When it comes to relationships between the sexes, there is confusion. And maybe that has always been the case. The mysteries of the dating ritual have been a main theme of comedy and tragedy from the earliest times to the present.
But in recent years the mating game seems to have entangled itself in completely new levels of complexity.
Take an incident in 2016 that became known as "Cleavage Hole". It happened when, during a live TV chat program, the American actress Mayim Bialik, famous for her leading role in the sitcom Blossom in the 1990s, got up and exposed her breasts to fellow panelist and Mail on Sunday columnist, Piers Morgan.
The first three minutes of Nicki Minaj & # 39; s Anaconda music video consist of wobbling her buttocks in the eye of the camera
She teases viewers while stretching during a yoga class in a hot pink string thong and keeps intense eye contact
Her action – a protest against comments he had made about women showing what he considered too much cleavage in inappropriate situations – was received with huge cheers and laughter from the studio audience and picked up by viewers.
Back then, in 2016, exposing your breasts was a "feminist" act. Revealing them to a man who had not asked to see them was a particularly feminist act.
The idea that women expose themselves to men, which makes men feel uncomfortable or present themselves as "feminist" in particular for touching or harassing men, was a tropic that lasted for years.
She suggestively eats a banana while she is dressed in the apron of a skimpy maid and her cleavage is displayed
Minaj then squirts a can of squirty cream on her cleavage, wipes her fingers over her breasts and gives the cream to herself
That changed a year later with the first #MeToo claims against the film producer Harvey Weinstein. At that stage there seemed to be a rapid consensus that all sexual progress was unbearable and that no excuse could be made for them.
The American actress Mayim Bialik is famous for her leading role in the sitcom Blossom in the 1990s, stood up and exposed her breasts to fellow panelist and Mail on Sunday columnist, Piers Morgan
James Cordon and Piers seem absolutely beyond themselves as with the gesture. Mayim was kicked back when she talked about how she was & # 39; not flirty & # 39; with men acts & # 39; as a policy & # 39;
The new lines were found to be dug very deeply and very quickly. Intriguingly, a year after her TV appearance, Bialik made the following comment: "I make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress whom I find self-protective and wise," she said.
"I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations that make me the most intimate. I dress modestly. I don't act flirtatiously with men as a policy. & # 39;
Her comments led her into a certain amount of trouble with other Hollywood women who claimed to blame & # 39; victim – in particular, she accused the way women dressed dressed up in men's behavior. She was eventually forced to apologize. But stranger than this was that so much of what Bialik said contradicted what she had done just a year earlier. That does not mean that women should not be able to do with their bodies what they like. But it is fair to say that women – perhaps the most famous and celebrated – send very confusing messages. The word "mixed" does not even begin to tackle it.
There is a song by Nicki Minaj, Anaconda, that summarizes the complexity of the current situation. The first three minutes of the video with the music consist almost entirely of Minaj in a bikini, wiggling her buttocks in front of the camera. Sometimes she has a group of other women with her, dressed in the same way, who also wiggle with their bottoms.
& # 39; Take out the big balloons & # 39 ;: Ellen DeGeneres shows that there are different rules for women regarding the sexualization of others, while placing a photo that beckons Katy Perry's breast for the singer's birthday
Other than that, the only other things that happen are Minaj who suggestively eats a banana, then squirts a can of squirty cream onto her cleavage, wipes her fingers over her breasts, and gives the cream to herself.
All of this is perfectly normal and banal footage in the world of pop music videos, where female stars tend to dress and dance like strippers.
The most important part is the last minute and a half of the video, which starts with Minaj crawling on all fours to a fit young man sitting on a chair. With only a bra on top and lace lace and pierced leggings, she moves around the man, spinning around as she walks.
She puts a leg over his shoulders. She leans in front of him and shoves her buttocks in his face and wiggles it up and down. Eventually, while her buttocks are waved in front of his face for the umpteenth time, he gently places a hand over her buttocks.
At which point it is over. The vocals are "Hey!" And Minaj puts his hand away and walks outside.
As she leaves her exit, the man leans forward in the chair and puts his face in his hands, apparently bewildered at his unforgivable behavior.
The confusion that Nicki Minaj is acting here is representative of a whole series of other things in our culture. It contains an unsolvable challenge and an impossible requirement – that a woman should be allowed to lap-dance for her, to drape herself around and to stagger her ass in the face of every man she likes. But if that man even puts one hand on the woman, she can completely change the game.
She can go from stripper to mother superior in an instant. And it is he who has to learn that he is wrong.
