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CONTENTS

Cover

About the Book

About the Authors

Title Page

Dedication

Preface

Fun and Games

Fat-Girl Feminists

Strong Women

Nearly Men, or ‘Gay-Friendly’ Homophobes

The White Hip-Hop Fan

‘Straight’ Women Who Don’t Like Men

Old Feminists Who Slag Off Young Women for Doing the Same Sort of Stuff They Did When They Were Young

Up the Bum

Gay Hypocrisy

Masturbation

The Hypocritical Game

The Ageism of the Gay Man

Cyclists

Ugly Sexist Men

Foreign Affairs

Iraq: Not In My Name

Drooling Fetishisation of Arab Brutality, Sexism and Racism/Ceaseless Whining about Alleged Israeli Brutality, Sexism and Racism

Israel Haters

Cuba

George Bush Bashers

Anti-Americanism

Catholic Hypocrisy

The Cost Of Fame

Hollywood Hypocrites

Guilty Pleasures

Hypocritical Comedians

Reality Talent Shows, Sour-Faced Haters of

Fame-Dissing Famous

Amy Winehouse Knockers

Graffiti and the Guardianista

Posh Confessionals Vs Common Kiss and Tells

Green Unpleasant Land

Cool Britannia

The Ex-Smoker

Mobiles and Emails

Chav-Haters

Hypocrisy Towards the Homeless

The Hypocrisy of Nostalgia

The Bullying Hypocrite

A Right Royal Hypocrisy

Greens

Appendix

Hypocrites’ Five Fave Footballers

The Hypocrites’ Party Manifesto

Hypocrites’ Holidays

Top Five Anti-Hypocrites

The Hypocrites’ Ultimate Weekend

Index

Acknowledgements

Copyright

About the Book

Welcome to the heyday of hypocrisy.

It is a glorious tradition the world over - to vehemently state one thing and do the exact opposite. Everyone is at it:

Celebrities who moan about fame while desperately striving to maintain it

Green hypocrites who wag their fingers at us whilst destroying the planet themselves

Old feminists who slag off young women for doing what they did when they were young

Those who took advantage of freedom and democracy to march through London, demanding that Iraqis be deprived of those very values

And many more …

From white hip-hop fans and cyclists to chav-haters and ‘gay-friendly’ homophobes, Julie Burchill and Chas Newkey-Burden pull no punches in this forthright harangue of those who shamelessly say one thing whilst doing another.

About the Authors

Julie Burchill has been a writer since the age of 17. She has written columns for the Guardian, The Times and News of the World. She is also the author of several novels, including Sugar Rush which became an Emmy-winning television series, and a number of non-fiction books including Made in Brighton.

Chas Newkey-Burden is a journalist who has written columns for Attitude, Time Out and The Big Issue. He is also the author of a number of books including Great Email Disasters and The Reduced History of Britain.

NOT IN MY NAME

A Compendium of Modern Hypocrisy

Julie Burchill and Chas Newkey-Burden

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To Arik and Bibi

PREFACE

‘War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing is worth a war, is worse … A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.’

John Stuart Mill, The Contest in America

Hypocrisy, of course, is nothing new. Pots have been calling kettles black since the dawn of time. From the woes of the Pharisees in the Bible, through Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘smyler with a knife under his cloak’, to Tory MPs spouting family values while cheating on their wives, human history is dominated by double standards and duplicity. So what is this modern hypocrisy of which we speak?

It is the hypocrisy of those who should know better, and believe they do. The hypocrisy of the enlightened, of the hip, of those who – externally at least – hold admirable, humanitarian values, but behind closed doors, when push comes to shove, prove to be far darker beings. Nick Cohen examined the increasing darkness among this number in his brilliant book What’s Left?. Having written for the Guardian and the Big Issue respectively, we too have come to realise that it is often those who shout loudest about what lovely people they are who have the worst secrets, and that the most wickedly hypocritical people often come under the liberal/left umbrella.

