Still, a raw deal is a raw deal, so when the management casually announced I’d lose 440 hours each year for simply being a bloke (and a ‘beta male’ bloke at that), it didn’t tickle.
In fact, I was so unimpressed that I sued them for sex discrimination.
Sounds extreme, I know, but this drastic measure only came after they snubbed all of my other suggestions for compromise, including: 1) creating a men’s hour while retaining the existing price structure 2) Keeping women’s hour (and only women’s hour) but charging men less, or 3) scrapping single-gender sessions altogether. Simple – or so you’d like to think.
Yet their defence – which they actually said with a straight face – suggested that all men are borderline sex pests in the company of Primark-clad women using fitness machines incorrectly. My counter-argument was that, actually, we were simply being short-changed.
Eventually, like a stand-off at the O.K. Corral, I upped my game and got a local solicitor on the case. Not because I was overly keen on actually *using* those 440 hours, but more on principle. In the end, we reached an out-of-court settlement 24 hours before our court date.
See, contrary to popular belief, male sexuality is NOT bad as standard and I do not fulfil that sexist, sex-mad stereotype which is forever portrayed as masculine truth. And – shock, horror – nor do the overwhelming majority of men. In fact, at no point did I ever see any of Kentish Town’s male population fall under the spell of female sexuality during a spinning class, which is precisely why I wrote ‘Stand By Your Manhood’.
Primarily as a dignity-restoring handbook for modern guys offended by the likes of Harriet Harman, Diane Abbott and Jo Brand, but also as a reality check for more everyday ‘shehadists’ who think they’re on some sort of social or sexual pedestal as a result of their gender (they’re not) – and that sexism against men is fair game (it isn’t).
See, while interviewing experts for the various chapters of my new book (mostly women, I might add), I realised that it’s no coincidence how male suicide, schools failing boys and the growing life expectancy gap have all worsened since feminism became the political and social status quo. Ditto for how ex-wives can legally bankrupt their husbands in a divorce and the way fathers are stripped of parental rights.
This isn’t just a legal reality, but a cultural trend too. Even Giles Coren’s wife, who lives in Kentish Town, told the Daily Mail how she’d rather “die” than give birth to a baby boy – because they’re the “dreaded gender”. Charming.
Fortunately, I like to think my book offers some sage advice to budding wise men who want to protect themselves, this season and beyond.
Released by political publishers Biteback (and available now in the much-loved Owl Bookshop!) it’s billed as the male version of Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman, except – for once – this one’s absolutely just for men.
After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. And men who aren’t discerning about feminism are turkeys voting for Christmas.
Stand By Your Manhood is available in all the local bookshops. Find out more about it here