Cowards, to Clarify…

Excellent questions have been asked of my very angry post A Nation of Cowards. So I think, before discussing anything else I should clarify my use of the word “coward” and, since so many people have expressed an interest in the subject, I should also probably describe the very ordinary nature of my own libido.

I would hate any man to think that I call him a coward for having the typical man’s constitution – one that responds to sexualised images of women. I certainly find myself to be wired that way. I don’t call this cowardice, I call it biology.

I don’t even call a man a coward for letting his biological constitution be master of his ethics – for thinking with his penis, to put it crudely. I call that weakness. And again, I have, in my time, found myself to be such a man – a weak man.

What I’ve called cowardice in the offending post is something particular. It is indifference to evil. It is the blasĂ© tolleration of the tyrants who rule the poor with an education in thoughtlessness, ridicule our women and coerce our governments with unchecked power. It’s the lack of any attempt at all to empathise with an experience of sexual objectification that we haven’t really been conditioned to hear or understand. We accept the lusty status quo of our biology and our weakness. We accept the social and cultural status quo of mysogeny as a British institution. We don’t engage with our moment of history, we just float through it passively – accepting it as just the way things are.*

I haven’t called any man a coward for struggling with lust, but precisely for not struggling with it.

We don’t have to end as we began. We don’t have to pass the next generation whatever we got from the last. I call us cowards in the very real hope that we might rise to something greater… and our children, something greater still.

To the people of another age, I expect the current order will look something like the Sherriff of Nottingham stripping a peasant girl a day and displaying them for the downtrodden crowd to leer and laugh and throw lettuce at – some amusement to numb them. Will they think better of us – the men of the day – just because the Sherriff wines and dines the girls? Is not the whole society degraded by this spectacle?

If you’re a man and you have a distaste for porn, and if you won’t sign this petition, you have to ask yourself why. If my posts offend your sensibilities, then alright, but this isn’t my petition, it’s a petition to take soft porn out of a family newspaper. We could be the generation of men who said: “Enough. Not on our watch.” We really could overthrow it.


*I am amazed at the men who’ve bothered to tell me, and others, not to bother with all this. Where do they find the time and energy for their non-activism? What force so motivates them in their allegence to indifference? Are there greater devotees still, who go about telling these people not to bother telling people like me not to bother?


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