Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Lifestyles - CIARA O’CON­NOR

PROV­ING that women’s sex­u­al­ity is a com­plex and in­sol­u­ble mys­tery, I’m A Celebrity’s hu­man-raisin Nick Knowles has be­come the jun­gle heart­throb for hun­dreds of thou­sands of women, young and old.

It seems right, af­ter a year that will surely go down in his­tory for the mush­room­ing of the pan­demic ‘‘Daddy’’ meme on­line, that 2018 would end with thou­sands of young women (who had been given Malique by ITV for this ex­act pur­pose) lust­ing over a con­trol­ling and wiz­ened DIY TV pre­sen­ter.

Last week started off well for Nick, who sto­ically threw him­self on the sword of rice and beans so that all his camp­mates could en­joy a lux­ury roast din­ner. The world’s small­est vi­o­lin played as Nick Knowles, proud and alone, fash­ioned some rudi­men­tary bean burg­ers as the cam­era cut away to the oth­ers en­joy­ing a bac­cha­na­lia of jam roly­polys. Our hearts swelled at the quiet dig­nity of modern mar­tyr Nick Knowles. The com­pe­ti­tion was over; his crown was se­cure.

But then dis­as­ter struck. Nick Knowles be­came a walk­ing em­bod­i­ment of the phrase ‘‘dou­ble-edged sword’’, proof that you can not have your sexy-dad cake and eat it too. Be­cause while his leath­ery vis­age and air of ca­pa­bil­ity may thrill, it comes as surely as the sun fol­lows the moon with a pro­found and stead­fast ‘‘just old-fash­ioned’’ misog­yny.

The un­rav­el­ling of Nick Knowles be­gan when he com­forted John Bar­row­man, who was shaken af­ter a run-in with a hys­ter­i­cal woman, by re­lat­ing in hushed tones that ‘‘the girls’’ were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ‘‘that time of the month’’. Rita Si­mons had pointed out that four por­tions of rice be­tween 11 peo­ple seemed in­suf­fi­cient. Crazy old Rita! John, in the man­ner of a stroppy nine-year-old, be­gan to cook all the rice they owned. The pre­men­strual loon then raved: “I’m not by any means say­ing let’s cook all the rice. All I’m say­ing is it needs to be more than four be­tween us.” Woah there, Rita!

Nick Knowles, like a prison old-timer tak­ing a new­bie un­der his wing, ex­plained that the women were ‘‘jumpier’’; “We’re go­ing to have that for a cou­ple of days with the girls.” Then, in the most head­line-snatch­ing story since I’m A Celeb started this year, it emerged that Nick Knowles is ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fied of knick­ers. Well, dis­em­bod­ied knick­ers. Knick­ers on a woman’s body are fine, but knick­ers in the laun­dry are very dan­ger­ous, and quite pos­si­bly gay. Nick Knowles was hang­ing up wet laun­dry on the line (omg boyfriend ma­te­rial) when he was faced with what could have been a moral and ide­o­log­i­cal quandary: touch­ing a woman’s knick­ers. Nick Knowles has a strong sense of right and wrong, though; he knew what to do. He asked John Bar­row­man, a gay, for help.

Who knows what fren­zied thoughts were go­ing through the mind of Nick Knowles at this point, “What if this makes her fall in love with me?” “Is this how men be­come gay? I can’t be­come gay!” “What if I get MeToo’d for touch­ing knick­ers!” “I can’t ask a woman to do it, be­cause of fem­i­nism! A gay man is just same but dif­fer­ent, right?” “What if I pick them up and can­not phys­i­cally stop my­self from sniff­ing them be­cause of my gar­gan­tuan het­ero­sex­u­al­ity?”

And just like that, Nick Knowles lost the mil­len­nial woman and gay vote. It was widely re­ported that the af­fair launched a de­bate about ‘‘un­con­scious ho­mo­pho­bia’’, but it doesn’t seem very un­con­scious to me. Oh dear, Daddy Nick. Oh dear.

