In which I talk about the pest infestation we had and how it helped open my eyes to what women and marginalised people go through every day.

Mice, Men and the Wonderful Wizard of Misogyny

1199 words about one-shot — 12:00 · 3rd Apr 2016

Last year we had a friend come and stay with us for over two months.

But when I say, “friend” I actually mean mouse. And when say, “stay with us” I actually mean, the fucking rodent wouldn’t die.

This wasn’t an ordinary mouse you see, this was a clever Jerry-type mouse. Like the one from animated short films Tom and Jerry.

Or mice I should say, as it’s rarely just the one.

For over two months we battled them to our wits end.

First, we had one pest control company set out bait, wait a week and—seeing the bait untouched—conclude that the mice was getting their food somewhere else and that we should seal up any entry points in the kitchen.

The Tin man introducing the mice to Dorothy as illustrated by W. W. Denslow.
“Permit me to introduce to you Her Majesty, the Queen.” Original illustration by W. W. Denslow.

Our landlords responded as most landlords on the UK tend to respond, with indifference.

After a lot of phone calls to our letting agents, who have always been very nice albeit a little too inefficient for our Nordic taste, things got escalated.

Apparently, because there were also entry points to the house itself, outside of the technical grounds where it laid, which fell under the responsibilities of the council, they had to be contacted separately.

But the house itself had to be dealt with through the something, whose idea of customer service included not replying to phone calls or email, ever.

If you think this sounds fucking stupid then congratulations, you should probably be in charge instead of them.

Adding insult to injury, as the renting peasants we were, we had little say in many things and didn’t have access to half the misinformation people were working with.

Another pest control company was contacted.

They eventually put out seven different types of bait, having never before encountered mice that didn’t go for at least one of them.

I can’t speak more highly of the pest control company Pest-Tech. Kelly was professional, informative and devoted to doing his best to rid us of our infestation.

But of course they didn’t go for a single one.

Dorothy reprimanding the cowardly lion as illustrated by W. W. Denslow.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” Original illustration by W. W. Denslow.

Finally, having exhausted almost everything in his arsenal he pulled out tracking dust and a flexible camera on a stick.

A couple of weeks earlier, tired of our indifferent landlords I had patched up one entry point myself. With the dust and camera we could see the other points where the mice were still getting in.

Pulling out the final measure he filled the area with an expanding pale blue foam which the mice would have to eat to get through. And unlike the normal baits, which have a cumulative effect, this would kill them in a 24 hours.

The yellow brick road

I’m sure at this point your probably wondering what all of this has do to with misogyny?

For over two months I could barely sleep, constantly at unease with the presence of Toms.

They ran under and around our bed and sometimes between my feet as I sat by the laptop.

I would have nightmares where I fought an army of mice by kicking them in their tiny mice faces as they crawled up my legs biting me everywhere.

In another, I would pull open the wall behind our kitchen cabins to reveal a fauna of animals living there, scurrying around and looking for food. For some reason, one of the animals was an angry talking racoon.

Talking to Rebecka about all of this I told her how felt as if my personal space was being invaded by these strange and unpredictable creatures.

I told her, “I feel violated.”

“I go out every day feeling like that,” she replied.

Pause for effect.

She was right. She is right.

Women and marginalised people feel unsafe in this world. Every day.

I already knew this in theory but having never felt it myself it didn’t have any emotional triggers, until now.

As a well educated emotionally stable white cisgendered man in my early thirties, few people benefit as much from the status quo as I do.

Simply by participating in the game of life I’m keeping misogyny alive.

And so are you.

We’re the wizards all right but we’re not particularly wonderful.

True courage is in facing danger when you are afraid… L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

We need to be fighting it every day. Every one of us who can. And I can.

I still felt violated by the mice and it’s only by getting time to reflect afterwards, that I can really appreciate her decision to tell me about her perspective in the first place.

Because let’s be real.

A tiny mouse can’t hurt me. The reality is that I’m the one with the power and priviledge. I could still kick it in its tiny mouse face, should it ever let me get near enough.

And not to belittle or remove Rebecka’s agency in any way, but in this comparison she is a lot more like the mouse than the man.

Dorothy reprimanding the cowardly lion as illustrated by W. W. Denslow.
“‘This is a great comfort,’ said the Tin Woodman.” Original illustration by W. W. Denslow.

But mine isn’t permanent. The mice are already gone and I’m free to let these feelings become a distant memory.

Rebecka, on the other hand, has daily reminders—in the form of catcalling, comments on her appearance and more—that people take rights they aren’t entitled to by depriving them from others.

Returning to Kansas

And what of the mice?

What fate befell our little Toms?

In the end, taking matters into our own hands, I bought a whole set of glue traps—inhumane boards which trap them alive, forcing you to do the dirty deed of killing them yourself.

I caught both of them within a week, after enduring over two months of repeated nightmares, we haven’t seen or heard anything since.

And I now have a more profound understanding for what Rebecka, women and marginalised people go through every day.

And whilst I escaped my harassers, with a violent and bloody blow of the heel of my shoe, she isn’t as lucky.

There’s still a lot of work left for us to do before everyone else can feel as safe as I do now.

You’ve just read Mice, Men and the Wonderful Wizard of Misogyny.

In which, 6 years ago, I wrote 1199 words about one-shot and I covered topics, such as: equality.