It’s not me, it’s you

The intern.jpg

This sounds like the opening line to my next breakup, but that would require the act of dating first, and I’m not crazy enough to want to enter the London dating game. Imagine the final battle scene from the film 300, well it’s like that, but worse.

300 men huddled together against the onslaught of women who find them inevitably lacking in the most basic communication skills, let alone the ability to defend a nation. However, that’s not really the point here, the point is that mostly I feel like breaking up with the entire male gender.

Yes, that might sound like a dramatic statement, but I recently went to see The Intern and spent the entire film annoyed by the men in it, and downright offended by the final reel. The overall message acted as a huge cautionary tale to women; don’t get too successful and overshadow your man, because he’ll go and put his penis in another woman, and that’s totally okay. After all, as a stay at home dad his masculinity was threatened, and so his actions were completely acceptable. Acceptable enough that you’ll take him back once he’s apologised.

The film made it painfully obvious that feminism is no longer the conversation we should be having. Women have been talking about it for decades and honestly, I’m bored of it. It’s not about us anymore. It’s about men and how they define what masculinity is. Because unless they’re able to redefine it in a way that adapts to a changing world, our ideas of feminism can’t go anywhere. They don’t have room to grow and stretch within the narrow confines of a masculinity that belongs in the graveyard.

It’s almost as if we have a generation of lost boys who haven’t managed to grow up yet, instead, they’re just adulterously wandering around Neverland trying to find masculinity in between the sheets. They’re caught somewhere between archaic ideas of the protector and hunter, and overly sexualised notions of ‘ma bitches’ who are just going to ‘get low’ for them. Honestly, it’s pathetic.  

Before you slap a stereotype on me, let me assure you that I’m not burning my bra (my breasts were never small and perky enough to live the ‘free’ life anyway) and I don’t hate all men. They’re great, and there are some truly wonderful men I’ve been privileged to meet. But as a whole, between the men and women in my life, the women always unequivocally outshine the men. Their accomplishments, ambitions, achievements and their ability to manage numerous complexities in their lives make them glorious. Next to them, the men seem almost lackluster and incompetent. One dimensional in their ability to thrive in one area and not in others.

And even if you can settle and excuse their flaws and shortcomings, they’re still completely unsure of how to deal with a new generation of women who are sexually and financially independent. They get the hump if you offer to pay for dinner and god forbid you pragmatically point out that you earn more money. Slut shaming still happens every day and because we’ve all apparently stepped out of a Jane Austin novel, as a woman you shouldn’t talk about sex.

Last week I was out for a friends birthday, dressed up in all my finery and feeling exceptionally pleased with my reflection, when one man in the throes of chatting me up pointed out that I was wearing flat shoes and next time he would like to see me in heels. In the same week, another man obnoxiously propped against the bar started asking me if I could cook and clean, and would I cook for him. London has a lot of cobbles and I like to dance in shoes that don’t make me feel like I’m in the middle of a Chinese foot binding ceremony, and I hate cooking. Between the fourteen-hour days I work, I don’t have time to cook myself a damn meal, let alone anyone else.  

Needless to say, both conversations ended pretty quickly and yet they still looked offended and wondered ‘what my problem’ was.

My problem is that questions like these are still being asked. My problem is that we’re making films, like The Intern, in which staying at home with your family is a threat to your manhood and adultery is the answer. My problem is that men are still under the impression that women are fighting to keep up with them when the reality is, we lapped them long ago; now it’s their turn to keep up.  My problem is….actually, it’s not me with the problem, it’s you!

Salma El-Wardany