So those are our main suspects and, as far as a time-frame goes, when we talk of modern hypocrisy we will mean that which has taken place in the twenty-first century. Since the fireworks lit up the sky on New Year’s Eve 1999, so much has changed. Many of the things that provoke modern hypocrisy – reality television, the concept of the ‘chav’, terrorism and environmentalism – either did not exist in the twentieth century, or did so in a form that is unrecognisable to us today. Thus is the twenty-first century becoming the heyday of the hypocrite, particularly since the 9/11 attacks, which were greeted with horrific and hypocritical responses by so many.

The modern hypocrite might deceive us with their duplicitous ways but we shouldn’t take it personally for they deceive themselves, too. The writer André Gide said, ‘The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.’ By that yardstick, the modern hypocrite is the biggest, truest hypocrite of them all. We might not be fans of much of the manifesto of the right-wing, but we often find that those on the right are refreshingly honest when it comes to their own potential for hypocrisy.

In contrast, those on the modern liberal left increasingly believe that they are the most righteous of creatures and above criticism of any kind. It is far beyond their capability to accept that they might have any capacity for hypocrisy. Indeed, any suggestion that they might perhaps in some teeny-weeny way not be the most virtuous, perfect people alive is routinely received by them as if you’ve accused them of repeatedly punching a baby in the face. As such, they are prime candidates for the vice that has been described as ‘prejudice with a halo’.

Rarely has there been a greater example of prejudice with a halo than in the modern anti-war movement. This book takes its name from the shameful, selfish slogan used by that movement: Not In My Name. The marchers’ hypocrisy was stark: they used Britain’s democracy and freedom of speech to angrily oppose the bringing of those very values to Iraqi people. They complained that Tony Blair wasn’t listening to their views, while marching to keep in power a leader who tortured and murdered anyone who disagreed with his views. They moaned and whined at the slightest suggestion of their own civil liberties being curtailed as part of the fight against terrorism, but fell strangely silent when they heard about human rights abuses in some Muslim states. Then, a few years on, many of those marchers took to the streets again with banners reading, ‘We’re All Hezbollah Now’, despite the fact that that group opposes every basic value most of the marchers hold dear.

Here’s a thing though: it’s actually not the likes of Hezbollah and their fellow Islamic extremists who are the hypocrites. Those who say women are filthy slaves, that gay men deserve to be executed and that democracy is undesirable are obviously extremely hateful but – fair’s fair – not at all hypocritical. In fact, they’re arguably the most straightforward and consistent people on the planet. The hypocrites are those who claim to support feminism and gay rights and yet align themselves with the vile movements that are the biggest opponents of those values, those who say they back democracy and yet consistently attack the Middle East’s only true democracy – the state of Israel.

There’s something about foreign affairs that brings out people’s hypocrisies. The modern hypocrite loves a holiday – all that fakery is hard work, don’tcha know! – and as they flock to countries like Ireland, Cuba, Jamaica and Dubai they care little about the human rights records of those states. Indeed, the more we explored the topic, the more we began to suspect that many modern hypocrites do not overlook the savagery of their international idols, but are in some strange way turned on by it.

It’s not just overseas where the double standards bite. At home, too, modern hypocrites rule the roost. Those who shout their opposition to racism from the rooftops are nevertheless delighted to pour the bitterest scorn on working-class people, or ‘chav scum’ as they so charmingly put it. Likewise, they’ll wag their green fingers at those who take cheap package holidays while treading far bigger carbon footprints over the planet themselves. They’ll give money to the homeless but then lord it over them, telling them what to spend it on. And anyone who has spent any time with an ex-smoker knows that hypocrisy is a way of life to them.

