NME’s Columnist Katherine Ryan On Younger Men: “I Look At Niall Horan And I See Another Mouth To Feed”

Christmas coming means one thing for comedians: office party gigs! Village halls decked with hugely overworked and equally overserved 20-somethings, most of whom would never go to a stand-up gig on purpose. There you are with a microphone, the only thing standing between them and an opportunity to get on the dancefloor and finger Tracy from accounts.

I’ve been lucky to get mega nice crowds so far, but after my set on Thursday, a sloshed young girl came up and said “I liked your rape jokes.” “Oh. OK, well I didn’t tell any rape jokes per se, but if you mean the bit where I referenced the news and condemned the statute of limitations on trials for rape, um yeah, thanks, I’m just trying to…” “Exactly,” she interrupted. “And you should also talk about consensual rape. Like where a girl wears a G-string out to a club, like obviously she’s going to get raped.”

I couldn’t believe it. I genuinely thought the only remaining dinosaurs with this viewpoint came from extremist groups in the Middle East or maybe Texas, America’s Middle East. Effectively, she’s the client. So I had to smile at this girl and say, “Ha ha, wearing a G-string isn’t the same as asking to be assaulted, just like you being as drunk as you are now doesn’t mean you’re asking to be assaulted.” Somewhere on an iPhone, there’s a selfie of me explaining this to my oblivious ingénue, so I doubt the message stuck with her. But holy shit.

Earlier that day, I’d met a little lad from a boyband. We were, for research purposes, looking at shirtless pics of him taken when he was barely a teenager and he said that during that time, he’d gotten into a few scrapes with predatory older women. It’s rare to read about a female teacher, for example, sleeping with her student, but the public reaction when it does happen is usually to shrug off the crime and congratulate the boy. I’m not interested in younger men for the same reason most women aren’t interested in younger men; I don’t have time to make an extra packed lunch every morning. Please. I’m busy enough already. I look at Niall Horan and I see just another mouth to feed. Like getting a kitten.

This boyband boy described to me meet-and-greets where mothers grabbed his “1D” while their daughters bounced around for autographs. One night during the band’s tour, he huddled on the hotel bed, terrified as two large women repeatedly launched themselves at his door, threatening to take his virginity as soon as they were able to break it down. He rang hotel security, and the man who answered laughed, actually laughed, and scolded the boy for waking him so late at night. Eventually, enough other guests on the floor complained about the noise and security escorted the ladies back to their rooms. Not jail. I was genuinely horrified and vowed to be more vocal about this type of harassment. “Nah, it’s fine,” he sighed, sweeping his fringe to one side. And now, somehow, I’ve got to find time to make an extra packed lunch every morning.