Normally I’m pretty up to date with these anniversary posts. I think the fact I’m almost two weeks late in writing this blog update is pretty indicative of 2016 in general.

I’ve been nowhere near as prolific as I used to be in updating this blog. I wish I knew the reason but I think it’s just one of those natural things. Things change and, ultimately, I simply don’t have the time or inclination anymore. That doesn’t mean I don’t see any value in what I write or think that all the issues I originally wrote about are suddenly solved, it’s just that there are now so many social commentators that have much, much bigger audiences than I do that it’s almost like playing to an empty room.

Not that I ever did any of this to be accepted or lauded (well, maybe at first) but each blog takes a lot of time to prepare, plan, write and edit and there are people doing 3 or 4 videos a week on Youtube (a much bigger platform than WordPress). By the time I finally get chance to write a blog entry the subject I’d focus on has normally been dissected a million times by a million different people. Mt Facebook page was a good way of keeping myself somewhat relevant but in the last month I think I’ve only posted 2 or 3 statuses. I guess the main point is that I’m not as angry as I was. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not. Either way, I just don’t have the fire anymore.

I’ve had two or three ideas for entries milling around in my head for months and I just can’t seem to get them out on paper. It’s been a busy summer at work and it’s the new school year starting this week so it’ll be another couple of weeks before things calm down and I an even begin to think about writing.

As for The Libertarian Republic, I don’t really know what’s happening. I seem to have been removed from the Facebook group that their writers belong to, without any warning. The Editor-in-Chief who bought me on board has moved on to pastures new and I’ve not had any correspondence from anyone suggesting they don’t want my services anymore. In essence, I’m simply going to wait until someone messages me as I have no idea what their plans are. I wouldn’t blame them if they wanted to cut me loose, I haven’t exactly been prolific with my writing for them.

All that said, I still keep on top of public and social affairs, I still keep up with all the things that piss of the SJWs, I still make the odd inflammatory comment whenever I can be bothered, I even got quoted in an online article by The Telegraph over a recent Olympics sexism debate. I’m still hanging around and I think I always will be, I just think my output on this blog and on my Facebook page will lessen.

As ever, I love each and every single person who has read this blog, supported by sharing, got in touch with me over the years and generally just been a fan. I’m in a much, much better place now than 3 years ago and this blog is the sole reason for that. I just think as things change and I get older (I turned 30 recently) my priorities and energies change direction. I’ll still have this blog to come back to when I’m ready and willing, it’s just not on my radar at the moment.

Whatever happens, anyone who’s read this blog can rest safe in the knowledge that I am not the same person I was 3 years ago and I will be eternally grateful for that.

So for now, it’s good bye and thank you.


Ah, comic books. I’ve spoken numerous times previously about my love of comic books, something that stretches right back to childhood. Someone asked me recently what it is about them that I like so much. It was a surprisingly difficult question to answer, but ultimately boiled down to artwork and storylines.

I’ll admit, I’m one of the harshest critics when it comes to comic book films, not because I hate them all (though it’s fair to say a lot of them are garbage) but simply because I don’t feel a lot of them live up to the quality of the comics that inspired them. I love the first Iron Man film, but I felt the ending lacked the same emotional punch the comics had, therefore reducing the climactic battle to ‘generic good guy vs bad guy battle 1’. I loved Civil War, but felt the reasoning behind the decisions for the chaos lacked the depth and weight of the comic storyline and, indeed, the size of the teams meant it felt a little small scale for a ‘war’. Of course, comics have the advantage of decades worth of storylines to choose from and the films do well with what they have, but I’ve never left a cinema thinking that what I’d seen was truly better than its counterpart comic storyline.

That said, there are lots of comic book films that are based on comics I’ve never read or am a casual fan of: Deadpool, Blade, The Crow, most DC stuff, etc. Those kind of films are the ones I can go in with low expectations and come out really pleased with. Not because I think they’ll automatically be shit, just because I have no ties to the characters so am much more open minded.

A good example of that is Dredd, the 2012 version of the 2000AD character starring Karl Urban. I’ve never read a Dredd comic so I only had the 95 Stallone film to go on. That was crap but I’d heard the new version wasn’t so I gave it a go.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Dredd kind of reminds me of the Punisher (my favourite comic book character) in that he’s brutal and pretty unswayed in his convictions. Of course, Dredd follows a system that acts this way while the Punisher is simply one man’s morals but still, unrelenting violence, graphic deaths and stoic heroes are my cup of tea!
So, imagine my surprise when I read an article recently that said Dredd was a super-duper amazing feminist film!
I mean, I’ve read articles in the past that lament the fact comic book films, Avengers 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy in particular, are not comic book films but I’ve not seen one desperate to try and claim a comic book film is feminist. That’s kinda strange.

I mean, first of all, it’s not a feminist film. The justifications given in the article are bogus. Not that they aren’t fact, I mean it is true that there are 2 female leaders, just that that doesn’t make this film feminist. In fact, if we look at some of the reasons why this is supposedly a feminist film it actually contradicts the reasons why the other 2 aren’t feminist films. If anything, it exposes an inherent hypocrisy within the feminist movement when it comes to films – if it’s something they like, it’s feminist; if it’s something they dislike it’s not feminist. Pretty standard as far as feminism’s reach into comic books go.

I’m not gonna dwell too much on each point, just enough to explain why, while they may be valid points, they’re not something I would consider to be ‘feminist’, not when compared to criticisms of other films. Now, of course, this article isn’t written by the same woman as the other two (and in fact they were by two different authors) it’s more to highlight the idea that even feminists within the feminist movement can’t decide what’s a feminist film or not.

5. Lena Heady Is Strong, Scary, And Not That Sexy For Once.
4. The Uniform Is Actually Not Stupid
3. The Lady Actress Does Not Have The Hots For The Dude Actor And Vice Versa
2. Dredd’s Boss Is This Woman And It’s Not A Big Deal
1. Anderson Has A Character Arc

Those are the 5 reasons. Like I said, they’re all pretty valid points for this film, just that I don’t see how it makes the film inherently feminist when compared to other comic book films. Not only that, but there are also some traits in this film that are decidedly not feminist. At all.
These are all the positive points about the film and the role women play. But, I think a lot of what’s above is down to the comic itself and not necessarily because the film was aiming at a comic universe. The uniforms, for example, were toned down a little from the comics but are still pretty accurate. There’s not a great deal you can do the uniforms without raising the ire of die-hard fans of the character. It’s not so much that the filmmakers wanted to show Anderson as an equal, more that the uniform design was iconic and to mess with it was probably a step too far.

Lena Headey being an unsexy, badass villain is fair enough. But, from a feminist perspective, why is she the only female villain (aside from one corrupt judge)? Literally all of her henchmen are just that, men. All of her victims, and indeed all of Dredd and Anderson’s victims, are men. The only graphic female death we see in the entire film is Headey’s. Before that we’ve had men skinned and thrown off balconies, had hot ammunition fired into their mouths, had their bodies burned, been ripped to shreds by gunfire, had their faces literally shot through with a bullet, had their hands blown off and numerous more. In fact, here’s a video of every death in the film at the hands of Dredd himself. Notice something funny? Yep, 100% men. There were 4 corrupt judges and Dredd kills 2 male ones. The corrupt female judge is killed by Anderson in what is possibly the least graphic and quickest of all. The last corrupt judge, a male, is also killed by Anderson. So, even in a feminist film with a super amazing female baddy, man-on-woman violence (except for said head baddy) is still seen as a no-no. Interesting.

In fact, any female character introduced that isn’t either a head villain or a head hero is seen as a helpless, innocent victim. How very feminist.
Whilst it’s great that Headey plays a cold, calculating villain it’s not feminist that literally every other villain, every nameless, faceless, disposable ‘soldier’ who acts as cannon fodder is a man. At what point is feminism going to start demanding we kill off women in the same staggeringly high numbers as men?

Not only that, but what are Ma-Ma’s motivations for becoming who she is? That’s right, she is wronged by a man. She’s a former prostitute who was slashed in the face by her pimp. After that, she decides to get revenge. If she’s such a badass female villain, why did she only become said villain after she was wronged by a man? When are we going to get female villains who are just cunts for the sake of being cunts (A la The Dark Knight’ Joker) instead of females who are pushed to the edge by men and only then become evil?

The article I wrote on Guardians of the Galaxy lamented the fact that 2 named female characters, with speaking lines, were disposable. As I said with that film, it’s funny that disposable men are just accepted as part of the movie, yet the second we aren’t given full rounded, in depth female characters with story arcs it’s somehow not feminist? Yeah, makes sense.

As for point 3, neither character having the hots for each other – I actually agree. I fucking despise crowbarred romance angles. Sometimes they work well, sometimes they don’t. In Iron Man we had the whole ‘will they won’t they’ angle between Stark and Potts that was crap. In the Incredible Hulk we had the ‘will they won’t they’ angle between Banner and Ross and it worked. In 2004’s The Punisher, there was a hint of a romance between Castle and Joan and it was so out of place that it almost ruined the film for me. In this case, I’d say, again, it’s more an adherence to the original comic stylings than any major decision on the studio’s part.

Point 4 is interesting. I agree that it’s cool the fact Dredd’s boss is a woman is not a big deal. But, in my opinion, it’s only made a big deal out of in every other film because the writers intend it to be that way. Maybe it’s just my inherent white, cis-het privilege coming out, but I also despise it when gender politics are inserted into films that would be better off without it. Sometimes, the only time a female boss is a problem in a film is because the writers make it a problem. Why? I dunno, some lame attempt to try and make the conflict between characters really deep or something? Either way, it’s shit and doesn’t work. One of the things I loved about Jurassic World is that the two main characters, on male one female, simply worked together. They knew they had a task to do that was bigger than gender politics. There was none of the ‘god, if only they’d sent me a man!’, or ’what, you think I can’t do it because I’m a woman?! Genuinely, in real life situations I don’t know anyone that reacts in the moronic, childish way people do in films when they’re forced into a situation with a member of the opposite sex.
Again, I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a feminist aspect of the film, after all there are plenty of films with female bosses, it’s more an example of solid writing and a desire to actually let the characters be natural and not bogged down with unnecessary, nonsensical gender politics. Plus, it’s set in the future, it’s a rather sad indictment of humanity if we can’t learn to work together in a dystopia!

As for the final point, good character arcs are rare in comic book films overall so I agree that it’s nice to see a good one here. That said, to say Dredd ‘doesn’t need to develop’ is to ignore the fact that he does actually develop as a character. At the beginning of Anderson’s training he gives her a rundown of all the stuff that would result in her receiving a fail. She fails quite badly over the course of the film yet Dredd still passes her. That’s character development. It’s not a lot, but he’s gone from rigid enforcer of the law to somewhat more malleable when it comes to the carnage he’s just seen.

