I grew up in a typical working-class neighbourhood where all forms of violence against women were strictly taboo.
Somewhere between my youth and today, that old taboo has vanished.
I look at what we have become, a nation where violence against women is shockingly common, and I do not recognise it as the land I grew up in.
In a sunny park, a pack of leering teenage boys pose proudly around a cowering middle-aged woman who they have ritually abused, pelting her with flour, water and eggs until she is bent into submission.
At chucking-out time at an Essex nightclub, a young man punches a young woman in the face until she lies senseless on the pavement.
What the hell has happened to the young British male?
How did he ever become such a vicious, bullying, woman-hating coward?
I saw violence and bullying when I was growing up in my little corner of Essex, but I never saw anything even remotely like these despicably ugly scenes.
What kind of homes did these creeps grow up in?
What do they imagine it takes to be a man? And how did they get so sick that they believe their behaviour is socially acceptable?
These women-hating bullies — Liam Holmes, 20, who battered a woman to the ground outside Faces nightclub, and the five smirking thugs who tormented a vulnerable woman but can’t be named because they are under 18 — are not the products of brutal, inner-city gangland.
These blights on the face of British manhood are the product of ordinary homes, God help us.
They are what our young men look like now.
They are not feral kids who never had a chance.
They are not the products of deprived lives.
The leering bullies posing proudly around their terrified victim in that sun-drenched park are growing up in Bury St Edmunds, a peaceful Suffolk market town with pretty cottages and a lovely cathedral, while Liam Holmes attacked his victim outside a club that was once a fashionable oasis for footballers and pop stars, the Essex answer to New York’s Studio 54.
These thugs all have dear old mums who love them to bits.
Indeed, the mother of one of the park scum sacks — a woman who must have an IQ lower than her dress size — complained that her son was the one suffering now because the backlash has ruined his 16th birthday.
The poor little lamb! What’s the world coming to if you and your mates can’t torture a vulnerable middle-aged woman in the park any more?
Personally, I hope the backlash ruins his life.
And while we ponder these pitiful excuses for young men, let us spare a thought for their female victims.
The 18-year-old woman who was punched to the ground by Liam Holmes has been predictably abused in the sewer of social media, informed “she deserved it” for daring to speak back to a man, and gloatingly told that, “she had a lesson in true equality."
Meanwhile the vulnerable 49-year-old woman who was brutalised in the park has spoken with incredible restraint about her experience, which must have been as humiliating as it was frightening.
“Considering the respective ages of all parties and that it was five or six young men versus me alone, I remain surprised that they behaved in such a way towards me,” she said.
“I would like to hear their reasons, if possible.”
Which is so mild-mannered that I find it breaks my bloody heart.
It is tempting to blame the surge in violence against women on social media, and brainless morons like the little d**ks in that park taking pictures to show off to their mates. But it can’t all be blamed on social media.
I bet Liam Holmes wishes there were no cameras around when he was smashing a woman in the jaw.
“He wouldn’t do that for no reason,” protests his mother Cathy, 53. “There was a lot that went on before that people don’t know about.”
Sorry, there can never be an excuse, reason or justification for a man or boy to abuse a woman or girl. Not ever.
The old taboo about men being violent towards women should still stand.
Lads, it doesn’t matter if they say something cutting to you at chucking out time.
Lads, it doesn’t matter if they have the insolent cheek to sit on the park bench where you like to hang out with your bad-ass homies in the Bury St Edmunds massive.
How hard is it to understand?
Men should not be violent towards women.
My father, the hardest man I ever met, taught me a real man does not raise his voice to a woman, let alone his hand.
But that generation of tough, gentle men has gone and in their place we have pitiful excuses for the male of the species who feel empowered by belittling, beating and abusing women.
And what sickens the stomach about the boys in the park is that they all look so very pleased with themselves, as if tormenting a vulnerable woman who, in the words of her stepmother “wouldn’t say boo to a goose” is the high point of their miserable lives.
It is a good job their mothers all love them because I can’t imagine any other self-respecting woman ever will.
“He’s never had a girlfriend,” someone remarked of woman-bashing lout, Liam Holmes.
Yes, it shows.
Scary hairy face
NICOLE KIDMAN shares a snap of a huge spider she found scuttling by her swimming pool.
The big close-up Nicole posted on Instagram is absolutely terrifying.
What a scary face!
The spider, I mean. Not Nicole.
Corbyn's PM dream is over
HOW sweet life was for Jeremy Corbyn when he was a loopy left-wing backbencher, free to flutter his eyelashes at the IRA, to stand on platforms that compared Israel to Nazi Germany and to bowl up on Iranian TV praising the release of Hamas terrorists who had murdered Jewish children.
But now fate has Corbyn as a possible Prime Minister his support of extremism is not such a good look.
And no matter how pathetic this Tory Government becomes, no matter how timid, weak and gutless Theresa May looks in the face of Brussels’ bullying, the British people will never choose for Prime Minister a man who considers the child killers in Hamas to be his “brothers”.
“In the past, in the pursuit of peace and justice for the Palestinian people, I have on occasion appeared on platforms with people whose views I completely reject,” apologises panicky Corbyn, a man who can feel the keys to 10 Downing Street slipping through his fingers.
The past is coming back to haunt Jeremy Corbyn.
And it will destroy him.
REHEARSALS have begun for the 16th series of Strictly and producers are struggling to attract A-list celebrities, reportedly because of the show’s record of destroying long-term relationships – the Strictly curse.
It might also have something to do with the celeb fear of looking like a sweaty idiot with two left feet, while wearing nipple-crushing Lycra on prime-time television.
Luckily, Nadiya Bychkova, above, will be there for her second series, the only pro dancer who looks more like a celebrity than any of the celebrities.
THOSE who want the UK to remain in the European Union have never made any attempt to persuade the 17.4million who voted to leave to change our minds.
They just insult us.
Peter Mandelson says Brexiteers “hate other countries and hate foreigners” while Stewart Lee, a pot-bellied Bernard Manning for snowflakes, says: “It wasn’t just racists that voted to leave Europe – c**** did as well. Stupid f****** c****.”
Which is why Remain lost the referendum. And why they would lose 100 referendums.
Stop the self pity
BAKE Off winner Nadiya Hussain tells Loose Women: “I work in an industry that is heavily dominated by male, middle-class, middle-aged men and there’s no space for a 5ft brown girl, who wears a headscarf.”
But you became a national treasure, Nadiya.
So self-pity is misplaced.
Madonna sexy at 60
MADONNA turns 60 years old on August 16 and has marked the birthday by laying provocatively on the ground sporting suspenders, lacy bra and a been-to-bed expression in her half-closed eyes.
The Material Girl still looks great, of course.
Mind you, she does look as though she might need a hand getting back on her feet.
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