Yup, modern hypocrisy really does suck. In the comparatively good old days, hypocrisy meant Tory MPs who preached family values while banging their secretaries, or lefties espousing equality but pursuing a champagne lifestyle, or anti-drug firebrands who had smoked pot at university. It seemed serious and sickening at the time but now appears almost quaint and sweet when compared to its present-day counterpart. Modern hypocrisy straddles all walks of modern life from celebrity to politics, sexuality to sport, cycling to socialism, foreign affairs to extramarital affairs. From humungous hypocrisies to daily double standards, they’re fine ones to talk and we’ve busted them all.

Exposing hypocrisy has always been a popular pastime for writers. Homer said, ‘I detest that man, who hides one thing in the depths of his heart, and speaks forth another,’ and here, in the twenty-first century, the fastest way to a newspaper editor’s heart is to bring them a story that unmasks a hypocrite. As for us, we decided to write this book after finding that the common thread throughout our writing and our late-night chinwags was an intense dislike of hypocrisy, which has rightly been described as the only vice that cannot be forgiven.

A trend that props up a lot of modern hypocrisy is the shame that is increasingly attached to the idea of changing your mind. Should a politician or public figure dare to alter their opinion on any matter, they’re knocked off their feet by a succession of ‘U-Turn Shame’ headlines. Since when did having a mind that is open to change become something to be ashamed of? Both of us have previously held different views on some of the subjects that follow. Indeed, as we repeatedly found while writing this book, the conflicts and perils of the twenty-first century have seen many of us take up alliances that would have seemed unimaginable in the past. We would argue, however, that, though we have sometimes changed side, the philosophy behind our stances has remained largely consistent.

You know, it’s just not safe to go out on the streets any more. Everywhere you turn you are forced to dodge stones being flung from glass houses, or protect your ears from the deafening din of people saying, ‘Do as I say, not as I do,’ and all this is going on amid the rising, rotten stench of hypocrisy that pollutes the very air we breathe. So stay at home, put your feet up and join us as we unmask the ghastly creature that is the modern hypocrite.

Julie Burchill and Chas Newkey-Burden, 2008

FUN AND GAMES

Fat-Girl Feminists

Strong Women

Nearly Men, or ‘gay-friendly’ homophobes

The White Hip-Hop Fan

‘Straight’ Women Who Don’t Like Men

Old Feminists Who Slag Off Young Women For Doing the Same Sort of Stuff They Did When They Were Young

Up the Bum

Gay Hypocrisy

Masturbation

The Hypocritical Game

The Ageism of the Gay Man

Cyclists

Ugly Sexist Men

 

FAT-GIRL FEMINISTS

Julie Burchill

I’M A VERY off-message type of fat girl: one who gladly – gluttonously, even! – admits that at one point she reached the mighty dress size of 22 solely through lack of discipline and love of pleasure. And who, it must be said, tends to despise people – except those with actual medical conditions – who pretend that it is often otherwise.

Gluttony and idleness are two of life’s great joys, but they are neither honourable nor political – no more than their opposite values, dieting and exercise. And the people – largely women – who claim otherwise are literally big fat hypocrites, insisting as they do that practising gluttony and idleness makes you ‘better’ and less shallow than the people who avoid them.

‘Big women’ do themselves no favours when they attempt to reposition themselves as the Righteous Fat. The Righteous Thin are bad enough with all that running around and sweating and somehow believing that it means anything more than being thin, such as achieving something or living for ever. But the Righteous Fat (unlike the Righteous Thin, who do at least put themselves out in order to achieve their goal) are hypocrites to boot. They want to have their cake, eat it and then say, ‘Yes – I’m a REAL person!’ As though gluttony and idleness make one more ‘real’!

These Lard Legionnaires frequently lay claim not just to righteousness by dint of their obesity, but also to feminism, for some reason. And then, this done, they flex their feminist muscle – flab, rather – by picking on their skinny sisters; a heavyweight–flyweight mob-handed cat fight, for the delight of drooling male onlookers! Now that’s hypocrisy and a half.