Now, I’m not saying that if you want to see this as a feminist film then you can’t, not at all, It’s not really my place to tell you what or what not to believe. However, what I do dislike is the idea that a few positive portrayals of women in a single film can make something feminist. This film, as far as I’m aware, fails the Bechdel test. There are only a couple of times 2 female characters talk to each other on screen. One is when Anderson and the Chief Judge are talking. Guess who they’re talking about? Yep, Dredd. The other is when Ma-Ma talks to Anderson about the Judges. That’s why the Bechdel test is shit. Dredd is supposedly a feminist film yet fails one of the most important feminist tests? That makes total sense.

This is the same Bechdel test that some feminists in Sweden wanted to make standard for all released films? Like, if the film didn’t pass the Bechdel test it wouldn’t be released. So, yeah, say goodbye to Dredd!

One of the things I dislike about this clamouring to declare Dredd as a feminist film is the fact that, despite feminists claims otherwise, this type of feminism only seems to care about women. Again, if that’s your definition of feminism then that’s fine, just don’t be surprised when I roll my eyes and say ‘if this film is feminist, why are men still the majority of the disposable bad guys?’ Dredd is a feminist film in as much as it has some positive female characters. The rest of it is pretty much comic book 101.
Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t a feminist film because it had 2 disposable female characters. Dredd has over 50 disposable male characters and somehow is a feminist film?

Avengers 2 wasn’t a feminist film because the characters were treated too differently and should have been the same. Dredd is a feminist film because Anderson has a story arc while Dredd did not?

Come back to me when feminism has at least a somewhat consistent idea of what it wants in its films.

You want to see more positive role models in films, you want to see more female villains that don’t rely on sex appeal? Awesome, then you must also be ok with seeing graphic male-on-female violence, female cannon fodder and graphic depictions of female deaths. I’m sick of films being declared feminist because they’re got a strong, positive hero character. I want to see 57 women gunned down, thrown off balconies, choked to death, stabbed, shot, torn apart by bullets, have limbs hacked off, have their eyes gouged out, have their necks broken and have their faces burnt through from the inside out.

Does that sound horrific to you? If it does, then maybe you aren’t actually ready for a truly feminist film after all.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 16 years, you’ll know that, probably since 2000’s X-men, comic book films are huge, booming business nowadays. A far cry from the mid-90s when Marvel were hanging on by a thread, close to bankruptcy and relying on elongating stories like the Clone Saga in order to keep revenue high, the MCU has become a billion dollar juggernaut that DC haven’t been able to make a dent in. Comic book films are not just the staple of the summer season, they’re the staple of all seasons. Some of them, like Deadpool, are successful in February. Some of them, like Captain America: Civil War, are successful in April. Some of them, like Guardians of the galaxy, are successful in August. It doesn’t matter when it’s released, a comic book film, even if poorly reviewed, is almost guaranteed to make big money.

But that big money doesn’t come without its problems. I’ve already written two blog entries in the past about how two of the biggest MCU films, Avengers 2 and Guardians, are not ‘feminist’ films and it seems that appeasing feminism is, to some, the ‘maker’ of a comic film. If it doesn’t ‘pass the feminist test’, and I’m not talking about the Bechdel test either, it’s somehow not as accomplished as a film. It seems that as successful as comic book films are, they still can’t escape the criticism for just not being inclusive enough.

But that’s not all. The X-Men franchise, aside from being one of the first successful Marvel franchises (walking the road of success built by Blade before it), has received its fair share of detractors over the last 16 years. Some of it is well deserved, a cluttered Last Stand and woefully underwhelming ‘Origins’ film being the two biggest offenders, but a lot of it is somewhat puzzling.

A few days ago, a friend of mine shared a status update that focused on one of the new posters for X-Men: Apocalypse, the newest of the Marvel Mutant’s adventures. What I wasn’t expecting was to see a huge dose of hyperbole and a lack of common sense that actually undermines any point that may have been evident.

Luckily, for me, someone else had some similar concerns explored in the original post (it may even have been the same person) and decided to write a full article condemning it. A full article. About one poster. I mean, I can understand why you’d want to write about an entire film, even if it’s off the mark, but one poster? Surely, it must be one of the most horrendous posters ever created if it’s worthy of an entire article?

Well, to put it bluntly, no. No it’s not. In fact, rather than sharing the embarrassment the author, Sabina Ibarra, felt upon seeing it, I instead feel embarrassed for her.

So, what is this outrageous display of insult and offense? Well, it’s a poster advertising Apocalypse by showing Mystique being choked by Apocalypse himself. Yep, the film’s main villain overpowering the film’s main, or at least arguably most recognisable, hero.
The problem isn’t necessarily with the complaint, posters advertising films have been banned before and I’m sure that it will happen again, it’s more with the huge leaps in logic that this article makes. Baseless leaps in logic as well.

You see, the article decides to equate this poster, of a villain choking a hero, to violence against women and how much of a blight on society that particular act is. It’s a huge, rather convenient, leap to link the two points together. Not only does it require a huge amount of exaggeration to even connect the two ideas, a fight between comic heroes and villains and real life violence against women, it employs such a pious point of view that any salient point that may possibly have been raised gets lost in a sea of self-righteousness. The idea that ‘if you can’t see the problem then you’re part of the problem’ is such an off-kilter and baseless remark to make in the context of this poster that it effectively only serves to continue a pre-existing, already misleading narrative about violence against women that is drenched in victimhood.

That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, violence against women is not something I’m ever going to deny, but the idea that violence in society is only ever directed against women or even the idea that marketing of products relies extensively on the use of subjugated women, a myopic viewpoint espoused numerous times in this piece, is just another example of hyper-inflated hysteria pedalled by those who can’t bear to lose the victim shroud.

For example, in the newest Captain America film and in Deadpool, men are hit in the nuts on at least three occasions (twice in Captain America, once in Deadpool, if I remember rightly). Let’s assume that Sabina has a salient point, that this poster does indeed promote, normalise and further the idea that violence against women is ok, and ask why there was no corresponding article about those instances of violence? A quick search of the website comes up with no articles about the excessively sexual violence inflicted on men in these two films. Why? Deadpool is one of the highest grossing R-rated films ever, Captain America is another monumentally successful Marvel instalment. Why has Legion of Leia not made any comment, op-ed or pontificating article on the normalisation of sexually driven violence against men? For those who are unaware, a heavy enough blow to the testicles can, in some serious cases, lead to the death of the person hit. Save for instances of self-defence, why are we allowing these depictions of nut shots to continue without question? If we normalise violence against women by these sorts of posters, despite campaigns worth hundreds of million dollars designed to stamp it out, then surely we also normalise violence against men?

Not that I’m saying we shouldn’t object to certain depictions of violence, but context is hugely important. It’s something that we should be more vigilant of, admittedly the last thing we need is a 12 year old kid going around nut-shotting people because they saw it in Captain America, but generally people seem to know that groin shots are not allowed. In the same way, we, as a society, know that violence against women is wrong. That doesn’t stop people doing it, in the same way it doesn’t stop people from hitting men in the balls ‘for a laugh’, but the idea that posters such as the one highlighted here promote or demonstrate society’s internalised misogyny is ridiculous. If that truly is the case then posters for Kill Bill, household items and the constant stream of posts on Facebook that imply men are nothing but monstrous scum are also indicators of internalised misandry. However, for me the examples of internalised misandry are worse as no-one really seems to give enough of a shit to complain about them. See how easy this is?!

The point is, this poster does not show Jennifer Lawrence, and by greater extension all women, in a position of subjugation and powerlessness underneath a man, it shows Mystique, the fictional mutant she portrays on screen, in a display of subjugation and powerlessness. It’s nothing to do with male on female violence and simply portrays the main villain overpowering the film’s biggest star. Originally, Mystique was a villain anyway, she killed numerous people, mostly men, without a second thought, yet that seems to have gone unnoticed. The whole ‘if you don’t see a problem, then that is the problem’ argument just doesn’t have any merit here. There are claims that this poster is out of context, that when included in part of the fight scene then it makes sense but as an isolated poster it’s unacceptable. What is it about two blue mutants set against a backdrop of violence and carnage suggests that this particular poster is actually out of context?

This poster creates sympathy for our heroes. We’ve spent 2 films getting used to Mystique as a powerful mutant, one who, in Days of Future Past, was possibly responsible for one of the biggest shifts in the entire film timeline. Having a villain like Apocalypse, well-known in the comics but almost non-existent outside of that, showing that level of power against an established mutant immediately gives him some credence. Could they have picked a better pose? Of course they could, in the same way they could have picked a worse pose as well. That’s not the point. The pose they did pick shows an immensely powerful mutant, the new villain of the upcoming film, overpowering one of the mutants that has been the main focus of the past 2 films.

Let’s look at this from another angle – if Lawrence had been excluded from promotional material and Xavier had been in the subjugated position instead, I’d be willing to be people would still be complaining. “Why has Lawrence been excluded?!” they’d cry, “this is why comic films need to change!” with froth coming out of their mouths, “why can’t we include women in the advertising campaigns?!” slowly descending to the floor, foetal position employed, “this is just the toyline fiasco all over again!” convulsing with outrage!

All sarcasm aside, the main point is that the poster employed to advertise this film is somehow just another example of how we normalise misogyny and how violence against women is so inherent to our society, and we so blind to it, that we just accept this is the way films are promoted. The fact the author claims it shows disrespect to the female audience is bullshit. Not because I don’t think she’s entitled to her opinion (she is) but because it’s such an overly moralistic, absolutist thing to say that it loses any and all credibility it may have had. You cannot, and should not, speak for an entire demographic. Why? Well, when this outrage first surfaced there were numerous women that simply said ‘I disagree’. That right there totally nullifies your argument. You posit that it’s disrespectful to a female audience, you face the ridicule when that audience says ‘no’.

Now, I’m not saying women can’t get offended by this, by all accounts feel free to do so, but don’t claim that you speak for all women. One of the closing points of this article is that women are tired of having to enjoy this type of image in things they love to watch. It’s a superhero fight, women are going to get hit, isn’t that what the equality movement is all about? It’s actually quite clear that female superheroes are treated differently in superhero films. In the recent Captain America film, numerous male superheroes are hit quite regularly at full force, yet Natasha is barely touched, even commenting to Hawkeye that he’s pulling his punches. So what do you want, do you want to see equality in films and have female superheroes fully participate in fights, or do you want them to be treated carefully lest they reflect some real-world wrong that you feel is inappropriate.