The impossible requirement that cannot be met, but that is written in contemporary morals? It's that a woman should be as sexy and sexual as she wants – but that doesn't mean she can be sexualized by others.
This is true even when clothing and accessories are meant to present women to men in an even more sexual light than they would otherwise appear.
For example, what should we think of fake nipple fashion? Companies such as Just Nips present these items on their website as if they were largely intended for women who have had breast amputations. As the broader marketing makes clear, the "bra-less" look and prominent nipples are a well-known change for men.
At the start of the # MeToo scandal, every man who had ever objectified, let alone improperly, touched a woman in trouble. But it seemed that the American TV celebrity Ellen DeGeneres, who came out as a lesbian in 1997, didn't have to play according to the same rules.
At the end of October 2017, the month that Harvey Weinstein fell out of favor, she posted a photo of herself with pop star Katy Perry on social media, who wore a strikingly close-fitting dress that showed her breasts with great effect. The photo showed DeGeneres with one arm around Perry, at eye level with her breasts and she walked with her mouth open. "Congratulations Katy Perry!" Read the corresponding message on DeGeneres' Twitter account. "It's time to bring out the big balloons!"
Because, although there was a large agreement at the time that men could not objectify women, it seemed that there was an exception clause for famous lesbians.
This is just one of the conflicting situations in which we find ourselves. But there are plenty of others. For example, there is someone who at the same time insists that women in every meaningful way are exactly the same as men who possess the same qualities and competences. But at the same time – magically – they are also better than men. An example of this paradox has been shown for most of this decade by Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund.
In 2018, on the tenth anniversary of the financial crash, Lagarde went to the IMF website to write about the lessons learned.
She took the opportunity to discuss the need for a larger number of women on the boards of banks and agencies that supervise financial institutions. And she repeated what one of her favorite mantras of the previous decade had been.
& # 39; As I have said many times, & # 39; she wrote, & # 39; if it had been Lehman Sisters instead of Lehman Brothers, the world might look very different today. & # 39;
This was not just a repeat of the problem of group thinking that had thus contributed to the events of 2008. Lagarde made a bigger point. She said not only that women were needed in financial institutions – almost no one could doubt that – but that if women were more prominent in that workforce or, better yet, the leadership, the results and outcomes would be different. Lagarde was not alone.
Shortly after the crash, TV presenter Fern Britton was in the BBC discussion show Question Time. "It seems that a lot of men are in this money case and they have made a very bad fist out of it," she said enthusiastically applause.
& # 39; If there were women who did old-fashioned households, where women are traditionally pretty good at making sure the money goes into the pot for electricity and gas and the telephone and food … we didn't plunder it and held it all on a horse to see if the money would come in next week. & # 39;
The equality minister in the coalition government from 2010 to 2015 in Great Britain, liberal democrat Lynne Featherstone, put forward the same theory. At her party's conference in 2011, she blamed the men for the & # 39; terrible decisions & # 39; which were taken in the world's economy and said that men as a whole were the main reason for & # 39; the mess that the world is in & # 39 ;.
So here is the mystery. Why is it that women are exactly the same as men – so capable, so capable, suitable for the same set of tasks – but also better?
Exactly how women can be exactly the same as men, but also better, remains poorly defined.
In a chic hotel near the city of London in the fall of 2018, more than 400 very smart women were gathered. Smart, it needs to be clarified in every way.
Not only are the attendees all managers at the top of their profession, but every time the door swings open with a different arrival, it is as if we are on a fashion shoot. High heels, sweeping scarves, the powerful clothing of the business elite. I am one of the few men invited to speak that day.
One of the first things that strikes me is that there seems to be some confusion around the issue of & # 39; power & # 39 ;. What is striking is that these women are only focused on one kind of power.
This is a kind of power that – it is supposed – has traditionally been held exclusively by mainly old, mostly rich, always white men. It is why the jokes and insults about the behavior of "alpha men" go so well during this meeting.
Here are deep waters. But I still make a suggestion for the conference. Why do we focus on just one type of power? I ask.
There are certainly types of power – such as rape – that men can sometimes hold over women. And there is a kind of power that some old, mostly white, men may have less successful people, including less successful women.
But there are other types of power in this world. Historical power of old people is not the only one. In my opinion, are there no powers that only women can exercise?
"Like what?" Someone asks. At that moment it is only logical to wade further. Among other types of power that women exercise almost exclusively, this is the most obvious. That women – not all women, but many women – have a capacity that men don't have.
This is the ability to drive members of the opposite sex crazy. To disturb them. Not only to destroy them, but also to let them destroy themselves.
