Daily Mail’s intellect has again gone through the roof with a recent sexist and condescending article, whose headline reads, “How to avoid turning your home into a manrepeller: Interiors therapist reveals the items that could be making your abode off-putting to men.” In this glorious abomination, which transpires like a forced makeover, Interiors Therapist (whatever that means) Suzanne Roynon advises journalist Liz Hoggard, on how, as a single woman, she can make her home more welcoming to men.
I mean, as if we don’t have enough people already telling women what they can or cannot do, Roynon is far from mincing her words in this piece. So, a single woman can’t have too many pictures or artworks of strong women (who might be single) because it gives the wrong impression. The cacti is ‘too spiky’, the fridge magnet also doesn’t suit her taste, she sermonizes us to not be messy because ‘clutter makes us fat’. The final nail in the coffin comes when Roynon advises her “not to have novels with ‘depressing titles’ such as Little Deaths or The Suspect. ‘The imagery you have around you needs to be supportive. And strengthening.’”
Her highness, it turns out, has a problem with not just books with sad names, but with books, in general. A single woman’s house can’t have too many books. Her bedroom shouldn’t have books at all, because one’s bedroom should be about sleep and love. As an avid reader, what I don’t understand about this insane logic is what is it about books that don’t spell love and most importantly, self-care? And what if the man, too, likes reading in bed? Should I also throw my Kindle out the window while we are at it?
Publishing professional Sonali Pawar is aghast at the insinuation that women should censor their personalities and interests in order to be appealing to a man. “If I am looking to date, why on earth would I want to hide something as simple as the kind of books I like, or change myself just because I want a man in my life; that’d be ridiculous! And if that man has a problem with what I read, then it’s better that my books act as a ‘man repellent’, because that’s exactly the kind of man I do not want in my life. I am not changing my reading habits for anybody!” Pawar asserts.
While I want to yell from rooftops as to who the fuck cares about men, this article also undermines kind and thoughtful men who gifts their partners books, who thrive in chaos as much as we do, because we are all trying to be the best version of ourselves, with or without the help of an Interiors Therapist.
Literature student Arundhati Dey feels this article has confirmed that humanity grows older, but none the wiser, “It was not enough that women are second class citizens in a ‘man’s world’. Now we have to hide our books, lest the fragile man feels threatened.
“This article is not even crossing the line. The line, to this interior designer, is now a blur because once these preposterous ideas exist; it is only a downward spiral from there. It was not enough that we have lower salaries, the burden of motherhood, and lesser access to education. Now to top it off, let’s hide the books too,” says Roy.
Roynon suggests converting a woman’s bedroom into a ‘boudoir where a man feels welcome’ – “A space where he feels comfortable and confident. And not squashed out by anything else.”
As one Jack comments in good humour on the piece, “Or the bloke might think he is in the home of an intelligent and independent woman and be really rather excited by that. The presence of the Daily Mail would be a major turn-off though.”
Journalist Anonna Dutt agrees that decluttering one’s house or wardrobe can be therapeutic but she loathes the idea of doing so just to please a man – “Hasn’t the society put enough burden on the women to look a certain way or dress a certain way? And now this? Why should I hide my cacti? I have an extremely busy schedule and travel around a lot; they are the most practical plants for me to have!”
“And, I love my bedside bookshelf. With the schedule that I have, I hardly read. And if I had to get up every night to get my book and then place it back in the shelf in another room after reading it, I will end up not reading anything at all.”
The point is, if a man feels threatened by the very place we inhabit, what good would it do having him in our lives in the first place? Another reader points out rightly in the comments section that such a piece was designed to ‘potentially shame women’ for living life on their own terms.
After assimilating such a truck load of garbage, it’s imperative that women flood every corner of their houses and most importantly, bedrooms, with more books than they can ever read. And also some sharp cacti to ward off such unsolicited and frankly, dumb advice.