I suppose in the long run Sabina is right, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking offence to a film poster, it’s everyone’s right to get offended at whatever they want to get offended at. My only real problem is the justification behind said offence. Yes, violence against women definitely happens in the real world and there may be some instances where people are influenced by what they see on screen. But let’s not beat around the bush, that is not solely limited to women and using the justification of ‘it’s societally accepted to use misogyny in advertising’ is a comment that is drenched in such victimhood that it blinds people to the fact that advertising is often rotten to everyone.

This myopic view of victimhood actually serves as a deterrent to helping real victims because, unlike the intended reactions of horror and shock, people simply sigh and mutter ‘not this old shit again’. If you want people to take violence against women seriously then perhaps stop using outdated, disproven myths about the prevalence of violence, stop automatically assuming victim position over everything, stop turning everything into how women are victimised and actually ask other people, outside of your normal circles, if they feel the same way. Then, and I understand this is a revolutionary concept, perhaps stop trying to silence those who disagree with you, otherwise you just perpetuate a never ending victim circle jerk that only ever confirms what you think you already know. Using false, or at least wildly disputed, statistics to further an agenda does nothing but fuel the unnecessary hysteria and fear around women’s safety. If you really cared about women, you wouldn’t automatically place them in the role of helpless victim and keep them there whenever something controversial comes up.

I have numerous female friends who are not offended by this poster. Instead of trying to shut them down by telling them they’re victims of internalised misogyny, instead of trying to deliver a sermon of moralistic nonsense from Mount High Horse and instead of writing articles that claim your opinion is the only one that is either right or the only one that matters, actually listen to why they are not offended and see if there’s, perhaps, a narrative that doesn’t match your own. You might be surprised.

Oh, one last thing. In X-Men – The Last Stand, after the death of both Cyclops and Professor X, Storm became the leader of the X-Men. So perhaps do a bit of research before climbing up that mountain.

Holy goddamn fucking shit, it’s been a while! The last time I wrote an article for this blog, aside from the obligatory Christmas thank you message, was October last year. Fucking October! That’s insane! Considering how much I love this blog and how much it’s responsible for keeping me sane over the last two and a half years, the fact I haven’t published anything for 7 odd months is really, really bad.

That said, it’s not like I haven’t written anything, the last 5 articles I’ve written have been published at The Libertarian Republic and, as much as I love writing for those guys, I wanted this one to be published here, because it’s something that I’ve been milling over for a while. As such, it’s probably going to be too long for TLR. That doesn’t matter for this blog though, I can publish any length on here and it doesn’t really matter. So, enough with the waffling, let’s get started!

I recently saw the newest Marvel Cinematic Universe film: Captain America: Civil War. I mentioned this on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and that’s kinda what lead to this blog being started. It wasn’t the film itself, but the adverts beforehand that started a bit of a snowball in my mind. Now, the film itself does actually have at least two scenes where men get kicked in the balls. Technically, that’s sexual violence but, of course, it’s not presented that way in the film. That’s pretty much all the depth I want to go into on the actual content on the film, like I say this whole thing was set off by the adverts. You see, there was an advert that used talking body parts to talk about certain situations a boyfriend and girlfriend may find themselves in during a relationship. Of course, these were not good situations, rather they focused on aspects on domestic violence that may not always appear obvious.

I’ve written on domestic violence on so many occasions in the past but the stone cold truth is that, in the near-three years I’ve been writing this blog, nothing has changed. Absolutely nothing.

Every single campaign I see, every poster, every advert, every article, every celebrity that speaks out about domestic violence frames it in such a way that the men are always, always the perpetrators and the women are always, always the victims. I’m not even being hyperbolic. In every television campaign, whether it’s aimed at children, adults or teenagers the men are always the perpetrators.

It’s a dangerous and untrue narrative to promote. Not only that but it’s so blatantly untrue as well.

First, there were some adverts aimed at teenagers that dealt with recognising abusive behaviours. There were some that were from the abuser’s point of view and some that were from the victim’s point of view. The important thing to note is that in both clips, no matter whose eyes it’s presented through, the man is the villain. This is a campaign aimed at teenagers, reinforcing the idea that, somehow, males cannot be the victims of coercion, physical violence or emotional manipulation. Around the same time, adverts appeared that included stars of a British soap called Hollyoaks. Again, the victim is the woman, the villain the man. 3 adverts aimed at teenagers (Hollyoaks’ audience is predominately teens) that paint men as villains and women as innocent victims.

Not only does that further an outdated and majorly off-colour narrative, it pigeon-holes both sexes into roles that they can’t seem to escape from. It’s a constant reminder to teen boys that they are just one step away from controlling behaviour, from violent behaviour, one step away from committing rape. It tells them to constantly be aware of the signs, to stop themselves from taking that final step into criminality. It’s also a constant reminder to teen girls that they are always, always the victim.

What it doesn’t do, this mass campaign aimed at teenagers, is tell boys they can be victims or tell girls they can be villains. It doesn’t let boys know that it’s ok for them to be uncomfortable or scared, it doesn’t tell them to watch out for the signs of violence from their other half. Similarly, it doesn’t tell girls to watch out for the tell-tale signs of their own violence, it doesn’t tell girls that their anger and frustrations are not to be taken out on their boyfriend, someone they’re supposed to care about.
The annoying thing is, those were the only adverts I could find uploaded to Youtube. There were more than that. I can remember at least one more that involved a boy being the predator and the girl being the victim. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the actual video so, I suppose, there’s no real proof that it existed, other than my word.

It’s not just that one campaign either. A couple of years ago, MTV launched the #callitout campaign. This one employed a series of celebrities to tell us about numerous situations that may occur in relationships that were not cool. Things like telling her who to be friends with or trying to go through her phone when she doesn’t want you to. The focus in this particular set of ads? Yep, male villain; female victim. To be fair to this campaign, there was at least one advert that featured a reversal of the narrative. However, unsurprisingly, the reverse scenario was just one, yep one, example. One example in an entire campaign that let teenage boys know they could be victims. What does that suggest? It suggests that violence, be it physical or emotional, happens to boys so rarely it’s barely even worth mentioning in national campaigns.

Think about any advert you see that talks about violence – childline, sexual abuse, rape, child exploitation, child slavery – you can guarantee it’s the men being presented as villains. Maybe the odd example of a woman but only occasionally. The point is very clear – only men are monsters.

That’s just general TV campaigns though, the kind of thing that lasts a couple of months and then we kind of forget. As I said, I mentioned on Facebook that I went to see the new Captain America film a couple of weeks ago and there was an advert there that really just exemplified the way we approach relationship violence.

Bear in mind that this is a film that, predominantly, will target males and, true to form, 90% of the full cinema screen that I saw it in was males. Males of all ages, from pre-teens to teenagers to young adults to fathers and grandfathers, there were numerous generations of men present in this particular screening. So, one of the pre-film adverts was another of these relationship campaigns that aim to tell people, particularly younger people, about the damaging effects of relationship violence. What did the narrative of this particular campaign say to the majority male audience? Yep, it told them that they are the ones who should be watching their anger and modifying their behaviour, especially when it comes to relationships. A perfect opportunity to tell males that they are also at risk from relationship violence and, of course, the narrative instead tells them that they cannot be victims. This is yet another campaign that fails to even hint that men can be, and are, victims of domestic violence. A cinema screen full of males of all ages and all that they are told is that, potentially, they can become monsters. A perfect opportunity missed.

Not only that, the company that made this particular campaign has other adverts that aim to deal with these kinds of topics in an accessible, light-hearted way. Any of these videos portray men as victims? Nope. Well, not straight men anyway. They do have an advert that focuses on gay relationships which is quite useful but, again, absolutely no indication that women can be the aggressors.

Am I lamenting the existence of these campaigns in general? No, of course not, they are absolutely necessary and I’m hoping that we continue to develop ways to engage with a younger audience about how to spot signs of abuse in a relationship that may not always be obvious.

What I am lamenting is the frustratingly negligent way these campaigns treat men. Yes, men can be violent, I don’t deny that for one second. But here’s the thing – men are by no means the only ones who have the capability to be violent. Erin Pizzey’s been saying this for nigh on 50 years, Facebook pages like Destroy the narrative are constantly posting stories where women are shown to be violent, I myself have posted numerous things on my Facebook page that show women are capable of extreme violence. Even George Takei, perennial purveyor of toxic gender narratives, has posted a story about a woman behaving in a way that, had it been the other way round, would have led to internet outrage. Of course, it was only one story and George was pretty swift in returning to posting stuff that only seems to demonise men and victimise women, but it’s a sign that this blindfold we seem to have when it comes to violent women needs to be removed.

The question that goes through my mind when I see these one sided narratives played out on a fairly regular basis is simply…why? Why is it so difficult to include men in these kinds of awareness campaigns? Do we really believe, as a society, that men are completely unable to be victims of the same types of abuse as women? For me, personally, a large part of the problem is that socially, culturally and politically we are either unable, or perhaps, more sinisterly, totally unwilling, to see women as anything other than victims.

The last article I wrote for The Libertarian Republic centred around this notion. We treat women more leniently with prison sentences, we seem more willing to justify their more violent behaviour, we find reasons and contexts that explain why certain acts were committed. Ever heard the phrase ‘there’s no reason to hit a woman’? Well, that’s just another way that we normalise and promote a toxic narrative that absolves women of blame. Bill Burr brought up the point in one of his stand-up routines, the phrase ‘never hit a woman’ immediately halts any conversation. If we aren’t at least prepared to hear why a man may have hit a woman it doesn’t help the situation. All it does is pigeon hole the two sexes further into damaging roles. The phrase ‘there’s no reason to hit a woman’ completely absolves women of responsibility and instead burdens the man with it. It paints men as nothing but animalistic monsters who have no excuse and paints women as angelic innocents who can’t possibly have character traits that bring about such violence.

Do we have an equivalent phrase for men? Nope. What’s the first question we ask when a woman hits a man? It generally falls somewhere along the lines of ‘I wonder what he did to deserve it?’ When women are violent towards men, we don’t immediately condemn the action, we look at the context, the reason for it existing, and then we pass judgement on whether the act was justified or not.

That’s not all though, on top of these damaging campaigns that seem to ignore male victims, there was an article that appeared on my Facebook feed that dealt with the signs of abuse that do not always manifest themselves physically. Huffpost Women posted an article about a recent hashtag trend called #maybehedoesn’thityou. ‘Maybe he doesn’t hit you’ aims to bring awareness to those acts of domestic abuse that are not physically violent. Things like manipulation, coercion and controlling behaviour are all present. The idea is fairly simple, and quite noble – just because it isn’t physical, doesn’t mean it isn’t abusive. Again, I’m not trying to diminish or dismiss the idea of raising awareness but, perhaps unsurprisingly there was a glaring omission from that Huffpost article – men.

