Sexists, you should be ashamed of yourselves | Michael Legge on the rise of the loud-and-proud idiots

Sexists, you should be ashamed of yourselves

Michael Legge on the rise of the loud-and-proud idiots

It's 2014 but I think it was said best back in 1971 by the late Marvin Gaye: "What the fuck is going on?"

I liked the last couple of years. They were fun. Everyone seemed so excited by feminism. Bridget Christie made it funny and terrifying and it felt like something important was happening as we gathered together to laugh at how horrible the world we exist in is. I mean, that hasn't happened in comedy in a really long time. A comedian tackling a huge subject - a huge, terrible, frightening subject - and made people laugh at how ridiculous 'normal' life is and perhaps how ridiculous, terrible and frightening we are too.

It wasn't just Bridget that brought this to our attention, of course. There was EverydaySexism, there was Caitlin Moran (who I don't like because I think she's unfunny and often wrong but at least I think she's an unfunny wrong person and not an unfunny wrong woman and she got people talking about feminism so she's completely necessary. Maybe I do like her? Well, that's a revelation already), there was Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and every single person in the world coming together to post articles, share opinions, point fingers at inequality and, more importantly, celebrate equality. The last couple of years have felt positive. It felt like we were getting somewhere. So why is this year so very, very awful?

Obviously, I get it. I'm not that stupid. If something happens that people like then sooner or later there has to be a backlash. We did it with Bros, Pictionary and New Zealand, so why not do it with decency and respect?

But it doesn't feel like a backlash. It feels more like a people's rights movement. People uniting and rising up to make sure other people have fewer and fewer rights as human beings.

Were we too happy and too positive? Is that why Dapper Laughs came along to show us that respect was boring and probably queer or something? Is that why so many people immediately took to him? Is that why so many comedians that I work with support and defend Dapper Laughs?

We wallowed in our selflessness and therefore something had to be done about it. We liked feminism too much for some people and we made an uncomfortable noise about it with our happiness so The Others had to fight back. I mean, it's freedom of speech, isn't it? Dapper's not doing any harm, is he? And if you don't like it then you've every right to say so. And The Others have every right to call you a slut and threaten to rape you. It's freedom of speech.

I've always thought of comedy as a very progressive place to work in. Luckily, it generally is. But there is definitely a rise in rape jokes just as their is a rise in women not being seen as equals on a bill. A venue dropping a woman from the comedy bill because 'there are too many women' already performing is probably the funniest comedy story I've heard this year. Yes, it's horrible but, my God, that is some proud, proud sexism you're getting right there. No shame. Head held high. Say it loud! I'm a cunt and I'm proud!

And that's my big question: Why aren't people more ashamed of themselves? I'm ashamed of all my many, many faults. I'm unhealthy, I get angry at the most insignificant things (noise, litter, Kasabian) and I'm 46 with an in-order-of-broadcast complete Doctor Who DVD collection. I'm horrified at myself but, you know, at least I don't openly hate women. Unlike comedians (and others but it's the comedians that I feel most upset by) online who post their sexism with the same 'normality' that we use to post pictures of our dinner.

What I wouldn't give to see a photo of spaghetti hoops on Facebook again. Over the last few weeks I've spent far too much time arguing with comedians posting 'Fucking feminism again' and 'You shouldn't be on a panel show just because you're a woman'. I don't want to argue with these people. There was a time when you might see one or two posts like that a week. Now it's every day. So, I guess, recently I snapped. In two weeks there hasn't been a day without arguing, capitalising the word cunt and blocking idiots.

It seems obvious (not to everyone, clearly) but... FEMINISM IS NOT ABOUT WOMEN GETTING MORE THAN MEN. IT'S ABOUT US BEING EQUAL.

God, I just never wanted to get into these boring and horrible arguments but in the last two weeks I've argued with comedians posting 'I'm sick of people saying "Violence against women". What about the violence against men?" and 'I'm on Dapper Laughs' side' and... it goes on. Luckily, one of these comedians describes himself as "The Dark Knight of Comedy" so his opinion on any subject is significantly less than worthless.

Sometimes I actually regret inventing online anger, especially when I see what some people have done with it.

Complaining about the worthiness of Malala Yousafzai's Nobel win (seriously, if you haven't seen these idiots online, then please look them up now. 'How is getting shot and then still campaigning for rights peaceful?' Brilliant!), Gamergate supporters and the NotAllMen bullshit. It's EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

And for those people who think Dapper Laughs and his cheeky, misogynistic antics are harmless then please check out Shoshana Roberts film of her walking down streets in New York and the subsequent rape threats she received on Twitter. #SheKnows you're a dick.

I'm trying not to think about all this and not get upset by it, despite it being a constant in our online (and therefore real) lives. Believe it or not, I don't like being angry.

Andrew Lawrence's stupidity made me sigh and laugh in equal measure. He's an idiot. After all the support of Dapper, the 'What about violence against men?' and the general 'fucking feminism again'... I still didn't blog about it. I stopped blogging. Why have all that grumpiness all the time?

But then I saw Sofie Hagen's recent Facebook post about her experience on the comedy circuit. A compere saying 'Ladies and gentlemen, give it up one more time for Sofie Hagen. I would never rape her' made me want to punch him. I don't know who he is but I hate him. But if there's one good thing that's come from all of this, it's got me thinking of things I've said in the past and I'm ashamed. I've not said anything that awful but I'm not innocent either.

And maybe a few other people could change their attitudes too. At a recent gig, a woman entered the dressing room to give an act some food. When she left, the comedian said 'Who ordered the escort?'. Then I overheard another comedian say to the show manager 'Yeah, but you're supposed to be hot. I'm not saying I'd kick you out of bed because I wouldn't, but a woman should wear heels.'

Why aren't people more ashamed of themselves?

A backlash against decency and respect. But it doesn't feel the same as it did with Bros. We accepted When Will I Be Famous and I Owe You Nothing. Everything about them was on the up. Then we heard Cat Among The Pigeons and we called time. We united to end something before it went too far. You know what though? I'm starting to think reactions to Bros and reactions to feminism are very different things. People got bored with Bros but this feels like... fear.

What's to be scared of? I can't answer. I can't answer that.

I'm not expecting anyone to read this really, I'm certainly not expecting anyone who disagrees with my very obvious point will read it. If they do, they'll no doubt say it's whiny, unfunny and boring. But that's their fault, not mine.

• This article first appeared on Michael Legge's Facebook page. He also co-hosts a podcast about 'music and shouting' with Robin Ince. Click here to subscribe to Vitriola.

Published: 30 Oct 2014

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