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27th October 2014

Progressive? Try regressive on for size.

Joe Evans still feels uncomfortable with the ingrained levels of misogyny and sexism evident in our daily lives, and looks forward to a time when gender roles are no more and masculinity can lose its bad reputation

Recent revelations of a culture celebrating misogyny, that had pierced the heart of the now disbanded rugby club of the London School of Economics, have shone a homing beacon onto the issue of the modern man and his relation to femininity. We, as a generation, are supposedly free thinkers, liberal in our outlook; the modern man is our label. This, it seems, is a masquerade of morality masking a widely known, but more easily ignored, truth.

One need only glance over to social media for the worst culprits. Facebook, in giving rise to groups such as the LAD Bible, has given prominence to a voice that serves to perpetuate views that, despite their high-tech platform, belong in a museum. These views have been refined by spin-offs such as UniLad, appealing to a more specific audience while promoting the same archaic outlook. Clearly we in further education demand a more sophisticated form of misogynistic thoughtlessness.

The widespread support for the suspect but apparently hilarious ideology of the LAD Bible and similar media outlets is frankly frightening. The LAD Bible, it would appear, promotes views universally known to be morally abhorrent, yet its support is unyielding.

The treatment of femininity in celebrity culture likewise borders on medieval. Dapper Laughs (a name I’m glad to say I didn’t know), for example, delivers completely inexcusable messages regarding the treatment of women, all under the thin veil of comedy.

Not only does the comic openly insult the notion of equal rights through his backwards outlook, he does so with such satisfaction that his audience must surely consider him ironic. If so, then a national campaign warning as to the danger of misunderstood irony should be a key political policy.

For many followers of figures such as the LAD Bible and Dapper Laughs (who has now been given a television platform too—social decay in action), the line for when the joke stops is heavily blurred. Like the blurred lines of aptly named Robin Thicke’s patriarchal anthem, the point at which the laughing stops has sunk so deep into the mire its invisible.

This is where the London School of Economics’ esteemed sportsmen reappear, flourishing their now shit-stained colours. While I am not for one second suggesting that these men are misogynistic or backwards, they simply failed to identify where the punchline ended. Here in lies the problem.

We are so numb to misogynistic rhetoric, as used to it as to a lazy form of comic relief, that we’ve in some cases forgotten that it’s a joke. If the devil’s greatest trick was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the danger of socially accepted sexism is in it hiding where it is visible. The more visible it is, the more normal it appears.

Like the iconography of post-abolition America, playfully villainizing the black community, we continue, through seemingly harmless means, to devastate gender relations.

The image of the modern man, and his belief in gender equality, is chiselled away both in his own psyche and in the eyes of his female counterpart. In the perception of feminists, the need to fight for equal rights is perpetuated by opiating culture with misogyny. Alongside this, the idea of masculinity is corrupted, poisoned beyond all recognition, by a social pressure cultivated by a covert desensitisation to anti-feminism.

Lad culture reigns, a culture of racking up sexual conquests and drunkenly approaching women in clubs, a culture almost nobody bought into but a culture men are dictated to. The harmless fun of the LAD Bible, streamed directly into the brains of young men via their laptops, suddenly is less benign when, as in the case at LSE, it spirals out of control.

Masculinity, then, has been twisted not by men themselves, but by a small percentage who have rebranded what a man is and sold it back under the guise of fun in the form of sexist iPhone cases and T-shirts. The myth of the modern man is by no means a detrimental flaw in the character of mankind, one that womankind should aggressively segregate themselves from. No, what is needed is a reclaiming of masculinity as whatever men want it to be.

Far from promoting conflict between the sexes, we should be aiming to integrate society into being totally androgynous, making gender irrelevant rather than something to be fought over. While women did fight, and die, for the right for equality, we have reached a point where such militant actions aren’t the way forward and a more nuanced approach is needed.

What is abundantly clear, however, is that the modern man is, at the moment, a myth that we should strive to make a reality. Far from accepting the position of masculinity in relation to femininity we should all be looking to appropriate this into one movement of humanity. In doing so, we cast not only oppression of women aside but also start to dissolve the stained version of masculinity which has appropriated our gender.

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