Black Holes and Revolutions

So, lots going on this week.

We heard that an MP is calling for the removal of the parental rights of fathers of children conceived through rape. Yeah, I know, you thought that was a given already. And while it’s not as black and white as this and there have to be a lot of other things in place first before the father is involved, the fact that this is even a possibility shows that we’re still living with the remnants of the kind of medieval, patriarchal society where men have more agency over women’s bodies than women do. It all feels a bit Game of Thrones-ey. (Nearly there, people. I am nothing if not topical).

And while we’re talking about laws, as of this week it is now a criminal offence to take a picture under someone’s clothing without their permission. I know, who knew that was a Bad Thing? Certainly not all the men who have been doing it for years, hence the need for a law to remind them. It’s so bloody hard being a man, when all the rules keep changing and women keep making such a fuss about what is obviously just a bit of fun.

Take stalking, for example, what’s not to like about that?? Are you women ALL on your period or something and just being over-sensitive? It’s something women should feel flattered about, a sign of how attractive we are, of how men just can’t control themselves around us. Isn’t that what we all secretly want? Make your bloody minds up.

Well, no, it isn’t. When it happened to me I didn’t feel flattered, as I was told I should when I tried to tell someone who showed more sympathy for that poor, love-struck man than for me. It didn’t feel romantic or sweet that he pursued me to that extent. Being followed, even when I moved to another town, did not show me how much he really liked me, it just made me absolutely bloody terrified. I didn’t feel like I was in a romantic comedy, it was much more It Follows than Bridget Jones.

We need to change the way we talk about this kind of thing, and let young women know that if it feels wrong, it probably is wrong. Remind them to trust their instincts. We need to stop excusing bad behaviour by telling young girls that a boy is behaving badly because ‘he likes you!’

We are told by films and books that love is often shown through bad behaviour. You often see a male character pursuing a woman at quite an intense level, and eventually she caves in, accepts that actually she does love him, and everyone lives happily ever after. No wonder some men are confused.

The recent (ish) Netflix hit, You, dealt with this. The main character was the perfect leading man, he could have been picked straight out of any romantic comedy. He was good looking, caring and sensitive. In the first episode he meets a woman he likes and becomes obsessed with her, stalking her on social media, standing outside her house (surely I can’t be the only person who spent most of the first few episodes shouting ‘shut your damn curtains’ at the screen?).

But this show very cleverly showed the fine line between right and wrong. A lot of the things he did were things you see in many a rom-com film, things that are usually dressed up as romance. And who here hasn’t gone through someone’s social media feed to find out more about them? You haven’t? You’re either a liar or a complete amatuer, either way you don’t deserve a Twitter account.

But we also need to look at how crimes against women are reported. In a recent case in Leeds where a man killed his ex-girlfriend, he was described as a Maths graduate who was ‘fuelled by jealousy’. (By the way, he stabbed her one hundred times). They are often described as a loving husband, or family man almost as though the aim is to humanise him more, to soften his crime. That of stabbing her one hundred times.

The woman’s description usually dehumanises her, she is reduced to her status in relation to him, or her physical attributes, or her age.

These attacks are often described as a crime of passion and there’s an unspoken, vague, underlying assumption that she probably pushed him too hard, poor chap. You know what women are like, they go on and on, they twist your words.

He just got carried away with his emotions, and aren’t we always saying that men need to show their emotions more? Men’s emotions are used as a reason for carrying out violence, women’s are the reason they are victims of violence.

So let’s just get this straight as it’s hard to keep up; men’s emotions are good, women’s are so bad that they get fenced off into a male-approved, society-friendly arena called PMT, a place where women can shout and swear all they like, like Roman gladiators wielding tampons for swords, because hey, hormones. But relax, the mens, because they don’t really mean it. (*spoiler alert – we totally mean it).

So here’s a suggestion for some men on the internet; your time might be better spent looking at these issues, rather than spending what must have been HOURS going through the coding of the algorithm that produced the first images of a black hole, just to prove that Katie Bouman did not, as was suggested, produce it all on her own because God forbid a woman should take any credit.

Just remind me again why we’re struggling to get girls into STEM careers?

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