It took myself nearly ‘four years’ to complete a children’s Christmas picture book… *WWW.QUIRKYCLAUS.COM working at times day and night, which I naively thought initially… would only take a mere total – of just the ‘one year! ‘
Yes… I can hear it now: a veritable crescendo of children’s writers, and fellow illustrators… chortling most merrily – into their feathered quills, while they feverishly scrawl their next masterpiece.
Nonetheless, rather than experiencing a warm, and welcoming response from society: for a man hopefully exemplifying the traits of being sensitive, and comfortable enough… to be in touch with his inner child, and also perhaps feminine side? Conversely instead – I experienced much discrimination; worse this was particularly disappointing, as a significant proportion of this… actually arose from the representation of our society, who profess to wishing to see these socially progressive traits, and this ‘change’ exhibited the most – women!
For instance during this period, and even actually since… I was thrown out and dismissed from a number of bars: on one particular occasion – to place the issue in perspective… I had just done a turn on the ol’ karaoke, after temporarily leaving my writing aside.
At times I take to scribbling outside my usual environment – for the advantage of a refreshing change of perspective. Notwithstanding this – although this may have admittedly… even have actually been something of a surprise to myself – the performance – was not met with a veritable bombardment of assorted groceries, or more aptly: a copious influx of… glasses, bottles and beer cans, and perhaps for good measure… the odd – Molotov Cocktails… as you might expect, and I suspect deserved!
In fact, as I sat down… people indeed congratulated myself, and began asking for my cards, which I do make a point of carrying for promoting my writing; they had beforehand irregardless shown an interest in this, but peculiarly in comparison, nothing… until after my attempt at utterly humiliating myself.
Notwithstanding this… it was mostly the patrons of the bar who were asking – me for these cards not visa versa; people who are ‘down to earth,’ and are not afraid to enjoy themselves, and seize every fleeting opportunity Carpe diem… an’ all that! However, when I offered a card in a jovial attempt at humour – to one of the female bar staff: I was then accused of ‘touting’ my book to their patrons, when it had been – as I said their customers who had engaged me in requesting these initially, and actually afterwards… from a genuine sincere interest in my writing.
As a consequence, I was actually excluded from this bar. I do really think this was more down to the female staff there thinking in large part – a person has to be either one thing or the other: someone can’t write, and then get up and – sing, and not to mention… do a decidedly arguably passable impersonation of someone dancing.
For a number of years, I attended dance class, and indeed…. loved it, and have always thoroughly enjoyed – as the adage goes: dancing like no one is watching!
However, once again, this seems to have become yet another area – where men’s freedoms, and rights to expression… the way they choose to be – are often not necessarily respected.
I do feel society wishes to pigeon hole a person… in this case myself – for whatever reason, based on gender, and therefore expectations they wish to have of a person, and paradoxically – themselves; for all manner of reasons or rather excuses… including to allow themselves to feel more comfortable with the self-imposed limitations they have placed on themselves, which allow these people to feel comfortable with their own lives, but are ultimately – self defeating!
Surely whatever are beliefs happen to be… it is better for us ‘all’ to strive for these worthy ideals – regardless of gender, class or religion… and take the risk of being the very ‘best’ we can be!
In yet another establishment, some time before this… when I simply tried to speak to a female landlady – about her possible interest in the illustrations – I was compiling at the time at the time for the book, and if their own children perhaps like would like these in respect also of the layout of the book? Friendly enquiries with no ill intent. Instead from a mere polite enquiry – I was viewed as a potential sexual deviant, and once more – barred… or perhaps this was used more likely as an excuse to attempt to… knock down a man who was reaching for something they were afraid to do? If, at this point, it crosses your mind… ‘well I can understand their reaction.’ Or even, ‘quite rightly! ‘ in respect of sexual concerns at least.
Would you have held this same opinion, if in the event: the enquiring author – who chose to write a children’s story, had been a woman? Would this landlady – for that matter, and the various many other women – unfortunately, who have jumped to convenient assumptions?
Personally, I very much doubt it…
Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind… most incidences of paedophilia, and real emotional and physically abuse, four out of five – in fact… are actually committed by a family member or someone the victim in reality knows! In fact, I would suspect – the number who are male children’s authors… who’ve had the courage to devote four years of their life, and not to labour the point – too much… including the issues I have encountered with distribution actually… ten years in my case; for something myself and other authors thoroughly believe in… well I’d imagine, it is in reality either negligible or a big fat round ‘zero!’
It would in fact make for a peculiarly lengthy process of any criminal intent… for anyone to spend the time I have… in the pursuit of writing this book. Indeed – it is a great and genuine shame that these women – in this brief period of time they encountered my dreams and ambitions… could not make the effort to challenge their own prejudices, and what is necessarily considered ‘conventionally’ comfortable; as I have had in fact chosen to do most of my life… to succeed at what I sincerely believe in, and to aim in this hope – towards a better more open, and balanced society?