A lethal combination of Fat Righteousness and Fat Feminism led to an awful epidemic some years back of overweight media broads who ceaselessly boasted to anyone who’d listen about what brilliant sex lives they had. I was among the culprits, to be fair. But – here’s the rub – my bragging was purely personal; not once did I say that my size had anything to do with my sex life. Others, on the other hand, claimed that fat women had more and better sex than thin women.

I remember thinking how incredibly bitchy and bigoted this was, but most of all how singularly unfeminist; to imply that the amount of sex a woman has somehow validates her as a human being.

And there it is again, you see – the hollow ring of Fat-Girl Feminism, the bleating behind the bluster and the bellies: ‘Why do men like those skinny bitches more than meeee?’ But surely one of the advantages of being a feminist is that one doesn’t give a stuff about trivia such as whether one’s particular body shape is in favour – with men! – or not.

So I declined to join in this orgy of denial for the simple reason that I found/find it as ludicrous for women to be ‘proud’ of being fat as I do for women to be ‘proud’ of being thin. One can be rightly proud of one’s work, or of being kind, or any number of achievements or personal qualities. But to be proud of one’s BMI, be it high or low, seems to me truly tragic.

Still, despite all this, I’ve actually got these particular modern hypocrites to thank for my long hard journey back from the Empire Of Elasticated Waists. Their mantra of ‘Thin women = neurotic and sexless; fat women = fun-fun-fun’ finally gave me the wake-up call every fat bird needs – the fervent desire never, ever to be like them, be it in body or soul. For beauty is only skin deep, but ugliness cuts to the bone.

In an interesting updating of the folly of Fat-Girl Feminism – but this time with a further hypocritical hint of Caring Capitalism – a couple of years back Dove, the touchy-feely toiletries brand owned by the huge international Unilever corporation, launched its Campaign For Real Beauty. Jaded old cynic that I am, I couldn’t help thinking of that old line by the French diplomat and writer Jean Giraudoux, ‘The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.’

Dove have been peddling soap, deodorant, shampoo and ‘body-firming’ cream over here since the 1990s; more than seven million women a week use Dove products in the UK alone. As toiletries go, they’re fine; I used to use them occasionally myself. But toiletries is ALL they are!

Where does one start to describe what is so creepy about this ‘campaign’? Let alone the related Dove Self-Esteem Fund, which aims to challenge conventional ideals of beauty and encourage every female to feel ‘positive’ about her appearance:

It’s time to shake up self-esteem! And to give body image a boost. Every day we are bombarded by hundreds – if not thousands – of airbrushed images of ‘beauty’ … images with the power to affect how we see our bodies and ourselves. But who defines these beauty standards? How can we turn the tide of such beauty pressures and encourage young girls and women everywhere to embrace a more positive body image? We believe it’s time to find the answers … with your help!

I’ll do my best! Well, for a start, would it be churlish to point out that a good number of these ‘airbrushed images of beauty’ with which we are ‘bombarded’ every day come at us in commercials for such brands as Impulse fragrances, Lux soap, Pond’s cold cream, Sunsilk shampoo and Sure deodorant? All of which just happen to be owned by the Fat Girl’s Friend – Unilever!

Not that I personally ever feel ‘bombarded’ by images of attractive people; on the contrary, I enjoy them without feeling threatened by them, probably because I value myself for other attributes apart from my looks. Far more offensive to me – though, come to think of it, even these leave me sneering rather than shrieking – are the numerous daily images which suggest that women can achieve multiple orgasms simply by using the correct household cleansing agents – thank you Persil, Surf, Cif and Comfort, all courtesy of Unilever.

Another answer I’d be happy to help Dove with is that there actually seems to be something about their specific products that implies (far more than the ‘airbrushed beauty’ brigade) that there is something inherently wrong with women’s bodies. For instance, their insistence on making their antiperspirant one quarter moisturising lotion – not only are women being told that they smell, but that their armpits resemble minging old bits of sandpaper! How the heck this insinuation helps to improve female self-esteem I have no idea – maybe Dove could help me find the answer.

