Men need to stop being scared to express their masculinity in the 21st centuryby Serena Kutchinsky / May 27, 2015 / Leave a comment
This is the text of a talk I gave on Saturday 23rd May at the How The Light Gets In festival in Hay-on-Wye on a panel with the feminist and author Julie Bindel, the Labour Mp and mayoral candidate Diane Abbott, and the former editor of the Erotic Review Rowan Pelling. My argument is that real man is a necessary and evolutionary concept which could help counter the notion of a “crisis of masculinity” which Diane Abbott highlighted in a speech to the think tank Demos in 2013 when she was Shadow Public Health Minister.
Real man is alive and kicking a football around the fringes of modern society. He’s there latent within even the most metrosexual of males, after all who can forget Ed Miliband adopting an Arnie-like swagger when uttering the immortal words “hell yeah”. Yes, today’s real man uses more hair products, cries at the odd rom com and respects the right of women to assert ourselves in the boardroom and bedroom like never before, but personally I see this as proof of ‘real man’s’ longevity. Real man is an evolutionary concept, adapting to fit a society where gender equality increasingly is a key focus. But, for him to fully emerge from his sensitive new man shell, feminists need to stop blaming him for the sexist sins of his fathers.
Was there really some golden age of society where gender roles were clearly defined, everyone instinctively knew their place, there was full employment and men’s emotional lives were uncomplicated? This is what those who argue for a crisis of masculinity base their argument on; a flawed historical sense of men’s “true” identity. Society needs to create space for retro real man to evolve into a more modern, and yes feminised, version. Real man exists because society needs him to. Women want to lust after his brains and/or brawn, and men, and most importantly boys, should want to be him. We need men to realise that is ok to exude masculinity, just not to be larger loutish misogynists. Real man doesn’t need to call himself a feminist, to indicate he believes in equality.
I’m an independent woman who prizes my career, but I still enjoy feeling feminine, and can talk at equal length about both shoes and politics. Personally, my ideal man would be just as adept with a power drill, as his is at expressing his feelings—think Tony Soprano without the pasta gut and murderous tendencies. There’s also evidence, according to a survey by the US psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb, that too much gender fluidity in marriages can lead to a loss of sexual desire, with women reporting feeling turned off by their emasculated significant other who spends too much time sink-scrubbing and grocery shopping. So respectful are these men of their powerful partners that their ability to service their more base sexual desires has completely evaporated. In attempting to become gender equal, we have become gender neutered.
Just as first and second wave feminists risked life and limb in the fight for female equality, Real Man needs to get out there on the barricades, burn his boxers and focus on finding himself. This supposed crisis of masculinity can be averted if Real Man learns to man up.
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