To me, Giles Coren's excruciatingly cruel article about his "fat bastard" four-year-old son reads as cis-male resistance to the changing conversation around harassment.
No one's paying for journalism anymore, so, like many, Giles Coren needs to supplement his income as a talented food writer by trolling for clicks. And that's what he did when he wrote this. So far, so predictable.
God, the article's horrible. Eye-wateringly, excruciatingly cruel, and written without the consent of its subject/target - his four-year-old son. A tiny, totally healthy-looking boy, who in a couple of years will be old enough to read and understand the hurtful bile publically written about him for lols by the man who's supposed to protect him. It's common knowledge that being fat-shamed by a parent is a risk factor in developing an eating disorder - like binge-eating for the comfort you're not getting from a loving parent who puts your feelings before their own ego.
I know it was satire. I know his supporters will huff "but it was a JOKE". And predictably, Giles tries to legitimise bullying his child by evoking the cost of obesity to the NHS. Now, NHS budgets are complex and under-reported-on, and we're deliberately misinformed about them so that our government can quietly dismantle the universal healthcare that makes our NHS the envy of the world. So to see it used as lazy rhetoric from someone to try and justify his own shoddy parenting properly boils my piss.
Fat people do cost the NHS a ton of money. But so do "alcoholic and crackheads", which Giles cheerfully says he wouldn't mind his son being (he also wouldn't mind Sam being LBGTQI he adds generously, casually aligning that community with addiction and mental illness. Right on, Giles). A&E isn't hammered every weekend by people who've eaten too much cake. It's not even chronic alcoholics and addicts. It's binge drinkers who have societal permission to deliberately, knowingly poison themselves, putting themselves in immediate, urgent danger. Where's your hot take on that, Giles? The UK currently has an epidemic of steroid use from young men with poor body image (I wonder how many of them were called "chubby f*ckers" by their Dads?). I want Giles Coren to walk into a Swansea nightclub full of angry 'Roiders, tap on a bicep as big as his own head and try his line there. "Excuse me lads, but have you thought about the impact your drink and drug-taking has on the NHS?".
There are many obvious problems with what Giles said about his son. But what struck me is what he said about his daughter.
"My daughter I am less worried about...there are uses for a fat woman. She can be kind of cosy."
Urgh. URGH. "Uses" for a fat female body. From any man, this is gross. From the man who wrote about cutting a "c*nt" into the family sofa to masturbate into, it's worse (yeah, that happened when he was thirteen. But Giles wrote about his addiction to masturbating in gag-inducing detail just last year). And when that same man to make horrible, leering, wink-wink-fnarr-fnarr allusions to the "uses" for the future fat female adult body of HIS OWN DAUGHTER, it doesn't read like satire. It's just...sleazy.
I don't need Giles to clarify what "uses" he's referring to. But his ambiguousness here is interesting, considering that this month he called for Kate Leaver to expand on exactly what she meant when she tweeted that Rupert Myers "forced himself" on her. After Myers was sacked, Giles wrote an article entitled "A couple of xx's could end my glorious career".
The article about his addiction to masturbating included a line about being relieved that his Mum and sister didn't say anything about finding evidence that he'd ejaculated into the sofa because "the never do, do they?". No, Giles. Women never DID. But now we are.
Yesterday's article was written and published at a time when cis-men's entitlement to others' bodies is finally being confronted. It's a telling response from Coren and Esquire to the day's changing attitude. It reads as a pushback:
"What? Women don't want to be sexually harassed anymore? Pfft. I'm gonna make an uncomfortable reference to the future "uses" of my infant daughter's body. Take THAT snowflakes!".
At worst, it's a symptom of cis-men's resistance to the tide of change that we've seen in the last month. At best, it's more nonsense from another interchangeable professional contrarian - today he tweeted about "breaking Twitter" with a ground-breaking article about...snowflakes. What an edgelord.
Giles, be a better Dad to your son. As your career continues to dwindle you'll have more time to take an active role in what he eats and how he moves. And FFS, stop being an utter creep.