And to come full circle right back to the matter of FGF with which I began this essayette, perhaps the most irritating thing about the Dove Do-Gooders is their repeated insistence that REAL WOMEN HAVE REAL CURVES. It’s irritating – for the same reason as the old Marks & Spencer television commercial with that size 16 sort running naked up a hill yelling, ‘I’M NORMAL!’ – because it smacks not of the genuine self-esteem that comes only from an individual’s respect for themselves, regardless of what the world thinks of them, but of some skanky little ad-man smarming, ‘Now let’s squeeze some money out of the fat girls – they’re always suckers for a bit of flattery!’ It’s the liberal media equivalent of a Pull-A-Pig contest.

Paradoxically, in its cack-handed attempt to be inclusive, the Dove propaganda actually ends up as exclusive as any image of airbrushed perfection – which at least all semi-sentient people KNOW is a con as photographs of the real-life models looking nothing like their doctored ad campaigns frequently show. But ‘Real women have real curves’ – what an elitist, spiteful, thoughtless statement, while all the time claiming to be interested in elevating female self-esteem! What about flat-chested women? What about women who have had mastectomies!

The fact is that a woman with true self-esteem doesn’t give two hoots about something as time-consuming and approval-seeking as changing perceptions of what is beautiful in general and of herself in particular. As men’s have always done, a real woman’s very presence declares, ‘This is me – take it or leave it, for your opinion is of no consequence to me!’ There may have been a time when this wasn’t reasonable or wise behaviour – when we depended upon men for financial upkeep – but it certainly is now, unless one is an actress, a model or a prostitute.

So, to sum up, real women certainly don’t waste their one and only life on earth wheedling, ‘Ooo, ooo, I may not be a size zero but I’m beautiful too; love me, pleeease!’ as the Dovettes do – that’s the OPPOSITE of self-esteem and, even more so, of feminism. Real women don’t necessarily have curves – some chicks have tiny tits and useless arses, but they’re as real as the rest of us. Real women aren’t in the least threatened by or hostile to thin women; on the contrary, they can easily enjoy their otherworldly, differently abled contribution to our culture, and see them first and foremost as our sisters under the skin. Even if there is a lot less of it.

Last but not least, real women don’t sell their souls for advertising’s scummy shilling – only Satan’s little helpers do that. Eat that, Fat-Girl Feminists!

 

STRONG WOMEN

Julie Burchill

‘STRONG LOOKS FOR strong women!’ ran a 2007 AOL screamer, trailing the new-season fashions. ‘THINK BIG, BE BOLD – AND LET THE CLOTHES DO THE TALKING THIS AUTUMN!’ The Strong Woman has always been a hypocrite’s poster-girl pin-up. There are two basic versions of her, and each one displays a different face of duplicity.

There’s the Self-Proclaimed Strong Woman – as in ‘Men are intimidated by me because I’m a Strong Woman; they just can’t handle me!’ Yep, whenever some sleb serial spinster – or even one’s ex-best friend, for this is a cliché that has really caught on among bunny boilers of all social classes – wants to do a bit of damage limitation over the indignity of being dumped by her latest bored boulevardier, at some point she’ll come out with this line. Funny, that; in my experience, any man worthy of the name is only too happy to have a Her Indoors who can lighten his load in more ways than one, rather than a simpering Baby Jane manqué who needs her hand held to open an envelope. Or a clingy hysteric who sincerely believes that ‘You Oughta Know’ by Alanis Morissette – the Canadian who, to my ears at least, sounds like a car! – is an anthem for Strong Women everywhere. D’oh! – it’s all about having a nervous breakdown just because some clown’s dumped you – what’s strong about that?!

