Lucy Mangan

Lucy Mangan: “Why I’m done with male fragility and bruised egos”

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Lucy Mangan
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Lucy Mangan has no sympathy for whining men…

Pity poor Elon and his tiny submarine. Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla and private cosmic exploration company SpaceX, sent a specially built vessel to help in the recent Thai cave rescue. The submarine wasn’t used, and poor Elon was so very deeply wounded when his mini invention was dismissed by one of the divers (who risked his own life to save the trapped boys) that he had no choice but to tweet, calling the man “sus[picious]” for being in Thailand anyway and later to clarify that he did indeed mean to insinuate the diver was “a pedo”. Musk apologised, not long after diver Vernon Unsworth said he was considering suing him. 

It must be exhausting, being 
so fragile. Sympathy swells further in my breast for historian David Starkey, who recently cited the advent of “old, ugly women” on television – likely to be a reference to Professor Mary Beard – as the reason for the decline in his broadcasting career. 

And the river of my compassion fair threatens to burst its bounds when I see Piers Morgan being forced to insult a woman’s (seven-month-old) profile picture on Twitter with “I’d update… it’s been a few years, hasn’t it?” because she confronted him in a cafe over his fawning interview with Trump. 

The milk of my human kindness finally spills forth in an unstoppable cataract at the news that Sir Christopher Chope, barely recovered from his exertions stopping the upskirting bill a few weeks ago, has found the strength to leap in and stop parliament letting women MPs from around the world use the House of Commons for a day to discuss social change to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage. 

Somehow, no matter what order you put them in, each one of these is better than the last. All these vignettes of a certain kind of male psyche at work illustrate perfectly the aphorism that, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” Its accuracy could only be improved by amending it to, “…anything that looks like it might one day lead to the possible beginning of equality feels like oppression.” 

You can be a billionaire with the world at your feet – literally, once your personal space rocket takes off – and be reduced to a tantrumming toddler by someone who succeeded – movingly, profoundly, unassailably – in one area where you failed. You can be a 73-year-old established academic and writer and so resent yielding the tiniest bit of the floor to someone else that you instinctively reach for the most irrelevant and vulgar of blows. 

“This is not a secure and happy version of masculinity”

And you can be a titled politician with four decades of professional success behind you and still be unable to contemplate letting some women have a conference in your place of work that would otherwise be unoccupied that day. This is not a secure and happy version of masculinity.

It’s all amazing, and slightly thrilling. Because anything this fragile cannot hold for long. And when this version of male-being finally shatters, do you know what I think the unexpected primary emotion will be? Relief. Equality – which we can use as a synonym for feminism, to avoid giving any other precious penoids the vapours – will bring relief.

You can give up the constant patrolling of the extra share of everything, of
 all the things you held by tradition and not by right. Inner toddlers and outer border guards will finally be able to relax. This is the unacknowledged promise
of feminism. No one will have to worry about their tiny submarines any more.

Images: Getty / Twitter