However, even on the simplest level, this is based on sexual discrimination, the most crassest of assumptions – that all men are seemingly potential sexual deviants! A person, would have thought that in the 21 century – people are aware… as was the case with certain female nursery teachers in news reports – at the time; women are just as likely unfortunately, or at least as nearly as… to be guilty of these crimes.
Nevertheless, a person – man or a woman should be judged on the “content of their character,” not solely by their gender! It should go without saying, that a person should not be assumed more guilty than another… purely on the differences of their reproductive organs.
By the way… we all start off as women or rather… girls, but in the womb – for a man, one of the X chromosome transforms into a Y chromosome, and the prior girl’s clitoris becomes a penis. Although admittedly… this also begs the question ‘why do so many men and actually women… perhaps struggle to know where this is?’
The discrimination – unfortunately continued… almost unrelenting; a few more years ago – I recently experienced bullying, yet again lamentably primarily exhibited by women in the crescent, where I lived at this time. Clearly this on some pretence must make some women nervous… when they do not know which category to ‘conveniently’ stick you in.
Also, it had been implied… that in just by the mere fact I was writing a children’s book, as a ‘man…’ by both women and men, there is something amiss with me, in striving to be more! The situation on this crescent… with these women’s behaviour shamefully deteriorating yet further with them dashing back and forth amongst each other, indulging in further lies and idle gossip. These were tactics and behaviour… I would have thought disgraceful in the playground, never mind demonstrated by women in their 30’s in some instances, and others who were mothers’ of our next generation! Nevertheless, even this was not enough… repeatedly these women continued to lie, threatened to call the police and rung my landlord with many delusionary fabrications, such as I was staring through their window; who the estate agent – at the time… Homesure Properties… ‘Scott’ the owner stated he wished to end my tenancy!
Essentially… this situation arose, because ‘I’ for one – was not prepared to play it safe… in seeking to be more than merely a man, but be the very best I could be as a human being which is something we all should strive towards!
Unfortunately I feel this in contrast to the attitude of some women, who place the fact they are a woman – as being the first and foremost issue above everything else. However I am adamant, that these crass judgements on a person’s presumed role… and therefore repressions for our freedoms, and the right to pursue the life we wish; these ‘boxes’ imposed by society but ultimately perpetuated by ourselves as individuals… these must be broken, if not smashed to many blistering smithereens, so that there is no tell-tale trace of these left – at all!
~ Then I believe… the people of our society, and those of the world… will be free to be the individuals they wish to be, and we will ‘all’ be happier for it!
Nonetheless, this is not the first time this has happened… I could proffer near countless incidents, but it usually comes back to the same thing, that too many women – if you are not fitting tidily into their neat comfortably safe little boxes, and behaving as they wish you to do, then they will make life difficult for you.
My point is, what a sad state of affairs we live in – when I suspect, I would have experienced ‘far’ fewer problems and issues with many women… if I was conversely a lager swilling, football crazed, car and sex obsessed layabout; who was potentially either physically or emotionally derogatory towards women, or both. I am over-generalising of course, and I am not about to fall into a similar mistake and imply that all men are like this. Nevertheless… it certainly does seem – the less I thought: about emotions, caring, life and women, conversely – the more sense of a without doubt a misplaced sense of ‘respect…’ I demonstrated, I would receive from too many women. Instead of, so often… when I have left myself open because I have spiritual beliefs, and wish to grow… it too often seems I am instead leaving myself open – to be hurt.
And there’s a bigger picture here… an untold story; disconcertingly… a few years ago, when I was considering submitting my book to a children’s panel for review: the large proportion of whom… if not the vast majority who would be rating the merit of my book, and whether it appealed to these children – were girls, in fact only around 20%… of the children who comprised this panel were – boys.
As a society, are we disproportionally interested in the intellectual pursuits – of our girls, more than our boys? Are men just becoming the providers, as perhaps women – were considered in the past, in respect of being merely seen in terms of reproduction? Are we in danger of recreating the mistakes of the past, but in a different manner… a society where men are seen only… in terms of financial support, and other lesser, more trivial matters? Are we exchanging, one gross historical injustice, but for another, which is ultimately – just as arbitrary senseless, and insidious?
This is not to mention, that disgracefully some publishers will – actually only accept work from women. You only have to go the Writer’s and Artists Year book, to see this is the case. Then there is the Orange Book Prize, which can actually only be entered by women. Writing is not merely the preserve of men! Quite the contrary, once more from my experience – women get a lot more help and receive far less discrimination in this area than men, in this area! If you go to any writing group… in the vast majority of cases, women will tend to outnumber men – by quite a margin.
