A Man. A Plan. A Canal: Panama

from www.independent.co.uk

Hello! Welcome, welcome, come in. It’s nice to see you. You can leave your shoes on, don’t worry, I’ll take your coat. It’s horrible out there, isn’t it? Well you’re here now anyway; you made it. Let me take you on the tour. This way; watch out for the step into the… oh dear, are you ok? What do you mean, why do I own an ironing board? And a coffee table? Don’t you? Anyway, this is the lounge, we just redecorated. Can I get you something to drink?

The preceding paragraph is a demonstration paragraph, brought to you by the Swedish Modular Furniture Company, and is used to illustrate the manner in which the author (being me) would welcome you (being you) into his home. Note that his tone is chipper and warm; perhaps you feel as though you have returned home after many years at sea, or that this man would make a good father-figure. Perhaps you know a guy just like him.

Note that he does not smash you over the head with a giant club made of bone, nor does he drag you anywhere by your hair. He doesn’t try to kill any animals or make fire by rubbing two rocks together and he does not seem to be wearing any clothing made of hide. But the media want you to believe that he is, that he would, that he (being me or other men) would kill you so much as look at you. That all of the male population of the planet Earth are mewling, drooling, cock-bearing muscle-bound meat sacks with hands made for fighting and brains full of burgers.

Huggies, purveyors of the finest wearable infant shit-sacks “put them to the toughest test imaginable… Dads” in one advertising campaign. Adverts for convenience food talk about it being so easy to prepare that even Dad can do it. Even stupid old, idiotic Dad, that moronic fucking asshole Dad can manage it, his hands quivering with the mental strain as he tosses some processed orange things onto a baking tray and slides it into the oven. Even HE can do it. It’s that easy. The pathetic old twat.

Middle-aged men are portrayed as variations on Homer Simpson; younger men as flexing athletic, two-dimensional hedonists or bookish nerds. Boys like football. Grandfathers are lecherous bearers of Wethers Originals or the human equivalent of antique teddy bears. Men are said to desire a “man-cave”, a place in which he is allowed to keep his silly toys and be as disgraceful as he likes. Basically, this describes a kennel.

Men are dogs, or murderers, or philanderers or harmless, neutered givers of lifts and gifts they tell us. Aren’t they stupid? But who, exactly, are they? Who decided that all of my gender were throbbing, glistening Casanova-style sex gods or useless, snivelling, premature-ejaculating virgins?

Sideshow Bob-haired Brazilian footballer David Luiz recently took to the BBC to swear blind that he had, after all, put it in somebody after declaring that he and his girlfriend “would wait” until they were married on Instagram, stating “I’m not a virgin. I’ve had more than one girlfriend in my life.” It turns out ol’ David, Mr. Luiz himself had recently been baptised in a team-mates swimming pool and found religion. It had absolutely nothing to do with his appearance, or personality as the bloodhound hacks sniffing around the grimy gutters of the moderately well-known had hoped.

We all know that women are also portrayed in a variety of horrifically stereotypical ways that make you want to vomit yourself inside out; the floozy, the geek, the party girl, the mother, and children are idolised as little cherubic miracles to be worshipped at all costs. The elderly are shown to require veneration if, or when we remember that they are still alive. They seem to be made of wood.

We are all, each and every one of us, regardless of race, sex, faith, age, sexuality, whatever, reduced to dirty little binary archetypes. So, I ask you, who exactly are these people that are capable of reducing all of the beauty and complexity of human life into this handful of stale scenes? Why do we just seem to accept these lazy stereotypes; is it some kind of shortcut, a universal social language, an Esperanto of cliche? Who the fuck do I mail this to?

Yawn! Aren’t you tired of being told what to do? We at the Swedish Modular Furniture Company sure are! We say, to hell with convention, toss your tired old three-piece suite in the trash and try an All-New Bean-Bag Big Bench from 2MoroCo instead. Just £999999 with this voucher! The Swedish Modular Furniture Company – The Biggest (Meat) Balls in Town!

Sorry, excuse me, those sly bastards snuck back in whilst I was AFK. I told them, the opening paragraph thing was a one-time deal but they just threw a fifty pence piece at my feet and slowly backed out of the room, staring me unerringly in the eye. I had to go and work out for a few minutes to get rid of all of this unhealthy anger and tension. Now I just feel light-headed and out of breath. In case you were wondering, I choose to use a 12 kg gender-neutral kettle bell and run sets of ten reps in various exercises to see how many sets I can do. I don’t know anything about “working out”, but I do feel compelled by society’s expectations so I made some pretty easy stuff up and named the exercises myself which makes me feel better about it. I squat to pick up the bell and pull it up to my chin (The Pearl Necklace), hold it out sideways for a bit, one arm at a time (John Major) swing it like a pendulum through my legs (The 1970s Radio One DJ) and hold it one-armed above my head with a straight arm a few times (The Hackney Haircut). But I digress.

Men do not live in caves, or have sex with cars (not all of them anyway). They don’t all like sports or believe that Lynx/Axe body spray will make them more irresistible. They don’t all think about sex every six seconds or whatever, nor do they all watch Top Gear whilst munching misogynistic Yorkies and bags of McCoys delicious sexist crisps. They are humans, just as we all are, grimly clutching onto this cooling rock like ants as it circles a slow-motion explosion, hurtling through the void at unimaginable speeds, insignificant in the grand scheme of things, a mere twinkle in the eyes of the Universe*.

*Twinkling Eyes of the Universe are now available at a Swedish Modular Furniture Company store near you!

Image from http://www.independent.co.uk

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