Now, you could say that because the article was posted on Huffpost Women that, of course, the focus would be on women as victims. However, if the best place to allow women to see the violent side of women is not on a website that is geared towards women then where? And that’s not to say that Huffpost women should only post stories about violent women, but for a site that is aimed at women, is it not beneficial to say ‘hey ladies, just be aware that sometimes, just sometimes, you can experience violence from other women too’? This is even more apparent when you realise that a lot of articles focusing on men and domestic violence seem at pains to continually mention that women are still the majority victims, even when studies suggest that may be untrue. On the few occasions that men are told they can be victims, they’re often told that women are still suffering more. It’s as if the narrative is so tightly wound around outdated perceptions that anything removed from this just cannot be allowed. By furthering the male villain narrative not only is it dismissive of male victims of women, but also female victims of women. There are numerous studies that show rates of domestic abuse are higher in lesbian relationships, yet the domestic abuse narrative is still firmly centred on heterosexual male/female couples. Highlighting lesbian relationships doesn’t allow men to be painted as victims and it requires acknowledging that women can be violent, two key aspects of the narrative that we must not be allowed to mention.

I’ve mentioned this before, probably to the point of exhaustion, that I’m a teacher by trade. As a teacher, my students are predominantly boys. I’ve seen the effect this narrative has on them. I’ve seen the way girls treat them, hold them to ransom, manipulate their feelings and use them against them. Again, that’s not to say that all girls are like this, far from it, but if we only ever focus on a one sided-narrative, particularly in regards to teenagers, it not only doesn’t let boys know they can be victims, it doesn’t let girls know that they are just as capable of being abusive or, indeed, what those abusive behaviours can be.

We’re often told that the ‘friendzone’ is simply another aspect of misogyny, born out of an entitlement men have towards women based simply on the fact that they expect sex simply for ‘being nice’. I’m sure that has some truth to it, but there’s also a more nefarious reason for the ‘friendzone’ existing. Women use the friendzone to manipulate the men around them. If they know that men have feelings for them then they seem unwilling to let them forget that whilst simultaneously reminding them they have no chance. Just enough tease and just enough rejection, just enough to keep the man hopeful but just enough to make him doubt. It’s emotional manipulation and I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen it happen to teenage boys who have no idea that their feelings are being manipulated. I’ve seen teenage girls do it without realising what they’re doing is abusive. Why? Because we just don’t see that side of the narrative. When discussions on domestic violence, abuse, manipulation and ‘the friendzone’ are so centrally focused on the victimisation of women by men and can be dismissed as simply misogyny when anyone tries to reverse it, we forget to acknowledge anything other than accepted perceptions, no matter how warped they may be. When a girl orders a boy to go and buy her a coffee or when a girlfriend orders her boyfriend to go and get her a pen or when a girl orders her friend to carry her bags because ‘that’s what men do’, it’s a sign that the campaigns aren’t working. At what point does this normalisation of emotional manipulation begin to filter through? At what point do we finally start to open our eyes to the idea that women are capable of violence and stop pretending the issue is as simple as we are currently presenting it?

The fact I even feel the need to say ‘I know women are abused too’ is just a minor example of this. The fact I feel that I have to make those claims as discussion of male victims of domestic violence is somehow taking the focus away from women is fucking ludicrous. I’m not diminishing the impact of domestic violence, physical or otherwise, on women, nor am I trying to say it doesn’t happen. That kind of thinking is symptomatic of the diseased narrative that exists. I’m just trying to raise awareness where others have failed.

Focusing on men is not taking focus away from women. I’ve heard it so often in discussions on female victims. I’ve heard so many excuse along the lines of ‘I know men can be victims too, but this isn’t about men, this is about women. Write your own article if you’re that concerned.’ Well, what happens when people try to talk about male victims? York University found that on November 19th last year. They organised a seminar to discuss the male suicide stats (an epidemic that needs to be talked about) and the feminist organisation three up such a goddamn hissy fit that the university cancelled it. How fucking pathetic. This the day after a male student hanged himself in his dorm. I’ve made my feelings on feminism quite clear in this blog, and this particular entry has very little to do with feminism really, but don’t ever try and tell me that ‘feminism simply means equality’. Feminism is a cancer on the face of equality. Men often talk about male victims on posts about female victims because where else are they going to do it? When a University has to cancel an event because some feminists cannot deal with not being the centre of attention then where else are men supposed to talk about it? You claim they should write their own articles?

Well, here I am. I’m talking about it. And it’s not to diminish what women go through, it’s not to try and dismiss the fact it happens to women, it’s not to try and say men have it worse, it’s simply to say men are victims too. The narrative needs to change. At the moment, it’s poisonous. It’s rotten to the core, it’s misguided and misplaced and, worst of all, it’s ignoring a huge portion of victims, both male and female. It’s telling men they are nothing but monsters and telling women they are nothing but angels. Anybody who tries to go against that notion is considered a misogynist and easily cast aside. Men don’t derail discussions on domestic violence because they hate women, they do it because they make up a statistically large number of victims and they simply have nowhere else to talk about it.

I mean, Christ, if numerous mainstream campaigns can’t get it right, what the fuck hope do I have?!

Hello all you beautiful bastards!

I think I need to open this with a rather big apology (like I haven’t done that before!) My last blog entry was on the 11th of October! Even for me that’s a long time ago!

Remember this time last year when I was writing a ‘welcome return’ blog after disappearing and shutting down the blog? Yeah, well It’s actually been longer this year than it was last year, and this year was unintentional! Why do I keep mentioning last year’s little break? Well, the more I look back on it, the more I think it’s slightly embarrassing and cringeworthy in the way I went about it. But hey, it reflects my mental state at the time and at least it shows I’m not afraid to show my emotions!

So, why the long gap? In all honesty it’s been work. Despite all claims otherwise, the beginning of the new school year in September was a colossal fuck up from day one. That means not only have I been busting my balls to do my own job, I’ve been picking up the slack from the other fuckwits in admin who couldn’t do theirs as well! I’ve also been observed, had to present strategies to my team and still meet all my own deadlines. In short, I’ve been fucking busy. That, plus the fact I was at work until yesterday (something, as a teacher, I’ve never had to do) means I’ve got nothing done on this blog.

Anyone who reads these blogs on a regular basis knows that they are quite long. There’s a very simple reason for that: detail. I like to analyse entire articles and put my own thoughts and feelings on them. If the article itself is 2 pages that means my blogs end up being double that. They also take 3 or 4 hours to write, not including proofreading, editing and any redrafting. As you can appreciate, I haven’t had that much free time over the last 2 and a half months to write. That’s not to say I haven’t wanted to, I have 3 or 4 subjects ready to go, I just need to find time.

Having said that, I was extended an opportunity in October to join The Libertarian Republic, an online site that wanted me to publish stuff based on men’s rights and how men are treated in society. That opportunity allowed me to write shorter articles that took less time. It was a good way to continue writing but without feeling the pressure to do huge Salmon-esque blog entries.

I’ve done 3 so far: the first was one the double standard surrounding Justin Bieber’s nudes leaking out:

The second was about the double standard in the way we approach female teachers and male students:

And my third one was about the place chivalry holds in a truly equal society:

I’ll be writing for TLR for as long as they’ll have me. I won’t be abandoning this blog, hopefully the new year will be a touch calmer at work.

With it being Christmas Eve I thought I’d just say a big Merry Christmas to everyone! Once again it’s the people who read this blog that keep it going. The responses I continue to get are amazing and, while I’m not in the same league as some others on Facebook/YouTube, I love to read them, even the negatives. I probably won’t get much time to get online over the next 2 or 3 days so I hope everyone has a lovely few days and gets whatever they wish for Christmas! If you aren’t celebrating Christmas then just have an awesome weekend and I’ll see you on the other side!


If you managed to make it through the first part of this blog entry then congratulations! If you decided to skip right to this piece then, well, that’s still cool. As long as you’re reading something I’m happy.

First of all I’ll link to the article in question. I’d recommend you reading it first. I’m going to focus on 90% of it in this blog (I’ve cut out one section that quotes from the show because it’s not really needed for that section) but it’d be good for you to read through it first and form your own ideas. The more contrasting ideas the better in my eyes.

The article is here:

The intention is not necessarily to overly defend Ross’ negative character traits, more that I am going to try and show that Ross is quite a long way from being an MRA. And even if, by the end of this article, I do have to cave and say he’s an MRA, well then you can be damn sure I’ll prove how Rachel is an MRA as well.

First off I just want to say that I don’t have the same opinion Beejoli Shah has when it comes to the TV programme Friends. She says it’s become ‘officially cool to hate on “Friends’ since it went off the air. I can honestly say I don’t see that same kind of negativity when it comes to the TV show. People I’m friends with seem to still enjoy it as much as I do. Sure, we don’t always agree on TV shows but Friends has never really been something that I’ve seen go out of fashion. That said, maybe I’m just friends with people who actually share my interest in comedy.

Anyway, I am a huge fan of Friends: I own the 10 season boxset, I used to own the videos (when videos were the pinnacle of technology) and I have my TV pretty much set to Comedy Central where reruns are daily here in the UK. That said, Friends isn’t noted for its consistency. There are numerous mistakes throughout the series, which are mostly forgiven due to the fact I find it hilarious. However, there are two instances that have always, always bugged me:

  1. In series 9 (I think), Phoebe is about to move in with Mike and there’s a whole episode around the fact that Phoebe has never had a serious relationship or lived with a guy. That completely ignores the storyline with Gary, the policeman who she actually moved in with back in one of the mid seasons (4 or 5 I think, the one where they don’t drop the ball for 12 hours). Admittedly it was only for a short time, she moved out after Gary shot a bird, but it was still serious enough for her to live with the guy!
  2. Shortly after Chandler and Monica got together, Joey becomes a little jealous of their closeness and wants to find a relationship like theirs. After being told that Monica and Chandler were friends first, Joey hits on Rachel, saying that he ‘saw her first’. When Rachel rejects him, he says ‘Damn, I wish I saw Phoebe first.’ This is despite at least two episodes (the pilot and The One With the Flashback) where Joey is friends with Phoebe before Rachel even makes an appearance! In fact, he’s sat with Phoebe in the coffee house in the very first episode, right before Rachel runs through the door in her wedding dress!

