“IT is common place nowadays to decry the men as male-chauvinist pigs who go round hurting girls, creating havoc and irresponsibility by leaving a trail of broken hearts behind them,” so wrote Abbey, a thoroughly bitter man in his mid-forties and, according to him, “still hurting.” He continues: ‘This picture has always irked me. Some women simply do not think of men as people who can get hurt and be damaged by life just like themselves.
True, men don’t get pregnant, but in some ways, men are far more vulnerable to damage than women, the irony being that this vulnerability is often dismissed in the phrase, ‘the fragile male ego’ as if it were something rather pathetic, not worthy of sympathetic consideration. Because men are not expected to get hurt, or at least not supposed to start crying about it, many women can be infinitely more cruel than any man. Maybe there is some tiny mitigation in the fact that they may genuinely not understand the damage they have done precisely as a result of all the cliches of the situation.
“Which brings me to my case. Many years ago, in my first year in the university, I underwent a set-back which effects are still with me. I had the misfortune to fall for a girl a few years older than myself; we call her Bukky. She was plump, nubile, engaged to a man back home, but fond of entertaining herself with extra talents closer at hand, finding a three month separation from her man something of a bore and frustration. I was slim and good-looking and she evidently felt that I merited her attention. She led me on eagerly, something I did not object to. I was young and romantic, exceptionally innocent and thought that love was something spiritual and poetic. Perhaps, that in itself seemed precious, but it was a classic piece of female chauvinism to find such qualities touching and attractive in a girl, but a little comic in a man.
“The result was that I courted her very slowly by standard. Finding me to be unsatisfactory, she jilted me rather quickly, and found someone preferable. I cannot really object to this, though I have to reflect that in the same situation, a man would be expected to be patient and understanding. She had led me to love her, then ditched me when she got bored – an ordinary scenario I do accept, and it would be tedious to keep whining about it.
“If it had stopped there, 1 would, no doubt, have had very little to complain about … Unfortunately, that was not the line she took. I realise now, as 1 did not realise then, that her attitude was a classic case of sour grapes. She certainly did not love me, but it evidently irritated her that I was so inexperienced that I had failed to provide what she wanted at a plain earthy level, even after a few weeks of courtship.
“Her method was very simple. Over a period of nearly two years, she sought to humiliate me with her jokes, innuendoes, hints and nudges to the benefit of her associate. The remarks she made were innocent enough in isolation. ‘Abbey leads women on and then disappoints them,’ she said. ‘It’s all platonic between Abbey and myself,’ she said. ‘It’s all platonic between Abbey and myself,’ (as if poor Abbey was capable of … ). ‘Abbey would, if he could, but he can’t.’
“To cap it all, an acquaintance of mine made a suitably casual remark implying that he took it for granted that I was sexually impotent. I was gutted. If only women have the remotest conception of the immense humiliation it is for a man to be seen to be sexually deficient.
“After I left the university, I fell in love with another girl, who’s beautiful, sweet, everything I could have wished in a girl. We got engaged, but I was still haunted by the past insinuations. What happened next might be regarded as a joke by some people with a certain sense of humour, though I suffered the torment of being unable to satisfy the girl sexually. She was kind, sympathetic, and said, ‘it doesn’t matter, darling’, three months after, she jilted me, having found some-one else.
“Shortly after this massive blow to my sexual life, I ran into Bukky at a wedding reception. This was some five years after we left the university. She looked different and was with her husband. She was wearing a more glamorous hair-style and had lost weight – wearing one of these gears that do wonders for a woman’s cleavage.
“I wanted the ground to open and swallow me up. I was on my own but she completely ignore me, even when she stood next to me at the drinks corner. I was shocked by the look of contempt on her face and was too shaken to approach her. I was really upset that she could ignore me like that as we had obviously been close once. 1 didn’t want to cause a scene, so I left.
“Since that little episode, I have resigned to being impotent and remaining so. I realise that a lot of people reading this will be inclined to snigger in just the same way, and for the same reasons that others have. There is no point at all in denying that impotence is funny; deliciously funny, to all but the victim himself … “