It is a kind of power with which a young woman in her late teens or twenties can take a man with everything in the world, at the height of his achievements, torture him, make him behave like a fool and completely destroy his life for just a few moments of almost nothing.
This is not a point that is warmly received in the room. This is definitely not what the attendees want to hear.
But now we continue with the following topic: inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
Many women have terrible stories about this. Many in the room undoubtedly have their own stories. But then one of those present suggests that the whole issue of gender relations is actually very easy to settle.
Everything became clear especially after the # MeToo movement. Men just had to realize that there was behavior that was appropriate and behavior that was inappropriate. However, I suspect that anyone who has ever worked in an office knows that it is not that simple at all.
"Is it allowed to ask a colleague for coffee?" I wonder aloud.
This seems like a borderline case. If coffee was requested more than once, this was a clear problem. "Men must learn that no means no," it is suggested.
& # 39; Do not do anything that you would not do for your mother & # 39 ;, is put forward as a basis for a moral norm – ignoring the fact that there are many perfectly legal and very enjoyable acts that adults do that they do not would do for their mother.
"It really isn't that hard," says a fellow panel member.
Except that it is, right? And every woman knows that's the case.
For example, they know that a significant percentage of men and women meet their future life partner in the workplace.
So is it completely sensible to dispose of this important tributary of potential partners?
To do this, the following would be required: namely that every man has the ability to pursue only one woman in his professional life. That that woman could only be asked once for coffee or a drink. And that this one shot must have an absolute accuracy of 100 percent the first time it is used.
Is this a sensible, orderly or indeed humane way to regulate sex relationships?
Of course, most people in the room laugh at the suggestion. Because it's ridiculous. And it's risky.
And it is also the law of the modern workplace.
A Bloomberg study, published in December 2018, looked at the attitudes of executives in the financial world, an unmistakably male-dominated sector, with male majorities in every main area other than support staff.
In interviews with more than 30 senior executives from the financial world, men admitted that they were no longer willing to dine with female colleagues.
They also refused to sit next to them on flights. They insisted that hotel rooms on different floors of female colleagues were booked and avoided individual conversations with women.
If it's meant to be that simple, how come it's so complex?
© Douglas Murray, 2019
The Madness Of Crowds by Douglas Murray will be published on September 17 by Bloomsbury Continuum for £ 20. Offer price £ 16 (20 percent off) until September 30.To make a reservation, call 01603 648155 or go to mailshop.co.uk.
Now even men's magazines cannot wait for the & # 39; patriarchy & # 39; to condemn
Forms of the new misandry, or prejudices against men, are often viewed in a light-hearted manner. For example, there is the term "man-plaining" to deny any opportunity when a man can be said to have spoken to a woman in a patronizing or predominant manner.
Anyone can come up with examples when they have heard men speak in such a tone. But most can also think of moments when a woman has spoken to a man in the same way. Or indeed when a man has talked down with another man.
So why does only one of these circumstances need its own term? Why is there no term for – or widespread use of – a word such as "womenlaining"?
Then there is the concept of "patriarchy" – the idea that people (mostly in Western capitalist countries) live in a society that is aimed at men and with the aim of suppressing women and their skills.
In an article in 2018 commemorating the centenary of women in Britain over the age of 30 who were given the right to vote, a piece in the women's magazine Grazia said: "We live in a patriarchal society, we know so much "
The reasons it gave as evidence were & # 39; the objectification of women & # 39; and & # 39; unrealistic beauty standards & # 39 ;, as if men are never objectified or held to any standards in their appearance (a claim that men secretly photographed on trains by trains and their photos & # 39; s uploaded to & # 39; Hot dudes reading & # 39; can dispute on Instagram). Men's magazines seem to be completely happy that they assume the same suspicions. Looking back at the events in 2018, the men's magazine GQ was pleased to be able to approve that in that year "For the first time in history, we were all called to account for the sins of patriarchy."
The worst thing about the new lexicon of anti-male slogans is that of "toxic masculinity." Just like any of these other memes, "toxic manhood" began at the very edge of academia and social media. But by 2019 it had hit the heart of serious organizations and public institutions.
In January this year, the American Psychological Association (APA) released its very first guidelines on how its members should specifically deal with men and boys. The APA claimed that 40 years of research showed that "traditional masculinity – characterized by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression, undermines men's well-being".
The APA continued to define traditional masculinity as "a certain constellation of norms that has affected large segments of the population, including: femininity, achievement, violation of the appearance of weakness and adventure, risk and violence."
It was just one of the influences that the concept of & # 39; toxic masculinity & # 39; now, disturbingly, is starting to make way into the mainstream of society.
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