You’ve seen the movies, you’ve read the news, you can still hear the echoes of the words ‘mansplaining’ and the fear that men who aren’t ‘equal’ will feel unsafe in their jobs.
Now it’s time to say it out loud, to the man who is in charge of making the rules, and let him know that women are to blame for it.
‘I’m not a feminist,’ says Joe, a man who works at a bank in the west of England.
‘But I know men who are.’
He pauses, and I can tell he’s been thinking about that for a while.
I ask him why he’s bothered.
‘Because I don’t want women to be treated like that,’ he says.
‘When you’re a man, you’re always going to be able to walk up to a woman and say: ‘I can do this’.’
You know the women who have been walking around with their legs crossed for the past couple of years?
It’s just so embarrassing.
I don, I don’t want to do that.’
Joe knows the men who’ve been doing it and knows that men like Joe are the real problem.
He also knows that women don’t always like to talk about it, and it’s easy for them to assume that men are the problem.
‘If you want to talk to women about it,’ he continues, ‘just do it, because that’s what men are doing: going around and doing it all the time.
And if women don’ t want to go around doing it, then they shouldn’ t talk about men’ behaviour.’
And so the men I meet across the country are in their own peculiar position.
We’re both men, we’re both in our 40s, and we’re all trying to keep our jobs.
We’ve all been in situations where we’ve been called names, threatened, told we’d be kicked out of the company.
Joe has seen it all.
He’s had the odd bit of sexual harassment, too.
‘Men are always telling me to take it up with the boss, but then I’m told to take the job.
That’s how I feel,’ he sighs.
‘It just seems like an insult to women to not have the same opportunities that I’ve had.’
And yet he can’t help but think about how his life has changed, the things that he’s done wrong, how it has made him feel like a failure.
‘Why should I be blamed if I’m not equal?’ he asks.
‘Well, there’ s nothing wrong with being a man.
It’ s not fair.
It isn’t fair that women can’t do anything.
But if you want me to be equal, you have to say ‘stop it’.
‘Men have done a lot of stuff that is not in keeping with what we believe in,’ says Sarah, another woman who works in the same bank.
‘They’ve gone around making jokes about women having sex.
They’ve done things that I wouldn’ t have believed in my wildest dreams.
But I know it has to change, and that change is going to take time.
‘The worst thing that can happen is you’ re going to have a meeting with a group of men and they say: We don’t think you’re equal.
You’ re just a guy trying to make it.
If you want a change, you’re going to need to change yourself.
And that means changing your attitude.
‘You’re the boss.
You decide when you can do things, and when you cant,’ says John.
‘What I’m telling you is: You know what, if you stop treating women like that, and you stop saying that men aren’t equal, that’ s the change that’s going to change things.
You know why men are there?
Because they’re scared.
They’re scared they’ re not going to make as much money as women.
They’re scared they’ll be sacked if they don’ re having sex with them.
‘There’ s no other way to say this, John says.
It sounds like a lot to shout at women in a meeting, but it’ s really not.
‘That’ s what women do when they feel threatened.
They say: I can’t believe you’ ve treated me like this.
You are so disrespectful, I thought.
‘No,’ says Mary.
‘Women treat men the same.
It’s called equality.
If I ever feel like I’ ve been treated badly, it’ re because of you, it says.
Women treat men differently than men do, says Joe.
And I know that it’ ve made me feel like an idiot, but I don'” t like it.
I mean, I can understand that some men may feel like that’ ve happened to them, but that’ re something that I would never say to my partner