Wednesday 18 September 2019

Proving that women's sexuality is a complex and insoluble mystery,

MILLENNIAL DIARY Ciara O'Connor

Proving that women's sexuality is a complex and insoluble mystery, I'm A Celebrity's human-raisin Nick Knowles has become the jungle heartthrob for hundreds of thousands of women, young and old.

It seems right, after a year that will surely go down in history for the mushrooming of the pandemic ''Daddy'' meme online, that 2018 would end with thousands of young women (who had been given Malique by ITV for this exact purpose) lusting over a controlling and wizened DIY TV presenter.

Last week started off well for Nick, who stoically threw himself on the sword of rice and beans so that all his campmates could enjoy a luxury roast dinner. The world's smallest violin played as Nick Knowles, proud and alone, fashioned some rudimentary bean burgers as the camera cut away to the others enjoying a bacchanalia of jam roly-polys. Our hearts swelled at the quiet dignity of modern martyr Nick Knowles. The competition was over; his crown was secure.

But then disaster struck. Nick Knowles became a walking embodiment of the phrase ''double-edged sword'', proof that you can not have your sexy-dad cake and eat it too. Because while his leathery visage and air of capability may thrill, it comes as surely as the sun follows the moon with a profound and steadfast ''just old-fashioned'' misogyny.

The unravelling of Nick Knowles began when he comforted John Barrowman, who was shaken after a run-in with a hysterical woman, by relating in hushed tones that ''the girls'' were experiencing ''that time of the month''. Rita Simons had pointed out that four portions of rice between 11 people seemed insufficient. Crazy old Rita! John, in the manner of a stroppy nine-year-old, began to cook all the rice they owned. The premenstrual loon then raved: "I'm not by any means saying let's cook all the rice. All I'm saying is it needs to be more than four between us." Woah there, Rita!

Nick Knowles, like a prison old-timer taking a newbie under his wing, explained that the women were ''jumpier''; "We're going to have that for a couple of days with the girls." Then, in the most headline-snatching story since I'm A Celeb started this year, it emerged that Nick Knowles is absolutely terrified of knickers. Well, disembodied knickers. Knickers on a woman's body are fine, but knickers in the laundry are very dangerous, and quite possibly gay. Nick Knowles was hanging up wet laundry on the line (omg boyfriend material) when he was faced with what could have been a moral and ideological quandary: touching a woman's knickers. Nick Knowles has a strong sense of right and wrong, though; he knew what to do. He asked John Barrowman, a gay, for help.

Who knows what frenzied thoughts were going through the mind of Nick Knowles at this point, "What if this makes her fall in love with me?" "Is this how men become gay? I can't become gay!" "What if I get MeToo'd for touching knickers!" "I can't ask a woman to do it, because of feminism! A gay man is just same but different, right?" "What if I pick them up and cannot physically stop myself from sniffing them because of my gargantuan heterosexuality?"

And just like that, Nick Knowles lost the millennial woman and gay vote. It was widely reported that the affair launched a debate about ''unconscious homophobia'', but it doesn't seem very unconscious to me. Oh dear, Daddy Nick. Oh dear.

*******

Speaking of fallen millennial heroes, Margaret Atwood (below) announced last week that she's writing a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale. Although the 30-year-old novel spent 16 weeks on the Sunday Times bestseller list last year, and is still selling in its millions, not everyone is thrilled about the news. There's a vocal section of the millennial population who believe the 79-year-old author should bow out gracefully.

At the beginning of this year, Atwood was moved to write a piece entitled Am I a Bad Feminist? in response to criticism she had received for signing a letter calling for an independent investigation into the firing of Steven Galloway, a professor accused of sexual assault and harassment by a student.

At a time when Atwood's work has become cultural shorthand for a pro-reproductive rights, anti-Trump feminist zeitgeist, it was hard to reconcile the novel and its afterlife with the author's bloody-minded refusal to acknowledge how tacitly supporting a man accused of predatory behaviour could hurt survivors and stop women from coming forward. She wrote a widely-criticised piece about MeToo that seemed to suggest that mad feminists were trying to abolish the legal system. By trolling her critics and refusing to engage with any criticism, she has tested the patience of her millennial fans. We thank her for giving us the book in 1985, but it would be better if we took it from here. The Handmaid's Tale, it seems, has become bigger than Margaret Atwood.

There are fears that Margaret could be headed in the same direction as JK Rowling, that other literary hero whose wifi millennials wish they could permanently disconnect. If she continues to respond to the misguided demand from fans who, like a dog with a week's worth of food, don't know when to stop, it will only be a matter of time before we start seeing new Handmaid's Tale spin-off screenplays arriving in Eason a few times a year. There'll be licensed handmaids' red capes appearing in Penneys alongside the Harry Potter slipper-socks. Praise be.

*******

It was reported that Kim Kardashian "surprised fans with a cameo during Chrissy Teigen and John Legend's Legendary Christmas special" last week.

Of course, the biggest surprise here for most millennials was that Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have a Christmas special. What could it mean? Why weren't we alerted?

Chrissy Teigen, Our Lady of Perpetual Snowflakery, is capable of producing only enchanting and important must-see content. We felt put-out. Research did not illuminate the matter: there were reports of names as diverse as Meghan Trainor, Stevie Wonder, Kris Jenner, Adam Levine in the mix as well as Zach Galifianakis as Santa Claus. There were sketches and cooking and chats. It all looked impenetrably American.

In a sentence I never thought I'd write, John and Chrissy's cousin Yassir interviewed Kim about the possibility of a make-up line for men. Incorrigible entrepreneur Kim said that plans were ''in the works'' for man make-up, because why stop at making only 50pc of the world's population feel insecure about their appearance!

It is well known that the male eye actively repels eye-liner made for women, and that testosterone in the skin makes lady-foundation slide right off male cheeks, so it's a relief to would-be make-up wearing men everywhere that Kim is hard at work in her laboratory cooking up something that they can use. Finally!

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice