" Or at least, that's how the common perception of men would have you believe the conversation went.
You see, sometimes, very rarely of course, and usually the day just after the full moon, a group of young men will go out to (hold onto your hats people) just spend time together and (this bit is really going to shock) enjoy one another's company. This entrance rule, that is now exceptionally widespread, is just a manifestation of a predictable, tired, negative view of men. We've only got two things on our mind: fighting and fucking. Fucking and fighting. Fucking fighting! Panting and salivating, the modern man bounds down the street like a feral werewolf, gnashing his teeth and drawling, in a state of constant arousal, as evidenced by his massive hard-on that's scraping along the floor.
Even writing this article, this little criticism of a rule I think we can all agree is unreasonable, there's a little voice bleating away in the back of my head: "Be careful! They'll think you're sexist you know, make sure you tell them you're not." It's becoming a problem: if you in any way champion the virtues (yes, we do have some good characteristics) of men, you feel like you're doing something a bit wrong. You have to qualify it with: I'm not a sexist pig, but I find the assertion that "a single young man can live in pig heaven - and often does" highly pejorative (read that article; wow.). Or: I'm not a sexist pig, but I don't believe all men are potential rapists.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't live under a rock. I do see how this view has come about. Wars, rape, pillage, sexism; you name it and we've done it. And I accept that. When I hear about another rape; another murder of a prostitute; another fondling of under-age girls by a high-profile man in his 70s, my head drops and shakes. "Come on guys, we're better than this" I think. But, don't hold that shit against all of us, and especially us younger ones who haven't even had the chance to prove men have evolved with the times. If you don't believe me just go to a park on a Saturday and you will find so many more young fathers with their children then you would've 50 years ago. In the same way it would be completely unfair and unjustified of me to be mistrustful of a German "cos Word War 2 ennit" I don't think it's fair that young men are judged on the past misdemeanours of our forefathers.
There are a lot of men, and young men in particular that I have spoken to, that find this casual disapproval and disparagement very frustrating. The toxic, harmful "LAD" culture is not indicative of this generation of young men. They are just twats. And as sure as the sun is going to rise in the east and set in the west, there will be twats. But, please, next time you hear a horror story, perhaps of a bunch of testosterone fuelled, sex-starved idiots chanting some vaguely coherent, sexist song remember that, like all news, it is only ever the bad news that makes the headlines. Don't think "typical men".
Because, what about the countless young men who have got on public transport and not done something so mind-numbingly misogynistic and knuckle-dragging? I'm not denying this sort of stuff happens, and it angers me as much as anyone, but it would be nice to have some nice press. How about: "Group of 6 drunken male students get on the tube and then get off it" or "Large posse of young men get a bus and sit there for a bit". Because that's what happens, most of the time.
And believe it or not I'm not alone in this view. I'm not the first to attempt (depending on how many people read this) to meekly tap society on the shoulder, as it's in the middle of bellowing loudly about how objectifying and silencing we all are and say: "Erm, sorry, excuse me everyone, yeah we're really sorry for all the terrible stuff that men have done, but, well, we're actually not all like that." David Lammy recently wrote an article talking about how men are uncomfortable talking about masculinity. He makes the point that there is fusillade of role models for women to look up to, but for men, there are none. Especially now that Nelson Mandela has tragically passed away, who do we turn to?
Furthermore, a recent study by Black Media found that men didn't like the way they are portrayed in the media. The study found that today's men cite their top three qualities as "good-hearted", "a good friend" and "well rounded", surpassing "stylish" and "good in bed" on a list of 12 characteristics. The times they are a-changin'. So, if men can evolve with the times, so too can the portrayal of men.
I'm all for combating the media's unrepresentative portrayal of women as sexual objects. It is my view that the genders are equal. But does that mean we have to put up with men being portrayed in this damaging light as a consequence? I don't think that's particularly helpful for anyone. Do you?