So what does all that prove? Well, aside from the fact that I watch Friends far too much, it simply illustrates that consistency is often pushed aside in order to bring comedy to the forefront. As the seasons progress the characters become less likeable on the whole and morph into hugely exaggerated caricatures of their former selves. In the case of this article, it means Ross’ unlikeable traits: his jealousy, possessiveness and borderline arrogance are highlighted in an attempt to bolster the comedy. In the same way: Joey becomes borderline retarded, Monica goes into full OCD territory, Chandler becomes a snivelly weasel of a man, Phoebe crosses the boundary into full on neurotic narcissist and Rachel reverts back to high school prep girl for the most part.

It’s slightly unfair to highlight the most undesirable traits of Ross’ character and make no mention of the fact that from season 6 onwards the characters all undergo transformations and move away from the grounded, mostly real, individuals they were for the first half of the series.

So, is there any appreciation of the fact that all the characters become one dimensional stereotypes after season 6? Not really. We do, however, get an added layer of how the show, during its initial few seasons, was sexist. I actually agree, the show was as sexist at the beginning as it was ground-breaking. Unsurprisingly, though, it’s only the sexism (and racism) towards women that is mentioned:

That’s not to say I don’t see its limitations. It took half a series to give up the “Monica is desperate for a man” storyline, nine seasons for a black love interest, and in today’s America, Joey would be labeled a street harasser and lambasted by a viral video.

Well, it might have taken half a series for Monica to stop being desperate (though that could simply be because she actually did get a man, so I’m not sure if that counts) but they spent the entire 10 seasons presenting Ross and Chandler as utter buffoons who can barely talk to the opposite sex without coming off as complete morons, even after Chandler gets married. In fact, Chandler spends the first four seasons bitching about not having a girlfriend, often asking the others why he seems to be striking out all the time.

It didn’t take nine seasons for a black love interest, at all. It took nine seasons for a black love interest that lasted longer than a single episode. However, any decent Friends fan knows there was a character before Charlie called Kristen Lang that both Ross and Joey went on a date with (in season 7/8 I think). Lang was played by Gabrielle Union, a black actress. In fact, Ross has been out with Julie (Chinese heritage though born in America), Kristen (black) and Charlie (black) so, essentially, he’s the most progressive of the 6. Not bad for a scummy MRA, right? Neither Phoebe, Rachel nor Monica have been out with anyone who wasn’t white. Joey also dated Charlie and Kristen while Chandler sticks with the girls in that he never dated a woman who wasn’t white.

As for Joey, if you can point me in the direction of any scene in the series where Joey actually harasses anyone then I’ll be very surprised. Yes, he sleeps with a lot of women, yes he has his famous ‘how you doin?’ line ready whenever he sees an attractive woman but there isn’t one single instance, that I can recall anyway, where he could be considered a harasser. If he was to be labelled a street harasser it would be due to overzealous feminists who just love to be offended!

There are some reasons rattled off as to why the above downsides of the series can be ignored, none of which are the same as my above reasons, which suggests that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, as the saying goes. There’s also a pretty fundamental error, especially considering this article is written by a ‘diehard “Friends” fan’:

Ross’s Season One girlfriend was Chinese

I’m going to assume this is referring to Julie, as she’s the only Chinese person I can think of that Ross ever dated. Anyway, Julie didn’t appear until season 2. We first see her getting off the same plane as Ross during the first episode of season 2. Might be a little pedantic but if she’s going to make an elementary mistake like that then there’s no reason why the rest of her article won’t be full of mistakes.

There are then a number of reasons given to explain why Ross is the weakest of the 6 characters (something I disagree with, but we’ll leave that for now):

It’s no secret that Ross was always the weakest link in the beloved six — his hair was over-gelled, he was always creepily touchy with his sister Monica, and he could literally never, ever be wrong.

She seriously criticises him for his hair, using that as a reason to say he’s a weak character? I’m going to assume that there’s at least an arbitrary attempt at humour throughout this article and pretend that’s just a bad example. He was always creepily touchy with his sister? Well, that link sends you to this page:

Which is absolutely loaded with out of context moments that, when actually played fully, are deliberately awkward for comic effect. There are a couple that maybe fit the bill but generally they’re all explained just by watching the full clips. So yeah, can’t really hold that one against him! Also, he’s proven wrong a lot of times. Even in the instances that are mentioned in this article.

As I said earlier, normally I wouldn’t have even bothered to give this article the time of day, but the next paragraph is what really demonstrates the utter idiocy that is laced throughout this article. Never mind the fact she’s absolutely adamant he’s an MRA, because she’s the authority on MRAs or some shit, she actually compares him to Elliot fucking Roger!

But where else have we heard that “I’m just a nice guy” shtick before? Oh, right, Isla Vista mass murderer Elliot Rodger’s manifesto. The nice guy fallacy is exactly that — a fallacy — based on the theory that women should want to be with a guy based on his self-determined virtue, and Ross Geller, well, he’s your ultimate over-entitled “nice guy.”

Elliot Rodger was a disturbed young man who killed numerous people before killing himself. To use that tragedy as a comparison to a fictional TV character you simply don’t like is one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever read, and I’ve read some pathetic shit. Elliot Rodger’s manifesto was an absolute headspin of narcissism, arrogance, insecurity, jealousy and misplaced superiority. Even at his worst, Ross Gellar, a fictional character let’s not forget, was not even a 10th as psychotic as Rodger. And even if he was, there are numerous instances of the others, especially the girls, embodying the same undesirable traits. Does that make them comparable to Rodger? Didn’t think so.

I’m already pretty certain this is a troll article. I mean, no one can seriously compare a fictional sitcom character to a disturbed mass murderer, surely? Was Rodger a mass killer or a spree killer? I’m never sure where the boundary is. Anyway, not important, on with the article!

‘He’s The Poster Child For Nice Guy Syndrome

Ross pined for Rachel for years in high school, and when she showed up at Central Perk in a rain-soaked wedding dress, he wasted no time in asking her out the same night she should have been doing the Cha Cha Slide with Barry — which, fine, not really a men’s rights patented move, but weird and creepy all the same, Geller. But she said yes! And then … Ross did nothing. Except whine for over a year about how he was basically in the friend zone (another men’s rights construct!) with Rachel, and hide phone messages she got from other men in Monica’s cookie jar. Somehow, despite his secret longings, not only should Rachel have known how brightly his love for her burned, but she should have rewarded his efforts at being such a gosh darn good dude by returning his affections (as she ultimately did, when she found out he was ready to take her to her senior prom when she thought she was being stood up).’

Hmm, he wasted no time in asking her out, that much is true, but I don’t see this article mentioning the time Rachel wanted to ask out her assistant Tagg only a couple of hours after he had broken up with his girlfriend, despite the fact he had earlier declared he was getting back with her after discussing about whether or not Rachel believed in ‘the one’. Of course, Rachel being friendzoned by Tagg and then still proceeding to chase him doesn’t put her in the same league as Ross? Or the fact she went after Joshua not long after his divorce. Where’s the article trashing on her for her creepiness? And anyway, it’s not like it was Barry who ran out on Rachel, it was made pretty clear that Rachel hadn’t been in love with Barry for a long time (despite him coming back to look for her seconds before Ross was going to ask her out).

He may have hid phone messages, but he did actually try to ask her out numerous times. As he himself says, if it wasn’t for ex-fiancés or Italian guys then it wouldn’t have taken him so long.

At the beginning of series two, when Ross moved on and began a relationship with Julie, what did Rachel do? That’s right, she moped around like a little bitch and did everything she could to ruin his time with Julie – she tried to delay them having sex because she didn’t want them to, she gave Phoebe duff information when Julie wanted her hair cut and, later on in series 3, she convinced Bonnie to shave her head again because she knew Ross wouldn’t like it. It’s not like she didn’t pine after Ross without taking action either. In fact, while Ross might have been a douche and made that list comparing her and Julie, it took Rachel getting wasted and leaving a message on Ross’ answer machine before she had the guts to do anything about it. A message that, ultimately, split up him and Julie.

Even when they weren’t together, Ross was still on one about how Rachel should act, despite offering her none of the same considerations. He hid her messages (again with the message hiding!) when a man called new mom-Rachel for a date and Ross, who was staying home to watch baby Emma, took the message. He even preyed on a seemingly desperate woman to make Rachel jealous, after he saw her kiss her coworker Gavin. But it was Ross who was hitting on Rena Sofer’s shop girl character in front of Rachel while she was pregnant. Hypocrisy? Nah, it’s totally cool, trust me, Ross Geller is just a nice guy.

If we’re going down the route of ‘he wanted to make Rachel jealous’ I hardly think it’s fair to omit the fact that Rachel once got herself a boyfriend she didn’t even like (and who was stealing from her) simply to make Ross jealous shortly after they’d broken up.

It was also Rachel who nixed the idea of him going on a date with Kate, the shop girl character who called him Indiana Jones and who actually started flirting with him first (btw Shah, the character’s name was Kate, so at least I’m giving the woman her credit by treating her as a character and not simply a nameless prop!). Unless my memory deceives me (which, in this case, it doesn’t) it was in this very episode that Rachel essentially told Ross she didn’t want him to date anyone while she was pregnant. She wanted him to be at her beck and call at all times. Ross’ response? He agreed, because he was that dedicated to her and their baby. Sounds a bit unreasonable on Rachel’s part, if you ask me. Rachel got the number of that man after giving birth and going on a girl’s night out with Phoebe. At no point had it been suggested that Rachel had ‘allowed’ Ross to date again, yet she goes out and gets a guy’s number. So, who’s the hypocrite now? Not only that, but Rachel tells Phoebe what happened at the store when she sees her in the coffee house. Phoebe’s response essentially boils down to “stop being jealous and get over yourself.”

As for preying on a desperate woman to make Rachel jealous, yes he did do that. However, this was after the writers had gone to great pains to show just how inept Ross actually is at social interaction with women by having him hit on pretty much every woman who was in the coffee house at that time, one woman even being hit on twice. He even says himself, ‘none of the sane ones wanted to come back with me!’ So Monica’s obsession with getting a boyfriend is thinly veiled misogyny yet Ross’ utter ineptitude is also thinly veiled misogyny? Damn, how do you women even leave the house?!

The ‘nice guy’ conversation is one for another day but it really bugs me that us men get ragged on so much for thinking we deserve a ‘nice girl’ yet I’m constantly seeing posts by women saying how much of a good man they deserve simply because of their own virtues. Entitlement is bad, waiting for someone who is deserving of your love and attention is not.

