I went to my first speed dating event, for the sole reason that you have to try everything in life once (yes dad, as long as it don’t involve needles). Because of my poor German, I probably wouldn’t be able to understand half of what my opponents were saying, nor verbalize my general resentment towards men, which I believed would significantly favour the evening. I don’t dress up, to make a point, and head out. My first date is a tall guy with thin blond hair. He appears to be shy, but I have no doubt that a fair share of toxic masculinity is hidden behind that seemingly harmless grin on his face. I’d give him two beers and a fishcake before he starts throwing subtle insults my way. The first toilet visit will be fake, to secretly speed date someone behind my back. If he’d be my boyfriend, he’d be interfering with my social life. If he’d be my colleague, he'd be interfering with my career. If he’d be higher up in the corporate ladder, he’d be fondling his secretaries. And if he’d be my across-the-street neighbour, he’d be having a wank in front of the window. Men, they’re all the... “Hallo, my name is Heinrich.” I almost bounce off my chair. “Right, of course. Hi.”

The welcoming drink goes down pretty smoothly, without any inappropriate comments, yet. He’s probably just scared, seeing as people are being cancelled left right and centre these days. Holland has hardly got any television show hosts and judges left it seems: all made to retire to the couch. In summary, there were a bunch of men who misused their power to have a go at young girls who were hoping for an opportunity in life. There was even a tv-host who openly shared his story about molesting a woman who passed out on his couch, as a response to a news item about another tv-host who was accused of molesting a woman after he drugged her. “It’s what boys do when they’re young” he said, while other grown men around him were laughing loudly to his story. The television show was taken off air, by the way. Although it’s a legit reason to cancel these people, I wonder how many men would be left in their function if we would take this woke policy all the way? I can tell from experience that universities would count some serious losses. Internships, conferences, field work: there is gender and age inappropriate behaviour all over the show. Might as well cancel the whole lot and take over power at once. Zero tolerance, we had enough! I’m tapped on the shoulder and kindly reminded to move to the next table. “Tschusch Heinrich.”

The second date is a chubby guy with excessive facial hair, Ernst. We order wine, and I make sure to cover my glass with a coaster at all times. You never know what could end up in there these days. After we order starters, he asks me about my hobbies. I rush through the answers, so I can eat my food in silence. While still busy removing pieces of lettuce from my teeth with my tongue, I ask what keeps him busy in life. His story sounds amiable, and some aspects are suspiciously similar to mine. I don’t believe a word of it. It also hasn’t gone unnoticed that Ernst ordered nachos for starters. Glorifying unhealthy habits and avoiding vegetables is a classical sign of toxic masculinity. Nachos for machos. And do you know what another sign is? Dick pics. The director of football club Ajax has been sending them too, to his female co-workers. He got fired, by the way. I wonder whether Ernst had ever sent dick pics. He surely looks like he’d be capable. The pig. Soon after he swallows his last nacho, the waiter hints us to round things up. “Tschusch Ernst.”

The third date is with Salim, who not only sounds foreign, but looks that way too. This is just trouble in a bucket. The disrespect of women is mainly driven by cultural pressures, and wherever Salim is from, I’m guessing he’d been under quite a lot of pressure. I nervously agree to his every word, to not trigger anything, without blinking once. While giggling to what may, or may not, have been a joke, I order myself Mediterranean couscous. Or should I have led him order it for me instead? He gives me an endearing smile and orders pizza. I’ll be counting my blessings if I don’t have to hand-feed him the slices while rubbing his shoulders. In some countries, we’re not even allowed to eat at the same time. How strange, isn’t it, a rage against women, even though we are raised by them? It’s not just social and political settings, but the media too that fuels misogyny. If all that rappers sing about is bitch-slapping and wife-trashing, how are we ever to grow up respecting women? Luckily, Germany ranks pretty high on gender equality. In retrospect, this evening could’ve been a lot worse. The waiter empties our plates out, thank heavens. “Tschusch Salim”

“Hallo, I’m Günter. I also like animals.”

    Yeah right, I see straight through you.

“Hallo, I’m Hermann. Would you like me to buy you a drink?”

    Did you just patronize me?

“Hallo, I’m Wilhelm. Where do you normally go out?”

    That’s none of your business, you stalker!

“Hallo, I’m Tobias. You look very nice tonight.”

     How dare you objectify me!

“Hallo, ich bin Karl, swasch zu hatz fronzem beite am hutschige gunz?“

    How dáre… wait, what?

Date number nine. I swipe the sweat of my forehead, scratch my neck, and skittishly scan the room from left to right. For what exactly, I’m not entirely sure. I mumble “Tschuss Klaus” to a high-school teacher who plays the guitar and mansplained to me why Xavi isn’t ready to coach Barcelona yet. Klaus didn’t hide his discomfort during our date very well. The last date, time for coffee. His name is Friedrich and he seems anxious too. The poor guy, it can’t be easy for them either. Always expected to be the charmer and make the first move, and when they do, chances are 9 out of 10 that they get a cold shoulder or snappy comment in return. And whatever the magnitude of their life-long rejection, they aren’t even allowed to express their pain and sorrow. Perhaps it’s all a myth anyway, that men have this uncontrollable hunter instinct, but society instead that expects it of them. Even us women, caregivers of boys and lovers of men, are subconsciously feeding into the ego of the hulking and dominant male. Perhaps we should start changing things around ourselves, by allowing men to be more vulnerable, sorting out our own shit, and start paying for our drinks? Friedrich looks up from his empty coffee cup. “Could I perhaps get your number?” I accidently swallow my chocolate biscuit whole. “Sorry (coughs loudly), my German ist nicht so gut.” I move uncomfortably in my seat and try to reach for my bag without losing eye contact. “Anyway, it’s getting late. I better go. I presume the drinks were on you? Tschuss Friedrich!”