Hard day at work just finished and i’m starting my long journey home. I turn the radio on to keep me company for the 2hr journey. LBC Springs to life and its Sheila Fogarty talking about something current in the news. My immediate reaction is to turn it off, not because I don’t like her as a radio journalist but because I know that somewhere in the conversation, men will be responsible, it’s a theme on this particular segment. The next morning, I’m heading back to London and I switch on James O’Brien who presents the morning slot on the same radio station. Just before he starts the call in, he explains that he won’t accept any calls from men on the subject he is talking about. I sigh deeply and continue to listen with interest.
Now, I know full well that there is a reason that these things are happening. The dreadful case of Sarah Everard has really shone a light on mens behaviour and that is all absolutely as it should be. It all just feels like the way that these things are handled in our media brings about a pack behaviour that segregates sex in the public domain. To ban men from calling in to express their views seems somewhat extreme and sends a very worrying message to the listeners. Men aren’t all bad and to communicate is to understand. To ostracise is to fuel a fire. My thoughts are that these practices could start being reported in the same way for sexuality, colour, creed and even postcode, keeping dialogue open is essential to being better humans. I would prefer the producers of this radio station to filter the callers rather than silencing a whole gender on a certain subject. That, to me, would be a better solution and send a better message.
‘Why is Stuart banging on about all this’ I hear you mutter….
Well, Since the awful & unfathomable increase in attacks on women and with the addition of some peoples personal social media campaigns, I have noticed a bit of a shift in the way people view men on the whole. It’s true that 93% of killers in the UK are men and as a man, that is a terrible statistic to have to accept and to live with. I think it’s really important to point out though, that for the most part men are good, gentlemanly, kind, conscientious and respectful. But it occurs to me that innocent men just can’t seem to do right for doing wrong at the moment because of the way that these things are being viewed and reported.
My own personal experiences have been pretty awful and I am a very openly gay man without an aggressive reflex in me. During the time of the vigil for the late Sarah Everard, some women were actually gleefully recommending an 8pm curfew for men. At the time it felt very odd being a man, it was almost an apologetic existence! We mustn’t all be tarred with the same brush. (This blog isn’t to take away from the real fear that women feel, its just a male perspective on the issue).
Since then I have noticed a growing man hate trend. It’s in social media, it’s in general media and now it’s in our businesses.
I work in two very different fields but very creative fields. Musical Theatre and Dog Grooming.
Firstly, let’s take musical theatre, I have been lucky enough to attend a few ‘in person’ auditions of late (they are like hens teeth since covid) and I have noticed a few casting notices boasting that they are proud to have a ‘women only’ creative team. Now I’m all for that, I can think of nothing more fun than working with a women only creative team but it has got me thinking…can we as men boast a ‘men only’ creative team? I can’t imagine it would have the same tone within the industry. But why? I’m proud to be a man, I love my sex. I don’t want to feel less welcome because of my genitals. Am I missing something?
Secondly, let’s take Dog Grooming. I own 2 salons in the UK and am a co director of The Groomers Spotlight, a register for professionally qualified dog groomers. I also lecture all over the world on safe practices within the creative grooming industry and am a regular on a few daytime TV shows. Now, I can have all the experience and qualifications in the world but it still doesn’t stop Sandra (made up person) with her Bichon Troy (made up Bichon) popping in to the salon and stopping stock still at the door when she sees me and not a female groomer. The words that follow are always ‘are you doing my dog?” My reply would be ‘yes’. Then, without missing a beat, Sandra would say ‘TROY HATES MEN’.
Now, invariably dogs don’t hate men. The dog probably picks up on the energy given off by the owner who probably hates men. Yes, she may have had a bad experience with a man but she also may have simply been listening in to the Sheila Fogarty show or the James O’Brien show. Dogs are an incredibly sensitive species and pick up on the behaviours of those around them. If I get frustrated on my computer and can’t get something to work, I know that my poodle can feel a change in the atmosphere. he usually stalks off and goes and lays down anywhere I am not, just in case I end up swearing at the screen. (I can be a bit of a technophobe).
When anyone says Sandra’s words to me in my salon, I don’t take very kindly to it. Imagine if a man walked in to a salon and said to a female groomer ‘my dog hates women’. It just wouldn’t happen, so why is it acceptable for people to treat male dog/pet professionals in this way?
In summary, I love people. I don’t discriminate against anyone, sex, creed, colour, wealth, postcode. I take as I find. If your’e an arse hole then you’re an arse hole no matter the sex, colour, creed, wealth or postcode. The rule really should be to take each individual as you find them.
Your dog could have just as much of a positive experience with a male groomer as he/she does with a female groomer. We are professionals that have been trained to care for dogs in our care. In my salons, we work as a team. If a dog is uncomfortable being groomed by one member of staff, no matter the sex, they will be passed to someone else to see if they fair better. We must all work together as humans to create a world in which we can all be proud instead of singling out each others shortcomings just because of how they were born.