He Loves To Objectify Women

Perhaps this will come as no surprise, given the pedestal that Ross placed Rachel on for over a decade, but if Ross was going to win the Geller cup for anything, it would be for his objectification of women. There was the time he couldn’t stop ordering pizzas just to hit on Caitlin from the pizza place. Girlfriends can’t be ordered with extra pepperoni, Ross. When he slept with Chloe, the spiky haired hipster girl he cheated on Rachel with (I know, I know, they were on a break), he almost exclusively refers to her as “the hot girl from the copy place.” And that came after half a season of talking about how hot she was. Ross Geller can put his penis inside you, but damned if he’ll respect your personhood by calling you by your real name.

Wait, so simply wanting to flirt with someone is objectification? Then what about all the times Rachel flirted with both Tagg and Joshua before she was even dating them? Does that not count? I mean, at one point Rachel even put her arm through Joshua’s as he was trying on a jacket to make them look like a couple. Holy Horror, Batman that must have been awful!

Or what about the time she ordered Tagg to redo the sit-ups he’d just done as she was annoyed she missed them. Or the time she gets Joshua’s ID and makes it kiss her ID. Or the time she gets with Paulo despite the fact they can’t have any decent conversations due to his limited English (she even says later that it was just ‘crazy animal sex’ or something similar). Or what about Phoebe and the time she couldn’t choose between the fireman and the teacher? One reason was because they both had super hot bods. Or the episode where the girls have a night at Monica’s and want to eat a pizza simply because it was supposed to go the hot guy across the street? Or the time Monica and another woman fawn over the best man at a naked wedding a prospective photographer has shot? Or the time Phoebe is obsessed with getting Will, Monica’s formerly fat friend, to take his shirt off?

Or how about the fact that for about 6 seasons (until Ross moved in) the whole gang spied on a neighbour that was only referred to as ‘ugly naked guy’, formerly ‘attractive naked guy’?

I get that not using someone’s name might be seen as a little rude, but it’s hardly the dehumanisation that this article claims. In fact, they only refer to her as ‘hot copy girl’ when talking to each other, when talking to her they actually use her name. Plus, let’s not forget that Chloe herself refers to Ross as ‘the dinosaur guy’.

Objectification was laced throughout the series, it was bound to when we’re talking about 6 20-somethings who are not in relationships. Ok fine, Ross used to refer to her as ‘hot copy girl’ or variations thereof, but are we seriously going to pretend that those sort of descriptions don’t occur in real life, between both men and women? Let’s get a little sense of perspective. If that’s one of the worst things about Ross then I don’t see too much of a problem.

Incidentally, the first time he mentions the hot girl from the copy place is in an episode where female objectification is again supremely important to Ross: The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy. He tells Rachel about his fantasy of sleeping with a gold bikini-clad Leia, which is fine as we all have our sexual fantasies (you’re the stern editorial director, I’m the wayward blogger who has to make up for the lack of page views this month — just me?), but Ross’s would be significantly less odious if it didn’t involve a woman physically chained by her neck and held as a captive prisoner of a hermaphroditic Hutt.

This is just plain daft. First of all, it’s not just men that fantasise about Princess Leia, plenty of women are awe-struck by that costume too. Not only in sexual terms but just in terms of the outfit itself. If women hated it, why is it a near constant cosplay idea at nearly every comic con, every year? Fact is, it’s become iconic, even to those who don’t like, or have never heard of, Star Wars.

If you actually watch the whole of the film in which that costume appears you’d know that Leia eventually overcomes Jabba the Hutt using the very chain she’s enslaved with. Leia is known for being a pretty strong character and not relying on others too much. You can see it as an objectified woman at the beck and call of a disgusting alien, or you can see it as an imprisoned woman taking her own life in her hands and getting herself out of a situation.

Plus, does Rachel actually have a chain around her neck in that scene? Didn’t think so. Ross likes the costume, he’s not cumming over the thought of literally walking her around like an animal.

And anyway, regardless of all that, let’s not pretend that women don’t enjoy BDSM or rape fantasies. Ragging on a man because he perhaps wants to play slave master comes across as nothing more than ‘I don’t like what you like, therefore you’re wrong’. Truth is, the fantasy suggested by Shah in this very paragraph is pretty much a slave and master routine, just without the physical chain. So yeah, stupid point. Moving on.

Honestly, it’s a shock he even got far enough to objectify Carrie Fisher and Rachel in one fell swoop, given the fact that one of the reasons Rachel didn’t want to date him after they had already kissed was because she found a list where he tallied her flaws — one of which was her allegedly chubby ankles. Totally cool and normal! Even after having a daughter, Ross still didn’t learn to respect women. It may have been Joey who called Emma’s nanny Molly “hot nanny” for an episode, but it was Ross who first referred to her as “so hot I cried myself to sleep.”

Dammit, I really didn’t want to have to agree with Shah at any point in this blog, especially after the fucked up Elliot Rodger comment, but I kinda have to agree here. It was definitely a douchebag thing to do. I mean, I can almost understand it because he had been so desperately in love with Rachel for so long and was, at the time, in a relationship with Julie that seemed to be progressing really well so I can see why a list seemed like a good idea. However, it’s probably not the best thing to do when there’s a chance she could see it.

Ultimately, the whole ‘she’s not Rachel’ as the downside to being with Julie lost its romantic edge when Rachel found the note. Let’s not forget that Rachel did actually point out flaws in Ross’ personality both as revenge for the note and, many years later, when she was trying to convince Ross to sleep with her when she was overdue with Emma.

And while we’re talking about crass comments, let’s not forget it was Rachel who was so taken by the ‘hot’ eye doctor (that, humorously, turned out to be Richard’s son) that she was ‘thinking about jamming this pencil in [her] eye’.

When He Isn’t Objectifying Women, He’s Mansplaining Instead

And when he isn’t ogling women because of how they look, he’s busy being as condescending as possible. For example, all Phoebe and Rachel wanted to do was tell him about their self-defense class, and he immediately took over the conversation to tell them how useless their class was and to incorrectly share how unagi is the Japanese concept of total awareness (it’s actually zanshin). And then there was the time when Phoebe presented her fairly salient theory for not believing in gravity and evolution, and Ross was incapable of maintaining his composure, instead over-explaining just how wrong Phoebe’s belief system was, despite her begging him in multiple scenes to accept that they both can just believe in different things.

Ah mansplaining, the bastion of patriarchal oppression that only men seem to do! Feminism doesn’t hate men at all, it only names really annoying habits after men for fun! You know, mansplaining, manspreading, manslamming, manterrupting, etc, etc. They’re all just ironic digs at the things men do that annoy us all. At least, that’s what you believe if you’re a fucking moron. Gendered annoyances like mansplaining are code for ‘we don’t like it when a man does this, it’s not sexist because we’re a movement for equality.’

Are we forgetting that both examples of mansplaining given above end in Ross actually losing? Rachel and Phoebe constantly get the better of him in the episode with Unagi. Eventually, he picks on two women in the street he thinks are Rachel and Phoebe but aren’t. What happens? He gets chased down the street by the two women and, presumably, beaten up.

In the episode where he berates Phoebe for not believing in gravity or evolution he eventually concedes that Phoebe may have a point, only to be berated himself for giving up his beliefs to easily.

So yeah, mansplaining Ross doesn’t exactly end up a winner.

Or the time when he self-tanned so incorrectly (twice!) he had to go to an entirely new tanning salon just to even out his half alabaster white, half jerky brown skin tone. The female tanning salon employee had barely begun to explain how the booth worked before he cut in with a “I’m gonna stop you right there, Linda. Does it look like this is my first time?” before speaking even more loudly and slowly, as you would to a small child, to describe exactly how he wanted to be tanned. Unsurprisingly, he still fucked it up on try three. Meanwhile, if Joey or Chandler shut him down in his times of ultimate mansplaining, he seemingly has no problem being put right in place.

You mean that time he was already pretty tanned and the woman tried to tell him how the tanning process worked? That was nothing more than an over-exaggerated response for comedy effect. Ross knew what an utter loser he’d been by fucking up at the tanning salon so he didn’t need to hear it again. This was actually us laughing at Ross’ expense. Another example of him being made out to be an utter loser.

Again, are you forgetting all the times Monica shut him down? Are you forgetting the fact that it was Phoebe who shut him down after he kept on at her for not believing in gravity or evolution? Are you forgetting the time Rachel shut him down when he accused her of not saying goodbye to him before leaving for Paris? Point is, Ross sometimes gets ahead of himself but there are numerous times when he gets put in his place by Rachel, Phoebe and Monica and he accepts it.

He Can’t Handle Female Success

Despite the fact that he’s surrounded by hordes of women who are successful in a variety of ways, and holds his own doctorate, nothing is more intimidating to Ross than female success. Remember when Rachel had just started working at n Bloomingdales and was taking her job very seriously, as one who has waited for years for their dream job is often wont to do? Was Ross supportive? Nah. He mercilessly harassed her about her platonic friendship with her male coworker Mark, and then showed up at her office when she had asked him not to, set fire to her desk, and had the nerve to demand an apology when she got home later that night.

I never liked Ross in these few episodes. His insecurities and jealousy really hurt him as a character and hurt the entire comedy of the show. It did spawn the ‘we were on a break’ running joke but, ultimately, those are some of my least favourite episodes. I actually agree with Rachel on this one, he wouldn’t listen to her and him thinking she should apologise to him was really quite fucked up.

However, there is a quote that I think explains Ross’ reasons. Not long before the episode where they ultimately go ‘on a break’ he is quite candid with her about why he’s asking so insane. I can’t remember the exact quote, but he basically tells her that Carol cheating on him and the breakup of his marriage was really tough. He then says he loves Rachel more than he loved Carol and can’t bear the thought of losing her as well.

Overly sentimental, mushy and not really a good reason to behave the way he does but, for me, it at least explains why he behaves the way he does. The fact that he’s been in love with Rachel for years and now thinks he may be losing her is going to make him act weird.

Let’s also not forget that Mark’s relationship with Rachel was suspect. He meets her in a diner, offers her an interview, takes her to dinner and then works closely with her. Not saying that we should always be suspicious but, considering what Ross went through with Carol, it’s understandable why he might be suspicious. Add to that the fact that he phones Rachel after their argument and Mark is in her apartment and, again, it becomes clear why he might think his relationship is over.

Things aren’t much better outside of his romantic relationships, either — as it turns out, Ross is incredibly uncomfortable when he’s forced to share the spotlight with any womsn. He makes no secret of being his parents’ favorite child, even though Monica’s inferiority complex is perhaps her only characteristic more defining than her compulsive need to clean. When their father Jack bequeaths his Porsche to Monica, after letting all of her childhood mementos be ruined to preserve Ross’s, Ross is quick to point out that not only was he the smart and accomplished one, but also a medical marvel. When against better advice he starts playing his keyboards at Central Perk, he only stops because he fears that Phoebe will stop playing music if he keeps playing, because he’s just that good. And he is truly incapable of shutting up about the fact that he is technically a doctor, to any woman he meets. Why not just whip your dick out and demand a female fetch you a ruler? It just seems easier.

