Michael Tickle – “I think it’s quite appalling that the schooling system completely brushes every non-conventional relationship and person under the rug”

How do you self-define?

Male.

What does feminism mean to you?

The support of women to get the rights that they deserve. I don’t know, It’s about being treated fairly, in the correct way, in the same way. Well not necessarily in the same way as men, but in a way that’s fair.

What do the words “woman” and “man” mean to you?

Someone who identifies as either having a female persona or a male persona I guess. I don’t think it’s necessarily directly linked to sex, but obviously in like 95% of cases it is.

Do you ever feel unsafe due to your gender?

Only really when talking to security guards on nights out. They’re a lot more threatening to men than women. Other than that, not really.

Do you feel treated differently by men and women?

Yeah. I don’t know if it’s because of gender, or just because of how men and women are, but they act completely different. They have different personalities. I don’t know, but there’s just a stereotypical difference between men and women which leads to them acting differently most of the time. And whether that’s because I’m a man and I see it that way, I really couldn’t say. I don’t know how to explain it to be honest.

What do you think are positive ways that the world views women?

Well, they’re seen as the childbearing, caring ones. Obviously this is still a stereotype, but they are seen as the more caring sort of person. They’re the ones who are always nicer to people, whereas men are seen as more aggressive and scary. Women are always seen as friendly and sweet, in the stereotype of course. But yeah, they’re always shown as nice and there’s always the stereotype that they’re capable of doing loads of jobs at once, which I guess is a positive as well.

Did you encounter any obstacles on your path to manhood?

There’s a lot of pressure to be manly. To be big and strong and have no emotions, and do sport and things like that. That’s what you’re meant to do or be if you’re a guy. If you’re not good at it, then it’s like, tough shit. That’s the biggest problem I think. Although I personally didn’t struggle with it, I know guys can be a lot harsher to other guys than girls seem to be to other girls. I think there’s a lot more bullying in the male community, even in primary school and places like that. It’s something I’ve been lucky enough to not be personally affected by.

What do you think about casual sex?

It’s cool. It’s casual. It’s sexy! It’s kinda all in the name really.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice, and why?

Pro-choice. Because pro-life just isn’t always the best option. What I mean is there’s no set method that cures all problems,  so giving people the choice is the right way to go.

What are your feelings about contraception?

I feel like they should be a lot more free contraception. Mainly just condoms because everything else is pretty much free. I think most female contraceptive are free, like I know the pill is, because I dispense that to people. Other than that, I think it should all be made free, or at least a lot more heavily subsidised. It’s plays a big part in society, and people shouldn’t have to spend that much money to have a very natural thing safely. They shouldn’t have to worry about changing their future because they’re going to have a kid by accident.

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Photo Credit: Nicky Moffat

What are your thoughts on marriage and monogamy?

Monogamy is good, but marriage is bad in my opinion. I’m all for monogamy. I’d love to spend my life with a partner that I love. However I think that marriage is a fairly outdated concept that doesn’t really do a lot for anyone, except to be cute and romantic.

What are your thoughts on parenthood?

I want to be a parent and have my own kids, and I’d like to just see how it turns out. I know it’s like a twenty year gamble on whether things will go well, but I reckon it’d be a good laugh. I don’t think I’d be too bad; I know I’m not a horrible person so I wouldn’t be ruining society by having children. I also think it’d be nice to have that sort of connection with someone as well. A parent-child kind of love.

Do you think your sex education was sufficient?

I think my sex education was good at covering conventional sex, so heterosexual relationships; but absolutely nothing was ever spoken about concerning anything other than that. We were never taught anything about people who are trans*, or gay, or anything like that. Obviously at the time that didn’t affect me, but looking back I think it’s quite appalling that the schooling system completely brushes every non-conventional relationship or person under the rug.

Has your sexuality ever been used against you?

Only jokingly I think. Like gay friends of mine will be like “Oh it’s ’cause you’re straight!” Like, it’s just banter, it’s never been a serious thing. I’ve never not been allowed to go somewhere because I’m straight, or anything like that.

Is there anyone you would undermine your principles for? 

Yeah. My girlfriend, and probably my parents. Also people in a place of power above me, so like lecturers, officers in the army, stuff like that. Obviously my parents and girlfriend don’t have a position of authority over me but I don’t like upsetting family…or Sophie.

In which situations do you feel safe to speak your mind or stand up for yourself?

Pretty much all of them. I very rarely feel threatened  into having to keep my opinion to myself. The only reason my answer to the last question was as it was is because I wouldn’t want to upset the person. It’s not about feeling threatened, it’s out of niceness. I very rarely feel threatened.

Do you feel satisfied with how women are depicted in film, TV, and advertising?

