Sunday 15 December 2019

Time to step up to the mark, men

Working it Out

The North provides vaccination against shingles for the elderly.
The North provides vaccination against shingles for the elderly.

John Masterson

Now that we almost have a woman in charge of the country, I thought it timely to brush up on my feminist principles. Like most males of my age and upbringing, I take gender equality as a given, and pride myself on that being obvious from a lifetime of impeccable behaviour. Like most males, I am probably wildly wrong. So I did a bit of scouting around to find out what the sisters think. I heartily recommend Enda does the same, for it is a minefield that we all tiptoe through.

I happened upon a young woman called Pamela Clark who is a Ph.D candidate at York University in Toronto. She has published a most useful article called "35 Practical Steps Men Can Take To Support Feminism." Just what the doctor ordered.

First of all, an apology is in order - as Clark's practical steps seem to have provoked some Neanderthal males to their first line of response, which is abuse. It was 35 steps too many for their pea-sized brains, so I assume they just continued with another beer and bout of scratching their privates, which seems like their main contribution to society. The sad thing is that they are biologically capable of fathering children and that there are still woman stupid enough to allow them.

Some of the steps are obvious. Do 50pc of the housework. Give more emotional support in your relationships. Speak up if you hear men making sexist comments. Take equal responsibility for parenting. Maybe easier said than done, but nothing new here. But two of her steps stuck in my mind, the first because I had never thought about it before.

Men should get the HPV vaccine. Fathers should ensure that their sons get it. Her argument is that since women are the ones who suffer disproportionately from the consequences of Human Papillomavirus, with cervical cancer being one serious possibility, it is only fair that men do their part. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. I see US government health sites recommend that boys and girls get vaccinated at about age 12. Makes sense.

The second step that stuck in my mind is one that will affect our behaviour every day and gave me pause for thought. It is quite simply to give women who you do not know some physical space. Being a man, I feel safe most of the time. I do remember being on the London Underground before the police formed a cordon around soccer hooligans, getting some inkling of what fear of mindless attack would be like. Clark says that many women walking at night, or alone, feel on edge or unsafe. So be conscious of it, keep your distance or even cross the street. Easy.

There are nigh on another 30 if you want to do some improving. This one I found a bit difficult. When a woman tells you something is sexist, believe her.

I will try.

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