Wow, two examples. Big deal. There’s also the time Ross lends money to Monica after she loses her job. There’s the time he buys Phoebe a bike after hearing that she never had one as a child. There’s the time he paid $200 to keep a porcelain dog after Joey’s stuff was being taken away. Ross has many annoying traits (as do the others) but he’s definitely not afraid of doing the right thing. The medical marvel is bought up in one episode and never mentioned again. The keyboards are bought up in one episode and barely ever mentioned again. He stops playing because he doesn’t want Phoebe to stop playing. It was a one off joke that was never played again.

As for the PHD thing, well done for attaching a clip that actually doesn’t include him bringing up the fact he has a PHD. It’s Amy that brings it up as a way of shaming him for not earning more and Rachel that corrects her. Sure, Ross then claims it’s as good as an MD but, tell me this, if you worked your arse off to get a qualification that not many people get, wouldn’t you want to tell people about it? Well done for shaming a man who’s proud of his academic achievement.

He Needs His Men to be Men

The biggest irony of Ross’ miserable existence is his deep-rooted desire to make sure that the men in his life are, in fact, men. When his son Ben was playing with a Barbie, Ross went to extreme lengths to get him to play with any other seemingly masculine toy, foisting a monster truck, a dinosaur soldier, and GI Joe on Ben over the course of the episode to get him to give up his doll. (He succeeded, in yet another win for the heteronormative patriarchy.) Things didn’t change much a few years later, when Rachel tried to hire the ever-delightful Freddie Prinze Jr. to be Emma’s nanny (imagine Ross’ surprise when ‘Sandy’ turned out to be a man!), and true to form, Ross did not take it well. Ross’ first question to Sandy was a skeptical “Are you gay?” before jumping into his best deep-voiced impression of a man’s man to grill Sandy on why a man would ever want to work in childcare. He then started in on Rachel for wanting to hire Sandy:

I must admit, I hate the two episodes mentioned above for the very reason mentioned above. It was completely out of character for Ross to behave the way he did. We learn over the course of the series that he once had dance lessons, he likes to take a bubble bath and throw on some Kenny G, he held tea parties for his imaginary friends when he was a child, he wore makeup on his T-zone with Chandler and Joey and he went to the ballroom dancing champions with a date (not that that’s not manly, but at the time it wasn’t as popular as it is now in the mainstream). He’s not been afraid to show his feminine or vulnerable side throughout the rest of the series so the two episodes described above just do not fit into his overall character development. The fact he says his dad berated him as a child for not being ‘manly’ goes against the whole ‘favourite child’ and ‘medical marvel’ thing.

Again, I can kinda see why he gets a bit annoyed over the Barbie thing. This was 1995, might not seem a long time ago but, having grown up in the 90s, it definitely wasn’t as progressive as we like to think. It could also be seen as a response to the absolute battering he took by Carol and Susan. I’ve always hated the way Carol and Susan treated him in season 1 and season 2, effectively making him a 3rd wheel in the birth of his own child. Maybe getting Ben to hold a GI Joe was the only way Ross could think of getting Ben interested in something he likes. Either way, it was out of character for a man who never really seemed shy about being ‘girly’.


And if this isn’t enough to convince you that Ross Geller is indubitably a men’s rights activist (he tried to start a clubhouse solely for divorced men! How much more convincing do you need?), let us not forget the time he gave men’s rights activists their rallying cry

Ah dammit!! I can’t believe I fell for this. I mean, this whole article is satire right? Like, Shah can’t be that monumentally stupid? I mean, what’s so terrible about starting a club for divorced men? It’s not like there aren’t women only clubs, gyms and parking spaces. So what if men want to spend some alone time together, why is that suddenly such an abhorrent thing?

As for the ‘rallying cry’, if you actually watch the full length clip of that scene he follows it up with ‘some men will do anything to keep a relationship together’. This is from the fantasy episode where the friends all imagine if one thing in their life had happened differently. In this scenario, Ross is still married and Rachel actually went through with her marriage to Barry. The scene in the coffee house is just after Rachel has found Barry sleeping with another girl and stormed off (despite the fact she was seriously considering cheating on him with Joey) and Ross has had a rather unsuccessful threesome (“what can only be described as a twosome”) with Carol and Susan, Carol effectively cheating on him with his blessing. Rachel actually apologises to him and says something along the lines of ‘I guess us women aren’t much better’.

I figured Shah was actually being serious until that last bit. I mean, come on, the ‘rallying cry’ of MRAs is notallmen? Because notallmen is such a bizarre concept to imagine? Men being annoyed at being lumped together in one category for all sorts of ridiculous shit is somehow worthy of being seen within such narrow parameters? Fuck outta here with that shit!

So what has this whole blog proved? Well, aside from the fact that I watch far, far too many repeats of Friends, it shows that slating Ross as an MRA is a pretty stupid thing to do. I mean, by all means, label him if you want to but don’t be surprised when people see through your feeble attempt at cherry picking justifications whilst ignoring pretty much everything that stands in counter to your views.

I don’t disagree Ross had some annoying traits but they are no worse than the annoying traits of any other characters. My most hated character in the entire series is Rachel, but you don’t see me writing an entire article saying Rachel is an entitled, selfish, narcissistic bitch who effectively manipulates Ross throughout the entire 10 years of Friends. Actually…didn’t I do that in part 1?!

I love Friends, I grew up watching it (it finished in 2004. I was 18 in 2004) and I always found it had the best jokes, the best situations and was pretty consistently well written. Yeah, season 6 onward was basically a show about 6 walking stereotypes who barely progressed but the first 5 seasons are still, I think, some of the best sitcom episodes I’ve ever watched. I don’t really have an emotional connection with any of them, except maybe early Chandler, but the thing that worked was the group dynamic. They didn’t all need to be hilarious in their own right as the best comedy came in their interactions with each other.

I guess what I’m saying, after all that, is that you can label Ross an MRA all you want, but his list of annoying traits are not exclusive to him. Rachel, Phoebe and Monica all demonstrate many of the same characteristics that are deemed so unlikeable in this article yet seem to escape censure.

If Ross Gellar is an MRA then so are Monica Gellar, Phoebe Buffay and Rachel Green. See how easy it is to label people using arbitrary standards?!

So, I should probably start off this blog entry with a couple of apologies. Firstly, I’ve gone well over a month, again, without writing anything. Sorry about that. Not that you’re waiting with baited breath or anything but it’s pretty strange for me not to write at least one entry a month. Truth is, the start of the school year is at the beginning of September and this year has been a bit more hectic than most. Secondly, I mentioned at the end of my last blog post (which was way back in August) that I would be writing an entry that explored why modern men were/are so angry. That is still definitely on the to-do-list it’s just become something much bigger than I had anticipated. It will be finished, but once I actually started putting it together I realised it’s actually a pretty big topic so I want to get it right!

Whilst that entry has been put on the backburner, for now, there have been others that have squeezed their way to the front. Today I want to look at something that has been on my mind for a couple of weeks. It started off innocuously enough, I found an article about the character Ross Gellar on the TV show Friends that simply followed the ‘someone has come up with an alternate theory’ path which was quite interesting. However, it was an article that was linked within that article that really made me laugh. And I wasn’t laughing because it was funny, I was laughing because it was just such a ridiculous article.

The first article I read actually wasn’t too bad. It was a theory on why Ben, Ross’ son, doesn’t appear much towards the end of the series. It all centres on Ross’ increasingly erratic behaviour and suggests he lost custody due to this. It’s here if you want to read it:

It’s not a bad theory but there are a few holes in it. However, alternate theories that don’t quite fit into the mythos of the series aren’t totally unusual so I was willing to let it go. However, I then noticed something interesting. The article posits the idea that Ross is actually an MRA. Normally I would gloss over something like that, but in my wisdom I decided to click it.

Needless to say, it’s such poor journalism from a supposed Friends fan that I can’t take it seriously. Normally I wouldn’t put so much effort into defending a fictional TV character but being a rather large Friends fan myself, I decided I’d at least take a cursory look.

This blog initially started just as a rebuttal about this article but then I started to think about Friends as a whole. For all the complaints about Ross Gellar made in the article I’ll be looking at I began to realise that they are character traits shared by most of the other main characters, even the women. I figured if I could compare Ross’ character to the female character it’d be a good way of highlighting just how daft it is to apply real world labels to fictional characters. Ultimately, if Ross is an MRA then the other characters are as well.

This blog grew so big that I’m splitting it in two. This first half will deal with some of the more unsavoury aspects of the series, mostly the misandry present in the first few series and then the emotional manipulation of Ross by Rachel throughout much of the show’s 10 series run. The second will deal with a direct rebuttal to the article claiming Ross is an MRA. Ultimately my intention is not to rag on Friends too much, it’s simply to highlight the fact that all of the characters have unsavoury traits to them and singling out Ross is just plain weird.

To put this out there straight away, my least favourite character is Rachel. In much the same way this article tries to paint Ross under one specific label, I’m going to tear Rachel to shreds and show that the cherry picked arguments used to show how Ross isn’t actually a ‘nice guy’ can also be used against Rachel and, to a lesser degree, the other two female characters, Monica and Phoebe.

Now, I’m not one to go around defending MRAs, I have as little time for them as I do for feminists, but this isn’t about defending Ross as an MRA, it’s about exploring arbitrary labelling of TV characters and how easy it is to do if you are willing to cherry pick and manipulate the traits you select.

If you want to skip this first bit and go straight to the refutation of the article claiming Ross is an MRA then just go to the sidebar and you’ll find it there.

So, onto the show itself. Where to start? Well, how about the fact that the 3 main male characters were all sexually assaulted at some point in their lives? That seems like as good a place as any.

Ross’ sexual assault is a little bit more contentious as it’s never made clear how old he is. In the episode that guest starred Brad Pitt it’s revealed that Ross once kissed the 50 year old librarian of his school. When asked how he could do it, he replies with ‘she didn’t look 50.’ In response to this, Chandler says ‘did she look 16.’ It could be argued that this also meant Ross was 16 as well. That would legally mean he was old enough to consent. However, it still doesn’t account for the fact that she, as a member of staff at a school, was in a position of power and authority and, as far as I’m aware, still not allowed to make out with students, 16 or not. Maybe an American can back me up on that one. He doesn’t seem too traumatised by the ordeal, but it’s still an odd subject to broach in the name of comedy.