No. I think there’s an unfair bias in that in adverts usually women are depicted as cleaning things, and men are depicted drinking beer and shaving. It enforces these gender stereotypes. In films, there’s very rarely a strong lead female role instead of a strong lead male role. Obviously that means I can identify better with more films as male, but that’s unfair on women. It should still be equal. Films like Star Wars Episode 7; it was still a great film and the lead role was female. I don’t have a problem with it, and I really enjoyed seeing it. It’s nice it can happen, but it’s just a shame it doesn’t happen enough.

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Photo Credit: Nicky Moffat

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

Once again, they all enforce gender stereotypes. They’re usually pink and sparkly and related to supposedly feminine activities and I don’t think that’s fair. Like fair enough if a girl prefers to own something that is pink that’s fine, but that shouldn’t be the only option for women. Things should come in a variety of colours and not be gender specific especially when it’s not actually a gender related item. Like cleaning items don’t have to be pink because they’re for women. They’re not for women.

How do you feel about feminine hygiene products portrayal in the media?

The media seems to be fairly open about their use, which is good, because if you look at a country like China, you’re not even allowed to speak about tampons or anything. It’s the most ridiculous thing, like if you mention your period it’s really frowned upon. Whereas here it’s very open in comparison. There’s adverts about feminine hygiene products all the time. I don’t know whether it’s good or not, because everyone knows how to buy them and where to buy them so they don’t really need adverts. But I think it’s good that they can be portrayed in adverts without it causing the uproar that it does in other parts of the world. However I know there is tampon tax which is stupid, because it’s obviously not a luxury item. That’s something that should definitely not be there.

What are your biggest fears?

Oh, that got a bit deep! I’d say not being happy in the long-term. Whether or not that means getting in to the career I want to get in, or being with the kind of person I want to be with or if my kids do actually turn out to be little dickheads. But however it goes, as long as I’m happy at the end of it, then I’m not bothered; and I’m not happy at the end of it, well that’s what I’m scared of, I guess. I suppose along with that comes a big fear of paralysis, I don’t like that one. I think that would ruin my long term happiness, and stuff like chronic diseases, long term debilitation etc.

What are your greatest accomplishments?

I don’t know, I’ve never really done much. I’ve been wasting my life! I got in to uni on what is considered a fairly hard course. I can say that I did pretty well in first year, so there’s that. I’ve not done badly academically, I had decent A levels and stuff as well. Other than academia though I’ve not really done much, I’ve been a bit shit. I’ve spent nineteen years doing jack shit.

What image do you think you project on a day to day basis?

A bit scraggly. I’m a bit of a mess, but I think I’m a friendly approachable mess. Quite a healthy one, and I can show a decent level of determination. I think the people I associate with tend to be the similar, so they would appreciate that I think. Well I hope so.

What image would you like to project in an ideal world, absolving social expectations?

I quite like the idea of just helping people a lot. That’s a reason I’m going in to health-care and stuff, I just like helping people. If people saw me like, obviously not like a hero, but just as someone who helps people and makes people feel better all the time; someone who sort of reduces suffering, that would be great. That’s what I want to be able to do, that’s what I’d like people to see me doing. It’s a sort of a long winded process to becoming a pharmacist though. Right now I don’t think I project that very much, I just look like a drunk student; but one day I’ll be a pharmacist and i’ll help people!

What are your most positive relationships?

Well obviously I’m quite happy in my relationship. That’s a pretty positive one. It’s always nice to see her.  It’s not like “Oh no she’s coming round again!” But yeah, always nice to see the girlfriend. People who are motivating, fit and work hard also have a positive impact on my life. Like other people in boat club, and people I live with, are all generally quite hard working people and it motivates me to work harder, so I think that’s quite positive. Generally being around my close friends makes me feel a lot better than when I’m on my own, so that’s also pretty positive. And seeing family, like I actually always end up missing my family when I’m at uni so I like going home and seeing them. And dogs. Dogs are key. They are my most positive relationships, definitely. Dogs never fail to make my day. I have a good relationship with animals.

What do you deeply love about yourself? 

Dammit. Not an awful lot. I love that I’ve managed to juggle quite a busy life for the last few years, but more so just last year. I’ve managed to keep up two pretty intense societies, as well as an intense course, and still stay fit, reasonably mentally stable and not too stressed. It’s something that I quite like that I’ve managed to do that a lot of other people struggle with. Like I asked people on my course to join the societies I’m doing, and I’ve asked people from one society to join the other society and they always go “Oh no I can’t spare the time”, but they don’t really do much else. I do manage to somehow keep up all that quite well. So yeah, I like that. I think I’ve done well. Although I was always shit at time management, I’ve managed to sort out my time well enough to do that, so that’s a miracle. I really like that.

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Photo Credit: Nicky Moffat

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