This mode of hostile dependency, fuelled by narcissistic self-loathing – ‘You dumped me like a dog, but I’m too good for you!’ – has spawned quite a selection of sad little artefacts, from pop songs by the likes of Avril Lavigne, Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez to magazine adverts such as ‘THIS IS MY MEETING THE EX AND I WANT HIM TO KNOW WHAT HE’S MISSING COLLECTION’ (Oli clothing) and ‘YOU KNOW WHAT, MARK? YOU WERE RIGHT. I AM TOO GOOD FOR YOU’ (Charles Worthington).

Some ‘strong women’ have gone even further and proclaimed themselves to be Strong Black Women. Whereas a self-proclaimed Strong (White) Woman is an aforementioned weak ninny, an other-defined Strong Black Woman actually is genuinely tough; she can deal with six things before breakfast that would have the rest of us banging on the door of the Laughing Academy. BUT … her ability to cope gets her no real respect beyond lip service; thus, ‘She’s a Strong Black Woman’, while sounding on the surface respectful, actually means, ‘So I can do what I like to her!’ The great black feminist writer Michele Wallace recalled watching a 1970s TV documentary about a horrifically poor black woman with half a dozen children, all of them living in rat-infested squalor in some wretched hovel; the black radical man watching it with her said admiringly, ‘That’s one strong sister!’ No: that’s a punching bag, a dumping ground, a person who has had their identity stolen from them by a succession of men who relied on her to take it, and stay ‘strong’. Since then gangsta has replaced pantha, and women who should know better have embraced this destructive myth – albeit more to keep the bling on their fingers than the roof over their head.

As I said, both types of Strong Women are a seat-sniffing hypocrite’s wet dream: the white model pronounces herself strong while being weak, and the black version is lauded as strong by a man who treats her like she’s seven sorts of wimp. But at least the other-defined Strong Black Woman is a tragedy, and has the dignity of that condition, while the self-proclaimed Strong (White) Woman is never more or less than a downright clown.

It’s a topsy-turvy world, all right. Bleat, whine and endlessly pick at your wounds – self-inflicted, imaginary or otherwise – and/or let men take advantage of you, and you have every chance of passing as a Strong Woman. But smile, shrug and say, ‘Onwards and upwards!’ and you’ll be dismissed as ‘in denial’, and thus a suitable case for treatment. In the past, women had to pretend to be stupid to be deemed acceptable to society; frequently these days they must pretend to be complex, traumatised ‘survivors’. In the light of this sexist, miserabilist, hypocritical orthodoxy, surely clear-eyed, hard-hearted happiness is the most maddeningly subversive weapon a modern girl can wield!

And another thing …

Strong Woman, meet Working Girl – you’ve got loads in common! Mostly that you both seem to believe, somewhat hypocritically and against all the evidence, that you are somehow more worthy of the name you give yourself than are the numerous other women who don’t swank around laying claim to it, but are nevertheless far more worthy of it.

I adore my prostitute friends, but when I hear them use the phrases ‘working girl’, ‘Did/does she work?’ or ‘Is she working?’ I feel my eyes actually cross in contempt. For they speak not of the sisterhood of toil in all its various bravery, stoicism and intelligence, but solely of that part of it that decided at a young age that taking it in the face from various dirty old men was a price worth paying in order to sleep late, take drugs and drink shorts with sleazeballs when other women are slogging home from the nine to five.

And before any Guardianista has the PC ab-dabs here, OBVIOUSLY – duh! – I’m not talking about some poor exploited and trafficked Eastern European chick who is only being trafficked and exploited in the first place because people like you think it’s really, like, fascist not to let in every last Albanian pimp who says it’s his human right to be here. No, I’m talking about your average home-grown domestic pros-sie, who made a deliberate decision somewhere along the line that skiving on her knees was better than working on her feet.

Fair enough – but, whatever the rights and wrongs of the issue, and however nice individual prostitutes may be as people, to imply that other women – nurses, teachers, cleaners – don’t work is downright insulting, not to mention hypocritical. Call me a common chav – go on, you know you want to! – but, where I come from, lying on one’s back for a living is considered the lazy cow option rather than the workaholic one.