Chandler’s assault comes in the episode where he goes to Joey’s tailor. While measuring his trousers, the tailor gropes Chandler’s genitals, something that is then played for comedy later on. It turns out both Joey and his dad have been sexually assaulted by this man but, typically, it is played off as an awkward experience and nothing really comes of it.

Joey’s is slightly more sinister – he was raped as a teenager. Quite aside from being repeatedly assaulted by his tailor, a throwaway comment in a later series suggests he was taken advantage of when he was in school. I made a post about this on my Facebook page but it bears repeating here. In series 8, Monica gets a bad review in the restaurant she works in. To help re-inflate her ego, she takes a beginners cooking course, with Joey in tow. After they leave the course, Joey says how much he enjoyed it, that he got to eat great food and got an A for the first time since 7th grade “and I didn’t have to sleep with the teacher this time.” Now, we can argue semantics on this one and say that he’s simply saying he didn’t have to sleep with the teacher to get a grade, unlike the time he slept with the reporter who he did a Reader’s Digest interview with in order to stop her from publishing disparaging comments he made about soap viewers. That would be acceptable if the quote simply said ‘I didn’t have to sleep with the teacher’. But it doesn’t, it ends with ‘this time’. The implication is very clear: he did sleep with the teacher the last time it happened. 7th grade would make him early teens. That’s definitely statutory rape at the very least and probably falls under some kind of emotional manipulation. Joey is known throughout the series for being promiscuous. Well, do we now have a reason for that? Maybe. It’s a throwaway line intended to simply reference Joey’s penchant for sleeping with women, however it’s worded incredibly badly for a joke and actually lets us into a very dark secret about Joey’s past.

So that’s one thing to consider, all three main male characters experience some form of sexual assault throughout their fictional lives and each one of them is treated as nothing more the comic fodder to laugh at. There are no deeper conversations, they simply move on with their life and that’s it. None of them seem overly, outwardly affected by it, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t.

One thing that really bugs me is the way male characters in general are treated in the first 4 or 5 series. The secondary characters get the short end of the stick: Gunther is just as hopelessly in love with Rachel as Ross is and is shown to be utterly socially inept when around her. Just another example of a man barely being able to function when around an attractive women. Fun Bobby is an alcoholic who becomes boring when he goes teetotal. Rodger the psychiatrist is intrusive and judgmental. The three firefighters (from an episode when the girl’s attempts at ‘exorcising’ past relationship torments fails badly) are shown to be serial adulterers ad all round narcissistic morons. Paul ‘the wine guy’ guilts Monica into sleeping with him by using a cheap pickup line that, it turns out, he’s used on numerous women. The football player that Rachel dates after breaking up with Ross is a moron who steals from her.

And the main characters are just as bad:

Chandler is a whinging loser when it comes to women. He even goes on a self-pitying rant after he and Kathy break up, declaring he ‘moans about their not being any decent women then drives away the ones that dare to get close to him’ (I’m paraphrasing slightly). Monica’s response is to basically exclaim ‘you’re a guy’ after her and Rachel have had their own little self-pitying ‘you’ve just described every guy we’ve ever been out with’ speech. He’s utterly inept around attractive women and is shown to be shallow and needy. He’s my favourite character but that doesn’t mean I don’t find his development to be somewhat stunted and one dimensional. His insecurities ruin his relationship with Kathy and he expects him and Monica to break up after their first big fight because he’s so unable to function in a relationship. He’s constantly being told what to do and how to fix his mistakes and, at some points, is even abused by Monica.

Joey is a simpleton whose life revolves around food and women. He’s an average actor who sleeps his way on to the role of Dr. Drake Ramoray. The earlier series actually present him of somewhat average intelligence, but that disappears by about series 4 and he’s shown to be utterly moronic. It seems his trade off for being good with women is that he can barely look after himself, relying on Chandler to pay the bills and Monica to provide food. Because, apparently, a man can’t be good with women and intelligent. He has his moments of clarity, but these are comically played up as out of the ordinary.

Ross is obsessed with Rachel to the point it borders on a hindrance to his everyday life. He is treated terribly by Susan and Carol when it comes to the birth of his son, Susan effectively muscling her way into the debate and trying to claim that Ben is just as much her baby as it is Carol and Ross’. He’s presented as whiney and judgmental and completely paralysed by the memories of him and Carol’s relationship. On a slighter more sinister note, he’s emotionally manipulated by Rachel for pretty much the whole 10 year run, but more of that later.

That’s not to say that all male characters are treated badly: Ethan is a really good character (manipulating Monica into bed aside), Gary the policeman is devoted and loving, Mike and David provide likeable partners for Phoebe and, of course, Richard is shown as loyal, noble and wise. However, a few good characters doesn’t mean we can overlook the poor portrayal of other male characters.

The thing that, in my opinion, really casts a shadow over the whole series is Rachel and Ross’ relationship. I don’t really like Rachel as a character, she’s narcissistic, overly whiney, entitled and just really, really annoying, I know it’s supposedly a cornerstone of the series, the whole ‘will they/won’t they’ thing, but to me Rachel comes across and manipulative and controlling. I’ll talk more about Rachel in the second half of this blog entry but this is specifically focusing on her actions.

I’ll see if I can explain without rambling on too much:

He spends most of series 1 pining after her, not much she can do about it as she doesn’t know so this isn’t really her fault. However, it’s at the end of series 1 she finds out he loves her and, rather quickly, she realises she quite likes him, too. She goes to the airport to surprise him with flowers, only to see him with Julie. That’s where series 2, and her manipulations, really begin.

She does everything she can to ruin his relationship with Julie, from trying to delay them having sex to lying to Phoebe about which famous person Julie wants her hair like. Ultimately, she send Ross a drunken message telling him she’s over him. This despite the fact she knows he’s about to take a big step with Julie and get a pet. This ends up with him dumping Julie, making the infamous ‘list’ and then not talking to him because of it. I’m not saying that’s deliberate, but her message sends Ross into a maelstrom of uncertainty which leads him to ruin things with both Julie and Rachel.

Then they get together and their relationship actually seems to be going pretty well. That is until the beginning of series three when she shows herself to be a spoilt, selfish little victim. In The One Where No-one’s Ready she throws a huge strop and decides she’s ‘not going’ to Ross’ important event because he ‘humiliated’ her. This is despite the fact the whole episode’s premise is that Ross needs to leave at a certain time and he needs everyone to be ready. He eventually loses his cool at the whole group but it’s Rachel who decides to act like an utter cunt. He does shout at her, but that’s only after she faffs about with what to wear (something you think she’d already have picked out considering she must have known about this in advance). She then gets changed into her pyjamas and threatens not to go. In the end, it’s actually Ross who apologises and grovels for Rachel to forgive him. She manages to make herself a victim despite the fact Ross had a simple request that she chose not to follow. I always hated her for that.

Then they break up. For me, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. I’ll talk about it more during part 2 but Rachel is not completely blameless in the ordeal. However, it’s after they break up that her manipulation really shines. There’s an episode where Ross is supposed to be on TV. Rachel hurts her ribs in a fall and essentially guilts Ross into being with her all night, to the extent that he misses his TV gig. Ross is still in love with Rachel at this point and it shows he will still do anything to be with her.

Then there’s the end of series 3 where she breaks up his relationship with Bonnie by telling him she still loves him. This is after convincing Bonnie to shave her head again as she knew Ross wouldn’t like it, thereby enhancing her chances of getting back with him. The whole deal with the letter asks Ross to accept the blame for what happened to their relationship.

At the beginning of series 4 they break up again, this time for good, apparently. She then decides that she can’t cope with Ross’ budding relationship with Emily so tries to push Joshua into a relationship as she can’t bear to see him happy. Then, she decides she still loves him (surprise, surprise) and flies to London just before he’s about to get married to tell him she still loves him! Ultimately she doesn’t tell him, but she messes with his head enough for him to say the wrong name at the altar and pretty much ruin his marriage before it begins. Then, she decides to go with Ross on his honeymoon. Actually, I’m not sure she can really be blamed for that, but it was still a stupid thing to do.

After that her meddling doesn’t seem as sinister but it’s still there. She and Ross kiss just after Monica and Chandler announce their engagement. Again, not sure you can really blame her as it’s Ross suggestion to have ‘that one night’ where ex couples get together again. However, she still decides to tell him she loves him, even though she knows he’s working through his issues with Emily.

Then, she seduces him using the ‘I went backpacking across Europe’ story. Then, while pregnant, tells him she doesn’t want him dating anyone else. Then, throughout the pregnancy, she effectively gets in the way of his relationship with Mona. Then, the final episode finally reveals that Ross wants to be with her (surprise surprise) and sees him chasing after her to the airport. Ultimately, they reunite and it’s all hunky dory.

There are some parts of that that Rachel can’t really be blamed for and large portions of the series that show Ross seeming to cope fine on his own. However, the point I’m making is that Rachel knows Ross still loves her and she uses that to her advantage. She never allows him to forget how much he loves her, even when he’s trying to move on with his life. She’s always there, just waiting to claw him back and keep him thinking that there might be a chance, no matter how small, that they will get back together. She ruins at least 3 of his established relationships, 4 if you include Mona (though that’s harsh on her as she was pregnant) and 5 if you include the possible relationship with Kate that Rachel nixes almost immediately.

I dunno, like I say I don’t like Rachel so maybe this is all a little unfair and exaggerated in my head, but there doesn’t seem to be another arc that seems quite as meddling as Rachel’s.

So yeah, after all that it’s really up to you to make your own mind up. Friends is one of my favourite sitcoms and probably one of the only American sitcoms I can watch regularly. I quite like 2 and a Half Men and Rules of Engagement can be quite funny sometimes but even those shows have rather negative portrayals of men.

I’m not saying you have to dislike Friends, I’m just saying that for all its merits and for all the top quality comic moments it contains it is still very limited and stereotypical in its portrayal of not just the main characters, but a whole plethora of supporting and guest male characters.

I’m sure someone can write a blog entry detailing how the show is limited in its portrayal of female characters. To that I say go right ahead, nobody’s stopping you. I’d love to read it!

So that’s it. Ultimately you can come to the conclusion that Friends is full of misandry and negative, stereotyped portrayals of men, or you can see it for the comedy it is and any negative portrayals are simply there to enhance the comedy of the show. It’s really up to you.

If you want to read the article on Ross being compared to an MRA, check out part 2. For now though, I’m off to watch some of Chandler’s best moments on Youtube! If you want an idea of what I’m like as a person, Chandler’s a pretty good model.