Hold the boat, kraken lovers. Hold the bloody boat. I have just read something so heinous and bleak-hearted in that faux-newspaper for mouthbreathers, The Metro, that I may have to leave you a moment to soak my frontal lobes in a cleansing mixture of hydrochloric acid, washing-up liquid and bees. Let me explain. On Saturday 3 May The Metro printed an article entitled 27 Things Men Do In Bed That Women Hate. Written by one Hannah Gale, the piece listed various alleged irritants such as, “When they ask you to put the condom on”, “Man stubble “, and “Trying to remove underwear with their teeth”. That’s not the problem, though. Fuck no. The problem is with the fact that eight of the points list sexual assault and rape before passing them off as annoyances, much like overpriced coffee and bad drivers. And for your rage and delectation, here they are:
‘When you give them a blow job and they act as if you don’t have a gag reflex. How about I’m sick all over your penis?’ Yup, you read that right, kraken-lovers. According to The Metro a man forcing his penis into my throat, even though it is making me uncomfortable, scared and upset, now deserves to be shrugged off more than it deserves to be a moment of monumental distress. Somehow the notion that this will make me vomit as a result is far more important than the fact that it’ll also make me want to call a rape crisis line.
‘When you’re in the middle of foreplay and they thrust a finger up your bum with NO warning.’ Oh, and there I was kicking out of the bed the man who does this to me before scrubbing myself in the shower when all along I should have been giggling about it with my mates over a stereotypical Lambrusco. That’s right, because being intruded upon by a rogue digit is right up there (pardon the pun) with forgetting to buy stamps.
‘Putting their fingers everywhere at once like they’re playing some sort of instrument. Far too confusing, you just don’t know what’s going on down there.’ Really? Confusion is the only emotion that’s supposed to well up in me when I’ve been digitally skewered like a bowling ball?
‘When they think it’s a good idea to stick objects in you. Just no.’ I dread to ask, but what exactly are these random objects? Courgettes? Mugs? Push chairs? And why does The Metro think that it’s Ok for me to just lay there and take having objects wedged into me if that’s not what I enjoy? The ‘Just no’ response is so lacking in emotion, meaning and horror that Gale and her paper are essentially presenting this sexual assault with a giggle and shrug.
‘Casually trying to have anal sex without asking and without lube. It does not just slip in there.’ Well, let’s be fair now. A woody does just slip in there but usually because a rapist is attached to the other end of it. Seriously, tell me when it was during your last trusting and loving relationship that your partner subjected you to a sexual act he or she knew would hurt or not be consented to? Exactly. When a partner does this to me, it’s time to call the police.
‘Being so aggressive with their hands during foreplay that they pretty much give you internal bleeding.’ Excellent, because nothing conveys all of those eye-rolling moments of a relationship quite like bleeding from internal injuries as my bloke clambers off the bed to go watch the Match of the Day.
‘Nipple biting. It just f*****g hurts.’ Much like having your cock bitten off, in fact.
‘Pulling your hair so hard you scream and your eyes water.’ Is that before or after the perpetrator has torn my cervix or shoved a windowbox up my arse?
I wish to fuck I had made all of that up but I haven’t. It actually appeared in The Metro as a form of entertainment. Thing is, the paper will probably dress this up as a service to us women because it’ll claim it is honest reporting of the roguish (as opposed to rapey) behaviour that we have to put up with. Yet even though the issues listed are clearly from women who are not consenting, at no point does The Metro label any of this as unacceptable violence.
The article even comes with the message that after reading women should, “print it out and leave it where your boyfriend can see it…”. That’s right, instead of saying “No!” clearly and loudly, kicking their boyfriend out or going to a place of safety, women are encouraged by The Metro to tackle their experience of sexual violence by dropping hints. Now I know where I’ve been going wrong. Instead of telling raping men that if they don’t get their hands off me I’ll call the police I should have been pretending to enjoy a little light internal bleeding before crying alone in the toilet and leaving Post-It notes all over the fucking house.
And this list is made all the worse by what the article infers. You see, by mixing comments about assault and rape with comments about removing knickers with teeth and ball stubble, it attempts to blur the lines between what is and what is not a criminal offence. Go on, imagine you are young woman with little sexual experience and you read this article. What does it tell you? That being forced into throat-bruising oral sex is no worse than being kissed when you have morning breath. That violent sexual behaviour isn’t worth being taken seriously. That it’s Ok for your partner to not understand that his determination, ignorance and selfishness in bed has a direct correlation to whether you need a doctor to see to your internal bruising.
Believe me, if The Metro wants to highlight the irritants women face when they are having sex, I’m all for it. May I throw in the suggestion that Barry White is never, ever played in the background? However, what I do not expect it to do is list incidents that are the same as those noted in the judgement of the Max Clifford trial. Feel free to read the judgement here and compare it to The Metro’s efforts. Gale’s article could have been written by Clifford himself, don’t you think? They are as damaging, frightening and abhorrent as each other.
That’s why if you ever do find yourself being intruded upon without your consent, left bleeding on the bed or missing actual clumps of hair in the name of romance, whatever you do don’t listen to The Metro. None of these incidents are a normal part of sex. They are rape and it is assault. Telling young women to shrug this stuff off is exactly why we carry the burden of rape alone, because we have been told over and again that it’s just a normal part of an adult female’s life. So the next time you read The Metro remember it for what it is: a pervert encouraging women to stay silent and, believe me, that’s what is most irritating of all.