Ode to our open-minded, modern young men

Ode to our open-minded, modern young men
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Picture Credits: Christopher Ross

Forgive them, for they like their women dead

All grown-up

My childhood friend Z. has become a manly man. The green eyes and good smile are still there, their glow slightly dimmed by years of iron-pumping and masochistic nutrition. Yet it quickly transpires that Z. has not truly grown since we were both thirteen, fifteen years ago. This fact I both know and avoid as he invites me to his parents’ place where, naturally, he still lives. Z. cooks me rice and, unprompted, informs me of the size of his dick. (“Just because I’m short, doesn’t mean my dick is.”) What a joy men are! After we eat, Z. picks dead skin off his lips and flicks it into his empty plate. I listen and nod, earn myself “my little Marie’s” by the dozen. Z.’s mother is also called Marie; do what you will with this fact.

When I tell Z. I am a feminist, his smile barely cracks.

*

Discussing things freely
Or how a lifelong friend indicates he’ll let me play inside my little pen, but no further

You know, my little Marie, I’m so glad you’re not one of those hysterical feminists. At least I know with you I can have an honest discussion, we can talk about these things freely.

It’s just that there are some jobs men are better at. It’s a matter of physical strength, and science doesn’t lie. Trust me. Originally, women chose to stay behind and care for the children while men hunted; it’s our history, it’s our evolution. We’re not meant to do the same things, because we’re biologically different. And let me tell you: all those feminists really want is to erase our differences, our beautiful, natural differences.

Well, you’d be surprised, the pay gap isn’t actually proven. If you truly delve into the subject, you will find it’s actually really hard to prove!

I just cannot stand the concept of positive discrimination. Are we supposed to turn away competent men and hire a less qualified woman just for the sake of it? You can’t stand here and tell me that that wouldn’t be unfair! Those feminists, they don’t want equality, they want domination. They just want to flip the whole thing around. And once they get equality, why would they stop there?

I know you’re not like them, my little Marie.

*

If I don’t see it, is it really there?
Or how a lifelong friend responds to the story of my assault

In a decade in Paris, I’ve never seen the behavior you describe. If as many women as you say are being harassed, how come I’ve never seen anything happen?

Really? Can you describe how he grabbed you?

No, no, stand up, show me, it’s fine, you can touch me

Oh, so he just grabbed you like this, with his hand over your back? That’s not exactly…

Oh? But really show me then

Come on, you can put your hand on my ass, really show me!

Ah! So he put his hand on your ass like this?

Then what did you do?

But see, that’s exactly the point, you didn’t go to the police!

Don’t you feel like you did others like you a disservice?

*

You will single-handedly render the species sterile
Or how a lifelong friend responds to the time a stranger yelled at me for turning him down

Well, I understand your point of view, that guy insulted you, but you know me, I’m not like that.

You know me, my little Marie, I’m polite.

And how am I supposed to meet women if I’m no longer even allowed to talk to them on the street?

Is that really the kind of society you want, Marie?

I think it’s a little bit extreme;

It’s not like I’m attacking them.

With people like you in charge, the human race would go extinct!

*

“Toutes des putes, sauf maman”
Or how a lifelong man enlightens a woman about the true workings of her kind

 When a woman wears makeup and a skirt in the workplace, what am I supposed to think?

Of course she wants my attention.

No, Marie, I’m sorry to tell you, they don’t do it “for themselves”!

It is scientifically proven.

Studies have shown that when women wear red lipstick, it is because they want to seduce men.

It is scientifically proven! It is actually evolution. We are wired to be attracted to it.

I encourage you to read studies by a very interesting Canadian scholar called Jordan Peterson.

He is a serious source.

I think you should really study his work as carefully as I have; it might help you evolve on these issues.

*

Let me tell you about mathematics
Or how a lifelong friend responds to the fact that 16 out of 100 French women have endured rape or attempted rape

 No, it’s not “enormous!”

Mathematically speaking, 16 out of 100 is not a lot.

You’re being so subjective about this!

So emotional!

Believe me, I actually studied math – you can’t say it’s “enormous”.

No, Marie – scientifically, 16% of women is not “enormous”. I know you’re not a scientist, but you can take it from me.

*

The undoing
Or how the last time you hold me feels like a threat

Do you see how aggressive you’re getting right now?

How can you say you don’t feel safe with me? How can you say such a thing, my little Marie?

Are you calling me a rapist?

Do you really want to end a fifteen-year friendship over this?

Come here, let me give you a hug

Here you go, everything’s ok, Marie

Come on, see, we agree on almost everything

It’s just words

I love talking to you

You know I adore you

We agree about almost everything

Marie Baléo

About Marie Baléo

Marie Baléo is a French writer born in 1990. She began writing fiction and poetry in 2017. Her work has been nominated for a Best of the Net award on three occasions (2017 and 2018) and for Best Microfiction (2018) and Best Small Fictions (2018), and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Passages North, PRISM International, Yemassee, Litro, Lunch Ticket, Tahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere. She is an editor for Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel. Marie grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, and Oslo, Norway.

Marie Baléo is a French writer born in 1990. She began writing fiction and poetry in 2017. Her work has been nominated for a Best of the Net award on three occasions (2017 and 2018) and for Best Microfiction (2018) and Best Small Fictions (2018), and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Passages North, PRISM International, Yemassee, Litro, Lunch Ticket, Tahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere. She is an editor for Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel. Marie grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, and Oslo, Norway.

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