What Not To Say (For Guys Who Think They Get It)

30 years ago, when I was 19, I was lying in bed with a nurse I’d met that evening. By this point in my life I’d been very sexually active for six years. I don’t know how many sexual partners it was but it was a pretty significant amount for a 19 year old, off the top of my head I can remember a lot of names and face’s and I have a feeling that there are more that will, return to my memory.

The nurse, whose name was Selena E. (I’m not including her surname for her privacy) had a profound effect on me, so much so to this day I can remember her name and the events clearly. We met at a political rally for animal activism, at that time in my life I was deeply involved with fringe hard left politics. She was a vegan, left wing feminist. I don’t know why she took to me, maybe it was because I was a muscular, tall, intelligent, attractive bimbo of a bloke. Imagine Ryan Kwanten from True Blood but with a real thirst for knowledge (and brought up by highly educated grandparents who believed in the equality of humanity).

For some reason, she must have needed an itch scratched, because after the political rally we ended up in bed. At this point in my life I was still very naive about how the world worked, as I said I had two highly educated grandparents, my mother was making a career for herself in investment banking (she broke the glass ceiling 25 years ago and became extraordinarily wealthy).

When we’d finished fucking, I was having a self indulgent gripe about how hard done by I was and that I had no future.

She glanced at me, laughed and said something deeply profound, that has been with me from that moment onwards. This is what she said.

You’re a white male who lives in the west, you have entitlement and privilege, you gave nothing to worry about, life is given to you on s plate.

The whole point of my commentary is that I never have experienced everyday sexism, everyday racism, everyday ableism. Because I am a white man.


I wonder if I could ask your help?  I’ve been writing about feminism for a few years now, and reading about it for several times as long, so I’m extremely grateful to all the people whose work I’ve read over that time – and for the comments below my pieces.  A lot of the stuff I write at the moment is directed towards men, whilst talking about feminist issues, so I was hoping people might help me put together a list.  Quite a particular list.  A list of What Not To Say.

What are the things which men and boys say which irritate the hell out of you?  Not just the Everyday Sexism stuff so brilliantly curated by Laura Bates and others, but a specific category within that.  What are the things which guys say when they sort of get it?  When they’ve become aware that there is a problem…

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