I Hope You Like Feminist Rants #2 : Only (Man) Fans 1

I Hope You Like Feminist Rants #2 : Only (Man) Fans

To move around in public freely is a basic right. And yet for women and girls it is a relatively recent development, and one still a work in progress. It wasn’t that long ago we could not visit bars and pubs unaccompanied by a man, let alone attend a workplace outside conventional boundaries. In the present, fear restricts women and girls’ movements in public spaces or after nightfall because of what could potentially happen to us, primarily at the hands of men. The patriarchy is constantly thinking of ways to oppress women and the controlling of our movements is a national pastime, both in the physical world and online.

The patriarchy being the sly beast it is, the work is handed to women to source and deliver solutions to abuse and intimidation. Women and girls must amend their behaviours by not going out alone after dark, and accept the ‘she was only walking home’ narrative, self-labelling ourselves innocents or those asking for it. We must not do or wear by instinct and free will if we want to avoid harassment, insults and indecent exposure. Women giving way to men, making room for them, amending our behaviour to suit them is a theme of Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘the other’ theory in her 1949 book ‘The Second Sex’. How times have not changed in over 70 years.

A few weeks ago I was walking to the gym, in my own world and minding my own business. A normal, everyday occurance. On the way there, a man with a pushbike was on the pavement up ahead with a little boy at his side. He stopped me by waving his phone, as if to ask for directions. I came to a standstill to help. It was then he smirked. Took on a strange new confidence. Stood taller. Chest out, spine straight. He was made up with himself, I could tell, that he managed to get me to stop and restrict my movements. From his point of view, at that second in time, he fancied himself in control. He shouted ‘what’s your Only Fans, love?’. at me, paused, then screamed with forced laughter in my face. There was fiery dialogue from me in response, but he kept repeating ‘Only Fans’ like they were the only words he knew.

What this male was trying to do in his furious, inarticulate way was attempt to prove who was boss, and that he could control me physically and emotionally. It could have been any woman on her own he chose to try and intimidate or shame, I just got unlucky. By insinuating via the use of sarcasm that I am too unattractive to be worthy of an Only Fans fanbase, it was his own special way of saying that you, woman, this street is not your space. It’s mine, I can do what I want, I am in charge here. And there’s nothing you can do about it. He was trying to put me in my place.

I’m guessing this man got upset at a woman at some time leading up to our interaction. Maybe she’d not looked at, talked, treated him the way he wanted. Maybe she had a nice car and there was he, on his pushbike. Maybe his female boss earns more than him. Or he realised young women don’t smile at him the way they used to. Maybe he’s just a bog standard, woman-hating involuntary celibate (incel).

He was bigger than me. Men are stronger than women. He could have hurt me if he wanted. I wonder of this man, and those who have shouted ‘who let the dogs out’ then ‘frigid bitch’ when ignored, exposed their penis, testes, scrotum, and anus at the bus stop and at a party, and all the other stunts pulled in my lifetime, if they will do this in front of other people in public, what are you like in a domestic setting? Are the wives/girlfriends recipient of this rage? And the man’s little boy, the one he was showing off in front of, what of him behind closed doors?

All such men have been on my mind this week. The FIFA Men’s World Cup has started, days before International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and White Ribbon Day campaigns to highlight and reduce violence against women and girls. Domestic violence, like sexual assaults and street harrassment are about controlling the victim and when England play a high profile football match, the incidents of domestic violence spike, reported incidents increasing by 26%. There’s a 38% increase if England loses and 11% the next day, win or lose. This behaviour is exacerbated by alcohol, but ultimately the fact is, a hell of a lot of women get beaten up by a husband or boyfriend when England are on the telly kicking a ball about.

It would be interesting to look at the stats when the England women football team, The Lionessess, ‘brought it home’ earlier this year. To see if women knocked seven bells out of their intimate partner because of the euphoria of it all. I’m guessing not; there would be a loud and bloody uproar. Evil women, mad women, hysterical women, emotional women. What I do know, is misogynistic abuse on social media was lobbed at the Lionesses and affected their ability to play, and that misogyny – both in person and online – and domestic violence is a never ending constant mindset and pursuit, with one woman in the UK every three days killed by a man they know.

It is not up to women and girls to fix men and boys and how they act. We have our own selves to maintain. It is men’s responsibility to police their own behaviour. Keep it in your penis in your pants, don’t urinate in the street when you see a woman walking by in the hope she sees your gentialia and gets intimidated. Don’t pick random women to insult, don’t stare at or follow girls in school uniform or women wearing what the hell they like, don’t hit or mentally hurt your wife or girlfriend. It’s men’s work to police the behaviour of other men. Stop male relatives, friends, neighbours from supervising the movements, actions and thoughts of women. This is your job, men. Your work.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and White Ribbon Day takes place on 25 November.

On the same day Counting Dead Women share the names of every UK woman killed since 25 Nov last year, in circumstances where a man or men are the principal suspect. Details here.

HerGameToo is a voluntary organisation ran by female football fans, who are committed to fostering an ethos in football in which women are welcomed and respected equally. The partnership highlights the synergy between White Ribbon UK’s aims to educate men and boys about sex equality, and HerGameToo’s focus on culture change to create safe environments for women and girls to live the lives they want to lead.Follow #HerGameToo on Twitter here.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.