 

NEARLY MEN, OR ‘GAY-FRIENDLY’ HOMOPHOBES

Chas Newkey-Burden

IF THERE’S ONE type of person who has got the art of contradicting fine words with foul deeds down to a tee, then that person is the Nearly Man. These duplicitous dudes stand out as particularly odious, even in the packed roll-call of hypocrisy that is modern life. Their double standards are particularly striking when it comes to their attitudes to women and gay men, towards whom these guys are barely less savage than the misogynists and homophobes of yesteryear, but with the veneer of being right-on.

In my experience, just as those who we gay people fear will hate us can actually be rather sweet in their own way, it is also often those who shout loudest about their love for us who can be the most offensive and downright terrifying in their attitudes. I’ve met plenty of the latter, hypocritical category in the land of the media: white, middle-class, heterosexual, thirty-something men who read the Guardian, profess to be humanitarian and appear – to all intents and purposes – thoroughly decent blokes. Just the sort of person gay men should get along with, you might say.

Or not. In my experience, it is the middle-class goody-goody straight boys who are the most hung up about gay people and consequently most spiteful towards us, albeit in a more subtle and sly way.

Most people refer to these guys as ‘New Men’, but I prefer to call them ‘Nearly Men’. Theirs is a peculiarly modern hypocrisy: they start from the premise that ‘I’m not homophobic’ and, of course, once they have established that, they can say anything they like to gay people; if you dare complain, they’ll paint you as the troublemaker and remind you, with a patronising smile, ‘But I’m not homophobic. I’m with you guys, remember?’ They’re not with us at all, of course. I’ve had far more hurtful comments thrown at me from Nearly Men than any other type of person, including the Jack-the-lad types I worked with in football.

Nearly Men’s problems with gay men actually originate from their increasingly troubled relationship with the fairer sex. They’ve lost sight of the fact that their dealings with women do not have to be one of two extremes – either bossing them about like bastards or grovelling behind them like terrified, shivering eunuchs. Of course, there is a whole happy world between these two extremes and it’s called respect and chivalry. But Nearly Men can’t seem to get that right, so more and more of them become a parody of the henpecked husband and end up full of liberal resentment because they feel like they’ve been castrated. Then, as they become fathers and their midriffs expand, the male-pattern baldness kicks in and their wives keep making elaborate excuses at bedtime – or the singletons among them realise they cannot pull for love nor money – their resentment of women builds and builds.

Accordingly, they begin to look on gay men with resentment. With increasing bewilderment, too! The Nearly Men were taught in their liberal schooling that they have to be nice to the gays. But, in return, they held out hope for two things. One, they expected that we would be good little gays who would remain forever grateful to them for their support and respect. Two, they also expected that our lives would become more and more tragic, while their lives became more and more brilliant. Instead, they can’t help feeling that their lives are becoming more and more banal and so they eye with increasing envy our lives, which they see as one long party with sex on tap and minimal responsibility.

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Give me pretty much anyone, in fact, ahead of the confused, castrated Nearly Man with his subtle, patronising sneering attitude to gay men and women. It’s interesting that people still talk about ‘the closet’ because that concept can now be just as easily applied to homophobes as it can to gay men. Just because homophobia has become unfashionable, that doesn’t mean it’s gone away. The Nearly Man is just as down on gays as the old-fashioned men he believes he is so much more enlightened than. However, at least in the olden days they were honest about their feelings!

As for the Nearly Man, however much he pretends not to be, he’s a deluded hypocrite if he thinks he is particularly enlightened in his dealings with women or if he ‘accepts’ gay men. His is a homophobia and misogyny with a copy of the Guardian rolled up under its arm. Away with him. I don’t care whether his problem is that he regrets getting buggered at public school, or regrets not getting buggered at public school – his kind of enlightenment and acceptance I can do without.