I have been to quite a few writing groups, and in everyone of these – this has been the case: in Bradford for instance, nearly ever week – in front of the other several members… all of whom were women, the female lecturer – would pass a sexual comment in my direction. When I complained in an email, and admittedly did not deal with it as well as I could, because I allowed my frustrations to build up… what happened? Well, the police arrived at my door and warned me off, when in effect it was myself who was being sexually harassed!
Fortunately, on this occasion, I could show them the email I sent to this lady, and my words, and my conviction in this email, that I would not be attending again, because of her behaviour. Nonetheless, this was gross sexual harassment, and for this to happen time, and again… for so many women to abuse their positions – for the sake of sexual aggrandisement or power – it undermines the whole philosophy and fight of the Suffragettes!
In many, ‘far’ too many respects I think a large proportion of women are not understanding what the Suffragettes stood, and fought for, and certainly the sacrifices they made – in their name! They are not only – failing to take advantage of this and progressing the rights of women, and by doing so ‘men’ but are actually risking squandering, what has been so dearly fought for. How many women for instance, are in reality – aware, that at the time of the Suffragettes… Strangeways Prison was filled with the sound of women screaming, who in their protests were being forced fed – a form of torture, many actually paying for this with their very lives?
# Fundamentally, I do feel many in the ‘West’ are presently mistakenly labouring under the misguided belief that sexual equality… is about ‘having’ more, when in actuality it is about women, ‘and’ men rising to the challenge of actually “being” more!
A few years ago, I watched Germaine Greer… someone I had very much admired – on a talk show, speaking with fathers who wished to see their children but on the whole, their estranged partners were unfairly keeping them away and denying access. However, instead of demonstrating sympathy with these fathers she behaved like a petulant child and used phrases similar to, and such as, “Well you know what it is like now!” “Women have had to put up with this sort of abuse for years!” This is absolutely ridiculous, I thought genuine sexual equality was based on men and women treating each other fairly and equally – not subjecting petty ‘one-upmanship’ upon one another, when either gender holds the balance of power?
I believe a person should be their ‘own’ person, but too often society expects you to conform and be like them… in a couple, a group, part of something they easily recognise; and people much of the time seem to regard you as less – if you are not…or can even resentful of you – for your freedom, when it is a choice they have equally made; likewise can behave discriminatory towards, or simply because you are not what they think you should be.
It seems to distinctly unnerve many, that you can be happy by yourself – without the attention of the opposite sex, because in being so, you are inadvertently questioning their status quo – what they think as being normal… and are perhaps asking more of them, than they actually are doing of themselves in reality, just by being yourself!
As a 48 years old, I recall as a teenager and even in fact – before then… in sincerely believing at this stage in our evolution – that women would be either making as much a move to choose the man… and positively being proactive in finding a good healthy relationship, which is – after all, if not ‘the’ most important area of life… certainly one of the most imperative areas – that make up the complicated tapestry of our existence. Not conversely in our society – that things would have barely have changed in too many respects, in the decades since I had these aspirations – as to how much better women and men could interact, and behave towards each other.
Shockingly also… that many women actively do not seemingly wish for things to actually change, and behave as such. Personally, I certainly did not think – at this place in our history and evolution, and our potential ‘bright’ future, that too often behaving respectfully – towards some women… is very rarely appreciated, and at times I have personally been left feeling disappointed – worse even taken advantage of on occasions, for just being open to who I am, and for those whom the prospect of progress, can actually scare them… even the prospect of there being a better way forward, can be daunting!
In reality… fighting for what you believe in, and trying to do the right thing – whatever the cost, I see as a reflection of inner strength, which we should ‘all’ irregardless of gender – be striving for!
* On a footnote, since writing this some years ago… while I am still encountering the same issues with too many women, and at times
men of course, I have to say that in the past few years I have been remarkably impressed if not almost intimidated by a number of women I have met! For instance women who are practising Parkour, boy… the things they can do! Or rather girl… the things they can do!
For instance one girl in her late 20s early 30s I’d imagine who while I was messing around in a park playground (Yes, I’m immature enough to do that type of thing, try it some time?) showed me how she jumped onto the zip wire from a standing position… hurtling down this at speed, while I had up to that point been timidly sat on said contraption, holding on for dear life!
So things are changing, but there are a still a sizeable number of women who will knock men down they have designs on to make themselves feel better! I really wish and believe that those who sincerely believe in sexual equality, and understand the sacrifices many made, such as the suffragettes have in the past… I wish they would come together and bring an end to this?
True equality is about encouraging the best from each and every one of us… there is no place for small minded bigotry.
# “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
John F. Kennedy
*I would be glad of any positive input please: Women ‘and’ men working together towards a more mature, progressive, compassionate and balanced future?
* ‘Do’ feel free to leave your thoughts please…?