Tag Archives: masculinity

The Masculinity Project

With Grayson Perry’s (Alan_Measles) All Man series* fresh in the mind, with its exploration of modern-day masculinity, an interesting approach to take from this point might be to track back to uncover those sites that promote unadulterated gender-trait propaganda. One such site, surely, must be early years education, where the “genders” are split in very distinct ways (boys with trousers/girls with skirts or dresses – and of course, girls can wear trousers but boys very definitely cannot wear skirts/dresses, at least not without severe consequences, for the most part), and where, and this is purely anecdotal and not meant to be a completely universalised approach, for anyone with hands on knowledge of young children and the prejudices they bring home from school, there exists a tangible sense that “boys are better than girls.” One such conversation held just a matter of moments ago, and thus inspiring a continued interaction with Grayson Perry’s recent topic, ran along the lines of “girls are rubbish at my school because they’re rubbish at football and games.”

Now, anyone who has a reasonably long history of reading posts on this site (hi, Bercianlangran) will know that it is unlikely that I would be inclined to further such petty notions of boys versus girls, and so, if we stop to think about such things, where does this misogyny-in-miniature stem from? Could it be from an unmonitored engagement with TV and stuff? In this instance, no. Could it be that there’s an overly masculine father figure? Again, no. Could it be the influence of peers and contemporaries? It’s doubtful. The site most responsible for the boys/girls antagonism, and again this is just conjecture, is likely to be early years education, which, for the most part, seems to engage in gender-splitting conduct (gender-splitting referring to the ways in which boys and girls are kept separate and thus, as a result, grow up thinking that there are vast differences between one another). Such conduct occurs around dress, toileting, sports, games, activities, colour association, physical interaction, and classroom behavior techniques, amongst other things. The very interesting thing about looking into such a site is that females, in terms of teachers and support staff, predominantly populate early years education. In the very same way as was pointed out in the recent post about episode two of Grayson’s All Man, females seem to be at the root of those places where masculinity is bred, and where it then has a habit of manifesting into a really dysfunctional noun, which, perversely if you think about it, comes back to be a real thorn in the side for both females and males in general. Maybe Grayson will come back with a second series looking at the roots of masculinity, with early years education a part of that conversation? What say you, Channel 4?

*Whilst the YouTube clip attached to “All Man series” (above) is unlikely to offend, the comments are proper NSFW stuff, yet they are highly amusing if one is interested in knowing what makes people get hot under the collar.

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Masculinity in the City (or Just a Lot of Bankers?)

Grayson Perry’s (@Alan_Measles) series, All Man, has been a lot of fun to watch and the third in the series, dealing with masculinity in the world of high finance, is no exception, although, initially, the thought of watching anything to do with the people who value money over and above everything else in life seems a little off-putting to say the least (there’s the ever present working-class chip-on-the-shoulder making an appearance). However, having sat through part of the cage-fighter episode (I still need to watch the whole thing on catch-up), and the one on masculinity in Skem (see previous post), I thought it rude to give up on the series, especially as Grayson is such a charismatic, insightful and subversive television presenter. And so, with preconceptions and prejudice at the ready, most of which appeared to be mirrored in Grayson’s own dim view of financiers as the antithesis of his own “lefty-artsy” sensibilities, I watched to see if wealthy masculinity is really any different to that of the underclasses in Skem, or to that of the cage fighters in the North-East. And you know what? I don’t think it is, at least judging by what was shown.

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The most interesting aspect of the show, for me, was the way masculinity was shrouded and “gentrified” by the financiers to appear more “sensitive” to onlookers. Whereas the cage fighters and Skem lads wore their masculinity as a badge of honour (although in fairness, some of the Skem lads wore literal shrouds to obscure their faces from the camera, at times) it seems that masculinity in the “City” is hidden behind a very thin veneer – a stance that feels far more pernicious because it is being obscured from view. The reasons for this were not explained, at least not by the financiers, and some of them seemed to claim that they aim to leave feeling and emotion behind in order to reach a more machine-like rationale with which to harvest ever more Dollars and Yen and Pounds and Euros, and so on (which sounds like just plain old masculine bullshit, really). Whatever the reasons behind this charade of masculinity as non-masculinity, it’s safe to say that the same skewed and idiotic notions of “masculinity” abound amongst the financiers as they do amongst the other groups Grayson visits. Finally, in a popular culture setting (via the medium of TV), masculinity is having its layers picked at in order to uncover what it’s all about. Unlike femininity, feminism, and other stuff related to the fem prefix, masculinity hasn’t been subjected to such careful scrutiny outside of academic circles. Masculinity – what a load of bollocks.

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All Man – Really?

A very interesting thing came out of Grayson Perry’s programme, All Man, during the second show concerning the inhabitants of a housing estate in Skelmersdale. The overwhelming story linking the majority of “disaffected” young men on the estate is one of the absent father, and the state of growing up in a household headed by a matriarch. Grayson’s end-of-show art-piece, meant to reflect the things he’s learned during his time with the “men,” in this instance, led to a work titled “The King of Nowhere,” indicating the futility of the “men” in their playing out of the role of the “masculine protector.”

All Man

Confusingly, then, we are exposed to the Skem estate version of masculinity that has had very little in the way of “training” in masculinity from male role models – note the prevalence of the absent father figure. However, we are introduced to a mother living on the estate whose child, we are told, gave her both a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day card because the child recognised that she fulfilled both roles in the absence of the father. So, it seems that the men of the film must be acting out a version of masculinity that has its roots firmly entrenched in the female role model of the mother figure. The question is, then, are the mothers in some way responsible for the “men” they have birthed, must they, as a result, be labelled as being complicit in the dysfunctional cycle of “masculinity” being played out by the men? The question that follows this initial question must then be: how do we all tolerate such ridiculous notions as “masculinity” when we see that it has no basis in actual experience, because if masculinity is meant to be a trait of gender (linked to the male), how can the Skem men be said to be enacting a form of masculinity when they’ve grown up, to a man it would seem, without male role models?


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