******* Speak­ing of fallen mil­len­nial he­roes, Mar­garet At­wood (below) an­nounced last week that she’s writ­ing a se­quel to The Hand­maid’s Tale. Al­though the 30-yearold novel spent 16 weeks on the Sun­day Times best­seller list last year, and is still sell­ing in its mil­lions, not ev­ery­one is thrilled about the news. There’s a vo­cal sec­tion of the mil­len­nial pop­u­la­tion who be­lieve the 79-year-old au­thor should bow out grace­fully.

At the be­gin­ning of this year, At­wood was moved to write a piece en­ti­tled Am I a Bad Fem­i­nist? in re­sponse to crit­i­cism she had re­ceived for sign­ing a let­ter call­ing for an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the fir­ing of Steven Gal­loway, a pro­fes­sor ac­cused of sex­ual as­sault and ha­rass­ment by a stu­dent.

At a time when At­wood’s work has be­come cul­tural short­hand for a pro-re­pro­duc­tive rights, anti-Trump fem­i­nist zeit­geist, it was hard to rec­on­cile the novel and its af­ter­life with the au­thor’s bloody-minded re­fusal to ac­knowl­edge how tac­itly sup­port­ing a man ac­cused of preda­tory be­hav­iour could hurt sur­vivors and stop women from com­ing for­ward. She wrote a widely-crit­i­cised piece about MeToo that seemed to sug­gest that mad fem­i­nists were try­ing to abol­ish the le­gal sys­tem. By trolling her crit­ics and re­fus­ing to en­gage with any crit­i­cism, she has tested the pa­tience of her mil­len­nial fans. We thank her for giv­ing us the book in 1985, but it would be bet­ter if we took it from here. The Hand­maid’s Tale, it seems, has be­come big­ger than Mar­garet At­wood.

There are fears that Mar­garet could be headed in the same di­rec­tion as JK Rowl­ing, that other lit­er­ary hero whose wifi mil­len­ni­als wish they could per­ma­nently dis­con­nect. If she con­tin­ues to re­spond to the mis­guided de­mand from fans who, like a dog with a week’s worth of food, don’t know when to stop, it will only be a mat­ter of time be­fore we start see­ing new Hand­maid’s Tale spin-off screen­plays ar­riv­ing in Ea­son a few times a year. There’ll be li­censed hand­maids’ red capes ap­pear­ing in Pen­neys along­side the Harry Pot­ter slip­per-socks. Praise be.

******* It was re­ported that Kim Kar­dashian “sur­prised fans with a cameo dur­ing Chrissy Teigen and John Leg­end’s Leg­endary Christ­mas spe­cial” last week.

Of course, the big­gest sur­prise here for most mil­len­ni­als was that Chrissy Teigen and John Leg­end have a Christ­mas spe­cial. What could it mean? Why weren’t we alerted?

Chrissy Teigen, Our Lady of Per­pet­ual Snowflak­ery, is ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing only en­chant­ing and im­por­tant must-see con­tent. We felt put-out. Re­search did not il­lu­mi­nate the mat­ter: there were re­ports of names as di­verse as Meghan Trainor, Ste­vie Won­der, Kris Jen­ner, Adam Levine in the mix as well as Zach Gal­i­fi­anakis as Santa Claus. There were sketches and cook­ing and chats. It all looked im­pen­e­tra­bly Amer­i­can.

In a sen­tence I never thought I’d write, John and Chrissy’s cousin Yas­sir in­ter­viewed Kim about the pos­si­bil­ity of a make-up line for men. In­cor­ri­gi­ble en­tre­pre­neur Kim said that plans were ‘‘in the works’’ for man make-up, be­cause why stop at mak­ing only 50pc of the world’s pop­u­la­tion feel in­se­cure about their ap­pear­ance!

It is well known that the male eye ac­tively re­pels eye-liner made for women, and that testos­terone in the skin makes lady-foun­da­tion slide right off male cheeks, so it’s a re­lief to would-be make-up wear­ing men ev­ery­where that Kim is hard at work in her lab­o­ra­tory cook­ing up some­thing that they can use. Fi­nally!

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