19 February 2014

skirting the issue

● Apparently there was a Being-A-Man festival at the Southbank Centre the other day.
When the topic of “masculinity today” comes up for discussion, two possible themes suggest themselves:
1) Modern dumbing of the male image into a crude stereotype of everybloke, and whether alternatives to this are still possible, short of entering the realm of sexual idiosyncrasy.
2) The possibility that women pushing harder for their preferences, and the resulting shift of territories, has made life more difficult for the other sex; and whether men should be allowed to assert some kind of hard-wired need to play masculine roles.
The Southbank Centre is part of the cultural establishment, so we should not be surprised if theme (2) was not touched on. That was certainly the impression given by the advertised programme and by press coverage of the event.
The required dogma goes as follows: wanting ‘change’ is good, disliking ‘change’ is bad; with ‘change’ being understood to mean movement away from the bourgeois capitalist model. So men are permitted to demand different roles from those of the past, but not to complain that the roles they had, and enjoyed, are being taken away. Male possession of those roles, it is claimed, only arose because of injustice.
The same kind of bias regarding relations between the sexes exists in the wider cultural arena, including of course academia. The few voices who suggest that elements of current society are now more hostile to male than to female interests are drowned out by the prodigious volume of ‘feminist’ ideology – now habitually taken to represent the consensus position on gender issues.